Then topic of Reconstruction after the Civil War is one that is usually either handled very heavy-handed, or simply glanced over. The fact is while the war part of the Civil War ended in 1865, the civil aspect of it is still being fought today. Yes, there is a school of thought that contends the Civil War has not yet ended. Luckily in this book, Langguth doe snot take that tact.
It is easy to say that this is one of the best books on Reconstruction out there. It covers the main characters from the just before Lincoln’s assassination and how the Federal government sought to bring the nation back together once the bullets stopped flying. It also though spends some time on the ground level with the people who were living the local aspects of the overall governments policies. The book even goes so far (almost) to tie the struggles of the African-American community during Reconstruction to the modern-day Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. As such I would consider this book a good jumping on point of the subject interests you.
There are a few things to watch for. There is a bit of a tendency to jump around in the time line based on which person the story is following in any given chapter. So it is not a directly linear read. It did throw me off a couple of times. The other thing, as I said it makes a good attempt at tying the post Civil War era to the more modern times, but in the last chapter when it tries to do so it seems almost like an epilogue that has been tacked on. Not a negative as it lead me to wanting to read more, but something to be aware of.
All in all worth the read. Click the image to visit Amazon and pick it up
In 1898 during the Spanish-American War, the United States liberated the Philippines from the Spanish. Unfortunately, many Filipinos were not any happier to be under American control than Spanish control. Even after the war with the Spanish ended the war in the islands continued. For three years, until July 1902 the United States and the Philippines remained in a state of war. Even an official peace did not stop the fighting. Rebel factions continued to fight the US until June of 1913. Yep, what started in 1898 continued until 1913. This particular conflict had a huge effect on our military and policies.
First and foremost it was during this conflict, that was primarily a guerrilla war against unconventional forces, that the book was written on how to deal with this sort of war. In fact, the original blueprint for dealing with the unconventional tactics of the Viet Cong, came from the lessons learned during this war.
The Philippine Campaign Medal was awarded for military service in the Philippine Islands under any of the following conditions indicated in AR 600-8-22, between the dates 4 February 1899 and 31 December 1913:
Ashore between 4 February 1899 and 4 July 1902.
Ashore in the Department of Mindanao between 4 Feb 1899, and 31 Dec 1, 1904.
Against the Pulajanes on Leyte between 20 July 1906 and 30 June 1907, or on Samar between 2 August 1904, and 30 June 1907.
With any of the following expeditions:
Pala on Jolo between April and May 1905.
Datu Ali on Mindanao in October 1905.
Against hostile Moros on Mount Bud-Dajo, Jolo, in March 1906.
Against hostile Moros on Mount Bagsac, Jolo, between January and July 1913.
Fighting hostile Moros on Mindanao or Jolo between 1910 and 1913.
Any action in which U.S. troops were killed or wounded between 4 February 1899, and 31 December 1913.
Considering that the Spanish-American war is barely remembered today, it is not a surprise that this conflict gets overlooked. It also doesn’t help that the dates of when it ended are up for discussion. Casualties are hard to quantify because of this also. For the US it was somewhere around 10,000 killed and wounded. For the Filipino’s between 12 and 20,000 killed and wounded with civilian casualties estimated at around 200,000 thousand.
That medal above represents a lot of lives in a forgotten conflict.
Located in Atlanta Georgia is Oakland Cemetery. Like many cemeteries in the south, it contains a large number of Confederate graves. During the Battle of Atlanta, many hospitals were close to the cemetery. So naturally it became the last resting place for many soldiers. In fact, there are even several Union soldiers buried there.
Oakland has many fantastic memorials and a fair number of resting places for well-known people. For anyone interested in history the Confederate section is a must see. The one certain must-see is the monument in the picture. The Lion of the Confederacy. Sometimes known as the Lion of Atlanta.
It sits in the Confederate section and is dedicated to the almost 3,000 unknown Confederate dead buried among their brothers. Most were collected from the battlefield and various mass graves. Over time they were interred in Oakland Cemetery.
The sculpture was designed by T.M. Brady of Canton, Georgia. It strongly resembles a monument to the Swiss guards lost during the French Revolution, the Lion of Lucerne. The 30,000lb block of marble that the lion is carved from came from north Georgia. At the time (1894) it was the single largest block of granite quarried in North America. The quarry that provided the stone for the Lion was the same quarry that would provide the granite for the Lincoln Memorial.
Odds are no, you don’t. Over a hundred years later he remains famous for two things. The Spanish-American War and being assassinated. In his time though he was known for much more. So well-known that he was elected President twice. However, his second term was cut short six months in by an assassin. The medals above were given out as a part of his second inaugural celebrations.
