September 30, 1862: First Battle of Newtonia

The first notable battle in the Trans-Mississippi theater of operations after the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas in March of 1862, the battle was fought at Newtonia, Missouri in the southwest portion of the State, near the border with Arkansas and the Indian territory.  A brigade of Confederate troops under  Colonel Douglas H. Cooper occupied Newton on September 27, 1862.    They were attacked by Union Brigadier General Frederick G. Salomon, a German immigrant, leading two small brigades totaling 1500 men, on September 30.

Initially the Union attack made headway, but Confederate reinforcements arriving turned the tide, and the Union brigades retreated.  A strong Confederate pursuit turned the retreat into a rout.  Total Union casualties were 250 compared to 100 for the Confederates.  In spite of the Confederate victory, the Confederate stay in Southwestern Missouri was brief, due to being heavily outnumbered by Union troops in the area.  The battle today is chiefly remembered as a result of the large number of American indians that fought on both sides.  Colonel  Cooper, the commander of the Confederate troops, was a former Indian agent and  led Confederate Indian troops throughout the War.  After the War he lived in the Indian Territory and was an ardent supporter of Choctaw and Chickasaw land claims against the Federal government.  Here is his report on the battle: (more…)

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September 29, 1864: Grant’s Fifth Offensive at Petersburg Begins

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Historians designate nine different offensive operations by the Union during the siege of Petersburg.  Although the battles involved in these offensives are unknown except to careful students of the Civil War, they were instrumental cumulatively in making Lee’s position untenable by March 1865 leading to the final military operations of the long struggle between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia.

Grant began his Fifth Offensive largely to make certain that Lee did not send reinforcements to Early in his struggle against Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley.  Here is Grant’s account of the beginning of the Fifth Offensive:

 

 

Sheridan, in his pursuit, got beyond where could hear from him in Washington, and the President became very much frightened about him. He was afraid that the hot pursuit had been a little like that of General Cass was said to have been, in one of our Indian wars, when he was an officer of army. Cass was pursuing the Indians so closely that the first thing he knew he found himself in front, and the Indians pursuing him. The President was afraid that Sheridan had got on the other side of Early and that Early was in behind him. He was afraid that Sheridan was getting so far away that reinforcements would be sent out from Richmond to enable Early to beat him. I replied to the President that I had taken steps to prevent Lee from sending reinforcements to Early, by attacking the former where he was.   
 On the 28th of September, to retain Lee in his position, I sent Ord with the 18th corps and Birney with the 10th corps to make an advance on Richmond, to threaten it. Ord moved with the left wing up to Chaffin’s Bluff; Birney with the 10th corps took a road farther north; while Kautz with the cavalry took the Darby road, still farther to the north. They got across the river by the next morning, and made an effort to surprise the enemy. In that, however, they were unsuccessful.  
  The enemy’s lines were very strong and very intricate. Stannard’s division of the 18th corps with General Burnham’s brigade leading, tried an assault against Fort Harrison and captured it with sixteen guns and a good many prisoners. Burnham was killed in the assault. Colonel Stevens who succeeded him was badly wounded; and his successor also fell in the same way. Some works to the right and left were also carried with the guns in them—six in number—and a few more prisoners. Birney’s troops to the right captured the enemy’s intrenched picket-lines, but were unsuccessful in their efforts upon the main line.   
  Our troops fortified their new position, bringing Fort Harrison into the new line and extending it to the river. This brought us pretty close to the enemy on the north side of the James, and the two opposing lines maintained their relative positions to the close of the siege.  
  In the afternoon a further attempt was made to advance, but it failed. Ord fell badly wounded, and had to be relieved ; the command devolved upon General Heckman, and later General Weitzel was assigned to the command of the 18th corps. During the night Lee reinforced his troops about Fort Gilmer, which was at the right of Fort Harrison, by eight additional brigades from Petersburg, and attempted to retake the works which we had captured by concentrating ten brigades against them. All their efforts failed, their attacks being all repulsed with very heavy loss. In one of these assaults upon us General Stannard, a gallant officer who was defending Fort Harrison, lost an arm. Our casualties during these operations amounted to 394 killed, 1,554 wounded and 324 missing.  
  Whilst this was going on General Meade was instructed to keep up an appearance of moving troops to our extreme left. Parke and Warren were kept with two divisions, each under arms, ready to move leaving their enclosed batteries manned, with a scattering line on the other intrenchments. The object of this was to prevent reinforcements from going to the north side of the river. Meade was instructed to watch the enemy closely and, if Lee weakened his lines, to make an attack.   
  On the 30th these troops moved out, under Warren, and captured an advanced intrenched camp at Peeble’s farm, driving the enemy back to the main line. Our troops followed and made an attack in the hope of carrying the enemy’s main line; but in this they were unsuccessful and lost a large number of men, mostly captured. The number of killed and wounded was not large. The next day our troops advanced again and established themselves, intrenching a new line about a mile in front of the enemy. This advanced Warren’s position on the Weldon Railroad very considerably. (more…)

