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Jack Scruby Figures American War of Independence

Here’s a link to my one of my other blogs for those interested in military history, wargaming and miniature collecting. (Jack Scruby Figures American War of Independence)

More pictures at the link. Brunswick Regiment v. Specht

Link to Historifigs.com where Jack Scruby figures can still be purchased.

My Scruby British contingent, the 21st Foot-Royal North British Fusileers, a Light Company and a company of the 17th Light Dragoons.
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Stand Your Ground

One character from the War of Independence that I’ve found interesting, even intriguing, is Captain John Parker.

Captain Parker’s main claim to fame comes from his role as the Captain of Colonial Militia for the area around Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.

Parker was a militia captain served served in the French and Indian War in two campaigns against the French in Canada. He learned something of the military tactics that the French’s Native American allies used against the British and the American Colonial Militia in that war.

Calling the militia “American” is accurate as far as it goes. The term refers to location more than it does to nationality. American independence would not be achieved until 1783 when a peace treaty was signed with Great Britain. Although independence was declared in 1776, it could not be fully granted until Great Britain recognized the defacto independence of what was becoming the United States of America.

On April 19th, 1775 Captain John Parker and the militia from around Lexington gathered on the village green. They were there in response to Paul Revere’s famous cry, “the British are coming, the British are coming” and indeed they were.

Why were the British coming?

Things had reached the boiling point between Great Britain and it’s American colonies. Things were particularly tense in Massachucets where a number of incidents had already occurred; notably the so-called Boston Massacre where British troops fired on an American mob and The Boston Tea Party where Americans dressed as Native Americans dumped tea into Boston Harbor to protest the tax on tea. Taxation without representation in the British Parliament was a key motivator in understanding the roots of the conflict.

By April 1775 the General in charge of the British troops in Boston was Thomas Gage. Gage sent troops from Boston to disarm the militia in Lexington and Concord. He sent Colonel Francis Smith to do the job and Smith sent a Major John Pitcairn with an advance guard, presumably to scout and perhaps to clear the way for the main column.

It was Pitcairn and the advance guard of British Regulars that faced Parker and the Lexington militia across the green. The situation was tense. Both sides thought of themselves as Englishmen or British subjects rather than enemies like the French were in the French and Indian War.

This point should not be lost on us.

There were armed men on both sides; both legally so. The Colonial Militia was an important part of the British military establishment supplementing the regulars as they did in the French and Indian War, as well as providing local security against French and Indian raids especially in the frontier areas of the colonies.

Englishmen were facing Englishmen in an armed stalemate. The tension was must have been palatable.

It’s important to note that both sides had orders to not engage the other in a firefight. From the British point of view this probably meant that the militia would disarm without any kind of violence. From the militia’s point of view that was not going to happen and their hope was the British would turn around and go back to Boston and come up with a Plan B.

What happened next was the catalyst that ultimately would change everything.

Major Pitcairn was an interesting fellow. Pitcairn was among the more reasonable British officers which usually meant they thought the colonials did have a point in regards to the big picture, but as soldiers their duty was to follow orders.

Pitcairn, like the vast majority of British officers also had a disdain for the colonial militia, some of it deserved. Nevertheless, contempt for the militia is something that would not serve Pitcairn well. Pitcairn assumed that the militia he had contempt for would simply disarm because they feared facing British regulars which to some extent was true. That was not the case on April 19th, 1775 when Captain John Parker was in command of his militia.

So across the green, armed countrymen faced each other, no doubt waiting for the other side to blink. Pitcairn gives the order for the militia to disperse and disarm and Captain Parker utters the words that would usher in the shot heard around the world. Parker said to his militia,  “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

I confess that those words bring tears to my eyes. Here were farmers, tradesmen, laborers, husbands, fathers, brothers, dressed in civilian clothes armed haphazardly, standing their ground against 600 British Regulars led by a man who held them in utter contempt.

From my collection of 20mm miniatures. The unit could easily represent the colonial militia on Lexington Green, April 19th, 1775.

