Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination Anniversary

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

Today, April 15, 2019, marks the 154th anniversary of the death of the 16th President of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, the previous evening, while he and Mrs. Lincoln and guests watched a performance of the comedy, Our American Cousin. His assassin was a Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, who shot the President in the back of the head with a small Derringer pistol.

Following the fatal shot, Lincoln was carried across the street to a boarding house, where he died at 7:22 a.m. Saturday, April 15, 1865.

Booth died in a barn about two weeks later as he was surrounded by Union troops.

Rest In Peace, President Abraham Lincoln.


Exploits of Our Fledgling Navy

The commissioning of Commodore Esek Hopkins’ ship, the USS ALFRED

by Tara Ross

On this day in 1776, the Continental Navy captures the HMS Bolton. The Bolton was the second British ship to be captured in only two days.

The episode marked the first time that an American ship had been able to take an armed British ship. What a moment that must have been! If only the Americans could have maintained their momentum.

Instead, they suffered an embarrassing loss the very next day at the hands of the HMS Glasgow.

Commodore Esek Hopkins’s newly created fleet of Continental Navy ships was then returning from its maiden voyage to the Bahamas. The voyage had been a smashing success! The Americans had completed a daring raid on Nassau, and they’d taken a huge stash of ammunition for American forces.

At first, it seemed that the trip home might produce even more naval successes for the Americans. On April 4, Hopkins’s fleet spotted and captured a British ship near Long Island: the 6-gun Hawke. The next day, Americans captured the 12-gun Bolton.

Unfortunately, those victories would come at a cost.

Hopkins could not keep the British ships as prizes without also moving some of his sailors to the two captured ships. Of course, he didn’t really have enough men to begin with. So while the British captures increased the size of his fleet, now his ships were badly undermanned, too.

It wouldn’t be long before the American fleet would feel the effects of the move.

Just after midnight on April 6, a portion of Hopkins’s fleet crossed paths with the HMS Glasgow. Could Glasgow be a third prize ship? A signal was given and five of Hopkins’s ships were soon gathered, ready to attack.

The battle that followed lasted for more than two hours. The Glasgow was smaller than the American flagship, but her men were well-trained and efficient. By contrast, the Americans were not used to working together, and their ships were undermanned to begin with. “Two hours had passed,” historian Tim McGrath notes, “before three American ships were in a position to fight in unison.”

Only then did the Americans begin to get the better of Glasgow, prompting the British ship to withdraw. The Americans took off in pursuit, until Hopkins came to a startling realization: Glasgow was leading him straight toward a squadron of British vessels. There was no way that the battered American ships could withstand a second, larger battle. Hopkins turned his ships around.

All in all, the episode was a bit of an embarrassment for the new Continental Navy. How could Americans lose to a British ship when they’d outnumbered it so badly?!

Fortunately, the Navy’s story does not end there. Perhaps the sailors would have been encouraged if they could have seen what would eventually happen to their fledgling Continental Navy.

After all, that little navy was a predecessor for a far more powerful fighting force: the United States Navy!

P.S. The painting is of Hopkins’s ship, the Alfred, being commissioned in 1775.

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Editor’s Note:

The guest author of today’s article is one who frequently contributes here: Tara Ross. Ms. Ross is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! You can follow her for information on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.


Remember Goliad! The Goliad Massacre, 183 years ago today

by Tara Ross

On this day in 1836, the Goliad Massacre takes place. Most of you have heard “Remember the Alamo!” Did you know that “Remember Goliad!” was another battle cry used by Texans?

The events at Goliad occurred just two short weeks after Texans were defeated at the Alamo.

Colonel James Fannin was then at Goliad, building reinforcements around the presidio there. When the Alamo fell, Fannin received orders from Sam Houston to withdraw. But Fannin was in a bit of a bind. Against orders, he had sent some of his soldiers to help with other expeditions. He awaited their return, and he seemed oblivious to the danger that was so quickly approaching him: Mexican General Jose de Urrea was marching toward his position with 1,000 men.

Fannin did eventually attempt a retreat, but he procrastinated too long—with fatal results.

As Fannin’s men attempted a go, they were met by Urrea and his men. A two-day battle ensued. The Texans took losses, but held their own on the first day. And to their credit, they did not attempt to escape in the middle of the night, when they could have, because they did not want to leave their wounded behind. But the next day, Mexican reinforcements arrived and the Texans were overwhelmed. Fannin surrendered on March 20, on the condition that his men be treated as prisoners of war.

Now Urrea was the one with a problem. He was not authorized to agree to such terms. The Mexican Congress had passed a law requiring that captured Texans be treated like pirates—i.e. they were to be shot. Fannin and his men were marched back to Goliad. Accounts vary, but apparently many of them thought that they would be treated honorably like prisoners of war.

