The Man Who Helped Convert General Rosecrans

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, I have often written about General William Rosecrans, Union general and zealous Catholic convert.  One of the men who helped in the conversion process was Julius Garesché, who would serve under Rosecrans in the Civil War.

Rosecrans was fighting a huge battle at Stones River, go here to read about it, in Tennessee that would last from December 31, 1862-January 3, 1863. He succeeded in defeating Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee and drove him from central Tennessee. It was an important victory, a needed shot in the arm for the Union after the disaster of Fredericksburg. Lincoln wrote to Rosecrans:

“You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

During that battle he was a man on fire, constantly charging to points of danger, heedless of risks to himself, rallying his men, inspiring them and beating off Confederate charge after Confederate charge. Rosecrans was in the maelstrom of particularly vicious fighting when his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Julius  Garesché , a fellow Catholic who had been made a Knight of Saint Sylvester by Pope Pius IX, warned him about risking himself to enemy fire. “Never mind me, my boy, but make the sign of the cross and go in!” A moment later, a cannon shell careened into the general’s entourage, beheading Garesche and spraying his brains all over Rosecrans’ overcoat. Rosecrans’ mourned his friend, as he mourned all his brave men who died in that fight, but that didn’t stop him an instant from leading his army to victory.

I was going to do a blog post on Garesché, but I decided that I could not improve on the one done by Pat McNamara at his blog.  Go here to read it.

According to an article written by the late Dr. Homer Pittard, his death at Stones River had been prophesied by his priest brother: (more…)

Published in: on December 31, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Man Who Helped Convert General Rosecrans  
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Thomas Nast, Santa Claus and Anti-Catholicism

Union Santa Claus

At this time of the year it is appropriate to recall that the modern image of Santa Claus was largely created by a German immigrant to these shores, Thomas Nast, an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly.  The above is the first of his many Santa Claus drawings.  It appeared on January 3, 1863 and showed a Red, White and Blue clad Santa visiting Union troops.  Nast would draw Santa Claus many times throughout his career and the Santa we see today is largely Santa as imagined by Nast.

Born in 1840 in Landau in Germany, then a geographical term rather than a nation, Nast came to America as a child, along with his family.  His passion for drawing was notable even as a child.  In 1862 he became illustrator for Harper’ Weekly, a post he would hold until 1886.

Nast was a cartoonist with strong convictions.  He loved the Union, racial equality, at least for Negroes and the Chinese immigrants in the West, the Republican party, until he supported Grover Cleveland in 1884, political reform, and any number of other reform causes.  He was also clear as to what he hated:  the Confederacy, political corruption, especially the Tammany Hall organization in New York and the Democrat party, until he supported Cleveland in 1884.  Among his hates were Irish immigrants, largely supporters of the Democrat party, and the Catholic Church.

Like many a bitter anti-Catholic bigot, Nast was a born and baptized Catholic.  He had left the Faith by his marriage in 1861 to an Episcopalian.    Nast’s anti-Catholicism was savage.  Typical is  an 1870 cartoon where the Pope is depicted as lusting to conquer America:

Nast_Promised_Land (more…)

Published in: on December 30, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Thomas Nast, Santa Claus and Anti-Catholicism  
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In re Yamashita

 

As I said in the Manila Supreme Court that I have done with my all capacity, so I don’t ashame in front of the gods for what I have done when I have died. But if you say to me ‘you do not have any ability to command the Japanese Army’ I should say nothing for it, because it is my own nature. Now, our war criminal trial going under your kindness and right. I know that all your American and American military affairs always has tolerant and rightful judgment. When I have been investigated in Manila court I have had a good treatment, kindful attitude from your good natured officers who protected me all the time. I never forget for what they have done for me even if I had died. I don’t blame my executioner. I’ll pray the gods bless them. Please send my thankful word to Col. Clarke and Lt. Col. Feldhaus, Lt. Col. Hendrix, Maj. Guy, Capt. Sandburg, Capt. Reel, at Manila court, and Col. Arnard. I thank you.

Yamashita’ s last statement, through a translator, on the gallows.  February 23, 1946

General Tomoyuki Yamashita won early fame in World War II by leading the conquest of Malaya.  With inferior forces he decisively defeated the British and earned the popular title of Tiger of Malaya.  Troops under his command did engage in massacres and looting, but Yamashita, unlike most Japanese commanders, severely punished the troops involved, up to and including execution of the guilty.  His humane attitude towards prisoners placed him at odds with the Japanese government, and he spent much of the war in virtual exile in Manchukuo commanding the First Area Army.  Worsening Japanese military fortunes caused him to be placed in command of the Philippines, ten days before MacArthur and his army returned.  Yamashita conducted a skillful defense of the Philippines, marred by massive atrocities against civilians in Manila.  It must be noted that Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi commanded the forces defending in Manila.  Yamashita had ordered the evacuation of Manila which Iwabuchi disobeyed, just as his men disobeyed Yamashita’s standing orders against ill treatment of civilians.

Yamashita was put on trial for war crimes in Manila from October 29, 1945-December 7, 1945 by an American military tribunal.  The principal accusation was that he had failed to keep his troops in the Philippines under control and that as a result he was responsible for their crimes.  This was a novel theory of criminal responsibility either under American military or civilian jurisprudence as his military defense counsel pointed out time and again.  Yamashita was impressed by the dedication and zeal of his defense counsel and stated several times that his respect for the United States had been reaffirmed by their efforts.

