February 7, 1783: The Great Siege of Gibraltar Ends

It is easy for Americans to forget that after the intervention of France, the Revolutionary War became a world war.  One of the notable events of this global conflict was the siege of Gibraltar by French and Spanish forces from June 24, 1779 to February 7, 1783.  The siege was conducted on land and sea with British fleets twice battling through with relief forces and supplies for the Rock.  The British garrison, immensely outnumbered, beat off every assault and staged surprise night sorties to keep their foes off balance.  The siege was lifted as negotiations over a preliminary peace was underway.  The siege was the longest one in British military history.  Mozart wrote  Bardengesang auf Gibraltar: O Calpe! Dir donnert’s am Fuße to commemorate the British victory.

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on February 7, 2023 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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February 6, 2018: Remembering Reagan

 

Today is my sixty-sixth birthday.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I share a birthday with Ronald Wilson Reagan.  I have long admired Reagan, the greatest President of my lifetime.   Reagan lived his life with courage and grace, two qualities amply demonstrated with his final public act, an open letter to the American people:

 

Nov. 5, 1994

My Fellow Americans,

I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Upon learning this news, Nancy and I had to decide whether as private citizens we would keep this a private matter or whether we would make this news known in a public way.

In the past Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had my cancer surgeries. We found through our open disclosures we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that as a result many more people underwent testing.

They were treated in early stages and able to return to normal, healthy lives.

So now, we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it.

At the moment I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life’s journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters.

Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.

In closing let me thank you, the American people for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your President. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.

I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan”

Published in: on February 6, 2023 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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February 5, 1865: Lincoln Proposes Compensated Emancipation

Lincoln, February 5, 1865

 

Throughout the War Lincoln had made several attempts to propose compensated emancipation to end the War.  All such initiatives were still-born, killed by the twin facts that Congress was uninterested in providing the funding and that the slaveholders were uninterested in ending slavery, even with compensation.  On February 5, 1865, Lincoln proposed this plan to his cabinet:

Fellow citizens of the Senate, and [February 5, 1865]

House of Representatives.

I respectfully recommend that a Joint Resolution, substantially as follows, be adopted so soon as practicable, by your honorable bodies.

“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, of the United States of America in congress assembled: That the President of the United States is hereby empowered, in his discretion, to pay four hundred millions of dollars to the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West-Virginia, in the manner, and on the conditions following, towit: The payment to be made in six per cent government bonds, and to be distributed among said States pro rata on their respective slave populations, as shown by the census of 1860; and no part of said sum to be paid unless all resistance to the national authority shall be abandoned and cease, on or before the first day of April next; and upon such abandonment and ceasing of resistance, one half of said sum to be paid in manner aforesaid, and the remaining half to be paid only upon the amendment of the national constitution recently proposed byPage  261congress, becoming valid law, on or before the first day of July next, by the action thereon of the requisite number of States”

The adoption of such resolution is sought with a view to embody it, with other propositions, in a proclamation looking to peace and re-union.

Whereas a Joint Resolution has been adopted by congress in the words following, towit

Now therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known, that on the conditions therein stated, the power conferred on the Executive in and by said Joint Resolution, will be fully exercised; that war will cease, and armies be reduced to a basis of peace; that all political offences will be pardoned; that all property, except slaves, liable to confiscation or forfeiture, will be released therefrom, except in cases of intervening interests of third parties; and that liberality will be recommended to congress upon all points not lying within executive control. (more…)

Published in: on February 5, 2023 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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Riding a Raid

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Riding a Raid, sung by Bobby Horton, the man who has dedicated his life to bringing Civil War music to modern audiences.  Stuart and his cavalry troopers were the glamor boys of the Army of the Northern Virginia.  Twice they rode around the Army of the Potomac, and until 1863 they completely dominated the Union cavalry, although they were usually heavily outnumbered on the battlefield.  This song captures well the spirit of the cavaliers in grey.

Published in: on February 4, 2023 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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February 3, 1917: The US Breaks Diplomatic Relations With Germany

 

 

Germany’s resumption on January 31, 1917 of unrestricted submarine warfare made war with the US inevitable.  President Wilson recognized this fact on February 3, 1917 by advising a supportive Congress that the US had broken diplomatic relations with Germany: (more…)

Published in: on February 3, 2023 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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I Got You Babe

 

The I Got You Babe (1965) time loop sequence from Groundhog Day (1993).  I can imagine this being done for eternity in one of the less fashionable pits in Hell.

