November 30, 1864: Battle of Franklin

Battle of Franklin

With Sherman embarking on his March to the Sea, John Bell Hood and his Army of Tennessee were left confronting the Union forces in Tennessee, some sixty thousand troops to the 39,000 under Hood.  The odds were actually longer than that, as Union control of the railroads and rivers of Tennessee would allow rapid Union reinforcement in Tennessee if necessary.  Hood decided that his only option for victory was to take Tennessee from the Union.  This was the longest of long shots, but at this stage of the War no Confederate commander had strategic options that could be called anything other than bleak.  Hood’s plan at least had his army taking the initiative, and he could hope for some massive Union blunders that might transform an impossible situation into one that gave him some hope of at least slowing what he no doubt perceived as an inevitable Union victory in the War.

Hood entered Tennessee on November 21, and his campaign began with some promise.  The Union forces were divided by 75 miles with Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland in Nashville, and Schofield and his Army of the Ohio, some 27,000 men, at Pulaski, Tennessee.

Hood did his best to bring Schofield to battle before he could unite with Thomas and succeeded in doing so on November 30 at Franklin, Tennessee, some 21 miles south of Nashville, after the Army of Tennessee missed a golden opportunity to destroy a portion of Schofield’s retreating force at Spring Hill the day before.

Schofield had abandoned his pontoon bridge during the retreat and thus his army fought the Battle of Franklin with its back to the Harpeth River, and potential annihilation if the Confederates could dislodge his defense.  Hood realized the opportunity that presented itself and ordered an all out assault that began at 4:00 PM.

Some of the most desperate fighting of the Civil War ensued.  An initial Confederate breakthrough in the Union center was sealed after ferocious combat, much of it hand to hand. Confederate attacks continued until 10:00 PM.  The unsuccessful attacks devastated the Army of the Tennessee.  Union total casualties of approximately 2,200 included 189 killed.  Confederate killed were ten times that number with total Confederate casualties of 6200.  The tenor of the Confederate losses is illustrated by their generals who were casualties that day.  Six Confederate generals died, including perhaps the best Confederate division commander, Major General Patrick Cleburne, seven Confederate generals were wounded and one was captured.  Schofield withdrew across the river that night and march his army to Nashville.  Hood followed with his army, now a pale reflection of the force that he led into battle the day before.  November 30, 1864 was the black day of the Army of Tennessee.

Here is the report of General Thomas on the battle: (more…)

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Published in: on November 30, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on November 30, 1864: Battle of Franklin  
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Clemenceau Quote

I was seated between Jesus Christ and Napoleon.

David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister, on his experiences at the Paris Peace Conference with Wilson and Clemenceau.

For you a hundred years is a very long time; for us it does not amount to much. I knew men who had seen Napoleon with their own eyes. We have our conception of history and it cannot be the same as yours.

French Premier Georges (The Tiger) Clemenceau to President Woodrow Wilson, April 25, 1919

Clemenceau had lived and worked in the US for several years and spoke English fluently.  He was married to an American for twenty-one years until a contentious divorce ended his one and only marriage.  It is a tragedy that he understood the US far better than President Wilson understood Europe.

Published in: on November 29, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Clemenceau Quote  
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Seeing the Light

 

Hard to believe it is seventy-one years since I Saw the Light was written by Hank Williams.  The song powerfully coveys the hunger for salvation that was always a part of Williams’ brief and tragic life.  Dead before he reached 30, Williams was a great talent, and he threw it all away with alcoholism and addiction to drugs, which shattered both his personal and professional life.  His life typifies what Christ spoke of in this parable:

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

However, that is not all there is to say.  This song has brought comfort to millions as they call upon Christ in this Vale of Tears.  I hope it weighed heavily in the balance when Williams appeared before the God he clearly loved.

