Sheridan, Hell and Texas



Phil Sheridan could be a nasty piece of work on duty.  A bantam Irish Catholic born in Albany, New York on March 6, 1831, to Irish immigrants, Sheridan carved a career in the Army by sheer hard work and a ferocious will to win.  He had a hard streak of ruthlessness that Confederates, Indians and the many officers he sacked for incompetence could attest to.    His quote, “If a crow wants to fly down the Shenandoah, he must carry his provisions with him.”  after he ordered the burning of crops in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 to deny them to Confederate troops indicated just how hard a man he could be when waging war. 

Off duty he was completely different.  He had the traditional Irish gift of gab and in social settings was charming and friendly. 

After the Civil War he commanded an army of 50,000 troops in Texas to send a none-too-subtle hint to the French who had used the opportunity of the Civil War to conquer Mexico that it was time for them to leave.  The French did, with the Austrian Archduke Maximilian they had installed as Emperor of Mexico dying bravely before a Mexican firing squad.  During his stay in Texas Sheridan made a famous quip about Texas.  It was swiftly reported in the newspapers:

“14 April 1866, Wisconsin State Register, pg. 2, col. 3:
GEN. SHERIDAN, after his recent Mexican tour, states his opinion succinctly and forcibly, as follows: “If I owned h-ll and Texas, I would rent Texas and live at the other place!”

“19 April 1866, The Independent, pg. 4:
But these states are not yet reduced to civil behavior. As an illustration, Gen. Sheridan sends word up from New Orleans, saying, “If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.” This is the opinion of a department commander.”

“15 May 1866, Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman (Boise, ID), pg. 7?, col. 3:
GEN. SHERIDAN does not have a very exalted opinion of Texas as a place of resident. Said he lately, “If I owned hell and Texas, I would rent Texas and live at the other place.” In former times, before Texas was “re-annexed,” Texas and the other place were made to stand as opposites. Thus, when Col. Crockett was beaten in his Congressional district, he said to those who defeated him, “You may go to hell, and I’ll go to Tex!” which he did, and found a grave.” (more…)

Published in: on March 31, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Sheridan, Hell and Texas  
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The Charleston Riot

I live in Central Illinois.  Illinois is a long state on a north-south axis, stretching over 300 miles.  In the Civil War it was a divided state.  While giving Lincoln and Grant to the Union, and contributing the third most men of all the states to the Union army, pro-Southern sentiment in the state was not in short supply, and the farther south in the state the more of it there was, with Illinoisans in the extreme south even supplying a company that fought for the Confederacy as Company G of the 15th Tennessee.  (more…)

Published in: on March 30, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Star Trek Lincoln

What a charming Negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know that in my time some used that term as a description of property.
But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century we’ve learned not to fear words.

Conversation between Lincoln and Uhura, The Savage Curtain

Not fearing words would be a useful lesson for Star Trek to teach our own word obsessed time.  Originally broadcast on March 7, 1969, The Savage Curtain is, like most of the final season of Star Trek, not a fan favorite.   I dissent both as to the episode and the Season.  I found the Third Season to have usually highly imaginative episodes, some swings and misses but mostly solid hits and a few home runs.  This was in the aftermath of the Civil War Centennial and interest in Lincoln was strong.  Actor Lee Bergere gives a  convincing performance as a simulation of Lincoln, capturing the man’s nobility, common sense and, yes, ruthlessness in the service of a just cause.  Bergere passed away in 2007 at 88,

Barry Atwater was superb in the same episode of as Surak, founder of the Vulcan philosophy of pure logic:

A nice, and subtle, look at good and evil, evil being personified by the founder of Klingon civilization, Kahless the Unforgettable, Zora of Tiburon, Genghis Khan and Colonel Phillip Green, the leader of eco terrorists in the 21rst century who euthanized hundreds of thousands of irradiated people in the wake of World War III.  (An all too plausible villain for our century.)  Green’s uniform, such is the cheapness of television series, would serve as the uniform, with a white triangle added, for Mork of Mork and Mindy infamy!