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Autumn Leaves

 

Something for the weekend.  Autumn Leaves (1945) composed by Joseph Kosma with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer.  Sung by the unforgettable Nat King Cole, it is a good welcome for Autumn, my favorite season of the year.

 

Published in: on September 28, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Autumn Leaves  
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September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

Emperor and Shogun

 

When MacArthur took up his command as Supreme Commander Allied Powers it was suggested by aides that he summon Hirohito to appear before him.  MacArthur rejected that suggestion, stating that it was important that Hirohito come to him voluntarily.  That he did on September 27, 1945, the first of eight meetings between the Emperor and the American Shogun.  The meeting lasted only a few minutes with Hirohito taking complete responsibility for the War and requesting that any punishment for the War fall on him.  MacArthur said that the War was over and that he wished to work with the Emperor for the betterment of Japan.  (more…)

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September 26, 1907: Dominion of Newfoundland

 

 

Ye brave Newfoundlanders who plough the salt sea,
With hearts like the eagle so bold and so free,
The time is at hand when we’ll have to say
If Confederation will carry the day.

Men, hurrah for our own native Isle, Newfoundland,
Not a stranger shall hold one inch of its strand;
Her face turns to Britain, her back to the Gulf,
Come near at your peril, Canadian Wolf!

Cheap tea and molasses they say they will give,
All taxes taken off that the poor man may live;
Cheap nails and cheap lumber, our coffins to make,
And homespun to mend our old clothes when they break.

If they take off all taxes, how then will they meet
The heavy expenses on army and fleet?
Just give them the chance to get into the scrap,
They’ll show you the trick with pen, ink and red tape.

Would you barter the right that your fathers have won?
Your freedom transmitted from father to son?
For a few thousand dollars Canadian gold
Don’t let it be said that our birthright was sold.

Newfoundland Anti-Confederation folk song (1869)

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought that the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might like this look at Newfoundland history.)

 

 

Faithful readers of this blog know that my sainted mother was from Newfoundland.  My mother and my father after my birth in Paris, Illinois, due to my 21 year old Mom being deeply homesick, lived in Newfoundland from 1957-1961.  My brother was born there in 1958.  Newfoundland never being an easy place to make a living, for all its stark beauty, my family returned to Paris, Illinois in 1961 so that my father could obtain employment, and that is where my parents lived for the remainder of their lives, and where my brother and I were raised.

Newfoundland was granted dominion status on this day in 1907.  During World War I, Newfoundland had a proud war record, its regiment in France being granted the signal honor of being designated the Royal Newfoundland regiment.  Alas war debts, the Great Depression and corrupt politicians bankrupted the nation and Newfoundland, with its legislature suspended, and a governor appointed by Great Britain, became a colony, in all but name, again in 1934.

In 1948 a referendum was held to determine the future of Newfoundland, with three options:  restoration of dominion status, confederation with Canada, and a continuation of being a colony of Great Britain.  The Brits made it quite clear that they could no longer afford to subsidize Newfoundland.  There was some sentiment among Newfoundlanders to ask the US Congress for statehood, but supporters of that idea were unable to get it on the ballot.  In the first referendum held, a narrow plurality of voters chose dominion status, with confederation with Canada coming in a close second.  In the second referendum the option for continued colonial status was dropped.  Confederation supporters, some of them, prior to the second referendum, appealed to religious bigotry by arguing that Catholic bishops were telling Catholics to support dominion status, which an overwhelming number of Catholics did support.  In the second referendum 52% of the votes were cast for confederation, so Newfoundland joined what prior generations of Newfoundlanders had often referred to as the Canadian wolf!  It was still a topic of some controversy in the Sixties among my Mom’s relatives! (more…)

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September 25, 1864: Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle

 

