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This day in history

The Gettysburg Address

Submitted by Roanman on Sun, 11/19/2017 - 06:57

On November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln delivered arguably the most memorable speech in American history.

During the the single most brutal three days in American history, nearly one-third of the total forces engaged at Gettysburg became casualties, as more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing.

George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac lost 28 percent of their men.

Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia lost over over 37 percent.

Of these casualties, 7,058 were fatalities (3,155 Union, 3,903 Confederate). Another 33,264 had been wounded (14,529 Union, 18,735 Confederate) and 10,790 were missing (5,365 Union, 5,425 Confederate).

Charged by Pennsylvania’s governor, Andrew Curtin, to care for the Gettysburg dead, attorney David Wills bought 17 acres of pasture to turn into a cemetery for the more than 7,500 who fell in battle.

Wills invited Edward Everett, one of the most famous orators of the day, to deliver a speech at the cemetery’s dedication.

Wills also sent a letter to President Lincoln requesting “a few appropriate remarks” to consecrate the ground.

Nobody remembers a word of Edward Everett's two hour oration.

In just 272 words Abraham Lincoln established the standard against which every speech made since has and will be measured, likely until the end of our species.

Click on the photos for a trip to the life of Abraham Lincoln, or the Bttle of Gettysburg at the Civil War Trust, as the case may be.

 

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

On this Day in History, Garry Kasparov Loses at Chess to a Computer.

Submitted by Roanman on Fri, 02/10/2017 - 07:31

 

On February 10, 1996 World Champion chess player Garry Kasparov lost the first of a 6 match series to "Big Blue" a computer built by IBM that was reputed to have the ability to analyze 2,000,000 moves per second.

This victory was the first ever for a computer under international chess rules for match play which requires 40 moves in the first two hours, 20 moves over the course of the next two hours and one last hour to complete the match.

Cheer up humans, Kasparov, who is widely considered the greatest player in the history of the game, ended up winning the series with three wins, two draws and the one loss in the first match.

Abandon all hope humans, Big Blue won the 1997 rematch.

Click on the photo above for an interesting ... at least to me ... Time Magazine story on the move that got inot Kasparov's head.

Click on this little gear right here for a move by move accounting of the entire series.

As an aside, who the hell sets up an even game series?

Just sayin'.

Garry Kasparov would retire from professional chess in 2005 and pursue a career as a professional critic of Vladimir Putin. So much so that the fact that Kasparov is still alive is evidence to Iowa Republican Congressional Representative, Steve King that Vladimir Putin does indeed allow dissent.

On This Day In History, The Exxon Valdez Runs Aground

Submitted by Roanman on Thu, 03/24/2016 - 18:42

 

One of the worst oil spills in U.S. history occurred on this date in 1989 when the supertanker Exxon Valdez, owned and operated by the Exxon Corporation, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound in southern Alaska.  An estimated 11 million gallons of oil were spilled into the water.  Wind and currents spread the oil more than 100 miles from its source, eventually polluting more than 1,100 miles of coastline.

Click on the photo above for an outstanding account of the accident, the cleanup and the consequences of this tragedy from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Council.  Way recommended.

It took more than four summers of cleanup efforts before the effort to clean the beaches was called off. Not all beaches were cleaned and some beaches remain oiled to this day.  At its peak the cleanup effort included 10,000 workers, about 1,000 boats and roughly 100 airplanes and helicopters, known as Exxon's army, navy, and air force.  It is widely believed that wave action from winter storms accomplished more cleaning of the beaches than four years of human efforts.

 

Today In History, Samuel Colt Receives Patent #138.

Submitted by Roanman on Thu, 02/25/2016 - 08:22

 

On February 25, 1836, Samuel Colt received US patent number 138, later changed to 9430X from the United States Patent Office for his 'revolving gun".

