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Old November 21, 2004, 09:22 PM   #26
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Court Martial

Now, during the late unpleasantness between the North & the South, some Generals hid alcohol in their tents. Medicinal purposes, you understand. Well, one Union General, General Torbet, had a sweet tooth and hid in a chest beneath his bed a stash of candy. He deliberately cluttered his tent with tables, chairs, boxes and paperwork. His aide, Pvt. Peter Clancy, discovered the stash and would cautiously take a piece every few days so that the good General would not notice.

One day the good General Torbet returned early from an inspection and caught Pvt. Clancy in the act. The case was tried by Lt. Halsey (ancestor to the great Admiral Halsey of WW II). Halsey didn't think much of it and neither did the Court Martial Board, who gave Pvt. Clancy a slap on the wrist.

This threw General Torbet into an outrage and he fired the entire Court-Martial board, except Halsey and appointed a new one. Lt. Halsey attempted to convince General Torbet that Pvt. Clancy could not be tried twice for the same offense (double jeopardy). Torbet replied that this was the army and oh yes, he could and would.

Halsey relented and put Clancy's case into the file for court-martial. However, every time that Clancy's case came to the top, Halsey discretely stuffed it into the bottom. He did this repeatedly while simultaneously promising General Torbet that he would bring Pvt. Clancy to trial. When General Torbet was promoted and transferred out, Halsey threw out the case. Ahh, true military justice.
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Old November 27, 2004, 01:34 PM   #27
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We don't have no steenkin airguns!

In the aftermath of Bunker Hill (actually Breed's Hill), one Tory crossed over from Boston to examine the battlefield. In a letter to his brother in Scotland, he wrote:

"Early next morning I went over and saw the field of battle, before any of the dead were buried, which was the first thing of the sort I ever say; and I pray God I may never have the opportunity of seeing the like again. The rebels are employed since that day fortifying all the hills and passes with four miles, to prevent the troops from advancing into the country. We hourly expect the troops to make a movement against them; but they are too few in numbers, not less than 20,000 being equal to the task. I cannot help mentioning one thing which serves to show the hellish disposition of the accursed rebels: by parcels of ammunition left on the field, their balls were all found to be poisoned!" About as rational as were the British officers, who, mistrusting the buzzing of large flying bugs in the evening for something different, wrote to England that the rebels fired at them with air guns!"


Nope, ye damned rebels didn't have airguns.
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Old December 2, 2004, 10:34 PM   #28
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The first cocktails

Incendaries have been used since ancient times. Fire arrows were used by the Chinese and other people to set siege towers alight. The Byzantine Greeks developed a mixture of pitch and tar that was shot (pumped?) from shipboard urns. Called Greek Fire, dousing it with water would only disperse it and cause the first to spread. In the Russo-Finnish War of 1939, the scarcity of anti-tank guns or rifles compelled the Finns to resort to glass bottled gasoline & soap mixtures which were and thrown onto tanks. When the glass shattered, the mixture would be catch fire from the lit rag that was tied around the bottle's neck. The "Molotov Cocktail," named in (derisive) honor of the Soviet Foreign Minister, was not the first time a hand thrown liquid incenary was used. Here's something from the War of the Rebellion (or Sybil Wa-oh) as we call it here in the USA.

"The sap-roller has been very much cut up by the enemy's fire, and was of no further use. I had just given directions to have it covered at once with earth, and to establish a trench cavalier at that point, when the enemy threw a fire-ball, which lodged under the edge of the sap-roller. They then threw hand-grenades into the fire made by the spreading of the inflammable fluid which it apparently contained; bursting, threw pieces all around it, tearing it considerably; at the same time they kept up an incessant fire of musketry on it. In about one-half hour it was entirely destroyed, exposing to their view a portion of the trench. The one on the right had been destroyed in a similar manner only an hour before."

Them Corn-feds were pretty clever boys.
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Old December 5, 2004, 11:55 AM   #29
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Old Age & Treachery prevails over Youth (circa 1784)

OK you young 'uns. Think you're tough? Well, here's a rambling anecdote from two centuries past and I think after you read it, you should visit a Civil War Museum to look at the implements involved. Either that or you can go to an autoshop & woodworking store to see their modern day equivalents. Then think about the pain & suffering involved. Now, without further adieu, enjoy this lesson from the past:

In the year 1784, an elderly gentleman, in a plain dress, traveling on horse back, stopped for the night at a tavern near King's bridge, about fifteen miles from New-York city, as it then was. He was conducted to the only spare room in the house, in which he had hardly been comfortably established, when a party of young 'roaring blades,' the sons of wealthy citizens, arrived at the tavern, 'to make a night of it. They called for a private room, but were informed by the landlord that his last spare chamber had been taken possession of by a respectable appearing elderly gentleman, apparently from the country.

