Agincourt the Battle


October 25, 1415 was an amazing day for the English.  The English longbow had long proved during the Hundred Years War to be a devastating weapon in the hands of skilled archers, but rarely had the English faced such long odds as they did at Agincourt.  Approximately 6,000 English, exhausted and worn from their march, faced approximately 30,000 French.  About five out of six of the English were archers with the remainder men-at-arms, knights and nobility.  The French had about 10,000 men-at-arms, knights and nobility, and 20,000 archers, crossbowmen and miscellaneous infantry.

The English established their battle line between the woods of Agincourt and Tramecourt, which offered excellent protection to both of their flanks.  The English archers made up the front line with stakes set in the ground before them to impale charging horses.  Archers were also placed in the woods to provide flanking fire against advancing French.  The men at arms and knights and nobility, were divided into three forces behind the archers.  They fought on foot.

The terrain between the woods that the French would have to cross in their attack of the English consisted of newly ploughed, and very muddy, fields.  Having walked through muddy fields on several occasions in rural Illinois, I can attest that simply getting from point A to point B in such terrain can be exhausting, let alone fighting at the end of the tramp through the morass. (more…)

Published in: on October 25, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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My Blood Boils


(I posted this at The American Catholic.  I nomally shy away from expressing my views on current events on Almost Chosen People since this is a blog focused on history, but I am going to make an exception this time.)


An example of how fouled up our priorities are:

The Pentagon is seeking to recover decade-old reenlistment bonuses paid to thousands of California Army National Guard soldiers to go fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The paper reported that nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom risked their lives during multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay the cash bonuses after audits revealed widespread overpayments by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets at the height of the wars 10 years ago.

But soldiers say the military is reneging on old agreements and imposing severe financial hardship on those whose only mistake was to accept the bonuses, which amounted to $15,000 or more.

The Army asked wounded Iraq veteran and former Army captain Christopher Van Meter, 42, to repay a $25,000 reenlistment bonus it said he was ineligible to receive. He was also asked to repay $21,000 in student loan repayments.

Van Meter told the paper that rather than fight the Army he paid back the money after refinancing his home.

“These bonuses were used to keep people in,” Van Meter said. “People like me just got screwed.” (more…)

Published in: on October 24, 2016 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  

October 23, 1935: A Mobster Cheats Satan


Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

 “The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.”

Oscar Wilde

Arthur Simon Flegenheimer was born into a Jewish family of German immigrants in New York City on August 6, 1902, the Feast of the Transfiguration.  Early in his life his father abandoned the family, and life was harsh for Arthur, his mother and his younger sister.  He dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help support the family.  He quickly fell into a life of crime and by age 18 was serving a prison sentence.  He was paroled on December 8, 1920, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Going to work for Schultz Trucking, he swiftly returned to crime.  Among his gangland colleagues he adopted the nom de crime of Dutch Schultz.  Gangster Joey Noe hired him in 1928 to work as a bouncer at a small speakeasy, Hub Social Group.  Impressed by his brutality and ruthlessness, Noe took Schultz into partnership and soon he became wealthy owning with Noe a chain of speakeasies.  The Noe-Schultz gang quickly became a power in Manhattan, the sole non-Italian gang to rival the five Italian crime organizations that would later merge as the founding five families of the American Mafia.

The expansion into the upper west side of Manhattan, brought Noe and Schultz into conflict with Irish-American gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond.  War breaking out between the gangs, Joey Noe was gunned down and died on November 21, 1928.  Schultz was crushed by the loss of his friend and mentor.

Holding his own among the murderous New York gangs, Schultz pioneered the numbers racket at the end of Prohibition and also extorted “protection” money from restaurants.  In the summer of 1935 he was successful in beating a tax evasion prosecution.  During his trial he had portrayed himself as an honest business man, and he engaged in numerous charitable activities.  Secretly he began to study Catholicism, convinced that for some unfathomable reason Jesus had spared him from prison.

On October 23, 1935 Schultz was gunned down by Murder, Inc., the gangland Commission having ordered the murder, fearing that Shultz would attempt to murder New York prosecutor Thomas Dewey in revenge for his prosecution of Schultz, and bring the wrath of the law down on their heads.

Taken to a hospital, certain he was to die, Schultz begged to die as a Catholic.  Father Cornelius McInerney was summoned, gave Schultz some simple instruction in the Faith, baptized him and gave him the Last Rites. As  Schultz went into surgery, Father McInerney stayed at the hospital and comforted the three women in the life of Schultz, his mother, his sister and his wife.  Schultz died after the surgery on October 24.  He was given a funeral mass and buried at Gate of Heaven cemetery. (more…)

The Dream of Flight


Something for the weekend. Sogno di Volare, The Dream of Flight, the theme song of the game Civilization VI that was released yesterday.  (Be still my geek heart!)  I know what will be occupying my weekend!