 

 

Colt's "revolver" featured a revolving cylinder with five or six bullets along with an innovative cocking device that was a marked improvement from the multiple barrel approach that had been the standard for the multiple shot weapons of the time. Colt's weapons became so popular that revolving pistols, regardless of manufacturer were referred to a Colts for many years.

Colt's interchanging parts systems were as innovative as the design of his weapon and allowed him to adopt production line manufacturing techniques that turned out an estimated 400,000 revolvers in the first 25 years of production.

 

As always, you can click on either image for a more complete telling of Samuel Colt's story.

 

On this day in history, Poland caves to Solidarity

Submitted by Roanman on Sat, 08/31/2013 - 08:54

Order 227

Submitted by Roanman on Sat, 07/27/2013 - 08:47

 

Seventy years ago today, Joseph Stalin issued the now famed Order 227, better known among Soviets/Russians as "No Step Backwards!" in which he commanded that any non commisioned soldiers retreating without orders be shot as traitors or sent to penal units mostly permanantly attached to the front lines, and that officers allowing troops to retreat were to be tried for treason.

There are differences of opinion as to the effect of the order from some who say it was widely ignored by commanders who thought provisions having to do with establishing the buffer units ordered to shoot down retreating soldiers were impractical and a waste of manpower, to others who argue that it was greatly responsible for the destruction of the armies of the Third Reich on the Eastern Front.

Krivosheev counts 427,910 enlisted men having been assigned to penal units, although his numbers are in dispute.

I lack the energy for this issue to wade through the arguments but if you want to, start here.

Anyway, the following is the English translation of Jospeh Stalin's famed and terrible order.

 

The Order of the National Commissar for the Defense of the Soviet Union.

July 28 1942, Moscow.

The enemy throws new forces to the front without regard to heavy losses and penetrates deep into the Soviet Union, seizing new regions, destroying our cities and villages, and violating, plundering and killing the Soviet population. Combat goes on in region Voronej, near Don, in the south, and at the gates of the Northern Caucasus. The German invaders penetrate toward Stalingrad, to Volga and want at any cost to trap Kuban and the Northern Caucasus, with their oil and grain. The enemy already has captured Vorochilovgrad, Starobelsk, Rossosh, Kupyansk, Valuyki, Novochercassk, Rostov on Don, half Voronej. Part of the troops of the Southern front, following the panic-mongers, have left Rostov and Novochercassk without severe resistance and without orders from Moscow, covering their banners with shame.

The population of our country, who love and respect the Red Army, start to be discouraged in her, and lose faith in the Red Army, and many curse the Red Army for leaving our people under the yoke of the German oppressors, and itself running east.

Some stupid people at the front calm themselves with talk that we can retreat further to the east, as we have a lot of territory, a lot of ground, a lot of population and that there will always be much bread for us.

They want to justify the infamous behavior at the front. But such talk is falsehood, helpful only to our enemies.

Each commander, Red Army soldier and political commissar should understand that our means are not limitless. The territory of the Soviet state is not a desert, but people - workers, peasants, intelligentsia, our fathers, mothers, wives, brothers, children. The territory of the USSR which the enemy has captured and aims to capture is bread and other products for the army, metal and fuel for industry, factories, plants supplying the army with arms and ammunition, railroads. After the loss of Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic republics, Donetzk, and other areas we have much less territory, much less people, bread, metal, plants and factories. We have lost more than 70 million people, more than 800 million pounds of bread annually and more than 10 million tons of metal annually. Now we do not have predominance over the Germans in human reserves, in reserves of bread. To retreat further - means to waste ourselves and to waste at the same time our Motherland.

Therefore it is necessary to eliminate talk that we have the capability endlessly to retreat, that we have a lot of territory, that our country is great and rich, that there is a large population, and that bread always will be abundant. Such talk is false and parasitic, it weakens us and benefits the enemy, if we do not stop retreating we will be without bread, without fuel, without metal, without raw material, without factories and plants, without railroads.

