An Army training film teaching recruits some blunt and sad truths about war summed up in General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s aphorism: “War means fightin’ and fightin’ means killin’.” This message was more artistically conveyed in this film: (more…)
One hundred and fifty years ago today General John Pope was busily engaged in having his Union Army of Virginia thrashed by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at the Second Battle of Bull Run. In the 1880’s Pope wrote an article for Century Magazine, one of its many articles by Civil War commanders which would later come out in the four volume set Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, in which Pope did his unconvincing best to defend his conduct in this fiasco. Go here to read it. At the end of the article Pope claimed that he never said that his headquarters was in the saddle.
There are other matters which, although not important, seem not out of place in this paper. A good deal of cheap wit has been expended upon a fanciful story that I published an order or wrote a letter or made a remark that my “headquarters would be in the saddle.” It is an expression harmless and innocent enough, but it is even stated that it furnished General Lee with the basis for the only joke of his life. I think it due to army tradition, and to the comfort of those who have so often repeated this ancient joke in the days long before the civil war, that these later wits should not be allowed with impunity to poach on this well-tilled manor. This venerable joke I first heard when a cadet at West Point, and it was then told of that gallant soldier and gentleman, General W. J. Worth, and I presume it could be easily traced back to the Crusades and beyond. Certainly I never used this expression or wrote or dictated it, nor does any such expression occur in any order of mine; and as it was perhaps served its time and effected its purpose, it ought to be retired. (more…)
(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I assumed that the Civil War Mavens at Almost Chosen People would enjoy reading it.)
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has an unforgettable look at a book written by splenetic Leftist, Chuck Thompson, who wishes that the South would secede:
It may interest you to know that a significant number of those Americans who think that Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was a devastating tragedy, maybe even most of them, reside north of the Mason-Dixon Line and probably have never been to, have no ancestors from and have no interest in visiting that large area south of it.
If a leftist Yankee travel writer named Chuck Thompson, author of Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, ever put together a list of the worst American presidents, George W. Bush would probably come in second behind Abraham Lincoln. In the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim reviews the book:
On the first page, the author wonders why the American electoral system must be “held hostage by a coalition of bought-and-paid-for political swamp scum from the most uneducated, morbidly obese, racist, morally indigent, xenophobic, socially stunted, and generally ass-backwards part of the country.” You expect him to let up, to turn the argument around, to look at the other side of question. But he never does. For more than 300 pages, Mr. Thompson travels through the South observing customs, outlooks and people and subjecting them to an unremitting stream of denunciations.
The American South is certainly not above criticism or satire. And many writers from other parts of the country or the world have visited the South and written useful and interesting books about their experiences. Thompson, on the other hand, made up his mind beforehand and went looking for what he thought he needed to see. (more…)
If you were to ask people to name their favorite Federalist Paper, or even what they considered to be the most famous or important, most would indicate either Federalist 10 or 51. Others might name number 68, or perhaps 9 or 14. To me, Federalist 55 is not only one of the most important of the essays penned by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, it is one of the foundational texts of modern political thought.
This essay is concerned with the number of representatives in the House of Representatives, particularly the concerns that the Constitution allowed for far too few representatives. To begin with, Madison examined the state legislative assemblies and the wide variation in how they apportioned legislators. Some states had huge legislative assemblies, allotting one representative for every thousand or so citizens. Yet certain states, such as Pennsylvania, had relatively small legislatures, and thereby each elected legislator represented far more people. In the end, no precise formula was perfect.
Another general remark to be made is, that the ratio between the representatives and the people ought not to be the same where the latter are very numerous as where they are very few. Were the representatives in Virginia to be regulated by the standard in Rhode Island, they would, at this time, amount to between four and five hundred; and twenty or thirty years hence, to a thousand. On the other hand, the ratio of Pennsylvania, if applied to the State of Delaware, would reduce the representative assembly of the latter to seven or eight members. Nothing can be more fallacious than to found our political calculations on arithmetical principles. Sixty or seventy men may be more properly trusted with a given degree of power than six or seven. But it does not follow that six or seven hundred would be proportionably a better depositary. And if we carry on the supposition to six or seven thousand, the whole reasoning ought to be reversed.
What follows is a critical passage. (more…)
On April 27, 1863 Joe Hooker led the Army of the Potomac south of the Rappahannock River, opening the Chancellorsville campaign. Lieutenant General Thomas J. Jackson would die on May 10, 1863 from wounds received on Chancellorsville. We are therefore fortunate indeed that on April 27, 1863 he submitted his report on the Second Manassas campaign which culminated in the routing of the recently formed Union army of Virginia under General John Pope. Here is the text of the report:
HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VA., April 27, 1863. Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON, A. A. and I. G., Hdqrs. Dept. Northern Virginia.