No-one knows with absolute certainty who fired the shot heard around the world. It does seem that at the very least Pitcairn and the contempt he held for the militia led him to lose control of his men who, no doubt, shared his contempt for the ragged militia standing in their way.

As a rule British soldiers at that time were taught to rely more upon the bayonet than musket fire. They were drilled and drilled again to stand against the finest armies in Europe, and frankly, they excelled at their craft.

Usually, an initial volley would be fired and the soldiers would then advance with the bayonet hoping the shock and awe would cause the other side to run in terror. It was an effective tactic especially against an enemy who lacked similar training, morale and equipment.

In my opinion this or something similar is what happened. Whether a British soldier or colonial militiaman fired a single shot first is moot.

Parker himself witnessed his cousin being bayoneted by a British soldier as the militia did flee, but did not give up their arms.

The British proceeded through Lexington and to Concord but word of mouth in this case spread just as fast as INET communications do today. The British column was harassed on their way to Concord and all the way back to Boston by militias from every nook and cranny in the area. The militia used their French and Indian War tactics to which the British had no real response. My guess is they were shocked that colonial militia would fire upon the king’s soldiers. The British took terrible casualties.

This is not a mere history lesson about a courageous captain of colonial militia. It’s about what is happening now.

I believe that we are witnessing the republic in its death throes, although it may already be dead, but we have yet to hold the funeral.

What we see with our own eyes is inequality under the law and the loss of the rule of law. If you belong to one political party you get a pass for rioting; if you belong to other, a riot is the worse thing that has even happened.

If you believe in free speech you are labeled as a terrorist and you are de-platformed by big tech companies that have far more power than their political allies realize. The Democrats are playing with fire. If big tech and big media can make one king what makes them think they will not make another and another and another when they don’t like the one they just made.

Free speech that is protected by our Constituion is being literally squashed as if we were living in a totalitarian state like Red China. The Second Amendment to our Constitution, the right to bear arms, in a formal and informal militia will also be squashed. And that’s only a few of the issues destroying our country.

I am relatively sure that Captain John Parker on April 19th, 1775 had prayed for the best and given his words prepared for the worst.

Our military takes an oath to protect our citizens, from enemies both foreign and domestic. They also take the oath to protect the Constitution and to obey the President who presumably understands and values the Constitution as written. We will not have that with the Biden\Harris presidency.

It is very possible that the National Guard or US Army Regulars will face an informal militia across some town square or in some field. What will happen?

Will there be a modern day Captain Parker who will make the same speech Parker did in 1775? On the other side will there be a Major Pitcairn who holds his fellow citizens in utter contempt?

Which side will truly will be defending the Constitution?

Note: Captain Parker did not live to see independence. He died five months after the events that made him famous of TB.

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A Christmas Carol, Life Magazine, December 25th, 1944

Long before A Christmas Carol was a movie it was a radio play. Lionel Barrymore played Scrooge for many years on Christmas Eve starting in 1934. In 1944 a movie studio gathered the radio play actors and staged scenes for Life Magazine. The issue with A Christmas Carol came out on December 25th, 1944. At the time American soldiers were fighting and dying in Europe during the Battle of the Bulge.

American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge received their Christmas dinner in the field.

During the war years Life Magazine featured what our military was up to around the world, but it was always concerned with home front morale. Radio plays were one way that families gathered and connected.

I simply have to say a bit more about the time frame for this issue of Life Magazine.

The same issue of Life Magazine featured another picture essay titled, Hospital on Leyte. By late 1944 the US had taken much of the Philippines back from the Japanese. The picture essay features Army doctors and nurses caring for the wounded.

Nurse Florence Vehmeier checks to see if one of her patients is comfortable. The soldier was shot in the stomach. There is a siphon that drains fluids into a bucket. The man has a fever and a cold damp clothe is placed on his forehead and eyes. The picture is rather well known and has been reproduced as art. See the link below for a colorized version on FB.

The campaign to retake the Philippines in 1944-45 cost the US 14,000 dead and nearly 50,000 wounded. During the war years Life Magazine always featured a photo essay of our military and in this case duly noted that winning the war came with a cost.