This leads to the conclusion, it is time to finish retreating.

Not one step back! Such should now be our main slogan.

It is necessary to defend each position, each meter of our territory, up to the last drop of blood, to cling for each plot of Soviet land and to defend it as long as possible.

Our Motherland is experiencing hard days. We must stop, and then to throw back and smash the enemy regardless of cost. The Germans are not so strong, as it seems to the panic-mongers. They strain their last forces. To withstand their impact now, means to ensure our victory in some months.

Can we withstand the impact, and then throw back the enemy to the west? Yes we can, because our factories and plants in the rear are fine and our army receives ever more and more airplanes, tanks, artillery and mortars.

What do we lack?

There is no order and discipline in companies, battalions, regiments, in tank units and air squadrons. This is our main deficiency. We should establish in our army the most stringent order and solid discipline, if we want to salvage the situation, and to keep our Motherland.

It is impossible to tolerate commanders and commissars permitting units to leave their positions. It is impossible to tolerate commanders and commissars who admit that some panic-mongers determined the situation on the field of combat and carried away in departure other soldiers and opened the front to the enemy.

The panic-mongers and cowards should be exterminated in place.

Henceforth the solid law of discipline for each commander, Red Army soldier, and commissar should be the requirement - not a single step back without order from higher command. Company, battalion, regiment and division - commanders and appropriate commissars, who retreat without orders from higher commanders, are betrayers of the Motherland.

These are the orders of our Motherland.

To execute this order - means to defend our lands, to save the Motherland, to exterminate and to conquer the hated enemy.

After the winter retreat under pressure of the Red Army, when in German troops discipline became loose, the Germans for recovery of discipline imposed severe measures which resulted in quite good outcomes. They formed 100 penal companies from soldiers who were guilty of breaches of discipline because of cowardice or bewilderment, put them at dangerous sections of the front and commanded them to redeem their sins by blood. They have also formed approximately ten penal battalions from commanders guilty of breaches of discipline through cowardice or bewilderment, deprived them of their decorations, transferred them to even more dangerous sections of the front and commanded them to redeem their sins. Finally, they have formed special squads and put them behind unstable divisions and ordered them to shoot panic-mongers in case of unauthorized retreats or attempted surrender. As we know, these measures were effective, and now German troops fight better than they fought in the winter. And here is the situation, that the German troops have good discipline, though they do not have the high purpose of protection of the Motherland, and have only one extortionate purpose - to subdue another's country, and our troops have the higher purpose of protecting the abused Motherland,and do not have such discipline and so suffer defeat. Is it necessary for us to learn from our enemies, as our grandparents studied their enemies in the past and achieved victory?

I think it is necessary.

The Supreme General Headquarters of the Red Army commands:

1. Military councils of the fronts and first of all front commanders should:

a) Unconditionally eliminate retreat moods in the troops and with a firm hand bar propaganda that we can and should retreat further east, and that such retreat will cause no harm;

b) Unconditionally remove from their posts and send to the High Command for court martial those army commanders who have allowed unauthorized troop withdrawals from occupied positions, without the order of the Front command.

c) Form within each Front from one up to three (depending on the situation) penal battalions (800 persons) where commanders and high commanders and appropriate commissars of all service arms who have been guilty of a breach of discipline due to cowardice or bewilderment will be sent, and put them on more difficult sectors of the front to give them an opportunity to redeem by blood their crimes against the Motherland.

2. Military councils of armies and first of all army commanders should;

a) Unconditionally remove from their offices corps and army commanders and commissars who have accepted troop withdrawals from occupied positions without the order of the army command, and route them to the military councils of the fronts for court martial;

b) Form within the limits of each army 3 to 5 well-armed defensive squads (up to 200 persons in each), and put them directly behind unstable divisions and require them in case of panic and scattered withdrawals of elements of the divisions to shoot in place panic-mongers and cowards and thus help the honest soldiers of the division execute their duty to the Motherland;

c) Form within the limits of each army up to ten (depending on the situation) penal companies (from 150 to 200 persons in each) where ordinary soldiers and low ranking commanders who have been guilty of a breach of dicipline due to cowardice or bewilderment will be routed, and put them at difficult sectors of the army to give them an opportunity to redeem by blood their crimes against the Motherland.