Besides being the last Civil War veteran to be President he also stood firm on a number of hot button topics at the time. Some of these are not far off from what the current politicians deal with. Which is interesting and a little sad that so little has changed.
McKinley was a strong proponent of the gold standard, having the value of the US dollar backed by the actual amount of gold in the US treasury. A novel concept that would eventually have to be abandoned with gusto by his successors.
He helped to pass tariffs that were designed to protect American business and workers. This made it more expensive for foreign companies to do business in the US.
He worked with Spain to get them out of a rebellious Cuba and grant them independence. When that didn’t work he stepped in and helped free them with our own military. (While securing Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines for ourselves.)
And perhaps most important to many, this former Governor of Ohio and President brought to the forefront Theodore Roosevelt. Who served as Vice-President during his second term. McKinley’s death catapulted Roosevelt into the Presidency and the history books.
Oh, and the high school on Glee was named after him, perhaps his most important contribution. (Not.)
The frontier was a rough place during the colonial era, and after the American Revolution is was even more so. As America started moving West a series of forts were built along strategic points. The forts were built to keep an eye on the natives and British. Over time they quickly became hubs for settlers and merchants that looked to bring civilization to the wild lands.
In 1803 on the shores of Lake Michigan where the Chicago river feeds into a Fort Dearborn was built, named after the Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn. Once the fort was built it did not take long for it to become a thriving center of frontier life. So of course it would become a target.
During the War of 1812, the outpost commander General William Hull looked around and decided that being on the frontier, surrounded by enemies and with help a long way away it would be best to abandon the fort temporarily. A such he ordered an evacuation. Unfortunately in the middle of the evacuation a group of approximately 500 Potawatomi Indians took issue with that and proceeded to attack the evacuees. Killing a good number of them and selling the rest to the British. For good measure they burned down the fort.
The fort was rebuilt in 1816. It served on and off again to host garrisons during the various Indian uprisings of the era. In 1837 is was turned over to the city and basically decommissioned. Through the years construction, fire and the need for more land has destroyed most traces of the fort. The original placement is still marked in Chicago at the intersection of Wacker Drive and Michigan Ave. The model above shows the first iteration of the fort and is hosted at the Illinois State Military Museum.
Prior to the Civil War, most of the military was armed with smoothbore muskets that fired round shot made out of lead. This is one of the reasons that accuracy was generally a wishful thought and while getting shot but a ball was not pleasant it was nothing compared to what was coming.
During the Crimean War, 1853-6 (a war we may look at later, but not now) a new shot was being used to great effect. This type of shot was named the Minié ball, after the doctor. In the picture above you can see what the Minié ball looked like, and also a piece of round shot.
The Minié ball was conical with rings around the base and a depression in the bottom, it normally would be slightly smaller than the barrel of the musket to make loading easier. Once fired the soft lead would expand and fill the gap around the bullet making its own sort of wading. When this new kind of ammunition was introduced on both sides during the Civil War, something else became very evident.
The round shot was easily deflected once it hit the target. It would tend to bounce around inside a human body before becoming lodged somewhere. The Minié ball, which was heavier and traveled faster, would simply cut through the body like a ripe melon. If by chance it struck a bone, the bone would simply shatter. Leaving amputation the only way to save the person .
Eventually, the Minié ball would be replaced by something even more deadly. For a time though it reigned and there was nothing mini about it.
The plaque above is part of small monument outside the visitor’s center at the Cowpens National Battlefield. Look back through the site and you will see some articles about Cowpens itself and some of the actors, but this plaque is a reminder that there are always two sides that fight in a war. For the British Army serving in America during the revolution, it was not all fun and games.
At the opening of the war the British Army numbered around 45,000 men scattered across the globe. The army at the time was not supplied or staffed and in the decade since end of the French & Indian war was arguably in decline. It should also be noted that a number of the troops were stationed in Ireland that was pretty much always in an active state of rebellion. (Thanks guys!)
This was the force that would be needed to face off against approximately 3 million unruly colonists three thousand miles away from their home base. It was simply not enough. While efforts to recruit more men were put into overdrive, they needed backup. This backup would come from the German states. German mercenaries, numbering about 30,000 would be used both in the colonies. They would also be used as garrison troops in other British possessions to free up regular troops. These two forces were joined by close to 20,000 American Loyalists.
By the end of the war approximately 4,000 British and 2,000 German soldiers were killed. By comparison the American battle casualties number about 7,000.
It is easy to pick sides during a war, especially when the war is from our past. It must never be forgotten that the other side was fighting for its own reasons. Seeing that plaque is just a reminder of that.