'Try the old fellow,' said one of them, 'perhaps you can coax him to let us into the room for our spree, and we'll soon smoke him out.'

The host applied to his guest, who readily assented. He observed, 'he was alone, and would be happy to meet a pleasant company of young gentlemen to help him spend the evening.' The party soon assembled; liquors were produced, and an excellent supper brought forward, at which the good natured old gentleman played his part as well as the best of them.

After this, one of the youngsters proposed an agreement that who ever of the company should refuse to perform or submit to any proposal made by either of the others, the recusant or recusants should forfeit the whole bill, and the damages of all the others. To the astonishment of the young gentlemen, the stranger agreed to the terms.

The first proposed to burn their hats, and each threw his hat into the fire; coats, vests, and watches followed, the old gentlman throwing into the fire his old fashioned silver turnip, as a companion to the gold watches of the young rowdies.

When his turn came, he called the landlord and requested him to send for a doctor, and his tooth instruments. The doctor soon appeared. The old gentleman then seated himself in a chair, and said: 'I propose that the doctor shall draw out every tooth in the heads of this company. Doctor, begin with me.' The latter found but one, which he extracted."
(Gary's note: Unlike modern dentistry which is painless, tooth extraction circa 18th Century entialed using a tool resembling a spanner wrench which "snapped" off the top of the tooth. A gimlet was then used to drill into the root and to extract the lower portion of the tooth.) "'Now, gentlemen,' said the veteran, 'submit to my proposal, and ascertain whether you have turned the flanks of an old soldier.'

The young men perceived that they were out-generaled; and learned that General Bayley was the person with whom they had attempted to trifle, and to their cost, They apologized - paid liberally his bill and damages, having learned a valuable lesson for their future government. The general, newly equipped with a better outfit than when he left home, proceeded on the next day to New-York, to settle his army accounts."


General Jacob Bayley was a colonel during the French and Indian War (1755-1760). He was present at Fort William Henry when Montcalm captured it and escaped being killed by outrunning the Indians. During the Revolution, he sided with the Patriots and even mortgaged his property to help supply the army. He incurred $60k in debts which Congress never repaid.

And that's the Rambling Anecdote for the week.
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Old December 8, 2004, 01:33 PM   #30
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Like other Irish immigrants, ole Pat Cleburne came to the US for a better life. He worked initially as clerk and later became an attorney in Arkansas. When war erupted, he rallied to the South even though he was no slave holder himself.

Well, long before Pat Cleburne immigrated, he served in the British Army for a year or so and even arose to the exalted rank of high Corporal. Story is that one day during an inspection he opened his knapsack and instead of the unusal spare clothing and field gear, he had a pillow. He couldn't explain to his officers that it was much lighter and easier to carry as they weren't sympathetic to the plight of the common footsoldier. You take the King's shilling, you do the King's bidding. Understand? Pat did but got caught and was busted to a lowly private.

In Confederate service, Cleburne was elected as Colonel of his regiment. He soon rose to brigadier of his brigade and became a division commander. As an infantry officer, he was one of the better tacticians and earned for himself the sobriquet, "Stonewall of the West." Cleburne, along with seven other Confederate Generals, was to die at the Battle of Franklin (Tennessee). Anyway, here's our rambling anecdote with its common theme of cheating on inspection:

"Company inspection by Maj. H. Good joke upon Sgt. Cassidy, my company. His tin box removed from cartridge box & pack of cards put in its place. At the command 'open boxes,' Maj. H. & I passed to inspect ammunition - should be 60 rounds in box. Noting the cards, Major asked, placing his hands on the sgt.'s box, 'how many have you Sgt.?" 'Sixty, sir,' said he. 'There should be 52,' said the major & passed on, much to the mystification of the Sgt."

At least Sgt. Cassidy didn't become Corporal or Private Cassidy and the good Maj. H. had a better sense of humor.
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Old December 10, 2004, 08:33 PM   #31
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OK, Rich gave me this forum because he knew I'm a blackpowder guy. I admit I've been neglecting the cowboys but that's only because I haven't really gone into reading Western Hystery yet. Sure I read about the Box Wagon Fight, Billy Dixon, Little Big Horn, Chief Joseph, but in comparison to what I've read about the French and Indian War, American Revolution, Civil War, it's nothing. When I visited Sedona, AZ last month I stopped by Fort Verde (a unit of the AZ State Park System). Nice place and what a nice library they have there. Three bookcases with filled with books and of them, maybe I have about a dozen. Seems like there's a lot of catching up to do.

