CMH Forum

[Gen'l Info] Pete Copeland

This is to forward an announcement of Pete Copeland’s passing. I also appended two more of Pete’s stories. Besides the writings mentioned below, Pete drew the illustrations for (and I assume wrote) the fun little book Cups of Valor by N.E. Beveridge (Stackpole Books, 1968); yes, it is about, to quote a chapter subtitle, “The Liquid Leisure of America’s Fighting Men.”

John Rees

Peter F. Copeland: Military Historian, Artist, and CMH Member
Posted by: "Todd Post" secondvaregt
Sun Dec 9, 2007 12:22 pm (PST)
It is with deep sorrow and great regret to announce that Peter F.
Copeland, "Pete". as he preferred to be addressed, suffered a stroke on
Friday and passed away Saturday December 8.

Pete became a member of The Company of Military Historians in 1965, a
Company Fellow in 1964, and had contributed more than forty plates to
the Military Uniforms in America plate series since that time. In
addition, he had served as a consultant for the series and served as
an assistant editor since 1995.

Beyond his countless contributions to the Company over the decades,
Pete was also a prolific writer and illustrator for many books on
American history, from children's books to military uniforms,
including " Everyday Dress of the American Colonial Period", "General
Washington's Army: 1775-1778" and " American Military Uniforms,

In the presence of Pete's family on November 29, 2007, on behalf of
the Company of Military Historians, Fellow Marko Zlatich had the
honor to present Pete with a second Distinquished Service Award in
recognition of his continuing record of outstanding artistic support
of Company publications. Since receiving his first award at the 52nd
Annual Meeting in 2001, Pete had continued to prepare artwork for
Military Uniforms in America and Military Collector & Historian, as
well as contributing his own research on the King's Ethiopian
Regiment to the Journal.

The last time I saw Pete, he had just come home from the hospital and
despite being chair bound, still had his characteristic sense of
humor and good spirits. He told me a story of a bar fight he got
into (while I'm not sure, I believe it was while he was in the
service) in Iceland when a local took exception to a group of
Americans dancing with the Icelandic girls. Pete recalled getting
hit by a saxophone of all things and of course we wanted to know how
he hit his adversary back, to which Pete responded that he didn't but
rather took shelter under a piano until the fight was over. It was
typical of Pete's ability to make those around him laugh from his
jovial demeanor that made him a pleasure to know.

Details of the service to be held in Arlington VA are still being
arranged at this time.

Respectfully submitted,
Todd Post, President
Company of Military Historians
Chesapeake Chapter

Pete and I corresponded over the years, and was kind enough to give me carte blanche in using his artwork with my articles. I never had the pleasure of meeting Pete in person, but his phone conversations were always enjoyable. Below are excerpts with stories from two letters he sent me:

Pete Copeland, 24 January 1997.
“Dear John … Your article on camp followers … [with the] narrative of the militia private describing the women who followed the German prisoners from Burgoyne’s army was strangely reminiscent of a spectacle I witnessed, as a messboy on a Liberty ship in the port of Iloilo in the Philippines when the Jap troops marched in to surrender at the end of the war.
‘… behind the soldiers came the women [Philipino women who had taken up with the Japs during their occupation and later retreated with them into the hills of Panay] they were barefoot, their heads covered with rags, shawls, and bandanas, some wore tattered wide brimmed straw hats. The women stared down at the road before them. Quite a few carried babies or led small naked children. They carried their belongings wadded up in blankets or bits of mosquito netting slung over their shoulders. There were more than a hundred of them …’”
This quotation is from a story I wrote about the end of the war in the island of Panay. I suppose the female dependents of prisoners of war probably all looked much the same.”

And from an undated letter:
“A bit of Trivia: Benedict Arnold is buried at St Marys Church Battersea-on-Thames bank, June 14 1801. Somewhere in the Crypt, a bomb intruded in 1940 to mix up the bones, but Peggy Shippen (faithful to the last) is buried there too, their bones intermixed – I was there, - cross Battersea Bridge, turn right, go along Church Road to St Marys. Long time ago – Pete”

- John Rees

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