Elephants … and coffee beans

Since my question, a few weeks ago, about the Civil War, I’ve found myself watching YouTube videos with the Civil War as the topic. The ‘ghosty’ ones are kind of eye-rolling silly but sometimes I find one that is interesting or has ‘facts’ that I’ve never heard and wonder about.

There are two blog sites I have found that seem to attract the best historians and Nebraska Energy Observer is one. I’m posting this video for various reasons – are these ‘facts’ real; does the information represent ‘settled’ knowledge about the War; do the ‘war dead’ numbers stack up against what has been written in our history books?

I’m looking forward to some lively debate on this video and the Civil War as a whole.

Remember that …

The question I posed about the Civil War? It gave our historians quite a bit to talk about and I learned so much from reading the comments.

I stumbled upon this just now and after watching, I thought of the historians here at Nebraska Energy and wondered what their take would be.

Without further ado, please enjoy this video. Oh … it starts out lame but go with it.

Defending the Dream

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gett...

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg, PA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, as do I, that America has never been a pile of rocks and dirt between the oceans. Whether your ancestors came over the Bering land bridge time out of memory ago, came on the Mayflower, came to escape starvation in Ireland to see the sign “No Irish need Apply”, came from old Mexico to work at a meat-packing plant, or got off a 777 last night; You are here because of a dream. Bevin Alexander said it as well as anybody.

Imagine, if you will, the sense of awe that seized the first settlers at Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607, at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and at the other landings along the coast of North America in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Here were little English communities hacking out perch sites on the very edge of an unknown land. … But when they finally reached the great chain of mountains called the Appalachians and gazed out from its heights, they were utterly confounded-before them an even more boundless, more astonishing land stretched out to seeming infinity toward the setting sun.

This was the moment when the American character was formed. Whatever limits of class and status the settlers had brought with them from Britain would fall away to insignificance in this prodigious land. When astute individuals looked toward the limitless frontier that they now knew would beckon continuously on the western horizon, they realized that no king, no aristocracy, could crush them. At any time they could cross this frontier and put all of Europe’s restraints behind them. This had immense and overwhelming effects throughout the colonies. Americans, whether they crossed the frontier or not, were destined to be forever free.

But to make dreams come true is hard work. And there are people around whose dreams would preclude yours. So dreams have to be defended. So it is with the American Dream. From that day to this, the dream has demanded that men, ordinary men, defend it. But the defending of dreams creates extraordinary men, and so it has been here.

On 19 April 1775, a shot was fired in Lexington, MA, no one knows by whom. That shot has echoed down the corridors of time for 245 years, and its reverberations continue. For that shot was a warning that God meant men to be free, and with God’s help, men, and women would be free. A few weeks before, a member of the House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry, in Virginia said this:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

And so was the lamp lit in that fabled city on the hill that John Winthrop had spoken of all the way back in 1630.

…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going:…

And so it came to pass that America would be free. It would not be perfect, ever, for America is a dream of man, not a work of God. But it would continually try to be, and it would improve. And it would come to pass that the lamp lighted in that city upon a hill would become a beacon to the world, so that today the world itself is far more free than on that blustery March day when Mr. Henry spoke.

But in the middle of the 19th century the dream nearly foundered on the rocks of two different interpretations of that freedom.

Those armies of America, The Army of Northern Virginia, The Army of the Potomac, The Army of the Tennessee, have become part of the soul of America, the dusty columns still march in our hearts. And the battles they fought: 1st & 2d Manassas, the Seven Days, Champions Hill, The artillery hell of Antietam, the burning wounded in the Wilderness, the misery of the Mule Shoe, and Cold Harbor. The taking of Missionary Ridge without orders because the enlisted men decided to do it, and finally that heart-wrenching scene at Wilmer McLean’s house (where he had moved to get away from the armies at Bull Run) where General Grant met General Lee and Lee surrendered that most romantic of American Armies, the Army of Northern Virginia, under terms inspired by Lincoln’s advice to Grant to “Let ’em up easy”. And so the Army not so much surrendered as passed directly into legend for all Americans. An Army that fought until it was living on goober peas, knowing it couldn’t win, but fighting for its beliefs.

