Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Donald!

Donald Duck has turned 75 years old! On June 9th, 1934, the Silly Symphony short “The Wise Little Hen” premiered, featuring one Donald Fauntleroy Duck, resplendent in his trademark sailor jacket and cap sans trousers.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gotta luv local history!

This past weekend Chris & Bill Barber and myself attended a local favorite, Davenport House Heritage Days. It's a celebration everything "ole-timey" which includes 18th century cooking to moonshine making while also serving as a big "family reunion" as many folks with ties to the area return and catch up on the past year. We particpate because it's the 18th century home of Washington County's very first state senator who also served in the NC Continental Line. The crowds this year were good (250+), even with the morning drizzle dampening most of our activities. Our displays of 18th century cooking, arms and equipage of the soldier and apothecary were well received as we had a steady flow of visitors from 10 to 4. Our friends from across the sound, Chuck & Marilyn Racine, joined us for their first living history interpretation experience which I think has wet their appetite for more. Maybe next year, you can come "home" with us!

Monday, June 1, 2009

"Don't Give Up the Ship!"

The origin of a famous phrase from the War of 1812 was first uttered this day by Captain James Lawrence.....

The Battle of Boston Harbor was fought on 1 June 1813, between HMS Shannon and the USS Chesapeake, as part of the War of 1812. Shannon won the battle, and Chesapeake was captured. During this many men were killed on both sides.

At Boston, Captain James Lawrence took command of Chesapeake on 20 May 1813, and on 1 June, put to sea to meet the waiting HMS Shannon, the frigate whose written challenge had just missed Chesapeake's sailing. During six minutes of firing, two full broadsides were fired. Chesapeake was struck by 362 shots, while Shannon was hit by 258. Chesapeake suffered early in the exchange of broadsides, having its wheel shot away so she lost maneuverability. Lawrence himself was mortally wounded and was carried below. The crew struggled to carry out their captain's last order, "Don't give up the ship!", but were overwhelmed. The battle lasted thirteen minutes, killing or wounding 252 men. Shannon's Captain Broke was severely injured in fighting on the forecastle. Chesapeake and her crew were taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia where the sailors were imprisoned; the ship was repaired and taken into service by the Royal Navy. She was sold at Portsmouth, England in 1820 and broken up. Surviving timbers were used to build the nearby Chesapeake Mill in Wickham and can be seen and visited to this day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip....

This past weekend, the gang and I attended the Battle of Plymouth Living History Weekend. In its 19th year, the event has evolved into a big family reunion for reenactors, history buffs and the descendants of soldiers and sailors who fought along the banks of the Roanoke River. My group along with a few friends from the Tidewater Maritime Living History Association plyed the waters of the Roanoke most of the weekend on a reproduction of Picket Boat No.1, the boat that William B. Cushing used to sink the CS Ram Albemarle. The weather was perfect except for the heat, the oysters were good Friday night and the discussion regarding the "Americanus Redneckus" was priceless! The only thing that could have made the weekend even better would have been more shipmates in attendance!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And so it begins.....

The bloodiest four years in American history begin when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard open fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern "insurrection."

As early as 1858, the ongoing conflict between North and South over the issue of slavery had led Southern leadership to discuss a unified separation from the United States. By 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the anti-slavery party, won the presidency. Following Republican Abraham Lincoln's victory over the divided Democratic Party in November 1860, South Carolina immediately initiated secession proceedings. On December 20, the South Carolina legislature passed the "Ordinance of Secession," which declared that "the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved." After the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. Within six weeks, five more Southern states--Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana--had followed South Carolina's lead.

In February 1861, delegates from those states convened to establish a unified government. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was subsequently elected the first president of the Confederate States of America. When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, a total of seven states (Texas had joined the pack) had seceded from the Union, and federal troops held only Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens off the Florida coast, and a handful of minor outposts in the South. Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Long, Obstinate and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse" - A New Bar Has Been Set!

I have to admit that I have spent quite a bit of time anticipating this book. My anticipation was driven by the knowledge of the authors’ previous works as well as a thirst for the definitive Guilford story. Since finishing “Long, Obstinate and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse”, I can happily say that I was not disappointed! The authors have crafted a very logical story, taking on many of the myths and larger-than-life characters that have populated this important part of the American Revolution’s Southern Campaign. Specifically interesting to me was how Babits and Howard correlated pension statements with the various known histories, either proving the stories or debunking them. The maps were outstanding and helped me really understand the flow of the battle. While not perfect (i.e., Rockingham County Militia?), I find this book to be both well-written and well-documented. The bar has been raised in regards to the future exploration of key battles. With “A Devil of A Whipping” and “Long, Obstinate and Bloody” written, I now shall be anticipating the next book in what I like to call their “American Revolution Southern Campaign Series”.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.....