But before I share a rambling anecdote, does anybody know the origin of "cowboy?" Don't tell me it's a translation of the Spanish "Vaquero" because "cowboy" goes back to the Revolutionary War. So, without further delay, here's the Rambling Anecdote you've dropped into read. Enjoy.

"William Barclay 'Bat' Masterson arrived in Dodge with the railroad.

He had contracted to grade the Sante Fe right-of-way on the mile extending west from the military reservation, the mile along which Front Street was being built. The subcontractor for whom he did the grading, however, was obliged to go east and neglected to pay Bat for his work.

Bat was little more than a boy then, barely nineteen years old, broke - and a long way from home. Tom Nixon hired him to drive team.

One day after the railroad had reached Coloroado somebody tipped Bat off that his debtor was at Granada. Said he, 'Bat, he's got two, three thousand dollars rolled up in his pocket, and he'll be through here on tomorrow's train.'

Now Bat had not been working on the railroad just to pass the time away.

Bat asked Josiah Wright Mooar to go with him. They met the train. Mooar waited on the platform. Bat boarded the train, found the fellow, and brought him right out onto the platform at the muzzle of his six-shooter.

Then Bat siad, 'You owe me $300, and dammit, if you don't pay, you're never going back into that car.'

The fellow protested, 'You're robbing me.'

Bat declared, 'No sir, I'm not robbing you. I'm just collecting an honest debt. You owe it, and you're going to pay it right now.'

So the fellow pulled out his roll tied with a buckskin thong, peeled off the right amount and paid Bat.

Bat thanked him, declared the debt settled, and the fellow was mighty glad to scramble back into that railroad car.

While they were having an argument a crowd had gathered to see the fun, and everybody hurrahed Bat about his method of collecting the debt. Bat set 'em up, and all the sporting men in Dodge rallied to him. Up until then he had not been much noticed there....

Guns were used to see fair play.


And that's our Rambling Anecdote for today.
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Old December 15, 2004, 01:13 PM   #32
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Gary, any stories about those long range shooters, preempts to "snipers" in the civil war using some British muskets that were picking off enemy at very long distances. I saw a small session on these on the history channel recently. Bob
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Old December 15, 2004, 08:23 PM   #33
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Bob, you're not a High Roader? Well, none the less, ask and ye shall receive. I've a book that will come out next year that will be filled with stories of long range marksmanship. But enough of soap box chest-beating. This isn't Hyde Park and you're not here to here commercial advertisements. If you can't wait and am as cheap as I am, go here for Bedtime Stories. It's exactly what you've asked for. When you get to Bedtime Stories, be sure to click on the link that I've attached. There's another website that has an article of mine that was published in the NMLRA Muzzle Blasts magazine.

BTW, my buddy told me about the show (I don't watch TV when I'm at home). Anything good in that program?
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Old December 15, 2004, 08:56 PM   #34
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Since Bob has drawn me out of my seclusion, here's another rambling anecdote from the days of the Wild West.

"One spring day in 1885 the two Mooar brothers were watering their teams at the well in the street just in front of Kelly's saloon. They had with them a dog, half buffalo wolf, which they had bought from an Arapaho Indian. Tous was a big black dog, weighing ninety-six pounds, a fierce fighter. A dozen of Mayor Kelly's wolfhounds (of which he was so proud) were on the sidewalk. Somebody sickked them on Tous.

"But the wolf-dog did not scare easy. He never fought like a bulldog, grabbing and holding on, but always leapt in to snap, then sling his enemy aside. In that way he could cope with as many dogs as he could get to him at one time. Soon the pack was getting the worse of it.

"Just then Kelly came running out, six-shooter in hand, apparently to protect his hounds by killing Mooar's dog. Josiah Wright Mooar, holding the water bucket and unarmed, saw him coming. But before he could do or say anything he heard somebody behind him holler, 'Drop that gun, damn you.'

"Mooar looked around and there was Big Jack Williams kneeling on one knee with his Big 50 buffalo gun at his shoulder, drawing a bead on Kelley.