I wandered so aimless life filled with sin
I wouldn’t let my dear savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

Just like a blind man I wandered along
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I was a fool to wander and stray
For straight is the gate and narrow is the way
Now I have traded the wrong for the right
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

Published in: on November 28, 2018 at 7:49 am  Comments Off on Seeing the Light  
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November 18, 1978: Jonestown

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

 

Forty years since the mass suicide/mass murder of Jonestown.  I was a Junior in college at the time.  The late seventies had an apocalyptic feel as the world seemed to be spinning out of control with the Energy Crisis, Stagflation and assorted other massive public ills.  1979 would bring the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of the Shah to Khomeini’s murderous mullah regime in Iran.  Jimmy Carter would give his “malaise” speech on July 4, 1979 in which he basically blamed the American people for his rank incompetence:

 

 

In that atmosphere of gloom and doom the Jonestown cult almost seemed to fit right in.  If President Carter at the time was confused about just who Jim Jones was, he could have asked his wife who had met with Jim Jones in the 1976 campaign, and spoken with him over the phone.  Jones and his Peoples Temple cult in San Francisco had thrown their support behind Carter’s White House run in 1976.

What has been lost/ignored over the years about the Jonestown cult is the ties that Jim Jones had to the far Left in California:

 

In 1965, when Jones was in his mid-30s, he ordered the Peoples Temple moved to California. He drifted away from traditional Christian teachings, describing himself in messianic terms and claiming he was the reincarnation of figures like Christ and Buddha. He also claimed that his goal all along was communism, and, in a twist on the famous dictum that religion is the “opiate of the masses”, that religion was merely his way of making Marxism more palatable.

By the 1970s, the Peoples Temple, now based in San Francisco, had gained significant political influence. Jones’s fierce advocacy for the downtrodden earned him the admiration of leftwing icons like Angela Davis and Harvey Milk and the support of groups like the Black Panthers – a tragically misguided political affinity, given that more than two-thirds of Jonestown’s eventual victims were African American.

The Peoples Temple was, as David Talbot notes in Salon, successful in part because it was politically useful: “Jones could be counted on to deliver busloads of obedient, well-dressed disciples to demonstrations, campaign rallies, and political precincts.”

Go here to read the rest.  Jones also had ties to mainstream liberal Democrats:

Willie Brown, later speaker of the California assembly and mayor of San Francisco, compared Jim Jones to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Dianne Feinstein joined the rest of the San Francisco board of supervisors in honoring Jones “in recognition of his guidance and inspiration” in furthering “humanitarian programs.”

Jerry Brown, California governor then as now, actually spoke at Peoples Temple. George Moscone, who owed his position as mayor of San Francisco to Jones, appointed Jones to San Francisco’s Housing Authority Commission, where he quickly became chairman.

Go here to read the rest.  If so many prominent Republican politicians had such close ties to a murderous cult, I daresay that fact would still be trumpeted in the media today.  Instead, the Jonestown Leftist cult is relegated to the memory hole of the media.  A good look at this forgotten history is Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco by Daniel J. Flynn.

Published in: on November 27, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on November 18, 1978: Jonestown  
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November 26, 1863: Mine Run Campaign

Mine_Run_Campaign

The Mine Run Campaign which began on November 26, 1863 illustrates that Major General George Gordon Meade, although he would later prove effective as, in effect, Grant’s chief of staff after Grant came East and took de facto command of the Army of the Potomac, was completely outclassed in generalship by Robert E. Lee, Gettysburg notwithstanding.  Meade with 81,000 men, had a golden opportunity to inflict a severe defeat on Lee, who only had 48,000 men with Longstreet’s Corps stuck besieging Knoxville in Tennessee.

Meade’s plan was to conduct a lightning march through the Wilderness, the tangle of forest and shrub where Hooker had been defeated at Chancellorsville and where the first battle of the Overland Campaign would be fought in 1864.

