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Saturday, July 27, 2013

The First Battle of Bull Run


  

The First Battle of Bull Run

1861

Tourists Watch a Battle

In the summer of 1861, the Civil War had not yet won serious attention in the North particularly in the nation's capital. This mood of complacency was abruptly shattered on Sunday, July 21, as the cream of Washington, D.C., society rode out into the Virginia countryside southwest of the city to see some action. There, it was rumored, some 30,000 Union troops under General Irvin McDowell would do battle with 22,000 Confederates commanded by McDowell's West Point classmate (1835), General P.G.T. Beauregard. These odds were soon changed, for Beauregard was reinforced by about 9,000 men under General Joseph E. Johnston. Still, the sightseers remained convinced that McDowell's Northern troops, dressed in their gaudy, comic­ opera uniforms, would easily win the day and go on to capture the important rail junction at nearby Manassas (Virginia).

At first, each commander maneuvered his forces so as to outflank the other's left side. Beauregard directed his right wing to advance, but his orders never reached the men. His makeshift command organization had already broken down. McDowell then pressed his advantage at a stone bridge where the Warrenton Turnpike crossed a small stream, called Bull Run. Meanwhile, the bulk of his army crossed the stream further up, near Sudley Springs. Then they marched down along the Confederate line that stretched for eight miles (12.5 km.) from Little Bald Hill on the left to the bridge over Bull Run.

The amateur Union forces hit the enemy at Bull Run like a confused mob, and at first the equally green Confederates gave ground. But they had an advantage. As defenders, their forma­ tions tended to stay together. And in the center of their line, General Thomas J. Jackson stood, "like a stone wall," rallying his men (and earning himself the nickname of "Stonewall"). Despite the support of Union artillery, which was manned by regulars, McDowell's men faltered. Battered by bullets, choked and blinded by dust and thick, black smoke, the Union troops recoiled. Some men began to run, while others stumbled off blindly in different direc­ tions, entangling themselves with the sightseers, who panicked and carried a good part of the Union army with them in their flight.

The Confederates, however, were too exhausted to follow. In all, they had lost about 2,000 men, but the enemy had suffered more than 3,000 losses. More important, the Confederates had proven that theirs was a force to be reckoned with in the months to come.

Illustration: The North and South clash in the first major battle of the Civil War.

© 1979, Panarizon Publishing Corp. USA Illust: NY Historical Soc.
Printed in Italy 03.012.01.24
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Friday, July 26, 2013

The Yankee Whaler


  

The Yankee Whaler

1750-1865

Hunting on the High Seas

Although whaling in America existed before the Revolutionary War, it reached its height during the period from 1830 until the Civil War. Prosperous New Bedford, Massachusetts, along with neighboring Nantucket Island and Long Island, New York, was the home of more than 700 sturdy, three-masted whaling vessels and their intrepid crews. Their purpose was to hunt the great sperm whales, which measured up to 60 feet (18.5 m.) in length and weighed as much as 100 tons (90.1 m. tons). The prize was whale oil, the fuel that lit the lamps of the world, and one large whale might yield 90 barrels or more of it. Between 1835 and 1860 the industry's products averaged $8 million a year.

The ships, called "barks," weighed 400-500 tons (365-460 m. tons), and each one carried a huge boiler imbedded in brick on its deck. The boilers were used for rendering, or "trying out," the whale blubber, cooking it until the oil was extracted. Including the cook, doctor, blacksmith, carpenter, and cooper (barrel maker), as well as the officers and crew, each whaler car­ried about 30 men.

Slung along the decks were the whaleboats, 28 feet (8.6 m.) long, each one manned by a crew of six or seven men, ready for launching as soon as the cry, "Thar she blows!" echoed from the watch. Then, as the boat drew alongside its prey, the captain or mate drew back his arm at the exact, calculated moment and hurled a harpoon, with its cruelly curving hook, deep into the side of the animal. The whale now became a runaway horse, dragging the whaleboat on a mad race through the water, sometimes called a "Nantucket sleigh ride." Occasionally, it turned and tried to grind the boat between its great teeth, or lash at it with its tail and huge, armlike flukes.

