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Psalm 91: Confidence for the Believer in Times of Trouble

Psalm 91 has a lot to say about the current virus crisis to the person who trusts in Christ alone. It also has a military history connection since it is sometimes called the Soldier’s Psalm.

My Take

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This morning I was reminded of Psalm 91 and how the Psalm functions in order to give hope and confidence to the believer in times of trouble.

As a certified biblical counselor I am always interested in helping people to counsel themselves by using the Bible and their knowledge of Scripture in general. Paul himself encourages the Roman Christians to counsel one another through the Word of God. He states:

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 15:14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Toward that end of trying to help people counsel one another during this time of uncertainly, I will use nothing more than the study notes from the MacArthur Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible for my comments. The point…

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There are Things Worse Than a Virus

Historic Christianity from my other blog. It’s a good time to consider the claims of Christ.

My Take

The apostle Paul wrote:

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Co. 15:26, ESV)

Then, as now, mankind’s greatest fear is not a virus from Wuhan but the possibility of death that the virus represents. Viruses and diseases are scary especially when the recipient knows that treatments and vaccines either do not exist or are not necessarily all that effective.

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When we are sick we instinctively think in terms of cure and rely on the doctors and scientists to provide that cure and when they have little to offer at the moment we tend to panic.

Why? Because the specter of death looms large in our minds and death is to be feared above all else. A virus serves as a symbol of sorts that predicts possible doom.

Most people do not want to die. Most believe they have something to live for. The exceptions to that are…

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Christmas poems for our military (1)

Some military poetry from one of my favorite blogs

Pacific Paratrooper

Sailor Santa

“A Different Christmas Poem”

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And…

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Perryville, the Civil War’s Most Obscure Major Battle_1

On October 8, 1862, a hot and exceedingly dry day, Union and Confederate forces classed in the Chaplin Hills just west of Perryville, Kentucky, a small market town located southwest of Lexington in the commonwealth’s central bluegrass.

Perryville-This Grand Havoc of Battle by Kenneth W. Noe, pg xiii

So begins Noe’s exhaustive work on the Civil War’s most obscure major battle.

Part of the reason for the obscurity is the location of the battle. The battlefield is not near any major interstate or large city. The largest city is near-by Danville, KY with a population of just over 16,000 as of 2010.

Another reason for the relative obscurity is simply because other battlefields such as Shiloh, Vicksburg, Stones River and Chickmauga in the west and Gettysburg in the east have been written about exhaustively. Those battles have been thought of being of greater importance than a battle fought in the middle of nowhere Kentucky.

Yet, the Battle of Perryville can be and should probably be thought of as the Confederate high tide in the Western Theater of Operations.

The Confederates under Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith invaded the border State of Kentucky (a slave state) in order to encourage secession in the hopes of recruiting thousands of Kentuckians to the cause.

Secession leaning Kentucky politicians and Rebel Kentucky generals already in the Confederate camp were adamant in assuring Bragg and Smith that should they invade and that many southern leaning Kentuckians would flock to the colors and “fight for Kentucky’s independence” from the Union.

No such thing happened. Most Kentuckians were against secession despite the fact Kentucky was a slave state. Recruits to the cause were few. Most that did enlist preferred service in the cavalry rather than the less glamorous infantry where they were needed the most.

Nevertheless, Bragg and Smith did invade and for a time the invasion did provide a panic for the Union. A major Confederate success in Kentucky would have meant Louisville falling to the Confederates and probably would have pulled Kentucky out of the Union. Bragg was so optimistic that he thought he could cross the Ohio River and take Cincinnati.

Although obscure, The Battle of Perryville was not a small affair especially for the soldiers on both sides who had to fight it. Sam Watkins, the author of the well known memoir, Company H served in the 1st Tennessee (CSA) in nearly every battle and skirmish in the Western Theater of the War.

