Next Up: looking into the French and Indian War (1754–1763).
(I'm going to do the communications book too, which I mentioned a while back, but this project comes first.)
I chose the war from a list of possible U.S.-history topics because I don't know anything about it.
Or, rather, because I know that what I half-know must be a jumble of misinformation,
and sorting out the junk drawer of my brain is fun.
Like, I figured no way did General James Wolfe, one of the British commanders, die as beautifully as Benjamin West imagines in his famous painting The Death of Wolfe (1770).
(click to embiggen; from Wikipedia)
Wolfe was a complicated guy, I learned, of whom King George II supposedly said, on hearing gossip that Wolfe was mad:
"Mad, is he? Then I hope he will bite some of my other generals."
In the painting, the guy in green, on the left, is a Rogers' Ranger, one of a colonial militia whose members, among other things, wore snowshoes to battle in the snow. (Reminds me of the Finnish Ski Patrol troops.)
The rangers attack on an Abenaki town on the St. Francis River during the F&I War was made into a Hollywood movie, Northwest Passage (1940).
In contrast with the Indian warrior of West's painting, here's a watercolor of a jolly-looking Abenaki couple by an unknown artist, from the 1700s.
This morning I also learned that Wolfe wasn't feeling well at all, most of the time.
In 1758, the year before he died, he wrote, “I am in a very bad condition, both with the gravel & Rheumatism," and the next summer, he recorded, “Sad attack of dysentery...”
I'm always amazed how much historic people accomplished without even aspirin.
I must read Simon Schama's literary historical work Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations (1991)--in it, he writes about Wolfe's death and Benjamin West's painting,
exploring the gap between a "lived event and its subsequent narration."