The lives of all aboard depended on the skill of the helmsman, but some­ times even his nerve and coolness could not save the boat. Many lives were lost during these battles between man and the world's largest living creature. If all went well, the whale soon tired and slackened its pace. A lance was driven into a vital spot, killing the animal, and the carcass was towed back to the mother ship. There it was hauled onto the deck and speedily cut into sections, its blubber tossed into the boiler.

Whaling subsided in the 1860s as people turned to fossil fuels kerosene, mostly and electricity. Soon America's whaling days became a part of history, kept alive by such great literature as Herman Melville's novel, "Moby Dick."

Illustration: Whalers harpooning a giant whale, 1862

© 1979. Panarizon Publishing Corp, USA Illust:: Kendall Whaling Museum
Printed in Italy 03.012.01.23

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Part 1

  

Martin Luther King, Jr. Part I

1929-1968

A Great Leader

December 1, 1955, had been a long day of hard work for Rosa Parks. She was dead tired and her feet hurt. So, when the Montgomery, Alabama, bus driver ordered her to give up her seat to a white passenger, Mrs. Parks refused and was immediately arrested for disobeying the city's segregation law. Thus began the massive Civil Rights movement that changed the face and future of the United States. It also introduced to the world an eloquent and inspirational black minister from Atlanta, Georgia, named Martin Luther King, Jr.

He was born on January 15, 1929, the son and grandson of Baptist preachers. After graduating from Morehouse College in Atlanta (which he entered at age 15), he studied for the ministry at Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with the highest average in his class. Later he attended Boston University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1955. It was also in Boston that King met Coretta Scott, a music student from Alabama, whom he married in 1953. They had four children.

On that historic day in 1955, King was serving as pastor of Montgomery's Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. After the arrest of Mrs. Parks, black Civil Rights advocates decided to force the desegregation of the city's bus system, and they asked King to lead them. King quietly agreed, saying to them, "We have no alternative but to protest."

And protest they did. It took more than a year of work, and they were forced to endure physical and spiritual abuse, arrests, threats, and bombings before the city buses were desegregated. And in the process the small, struggling Civil Rights movement had acquired a dynamic leader. From that moment, King, who was a firm believer in non-violent resistance, began traveling around the country and abroad, preaching freedom, civil rights, and desegregation. Slowly and painfully, his efforts began to arouse the conscience of blacks and whites all over the country.

In 1963, while King and his followers were demonstrating in Birmingham, Alabama, an unbelieving nation watched on television as fire hoses and dogs were turned against the demonstrators. Later, from his Birmingham jail cell, King wrote that the issue "can no longer be ignored .... Freedom must be demanded by the oppressed." It would take more years, and many more tragedies, before real progress could be made, but the young black preacher from Atlanta was right: the issue could no longer be ignored.

Illustration: Martin Luther King, Jr., in Chicago, September, 1967
© 1979. Panarizon Publishing Corp. USA Photo: Black Star
Printed in Italy 03-012-01-22

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Indian Medicine Man


  


The Indian Medicine Man

Understanding Nature's Ways

Because they lived in a seemingly limitless land, under a wide and mysterious sky, the Plains Indians of North America had great respect for nature and its forces. From life-giving rains to violent storms, and from blizzards to searing droughts, they tried to live in harmony with nature.

To attain this goal, they looked to the spirits on high to give them aid and ad­vice. Most members of the tribe sought supernatural help through visions that came to them after a solitary vigil and long fasting. A man who had especially . strong visions, and who then took special training in conducting tribal rituals, became a shaman.

He was known as a medicine man, because it was believed he had the ability to cure the sick.

As a healer of the sick, the medicine man, dressed in animal skins, would perform cures in which tribal dances and incantations were the major part of the treatment. But he also prescribed herb remedies and performed simple surgery, often with considerable skill.

But his power went beyond the mere treatment of illness, for he could also look into the future and predict events. He spoke to the spirit world and called on a supernatural power one of the great spirits to aid the tribe in times of trouble.

The great spirits of the Plains tribes were the Sun, the Thunderbird, and Napiwa, the Old Man of the Dawn. The Sioux called these spirits the wakan tanka, meaning "the greatest sacred ones." Among the Sioux, Sitting Bull was perhaps the most famous medicine man. Shortly before the battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, in which Lt. Col. George A. Custer was killed, Sitting Bull told his people that he had a vision predicting the defeat of the white soldiers.

