Ramblings & ephemera

The US is becoming less democratic

From Tony Judt’s “The New World Order” (The New York Review of Books: 14 July 2005): For there is a precedent in modern Western history for a country whose leader exploits national humiliation and fear to restrict public freedoms; for a government that makes permanent war as a tool of state policy and arranges for […]

An empire cannot be created by a republic

From Tony Judt’s “The New World Order” (The New York Review of Books: 14 July 2005): Historians and pundits who leap aboard the bandwagon of American Empire have forgotten a little too quickly that for an empire to be born, a republic has first to die. In the longer run no country can expect to […]

Illegality practices by the US in the “War on Terror”

From Tony Judt’s “The New World Order” (The New York Review of Books: 14 July 2005): The unrepublican veneration of our presidential “leader” has made it uniquely difficult for Americans to see their country’s behavior as others see it. The latest report from Amnesty International – which says nothing that the rest of the world […]

America, a militarized society

From Tony Judt’s “The New World Order” (The New York Review of Books: 14 July 2005): [Andrew] Bacevich is a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam veteran, and a conservative Catholic who now directs the study of international relations at Boston University. He has thus earned the right to a hearing even in circles typically […]

Modern mercenaries

From Rebecca Ulam Weiner’s “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing” (Legal Affairs: January/February 2006): YOU WON’T FIND THE WORD “MERCENARY” on the homepage of the International Peace Operations Association, the trade group for the private military industry. While many of the IPOA’s member companies are staffed by elite former soldiers of the United States military who now […]

Magruder fools the Federals

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (399): No wheeze was too old for [John Bankhead] Magruder to employ it. One morning he sent a column along a road that was heavily wooded except for a single gap in plain view of the enemy outposts. All day the gray files swept past […]

Beauregard fools Halleck & escapes

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (384): When [Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard‘s men] stole out of the intrenchments [at Corinth] after nightfall, they left dummy guns in the embrasures and dummy cannoneers to serve them, fashioned by stuffing ragged uniforms with straw. A single band moved up and down the […]

Troops like sugar soaked in water

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (347): [At the Battle of Shiloh,] Governor Harris, still a volunteer aide, sensed this feeling of futility in the soldiers. Shortly after 2 o’clock, he expressed his fear of a collapse to the chief of staff, who agreed and went to Beauregard with the question: […]

Grant’s optimism

From Wikipedia’s “Battle of Shiloh“: The evening of April 6 was a dispiriting end to the first day of one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history. In the Civil War, medics were not sent into the field to collect and treat wounded soldiers. Hence, many soldiers were abandoned to bleed to death, or in […]

Wearing the wrong color to a battle

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (337, 347): [At the Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing,] The Orleans Guard battalion, the elite organization with Beauregard’s name on its muster roll, came into battle wearing dress-blue uniforms, which drew the fire of the Confederates they were marching […]

Walke describes the Battle of Island Number 10

From “Operations of the Western Flotilla” by Henry A. Walke, Commander of the Carondelet, describing the Battle of Island Number Ten: Having received written orders from the flag-officer, under date of March 30th, I at once began to prepare the Carondelet for the ordeal. All the loose material at hand was collected, and on the […]

A burning quilt brings revenge

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (287-288): [At the Battle of Pea Ridge,] they saw the rebels coming, yelling and firing as they came, hundreds of them bearing down to complete the wreckage their artillery had begun. As the Federals fell back from their shattered pieces an Iowa cannoneer paused to […]

The aide has to try as well

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (270): [Confederate major general Earl Van Dorn] was convalescing from a bad fall suffered while attempting a risky ditch jump – he was an excellent horseman; his aide, required by custom to try it too, was injured even worse …

Better in command of the enemy than a prisoner

From “Fort Henry and Fort Donelson“: Shortly after the surrender of Fort Sumter, Confederates built two forts just south of the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. … Fort Henry guarded the Tennessee River while Fort Donelson guarded the Cumberland. … The key to rolling up the Confederate defense of the Mississippi River was the capture […]

Ulysses Grant & the torpedo

From Greg Goebel’s “Februrary 1862: Unconditional And Immediate Surrender” (interpolation from Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville [187]): On the afternoon of 5 February, during a conference between Grant, Foote, and the two division commanders, the captain of a gunboat sent a message to Grant that he had actually pulled a torpedo […]

Word of the day: cunctative

Cunctative: Cunc’ta*tive, a. Slow; tardy; dilatory; causing delay. Cunctator: Cunc*ta’tor, n. [L., lit., a delayer; — applied as a surname to Q. Fabius Maximus.] One who delays or lingers. From Wikipedia’s “Fabius Maximus“: Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus (c. 275 BC-203 BC), called Cunctator (the Delayer), was a Roman politician and soldier, born in Rome around […]

Too much tail to that kite

From Addison Hart’s “General Fremont Has Chicken Guts!: Why John Charles Fremont Got Kicked Out Of Missouri“: … [John Charles] Fremont did little else in his first few months in command in Missouri … He did, however, manage to get some criticisms over his choices for staff positions. Unlike many generals, Fremont wanted to be […]