History with Mark Bielski Upcoming Episodes

January 18 – Tudor England Professor Bill Robison joins Mark to discuss Tudor England and its portrayal in film and TV—especially the series The Tudors and the interpretations of key characters such as Henry VIII, Ann Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon, Thomas More and Cardinal Wolsey. January 25 – Ulysses S. Grant: Early Career and Civil War Harry Laver, Professor of History at the US Army Command and General Staff College will discuss Grant’s early career and his leadership in the Western Theatre of the War up to the Vicksburg Campaign. February 1- Ulysses S. Grant: Later War Years Professor Laver returns to review Grant’s rise to General-in-Chief of the Union Army, the Chattanooga campaign and his campaigns in Virginia.

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Christmas in Wartime Part II

This episode reviews some of the happenings that American and Allied soldiers experienced during WWII.  There are a few items from the  home front and some from where the fighting occurred, as well as a few snippets from behind enemy lines. First, a mention that I forgot to include in the last episode. On Christmas Day 1868, US president Andrew Johnson extended amnesty and a full pardon “to all and to every person who, directly or indirectly, participated in the late insurrection or rebellion.” The Civil War had ended more than three years before and most of the South was in ruins. In many ways, the country had come out of the war, just as divided as it had been at the start. Reconstruction and occupation were the rules of life in the South. The Radical Republicans who had opposed President Lincoln’s conciliatory tendencies wanted nothing more than further punishment for those who had supported Secession. Andrew Johnson, a staunch Unionist from East Tennessee was both feared and loathed by many Southerners. However, his Attorney General James Speed reminded Johnson of Abraham Lincoln’s planned policy of reunification. 1941 — Japan seized Hong Kong from the British. In 1941 Tokyo confronted the West…

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Christmas in Wartime Part I

A Christmas Victory in the Revolutionary War In the winter of 1776 the American Revolution was still young and things did not look so good for the Continental Army and its commanding General George Washington.  Lord Cornwallis and his experienced and well-trained British army had pushed the Americans out of New York and across New Jersey. Washington steadily withdrew, and, had he turned and fought, his rag-tag force of freezing and starved men surely would have been annihilated.  Once he reached the Delaware River his men procured every boat available to cross over into the relative safety of Pennsylvania. The Americans were desperate, but Washington decided to go back across the Delaware and launch a surprise attack on the Hessian mercenaries occupying Trenton. On Christmas night, he led 2,400 men in freezing temperatures, sleet and snow, through the ice river’s floes for an attack on the Hessians. The surprise worked, and in two hours, with few losses of their own, they captured nearly 900 of the enemy. A week later it was a precarious situation for the Americans.  Washington’s men were exhausted and even worse, many of them, whose enlistments had expired, departed for home.  Nevertheless, the Americans pressed on…

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Patton II

General Patton’s Accident Site, Mannheim, Germany This view show where the driveway of the former quartermaster depot enters old Highway 38 (Kaefertaler Strasse). Note the old pavement still present in the driveway. Asphalt now covers the rest of Kaefertaler Strasse (unkown if this was the pavement in place at the time of the accident).

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Civil War New Orleans: Prelude to Conflict

Civil War New Orleans: Prelude to Conflict A comparative look at the economic differences between the Confederate states and those of the Union shows a staggering disparity. SEE COMPARATIVE CHART The Southern states had few advantages, except in certain agricultural areas and any semblance of parity here, arose from the Border States, primarily Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri. These three states were divided between Union and Confederacy in sympathies, and more concretely in supplying officers and men under arms.  Nevertheless, they remained in the Union and are represented accordingly in terms of these resource statistics. Wars are costly—certainly in terms of life and devastation of property—and since they are, those who wage them need money and goods to collect and trade. The chief cash crop for the South was cotton, to a lesser extent tobacco was significant but cotton was king.  King Cotton was one of the Confederacy’s mainstays and sources of income.  However, to collect payment for this white gold, the seller must be able to get it to market.  The textile mills of New England and for that matter, Old England, became starved for raw cotton.  And, because in 1860, the southern United States produced 90% of the world’s cotton,…

