Warm Living Right

Liberals in America have never accepted our history… of owning firearms.  For decades they have waged legislative battles to restrict gun ownership and courtroom battles to redefine long-held beliefs about the Second Amendment.  The Supreme Court finally settled all legal questions with its landmark DC v. Heller decision in 2008.  The case proved how far Liberal politicians would go to restrict gun rights (handguns were banned even inside homes) and dubious interpretations of the Second Amendment were argued before the highest court with full expectation of vindication.  The majority of the Court ruled that ownership of a gun is not connected to membership in a militia.  The idea of limits placed upon the operative clause of the amendment is a direct violation of the rights of individuals.  The Court wisely disregarded misguided attempts at original intent of the framers by noting that the roots of the Second Amendment could be found in the Anti-Federalist movement.

When you cannot prove your point, make stuff up….

Progressive historians often agree with… the now discredited idea of the collective right interpretation.  During the heated gun control debate following the Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings, Liberals redoubled their efforts, including historical analysis.  Emory university professor Michael Bellesiles published the notorious Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture.  His thesis contended that America’s gun culture developed after WW2, prior to which there was no consistent history of gun ownership in America.  Infamy was achieved by the unprecedented level of fraudulent research Bellesiles cited to arrive at his conclusions.  He fabricated evidence, distorted statistics, and misquoted historical figures to prove the highly contentious assertion that gun ownership was never part of individual rights in American history.

There is a battle being waged…over our history.  There are historians who reject the tales of Minutemen, Elmer Ellsworth, and citizen soldiers.  They are willing to publish fraudulent history to try to win a public policy debate.  The Courts, public opinion, history, and the Constitution all side with American history that includes individual gun ownership rights.

Can such a man exist in Professor Bellesile’s world? Elmer Ellsworth, drill master

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The Wily Agitator

In the aftermath of defeat at Fredericksburg… One of Lincoln’s chief Congressional critics, Copperhead from Ohio,  Clement Vallandigham gave a fiery speech before the House:

“The war for the Union is, in your hands, a most bloody and costly failure. The President confessed it on the 22d of September…. War for the Union was abandoned; war for the negro openly begun, and with stronger battalions than before. With what success? Let the dead at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg answer….”

Most wily agitator

Most wily agitator

No soldiers were waiting to arrest him… Vallandigham left Congress with little fanfare and was able to travel to Ohio to seek the Governor’s office without interference.  Yet, revisionists argue that Vallandigham was the victim of Lincoln’s systematic assault on civil rights.  Similar to the absurd argument of Lincoln’s belief in white supremacy, desperate historians seeking to leave their mark on his legacy attack his record on civil liberties while comparing him to Stalin.

 

Clement Vallandigham was arrested… but not for criticizing the Lincoln administration.  Vallandigham did that on a daily basis on  public record.  Denouncing the war effort while encouraging recruits to desert in a  hostile region (Cincinnati area)  clearly violated government edicts handed down by a military Governor.   Leave it to Lincoln to sum it up nicely:

“Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert?  I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy.”  

"I think the time not unlikely to come when I shall be blamed for having made too few arrests rather than too many."

“I think the time not unlikely to come when I shall be blamed for having made too few arrests rather than too many.”

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Patriots, Tea, History…

Modern political activists invoke history… to justify and rationalize their activism- but often lose the real lessons of the events.  The Boston Tea Party was not a simple protest against taxation; it was a complex disagreement over duties, exemptions, tariffs, and trade balance.  Current political rhetoric cheapens the truly historic events of that December in 1773.

Standing room only

Standing room only

Samuel Adams called for action that winter… “Be in readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country…”    Adams and the Sons of Liberty understood what was happening in Boston affected all the colonies- expressing the idea of country three years before it was declared.

One lump or two?

One lump or two?