This is the monument to Patrick Ferguson that was built at Kings Mountain. This stone does not mark where he fell, but where they moved the body sometime after. The battle at Kings Mountain October 7, 1780 has a sort of weird place in the annals of the American Revolution. It is on one hand perhaps one of the most important battles and victories of the patriots, but it is also one that not many people know about. Patrick Ferguson is sort of like that for the British. He was one of the their most important and talented commanders, but his name is usually not recognized by the layman.
The entire story of Ferguson is one that could fill a book on its own. From his creation of a breech-loading rifle, to the time he came one shot away from killing Washington and ended the war, his stories and the stuff of legend. No, we will look here briefly not at the start of his story but at his end here at Kings Mountain.
After the fall of Charleston in 1780, General Clinton gave Ferguson overall command of Loyalist troops in the region. With these troops, mainly light infantry, he was to go into the far reaches of the south and do what he could to prevent the rebels from coming back into power. He relished his role and set about it with fervor. Perhaps a little too much fervor.
He and his men went after the rebels with gusto, burning farms and threatening destruction to anyone that fought against the King. He was effective, but he also made a terrible estimation. In the far west of the region were the Overmountain Men. Frontiersmen that though mostly rebels, were more concerned with the natives that they seemed constantly at war with. Ferguson sent them a message that if they came back across the mountains, he would burn their farms and kill their families. They did not take kindly to that and set out to find Ferguson and put an end to his threats.
At Kings Mountain they found him. Ferguson fought well that day, rallying his men several times from their position on top of the mountain. In his red and white checkered hunting shirt, using a whistle to relay orders he seemed to be everywhere. Until he wasn’t. The loss of for the British was terrible. The left-wing of their army evaporated. One of their best commanders gone for good. Worst of all, the loyalists in South lost the will to fight,
When you see the headstone you can remember the man buried there. He earned that. That grave though does not just hold his body, but the British hopes of winning the war.
One thing was for certain during WWII, the Nazis were committing all sorts of war crimes in occupied areas throughout Europe. As early as 1942 the Allies began trying to figure a way to hold them accountable, so sure were they that the Nazis would be defeated.
By August 1945 the Allies all agreed to the London Charter that set out the legal argument for the military tribunals that were going to take place where the highest tanking and most foul offenders would be brought to justice. The limits the placed on themselves were that the tribunals would only deal with the European Axis powers and that they would not take into account any acts that occurred before September 1, 1939.
Where the trials would take place was the next consideration. The German city of Leipzig was considered as well as the country of Luxembourg, for a time Berlin itself was even considered. Instead the historic German city of Nuremberg was chosen for a number fo reasons. First was that the Palace of Justice was still standing, something not said for many German cities. This building was large enough to hold the proceedings and also had a prison attached to it, which was handy. Also Nuremberg was considered the birthplace of the Nazi Party. What more fitting place for the trials to take place?
The trials at Nuremberg opened on November 19, 1945 with its last official acts occurring on October 1st, 1946. During this time much was uncovered as to the origins of the war and the depths of the crimes committed by the regime. While the focus of the main tribunal was the 24 major criminals and seven organizations (including the Gestapo and the SS) it also set the stage for numerous smaller proceedings where hundreds of lesser criminals were brought to justice.
The picture above is of a visitor pass that allowed the hold to sit in and view the trial. Imagine how it would have felt to sit there during the trials and hear men justify their evil and the death of over 40 million people. On second thought, I think I will pass on the visitor pass.
The placard under this shirt tells the story as such:
Shirt worn by Joseph Mobley during his time as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. He was shot down in 1968 over North Vietnam and taken prisoner. Mobley spent 1,724 days in captivity. Once he returned in 1973, he began a steady rise in leadership within the U.S. Navy, ascending to Commander of the Naval Air Force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
In the case of Joseph Mobley his incarceration in a POW camp had a happy story, but for many, many more that were forced to wear the same shirt, it did not turn out so well.
When you look at the other conflicts managed by the department you see some other shocking numbers.
From World War II there are over 73,000 soldiers unaccounted for.
From the Korean War, almost 8,000.
Look at the shirt above, then spend some time on the DPMO website, only then can you even start to get an idea of the losses these wars are still costing us.
For an even more incredibly picture, take a look at this chart maintained by the Mobile Riverine Force Association that numbers as closely as possible the missing and unaccounted for from all US conflicts up to Somalia. Yes, there are still unaccounted for troops from the conflict that was popularized by Black Hawk Down.
Never forget the soldiers that didn’t make it home, and cherish the ones that did.
People, Places and Things from US Military History