Some Plains tribes gave the medicine man the added responsibility of caring for, and protecting, the sacred objects of the tribe. These were wrapped up in a medicine bundle, which usually con­ tained the skins and skulls of animals and birds, a pipe and tobacco, a wooden food bowl, braids of scented grass, strangely shaped stones, and a rattle made from a buffalo bladder.

The tribal medicine bundle was treated with great reverence, because it brought bountiful harvests, successful buffalo hunts, and victories in battle. The bundle was hung outdoors in good weather and taken inside in bad weather. And each time it was moved the proper prayers had to be chanted, for the Plains Indians believed that supernatural power existed everywhere and in everything.

Illustration: Mandan medicine man in full dress with body paint and feathers

© 1979. Panarizon Publishing Corp, USA Illust: G. Catlin, Smithsonian Institution
Printed in Italy 03·012·01·21

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Geronimo

  

Geronimo

1829-1909

The Desert Warrior

In 1876, the U.S. government decided to relocate the Chiricahua Apache tribe to an Indian reservation known as the San Carlos Agency on the Gila River in Arizona. And with that act, the government transformed a peaceful, unknown Apache into a dreaded renegade, called Geronimo.

Described as "Hell's forty acres," San Carlos was not to Geronimo's liking. He refused to be relocated and led raiding parties throughout the southwest and into Mexico. The Apache Wars of 1876-1886 brought him continual notoriety, for when he became weary or hard pressed by the U.S. cavalry he would surrender, only to renew his raids as soon as reservation life again became irksome.

Born in southern Arizona in 1829, Geronimo was physically unimpressive, but his short stature belied the strength that was bound up in his large girth of chest. Geronimo (who began life as Goyathlay, meaning "One Who Yawns") assumed virtual control of the tribe not as an actual chief, but as the leader of a tough faction that followed him be­cause of his demonstrated skills in warfare.

In 1881, following a peaceful three­ year stint as a farmer, Geronimo led another series of forays. Caught and re­ turned to the Indian bureau, he took to the warpath again in April, 1882, only to be recaptured by General George Crook. Two more years of peaceful coexistence under military observation suddenly went up in flames when Geronimo was discovered manufacturing tiswin, a native liquor. Fearful of reprisal, the chief and his tiswin-sopped band of only 134 warriors fled deten­ tion in the early summer of 1885 to begin their bloodiest campaign.

For ten long months they terrorized settlers in Arizona and New Mexico in­ discriminately. Pursued into Mexico by more than 5,000 U.S. troops and 409 Apache Scouts, Geronimo was entrapped during May, 1886. Unable to obtain a promise of safe· return to America, he out-foxed his captors and escaped once more.

Finally, in September, 1887, Geronimo and the remnants of his band surrendered unconditionally. Although most of the settlers who had been victims of his savagery despised him and wanted him hanged, Geronimo was imprisoned at Fort Marion, Florida. Later, he was transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks, Alabama, and in 1905, he lived to ride again as a haughty but subdued warrior in the inauguration parade of President Theodore Roosevelt. He died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909.

Illustration: Geronimo, photographed in his war gear, a studio portrait, 1877
© 1979. Panarizon Publishing Corp. USA
Photo: National Archives
Printed in Italy
03·012·01·20

Monday, July 22, 2013

The First Thanksgiving Dinner

 