The meeting on December 16 was the largest… political meeting to date.  Speakers came and went in a vain attempt to dissuade direct action- the leaders were waiting for a decision from the Royal Governor.  The speakers couldn’t go on all night- Thomas Hutchinson wasn’t going to indulge the Sons of Liberty-  Adams gave the prearranged signal for action.. “This meeting can do nothing more to save this country…”  

Rabble rouser

Rabble rouser

Disguises of all sorts were donned by the… Sons of Liberty that night.  Some wore feathers, others just heavy overcoats, their faces blackened with soot.  Whatever the method, the result was nothing short of historic- Samuel’s  cousin John Adams declared… “This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so intrepid, and so inflexible, and it must have so important a consequence that I can’t but consider it an epoch in history.”

be in “readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country”. – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/committees-of-correspondence#sthash.yKkJhcU4.dpuf
be in “readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country”. – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/committees-of-correspondence#sthash.yKkJhcU4.dpuf
be in “readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country”. – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/committees-of-correspondence#sthash.yKkJhcU4.dpuf
be in “readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country”. – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/committees-of-correspondence#sthash.yKkJhcU4.dpuf
“be in readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country.” – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/old-south-meeting-house-history#sthash.F5EeBbdA.dpuf
“be in readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country.” – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/old-south-meeting-house-history#sthash.F5EeBbdA.dpuf
“be in readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country.” – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/old-south-meeting-house-history#sthash.F5EeBbdA.dpuf
“be in readiness in the most resolute manner to assist this Town in their efforts for saving this oppressed country.” – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/old-south-meeting-house-history#sthash.F5EeBbdA.dpuf

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Movie Review- Gods and Generals

Gods and Generals- 2003    Ted Turner Pictures; Directed by Ronald Maxwell

Gods_and_generals_poster

Somewhere between Ben-Hur and All the President’s Menhistorical movies got preachy.  Movie executives fearing negative publicity and filmmakers with political axes to grind have turned history-based cinema into a civics lesson.  Entertainment value is disregarded in favor of political correctness and modern historical consensus.  Gods and Generals is that rare film which disregards all movie making conventions to reach some lofty principle that is ultimately lost on the viewer.

A prequel to 1993’s Gettysburg…  Gods and Generals is likewise based on historical fiction by a Shaara.  The previous film was inspired by Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Killer Angels”  by Michael Shaara.  His son, Jeff, carried on the tradition of first-person historical fiction with Gods and Generals.  Gettysburg has become a favorite of Civil War buffs for its use of reenactors  to provide historical authenticity.  The narrative flaws in the film are rescued by spirited performances provided by Jeff Daniels, Sam Elliot, and Tom Berrenger.  The television and video market success led to Maxwell’s decision to adapt the prequel- Ted Turner provided the entire budget for both films.  The missteps of Gettysburg are repeated and magnified in the second film nearly to the point of rendering it unwatchable.

Less a prequel than biopic… of Confederate general Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Gods and Generals wants to be a history lesson, redemptive character study, and war epic all in 3 hours, 39 minutes.  The results are cinematic porridge.  Instead of dialogue, the two-dimensional characters speak in soliloquies- rationalizing southern secession or denouncing southern slavery.  Maxwell bludgeons viewers with speech after speech, all declaring the same thing, “The Yankees started the war!”   Gone are the definitive political  arguments against secession made by Lincoln in his first inaugural address; we learn only of Union volunteers fighting to free slaves and Confederate patriots “fatting fir rats.”   An annoying pattern emerges as the minutes sluggishly pass;  speech, backdrop, battle, speech- speech, backdrop, battle, speech… and so on.  Maxwell gleefully thumbs his nose at the last 30 years of Civil War scholarship, producing a movie only someone south of the Mason-Dixon line could love.

The strength of this movie… should have been its battle sequences.  Thousands of living historians were utilized, yet the battles lack the authentic ferocity of Civil War combat.  Poor CGI effects attempt to display the proper scale of the epic battles, but Maxwell’s clumsy direction gives the feel of a History Channel production.  Confederate troops are introduced by subtitle, as if every viewer were a Civil War buff anxiously awaiting the arrival of an ancestor’s unit.  It is this assumption by Maxwell, that viewers will have at least seen Ken Burns’ Civil War series, that betrays all of his efforts.  An audience with a basic understanding of Civil War history will find this interpretation curious; those with no interest in the war will be bored out of their skulls.

With a death this long....

With a death this long….