I apologize for this, but I couldn’t resist:

 

 

Published in: on February 2, 2023 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lincoln and Pigs

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The state of Illinois has quite a few statues of Abraham Lincoln.  One of the more unusual is one erected in 2005 outside the Taylorville, Illinois courthouse showing Lincoln with a pig.  The statue is the work of noted sculptor John McClary.  According to local Lincoln lore, Lincoln was arguing a case in Taylorville when pigs were heard squealing under the floor.  Lincoln suggested to the presiding Judge that a Writ of Quietus be issued by the Court ordering the pigs to be silent!

A pig figures in another Lincoln story.  As the story goes Lincoln and other attorneys were riding on the old Eighth Judicial Circuit when they passed by a pig caught firmly in a mud mire.  The poor pig was squealing piteously, slowly sinking to its doom.  Lincoln and his fellow attorneys rode by.  After about a mile Lincoln stopped.  He couldn’t get that pig out of his mind.  Turning back he rescued the pig using two boards, the pig getting him muddy in the process and ruining the new suit he was wearing.  Lincoln noted that by freeing the pig from the mire, he had also freed him from his conscience, and that was worth a suit.

Lincoln seems to have been fond of pigs from his earliest days, at least according to this story written by Ferdinand C. Iglehart in 1902: (more…)

Published in: on February 1, 2023 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Lincoln on Mercy

quote-i-have-always-found-that-mercy-bears-richer-fruits-than-strict-justice-abraham-lincoln-112653

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.

Abraham Lincoln

Running down the origin of this quote was a lot of fun.  It sounded like something that Abraham Lincoln would have said, but I had difficulty finding a source for it.  It is cited all over the internet, but no reference is given other than a speech in 1865, and such a lack of citation is often the sign of a spurious quote.  After some searching I found it.  It is sourced in a conversation that Joseph Gillespie had with Abraham Lincoln.  Gillespie was a fellow member with Lincoln of the Illinois General Assembly.  With Lincoln he helped found the Republican party in Illinois.  Elected a circuit court judge in 1861, he helped set up the Illinois Appellate Court.

During a visit to Washington in Spring of 1864, Gillespie met with Lincoln and,  among other subjects they discussed, Lincoln mentioned the problem of captured paroled Confederate troops who were found in arms before they had properly been exchanged:

These men are liable to be put to death when recaptured for breach of parole.  If we do not do something of that sort, this outrage will be repeated on every occasion…It is indeed a serious question, and I have been more sorely tried by it than any other that has occurred during the war.  It will be an act of great injustice to our soldiers to allow the paroled rebels to be put into the field without exchange.  Such a practice would demoralize almost any army in the world if played off upon them.  It would be nearly impossible to induce them to spare the lives of prisoners they might capture.  On the other hand, these men were no doubt told by their superiors that they had been exchanged and it would be hard to put them to death under any circumstances.  On the whole, my impression is that mercy bears richer fruits than any other attribute. (more…)

Published in: on January 31, 2023 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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War Comes to the Silver Screen With Theodore Roosevelt as the Leading Man

An interesting video on war films made during the Spanish-American War.  We sometimes forget just how rapid technological change was in the 19th century.  A young man who fought in the Mexican War, one of the first wars with widespread use of photography, could have still been alive as an old man watching the war films of the Spanish-American War.

One of the major beneficiaries of the cutting edge technology of motion pictures was Theodore Roosevelt. He had received massive newspaper publicity when he formed the Rough Riders and movie goers were hungry to see his exploits.  Here is a Thomas Edison film showing the Rough Riders in action at the battle of  El Caney, or so the movie goers thought.  The movie was actually filmed in New Jersey by the Wizard of Melo Park’s film company!

 

(more…)

Published in: on January 30, 2023 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt had long been a harsh critic of the neutrality policy of the Wilson administration.  On January 29, 1917 he gave a memorable response to the January 22, 1917 speech to the Senate of President Wilson in which Wilson called for Peace Without Victory:

“President Wilson has announced himself in favor of peace without victory, and now he has declared himself against universal service-that is against all efficient preparedness by the United States.

Peace without victory is the natural ideal of the man too proud to fight.

When fear of the German submarine next moves President Wilson to declare for “peace without victory” between the tortured Belgians and their cruel oppressors and task masters;  when such fear next moves him to utter the shameful untruth that each side is fighting for the same things, and to declare for neutrality between wrong and right;  let him think of the prophetess Deborah who, when Sisera mightily oppressed the children of Israel with his chariots of iron, and when the people of Meroz stood neutral between the oppressed and their oppressors, sang of them:

 

 

“Curse ye Meroz, sang the angel of the  Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord against the wrongdoings of the mighty.””