3. Commanders and commissars of corps and divisions should;

a) Unconditionally remove from their posts commanders and commissars of regiments and battalions who have accepted unwarranted withdrawal of their troops without the order of the corps or division commander, take from them their orders and medals and route them to military councils of fronts for court martial;

b) Render all help and support to the defensive squads of the army in their business of strengthening order and discipline in the units.

This order is to be read in all companies, cavalry squadrons, batteries, squadrons, commands and headquarters.

 

The national commissar for defense: J. Stalin.

 

On this day in history General Hood abandons Atlanta to the Union Army

Submitted by Roanman on Sat, 09/01/2012 - 08:43

 

On this day in history, his supply line cut by the Union Army, Confederate General John B. Hood withdrew his troops from Atlanta and set fire to military supplies and installations including some 81 railroad cars loaded with ammunition.  These fires spread into the city of Atlanta causing serious difficulties for Rhett and Scarlett in their effort to blow town.

On September 2, 1864 Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun and along with members of Atlanta's City Council surrendered the city to representatives of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Having been notified some days later of Sherman's intention to evacuate the residents of Atlanta from the city, Mayor Calhoun sent a letter asking the General to reconsider this decision.

Both that letter and Sherman's famed response follow.

We would encourage you to read both letters but for damn sure read the second as General Sherman's response represents the coldest and most stark analysis imaginable of one of mankind's most favored pastimes, and as such is one of the more important documents in all of history.

 

Atlanta, Georgia, September 11, 1864. 
Major-General W. T. Sherman.

SIR: We the undersigned, Mayor and two of the Council for the city of Atlanta, for the time being the only legal organ of the people of the said city, to express their wants and wishes, ask leave most earnestly but respectfully to petition you to reconsider the order requiring them to leave Atlanta.

At first view, it struck us that the measure would involve extraordinary hardship and loss, but since we have seen the practical execution of it so far as it has progressed, and the individual condition of the people, and heard their statements as to the inconveniences, loss, and suffering attending it, we are satisfied that the amount of it will involve in the aggregate consequences appalling and heart-rending.

Many poor women are in advanced state of pregnancy, others now having young children, and whose husbands for the greater part are either in the army, prisoners, or dead. Some say: "I have such a one sick at my house; who will wait on them when I am gone?" Others say: "What are we to do? We have no house to go to, and no means to buy, build, or rent any; no parents, relatives, or friends, to go to." Another says: "I will try and take this or that article of property, but such and such things I must leave behind, though I need them much." We reply to them: "General Sherman will carry your property to Rough and Ready, and General Hood will take it thence on." And they will reply that: "But I want to leave the railroad at such a place, and cannot get conveyance from there on."

We only refer to a few facts, to try to illustrate in part how this measure will operate in practice. As you advanced, the people north of this fell back; and before your arrival here, a large portion of the people had retired south, so that the country south of this is already crowded, and without houses enough to accommodate the people, and we are informed that many are now staying in churches and other out-buildings.

This being so, how is it possible for the people still here (mostly women and children) to find any shelter? And how can they live through the winter in the woods -- no shelter or subsistence, in the midst of strangers who know them not, and without the power to assist them much, if they were willing to do so?

This is but a feeble picture of the consequences of this measure. You know the woe, the horrors, and the suffering, cannot be described by words; imagination can only conceive of it, and we ask you to take these things into consideration.

