September 30, 1862: First Battle of Newtonia

The first notable battle in the Trans-Mississippi theater of operations after the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas in March of 1862, the battle was fought at Newtonia, Missouri in the southwest portion of the State, near the border with Arkansas and the Indian territory.  A brigade of Confederate troops under  Colonel Douglas H. Cooper occupied Newton on September 27, 1862.    They were attacked by Union Brigadier General Frederick G. Salomon, a German immigrant, leading two small brigades totaling 1500 men, on September 30.

Initially the Union attack made headway, but Confederate reinforcements arriving turned the tide, and the Union brigades retreated.  A strong Confederate pursuit turned the retreat into a rout.  Total Union casualties were 250 compared to 100 for the Confederates.  In spite of the Confederate victory, the Confederate stay in Southwestern Missouri was brief, due to being heavily outnumbered by Union troops in the area.  The battle today is chiefly remembered as a result of the large number of American indians that fought on both sides.  Colonel  Cooper, the commander of the Confederate troops, was a former Indian agent and  led Confederate Indian troops throughout the War.  After the War he lived in the Indian Territory and was an ardent supporter of Choctaw and Chickasaw land claims against the Federal government.  Here is his report on the battle: (more…)

Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
Tags: ,

Fanfare for the Common Soldier

Something for the weekend.  Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland.  Composed seventy years ago, it was Copland’s reaction to the US entering World War II.  Watching the video above, a salute to the soldiers of World War II, brought back memories from 36 years ago for me.

Back in the summer of 1976 I was on vacation between my freshman and sophomore years at the University of Illinois.  My father ran the steel shears at a truck body plant in Paris, Illinois.  They were hiring summer help and I got a job working on the factory floor.  Although I liked the idea of earning money, I was less than enthused by the job.  The factory floor was not air-conditioned, and the summer was hot.  Additionally I had never worked in a factory before, had no experience with heavy machinery and did not know what to expect.

I was placed under the supervision of a regular worker at the plant.  He looked like he was a thousand years old to me at the time, but I realize now that he was younger than than I am now at age 55.  I would assist him at a press in which we would manhandle heavy sheets of steel and use the press to bend them into various shapes.  Before we began he pointed to a little box and said that if I lost a finger or a part of a finger as a result of the press, I should toss it in the box and proceed with the job.  Thus I was introduced to his macabre sense of humor. (more…)

Published in: on September 29, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
Tags: , , , ,

Interview With Senator Everett M. Dirksen

An interview with Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, Republican from Illinois, first broadcast on May 7, 1952.  One of the great orators of his day, he was known by supporters and detractors as “The Wizard of Ooze”.  A World War I veteran, serving as a Second Lieutenant in an artillery battery, he got his start in politics in his hometown of Pekin, Illinois as commissioner of public finance.  He won a Congressional seat in 1932, a very bad year for Republicans, and entered the House, serving there until 1950, when he was elected to the Senate, where he served until his death in 1969.

Dirksen was a reliable conservative on economic issues and a strong advocate for civil rights for blacks.  He was a hawk on foreign policy.  When the Supreme Court banned prayer in schools, he sponsored a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision.  (more…)

Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
Tags: ,

Margaret Thatcher on Lincoln

 

A historical curiosity.  Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher performing the role of the narrator in Aaron Copland’s Portrait of Lincoln, circa 1992. (more…)

Published in: on September 27, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
Tags: ,

Angel of the Trenches

Joao Baptista DeValles was born in 1879 in Saint Miquel in the Azores.  At the age of 2 his family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts.  His first name anglicized to John, he quickly proved himself a brilliant student, eventually being fluent in six languages.  Ordained a priest in 1906 he served at Falls River at Espirito Santo Church, founding the first Portuguese language parochial school in the United States while he was there.  He later served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New Bedford and was pastor at Saint John the Baptist Church, also in New Bedford.

After the entry of the US into World War I, he joined the Army as a chaplain, serving with the 104th regiment, a Massachusetts National Guard outfit, part of the Yankee (26th) Division, made up of National Guard units from New England.  The Yankee Division arrived in France in September 1917, the second American division to arrive “Over There”.

The 104th was a hard fighting outfit, serving in all of the major campaigns of the American Expeditionary Force.  For heroic fighting at Bois Brule in April, 1918 the French government awarded the regiment a collective Croix de Guerre, an unprecedented honor for an American military unit.  There were quite a few very brave men in the 104th, and among the bravest of the brave was Chaplain DeValles.  For his heroism in rescuing wounded, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration for valor in the United States Army.  Here is the text of the citation:

104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: April 10 – 13, 1918
Citation:
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to John B. De Valles, Chaplain, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near
Apremont, Toul sector, France, April 10 to 13, 1918. Chaplain De Valles repeatedly exposed himself to heavy artillery and machine-gun fire in order to assist in the removal of the wounded from exposed points in advance of the lines. He worked for long periods of time with stretcher bearers in carrying wounded men to safety. Chaplain De Valles previously rendered gallant service in the Chemin des Dames sector, March 11, 1918, by remaining with a group of wounded during a heavy enemy bombardment.
General Orders No. No. 35, W.D., 1920 (more…)

Published in: on September 26, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
Tags: , ,

Cold Iron

The thirteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here and here.  I have noted several times in this series that Kipling was not conventionally religious, yet many of his poems dealt with religious themes.  One of his lesser known poems, Cold Iron, written in 1910, I have always found personally very moving.