Urrea wrote Mexican General Santa Anna, asking for clemency, but he apparently failed to mention that he’d agreed to Fannin’s terms. Santa Anna wrote back with an order that the Texans be executed. Not trusting Urrea to comply, he then ordered Col. José Nicolás de la Portilla to perform the execution.

Finally, on Palm Sunday, March 27, those Texans who could walk were marched out of Goliad. They were told various stories about where they were going. Less than a mile out, the guards stopped the captives and began firing at close range. Those who were too wounded to march were executed, separately, behind the presidio. Roughly 340 men were massacred that day. A little less than 30 men escaped. A few, such as doctors, were spared because of the services that they could provide.

Fannin was among the last to be shot. He had just a few requests: He did not want to be shot in the face, he wanted his personal belongings to be sent to his family, and he wanted a Christian burial. He was denied every one of these requests.

The Alamo and Goliad were dark days for the Texan effort. But the Battle of San Jacinto was just around the corner! Texans were mere weeks away from earning their independence.

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Guest author today, Tara Ross, is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.

Jerry Lewis Birthday and Memory Test

Jerry Lewis, renown comedian, dancer, and singer

Because I was away from my computer quite a bit Saturday, March 16th, I completely missed a very important birthday. Happy 93rd birthday in heaven to one of the greatest comedians who ever lived: Jerry Lewis. I owe him a debt of gratitude for teaching me a memory test when I was 15. This is the famous “One hen, two ducks….” test.

Happy birthday, Jerry. Thanks for all the great memories you gave me in my childhood.

When I was 15, Jerry Lewis was a substitute for Jack Paar (see, it was a long time ago) on the old Tonight Show. Jerry Lewis was known for having a phenomenal memory. Sidekick Hugh Downs queried Jerry about it. Jerry related a story that when he was 16 and wanted in radio, he applied for a job. The station manager gave him a “memory test,” which he amazingly passed and got a job in radio at 16. He gave the “test” to Hugh Downs, who exceeded the average of FIVE with an astounding SEVEN.

Here is the test, Jerry passed and also gave to Hugh Downs. It is a nonsensical, numerical test. Each sentence must be repeated in order and the one being tested must go back to the beginning each time and start with ONE and go upward, adding the latest addition to the end….then, after being told the next addition, start over with ONE and go up again, adding the new one. I was smart enough to write it down as he went (he repeated it the next night due to heavy demand) and then memorized it.

Here it is: One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters, five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Don Alverzo’s tweezers, seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt, nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth, ten lyrical spherical diabolical denizens of the deep who haul stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery all at the same time. 

Here is Jerry Lewis, years later, repeating the test on the 1990 Jerry Lewis Marathon:


The Battle for the Alamo Ends

Today’s post about the end of the Battle of the Alamo is authored by guest writer and Texas mother, author, and retired lawyer, Tara Ross from her daily historical posts:

By Tara Ross

On this day in 1836, the Battle of the Alamo is fought. Despite a valiant defense by the Texans (then called Texians), the Mexican Army is victorious.

Okay, so I already discussed the long siege and battle a few days ago. But can you ever really say too much about Texas?! Ha.  So, in that spirit, here are some random facts that you may not know about the Alamo.

When Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna arrived at the Alamo, he sent a courier with a demand that the Texians surrender. Do you want to take one wild guess as to how the Texians responded? They responded with a cannonball! The Texas spirit was born early, wasn’t it?

Three famous figures were killed at the Battle of the Alamo: William B. Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett. Travis was defending the north wall of the Alamo when he was killed, early in the battle, by a shot to the head. Bowie probably died in the Low Barrack. He was ill and confined to bed when the battle started. Crockett’s death is more of a mystery. He either died during battle or he was executed by Santa Anna afterwards.

The number of Texians who died defending the Alamo is also a bit of an unknown quantity: Depending on whose figures you believe, that number is as low as 150 or as high as 250. The youngest of these Texians was 16 and the oldest was 56.

Imagine that! No more than 250 Texians, defiantly refusing to give up the Alamo to the much larger Mexican force (as many as 1,800 soldiers) sitting just outside the Alamo’s walls. BRAVE. DETERMINED. And they inflicted heavy casualties on the Mexican force, although historians dispute the actual number of killed and injured among Santa Anna’s men.

Maybe one of the bravest acts at the Alamo? During the course of the siege, 32 men snuck past the Mexican lines and joined their fellow Texians inside the Alamo. They had to know that they were volunteering to go to their death. Yet they joined the Battle anyway.

Those men truly meant the words written by Travis during that 2-week siege: VICTORY OR DEATH!

P.S. The painting is of the death of Jim Bowie. It’s depicted as the artist imagines it, of course, since no one knows for sure how he died that day.