We know your mind and time are constantly occupied with the duties of your command, which almost deters us from asking your attention to this matter, but thought it might be that you had not considered this subject in all of its awful consequences, and that on more reflection you, we hope, would not make this people an exception to all mankind, for we know that no such instance ever having occurred -- surely never in the United States -- and what has this helpless people done, that they should be driven from their homes, to wander strangers and outcasts, and exiles, and to subsist on charity?

We do not know as yet the number of people still here; of those who are here, we are satisfied a respectable number, if allowed to remain at home, could subsist for several months without assistance, and a respectable number for a much longer time, and who might not need assistance at any time.

In conclusion, we most earnestly and solemnly petition you to reconsider this order, or modify it, and suffer this unfortunate people to remain at home, and enjoy what little means they have.

Respectfully submitted: 
James M. Calhoun, Mayor 
E.E. Rawson, Councilman. 
S.C. Wells, Councilman.

 

Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, in the Field, Atlanta, Georgia, September 12, 1864.

James M. Calhoun, Mayor, E.E. Rawson, S.C. Wells, representing City Council of Atlanta.

GENTLEMEN: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta. I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned, any yet shall not revoke my orders, because they were not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only in Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies which are now arrayed against the laws and Constitution that all must respect and obey. To defeat those armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, that we may have many years of military operations from this quarter; and, therefore, deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families. There will be no manufactures, commerce, or agriculture here, for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer, instead of waiting till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the past month? Of course, I do not apprehend any such thing at this moment, but you do not suppose this army will be here until the war is over. I cannot discuss this subject with you fairly, because I cannot impart to you what we propose to do, but I assert that our military plans make it necessary for the inhabitants to go away, and I can only renew my offer of services to make their exodus in any direction as easy and comfortable as possible.

You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union. Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the national Government, and, instead of devoting your houses and streets and roads to the dread uses of war, I and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what quarter it may. I know that a few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion, such as swept the South into rebellion, but you can point out, so that we may know those who desire a government, and those who insist on war and its desolation.

You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.

We don't want your negroes, or your horses, or your houses, or your hands, or any thing that you have, but we do want and will have a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and, if it involves the destruction of your improvements, we cannot help it.

You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better. I repeat then that, by the original compact of Government, the United States had certain rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never will be; that the South began war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or title of provocation. I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds of thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands upon thousands of families of rebel soldiers left in our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you, you feel very different. You depreciate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds of thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early success.

But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for any thing. Then I will share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.

Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and nurse them, and build for them, in more quiet places, proper habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad passions of men cool down, and allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes at Atlanta. Yours in haste,

W.T. Sherman, Major-General commanding.

 

On November 15, 1864, General Sherman gave orders to burn all public buildings, machine shops, depots, and arsenals in the city of Atlanta. When the fires finally died out there remained only some four hundred building standing in all of Atlanta.

To quote Major General William Tecumseh Sherman on numerous occasions, in numerous speeches, most notably on June 19, 1879 at the graduation excercises of the Michigan Military Academy on the grounds of it's Orchard Lake campus, which campus is now home to Orchard Lake St. Mary Prep.

 

 

This day in history

Submitted by Roanman on Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:00

 

On this day in 1958, Elvis Presley was inducted into the United States Army.

Pretty sucker, ain't he.

This is The King on some other day in 1955 along with Scotty Moore, #29 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the Greatest Guitarists Of All Time, Bill Black on the upright bass and D. J. Fontana playing the drums.

 

 

 

The Lascaux Cave Drawings

Submitted by Roanman on Mon, 09/12/2011 - 15:52

 

We've been saving this one for months.

Seventy one years ago today, four teenage boys Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas followed their dog, Robot (seriously ... Robot ... if you can believe Wikipedia) into a narrow cave near Montignac, France and discovered the Lascaux Cave Drawings.

Click on the photo below for just the coolest video/interactive tour of the cave and it's thought to be 17,000 year old drawings.

You can noodle around this fine site in French, English, German, Spanish, or all of the above.

Way super, double highly recommended.

 

 

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