1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lossing, Benson John

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LOSSING, BENSON JOHN (1813-1891), American historical writer, was born in Beekman, New York, on the 12th of February 1813. After editing newspapers in Poughkeepsie he became an engraver on wood, and removed to New York in 1839 for the practice of his profession, to which he added that of drawing illustrations for books and periodicals. He likewise wrote or edited the text of numerous publications. His Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (first issued in 30 parts, 1850-1852, and then in 2 volumes) was a pioneer work of value in American historical literature. In its preparation he travelled some 9000 m. during a period of nearly two years; made more than a thousand sketches of extant buildings, battlefields, &c.; and presented his material in a form serviceable to the topographer and interesting to the general reader. Similar but less characteristic and less valuable undertakings were a Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 (1868), and a Pictorial History of the Civil War in the United States of America (3 vols. 1866-1869). His other books were numerous: an Outline History of the Fine Arts; many illustrated histories, large and small, of the United States; popular descriptions of Mount Vernon and other localities associated with famous names; and biographical sketches of celebrated Americans, of which The Life and Times of Major-General Philip Schuyler (2 vols. 1860-1873) was the most considerable. He died at Dover Plains, New York, on the 3rd of June 1891.