"Kelly put up his revolver, and old Tous 'cleaned them dogs up to a finish.' Mooar had not known that Williams was in town, but Big Jack was right behind him and waiting his turn to water his team...

"Guns were used to prevent gunplay."
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Old December 16, 2004, 12:33 PM   #35
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Gary, absolutely great reading. Looks like the first Ghillie suit was corn and with a native American to boot. Carlos would be proud. I haven't read them all yet but will today. I went to THR right after Rich shut down here but when I logged in it said I haden't been there since Dec. '03 to my dismay. I must go there more often, and I see many of the old members are still there. Thanks for refreshing my memory. I just got lost here. Looking forward to seeing your book soon. Let us all know, please. Bob
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Old December 17, 2004, 11:58 PM   #36
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Give the cheese a chance!

This Rambling Anecdote comes neither from the kitchen of Julia Child nor Martha "jailbird" Stewart. Rather, it is of more humble origins and from the type of establishment many of us would probably feel comfortable in. Sit back now gentle reader and learn more about the subtle art of feasting upon your repast.

"A citizen of the camp went into his favorite dramship, took a seat, threw his feet upon the table, and called for a glass of beer, a sandwich, and some Limburger cheese. These were promptly placed beside his feet.

"But he called to the proprietor, complaining, 'This cheese is no good, I can't smell it."

"The proprietor shouted back, 'Damn it, take your feet down, and give the cheese a chance!'"
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Old December 23, 2004, 08:24 PM   #37
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Guns used to prevent "gun violence" - well, sorta...

Happened in Dodge City. "One afternoon a cowboy rode into town, tied his pony at the hitchrack in front of Wright and Beverley's store, and with his pistol in its holster, jingled his spurs down the rough broadwalk toward the nearest saloon.

Marshal Wyatt Earp stopped him. 'Carrying firearms is not allowed in Dodge. You'll have to check your gun.'

The Texan drawled, 'Who's goin' to make me?' and reached for his weapon.

Wyatt did not reply. Swiftly he buffaloed the saucy stranger, laying down the long barrel of his Buntline Special smartly against the man's temple, just under the hat brim. Down went the cowboy, as if he had been poleaxed, and later, in the words of the old song, woke up broken-hearted in the old Dodge City jail..."


Was told there was a Fremont cop of Chinese descent back in the 1980s. He carried a 6" magnum. He liked the heavier barrel not because of increased velocity or longer sight radius, but because he'd bludgeon the bad guy over the noggin with it. Never met the man msyelf and don't know if he still does it. Law enforcement from the 1880s to the 1980s had some things in common.
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Old December 29, 2004, 08:36 PM   #38
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The Army of the Potomac v. Sherman's Army - An Irish Tale

Never did two armies of the same nation stood in greater contrast to one another. After Lee and Johnston signed an armistice, both of these armies went to Washington where they marched in review of the applauding nation - but on different days.

As it is between different units, jealously ran between the two armies. In the review the Army of the Potomac marched as splendidly as any other European Army. Some had white gloves and their candence was spectacular. Sherman's army on the other hand...

"One would have supposed... that they were making their renowned march through Georgia, insteading of marching in review through the streets of Washington. Such an appearance as they made! There were evidently no attempts made to keep their lines closed up and well-dressed as they advanced, but each man marched to suit his own convenience. Their uniforms were a cross between regulation blue and the Southern gray. The men were sunburned, while their hair and beards were uncut and uncombed; they were clad in blue, gray, black and brown; huge slouch hats, black and gray, adorned their heads; their boots were covered with the mud they had brought up from Georgia; their guns were of all designs, from the Springfield rifle to a cavalry carbine, which each man carried as he pleased, whether it was at 'a shoulder,' 'a trail,' or a 'right shoulder shift'; and thus ragged, dirty and independently demoralized, that great army, whose wonderful campaigns had astonished the world, swept along the streets of the capital, whose honor they had so bravely defended. The great chieftain, Sherman, rode at its head, tall, spare, bronzed; grimly as he rode, in a plain uniform, as if utterly indifferent to all the honors a grateful country was pouring upon its honored son. The men chatted, laughed and cheered, just as they pleased, all along the route of their march. Our men enjoyed this all very much, and many of them muttered, 'Sherman is the man after all.'"

Rivalries arose between the two armies. Sherman's men felt that the Army of the Potomac knew all about reviews and parades but nothing of campaigns and great battles. For its part, the Army of the Potomac felt that Sherman's men would not have had such an easy time if they had fought Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia instead of the unorganized "bushwhackers" during their march to the sea.