The First Thanksgiving Dinner

1621

The Start of an American Tradition

In November, 1620. when the first New England colonists landed near Plymouth, Massachusetts, it was too late to plant any crops. Thus, by the following spring, disease and the long, harsh New England winter had killed nearly half of the original settlers. Many others were too weak to begin planting the crops that would supply enough food for the coming winter months. The Plymouth settlers probably would not have survived at all had it not been for two people. One was Governor William Bradford, whose good sense and firm leadership kept the colony together. The other was Samoset, a member of the Pemaquid Indian tribe from Maine, who had wandered into the weakened Plymouth colony in March, 1621. He and other friendly Indians taught the colonists to plant crops and prepare such foods as succotash (a mixture of beans and corn), cranberry pudding. wild turkey, corn­ meal, and a variety of squash and pumpkin dishes. It was after the first good harvest in 1621 that Governor Bradford called for a feast of "thanksgiving." All the members of the colony some 40 men, women and children and about 90 Indians. dressed in animal skins and gaily colored turkey feathers. joined in the celebration. The Indians brought deer meat. called venison. and wild turkeys. These were cooked on spits turned over open fires. The colonial women made johnnycakes, a cornmeal bread, and the men supplied geese, ducks, and fish. Other foods included lobsters, oysters, clams, roast corn, and maple syrup. Rum and cider were favorite beverages. Long tables were set up outdoors for eating together, and the fires burned and the food roasted for three days of celebration. Colonists and Indians alike gave thanks for the good harvest, which meant survival and an easier winter ahead. That was the first Thanksgiving dinner. Although the other colonies, and later the states, also observed this custom, it did not become a national holiday until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed "a day of thanksgiving" on the last Thursday in November, 1863. He did so largely because of one woman, Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. who had worked for many years promoting the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day. Today, Americans still celebrate Thanksgiving after harvest time. Since 1941, it has been observed as a legal national holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.

Illustration: Pilgrims and Indians gather to give thanks.
© 1979. Panarizon Publishing Corp. USA
Illust: Pilgrim Soc, Plymouth, Mass.
Printed in Italy 03.012.01.19

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Cattle Drive


  

The Cattle Drive

1865-1880

A Tough Life on the Trail

It took men with stamina and cool nerves to drive 1,500 head of restless cattle over four major trails from Texas to such railhead towns as Cheyenne, Wyoming, Abilene, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. In 1871 alone, 300,000 longhorns moved over the Chisholm Trail to Abilene's hectic stockyards. The trail took them across sun­ scorched plains, through violent storms, and over swirling rivers. The man who guided the whole affair was the trail boss. He had to be a superb horseman, wise to the hazards of the trail, and in total command of the dozen or so cowboys (trail drivers) under his charge. Ranking close in importance to the trail boss was the most important animal of the heard, the lead steer, who ran in front of the herd as it strung out for miles across the plains. The most celebrated steer was cattle baron Charles Goodnight's longhorn, "Old Blue." For years he led herds north, always picking the best spot for the cattle to bed down at night, comforting them during thunder storms, even preventing stampedes. On either side of the lead steer rode the point men, who kept watch for lurking rustlers or Indians. Behind them rode the swing riders and flank riders, who kept the cattle from wandering away and drove them back to the herd if they did. Perhaps the most uncomfortable job of all was that of the drag riders, who ate the dust of the herd as they used their whips and ropes to keep the lazy or weak animals from lagging too far behind. Way back in the rear came the bed wagon, carrying the bedrolls and extra supplies, and a group of 100 or more saddle horses, which were herded on the trail and corralled at night by the wrangler. Finally came the all­-important chuckwagon with the food and bedrolls. By late afternoon, the cook would drive up ahead of the herd and start supper at the next stopover. Once the herd was bedded down, night herders circled it slowly and sang lullabies to help calm the animals. A night stampede, caused by a thunder storm or by raiding rustlers or Indians, tested the skill and nerves of these cowboys as they raced ahead of the terrified cattle to turn them in, forcing them to run in a circle until they were under control. The best trail boss was the man whose herd reached its destination within three months without pushing the animals so hard that they lost weight. Cattle that were moved slowly, so they could rest near water holes and graze a little, sometimes actually gained weight on the drive.

Illustration: Cowboy pursuing his callie herd being stampeded by lightning
© 1979. Panarizon Publishing Corp.
USA Illust: Detail, F. Remington; Gilcrease Insc, Tulsa. Okla.
Printed in Italy  03.012 01 18


Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Butch" Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

  