Here is Noe’s quote on Watkin’s experience at Perryville:

The ubiquitous Confederate infantryman Sam Watkins remembered Perryville, where he fought hand-to-hand for control of a federal battery, as “this grand havoc of a battle” and swore that he had never experienced anything else like it. “I was in every battle, skirmish and march that was made by the First Tennessee regiment during the war,: he recorded in his memoir, “and I do not remember a harder contest and more evenly fought battle than that of Perryville…Both sides claimed victory—both whipped….Such obstinate fighting I never seen before or since.

(Perryville-This Grand Havoc of Battle by Kenneth W. Noe, pg xiv

In late September, 2019 my wife and I traveled to South Carolina to visit her sister and her husband. It was an opportunity for me to scratch my life long interests in the American Civil War.

On the way home which took us through Tennessee and Kentucky we decided to visit the Perryville Battlefield for a day. My wife is very gracious in indulging my hobbies and over the years she too has developed an interest in American History.

We visited the battlefield many years before-before the birth of out son; almost as newly weds back in the late 1970’s. Back then, it was an impulsive stop and it occurred simply because we were close enough to it after we had visited Shiloh, Chickamauga, Fort Donelson and other better known battlefields.

I remember driving for miles and miles on a single lane highway in mid-summer wondering if we would ever get there. When we arrived I was disappointed. The battlefield was small and the visitor center was nothing to brag about. I knew little about the battle and that contributed to the overall impression that is was a long ride for nothing.

Over the years in furthering my study of the Civil War I thought the battlefield would be worth a second look. My expectations were not as high as they were previously and I researched the site (what did we do before the INET!) prior to our trip.

Since the 1970’s the size of the battlefield has grown considerably through the efforts of the State of Kentucky and Battlefield Trust. Land has been purchased and new visitor center built that features a small bookstore as well as a battlefield museum which given it’s size is quite impressive.

The Visitor Center at Perryville. It’s not huge but it is very good and the staff is excellent. As I understand it there are plans to continue to expand the battlefield as money allows. Check out Battlefield Trust if you want to help.
Three flags over the battlefield at Perryville. The one in the middle is the Kentucky State Flag. Kentucky, like other border states had soldiers on both sides of the conflict but most Kentuckians fought for the Union.

The staff member (who could not show us around that day) spent a lot of time explaining the battle and guiding us in how to use the map. We spent the better part of the day hiking around the battlefield in the sequence the staff member suggested. Perryville Battlefield, Kentucky State Park

This gave me an excellent understanding of the battle in how it started, how it progressed and how it finally ended.

If you do not take the time to listen to the guide and then read all the plaques all you will see is rolling hills, tall grass, fences and a few cannon standing guard over ground where brave men bled and died.

The staff member, whose name I have forgotten, has our thanks for providing the framework for an immersive experience that both my wife and I enjoyed.

When we returned to the visitor center I purchased Perryville-This Grand Havoc of a Battle by Kenneth W. Noe. I’ve rarely read a more compelling and interesting account of a Civil War battle. I will probably write a review of the book as it will serve in a big source way for my planned series on the battle.

This is the Confederate Monument at Perryville. The soldier on the top stands guard over the Confederate mass grave. After the battle a man by the name of Henry (Squire) Bottom, owner of the land and southern sympathizer buried hundreds of Confederates because the Federals would not. Bottom attempted to identify the bodies but in the days before metal “dog tags” it was difficult, so most remain known only to God.
The inscription on the Confederate Monument at Perryville. At many Civil War sites efforts are being made to give more background and scope to the Civil War so that inscriptions like this one are better understood. We tend to judge events of long ago by contemporary standards and as a result remove the event from its historical context. Slavery was indeed the catalyst that ignited the Civil War but the roots go back to the founding of our nation. Most Confederate and most Union soldiers for that matter did not factor in slavery as to why they fought. In general, they fought for their states (homes) in the south and for their states in the north as part of a Union they saw as insoluble. All that to say, tearing down Confederate monuments is not a reasonable solution to anything. What is reasonable is giving context to momentous events that shaped our history and in the final result ended the horror of slavery at the cost of hundreds of thousands killed and maimed for life.
The Union Monument at Perryville. The Union monument was put up much later than the Confederate one. It does not stand over a mass grave either. After the battle Union soldiers did their best to bury their fallen comrades as soon as possible. Feral hogs and other animals feasted on the corpses until they sickened and died from consuming putrefying flesh. It was important to bury comrades quickly to prevent this. However, the burials were in haste and often shallow so as a preventative measure it didn’t help much. Months and even years after the battle the government moved the remains of the Union dead to a proper cemetery elsewhere in Kentucky. Today, only the bodies they missed remain.
This is the inscription on the Union Monument. It was an incredibly hard fought battle and both sides lost heavily. Tactically, the Union lost but it mattered little as the Confederates realizing they were out numbered withdrew during the night and next day.