One day, some of Sherman's men tangled with the Army of the Potomac's Irish Brigade. So, here's our rambling anecdote:

"Sherman's men entered the encampment of this old brigade, and with their usual coolness and audacity, began to stir things up. The brave Irishmen were perfectly at home in that kind of work, and a fierce struggle was soon raging. It was a square stand-up and knock-down affair, with the success all upon the side of the Irishmen. For once the gallant men from the Southwest had found their match; for a time they fought desperately, but were at last obliged to retreat to their own camp, with bloody faces and in wild disorder, while the wild cheers of the victors would have done credit to 'Donnybrook Fair.' From that time Sherman's men had more respect for the Army of the Potomac, so that when any of them came to our regiment, and began to boast in an offensive manner of their prowess, we had only to ask them if they had ever heard of the old Irish Brigade, and Sherman stock would depreciate a hundred per cent at the bare mention of that name."

Them Fighting Irish fight.
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Old January 7, 2005, 12:08 AM   #39
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Jawbone of an Ass in action

You remember the Bucktails from a previous posting, don't you? Well, this rambling anecdote concerns a Bucktail imprisioned in Richmond's Libby Prison. Libby Prison was formerly a tobacco warehouse and is on the waterfront along the James River. It doesn't exist anymore but there's a plaque on the new structure that stands on the site of Libby Prison. Here's our anecdote concerning the power of the jawbone of an Ass.

"One day a guard whose beat ran from the river to the camp on the outside of the fence along the lane, shot and killed a prisoner as he was returning with a bucket of water from the river. A Buck Tail, who had seen the killing, armed himself with a shin bone and slipped down along the fence. He reached over struck the guard a fearful blow on thehead, which killed him. Boissieux (the camp commandant) shut off the rations of the camp and swore he would starve every 'damned Yankee' to death unless the man who killed the guard was found. The men became desperate and threatening by evening and Boissieux's cowardly heart failed him. Fearing a prison revolt he rushed the grub into camp."

O.K., not quite the Jawbone of an Ass, but good enough for gubmint work.
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Old January 11, 2005, 12:04 AM   #40
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One Tough Hombre - a story for the CAS crowd & anybody else who likes good stories

Tales of the Jornada by Ronald Kil in MuzzleLoader Magazine (Jan/Feb. 2005).

"In 1864 a northbound stage driven by Sandy Wardell received word at Fort Selden, just before entering the Jornada, that Apaches had raided the village of Paraje at the nortern end and run off all the stage stock.

Undaunted, Wardell pressed on. He had five passengers in his coach and traveling just behind him was Epifanio Aguirre, his wife, two children and two servants traveling in a carriage. Behind them was an escort of eight cavalrymen and some wagons. Safety was found in strength and watchfulness. Surely the Apaches would find them too much to take on. They were wrong.

'We started out and had no trouble for the first two days,' Wardell wrote. 'On the second night, and just as day was breaking, right at Big Laguna 200 or 300 Apaches jumped us and the ball openned.'

With great expertise gained in massacring other stages, the Apaches knew that if they killed the team the stage would stop and be at their mercy. One Indian with a musket would stop his pony and jump off to take deliberate aim and shoot the mules in the hitch. (The custom in those days was to use five mules: three in the front, the leaders, and two in the back, the wheelers.) He managed to kill both the wheelers in this manner, but just as quick Wardell would stop the stage, jump down, cut loose the dead mule from the harness and drive on. H was wearing some pretty thick bark himself.

Epifanio Aguirre, whose family owned a freighting business extending from Chihuahua and northern Sonora to Sante Fe, was experienced in the ways of the Camino Real and the Apaches. Knowing well their peril, he took matters into his own hands. Taking a six-shooter in each hand and the bridle reins in his teeth, he would dash ahead of the coach charging into the Apaches like a Mexican Rooster Cogburn, emptying his pistols into them and then darting back to his carriage. There his wife, a woman of no little grit herself, would hand him two freshly loaded pistols while retrieving his empties. Spinning his horse back, he would go into the screeching mass of warriors. Wardell allowed as how he never saw a man with more nerve in all his life and that Aguirre fought like a demon.

With the passengers firing from the coach and the soldiers covering the rear, the caravan fought its way to within six miles of Paraje, at the northern edge of the Jornada, where the Apaches finally gave up. One passenger was hit by an arrow, the soldiers lost a mule and the stage lost its two wheelers. The stage was struck by so many arrows that it resembled a porcupine on wheels.