Although the soldier is unknown (for wartime security issues) Florence Vehmeier was a real person. She served as an Army nurse throughout the war. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 90. Florence was part of the generation that has been called our greatest. This Christmas let’s remember that freedom is not free. Thank a vet! https://www.facebook.com/worldwarincolor/photos/pb.393166910813107.-2207520000.1572030836./2360435794086199/

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Falklands Flagship to be Scrapped

Great history of a British Aircraft Carrier that did much in the Falklands War

War and Security

The Indian aircraft carier INS Viraat, previously HMS Hermes, made her last journey to the breakers yard at Alang, India in September 2020 and is now being scrapped: see this video report from the British ITV network.

She was laid down during World War II as HMS Elephant and was a Centaur class light fleet carrier. Only four of the intended eight ships of this class had been laid down by the end of the war and the other four, one of which was to be named Hermes, were cancelled.

The previous HMS Hermes, sunk by the Japanese in 1942, was the first ship in the world to be designed as an aircraft carrier, although the Japanese Hoshowas launched and completed first.

The Royal Navy had more carriers than it needed, or could afford, at the end of World War II, so Hermes and her…

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Victory Mail

During WW2 in the US there was such a thing as VMAIL which stood for Victory Mail. It was patriotic and it’s purpose was to unite the country in supporting the various arms of the military. Postcards were common for personal correspodence and on occasion a whole portfolio could be sent. The pics below are from a portfolio that was never sent. I forget where I got it but most likely it was a second hand store that dabbled in antiques. This was before color postcards were common and so a colorizing technique was used. This portfolio shows US forces from all branches of the US military c.1942 judging from the uniforms and equipment shown. The captions give a bit more detail.

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Barbarians at the Gates

Barbarians at the Gates link to my other blog.

While ghouls prowled the streets feasting on the dead, an army of Goths waited for their kinsmen to open the gates. The 410 Sack of Rome soon began.

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Does Possessing Freedom Presuppose the Will to Fight?

If you want peace, prepare for war.

Reflections

What do you think about when you hear the wordwar?

You probably think of armed conflict, bloodshed, and death—and lots of it. That is the nature of warfare.It’s also why warpresents one of the most challenging issues to address from an ethical standpoint. Given this difficulty, most Christians have adopted just war theory, which requires engaging onlyin just wars and fighting those wars in a truly just manner. But such an ethical ideal takes great wisdom, courage, and dedicated moral discipline. Here are several brief thoughts to consider when someone asks whatyouthink of war.

“If You Want Peace, Prepare For War”

One of the hard lessons of the last century or so is that freedom requires the will to fight. In other words, to have a free society (democracy), that freedom will likely, if not inevitably, be challenged by totalitarian forces and will have to be…

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On Renaming Army Bases

I was doing a little research for a blog post on the 21st WI Infantry-a unit that fought in the American Civil War. I found out they were mustered in at Camp Bragg in Fond du Lac County. The name of the camp intrigued me since a fellow by the name of Braxton Bragg was a Confederate General (and not a very successful one). Fort Bragg in NC is home to the elite US Airborne Divisions and named for the Confederate General.

Although, I didn’t think the fort and the Civil War camp were named for the same guy the coincidence rang a bell as to how the US Army named their forts and camps in the first place. Camp Bragg in Wisconsin (which only existed during the Civil War) was named for a fellow named Edward Bragg. Edward was a northern “war Democrat” which meant he was in favor of suppressing the Southern Rebellion with force. He ended up a Brigadier General after serving in various Wisconsin regiments. In other words Edward was a local “somebody” who contributed a great deal to the cause. Edward also became a Republican later in his career which I found interesting. 

Braxton Bragg was from North Carolina. He was a graduate of West Point and served with distinction in the Mexican-American War. He was considered to be something of an expert in artillery because of the expert way he handled his battery in the Mexican War. In other words he was an up and comer in the US Army before siding with NC when it seceded.

Camp Bragg in NC (now Fort Bragg) was established well after the Civil War in 1918 for the training of the artillery arm of the US Army. See the connection?

The location was suitable and Bragg was an artillery officer (and trainer) in the US Army before he was a Confederate General.