Stephen Lang has an unenviable task… make Stonewall Jackson a sympathetic figure.  Lang, who portrayed a playful George Pickett in Gettysburg, is a pious, deeply caring Jackson.  What the performance lacks is the zealotry and casual disregard for human life that made Jackson such a disturbing character.  Robert Duvall’s turn as Robert E. Lee is wasted in the little screen time he is given.  Curious editing decisions abound- singing two entire Christmas carols after the bloody battle of Fredericksburg, a pep rally for Confederate officers(complete with glee squad), and a death sequence so long, many viewers wished to accompany Jackson to the other side.

Many people with an interest in the Civil War… are still waiting for a worthy historical epic about the conflict;  A movie that accurately portrays the experience of the men who fought it- not another history lesson or politically correct screed.  Hollywood has decided that Civil War movies must address slavery, regardless of scope, script, or narrative.  Why does the Civil War not have its “Private Ryan” ?   Let’s hope Gods and Generals is not the best Hollywood can do.  Are  you listening, Mr. Spielberg?

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Record Breaking Adventurer: Francis Drake

Originally posted on Historical Writings:

The Golden Hind

Francis Drake sailed out of Plymouth on his ship the Golden Hind on the 13th December 1577 taking with him five additional ships; Pelican, Elizabeth, Marigold, Swan and Benedict. Their aim, to plunder Spanish gold mines, treasure houses and circumnavigate the globe.

The fleet proceeded to the Cape Verde Islands, reaching them on the 30th January 1578. From there they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the River Plate off the coast of South America, and then southwards to Port St.Julian, where they held up for the winter months.

On the 20th August 1578, having abandoned two of his ships, traversed the Strait of Magellan, and out into the Pacific where the ships encountered fierce storms.

The storms drove them far to the south, and the Golden Hind got separated from the other ships.

Drake was now alone, and chose to continue with their…

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Garry Owen

The Irish Brigade crossed the Rappahannock river at Fredericksburg… a shadow of its former self.  Three months earlier, along the banks of the Antietam Creek, the Irish Brigade marched to glory with more than 2,000 men.  At Fredericksburg, the newly arrived 28th Massachusetts regiment bolstered the ranks to 1,200, but the veteran regiments had been decimated during the campaigns of 1862.

Meagher salutes his troops…

Don Troiani’s “Garry Owen”

Four Union brigades were beaten back… in front of the stone wall at Marye’s Heights.  The Irish Brigade was next in the fight and started their advance at 1230pm.  The men were briefly unsettled by a muddy canal ditch in the shadow of a low ridge.  The order was given to reform and after a brief pause, bayonets were fixed.  An officer remembered those harrowing moments: “In a few minutes came the word, ‘Attention!’ and every man was upon his feet again; then ‘Fix bayonets!’ and as this was being done, the clink, clink of the cold steel sounding along the line made one’s blood run cold.”  Officers and men fell rapidly as casualties mounted  across the front of the stone wall.  Despite the harrowing losses, the brigade pushed on toward the wall, battling other Irish immigrants.  Of all the Union troops which assaulted Marye’s Heights on December 13, the Irish Brigade advanced the farthest.

Troiani’s depiction of the assault

General Thomas Meagher described… the action,  Thus formed, under the unabating tempest of shot and shell, the Irish Brigade advanced at the double-quick against the rifle-pits, the breastworks, and batteries of the enemy. I myself ordered the advance, encouraged the line, and urged it on; but, owing to a most painful ulcer in the knee-joint, which I had concealed and borne up against for days, I was compelled, with a view to be of any further service to the brigade that day, to return over the plowed field over which we had advanced from the mill-race. I did so to get my horse, which had been left at the head of the street from which our column had debouched, in care of my orderlies, along with the other horses of the field and staff officers of the brigade, Brigadier-General Hancock having suggested that it would be advisable for all such officers to act on foot. On going for the horse on the left of the line, I met Captain Hart, the acting assistant adjutant-general of the brigade, who was moving up from the left to the right with the perfect coolness and intelligent bravery, forming and steadying the men for attack. Halting a moment on the left, I gave the word, and instantly saw the brigade impetuously advance. Passing down the slope, and through crowds of slain and wounded, I reached the spot where I had left my horse and mounted him.