Wardell later wrote, 'they could not get close enough for their arrows to have much force, for our guns kept them at a distance, and I am glad of it, for I think in a case of this kind distance leads enchantment to the view.'

I reckon enchanting is one way to describe an experience like that. A postscript to this tale is that Epifanio Aguirre was killed in an Apache ambush six years later near Tucson. One feels confident that he didn't die running away."


MuzzleLoader is a great magazine for blackpowder buffs. If you like smokepoles, check it out!
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Old January 22, 2005, 01:07 AM   #41
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Oh, for the good ole days of politics.

Congress - the way it oughta be...

In the 19th Century, it was not unusual for the "gentlemen" of Congress to arrive at that fine institution of gubment equipped to wage battle on behalf of their constitutents - literally.

Our leading citizens carried upon their persons not only memorized speeches reflecting their perspectives, but also canes, dirks, dangers, brass knuckles as well as pistols.

One day a distinguished member from Mississippi, William Barksdale, was so outraged that he flew to the podium and physically attacked his opponent. Now, the movies like to show vigorous men with flowing hair but Barksdale was a man who wished he ask his barber for a trim. During the fight, his "rug" went airborne and Barksdale disengaged and scrambled to recover his rug and his dignity. Remember that scene in the Three Stooges, "Order in the Court?"

He would later earn a name for himself when his men delayed the Federal pontineers for 11 hours at Fredericksburg. Barksdale did not survive the attack on the Peach Orchard (2nd day at Gettysbrug, July 2) and died while in Federal custody.
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Old January 28, 2005, 10:40 PM   #42
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Pure fiction

Or at least some of it has no basis of fact to support it. But some digression first. So, e/r home I swung by the Friends of the Public Library bookstore and picked up an old book on Weapons & Tactics. I felt I needed to diversify and shouldn't read about scalping & sniping all the time.

Here's what the (circa '41) book says about the Royal Americans: "The British Army needed to produce soldiers who could meet the Indian allies of the French on equal terms; this need led to the formation of our Royal American Rifles, the first modern infantry. These forerunners of the rifle brigade wore a uniform designed to hide a man wearing it. All previous uniforms, from the liveries of the royal guards or noblemen's retinue, through the red coats of Cromwell's troops, to the elaborate and desperately uncomfortable kit of Geroge the Third's infantry, had been designed to largely to make the wears obvious. In battles that we like large and brutal games in the open fields, commanders and men needed to know who was on their side and who was against them. The uniforms they wore were, therefore brightly coloured, like the jerseys worn by football teams. They were also often elaborate, even decorative, partly because it was considered good for drilling men into automata to make them slave at polishing buttons and other gear; partly because othe richness of uniforms showed the wealth and therfore the fighting resources of the autocrat at whose servce was the man within the uniform. Uniforms of this sort was a hopeless handicap in the forests of America. The Rifles, therefore, wore green jackets. And they wore black buttons, as their inheritors do to this day.

Thankfully we have modern historians and researchers who can correct these mistakes. If you're curious and want to learn more about the Royal Americans, check out Bedtime Stories at THR.

More research reveals that the statement is correct with respects to 5/60, which was raised in 1797; decades after the first four battalions which were raised Dec. 1755.
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Old January 29, 2005, 09:14 PM   #43
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Got two articles of mine published in Feb. 2005 MuzzleBlasts magazine. Check it out.
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Old February 3, 2005, 10:45 PM   #44
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Masonic brotherhood

We all know about Fort Pillow which angered the Colored Troops. Many of them would advance into battle encouraging each other with the cry, "Remember Fort Pillow." It was the codeword to take no prisoners. This make the Confederates fight even harder when they faced colored troops. In some cases, but for the presence of the white officer or of other (Federal) white troops, the Corn-feds would have been massacred. Here's a tale of one Corn-fed Mason whose life was saved by a Federal Mason at Fort Blakely, Alabama:

"More of our troops were slaid after the surrender than in the battle. Finally the white officers bunched us in squads of forty or fifty each and placed guards around us as close together as they could stand with fixed bayonets facing outward to protect us from the infuriated mob. They continued to shoot our men down, shooting between or over the heads of the guards.

"Captain Adair fell at my side and with a mortal wound. I was cuaght on the outer edge of my squad when I discovered an infuriated Negro about ten feet from me with his gun on me. I stepped behind the guard. He then moved around to one side and back again when I placed the guard between us again.