Delays crossing the Rapidan on November 25,  allowed Lee time to slow the Union advance at Payne’s Farm on November 26.  Withdrawing behind Mine Run creek, Lee fortified his position.  Meade planned an assault on Lee’s position but cooler heads prevailed and Meade withdrew during the night on December 1-2.  This chagrined Lee who had been preparing his own attack for December 2.  This ended the Virginia campaign of 1863, a campaign that was barren of results for the Union after the big victory of Gettysburg.  Here is Lee’s official report on the Mine Run Campaign: (more…)

Published in: on November 26, 2018 at 11:30 pm  Comments Off on November 26, 1863: Mine Run Campaign  
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Theodore Roosevelt and Two Myths of American Politics

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson cordially hated each other for many reasons, both public and personal.  This hate emanates in the opinion pieces that Roosevelt was paid to write by the Kansas City Star during the war years.

The below partial extract of an article written on November 26, 1918 foreshadows the rejection by the Republican controlled Senate of the Versailles Peace Treaty in 1919.  It also is an indication of the mistake that Wilson made by deciding to go personally to the Paris peace conference.  Wilson forgot that American Presidents are as powerful, or as weak, as their public support.  Wilson was rapidly losing the support that he had enjoyed during the War, as demonstrated by the Republicans in the elections held on November 6, 1918 gaining 24 seats in the House and 4 in the Senate and now controlling Congress.  Wilson had the capacity, shared by many intellectuals and others, of ignoring reality when it suited him to do so, and he did on this occasion with disastrous results.

 

The Roosevelt piece below demonstrates that two common myths of American politics are so false that it is amazing they are still so routinely dusted off and stated as facts.

1.  That American presidents do not criticize their successors.

2. That American politics end at the shore line.

No public end of any kind will be served by President Wilson s going with Mr. Creel, Mr. House, and his other personal friends to the Peace Conference. Inasmuch as the circumstances of his going are so extraordinary, and as there is some possibility of mischief to this country as a result, there are certain facts which should be set forth so clearly that there can be no possibility of misunderstanding either by our own people, by our allies, or by our beaten ene mies, or by Mr. Wilson himself.

Ten days before election Mr. Wilson issued an appeal to the American people in which he frankly abandoned the position of President of the whole people; assumed the position, not merely of party leader, but of party dictator, and appealed to the voters as such. Most of Mr. Wilson s utterances on public questions have been susceptible to at least two conflicting interpretations. But on this question he made the issue absolutely clear. He asked that the people return a Democratic majority to both the Senate and the House of Representatives. He stated that the Republican leaders were pro-war, but that they were anti-Administration. His appeal was not merely against any Republican being elected, but against any Democrat who wished to retain his conscience in his own keeping. He declared himself explicitly against the pro-war Republicans. He declared explicitly for all pro-Administration Democrats, without any reference as to whether they were pro-war or anti-war. He said that if the people
approved of his leadership and wished him to continue to be their ” unembarrassed spokesman in affairs at home and abroad, they must return a Democratic majority to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.” He explicitly stated that on the other side of the water the return of a Republican majority to either House of Congress would be interpreted as a repudiation of his leader ship, and informed his fellow countrymen that to elect a Democratic majority in Congress was the only way to sustain him, Mr. Wilson.

The issue was perfectly, clearly drawn. The Republican Party was pro-war and anti-Administration, the Democratic Party was officially pro-Administration without any mind or conscience of its own and pro-war or anti-war according to the way in which Mr. Wilson changed his mind overnight or between dawn and sunset. The Americans refused to sustain Mr. Wilson. They elected a heavily Repub lican House and to the surprise of every one carried a majority in the Senate. On Mr. Wilson s own say-so they repudiated his leadership. In no other free country in the world to-day would Mr. Wilson be in office. He would simply be a private citizen like the rest of us.

Under these circumstances our allies and our enemies, and Mr. Wilson himself, should all under stand that Mr. Wilson has no authority whatever to speak for the American people at this time. His leadership has just been emphatically repudiated by them. The newly elected Congress comes far nearer than Mr. Wilson to having a right to speak the pur poses of the American people at this moment. Mr. Wilson and his fourteen points and his four supplementary points and his five complementary points and all his utterances every which way have ceased to have any shadow of right to be accepted as expressive of the will of the American people. He is
President of the United States, he is part of the treaty-making power, but he is only part. If he acts in good faith to the American people, he will not claim on the other side of the water any representa tive capacity in himself to speak for the American people. He will say frankly that his personal leader ship has been repudiated and that he now has merely the divided official leadership which he shares with the Senate. If he will in good faith act in this way all good citizens in good faith will support him, just as they will support the Senate under similar circumstances.