Having mounted, I started with one of the orderlies to rejoin the brigade on the right, and with that view took the street across which the two companies of the Sixty-ninth, under Capt. James Saunders, a staunch and fearless officer, has been deployed as skirmishers. I had not proceeded many paces up this street before I met the remnant of the Sixty-third, bearing the regimental colors, coming toward me, under the command of Captain Gleeson, one of the bravest and most reliable officers of the brigade. With these few survivors of the Sixty-third were a portion of the Sixty-ninth.

Fearing that the enemy might break through our lines, which had begun to waver under those torrents from the musketry and artillery of the enemy that seemed every instant to increase in fury, I halted this handful of the brigade on the street parallel with the mill-race. Here I remained, by order of Brigadier-General Hancock, who personally communicated with me at the time, gathering in the fragments of my brigade, until finally I was ordered by him, through one oh his aides, to fall back and concentrate on the street from which we had commenced our approach to the battle-field. In this street the hospitals of the brigade had been established, and to it, consequently, all the officers and men of the brigade instinctively returned. I was, therefore, enabled, after three or four hours, to ascertain pretty accurately the available force that remained of the brigade. But while the fragments of the brigade were thus being reconcentrated, I had every reason to become convinced that the hospitals were dangerously, if not fatally, exposed; consequently I sent two of my aides, Captains Hart and Lieutenant Blake, of the Eighty-eighth, to Brigadier-General Hancock, to request of him that he would be so good as to authorize me to take what was left of the brigade across the river, the request for such authority being based on the fact that while there were not over 300 of the brigade, maimed and serviceable, who had reported themselves up to that time, the badly disabled were so numerous as to require the assistance of all those who were unhurt. Even while I was waiting for Captain Hart and Lieutenant Blake to return, several discharges of shells and rifle-balls broke through and over the hospitals of the Sixty-ninth and Sixty-third, and Eighty-eighth.  All this time, however, the officers and men of the brigade obeyed my orders and conducted themselves with perfect calmness and cheerfulness…”

Bravery like this is rare in war… but was unusually common during the American Civil War.  Conventional wisdom held that Confederate soldiers most often displayed uncommon valor during the war.  There are no braver soldiers than those who assaulted Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg. 

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Most Unfortunate Decision

Ambrose Burnside had done it…. he outmaneuvered Robert E. Lee.  The reluctant commander  guided the massive Army of the Potomac down the Rappahannock river to Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was scrambling to catch up, but Burnside’s path to Richmond temporarily lay open.  He needed pontoon bridges to get his lengthy supply trains across the river- but they were nowhere to be found- Burnside sat on the Eastern shore waiting.  The bridges arrived a week later, but so did Lee’s army.

Reluctant commander with great whiskers

Reluctant commander with great whiskers

There was still an opportunity to move… against Lee before his forces could dig in.  Burnside weighed his options and formed a plan to cross the river quickly at fords south of town.  Mother Nature wasn’t playing fair that week, a heavy storm dropped six inches of snow on December 5, forcing Burnside to reconsider.  Lee’s men dug in on the heights west of town and covered the fords to the north and south.  With Winter closing in, Burnside decided to build his bridges and cross at Fredericksburg.

Soldiers do their duty, but… Burnside’s subordinates were not happy with his decision.  Joseph Hooker let it be known in the council-of-war on December 10.  Burnside responded,

“I have heard your criticisms, gentlemen, and your complaints. You know how reluctantly I assumed the responsibility of command. I was conscious of what I lacked; but still I have been placed here where I am and will do my best. I rely on God for wisdom and strength. Your duty is not to throw cold water, but to aid me loyally with your advice and hearty service.”

Colonel Samuel Zook minced no words when he learned of the advance, “I expect to be sacrificed tomorrow, Goodbye old Boy & if tomorrow night finds me dead remember me kindly as a soldier who meant to do his whole duty.”    

Could see the writing on the wall at Fredericksburg

Could see the writing on the wall at Fredericksburg

**special thanks to Don Pfanz for the sources.

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