The one year I finally make it to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, it's a washout. My neighbor, Bill Barber, and I arrived Friday afternoon to help our compatriots in the 6th NC set up camp. The unit's truck hadn't arrived yet, so we headed off for dinner and then to the NPS visitor center to hear Dr. Larry Babits and Josh Howard present the findings of their new book on the battle, "Long, Obstinate and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse". The presentation was outstanding and you should pick up the book as it dispels myths and brings new, interesting facts to the surface. After spending the night at "Camp Days Inn", we ventured over to camp in the steady rain. Shortly after arriving, the announcement was made that due to inclement weather (100% chance of rain all day!), the battle for Saturday afternoon had been cancelled. So with nothing to do, I visited the sutlers and soon made my way home Saturday afternoon (after grabbing something for supper at Char-Grill in Raleigh). While definitely not a complete weekend, I did have a great time at the lecture Friday night and had a chance to spend time with some old and new friends.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We aren't in Kansas anymore....

As I watch the politicians manage (or mismanage) our economy, I feel like I am watching the Wizard of Oz. President Obama is much like the wizard..."Don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain". Nancy Pelosi is like the Wicked Witch of the West, "I'm going to get you my pretties". I don't think fixing things will be as easy as clicking our heels and saying, "There's no place like home...There's no place like home!" I think everyone is beginning to feel like a squished munchkin!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You know what makes me so angry....

Do you realize that the economic team that President Obama has assembled to guide our faltering economy actually oversaw its downfall? Lawrence Summers, his economic advisor and Tim Geithner, his treasury secretary have both been involved in the nation's economic structure for well over 10 years. How he could trust these two to shepperd the economy is beyond me. Throwing money at the problem is not the answer. Our credit markets are in a mess because money was lent to people who couldn't pay it back. This was encouraged and to some degree, required, by the Community Reinvestment Act that stipulated that banks must lend in areas and to people that had a horrible track record in regards to lending. Greed and outright stupidity are the culprits of this mess. Much like humanity pays for sins because of Adam's deliberate sin, our children will be paying for our mistakes. Just my two cents....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not much today.....just some snow and the Inauguration

This morning brought snow like I haven't seen it in some time. At the present, I know we have at least 4 inches on the ground and it hasn't stopped falling yet. I love to see it. The world looks so clean, so bright. It slows the world around us down so that we can take more than a brief moment to stop and take a deep breath and enjoy what God has created.

Today, however, was more than just snow. It was something that has happened many times during the last two hundred or so years. Today we witnessed something that makes us unique.....a peaceful change of power. Yes, today was Inauguration Day. We saw the reigns of power pass from one man's hands to another. I think we take it for granted the blueprint that our forefathers created. To end this post, I leave you with our first President's, George Washington, first address.

George Washington
First Inaugural Address
In the City of New York
Thursday, April 30, 1789

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.
By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President "to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.
To the foregoing observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.
Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Monday, January 12, 2009

This day in history......

1879: British-Zulu War begins (All reenactors love this one!)

1971: All in the Family premieres (Eeeeedith!)

1969: Broadway Joe delivers (and forever curses the Jets!)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy Birthday "Ole Pete"

January 8, 1821

Confederate General James Longstreet born

Confederate General James Longstreet is born near Edgefield, South Carolina. Longstreet became one of the most successful generals in the Confederate Army, but after the war was a target of some of his comrades, who were searching for a scapegoat.

Longstreet grew up in Georgia and attended West Point, graduating 54th in a class of 62 in 1842. He was a close friend of Ulysses S. Grant, and served as best man in Grant's 1848 wedding to Julia Dent, Longstreet's fourth cousin. Longstreet fought in the Mexican War and was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec. He served in the army until he resigned at the beginning of the Civil War, when he was named brigadier general in the Confederate Army.

Longstreet fought at the First Battle of Bull Run and within a year was commander of corps in the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee. Upon the death of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, Longstreet was considered the most effective corps commander in Lee's army. He served with Lee for the rest of the war--except for the fall of 1863, when he took his force to aid the Confederate effort in Tennessee.

Longstreet was severely wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, and he did not return to service for six months. He resumed service and fought with Lee until the surrender at Appomattox in April 1865. After the war, Longstreet engaged in a number of businesses and held several governmental posts, most notably U.S. Minister to Turkey. Although successful, he made two moves that greatly tarnished his reputation among his fellow southerners. He joined the despised Republican Party and publicly questioned Lee's strategy at the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg. His fellow officers considered these sins to be unforgivable, and former comrades such as Generals Jubal Early and John Gordon attacked Longstreet as a traitor. They asserted that, in fact, Longstreet was responsible for the errors that lost Gettysburg.

Longstreet outlived most of his comrades and detractors but died on January 2, 1904. His second wife, Helen Dortch, lived until 1962.