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Medal of Honor Recipient: Navy LT(jg) Tom Hudner

 

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On this date 68 years ago, December 4, 1950, a young US Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade risked his life to save a fellow naval aviator.

LT(jg) Tom Hudner and ENS Jesse Brown were both providing air support for US Marines on the ground in Korea.  Here is their story, as told by writer and historian Tara Ross:

By Tara Ross

During this week in 1950, Lt. (J.G.) Thomas Hudner crash lands in Korea. He was trying to save the life of Ensign Jesse Brown, the first black aviator in the U.S. Navy.

Not that Tom thought of Jesse that way. When Tom looked at Jesse, he didn’t see “the first black aviator.” He simply saw a friend. And he couldn’t leave his friend to die.

The Korean War was then waging, and Tom and Jesse were both assigned to USS Leyte. Their job was to provide air support for U.S. Marines on the ground. Unfortunately, things took a bad turn on December 4, 1950.

Jesse’s plane had taken a mortal hit. He had to land somewhere—and fast. Tom stayed on Jesse’s wing the whole way down, helping him through check lists. Then he watched his friend’s crash landing with dread, searching for signs of life.

What a relief when he saw Jesse waving from the wreckage! And what confusion when Jesse didn’t get out of the plane. What was wrong? Wisps of smoke began to waft from the plane, providing even more cause for worry.

“When I realized that Jesse’s airplane may burst into flame before [a helicopter] could get there,” Tom later said, “I made a decision to make a wheels-up landing, crash close enough to his airplane and pull him out of the cockpit and wait for the helicopter to come.”

Think about that. Tom had just witnessed a crash landing in terrible conditions. The weather was unbelievably cold, hovering around 0 degrees. Tom had been afraid that Jesse wouldn’t survive—but now he was determined to replicate the same nearly impossible feat.

“The ground seemed to rush at me as I hit,” Tom later reported, “and then I was out of control, snowplowing across the field and hoping I was going to end up somewhere close to Jesse.”

He’d done it. His back hurt so much that he thought he’d broken something, but he got out of his mangled plane, working through deep snow to find his friend.

The situation was serious. Jesse was alive, but his knee was trapped. Flames were sputtering, threatening to engulf the plane. Tom shoved snow on the fire to contain it. He pulled and pulled on Jesse, but to no avail. He wrapped Jesse’s hands and feet to ward off freezing temperatures. Both men waited, together, for a rescue helicopter.

Jesse was calm and composed. “When we were on the ground, he was calming me down,” Tom later told Daisy, Jesse’s widow, “when I should have been the one calming him down.”

Jesse seemed to be slipping in and out of consciousness. Finally, he revived enough to say: “Just tell Daisy how much I love her.”

After 40 long minutes, the helicopter finally arrived. Tom got an ax and swung it at Jesse’s plane repeatedly, but to no avail. Night was falling. The helicopter pilot gave Tom a choice: stay or go?

Tom still wavered. It was suicide to stay overnight in those freezing temperatures. He was prepared to stay if Jesse were alive, but Jesse had been unresponsive for a while.

“I made the decision to go with Charlie,” Tom later said. “I told Jesse we were going back to get equipment . . . I don’t know if he heard me. I don’t know if he was alive at the time.”

Tom felt sure that he would be court-martialed! He wasn’t supposed to crash land, even to save a fellow pilot. What a surprise when he was recommended for the Medal of Honor instead?

“There has been no finer act of unselfish heroism in military history,” the captain of Tom’s aircraft carrier would say.

Captain Thomas Hudner passed away about a year ago, at the age of 93. RIP, sir.

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Editor’s Note:

Tara Ross is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! 


 

A Great New Novel; A Suspense Thriller

Force No One 01

I just finished a great debut novel.

Force No One by Daniel Charles Ross, is a suspense thriller that will keep you up nights, reading head-long to the conclusion.

Here is my review of this novel that I posted on Amazon:

Force No One, a debut novel by Daniel Charles Ross, grabbed me with the opening paragraphs and never let go until the end.  When it was over, I found myself wanting more from this author.

I believed the scenes he set in Detroit and Dearborn and could tell the author had been there.  The scenes in Afghanistan were realistic and thrilling. The characters he created were real to me and most of all, I cared what happened to them. The chapters are short and introduced with quotes from historical figures from Eisenhower, Churchill, Patton, and even gonzo journalist, Hunter Thompson, and many others.  

The nail-biting action kept me turning the pages right up to the surprise conclusion. This suspense thriller is the first of what promises to be a series of more great novels to come.

I cannot wait for his next one, Force Majeure, a tantalizing chapter of which is included at the end of this novel, just to whet your appetite.  

Daniel Charles Ross is a bright new author that will keep his audience coming back for much more for many years to come.

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I strongly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy page-turning suspense thrillers with edge-of-your chair technology action reminiscent of Tom Clancy.

 

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