WWI Letters: “Aeroplanes Are Flying Around Over Here Like Birds”

This letter reprinted in A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia was actually written for publication! Private Russell T. Hupp penned the letter and sent it to the editor of The Valley newspaper. It gives details that folks back home would have found interesting, including observations on the agriculture in France and comparisons to the crops and farms in the Shenandoah Valley.

Similar to the previous weeks, we’ve included a few historical notes on World War I after the complete primary source to give a little background and historical depth to the letter.

The Letter

Somewhere in France

A.E.F., Sept. 17, 1918, Continue reading

1863: “There Are Rumors Of French Intervention”

(Second post and final post of the day!)

Friday night [August 14, 1863]

Now that we are leading so quiet a life I feel that even my dearest friends would not care to read a record of such a dull existence, so I will continue to keep my journal merely for my own amusement; I wrote letters this morning; then to the Hospital & found my new cook an improvement on the old & I hope to get matters there in better order; I ordered a nice breakfast for tomorrow. I have had the wing whitewashed & throughly [thoroughly] cleaned today, after the various occupants of the last months I made arrangements to have some other necessary repairs made. After tea, to-night, we all went out to walk; it is so much more pleasant to be out than in, that I have adopted it as my time for attending to businesses, as there is nothing going on, at home, to make it particularly agreeable. I hear of all sorts of queer [strange] people having supplies to sell & I hunt them up, as it is the only change of getting anything, the stores being entirely bare. No army news today. I got a note from Dr. Meeker to-day telling me “the Captains” got to Strasburgh, the first day & bore the journey very well. I was truly glad. Continue reading

10 Things To Know About Eleanor of Acquitaine

Queen of France and England, but at different times, Eleanor of Acquitaine became a powerful figure in 12th Century Western Europe. Praised or censored, loved or hated, noble or slandered as common, the truth about Eleanor of Acquitaine lies somewhere in the middle of how her friends and enemies perceived her.

I just finished reading a fascinating biography about this Medieval Queen and made a short list of the top ten things I think we should all know about Queen Eleanor. (The book is an older publication, 1967, entitled Eleanor of Acquitaine by Regine Pernoud, if you interested in a more in-depth biographical study.) Continue reading

10 Things You Should Know About America’s First Combat Pilots

On the Fourth of July 1917, American troops marched through Paris, cheered by the French who enthusiastically welcomed a new ally. After years on the sidelines, the United States joined World War I and sent its volunteers toward the trenches on the Western Front.

However, the U.S. soldiers with General Pershing who marched through Paris weren’t the first Americans to fight in World War I. Long before the United States entered the conflict, American citizens volunteered to fight alongside the French and British; many lived in Europe and took an interest in the conflict, others journeyed across the Atlantic from their neutral country to enlist with the Allies.

Some of the most famous Americans to volunteer with the French were pilots – dare-devil stuntmen who wanted adventure and were friendly toward the allied cause. Since America was neutral, many joined the French Foreign Legion. Some future pilots served as infantrymen in the trenches before transferring to “flight training.” Eventually, a number of American pilots were allowed to fly together and form their own squadron – technically a French air-squadron, but flown by Americans. They become known as the Lafayette Escadrille.

American pilots during World War I were the first combat pilots in U.S. history. Many began their flying adventures long before the U.S. entered the war. Today’s blog post explores some fascinating details about the Lafayette Escadrille and their role in aviation history.

Here are 10 facts you should know about this unique unit: Continue reading