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid –
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.”

“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

So he made rebellion ‘gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
“Nay!” said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — shall be master of you all!”

Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid ‘em all along;
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron — Cold Iron — was master of it all!

Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
“What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?”
“Nay!” said the Baron, “mock not at my fall,
For Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all.”

“Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown –
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.”

“As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
“Here is Bread and here is Wine — sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary’s Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron — Cold Iron — can be master of men all!”

He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
“See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
Show Iron — Cold Iron — to be master of men all.”

“Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason — I redeem thy fall –
For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

“Crowns are for the valiant — sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!”

“Nay!” said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all!
Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!” (more…)

Published in: on September 25, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
Tags: ,

Interview With Henry Steele Commanger

 

One of our occasional looks at Civil War historians.  Henry Steele Commanger lived from 1902-1998 and was writing until just a few years until his death. He held chairs in history at New York University, Columbia and Amherst.  His books and articles were legion.  His most notable writing on the Civil War was The Blue and the Gray published in two large volumes in 1950.  The subtitle, “The Civil War as told by Participants“, aptly describes the work.  Commanger in the over 1200 pages of the two volumes gives an encyclopedic selection from period letters, newspaper articles, memoirs, speeches, etc.  His selections are judicious and his commentary between the passages incisive.  Commanger would later use the same method with equal success in telling the story of the Revolution in The Spirit of Seventy-Six.  Unfortunately his method  caused a host of imitative “cut and paste” histories where his method was copied but not his skill.  However, that is hardly the fault of Commanger.

September 23, 1862: Battle of Wood Lake Minnesota

It is easy to forget that between 1861-1865 there were other wars fought by the United States in addition to the Civil War.  One of these was the Dakota War of 1862 fought in Minnesota.  Relations between the native Dakota (Sioux) and the white settlers of Minnesota had been rocky for years before 1862.  Late treaty payments, and cheating Indian agents had reduced many of the Dakota to poverty on their reservations.  Alcoholism was rampant as were diseases of the white man.   Encroachments on the land of the Dakota by the settler Tensions erupted into open conflict on August 17, 1862 when a member of a Dakota hunting party murdered five whites.  A council of Dakota under war chief Little Crow that evening decided it was time to drive the whites out of the Minnesota river valley.  Over the next few weeks between 450-800 settlers were massacred by the Dakota.  The Dakota made an attempt to take the town of New Ulm but were repulsed.

Regular Army troops, Minnesota volunteer regiments originally mustered to fight in the Civil War and various militia units fought the Dakota throughout the state.   The Americans held Fort Ridgely in the southwestern part of the State from two attacks by the Dakota.  The Dakota won two victories over the Americans at the Battle of Redwood Ferry on  August 18, 1862 and at Birch Coulee on September 2, 1862.

The decisive battle of the War took place at the battle of Wood Lake on September 23, 1862.  Colonel Henry Sibley marched from Fort Ridgely up the Minnesota River valley on September 19, 1862 with the Third, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiments, various militia units and a battery of six cannon.  Little Crow planned to ambush Sibley’s force at Lone Lake.  (Sibley’s guide mistakenly thought Lone Lake was Wood Lake, and hence the misnaming of the battle.)  The ambush was discovered when a foraging party from the Third Minnesota approached a group of Dakota concealed in high grass.  The fighting lasted for two hours.  Little Crow had between 700-1200 braves and Sibley had about 1169-2000 soldiers.  As usual, artillery had a big impact on the morale of Indians in combat.  The Americans routed the Dakotans.  Casualties were light on both sides with seven Americans kill and 7-15 Dakota. (more…)

Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,

September 22, 1862: Lincoln Issues Notice of Emancipation Proclamation

Something for the weekend.  Give us a Flag, the unofficial anthem of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, written by a private serving in the 54th Massachusetts.

Today is the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the notice by Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation, to take effect on January 1, 1863, Lincoln doing so after the Union victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862.  Reaction was, to say the least, mixed.  In the North the abolitionists were enraptured.  Most Northern opinion was favorable, although there was a substantial minority, embodied almost entirely in the Democrat party, that completely opposed this move.  Opinion in the Border States was resoundingly negative.  In the Confederacy the Confederate government denounced the proposed Emancipation Proclamation as a call for a race war.  Today, almost all Americans view the Emancipation Proclamation as a long overdue ending of slavery.  At the time it was very much a step into the unknown, and the consequences impossible to determine.  Lincoln had converted the War for the Union into a War for the Union and against Slavery.  It remained to be seen as to whether the War, whatever its objectives, could be won.  Here is the text of Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation: (more…)

Published in: on September 22, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
Tags: , , , , ,

Benjamin Franklin’s Speech on Signing the Constitution

A woman to Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Constitutional Convention:

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

  Benjamin Franklin“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

September 17 of this week was the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on  September 17, 1787 at the close of the Convention.  The speech of Benjamin Franklin on this occasion has always struck me as being chock full of wisdom.  Here is the text of his address: (more…)

Published in: on September 21, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 150 other followers