Nathan Bedford Forrest again demonstrated that so long as he was in the vicinity no Union supply line was safe.  On September 23, 1864, near Athens, Alabama, he and 4500 troopers were engaged in destroying a Union controlled  rail trestle.  He easily beat a Union force that sallied from Fort Henderson to stop him.   Taking Athens, he began an artillery barrage on Fort Henderson on the morning of the 24th.  Convincing the Union commander that he had 8,000-10,000 men, a common Forrest trick, the garrison capitulated.  Shortly after the capitulation, 350 men of the 18th Michigan and the 102nd Ohio had the misfortune to arrive by rail.  Forrest promptly attacked them, and they surrendered after losing a third of their numbers. (more…)

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The Day the World Wept

The things you find on Youtube! First broadcast on February 9, 1960, the above is an episode of One Step Beyond entitled The Day the World Wept.  The Twilight Zone before the Twilight Zone, One Step Beoynd ran on ABC from 1959 to 1961, for a total of 96 episodes, focusing on stories of the paranormal.  Directed and narrated by John Newland, the show always ranked high in ratings but ended when Newland decided they were running out of fresh story lines.

The Lincoln episode was typical of the series, a mixture of a little fact and a lot of fiction.  Yes, Lincoln had a dream, actually two, predicting his death.  No, the soldier in whose room Lincoln died, did not hear mysterious weeping and sobbing prior to Lincoln being carried over from Ford’s Theater after he was shot.  The actor portraying Lincoln, Barry Atwater, would go on to portray Surak, the founder of Vulcan civilization, on the Star Trek episode The Savage Curtain, first broadcast on March 7, 1969, one of the better episodes of the generally dismal final third season of the original series.  In that episode Lee Bergere portrayed Abraham Lincoln.

 

Atwater’s biggest claim to fame while he lived, he passed away at age 60 in 1978, was his portrayal of vampire Janos Skorzeny  in the movie The Night Stalker (1972) which led to the cult classic Kolchack: the Night Stalker series 1974-1975, tales of a reporter investigating weird occurrences in Chicago where strange events, in fiction and in fact, tend to be plentiful.

Published in: on September 24, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Day the World Wept  
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September 23, 1779: John Paul Jones Begins to Fight

 

The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.

Theodore Roosevelt on John Paul Jones, Speech at Annapolis- April 24, 1906

 

 

 

The traditions of daring, courage and professional skill that have ever been the hallmark of our Navy were first established in the lopsided fight our seamen waged during the Revolution. No single engagement more typifies this than the battle in which Captain John Paul Jones, sailing in a manifestly inferior ship, USS BonHomme Richard, defeated HMS Serapis on September 23, 1779.  Here is the report of Jones on this memorable sea fight: (more…)

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September 22, 1776: Nathan Hale’s Only Regret

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How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.

Joseph Addison, Cato (1712)

 

Death at 21 is always a tragedy, but Nathan Hale’s heroic death 243 years ago today ensured him Earthly immortality.  A schoolmaster before the Revolution, he was a Captain in the 7th Connecticut when he volunteered to take on the immensely dangerous task of being a spy, at the request of General Washington, behind enemy lines in New York City.  He was soon captured by the British, perhaps betrayed by his Tory cousin Samuel Hale.  Interviewed by General Howe, his fate was a foregone conclusion:  spies were always to be executed.

The night before he died he requested a Bible and a member of the clergy.  Both requests were denied.  According to British officer Frederick MacKensie, who was present, Hale met his death with great fortitude:

He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.

At the foot of the gallows, before he entered eternity, he uttered the comment that has ensured that his memory will be cherished as long as there is a United States of America.  British Captain John Montresor, who was present, told under a flag of truce to American Captain William Hull the next day:

“On the morning of his execution, my station was near the fatal spot, and I requested the Provost Marshal to permit the prisoner to sit in my marquee, while he was making the necessary preparations. Captain Hale entered: he was calm, and bore himself with gentle dignity, in the consciousness of rectitude and high intentions. He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him: he wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother officer. He was shortly after summoned to the gallows. But a few persons were around him, yet his characteristic dying words were remembered. He said, “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.””

Then the light of the rising sun vanished before the eyes of Nathan Hale, but not, I trust, either  the light of the Grace of God or the light of the American Revolution.

Published in: on September 22, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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100 Things Every Man Should Know

 

For the weekend.  100 Things to Remember (1999) by the late great Tim Wilson.  My bride has described it as The God of the Copybook Headings for hillbillies.

Published in: on September 21, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on 100 Things Every Man Should Know  
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