Who amongst us can forget the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, on the second day of Gettysburg (from the inscription on the monument.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy’s front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded.

The very next day, for the very last time, was displayed the grim majesty and pomp of war in the old style, as the center of the Army of Northern Virginia attacked in close order under General Pickett, and was repulsed, the high tide bringing General Armistead to die with his hand on a Union gun.

There are many other actions that we could tell of equal bravery on either side. This was merely 150 years ago, and yet, many have not heard of the glory of these men who were willing to suffer more than 83% casualties in battle, and were in line the next day to receive the most famous of American charges.

These were the men that Decoration Day was instituted to honor. Now as Memorial Day it honors all of those who died in service to America, from Crispus Attucks on.

Also note that during the Seven Days battles in Virginia it was not possible to fire the volleys requisite to military funerals, a tradition going back to the Roman Legions shouting “Vale” three times in burying their comrades. A substitute had to be found, it was, Colonel Dan Butterfield wrote a new call for his buglers to sound. It has been sounded millions of times since to mark the end of the day and the burial of the soldier. This is it of course.

If you remember a few years ago, Madison Rising did a version of the national anthem that blew many of us away. A few days ago, for this strangest of all Memorial Days, they have released a new song, this is it.

 

God Bless America and remember those who died for us.

What Do You Think?

I have a dear, dear friend in England who is going through a very rough time right now. Add that to the ‘lockdown’ in England and it’s almost too much to bear. To ease her mind and distract her aching heart, she is watching the Ken Burns documentary Civil War. She shared this video with me this morning https://youtu.be/ZeYjtfsK338. I explained to her how sad it was, brother against brother and father against son but that without that war, we wouldn’t be the country we are now.

But I wonder; am I right? So I’ve come here to ask you that question. Would we be the America we are if the Civil War had never been fought? Thanks for your help – I’m looking forward to your replies.

Free Men Celebrating Free Men

Just as on 4 July, many will think a bit of America, or on 1 July, we think of Canada, and how we all honor Remembrance day, For today is the day that Anzac Day is observed, and it’s important to us all.

See on 24 April, at 0415, a green Australian Corp jumped out of longboats to wade ashore at Gallipoli. Braver men never walked the earth or died on the beach. So today is one of those holidays where we take the time to salute very brave men.

This is from a man who uses the screen name Tony from Oz, and I like it so very much.

Why is ANZAC Day so important in Australia?

At 4.15AM on Sunday the 25th April 1915 an untried Corps of Australian soldiers waded ashore from the longboats that had brought them there from the large troopships further out to sea. As they came ashore in the dawn’s half light they were mowed down in droves by the Turkish soldiers who had the high ground.

An original image of one of the landings at ANZAC Cove, this one at 8AM on April 25 1915. (Image Credit – Australian War Memorial Archives)

The place was an insignificant little Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, part of Turkey, near a small place known as Ari Burnu, now forever known as ANZAC Cove, a small piece of Australian Sacred Ground on a foreign shore.

The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Forces from New Zealand were also part of this campaign, hence the acronym includes New Zealand, who, while part of this campaign, were under the command of their own fellow New Zealanders. This was a combined effort, and this day is also recognised just as reverently in New Zealand.

So, why is this one day so revered by Australians, when the 8 Month campaign that followed was considered in the main overall scheme of the War as a failure, considering that Australia has been part of so many famous victories on fields of battle in War since that time.

The original Badge of the Australian Army, worn on the hats of every Australian soldier. This is known as The Rising Sun Badge.

This was when Australian troops, commanded by Australians fought for the first time for each other as fellow Australians.