"At that time a white officer appeared, seeing on his hat the square and compasses [a Masonic symbol] made with a pencil, I gave him a sign which brought him to my side. I pointedout the Negro and asked him to please not let him kill me as I had fought him like a man, surrendered like a man, and would like to be treated like a man.

"He stepped out and struck the Negro on the head with his pistol. The Negro turned and ran up the breastworks. He fired at the Negro and I saw him fall over the breastworks. Shortfly afterward the white office came to my side and asked me if that Negro had bothered me any more. I told him no and was much obliged to him. He whispered to me that he had done three others the same way. This shows that Masonery [sic] will protect a brother even though he be a foe."


Both sides were guilty of killing their prisoners. I've even found an account of a Confederate sharpshooter being killed after surrendering.
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Old February 5, 2005, 01:45 PM   #45
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Cheating them with Cheatham

At the Battle of Belmont, while advancing through the thick woods with reinforcements, Confederate Gen. Benjamin Frank Cheatham took the lead and encountered 50 troops. Trouble is, they were Union troops. Thankfully, as it was early in the war, there was plenty of confusion on both sides. He boldly rides up and asks, "What cavalry is that?" "Illinois cavalry, sir," came the reply. "Oh, Illinois cavalry!" Cheatham bluffed, sighting two Union regiments arrayed behind them. "All right, just stand where you are." He rode off, deployed his men, and attacked. Soon the bodies of Federal soldiers lay "as thick as stumps in a new field," commented one Confederate, and another thought they lay thicker "than ever I had seen pumpkins in a cornfield."

Cheatham was later a Corps Commander with the ill-fated Army of Tennessee.
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Old February 10, 2005, 08:59 PM   #46
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Pass the prunes, please

Before we read our anecdote, every regiment had an "awkward" squad. Those where the guys who never got anything right so rather than mess up the entire platoon, they were grouped into one squad and carefully drilled until they got it right. You can read more about the awkward squad in John Billing's classic account of the Civil War, Hardtack and Coffee. So, please pass the prunes.

One of the boys, a rather awkward fellow, received a box from home. It contained among other things a box of dried prunes; he stewed some of them for sauce. He had no more than got them finished when the order was given to fall in for inspection. In his haste he upset his pan of sauce on his gun and equipments; line was formed and along came the colonel, the captain and the inspecting officer. He presented his gun to the inspecting officer; but to the surprise and horror of the officer, his gloves of immaculate whiteness, were covered with a soft brown sticky substance. he looked at his gloves for an instant, and with an oath demanded "What is that?" and the king of the awkward squad made answer, "It is nothin' but stewed prunes." For an instant military discipline was powerless, but the man was sent to his quarters and was later dealt with.
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Old February 13, 2005, 09:15 PM   #47
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General William T. Sherman, a man of the people

...or better, why Sherman couldn't run for President.

After the war, the Army of the Potomac did a grand review before an applauding capital. The next day, Sherman's Army held their review.

Sherman dismounted and took his place at the review stand. As he was leaving...

The crowd surged around the stand to get a nearer view of the great Generals and the great men of the nation. We maintained our position near the foot of the stairs as they came down the steps, and here we saw another striking illustration of the characteristics of General Sherman. As he attempted to descend, the crowd pushed up the stairway to grasp him by the hand and to load him down with flowers. He accepted all the flowers that he could hold in one hand and under his arm, and to gratify the people, shook hands, as is ever the desire of a crowd in meeting great men. The General was very affable at first, patiently shaking hands with his admirers, and the crowd all the while seemingly to grow more dense. The hand shakes became less and less cordial, and the General's affability apparently departing.

He pushed down step by step - we could see that his patience was exhausted, and refusing the offered hands, forced his way down, brushing aside the men in front of him, finally exclaiming angrily, 'Damn you, get out of the way! Get out of the way!'

The crowd concluding that he meant just what he said, gave way for him to descend, and mounting his horse, he rode away."
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Old February 13, 2005, 11:57 PM   #48
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Uncle Billy's guide to making friends to "To H*** with them!"