On a side note, I do have a couple of personal connections to the battle, although both are indirect.

The first connection are the Wisconsin infantry regiments and artillery batteries that were present at the battle. McCook’s Corps of the Army of the Ohio fought the lion’s share of the battle and within that Corps three Wisconsin infantry regiments served. The veteran 1st and 10th Wisconsin and the brand-new 21st Wisconsin all fought with the 21st being particularly roughly handled. A blog post just on that is planned.

The 21st was recruited in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time, Milwaukee was heavily German so many Germans served in many Union regiments recruited from the heavy German areas such as Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cincinnati.

My own family immigrated to the US from Germany in the 1870’s so I do not have a direct link that I can establish as a Civil War ancestor. Yet, I can find our family name among the rosters of other Wisconsin regiments. It simply serves me to understand that had I been born in Milwaukee 15-18 years prior to the Civil War I probably would have been in it! Such is the providence of God that I was not.

The second connection is also indirect.

My wife’s great-grandfather immigrated from Scotland to Kentucky in 1853 at the age of eighteen. He enlisted in the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry (Union) in 1861 and served about a year according to his records. He missed Perryville.

Brigadier General William Terrill from Kentucky recruited the 3rd Kentucky when the war began. Terrill would die at the battle.

My wife’s great-grandfather, James Robertson, would re-enlist; this time in the 42nd Wisconsin Infantry. As a veteran I’m sure he was eagerly accepted and I’m sure the $300.00 bounty Wisconsin was providing certainly provided the needed incentive.

The 42nd spent it’s service time in and around Cairo, IL where a huge Union supply base was located. Compared with the horrors of Perryville and other Civil War battles grandpa had pretty nice duty.

Grandpa settled in Wisconsin after the war marrying my wife’s great-grandma, Jessie. They had 13 children together. Grandpa lived until 1913.

Perryville was worth the out of the way trip for anyone interested in the Civil War. Take your time, use the guide and seek to understand. it’s worth it.

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Trip to Fort Sumter

In September we took a vacation to visit my wife’s sister in South Carolina. While there e took the opportunity to see some of the sites with her sister and her husband.

We went to Charleston for a few days and spent the better part of one touring Fort Sumter, the place the American Civil War started on April 12, 1861.

Visiting Sumter is something I’ve always wanted to do. The first thing I noticed is that the fort is a lot smaller than I imagined. Here’s the vital stats from Wikipedia:

Named after General Thomas SumterRevolutionary War hero, Fort Sumter was built after the War of 1812, as one of a series of fortifications on the southern U.S. coast to protect the harbors. Construction began in 1829,[3] and the structure was still unfinished in 1861, when the Civil War began. Seventy thousand tons of granite were transported from New England to build up a sand bar in the entrance to Charleston Harbor, which the site dominates. The fort was a five-sided brick structure, 170 to 190 feet (52 to 58 m) long, with walls five feet (1.5 m) thick, standing 50 feet (15.2 m) over the low tide mark. It was designed to house 650 men and 135 guns in three tiers of gun emplacements, although it was never filled near its full capacity.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Sumter

While smaller than I thought the fort was a significant fortification that guarded Charleston harbor. In 1861 was it was under gunned and undermanned. As the Confederates took control of the other Union installations around Sumter it became cut off from reinforcement and was forced to surrender.