But there isnt the slightest indication that he intends so to act.

Published in: on November 26, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Theodore Roosevelt and Two Myths of American Politics  
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Christ the King

(I am posting this today at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might find it interesting.)

 

“I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.”

George Washington, speech to Congress upon resigning his commission as Commander in Chief, December 23, 1783

I have always liked that our liturgical year now ends with the feast of Christ the King.  It reminds us not only of the Last Day when Christ will reign in Judgment over all men who have ever lived, but also that beneath the showy pomp of human history, the Captains and the Kings who march through its pages are of infinitely of less account than, as the atheist historian HG Welles put it, the penniless preacher from Galilee who is the center of History.

In Quas Primas, the Encyclical which established the feast of Christ the King, Pope Pius XI wrote:

This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.

The above passage has always reminded me of this section of a speech given by Abraham Lincoln on August 17, 1858:

These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began—so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished.

On the feast of Christ the King we remind ourselves that government is not only a matter of human contrivances, but rather that it is trust given by God, and that this trust is betrayed if the State is turned into a false God.

And he said: It is a small thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel. Behold, I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth.

Isaiah 49:6

 

Published in: on November 25, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Christ the King  
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Te Deum

Something for the weekend.  Right after Thanksgiving, Haydn’s Te Deum Number 2 in C seemed appropriate.

Published in: on November 24, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Te Deum  
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Thansgiving Day Proclamation 1983

Since the Pilgrims observed the initial Thanksgiving holiday in 1621, this occasion has served as a singular expression of the transcending spiritual values that played an instrumental part in the founding of our country.  One hundred and twenty years ago, in the midst of a great and terrible civil conflict, President Lincoln formally proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to remind those “insensible to the ever watchful providence of almighty God” of this Nation’s bounty and greatness. Several days after the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield, the United States celebrated its first national Thanksgiving.
Every year since then, our Nation has faithfully continued this tradition. The time has come once again to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, an occasion for Americans to express gratitude to their God and their country.

In his remarks at Gettysburg, President Lincoln referred to ours as a Nation “under God.” We rejoice in the fact that, while we have maintained separate institutions of church and state over our 200 years of freedom, we have at the same time preserved reverence for spiritual beliefs. Although we are a pluralistic society, the giving of thanks can be a true bond of unity among our people. We can unite in gratitude for our individual freedoms and individual faiths. We can be united in gratitude for our Nation’s peace and prosperity when so many in this world have neither.
As was written in the first Thanksgiving Proclamation 120 years ago, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” God has blessed America and her people, and it is appropriate we recognize this bounty.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, in the spirit of the Pilgrims, President Lincoln, and all succeeding Presidents, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 1983, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon Americans to affirm this day of thanks by their prayers and their gratitude for the many blessings upon this land and its people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 15th day of Sept., in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America
the two hundred and eighth.
RONALD REAGAN.

Published in: on November 23, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Thansgiving Day Proclamation 1983  
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Lincoln and the Creation of Thanksgiving

 

 

In the midst of this, however, He, from Whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated.

Abraham Lincoln, from his last public address, April 11, 1865

Abraham Lincoln frequently throughout the Civil War called for thanks giving for Union victories and for prayers and repentance for national sins.  The idea however of an annual Thanksgiving did not spring from him but from Sarah Josepha Hale, a noted literary figure who, among other accomplishments wrote the child’s poem Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Born in 1788, for years she had led a movement for a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed annually. (more…)

Published in: on November 22, 2018 at 6:02 am  Comments Off on Lincoln and the Creation of Thanksgiving  
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