Those coming ashore who survived this original murderous onslaught regrouped and started to fight back. This campaign lasted for eight and a half months. In that time, Australian soldiers announced to the World that they were now no longer an untried group of colonials, but a magnificent fighting force in their own right, and one to be reckoned with.

During those 8 Months, nine Australians were awarded The Victoria Cross for valour, the highest award for bravery that there is. (This is the equivalent of the Medal of Honor in the U.S.) In fact, seven of those medals were awarded in just one  three day period. This was at Lone Pine, in August, where the Australians engaged in what was a diversionary feint to disguise the massed landing by the British further up the Coast at Suvla Bay. This Lone Pine engagement was some of the most savage hand to hand combat in close quarters of the whole 8 Month period at Gallipoli.

During that 8 Month period of this Gallipoli Campaign, 8,709 Australian soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

Each year from then forward, Australia has recognised that day of the first landing as the most solemn of days on our Calendar, when we, as a nation, pay reverent homage, not only to those brave men who fought and died at Gallipoli, but to all our Australian Military forces who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in times of all Wars, and for all our current serving men and women in Australia’s military forces.

Dawn Services are held across the Country timed for 4.15AM local time at memorials in the large Capital cities, and across cities and towns all over Australia, literally at thousands of such places. While still early morning at that time, these services are always attended by masses of people all across Australia.

Later that same morning, marches are held in many of these places as well. Those marches in the Capital cities have literally thousands of men and women marching, with only veterans and current serving members from the three armed forces, and some marches may only have a handful of men marching, as numbers now thin out with the passing of years.

While those people march, many thousands line the length of the march and pay solemn tribute to those old men who fought so that we actually could line those streets to salute them, and to also pay silent tribute to those who did not come home.

Keep reading ANZAC Day – 25th April 2017 | PA Pundits – International

I note in passing that Tony is one of the best in writing on energy matters, which is why I read him. But, here’s a belated

Well done, mate.

I’m going to take a liberty here. When I originally published this on 26 April 2017, Tony from Oz had a couple of very germane comments, so I’m going to append them.

TonyfromOz says:

NEO,

thanks for taking my Post, and thanks for your kind words as well

Of interest to Americans especially is one of the links at the bottom of that Post, the one about General Sir John Monash. Pershing took the Americans to that conflict in France, and at one time our Australian, General Monash had literally thousands of U.S. soldiers under his command, one of only very few (if any other occasions at all) when Americans fought under the command of anyone other than a U.S. Commander. In fact the very first time this happened was at The Battle Of Hamel, when Monash asked for 2000 American soldiers (only two Battalions) to be part of the Battle. Pershing grumbled that Americans only fought under U.S. command and so, 1000 of those were withdrawn.The Battle went forward, and in a time when Battles took sometimes weeks, and even months, this one was over in barely 93 Minutes, with a smashing victory, so well planned was it by Monash. From that point forward, Monash was given virtually whatever he wanted, when it came to troops, because, after that decisive victory, even Pershing wanted some of the glow to rub off on him. The date of that Battle itself was specifically why Monash asked for the Americans, one of the first Battles U.S. soldiers took part in.That Battle of Hamel was held early in the morning of the 4th July 1918.

See this link for more: https://papundits.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/remembrance-day-and-the-importance-of-australias-general-sir-john-monash/

And again NEO, thanks for taking my Post.

Tony.

He’s right that is likely one of the very first instances of American troops fighting under foreign leadership, ever. And this follow up:

TonyfromOz says:

Monash was an interesting military senior officer, really. He was a Civil Engineer before the War, and he knew the value of intricate planning. He was sick of the way that the English senior officers just kept throwing men at the line in the hope they would get somewhere, and killed everyone for the sake of virtually nothing at all, and just kept doing it.

