August 31, 1864: Death Comes For Father Emery



Destiny attended Emmeran Bliemel at his birth on the feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of soldiers, in 1831 in Bavaria.  From his early boyhood his burning desire was to be a missionary to German Catholics in far off America.  Joining a Benedictine Abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1851, he was ordained a priest in 1856. (more…)

Published in: on August 31, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on August 31, 1864: Death Comes For Father Emery  
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John McCain: Requiescat In Pace


Senator John McCain (R.AZ) has died at age 81 of brain cancer.  That is a very hard way to go, as I know from my secretary of 30 years dying from similar cancer three years ago on August 28, 2015.  He is at peace now, and my prayers for both him and his family.  I was not a political supporter of Senator McCain except, reluctantly, when he was the Republican standard bearer in 2008.  However, I never doubted his courage, based upon his refusal to accept freedom in 1968 from his North Vietnamese captors due, doubtless, to his father being a high ranking Admiral and the North Vietnamese seeking a propaganda coup.  He was warned by his captors that refusal would mean torture and very bad treatment for him, and they amply kept their word.  Whatever else he did in his life, at that moment McCain was a true American hero.


Published in: on August 29, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on John McCain: Requiescat In Pace  
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Victory in 1918

A century ago  the initiative had clearly swung to the Allies on the Western Front.  Launching multiple small offensives, the Allies were driving the Germans back producing soaring Allied morale and plummeting German morale.  The German army remained formidable, but both Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch and British Commander Douglas Haig began to think that victory could be achieved in 1918.

The optimism of the Allies was reflected in General Pershing’s Order of the Day on August 27, 1918:


It fills me with pride to record in general orders a tribute to the service achievements of the 1st and 3rd Corps, comprising the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 26th, 28th, 32nd, and 42nd Divisions of the American Expeditionary Forces.

You came to the battlefield at a crucial hour for the Allied cause. For almost four years the most formidable army the world has yet seen had pressed its invasion of France and stood threatening its capital.

At no time has that army been more powerful and menacing than when, on July 15th, it struck again to destroy in one great battle the brave men opposed to it and to enforce its brutal will upon the world and civilization.

Three days later, in conjunction with our allies, you counter-attacked. The Allied armies gained a brilliant victory that marks the turning point of the war. You did more than to give the Allies the support to which, as a nation, our faith was pledged. You proved that our altruism, our pacific spirit, and our sense of justice have not blunted our virility or our courage.

You have shown that American initiative and energy are as fit for the tasks of war as for the pursuits of peace.

You have justly won unstinted praise from our allies and the eternal gratitude of our countrymen.

We have paid for our success with the lives of many of our brave comrades. We shall cherish their memory always and claim for our history and literature their bravery, achievement, and sacrifice.

This order will be read to all organizations at the first assembly formations following its receipt.


Published in: on August 27, 2018 at 11:59 pm  Comments Off on Victory in 1918  
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August 26, 1863: The Other Battle of Perryville

James G. Blunt



In addition to the famous battle of Perryville fought in Kentucky on October 8, 1862 there was another battle of Perryville fought on August 26, 1862 in the Indian Territory, the forgotten theater of the Civil War.

Following up on his victory at Honey Springs on July 17, 1863,  go here to read about it, Union Major General James G. Blunt was intent on cementing Union dominance of the Indian Territory.  Located 24 miles southwest of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Perryville, now known as Cameron, Oklahoma, was the major supply depot for Confederate forces in the Indian Territory. (more…)

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August 24, 1814: Burning of Washington

One of the more humiliating events in American history, the burning of Washington was the low point in American fortunes during the War of 1812.


After the British landed an army to attack Washington, Captain Johsua Barney, a Catholic and Revolutionary War hero, go here to read about him, and 500 of his sailors and marines, joined the American army seeking to stop the invaders.  At the battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, Barney and his men put up a spirited defense, with cutlasses and bayonets against the advancing British, and throughout it all Barney rallying his men with cries of “Board ‘em!  Board ‘em!” Ultimately the Americans retreated, and Barney, seriously wounded, was captured one last time in his career by the British.  After being paroled by his captors, he spent the rest of the War recuperating at his farm in Maryland.  The heroic stand of Barney and his men had given enough time for Washington to be evacuated, and after the war the grateful citizens of Washington presented a sword to the old sailor for the land fight which ended his naval career. (more…)

Published in: on August 24, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on August 24, 1814: Burning of Washington  
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August 23, 1864: Secret Cabinet Memo

We are Coming Father Abraham, written by Stephen Foster in 1862.  Few songs better conveyed Northern determination to win the War.  However, by August 1864 that determination seemed to be wearing thin.


