Saturday, August 20, 2016

Captain Jack's Stronghold (Modoc War of 1872-1873)

The Modoc War of 1872-73 

The Medicine Flag today, and 143 years ago. 

Captain Jack's Stronghold. 

From Modoc War, by Erwin N. Thompson, after the soldiers had driven the Modoc band from the stronghold:

"Among the bones, rags, and wickiups there was little of the loot of war that appealed to the collector instinct among soldiers. However there was one trophy that assumed importance in their minds — the "medicine flag." At three different high points in the Stronghold the Modocs had erected these emblems, the guarantors of victory. One in particular, standing on one of the highest rocks, had long been visible to the soldiers, and to them it had become a symbol of Modoc defiance, the enemy's regimental colors as it were.

The troops captured this medicine flag on the last day of the fight. It was no star-spangled eagle embroidered on a field of blazing color. Simpson, realizing its importance as a symbol, drew and described it as consisting of a "mink's skin and hawk's feathers with medicine bead." These were fastened to the end of a stick "about four feet long, and is just as it was cut from the tree." He said that the small white bead had been placed among the feathers, and the pole "stood on a heap of stones during the fighting." After the battle, a photographer took a picture of two soldiers standing on the "medicine rock." This rock may still be identified today toward the northeastern end of the Stronghold. It is quite possible that the medicine flag fluttered from here during the battle. Its capture and removal symbolized the soldiers' success in taking the Stronghold. But that was all it symbolized. The Modocs were still their own masters, somewhere in the lava beds to the south."

More images of Captain Jack's Stronghold from my recent visit to the Lava Beds National Monument (what happens in Modoc County, stays in Modoc County).

Captain's Jack's Cave

Friday, August 19, 2016

Men Go to Battle (film)

Still from Men Go to Battle

Men Go to Battle

August 19, 2016 | by 
A small-budget film dramatizes the passive motives of Civil War enlistees.
Men Go to Battle, currently playing in a small number of theaters, is unusual among Civil War movies in that it dares to dramatize the established truth that the war was fought largely by people who harbored no particular ideology whatsoever. Civil War movies are typically about people like Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln), Robert Gould Shaw (Glory), Robert E. Lee (Gettysburg), the founders of the Ku Klux Klan (Birth of a Nation), and principled Southern defectors (this summer’s pedantic Free State of Jones), that is, people who cherish strong beliefs of one kind or another and take a stand. Henry Mellon stands for nothing. But he fights in the Battle of Perryville, at once panicked and sleepy-eyed, marching into artillery fire, shooting his rifle at Braxton Bragg’s line of gray, which must be somewhere out there on the far side of the cloudy explosions...
Read the full article here

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Cassius Clay Battalion

Protecting Washington, D.C. became a priority for Union forces when the Civil War began in April 1861. Northern military units convened in the nation’s capital to protect Washington and form a national army. One of the first to defend the White House was the Cassius Clay Battalion.
Cassius Marcellus Clay had been recently selected by President Abraham Lincoln, a fellow Kentucky native, to serve as Minister to Russia. When conflict first arose he quickly raised volunteers of various professions and backgrounds willing to defend the White House.

Although they were soon replaced by more experienced troops, the Cassius Clay Battalion’s spirit proved invaluable at a time when the defense of D.C. was imperative.
This image shows them assembled on the White House’s South Lawn.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 27 -- U.S. Grant at Mt. McGregor, New York

Saturday, June 25, 2016

140th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

June 25 is the 140th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. These images. from the 50th anniversary, are by photographer Richard Throssel [University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, Richard Throssel Papers], along with one photo (headstone) I took myself. Sunrise on Custer Battlefield, the Three Scouts on Last Stand Hill, and anniversary ceremonies. The man in the headdress is White Man Runs Him, one of Custer's Crow scouts, who lies buried in the National Cemetery down the hill.