Martin Treptow’s Pledge

Martin August Treptow was a barber from Cherokee, Iowa.  Enlisting in the National Guard, during World War I his unit was called up and Treptow found himself in the 168th Infantry, part of the 42nd Division, called the Rainbow Division by Major Douglas MacArthur, who would rise during the War to eventually command the division, because it consisted of National Guard units that stretched across the country like a rainbow.

July 30th, 1918 was a hard day for the division.  Participating in the Second Battle of the Marne which stopped the last major German offensive of the War and saved Paris from capture, the division was attempting to take Hill 212 on La Croix Rouge Farm and incurring heavy casualties.  A message from Treptow’s unit needed to be taken to another platoon.  Private Treptow did not hesitate, but grabbed the message and ran off with it.  As he neared the platoon leader to deliver the message, Treptow was cut down by a burst of German fire.  He was twenty-five years old.  Sergeant  Joyce Kilmer was killed on the same day, in the same battle, a little bit later.  (more…)

Published in: on July 30, 2018 at 11:59 pm  Comments Off on Martin Treptow’s Pledge  
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July 30, 1918: Joyce Kilmer Killed in Action

I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

That poem written by Alfred Joyce Kilmer, better known as Joyce Kilmer, in 1914 is, unfortunately, all most Americans remember todayis regrettable, because he was a devout Catholic and an American patriot and he deserves better than relative historical oblivion.

 Born in 1886 into an Episcopalian family in New Brunswick , New Jersey,  Kilmer studied at the Rutgers College Grammar School, Rutgers College and graduated from Colombia in 1908.  Shortly after graduation he married Aline Murray, the love of his life, a poet in her own right.  Together they had a happy home and five children to fill it.

Initially teaching Latin in Morristown, New Jersey, Kilmer quickly embarked on a literary life, submitting essays and poems to the various magazines of the day.  From 1909 to 1912 he worked on the Funk and Wagnalls’ Dictionary.  In 1912 he became literary editor of The Churchman, a publication of the Episcopalian Church.  In 1913 he made the leap to being an ink-stained wretch and became a features writer for the New York Times.

In 1912 the Kilmers welcomed into this world their third child and second daughter, Rosamond (called Rose) Kilburn Kilmer.  Rose was afflicted with infantile paralysis.  A sick child often causes parents to look seriously at their faith, and the Kilmers were no different. Their conversion to Catholicism was no doubt helped along by Father James J. Daly, SJ, who became a good friend to the Kilmers after Rose’s birth, and who had been from 1898-1908 chaplain of the Fighting 69th, a New York National Guard regiment that was to play such a dominating role in Kilmer’s future.  Here is some of Kilmer’s correspondence with Father Daly that continued until Kilmer’s death.  In 1914, Kilmer wrote to Father Daly about his conversion: (more…)

Published in: on July 30, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 30, 1918: Joyce Kilmer Killed in Action  
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On Vacation 2018

 

Something for the weekend:  Holiday Road.  I am on vacation with my family until August 5. My internet connection in the coming week will range from intermittent to non-existent. That is now by choice.  In the past it was not, but now with ubiquitous wi-fi, portable ipads and kindles, that is no longer the case, and, truth to tell, it hasn’t been for the last several years.  I will have posts for each day I am away on the blog, but if something momentous occurs, for example:  Elvis is discovered working at a Big Boy’s in Tulsa, the Pope issues a Bull against blogging as a complete waste of time, or Trump  and Robert Mueller  have a fist fight on the White House steps, I trust that this post will explain why I am not discussing it.

First, up to Kenosha, Wisconsin with a visit to my bride’s mother.  We have been doing this since the birth of the twins and it has always been a fun family gathering.  I heartily recommend both the Kenosha Civil War Museum and the Milwaukee Zoo  Then it is back home next Tuesday for an overnight pit stop and to board our dog Cali until next Saturday

Then on to GenCon 51 over in Indianapolis.

 

My bride and I have only been attending since 1986, my bride missing 1991 when she was heavily pregnant with our twins.  (I made a 300 mile one day dash to the Convention that year through continual thunder storms by myself, one of the more foolish actions of my life.)

If any of you are close to Indianapolis and you have never attended, it is worth a drive to see tens of thousands of role players, board gamers and computer gamers in Congress assembled.  If nothing else you will go home reassured as to how comparatively normal you are.  Last year’s attendance was in excess of 60,000 and there are multitudes of gaming related events.