They gave him Monash one Battle, Hamel, 4th July 1918, and when he sent word back to high command after 93 minutes that it was all over, they were astounded. Monash was a little displeased really, because he planned to have it done in 90 Minutes, and how they all laughed at him when he said that. Now they had to take notice, and they gave him a bigger operation, The Battle of Amiens, which he again intricately planned. He had 170,000 men under his sole command. It started at 4.10AM, and finished just after Lunch on that same day. They took back more than 5 miles of land, captured literally thousands of men, military pieces etc. Ludendorff, the German General said that this was the single worst day of the War for Germany, and right then, he knew the War was lost. Monash’s losses of men, killed and wounded amounted to less than 1%, the lowest of the War, and this was considered the most decisive victory of the War till that time. Right there Monash was given even more control, and each battle was planned to nth degree, and each battle was a decisive victory. In the end Monash had nearly half a million men under his Command,almost 300,000 of them Australians, and included 50,000 Americans also. He took his battles all the way to the Hindenburg Line, covering more than half of France. The Germans gave up on the 2nd of October, so keep in mind, Monash did all this, from Hamel to the border in 12 weeks. He went from Colonel to LtGen (Three Star) in two years. And all the men, well, they just loved him, reckoned they had a better chance with Monash than with anyone else.

Tony.

Adsit Anglis Sanctus Georgius

Today is St George’s Day, he’s a busy saint with much to attend to, but it has always seemed that he had a soft spot for the English, whose patron saint he is.

On St Crispin’s Day I nearly always recount three battles of the English speaking world, Agincourt, The Light Brigade, and The Philippine Sea. But, in fact, there is a fourth, and just as important. The 1915 Battle of Loos. And it is appropriate to remember it on St George’s Day. At least according to Arthur Machen, who wrote the following.

You know how something you read when you are young haunts you later? I read this short story probably when I was in junior High School, and lost track of it, and it would flit through my mind occasionally, especially when discussing the Great War. For me, it was one of those pieces that taught me how history builds upon itself. Frankly, it’s one of my very favorites, and I was very excited when I found it, finally, online. So, I thought I’d share it with you, as a different takeaway on the original ‘Band of Brothers’.

It was during the Retreat of the Eighty Thousand, and the authority of the Censorship is sufficient excuse for not being more explicit. But it was on the most awful day of that awful time, on the day when ruin and disaster came so near that their shadow fell over London far away; and, without any certain news, the hearts of men failed within them and grew faint; as if the agony of the army in the battlefield had entered into their souls.

     On this dreadful day, then, when three hundred thousand men in arms with all their artillery swelled like a flood against the little English company, there was one point above all other points in our battle line that was for a time in awful danger, not merely of defeat, but of utter annihilation. With the permission of the Censorship and of the military expert, this corner may, perhaps, be described as a salient, and if this angle were crushed and broken, then the English force as a whole would be shattered, the Allied left would be turned, and Sedan would inevitably follow.

     All the morning the German guns had thundered and shrieked against this corner, and against the thousand or so of men who held it. The men joked at the shells, and found funny names for them, and had bets about them, and greeted them with scraps of music-hall songs. But the shells came on and burst, and tore good Englishmen limb from limb, and tore brother from brother, and as the heat of the day increased so did the fury of that terrific cannonade. There was no help, it seemed. The English artillery was good, but there was not nearly enough of it; it was being steadily battered into scrap iron.

     There comes a moment in a storm at sea when people say to one another, “It is at its worst; it can blow no harder,” and then there is a blast ten times more fierce than any before it. So it was in these British trenches.

There were no stouter hearts in the whole world than the hearts of these men; but even they were appalled as this seven-times-heated hell of the German cannonade fell upon them and overwhelmed them and destroyed them. And at this very moment they saw from their trenches that a tremendous host was moving against their lines. Five hundred of the thousand remained, and as far as they could see the German infantry was pressing on against them, column upon column, a gray world of men, ten thousand of them, as it appeared afterwards.