"Butch" Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

1896-1911

Last of the Outlaw Gangs

"Butch" Cassidy and his Wild Bunch comprised the last of the outlaw gangs in the West, as well as the largest and most efficient. "Butch" himself was a crack shot with a revolver and rifle, but he claimed that he never killed a man during his years as an outlaw.
His real name was Robert Leroy Parker, and his father was a devout Mormon who owned a ranch in Utah. Unfortunately, young "Butch" hero worshipped one of the ranch hands, a gunman named Mike Cassidy. When Cassidy was killed in a gunfight, young Parker took the name of "Butch" Cassidy, and soon he was learning the out law trade as a member of the Tom McCarty gang. He later left the McCarty gang and took up ranching in Wyoming, but he was charged with stealing horses there and spent the next 18 months in prison. After serving his time, he promised the governor that he would stay out of trouble in Wyoming. He kept his word and broke no laws in Wyoming but other states did not fare so well. By 1896, Cassidy had organized the Wild Bunch and was busily engaged in robbing banks and trains.
As a train robber, "Butch" relied on trickery rather than blazing guns to get the job done. In a typical case, several of his outlaws would buy tickets and board the train. Then, at some lonely spot along the way, other members of the gang would flag down the train on the pretext that the track up ahead was blocked by a rock slide or a loose rail. When the train stopped, the outlaws who were already aboard would surprise and overpower the guards in the express car, haul out the safe, and blast it open with a stick of dynamite. Within minutes, the Wild Bunch would grab the loot and be gone.
In 1897, the Wild Bunch was joined by Kid Curry and his "Hole in the Wall" gang. Soon the number of banks robbed and trains held up soared. During frequent clashes with posses, "Butch" relied on a fast horse rather than a gun, but the deadly Kid Curry killed five pursuing lawmen. Understandably, "Butch" was not fond of Curry and he began riding instead with the "Sundance Kid" (Harry Lang baugh), a less bloodthirsty outlaw.
By 1901, dozens of railroad detectives and lawmen were hunting Cassidy's Wild Bunch, so "Butch" decided to clear out. He fled to South America with the Sundance Kid and the Kid's girl friend, Etta Place. There, it is said, "Butch" and the Kid robbed several banks and mines in Peru, Chile and Bolivia until 1911, when they were ambushed and killed by Bolivian soldiers.
Illustration: The Wild Bunch. Ft. Worth. Tex. Sundance seated at left. "Butch" at right
© 1979. Panarizon Publishing Corp, USA Photo: Union Pacific Railroad Museum

Printed in Italv 03.012.01.17

Friday, July 19, 2013

Babe Ruth

  

Babe Ruth

1895-1948

The Sultan of Swat

No figure ever dominated a major professional sport quite the way George Herman "Babe" Ruth did in the game of baseball. During a career that spanned 22 seasons, Ruth was easily the greatest performer of his day and, many believe, of all time. Born on February 6, 1895, Babe Ruth was brought up in a poverty­ stricken area of Baltimore, Maryland. At the age of seven, he entered St. Mary's Industrial School in Baltimore, where he remained until he was 18. After that he joined the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league baseball club, in 1914. Before the season ended, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for approximately $2,900. Not only was Ruth a powerful and consistent hitter, he was unsurpassed as a pitcher. In 1915, during his first full season, the Babe won 22 games as a pitcher and batted .315, an excellent average for any hitter. The following year, he led all American League pitchers with 23 victories. Of all the baseball records Babe Ruth set, he himself was most proud of pitching 29 2/3 scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in the 1918 World Series. In 1919, Ruth shocked the baseball world by hitting 29 home runs, an unprecedented feat for those days. His next surprise was being traded to the New York Yankees in 1920 for $125,000. Ruth's arrival in New York, where he was converted from a pitcher to a fulltime outfielder, began a brilliant 15-year stay with the Yankees that catapulted him into international stardom. Dubbed "the sultan of swat" by sportswriters, he drew thousands of fans to ballparks across the country. When Yankee Stadium was built in the Bronx in 1923, it was called "the house that Ruth built." In a short time, he was baseball's highest paid player, reaching his peak at $80,000 for the 1930 season. Ruth's accomplishments defy belief. His career batting average was .342 and he hit more than 40 home runs in each of 11 seasons, with at least 50 in four of those seasons. He led the American League in home runs for 12 years, including his legendary 1927 season when he hit 60, a record that stood in both major leagues for 34 years until Roger Maris (New York Yankees) hit 61 homers in 1961. Perhaps Ruth's greatest achievement was in hitting 714 lifetime home runs, a record that lasted until 1974, when Henry Aaron passed him. Babe Ruth was unanimously elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1936. He died of cancer on August 16, 1948, in New York City, but his place in baseball history is secured forever.

Illustration: The Babe batting another ball for a home run.

© 1979, Panarizon Publishing Corp. USA Photo: Van der Schlagmollen
Printed in Italy
03.012.01.16