When the Confederates took over they brought the fort up to snuff by installing 95 guns with a garrison that could man them.

The Union Navy and Marines were charged with maintaining a blockade around all southern ports. Often times, landing parties were tasked with various missions. At least one attempt was made by sailors and marines to seize Fort Sumter from the sea. It was a failure that resulted in many casualties. The little 12lb howitzer in the picture was a big reason why. There is not much a beach to land on at Sumster.

The harbor itself became a haven for blockade runners with quite a few making their way through the Union blockade. The Union Navy was not idle and mounted a siege of the fort for 20 months. A naval landing party of sailors and marines attempted a landing but were easily repulsed.

Confederate arillerymen manning fortifications.

The Confederate version of Fort Sumter never fell from the sea but rather in January, 1865 it fell, because General Sherman in his march to the sea took it from the landward side.

After the Civil War the fort remained in service until 1876. It was in disrepair until 1897 when the impending war with Spain caused the fort to be upgraded. A small army garrison occupied the fort during the WW1. During WW2 a couple of 90mm anti-aircraft guns were installed. In 1948 the fort was handed over to the National Park Service. Not a bad history for a fort that was built in 1829!

We chose to take the ferry that allowed you to disembark at the fort. You get about an hour to tour the fort. The staff, like at all National Parks were very helpful, taking the time to explain the details surrounding the initial Confederate bombardment and the subsequent Union siege of the fort.

Being the Civil War geek that I am, I was fascinated by the size of the 100lb Parrot guns. These guns were designed to sink ships! At the time this meant wooden ships since the Monitor and the Merrimac ironclads were still about a year away in their making.

The Monitor and the Merrimac were the world’s first Ironclads. At the time no navy in the world could match them. Doing the siege of Fort Sumter by the Union Navy many Union Monitors were used their armor being quite useful in fending off Confederate shot and shell.

The top tier of the fort was blown away during the siege by the Union Navy. On the lower tiers you can still still embedded ordnance as well as damage to the brick and mortar that was never repaired.

An insight museum gives further insight and instruction regarding the momentous events of 1861-65 in Charleston and around the fort.

My only regret was you only had an hour to tour the fort and the museum. There’s a great video and other information about planning your visit to Fort Sumter here.

Direct link to Video

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Strategy Page’s Military Humor and more….

This cracked me up.

Pacific Paratrooper

Military Common Sense Rules

A lot of life’s problems can be explained by the U.S. Military and its applications of common sense …

  1. “Sometimes I think war is God’s way of teaching us geography.”
    (Paul Rodriguez)
  2. “A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what’s left of your unit.”
    (Army’s magazine of preventive maintenance ).
  3. “Aim towards the Enemy.”
    (Instruction printed on US M79 Rocket Launcher)
  4. When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.
    (U.S. Marine Corps)
  5. Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs always hit the ground.
    (U.S. Air Force)
  6. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
    (Infantry Journal)
  7. It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.
    (US Air Force Manual)
  8. Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never…

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The Cleansing of US History

Did you have a choice of where you were born? Did you have a choice as to your parents? Did you have a choice as to what year you born? Did you have choice as to what culture you were born into? Did I?

The answer to all these questions is of course not. All of us, regardless of ethnic origin, economic status, country of origin came into this world at a time and place and into a family and culture of not our own choosing.

Whether you are a theist or atheist or something in between everyone recognizes that’s just the way it’s always been.

Think for a moment how your family upbringing has influenced you. Think of how your education has helped shaped you. Think of how your faith (or lack there of) has shaped you. Think of how your culture and peers have shaped you and still seek to shape you. Each one of us is influenced and shaped by numerous factors that are current to our time and place in history.

Today, the far left wanna be Marxists are on an unholy crusade to cleanse us of all aspects of our history that they find offensive. This is illustrated by the demands to take down statutes of not only Confederates but also remove paintings that feature George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. These men either held slaves or fought for a cause that held to slavery. Therefore, argues the left, let’s erase them as if Washington or Jefferson had nothing to contribute to the founding of the nation.