L General: I have the honor herewith to submit to you a report of the operations of my command from August 15 to September 5, 1862, embracing the several engagements of Manassas Junction, Bristoe Station, Ox Hill, and so much of the battle of Groveton(on August 28, 29, and 30) as was fought by the troops under my command: On August 15, in obedience to instructions from the commanding General, I left my encampment, near Gordonsville, and, passing Orange Court-House, encamped in the evening near Mount Pisgah Church, where I remained until the 20th, when, in accordance with my instructions, while General Longstreet was crossing the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford, I crossed the same river at Somerville Ford. The command en. camped for the night near Stevensburg. My command at this time comprised Ewell’s, A. P. Hill’s, and Jackson’s divisions. Ewell’s was composed of the brigades of Generals Lawton, Early, Hays (Colonel Forno commanding), and Trimble, with the batteries of William D. Brown, W. F. Dement, J. W. Latimer, W. L Baithis, and L E D’Aquin A P Hill’s division was composed of the brigades of Generals Branch, Gregg, Field, Pender, Archer, and Colonel Thomas, with the batteries of C. M. Braxton. H. G. Latham, W. G. Crenshaw, D. G. Mcintosh, Greenlee Davidson, and W. J. Pegram. Jackson’s division, commanded by Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro, was composed of Winder’s brigade, Colonel Baylor commanding; Colonel Campbell’s brigade, Maj. John Seddon commanding; Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro’s brigade, Col. A. G. Taliaferro commanding, and Starke’s brigade, with the batteries of Brockenbrough, [George W.] Wooding, W. T. Poague, Joseph Carpenter, W. H. Caskie, and Charles I. Raine.
Major-General Stuart, with his cavalry, co-operated during the expedition, and I shall more than once have to acknowledge my obligations for the valuable and efficient aid which he rendered.
Early on the morning of the 21st the command left its encampment and moved in the direction of Beverly Ford, on the Rappahannock, General Taliaferro’s command in the lead. On approaching the ford the enemy was seen on the opposite bank. Batteries of that division, under the direction of Major Shumaker, chief of artillery, were placed in position, which, after a short resistance (as reported by General Taliaferro), silenced the enemy’s guns and dispersed his infantry. Major-General Stuart had crossed with a portion of his cavalry, supported by some pieces of artillery, and after skirmishing with the enemy a few hours, taking some prisoners and arms, returned with the information that the Federal forces were moving in strength upon his position and were close at hand. The enemy soon appeared on the opposite bank, and an animated firing was opened and, to a considerable extent, kept up across the river for the rest of the day between the Federal artillery and the batteries of Taliaferro’s command. (more…)
In honor of the 200th anniversary of her victory over the British frigate HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812, the first of five victories that the USS Constitution racked up against British men of war, the USS Constitution sailed on August 19, 2012. Commission in 1797, Old Ironsides, so nicknamed because in the egagement with the Guerriere British cannon balls were seen bouncing of her hull, is the oldest continuously commissioned warship in the world. She was saved from the scap heap in 1830 by this stirring poem written by Oliver Wendell Holmes who roused the public to demand that she be saved: (more…)
The twelfth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here , here and here. Kipling was not conventionally religious. He once described himself jokingly as a pious Christian atheist. However, many of his poems dealt with religious themes. One of his most moving religious poems he wrote in 1932, four years before his death.
At His Execution
I am made all things to all men–
Hebrew, Roman, and Greek–
In each one’s tongue I speak,
Suiting to each my word,
That some may be drawn to the Lord!
I am made all things to all men–
In City or Wilderness
Praising the crafts they profess
That some may be drawn to the Lord–
By any means to my Lord!
Since I was overcome
By that great Light and Word,
I have forgot or forgone
The self men call their own
(Being made all things to all men)
So that I might save some
At such small price to the Lord,
As being all things to all men.
I was made all things to all men,
But now my course is done–
And now is my reward…
Ah, Christ, when I stand at Thy Throne
With those I have drawn to the Lord,
Restore me my self again!
The poem is of course a tribute to Saint Paul as he awaited his execution at the command of Nero in Rome. The first stanza celebrates the universal nature of Saint Paul’s mission to the Jews, Greeks and Romans, to anyone and everyone who would hear the Good News. (more…)
For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.
Statement of the Armstrong Family
The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, died today at 82. He served as a naval fighter pilot in Korea, flying 78 combat missions. A test pilot after the war, his feats in that field were legendary, combining strong engineering ability, cold courage and preternatural flight skills. He was accepted into the astronaut program in 1962. On July 16, 1969, in the middle of the night in Central Illinois, he set foot on the moon. My father and I, like most of the country, were riveted to the television screen as we watched a turning point in the history of humanity. He intended to say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It came out: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Godspeed Mr. Armstrong on the journey you have just embarked upon. (more…)
Something for the weekend. A traditional sea shanty Haul Away Joe melded to a tribute to the 19th century American navy, a time when the ships were wood or iron, but the men were always made of iron.
The Presidential election in 1812 was one of the more interesting in our history. James Madison was running for re-election on the Jeffersonian Republican ticket. Dewitt Clinton, who was simultaneously Mayor of New York and Lieutenant Governor of New York, received the nomination of a dissident faction of the Jeffersonian Republicans, along with the nomination of the dying Federalist party. (more…)