- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted March 18, 2012
A little over a century and a half ago, daguerreotype photography was THE latest innovative fad – an equivalent of today’s newest iPad iteration, or smartphone “app,” or viral YouTube video. One wonderful result is that we of the 21st century can examine intriguing images capturing the craggy faces of aged, white-haired men who, when they were very young, in the now-remote 18th century, fought in the American War of Independence – the Revolutionary War. Such daguerreotypes are rare. Portraits of people whose names and involvement in the Revolution are known are still more rare. That is the wonder and pleasure of Joseph M. Bauman’s e-book, “Don’t Tread On Me: Photographs and Life Stories of American Revolutionaries.” A life-long journalist and history buff, Mr. Bauman’s work presents beautiful “dags” of eight Revolutionary War veterans – all from among his own antique photos, collected over more than 30 years. He then goes a step farther. As a result of research and dogged sleuthing, he succeeds in telling us not just who these men were (often with the parlance, and erratic spelling, of the time), but which battles they fought in, and where and how they lived, as best as can be ascertained from government pension documents, newspaper accounts, contemporary memoirs, court papers, and history books. These eight were, for the most part, average men – farmers, tradesmen, pioneers – some quite successful, a few having lived lives on the brink. However, they played roles in one of the great turning points of history. And all lived exceptionally long lives for the era – one attaining 99 years – that brought them into the age of photography as “venerable” men, as newspaper accounts regularly described them. More often than not, the daguerreotypes preserving their visages were taken very shortly before they died of old age and infirmities, making each of these small portraits a miracle – a miracle multiplied by what the author has discovered about the men. And the things they saw! By researching these lives, Mr. Bauman reveals glimpses and insights into many of the Revolution’s key events. Not all was battle and bloodshed: There were marches to be made, fortifications to build, captures to be endured. But Peter Mackintosh, a blacksmith, witnessed the Boston Tea Party as a lad. Simeon Hicks, a young Lexington Minuteman, also was at the Battle of Bunker Hill (actually, Breed’s Hill) overlooking Boston. Dr. Eneas Munson, a teenaged Yale graduate, was a surgeon’s mate, treating wounds and infections, helping in early mass smallpox inoculations – and participating in the decisive American and French victory over the British at Yorktown. The Marquis de Lafayette, Benedict Arnold and Nathan Hale all have parts in this collective story. “Don’t Tread On Me” is not a full-on history of the Revolution, nor is it a roundup of every known image of a onetime warrior of that momentous struggle. The stories of these eight Americans, of varying lengths and in varying detail, are merely a dip of the toe into a sea of possibilities. The result, though – even for a dabbler in history – is a revelation in pictures and prose, a peek into everyday but important lives lived long, long ago.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.