Behind the scenes MacArthur expressed impatience at the length of the trial, clearly wanting a quick guilty verdict.  When Yamashita was found guilty and sentenced to death, he swiftly affirmed the verdict and sentence when it was appealed to him.  Yamashita’s defense team then appealed to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, In re Yamashita, 327 US 1, rejected the petitions for habeas corpus and writ of prohibition ruling:

It thus appears that the order convening the commission was a lawful order, that the commission was lawfully constituted, that petitioner was charged with violation of the law of war, and that the commission had authority to proceed with the trial, and, in doing so, did not violate any military, statutory, or constitutional command. We have considered, but find it unnecessary to discuss, other contentions which we find to be without merit. We therefore conclude that the detention of petitioner for trial and his detention upon his conviction, subject to the prescribed review by the military authorities, were lawful, and that the petition for certiorari, and leave to file in this Court petitions for writs of habeas corpus and prohibition should be, and they are

Denied.

Justices Murphy and Rutledge wrote memorable dissents: (more…)

Published in: on December 29, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on In re Yamashita  
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December 28, 1861: Battle of Mount Zion Church

 

As 1861 dragged to a close, the civil war in Missouri continued to rage.  On December 28, a small Union force under Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss, five companies of the Third Missouri Cavalry and two companies of Birge’s Western Sharpshooters, ah, the colorful names that units had early in the War, were in Boone County Missouri, guarding the North Missouri Railroad.  Prentiss commanded about 400 men.  On December 28, he fought a Missouri State Guard (Confederate) force of approximately 900 men under Colonel Caleb Dorsey.  The Confederates were ill-armed, ill-supplied and ill-trained.  The Confederates fought until their ammunition gave out, and then were driven of by the Union troops.  Just one of hundreds of such engagements that marked the turmoil that engulfed Missouri throughout the War.  Here is the report of General Prentiss: (more…)

Published in: on December 28, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 28, 1861: Battle of Mount Zion Church  
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Good King Wenceslaus

 

Something for the weekend.  Today is the day after the Christmas and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ.  Good King Wenceslaus has always been one of my favorite Christmas hymns.  We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man.  The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works.  Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out  that prime command of Christ:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Written in 1853 by John Mason Neale with the help of Thomas Helmore, the tune is based on the 13th century hymn Tempus adest floridum, (The time is near for flowering.)  It has always been an extremely popular hymn in America. (more…)

Published in: on December 26, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Good King Wenceslaus  
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December 23, 1945: Funeral of General Patton

And I see not in my blindness
What the objects were I wrought,
But as God rules o’er our bickerings
It was through His will I fought.

George S. Patton, Jr.

Fate denied General Patton the death he deserved:  in battle, at the head of his men.  His death was much more prosaic, the result of an automobile collision on December 8, 1945 caused by drunk joyriding GIs.  He spent most of the next 13 days in traction, paralyzed from the neck down.  His verdict on his situation was succinct and characteristically blunt:  “This is a hell of a way to die.”  He died on December 21, 1945 in his sleep.  It is perhaps superfluous to note that Patton met death with calm courage.  At West Point as a cadet he had already discerned the essential reality of death:  “What then of death?  Is not the taps of death but the first call to the reveille of eternal life?”  Per his request he was buried with other Third Army dead in the Luxembourg American Cemetery, the simple white cross above his grave precisely the same that marked the graves of the Christian GIs who had fallen in what Eisenhower had aptly called the Great Crusade. (more…)

Published in: on December 23, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 23, 1945: Funeral of General Patton  
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Washington at Prayer

There is an old tradition that Washington prayed in the snow at Valley Forge on Christmas Day.  Certainly the wretched condition of the Continental Army in December of 1777, with a hungry winter beginning, would have driven commanders less pious than Washington to their knees.  However, Washington was pious and prayed every day. (more…)

Published in: on December 21, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Washington at Prayer  
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The Lemon Drop Kid

Damon Runyon and Bob Hope make a terrific combination in The Lemon Drop Kid (1951).  Based on a short story by Damon Runyon, the film is filled with the usual Runyon collection of colorful and humorous, unlike crooks in real life, gangsters.   Hope takes center stage as the Lemon Drop Kid, a cowardly and incompetent, in other words the personae Hope normally assumed in his film comedies of this period, racetrack tout.   He dreams up a scam involving the establishment of an old age home for old gangster wives and molls in order to pay off gangster Moose Moran the $10,000.00 he owes him, and to escape Moose having surgery performed upon him sans anesthesia.  In the end, nobler sentiments stir within him, and Hope foils the gangsters, saves the old age home and stages an affecting reunion on Christmas eve between an elderly gangster released from prison and his wife, Nellie Thursday, after whom the old age home is named.  Hope is ably supported by a superb cast including Lloyd Nolan, William Frawley and Marilyn Maxwell.  The song Silver Bells featured in the video clip at the beginning of this post, which has become a Christmas favorite, made its debut in this film.

Published in: on December 20, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Lemon Drop Kid  
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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Something for the weekend.  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  First published in the mid-eighteenth century, although it likely dates back to the sixteenth century. it achieved immense popularity in America as a Christmas carol from Dickens’ reference to it in 1843 in his immortal A Christmas Carol:

“…at the first sound of ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!’, Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.”

 

Published in: on December 19, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen  
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Bob Hope Show: Christmas 1945

 

Broadcast on December 18, 1945, the Bob Hope Christmas show for 1945 gives an interesting insight into America as it observed its first peacetime Christmas in five years.  Hope mentions product shortages in his jokes and in a skit the housing shortage comes up.  His guest star was actor Wayne Morris.  Morris had served as a Navy flier, shooting down seven Japanese planes and contributing to the sinking of five ships, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  He earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.  A rising star before the War, Morris never recovered from putting his career on hiatus during the War.  He spent the rest of his career mostly in low budget Westerns.  He died of a heart attack in 1959 at age 45 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Published in: on December 18, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Bob Hope Show: Christmas 1945  
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