With the War stalled both East and West Union morale was faltering.  On August 22, 1864 Lincoln received a letter from Republican party chairman Henry J. Raymond suggesting that Lincoln offer peace terms to Jefferson Davis on the sole term of acknowledgement of the supremacy of the Constitution with slavery to be dealt with at a later date.   Lincoln’s morale remained unshaken, but he was a veteran politician and could read the political tea leaves as well as any political prognosticator.  That he read defeat in the tea leaves is demonstrated by what has become known as The Blind Memorandum.  Lincoln sealed this document and on August 23, 1864 asked his cabinet officers to sign it unread.  They complied.  Here is the text:

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.

A. Lincoln (more…)

Published in: on August 23, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on August 23, 1864: Secret Cabinet Memo  
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The Kansas Nebraska Act and the Great Change in American Politics


An excellent presentation in how the Kansas-Nebraska Act reshuffled American politics.  This happens periodically in American politics.  American politics seems geared to two great parties fighting it out for political dominance, and it can often seem that nothing can change in the face of such a monolithic standoff.  However the Kansas-Nebraska Act demonstrates the factors that can lead to rapid political change.  Some of the factors are:


  1.  Some great issue arises that the conventional political parties seem helpless to deal with.
  2. The great issue cuts across the traditional two parties.
  3.  In confronting the great issue new political alignments are formed.
  4. Out of this maelstrom one party presents to the public some hope of resolving that issue and that party goes on to achieve political dominance, usually for several decades.

When Senator Douglas dreamed up the Kansas-Nebraska Act he predicted it would raise “one hell of a storm”.  Douglas never spoke more prophetic words.  His great antagonist Abraham Lincoln immediately grasped the great significance of what had happened and he noted it in a speech on October 16, 1854:


It is an aggravation, rather, of the only one thing which ever endangers the Union. When it came upon us, all was peace and quiet. The nation was looking to the forming of new bonds of Union; and a long course of peace and prosperity seemed to lie before us. In the whole range of possibility, there scarcely appears to me to have been any thing, out of which the slavery agitation could have been revived, except the very project of repealing the Missouri compromise. Every inch of territory we owned, already had a definite settlement of the slavery question, and by which, all parties were pledged to abide. Indeed, there was no uninhabited country on the continent, which we could acquire; if we except some extreme northern regions, which are wholly out of the question. In this state of case, the genius of Discord himself, could scarcely have invented a way of again getting [setting?] us by the ears, but by turning back and destroying the peace measures of the past. The councils of that genius seem to have prevailed, the Missouri compromise was repealed; and here we are, in the midst of a new slavery agitation, such, I think, as we have never seen before.


The Compromise of 1850 seemed to ensure the maintenance of the political status quo.  Kansas-Nebraska revealed that the old political order was dying and a new one was in the process of being born.

Published in: on August 22, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Kansas Nebraska Act and the Great Change in American Politics  
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Death of a Nation: A Review



I saw Death of a Nation, the latest film of Dinesh  D’Souza, on Saturday with my bride and son.  Overall I was disappointed by it.  The review is below the fold and the caveat as to spoilers is strictly in force.


Published in: on August 20, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Death of a Nation: A Review  
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The Old Testament in Five Minutes

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


Superb.  This has almost two million views on YouTube.  We need Catholic Apostolates that could do internet videos with this type of production values and this type of faith.  Too many Catholic videos on the internet are shockingly bad.  Good intentions do not make up for appallingly bad execution.

Published in: on August 19, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Old Testament in Five Minutes  

Aretha Franklin: Requiescat in Pace


Something for the weekend.  I Say A Little Prayer, sung by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  She died this week at age 76, leaving behind a body of work that will give joy to generations to come, and that is not a bad legacy.

Published in: on August 18, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Aretha Franklin: Requiescat in Pace  
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