There was no hope at all. They shook hands, some of them. One man improvised a new version of the battle-song, “Good-by, good-by to Tipperary,” ending with “And we shan’t get there.” And they all went on firing steadily. The officer pointed out that such an opportunity for high-class fancy shooting might never occur again; the Tipperary humorist asked, “What price Sidney Street?” And the few machine guns did their best. But everybody knew it was of no use. The dead gray bodies lay in companies and battalions, as others came on and on and on, and they swarmed and stirred, and advanced from beyond and beyond.

“World without end. Amen,” said one of the British soldiers with some irrelevance as he took aim and fired. And then he remembered—he says he cannot think why or wherefore—a queer vegetarian restaurant in London where he had once or twice eaten eccentric dishes of cutlets made of lentils and nuts that pretended to be steak. On all the plates in this restaurant there was printed a figure of St. George in blue, with the motto, “Adsit Anglis Sanctus Georgius“—”May St. George be a present help to the English.” This soldier happened to know Latin and other useless things, and now, as he fired at his man in the gray advancing mass—three hundred yards away—he uttered the pious vegetarian motto. He went on firing to the end, and at last Bill on his right had to clout him cheerfully over the head to make him stop, pointing out as he did so that the King’s ammunition cost money and was not lightly to be wasted in drilling funny patterns into dead Germans.

     For as the Latin scholar uttered his invocation he felt something between a shudder and an electric shock pass through his body. The roar of the battle died down in his ears to a gentle murmur; instead of it, he says, he heard a great voice and a shout louder than a thunder-peal crying, “Array, array, array!”

His heart grew hot as a burning coal, it grew cold as ice within him, as it seemed to him that a tumult of voices answered to his summons. He heard, or seemed to hear, thousands shouting: “St. George! St. George!”

“Ha! Messire, ha! sweet Saint, grant us good deliverance!”

“St. George for merry England!”

“Harow! Harow! Monseigneur St. George, succor us!”

“Ha! St. George! Ha! St. George! a long bow and a strong bow.”

“Heaven’s Knight, aid us!”

And as the soldier heard these voices he saw before him, beyond the trench, a long line of shapes, with a shining about them. They were like men who drew the bow, and with another shout, their cloud of arrows flew singing and tingling through the air towards the German hosts.

The other men in the trench were firing all the while. They had no hope; but they aimed just as if they had been shooting at Bisley.

Suddenly one of them lifted up his voice in the plainest English.

“Gawd help us!” he bellowed to the man next to him, “but we’re blooming marvels! Look at those gray … gentlemen, look at them! D’ye see them? They’re not going down in dozens nor in ‘undreds; it’s thousands, it is. Look! look! there’s a regiment gone while I’m talking to ye.”

     “Shut it!” the other soldier bellowed, taking aim, “what are ye gassing about?”

     But he gulped with astonishment even as he spoke, for, indeed, the gray men were falling by the thousands. The English could hear the guttural scream of the German officers, the crackle of their revolvers as they shot the reluctant; and still line after line crashed to the earth.

     All the while the Latin-bred soldier heard the cry:

     “Harow! Harow! Monseigneur, dear Saint, quick to our aid! St. George help us!”

     “High Chevalier, defend us!”

     The singing arrows fled so swift and thick that they darkened the air, the heathen horde melted from before them.

     “More machine guns!” Bill yelled to Tom.

     “Don’t hear them,” Tom yelled back.

     “But, thank God, anyway; they’ve got it in the neck.”

     In fact, there were ten thousand dead German soldiers left before that salient of the English army, and consequently there was no Sedan. In Germany, a country ruled by scientific principles, the Great General Staff decided that the contemptible English must have employed shells containing an unknown gas of a poisonous nature, as no wounds were discernible on the bodies of the dead German soldiers. But the man who knew what nuts tasted like when they called themselves steak knew also that St. George had brought his Agincourt Bowmen to help the English.

Source: Short Stories: The Bowmen by Arthur Machen

There is still another reason to remember Loos though,  it was the cause for this to be written

For indeed, Rudyard Kipling’s only son, John, was killed at Loos on 27 September 1915.

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