Here's an account of Uncle Billy whose men scorched and burned their way from Atlanta to the Sea and then through the Carolinas. No, it's not about the "great picnic" as his men called it but of Uncle Billy and how he sets the example for diplomats worldwide. The scene is the Grand Review of Sherman's Army. It takes place just as Sherman rides up (and before he gets ****** at the admiring citizens):

General Sherman having passed the reviewing stand, left the coumn and took his place beside President Johnson. He dismounted immediately in our front, and ascended the steps leading to the grand stand, and here occurred a scene that exhibited the strong fiery character of this great General. It will be remembered that the Secretary of War, Stanton, had humiliated General Sherman before the whole country but a few days before in general orders, denouncing Sherman for the terms of surrender granted by him to the rebel General Johnston and his army. Secretary Stanton as it happened, sat next to the head of the stairs upon the stand. As General Sherman approached, Secretary Stanton arose and extended his hand. General Sherman, resenting with indignation the indignity placed upon him, without looking at the Secretary of War, placed his left arm against Stanton's shoulder brushing him aside, and grasped the hand of the President, shaking hands with General Grant and the Cabinet officers, leaving Secretary of War Stanton like a whipped child to take his seat. It was a most sensational and interesting sight to those who were near enough to see and understand the situation. We saw clearly the two men as they met, and the hot blood of General Sherman to redden his face, and in my imagination his very red hair to stand on end."

Well, Uncle Billy was a soljer & not a politician and it showed.
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Old February 15, 2005, 12:58 AM   #49
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Dedicated to Chaplain John of the CA Woodland Police Dept.

This concerns the Third New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. The Union Army had just been whupped by those damned Rebels at Secessionville (James Island near Charleston, SC). BTW, I was attacked by a Rebel Dog at Secessionville. I came to a dead end and pulled into a driveway to turn around. The Rebel Dog came at my car, barking all the time. I put the car in reverse and retreated thinking all along he would stop once I retreated. However, this only emboldened him and he pursued. In reverse I fled for another hundred yards until I reached the next driveway. I backed into it so I could now turn around to leave. The Rebel Dog was still charging, barking with every lunge forward. Brought to bay because I didn't want to hit the critter, even if he was too stupid to know that a ton of steel beats flesh & bone every time, that darn Rebel Dog kept coming & SLAM! He bounced off my fender. Stunned, he walked away without a whimper. My jaw hurt from laughing. Not even Sheridan at Cedar Creek enjoyed such a complete victory. Enough rambling.

Recall that the Union Army was defeated at Secessionville and many embarked upon steamers and sailed south to Hilton Head, SC to reorganize. We let the Adjutant of the Third NH describe it:

"Our Chaplain Hill was a very zealous man, and the chaplain having special prayer meetings in the evening were quite well attended.

Over in another camp was the Fourth N. H. regiment, commanded by Colonel Whipple. The colonel was a well known lawyer from Laconia, N. H., a very bright man, but somewhat addicted to the cup, and there was a keen rivalry between the Third N. H. and the Fourth N. H. regiments as to the merits of the two regiments. One day the news camp to Colonel Whipple of a revival over in the Third N. H. camp. One of his officers had told him that twelve men of the Third N. H. had been baptized. This was something new in the experience of the camp, and Colonel Whipple became very much interested, and calling the adjutant, he says, 'Adjutant, they tell me that twelve men of the Third N. H. regiment have been baptized. I want you, sir, to detail fifteen men at once and see that they are baptized. I'll be d----d if the Third N. H. shall get ahead of the Fourth regiment."
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Old February 19, 2005, 12:13 AM   #50
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Bow wow

Soldiers are not slow to forage when rations are poor. One Union regiment had men going out regularly and so the local landowners and farmers began to complain about their livestock being missing. It became an embarassment for the commanding general. To discourage the foraging, the provost would stop men attempting to enter camp with unauthorized livestock. While the ownership of the plundered (and partially butchered) animal couldn't be determined, they could not allow the foragers to reap the benefit of their harvest. So, the Provost and his men confiscated the foragers' hard earned food. However, not letting such wonderful repast go wasted, it was prepared and served at the officers' mess. Being their betters, why shouldn't they enjoy a fine steak or loin or chop every now and then? It would teach the men a lesson. Well, some foragers were understandably not pleased with having their hard gained food taken from them. So, they conspired to get even.

One day a foraging party attempted to run the gate but the alert men of the Provost Marshal intercepted them anyway. The foragers were forced to surrender what appeared to be a skinned sheep. As before, it was served to the officers that night and the foragers went meatless (except for the "salt horse" served to them by Uncle Sam). Then the fun began. "Bow wow!" came from one unidentified soldier. Another responded, "bow wow!" Soon, an entire chorus of seranaded the camp with barking. The officers realized they had been tricked into eating dog. The men kept up the barking for a couple of days until their commanding general wrote a special order forbidding any barking in camp.
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