Almost 120 years ago descendents of those who fought in wars before the American Revolution formed the Society of Colonial Wars “to perpetuate the memory of those events, and of the men who, in military, naval, and civil positions of high trust and responsibility, by their acts or counsel, assisted in the establishment, defense, and preservation of the American Colonies.”
Their efforts are documented in Honoring Our Colonial History edited by Andrew Ross Huston. Langsdale’s own John Mealy was a member of the Editorial Committee for this book. John is the General Society’s Executive Director and Archivist for both the General (GSCW) and Maryland (MSCW) Societies of Colonial Wars, part of the library’s Special Collections. The book draws upon the societies’ records but is also richly illustrated with photographs of the markers in their historic settings.
Commemorated are events throughout the colonial period from the “First Encounter” with Native Americans in 1620 Massachusetts, to the eve of the American Revolution. Some commemorate conflicts settled peaceably. New Netherland claimed New Sweden for the Dutch in 1654, and the combined colonies capitulated to the British a decade later, without warfare.
French and Spanish colonies would not capitulate so easily. The latter half of the colonial period would see a series of major wars, often allying Native Americans with one or another European power. The British came to dominate eastern North America, gaining Florida from the Spanish and Canada from the French, but the Revolution in the original 13 colonies quickly overshadowed their victory.
The first chapter of Honoring Our Colonial History includes memorials placed by the GSCW in Nova Scotia to commemorate the capture of Ft. Anne in 1710 and Ft. Louisbourg in 1745. The following 26 chapters chronicle the placement of markers by State Societies which extend beyond colonial British territory.
The book’s last chapter, for instance, tells of the Texas society’s participation in the Shipwreck Project, the exploration of a French vessel which ran aground on a mission to claim the mouth of the Mississippi for France in 1684.
In the Maryland chapter is Albert Weinert’s familiar Statue of Cecil Calvert, third Lord Baltimore, on the steps of Baltimore’s Mitchell Courthouse erected by the MSCW in 1908.