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Antietam Part I

                        Antietam Part I – Summary The Battle of Antietam took place near Sharpsburg, MD on 17 September 1862.  It is often referred to as the bloodiest day of the war.  The battle was the culmination of the Maryland Campaign which actually had its roots in earlier in actions that occurred in Virginia in the late spring and early summer of 1862. The Antietam Battle itself pitted rising star Robert E. Lee, the Virginian who had recently taken the reins of the Confederate army in the east, against the young, ambitious Union General George B. McClellan. Lee had faced McClellan a few months earlier in southeastern Virginia and had thwarted McClellan at the end of the Peninsula Campaign, his grand plan to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. During the spring and early summer, General McClellan had moved his army up the Virginia Peninsula, pushing the Confederates back in a series of engagements that began near Fort Monroe at the Chesapeake Bay and ended near the outskirts of Richmond. The Seven Days battles at the end of June were successive battles in which McClellan had done well—he even could be considered victorious in 4 out of 5 battles.  However, Robert…

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Sons of the White Eagle book cover

Listen to Mark Bielski on The Donna Seebo Show

You can listen to historian Mark Bielski live on The Donna Seebo Show this Tuesday, September 19 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EST, discussing his book, Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation. Donna Seebo features authors and experts from around the world who share their insights with her worldwide audience. Informative and fun, this show has been on the air for 15 years. You are welcome to call into The Donna Seebo Show during the second half of the program. Call in number is 253.582.5597. Click here to listen to Mark on The Donna Seebo Show>> ABOUT SONS OF THE WHITE EAGLE Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation describes the fascinating story of nine transplanted Poles who participated in the Civil War. They span three generations and are connected by culture, nationality and adherence to their principles and ideals. The common thread that runs through their lives—the Polish White Eagle—is that they came from a country that had basically disintegrated at the end of the previous century, yet they carried the concepts of freedom they inherited from their forefathers…

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Battle of Antietam painting

History with Mark Bielski Podcast Fall Schedule

On September 13, 2017 I will be posting a podcast, where I will provide a preview of the historical topics I will be covering on History with Mark Bielski this fall and the experts who will be joining me. To give you a sneak peek of upcoming episodes, following is the September schedule. Mark your calendars, follow History with Mark Bielski on SoundCloud or subscribe to my podcast on iTunes or Google Play. History with Mark Bielski Podcast September 2017 Schedule September 13 – Preview of the lineup leading into December Host Mark Bielski provides information on the background of the historical topics he’ll be discussing and the historians who will join him on History with Mark Bielski this fall. September 20 – Antietam Part I Gerry Prokopowicz joins Mark to discuss the events leading up to the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. We cover the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) that August, Robert E. Lee’s reasons for taking the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland and the beginning of the battle. September 27 – Antietam Part II Gerry Prokopowicz returns to discuss the battle, its consequences and aftermath and the response from both sides. We include Abraham…

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Ghost Army Map

Ghost Army Part II

On this episode of History with Mark Bielski, filmmaker and author Rick Beyer returns to discuss in further detail the extraordinary deception soldiers better known as the Ghost Army. Rick made the PBS documentary, The Ghost Army, and co-authored the book,The Ghost Army of World War II. As we discussed in Part I, the Ghost Army specifically refers to the 23rd HQ Special Troops.  They ran series of deception operations so secretive that few of their fellow GIs knew anything about it, and the Army kept it top secret—during the war and for decades afterwards.  To put it succinctly, The Ghost Army was about fooling people.  Their goal was to make the enemy believe that something is happening even though it is not.  Imagine the German soldiers on the front lines thinking there is an armored division moving into position just beyond the woods on their perimeter.  Or, Luftwaffe air reconnaissance reporting back to HQ that there were scores of American tanks and aircraft preparing for invasion.  Imagine is the key word, because the Ghost Army made it all happen with illusion and trickery. Rick Beyer produced the PBS special entitled The Ghost Army of WWII, as well as co-authored with Elizabeth Sayles, the…

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Ghost Army inflatable tank

Ghost Army Part I

On History with Mark Bielski, filmmaker and author Rick Beyer visits with Mark to discuss the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, the extraordinary deception soldiers better known as the Ghost Army. Rick made the PBS documentary, The Ghost Army, and co-authored the book, The Ghost Army of World War II. Rick is also the historian for The Ghost Army Tour, one of the many bucket list WWII tours you can take with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. Listen to the History with Mark Bielski podcast on the Ghost Army here. The Ghost Army that we discuss in this episode, conducted a series of deception operations that took place once we had American troops on the ground in Europe. The appellation specifically refer to the 23rd HQ Special Troops, an outfit that later became known as the Ghost Army. It was a little-known operation, and it was extremely secretive. Not even the soldiers, in close proximity on the front lines, knew anything about what the men of the 23rd were doing. They conducted twenty-one different deception operations as, with “stagecraft and sleight of hand.” Everything they did was top secret—certainly during and for decades after the war. Their operations called for creative imagination, and…

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