It’s also worth noting that NC provided many soldiers to the Confederate cause as they believed they were fighting for their country. Some Army forts and camps were named for southerners in an effort to heal the nation after a war that cost 600,000 lives. Fort Hood in Texas for example, recognized John Bell Hood’s leadership of the famed Texas Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. 

We should be aware of this point. In 1918 the Civil War was still fresh in American minds. Naming a camp after a local “somebody” was a way to heal the rift between Americans.

This is very different from the Southern States that started flying the Confederate flag as a State flag during the Civil Rights era. The motive there was to intimidate blacks and preserve the hideous Jim Crow laws. 

Fort Bragg, as I mentioned earlier is the training ground for America’s elite Airborne warriors. It is home to the Army’s 82 and 101st Airborne Divisions. The fort switched from training the artillery arm to the airborne arm in 1942 during the Second World War. Perhaps it should be remained Fort Gavin for his contributions to the Airborne during World War Two?

Every time there is some sort of crisis the AB are among the first mobilized. I wonder how many of them, past or present, even know or care about the history of their fort\camp? I really do not have a dog in the particular fight to rename Army bases although I’m inclined to let it be and trust the Army to do what is best for the Army and the soldiers in their units.

I will say and say it again…history is nuanced and there aren’t any perfect people. Naming a camp or fort or ship usually had more to do with military contributions than anything else. Erasing history is not a good idea. Teach history fairly, warts and all and we will all be better off.

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A More Perfect Union


The Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3rd, 1863. On July 4th, 1863 the river city fortress of Vicksburg fell to Union General US Grant. The loss of both battles meant the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Had Lee won at Gettysburg and Vicksburg held out longer it’s entirely possible that one of two things or both could have happened. The first is that France and England would have recognized the Confederacy as an independent nation. Among other things that could have meant the breaking of the Union blockade of Southern ports by the all powerful British Navy. (In 1863 the UK was the most powerful nation in the world and not necessary our pals.)

Confederate High Tide at Gettysburg

The second thing that is probable Lincoln would have lost the 1864 election in favor of Northern Democrats and Copperheads (a Copperhead opposed the war). If Lincoln was defeated it would have resulted in an independent Confederacy. The net result of an independent CSA would have meant a continuation of slavery-pure and simple. When news of the Union victories reached the North most realized it was the beginning of the end for the CSA although thousands more would die before the Confederates would surrender in the Spring of 1865. 

Note this quote from the preamble of Constitution of the USA:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Former President Barack OBama used the line, ” a more perfect Union” in a famous speech that spoke of race relations. The central idea of the preamble and presumably Obama’s speech was that the US keep striving for that more perfect Union. 

US History is full of warts and injustice but we have always striven to be that more perfect Union and fix what we can. There was a time when people of good will on both sides of the aisle recognized the common goal of striving for that more perfect Union. I truly fear that time has passed and that our country is in more trouble than it was in April of 1861. When one party refuses to condemn mob justice and violence and openly seeks socialistic Marxism we no longer have any kind of unity worthy of the name. It is not out of the question that a second Civil War is brewing and that would be tragic.

So what is the Christian to do? First we are mandated to pray for those in power no matter how distasteful that may be. After all, Paul’s instructions to do so involved the despot Nero. The question is how to pray for them. The most common answer to that question is that we are supposed to pray for wisdom. IMO, the wisdom to be prayed for is biblical wisdom that leads to practical application derived from the inalienable rights derived from our Creator.

The framers, for all their faults recognized this when formulating the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Therefore, it seems to me praying that those in power uphold the Constitution rather than treating it like silly putty would be the pathway to striving for that more perfect Union. That is my prayer.

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U. S. Grant and N. B. Forrest

One of the more disturbing aspects of the woke Cancel Culture is judging people (and history) of the past by contemporary woke social justice standards.