A good week albeit somewhat tiring, but I can rest in the law mines after I get back!

 

Published in: on July 28, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on On Vacation 2018  
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Rouge Bouquet

 

 

In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing:
“Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger’s past;
Now at last,
Go to sleep!”
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet
A delicate cloud of bugle notes
That softly say:
“Farewell!
Farewell!
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.
Farewell!”
Joyce Kilmer

Sergeant Kilmer wrote this poem to remember the nineteen men of the Fighting 69th killed in an artillery bombardment in the Rouge Bouquet wood on March 17, 1918.  It was read over the grave of Kilmer after he, too, was killed in action on July 30, 1918.  The Fighting 69th recite the poem each Memorial Day.

Published in: on July 27, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Rouge Bouquet  
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Real Nazis

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

 

Our friends on the Left are increasingly fond of tossing around the term Nazi.  A small reminder below of what real Nazis were like:

the most interesting—although horrible—sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, cable to Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, April 12, 1945

 

Published in: on July 24, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Real Nazis  
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One of the Last of the Few

‘Here’s a Spitfire – fly it, and if you break it there will be bloody hell to pay’.”

Geoffrey Wellum

 

Geoffrey Wellum has died at age 97.  He had the distinction of being the youngest British pilot, at age 18, to participate in the Battle of Britain.  Go here to read about him.  Seven of The Few still remain among us.

 

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Winston Churchill, August 20, 1940

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on One of the Last of the Few  
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The Robe of Christ

 

 

 

 

THE ROBE OF CHRIST
(For Cecil Chesterton)

AT the foot of the Cross on Calvary
Three soldiers sat and diced,
And one of them was the Devil
And he won the Robe of Christ.

When the Devil comes in his proper form
To the chamber where I dwell,
I know him and make the Sign of the Cross
Which drives him back to Hell.

And when he comes like a friendly man
And puts his hand in mine,
The fervour in his voice is not
From love or joy or wine.

And when he comes like a woman,
With lovely, smiling eyes,
Black dreams float over his golden head
Like a swarm of carrion flies.

Now many a million tortured souls
In his red halls there be:
Why does he spend his subtle craft
In hunting after me?

Kings, queens and crested warriors
Whose memory rings through time,
These are his prey, and what to him
Is this poor man of rhyme,

That he, with such laborious skill,
Should change from role to role,
Should daily act so many a part
To get my little soul?

Oh, he can be the forest,
And he can be the sun,
Or a buttercup, or an hour of rest
When the weary day is done.

I saw him through a thousand veils,
And has not this sufficed?
Now, must I look on the Devil robed
In the radiant Robe of Christ?

He comes, and his face is sad and mild,
With thorns his head is crowned;
There are great bleeding wounds in his feet,
And in each hand a wound.

How can I tell, who am a fool,
If this be Christ or no?
Those bleeding hands outstretched to me!
Those eyes that love me so!

I see the Robe—I look—I hope—
I fear—but there is one
Who will direct my troubled mind;
Christ’s Mother knows her Son.

O Mother of Good Counsel, lend
Intelligence to me!
Encompass me with wisdom,
Thou Tower of Ivory!

“This is the Man of Lies,” she says,
“Disguised with fearful art:
He has the wounded hands and feet,
But not the wounded heart.”

Beside the Cross on Calvary
She watched them as they diced.
She saw the Devil join the game
And win the Robe of Christ.

Joyce Kilmer

Published in: on July 20, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Robe of Christ  
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July 18, 1918: Marine Mustang From Croatia Earns Medal of Honor

“I am Cukela. I attack.”

Louis Cukela immigrated to the US from what is now Croatia in 1913 at the age of 25.  His English would always be somewhat broken, but that did not prevent from becoming a Marine legend.  Initially he served in the US Army as a trooper, being honorably discharged in 1916.  He enlisted in the Marines on January 31, 1917.  By July 18, 1918 he was a Gunnery Sergeant with the Fifth Marines.  He would come out of the War with a Second Lieutenant’s Commission and a chestful of medals, including the Medal of Honor, four Silver Star citations;  from France he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the Médaille militaire and the Croix de guerre 1914–18 with two palms and one silver star;  Italy decorated him with the Croce al Merito di Guerra;   and the newly formed state of Yugoslavia remembered their native son after the War with the Commander’s Cross of the Royal Order of the Crown of Yugoslavia.