Published in: on March 29, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Star Trek Lincoln  
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Palm Sunday 156 Years Ago



It is poor business measuring the mouldered ramparts and counting the silent guns, marking the deserted battlefields and decorating the grassy graves, unless we can learn from it some nobler lesson than to destroy.  Men write of this, as of other wars, as if the only thing necessary to be impressed upon the rising generation were the virtue of physical courage and contempt of death.  It seems to me that is the last thing we need to teach;  for since the days of John Smith in Virginia and the men of the Mayflower in Massachusetts, no generation of Americans has shown any lack of it.  From Louisburg to Petersburg-a hundred and twenty years, the full span of four generations-they have stood to their guns and been shot down in greater comparative numbers than any other race on earth.  In the war of secession there was not a State, not a county, probably not a town, between the great lakes and the gulf, that was not represented on fields where all that men could do with powder and steel was done and valor exhibited at its highest pitch…There is not the slightest necessity for lauding American bravery or impressing it upon American youth.  But there is the gravest necessity for teaching them respect for law, and reverence for human life, and regard for the rights of their fellow country-men, and all that is significant in the history of our country…These are simple lessons, yet they are not taught in a day, and some who we call educated go through life without mastering them at all.

Rossiter Johnson, Campfire and Battlefield, 1884

I have always thought it appropriate that the national nightmare we call the Civil War ended during Holy Week 1865.  Two remarkably decent men, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, began the process of healing so desperately needed for America on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 at Appomattox.  We take their decency for granted, but it is the exception and not the rule for the aftermath of civil wars in history.  The usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.  The end of the Civil War could so very easily have been the beginning of a cycle of unending war between north and south.  Instead, both Grant and Lee acted to make certain as far as they could that the fratricidal war that had just concluded would not be repeated.  All Americans owe those two men a large debt for their actions at Appomattox.

Grant in his memoirs wrote, “When Lee and I separated he went back to his lines and I returned to the house of Mr. McLean. Here the officers of both armies came in great numbers, and seemed to enjoy the meeting as much as though they had been friends separated for a long time while fighting battles under the same flag.”

Lee so appreciated the generosity of the terms of surrender given by Grant, that for the remainder of his life he would never allow a word of denigration about Grant to be spoken in his presence.


Published in: on March 28, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Palm Sunday 156 Years Ago  
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O God Beyond All Praising

Something for the weekend.  O God Beyond All Praising.  Written by Michael Perry in 1982, it served as the recessional hymn at the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 20, 2016.

The tune is Thaxted, the hymn tune written by Gustav Holst from the middle section of the Jupiter movement of Holst’s The Planets.  It seems fitting the day before Palm Sunday.

Published in: on March 27, 2021 at 5:12 am  Comments Off on O God Beyond All Praising  

Reb Marines

Born on March 16, 1861 by an Act of the Confederate Congress,  the Confederate States Marine Corps had an authorized strength of 45 officers and 944 enlisted men, increased in 1862 to 1026 enlisted men.  The Marines never had more than 600 men at one time during the War.  Throughout the War the headquarters and training facilities of the CSMC was at Camp Beal on Drewry’s Bluff and at the Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk.  The Marines were led by Colonel-Commadant Lloyd J. Beall, a former major and paymaster in the United States Army.  Much of the records of the CSMC were destroyed by a fire in Beall’s home after the War in 1887, which also killed Beall. (more…)

Published in: on March 26, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Reb Marines  
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Combat: Which Member of the Squad Are You?


Some kind soul has posted all the episodes of Combat on YouTube and I have begun re-watching them with my bride.  It was a good show back in the Sixties, now it seems like Shakespeare compared to the current drek on television.  It received raves at the time from World War II vets who loved its gritty look at an infantry squad battling their way across France in 1944, ordinary men doing a tough, dirty and oh so necessary job.  It was so realistic that apparently the Marines at the battle of Hue in 1968, not being trained in urban combat, fell back, with great success, on tactics used in Combat episodes for street fighting.

Go here to take a quiz on which member of the squad you would be.  I was Sergeant Saunders, which surprised me as I have never sold shoes in my life!

My Bride came out as Lieutenant Hanley so I guess I will ma’am her a lot today!





Published in: on March 25, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Combat: Which Member of the Squad Are You?  
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On the Sidewalks of New York

The past is a wonderful place to visit, even if we wouldn’t want to live there.

Published in: on March 24, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on On the Sidewalks of New York  
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March 23, 1865: General Orders Number 14

Acting upon the authorization of the Confederate Congress, the Inspector General of the Confederate Army on March 23, 1865 issued the following order for the enlistment of black troops: (more…)

Published in: on March 23, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on March 23, 1865: General Orders Number 14  
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Original Lawrence of Arabia Trailer

A companion piece to the fan made trailer yesterday.  It isn’t bad, but like most trailers of the time it spends quite a bit of time introducing the cast.  No doubt the supporting cast was quite important in the film marketing campaign as Peter O’Toole was relatively unknown in films, although already a celebrated stage actor in England, Lawrence of Arabia making him,deservedly, an instant film star at age 30.

Published in: on March 22, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Original Lawrence of Arabia Trailer  
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