This is troubling because as Victor Davis Hansen puts it;

Once a cultural revolution gets going, there can be no contextualization of the past, no allowance for human frailty, no consideration of weighing evil vs. good.

https://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2020/06/18/how-cultural-revolutions-die–or-not-n2570836

This all relates to the war on historical statues and in particular to the statue of Union General U.S. Grant and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

This is noteworthy because Grant was the general who finally ended the Civil War and was instrumental in breaking the bonds of slavery. Forrest fought for the Confederacy. He was a slave owner and an early supporter of the KKK. Yet both have had their monuments torn down thus proving it’s not really about slavery, but rather a Marxist ideology that seeks to destroy everything about American history. It’s worth quoting Hansen again:

Once a cultural revolution gets going, there can be no contextualization of the past, no allowance for human frailty, no consideration of weighing evil vs. good.

https://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2020/06/18/how-cultural-revolutions-die–or-not-n2570836
U.S. Grant

I wish to deal with Hansen’s observations one at a time starting with contextualization.

The American Civil War has a historical context. The United States struggled to deal with the slavery issue since the country’s founding. The split between north and south was based on votes in congress. When a state was added would it be a free state or a slave state? In other words it was about power politics. When Lincoln, a Republican whose base was at least partially abolitionist was elected, South Carolina led the way to break away from the Union fearing the loss of power (and slavery). The Civil War was on. Slavery and the election of Abraham Lincoln were the catalysts that ignited the fire that would take the lives of over 600,000 soldiers, both north and south.

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Grant was not an abolitionist, although his father certainly was. Grant later married into a family that was a slave holding family from Missouri. He later freed his slave who was given to him by his wife’s family). During the Civil War Grant became a friend of what were called contrabands, blacks who took refuge within the Union armies as they invaded the south. Grant was also for the enlisting of African Americans in the Union Army remarking that in an initial engagement, even though under trained and ill equipped they performed heroically. As President, Grant did even more for African Americans, a fact he is rarely given credit for. Grant’s context changed over time and he evolved so-to-speak; yet his statue had to come down as if he invented slavery rather than being a major factor in destroying it.

Forrest on the other hand is remembered as a brilliant general of Confederate cavalry. W.T. Sherman referred to Forrest as “that devil Forrest” as a left-handed compliment because Forrest was a natural born soldier who gave Sherman a lot of grief.

Forrest was also slave owner and the first leader of the KKK. Few people know or care that Forrest changed, quitting the KKK and breaking with the racists that continued the movement-all southern Democrats I might add. For this, Forrest was scorned by southern racists for being soft on the recently emancipated blacks. After the Civil War Forrest’s context changed and he changed for the better with it.

This leads to the second observation of Hansen’s; that of human frailty.

The woke social justice mob are in fact arrogant, self-righteous bigots who judge others by a standard that they would never judge themselves. They are incapable of introspection and blinded by what they believe is the moral high ground; even though they are largely ignorant of history. Many have been indoctrinated by an education system that is Marxist and as good little Marxists feel free to judge others by standards they never apply to themselves.

This factors into Hansen’s observation about evil versus good.

The Cancel Culture believes it has the moral high ground and as Marxists they either are atheists or at least practical atheists who have no concern for the God of the Bible who sets moral standards with absolute authority. Without the higher authority of a sovereign God they are free to reconstruct morality in their own image. And so they have.

What can be done about this? I’m not certain since anyone that objects is shamed and called a racist. The Cancel Culture shuts down debate from their lofty perchs on what they believe is the moral high ground. The majority who love their country, warts and all, are thus far cowed into silence. Few Republican leaders seem willing to push back and push back hard. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas seems to be the exception to what should be the rule.

The country is probably more divided than at any other time and that includes the nation just prior to the Civil War. The Civil War was a war of irreconcilable differences as north and south had two very different visions for the country. So it is now. I hope saner heads prevail, but I confess to not being optimistic. God help us.

I wish to give credit where credit is due although I am fairly well read regarding the American Civil War. Three sources came together to help me form my thoughts for this blog entry. I’ve cited Victor Davis Hansen as the first. The others are the History Channel’s recent three part series on Grant. I highly recommend it. The other is a column by Scott Morefield from Townhall. In the column Morefield documents why Forrest’s bust has not yet been removed from Tennessee’s capitol building (while his statues have come down elsewhere).

History is complicated. It’s important we do not ignore it or erase it.