The Road to Gettysburg, as my Civil War ancestor saw it

Today is the 156th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

For the 11th Massachusetts Infantry, the pursuit of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during its invasion of the North began on June 11th, 1863.  The regiment had been making plans to celebrate the anniversary of its muster into Federal service on June 13th.  Early in the afternoon a large group of the 11th’s officers were playing a baseball game against the officers of the 26th Pennsylvania, one of the other regiments in the brigade, when marching orders were received.  By 1:30 the regiment was assembled with knapsacks and began marching.  The weather was already brutally hot.

Continue reading “The Road to Gettysburg, as my Civil War ancestor saw it”

Today in History – the Battle of Little Bighorn

June 25th is one of those days that is permanently in my memory because of a historical event.  Today, it is the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn, the battle during the Great Sioux War of 1876 in which Civil War hero George Armstrong Custer and five companies of the 7th Cavalry Regiment under his command were wiped out by a much larger force of Native Americans.  Since my teenage years, my view of the battle has been largely shaped by a (somewhat) obscure book called Son of the Morning Star, by Evan S. Connell.

That book would eventually inspire a made-for-television movie of the same name, a movie that I really liked, despite its flaws and its general commercial failure.  Connell’s book was adapted into a screenplay by Melissa Mathison, who took Connell’s book and adapted it into a tale told by two women with very different perspectives: Libbie Custer (played by Rosanna Arquette) and Kate Bighead (voiced by Buffy Sainte-Marie and played by Demina Becker as a girl and Kimberly Guerrero as an adult).

Elizabeth_Bacon_Custer_-_Brady-Handy
Elizabeth “Libbie” Bacon Custer, probably circa 1865

It is largely because of Libbie Custer that her husband’s reputation and his memory in general did not suffer as much, at least for the first century or so after his death.  And frankly, it probably should have suffered.  Custer was brash, egotistical, vain, stubborn, and reckless with the lives of those who he led.  There is a reason he graduated dead last in his West Point class of 1861.  He was a controversial figure while he was alive, much less afterward.  It is largely because of Libby Custer that the view of Custer as a tragic hero perpetuated for so long (see the movie They Died With Their Boots On, with Custer portrayed by Errol Flynn).

But what actually happened at Little Bighorn is much more complex than what was portrayed in popular culture for so long.  And Son of the Morning Star (the book AND the movie) does a much better job than anything before or since in portraying the battle and what happened.  That’s my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.  Here’s a clip of the opening titles and scene, where the column under General Alfred Terry (played by Terry O’Quinn!) arrives on the battlefield to see they have missed the fight.  Note also Captain Frederick Benteen played by David Strathairn.  Also note that the story is largely narrated by the two women.

I don’t know if this film will ever find its way to DVD, much less Blu-Ray, but it should.

~Geoff

On not giving a damn

Disclaimer: Geoff loathes this movie and book upon which it is based.  That’s not why I am posting it here.  That’s just a bonus.  (Love you, sweetie.)

The scene above is important for one really major reason.  For all of their ups and downs and crazy drama, Rhett no longer cares for Scarlett.  At all.  He doesn’t love her, he doesn’t hate her, he just doesn’t care.

This is probably where I should warn you that this post is about unpleasant things.  Trauma, PTSD, abuse – a lot of stuff.  Turn back here should you need to.  Likewise, for a variety of reasons, what I’m going to write may be a bit opaque with oblique references.  This is necessary.  I apologize for the confusion.

Continue reading “On not giving a damn”

Two Northeasters in a row

I normally don’t mind a little snow, as it is New England and we expect to get some (mostly) between November and March.  But the two storms that we have had most recently have been a bit more problematic, mostly because of strong winds and heavy coastal flooding.

Continue reading “Two Northeasters in a row”

Should we be worried?

Around the same time our “Stable Genius” leader was tweeting about the size of his “nuclear button” like he was a high school freshman, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they are going to hold a session on January 16th about teaching federal, state, and local first responders how to “prepare for a nuclear detonation”.  Both Guam and Hawaii have been more focused on nuclear threats in recent weeks and months, as both places are likely within the range of ballistic missiles from North Korea.

Continue reading “Should we be worried?”

It’s that time of year again, Merry, Happy, Blessed Whatever

Most of you know that we’ve been doing this for a few years now.  Partly it’s because we’re cheap broke, and partly it’s because we send this link to nearly 200 people who we’d legitimately want to send a real card to.  Also, I’m not big on the card produced by Shutterfly and never seen by the sender thing, and this method actually has a Snowflake’s chance in Cambridge of generating a conversation*.  So we do it this way.

Continue reading “It’s that time of year again, Merry, Happy, Blessed Whatever”

Seventy-five years ago this week… a “miracle” changes the course of the war

This week is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, one of the most decisive naval battles in American history, and possibly in world history.  It was certainly the first major Allied victory against the Japanese fleet in World War Two.

Why is this American victory called a “miracle”, most notably by renowned historian Gordon Prange in his bestseller Miracle at Midway? Because the possibility of an American victory seemed so remote, and the circumstances of the American victory were so unlikely.

Continue reading “Seventy-five years ago this week… a “miracle” changes the course of the war”