He fought in every engagement in which the Fifth Marines were involved in France.  He earned the Medal of Honor on July 18, 1918 near Villers-Cotterets, France.  Here is his Medal of Honor Citation:

 

 

When his company, advancing through a wood, met with strong resistance from an enemy strong point, Sgt. Cukela crawled out from the flank and made his way toward the German lines in the face of heavy fire, disregarding the warnings of his comrades. He succeeded in getting behind the enemy position and rushed a machinegun emplacement, killing or driving off the crew with his bayonet. With German handgrenades he then bombed out the remaining portion of the strong point, capturing 4 men and 2 damaged machineguns.

Technically he received two Medals of Honor, one from the Army and one from the Navy.  Cukela stayed in the Corps, rising to the rank of Major and retiring in 1946.  He became famous in the Corps for his eccentricities, his mangling of English and his rough and ready humor.  Go here to read more about him.  He was buried with full military honors at Arlington in 1956, his beloved wife joining him a few months after his death.  Apparently there was a lot to love about the old warrior.

Published in: on July 18, 2018 at 11:59 pm  Comments Off on July 18, 1918: Marine Mustang From Croatia Earns Medal of Honor  
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American Expeditionary Forces

 

A good overview of the growth of the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I.  The narrator seems to have a German accent which does give a slight surreal quality to the video.

Published in: on July 17, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on American Expeditionary Forces  
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Springfield Book Haul

As usual my family and I took our annual July excursion down to Springfield to visit the Lincoln Museum and to pray for the repose of Mr. Lincoln’s soul at his tomb.  My son outside the tomb lifted up a little girl who was trying to reach the nose of Lincoln’s bust outside of the tomb so she could rub it for luck.  Thus are bits of Lincoln lore passed down the generations.  As usual I purchased books at the Museum and at the Prairie Archives bookstore.

 

 

  1. Stanton, Walter Stahr (2017)-Lincoln’s Secretary of War is one of those major figures of the Civil War who, for one reason or another, never seem to attract scholarly attention.  The research on Stanton has been truly meager, considering his importance, and hopefully this volume will spur further study of Lincoln’s “Mars”.
  2. Lincoln in the Atlantic World, Louise L. Stevenson (2015)- A look at how Lincoln incorporated knowledge from abroad both before and during his Presidency.  I will need some convincing here.  Few presidents have been more consumed by domestic considerations than Lincoln, and few presidents have been more completely focused throughout their careers on the US than Lincoln.
  3. Lincoln’s Greatest Journey, Noah Andre Trudeau (2016)- A veteran Civil War historian puts under the microscope the sixteen days that Lincoln spent with Grant at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac at the tail end of the War.
  4. Our One Common Country, James B. Conroy (2014)- A look at the abortive peace conference on February 3, 1865 which demonstrated why the Civil War was fought:  no grounds for compromise existed between the warring parties.
  5. Grant Rises in the West, Kenneth P. Williams, (1952, 1956)-Williams died of cancer in 1958 before he could complete his five volume study, Lincoln Finds a General.  These two volumes look at Grant up through the siege of Vicksburg.  Grant was fortunate that he had a few years to master the trade of being a general before he faced Lee in the Overland Campaign of 1864.
  6. Hitler:  The Man and the Military Leader, Percy Ernst Schramm (1963-English translation 1970)-In the very top echelon of German medievalists prior to World War II, Schramm, with the rank of Major, served as staff diarist for the German General Staff during the War and had daily access to the High Command including Hitler.
  7. A History of the Habsburg Empire 1526-1918 (1974)-How this rattletrap collection of odds and ends survived as an empire as long as it did is one of the miracles of European history.  Compare and contrast the immensely powerful Second Reich that endured from 1871-1918.
  8. Lawrence of Arabia, Jeremy Wilson (1990)- The authorized, by his then surviving brother, biography of T.E. Lawrence.  New studies of Lawrence show up regularly and I doubt if there will ever be one that can be claimed to be definitive.  Lawrence was a fabulist (liar) of the first order, and loved telling conflicting versions of events in his life, and that greatly increases the work of any biographer.  Additionally, the people who came into contact with Lawrence often had quite different recollections than those set down by Lawrence.  Lawrence was a scholar and artist pretending to be a great warrior and prophet of Arab nationalism, and the pretense seems to have caused him to become somewhat detached from reality.  A deeply strange man who still eludes biographers down to the present.

 

Published in: on July 16, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Springfield Book Haul  
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