The presumption of their “judges” is that these men should have known better; they should have been ahead of their times; they should have, should have, should have….but because they did not we need to erase them from our history lest anyone think slavery\racism is a good thing.

The self appointed left wing judges judge historical people of the past by standards they would never apply to themselves. One hundred years from now people from that time will look back and wonder how could people of our time and place believe in, fill in the blank.

Willful ignorance of US and world history is the main culprit. This can be laid at the feet of Marxist professors that do not teach history in any kind of objective manner.

The judges reduce those who came before us to card board cut outs without understanding much, if anything, about the times, culture, families, faith or other factors that shaped them in their time and place. The self-righteousness of the judges is disguised as the moral high ground as if they had lived in such and such a time and place they would be different because they are so enlightened.

Consider the letter below. It’s from a Confederate soldier to his wife during the Civil War. Take the time to read it.

This Confederate soldier died at Gettysburg. He served in a North Carolina Regiment. He loves his wife and is grateful to God for the small plot of land they own in North Carolina. He wants to come home; yet feels duty bound to remain with his comrades.

He makes note of Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation to raise an army to force the seceding southern states to remain in the Union. The Lincoln proclamation was the catalyst for more southern states to secede since they could not abide by an invasion of their fellow southern states.

Right or wrong, that’s how the southern states viewed their relationship to the federal government. Most level headed historians agree that slavery was the catalyst for the Civil War but States Rights was the bigger issue. Lincoln himself said that if he could avoid war he would not eliminate slavery. (This does not mean Lincoln was for slavery. He was not. It simply means he believed holding the Union together was more important at that moment in time and many if not most Northern soldiers felt the same way.)

The Confederate soldier in his letter says the proclamation appears noble and yet states, that he would not fight if the argument was just about keeping another man in bondage. He says he’d walk away and that God knows his heart.

Judging from his words (actual evidence) he does not appear to support slavery and it is quite certain he did not own any slaves himself. Yet he fought for North Carolina, a State that seceded from the Union. How do we interpret this?

At the time of the Civil War people in general were far more loyal to their individual states or lcoality than they were to far away Washington D.C. Today Washington dominates the news cycle. This was not the case in 1861 when mot people did not wander more than 10 miles from their homes. This is a significant fact that is nearly always over looked when discussing the motives of the average Confederate soldier and even their generals. Robert E. Lee for example fought for Virginia after being offered command of the entire Union Army!

None of that justifies slavery; slavery of any type is horrible and a manifestation of man’s total depravity. What I’m saying is context and actual motive should matter when judging people of the past. Like this soldier writing to his wife many southern soldiers would not fight to keep others in bondage; but would fight for hearth and home. That is a big difference.

While I am not certain if General James Longstreet ever said this I think it captures what many southerners believed. In the movie Gettysburg, (1993) Longstreet is discussing the causes of the Civil War with a British officer who is traveling with the Confederate Army. Slavery is mentioned (Britain abolished slavery in the early 1800’s). Longstreet says, “we should have freed the slaves and then fired on Fort Sumter.” I do believe the words capture the sentiments of many southerners of the time. You can see this clearly in the North Carolina soldier’s letter to his wife.

He goes on to state in almost prophetic terms what was at stake in his mind. He fears what many of us fear today-a federal government with too much power as well as a government that would one day deny the gospel! He laments the taxation and coercion that would result should the south lose the war. Many southerners viewed the Civil War as the Second War of Independence-a reaction to what they believed to be a tyrannical government akin to King George III during the American Revolution..

The Confederate statues that can be found in many of the southern states are interpreted by the Marxist left exclusively as representing the defense of slavery. I get that but that view does not allow for a deeper conversation about substantive issues regarding State’s Rights, the role of the Federal Government and just exactly how much power the Federal Government should actually have.

The soldier would die at Gettysburg where there is a monument to the North Carolina Confederates who died there. He, like other Confederates fought for his state, his small plot of land and his fellow soldiers who were in the same situation as he. The monument is to their bravery so why can’t we just leave it at that and learn from our past?