Published in: on October 22, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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October 21, 1960: Fourth and Final Nixon-Kennedy Debate



The fourth and final Nixon-Kennedy debate.  Most pundits scored this debate a draw.  Although the debates are famous, I do wonder if they exerted much impact on the election outcome.  They certainly were more dignified and issue oriented than our wretched presidential debates this year.  Of course that would have changed if the colorful, to say the least, private life of John Kennedy had been front and center.  Of course, it was a different world back then.  Many reporters knew that Kennedy was a womanizer.  However, this was at a time when  the personal sins of most politicians were not revealed by the press.  Whether this was a good or bad thing I will leave to another post.  However, our world is so different now, that such reportorial discretion is almost unimaginable, at least if the politician has an R after his name.  Even with Democrats, the media is so diverse, such news would have a hard time being kept under wraps for any length of time.  Go here to view the entire debate.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt



Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood—the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

Theodore Roosevelt, January 10, 1917

Published in: on October 20, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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CS Lewis Explains Why He Was Not a Pacifist


(I posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)



It is, of course, true that wars never do half the good which the leaders of the belligerents say they are going to do. Nothing ever does half the good — perhaps nothing ever does half the evil — which is expected of it. And that may be a sound argument for not pitching one’s propaganda too high. But it is no argument against war. If a Germanised Europe in 1914 would have been an evil, then the war which would have prevented that evil would have been, so far, justified. To call it useless because it did not also cure slums and unemployment is like coming up to a man who has just succeeded in defending himself from a man-eating tiger and saying, “It’s no good, old chap. This hasn’t really cured your rheumatism!”

CS Lewis

Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 4:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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October 18, 1867: US Takes Possession of Alaska



The US purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 was not popular.  Widely derided as Seward’s Folly, critics thought the US was paying seven million dollars for a worthless, sparsely populated Arctic wasteland.  The Senate approved the treaty negotiated by Secretary of State William Seward by one vote.  Criticism of the purchase would continue until the Klondike gold strike of 1896.

The capital of Russian Alaska was Sitka, also known as New Archangel.  On October 18, 1867 US troops landed at Sitka and the stars and stripes was raised.  General Lovell Rousseau reported on the proceedings to Secretary Seward:


The troops being promptly formed, were, at precisely half past three o’clock, brought to a ‘present arms’, the signal given to the Ossipee … which was to fire the salute, and the ceremony was begun by lowering the Russian flag … The United States flag … was properly attached and began its ascent, hoisted by my private secretary [and son], George Lovell Rousseau, and again salutes were fired as before, the Russian water battery leading off. The flag was so hoisted that in the instant it reached its place the report of the big gun of the Ossipee reverberated from the mountains around … Captain Pestchouroff stepped up to me and said, ‘General Rousseau, by authority from his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the Territory of Alaska’ and in a few words I acknowledged the acceptance of the transfer, and the ceremony was at an end. (more…)

Published in: on October 18, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Angel of Hadley




The town of Hadley was alarmed by the Indians in 1675, in the time of public worship, and the people were in the utmost confusion. Suddenly a grave, elderly person appeared in the midst of them. In his mien and dress he differed from the rest of the people. He not only encouraged them to defend themselves, but put himself at their head, rallied, instructed and led them on to encounter the enemy, who by this means were repulsed. As suddenly the deliverer of Hadley disappeared. The people were left in consternation, utterly unable to account for this strange phenomenon. It is not probable that they were ever able to explain it. If Goffe had been then discovered, it must have come to the knowledge of those persons, who declare by their letters that they never knew what became of him.

Thomas Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts Bay (1764)

Three of the regicides who sentenced Charles I to death took refuge in New England after the Restoration:  John Dixwell, Major General Edward Whalley and his son-in-law Major General William Goffe.  Goffe and Whalley were both experienced soldiers, having fought throughout the English Civil Wars.  They had also both served as Major Generals in Cromwell’s scheme to have Major Generals rule ten administrative districts in England, the only period of military dictatorship in English history.  All three of the regicides found refuge in New Haven, Connecticut.   Living under the assumed name of James David, Dixwell lived in peace in New Haven until his death in 1689.   Not so Whalley and Goffe who were too well known.  On the run, they ultimately found refuge in the frontier settlement of Hadley, Massachusetts.  Whalley probably died in 1675 while Goffe probably passed away in 1679.  (more…)

Norman Conquest Thanks to My Bride’s Family

(I posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)


Nine hundred and fifty years since the Norman Conquest and it may be all the fault of my bride’s family!  She is a descendant of Norwegian King Harold Hardrada (Hard Ruler), a true swashbuckler whose exploits ranged from Constantinople to the Arctic Circle.  He lived as a Viking although after he became King he was sympathetic to Christianity.  The golden age of Hollywood missed a great movie on his life with Errol Flynn in the starring role.  The Norman victory at Hastings may not have been possible but for his invasion of England in alliance with Tostig, the brother of English King Harold Godwinson.  Harold Hardrada was defeated by Harold Godwinson at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, losing the battle and his life.  The battle was fought on September 25, 1066.   Harold Godwinson left much of his forces in the north to guard against any further Norwegian raids.   By the time of the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, Harold’s force was weary from fighting and forced marching and much smaller than it would have been but for Harold Hardrada’s intervention.  If Harold had won, who knows, perhaps my bride would now be part of British royalty!  However, in that reality she almost certainly would never have married me.  I selfishly prefer this reality!

Published in: on October 16, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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