Falkland Islands: Nothing More Than a Symbol of Pride
January 22, 2011

May 14 1979 Time Magazine Proved To Be a Prophecy...but for what?

On This Date in History:  In the early 1980’s, there was a much publicized war between Argentina and Great Britain over a tiny group of islands off the southern tip of Argentina.  It became known as the Falkland Islands War.  Britain had long maintained sovereignty over the islands and Argentina suddenly had laid claim to them.  Very few people had heard of the islands before and most in Great Britain probably had no idea that it was British property.  The islands really had little value but the honor of Britain was at stake.  As it turns out, it was really a repeat of history. 

Sir Thomas Cavendish

The Spanish had been the lords of the sea for much of the 18th century and therefore had been able to do the most exploring and exploitation of the new world.   When the Spanish Armada was routed by the British in 1588, that opened up the New World to other European nations.  Now, Sir Thomas Cavendish was an English explorer and sailor known as the “navigator” for his sailing skills.  While Magellan, Loaisa, Drake and Loyola all had circumnavigated the globe, apparently none of them set sail with that intention.  Cavendish is credited with being the first to make such a voyage as his primary, intended quest.  He achieved this at age 28 after a two-year journey in 1588.  For some reason, that was not enough because he tried it again in 1591.  By 1592, Cavendish was dead of unknown causes and the attempt has been labeled a disaster.   However, it is thought that, on this voyage, one of Cavendish’s ships was captained by a man named Davis who, either by design or bad weather, got separated from Cavendish near the Straits of Magellan and is thought to be the first to have seen the islands.  However, he did not explore then or otherwise make any observations.  While that seems nebulous on the surface, it would prove to be important for centuries. 

Over 200 years later, Falklands still good for sheep

In 1771, a man named Samuel Johnson wrote a detailed history of the Falkland Islands up to that point.  Johnson seems to be opining of the uselessness of the islands.  After Captain Davis, several other people saw the islands but never bothered to stop.  When they were mapped, it was found that the islands had lots of water but no wood.  It had a good harbor and only had a benefit perhaps as a military outpost to support colonial operations.  But, even that was a dubious distinction because there was no way that the islands could ever be self-sufficient.  Spain had nominally laid claim to the islands as part of its Argentina colonization but the Spanish never did much with it.  The British did set up an outpost and provisioned it regularly and also found that sheep and cattle seemed to be more suitable for that environment than agriculture.  Around 1870, the Spanish showed up and asked the British to leave.  Mainly out of pride, the British refused.  The exchanges between the commander of the British garrison and the Spanish frigate captain is remarkable in that it is civil.  It’s as if both of them were doing their duty but really didn’t want to spill blood over something of such little value.  The Spanish eventually landed with a far superior force and the British left.  But, that wasn’t the end of it. Again, pride shows up and the crown just  couldn’t allow their claims to be challenged.  Their claim of possession was  basically that they had found it first.  The courts of Spain and England negotiated and discussed and, in the end, the King of Spain disavowed any knowledge of the actions of the governor of Buenos Aires, who apparently had directed his naval forces to take the island without orders  or permission from the King.  So, on this date in 1771, Spain ceded what was known as the Falkland Islands to the English, to the British Crown. 

Falklands More Suitable To Penguins Than People

Johnson opined on what all of this got the crown:  “… a restitution of our settlement, maintained the honour of the crown, and the superiority of our influence. Beyond this what have we acquired? What, but a bleak and gloomy solitude, an island, thrown aside from human use, stormy in winter, and barren in summer; an island, which not the southern savages have dignified with habitation; where a garrison must be kept in a state that contemplates with envy the exiles of Siberia; of which the expense will be perpetual, and the use only occasional; and which, if fortune smile upon our labours, may become a nest of smugglers in peace, and in war the refuge of future bucaniers.”  Johnson hammered the point of the lack of utility of the island when he points out that, after the Brits gained the concession, they abandoned the island.  He does note, however, that “the Spaniards have stipulated, that the grant of possession shall not preclude the question of prior right, a question which we shall probably make no haste to discuss, and a right, of which no formal resignation was ever required.”  This perhaps was the underlying excuse for hostility by the Argentinians 200 years later.

Falkland Islands Map

Falkland Islands Map

On the other hand,  it is not unusual for a government in turmoil with a risk of collapse from within to create an international incident in order to unify the country against a common foe besides the government. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Argentina had been ruled by a military dictatorship that had once been popular but was rapidly losing support from the people as they grew weary of the number of political prisoners that had been taken as well as people who had simply disappeared. The economy was shrinking at 6% per year and inflation was running at 160%. The unions began to join forces with political opposition groups and the military Junta knew it was in trouble. Then, they thought a gift had been delivered to them.

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

While the Falkland and the South Georgia Islands had long been part of the British empire, the general global feeling of the 20th century was that empires needed to come to an end. However, perhaps due to the same pride that caused the British to want to keep the islands in the 18th century,  numerous attempts through the United Nations by Argentina to get Britain to cede the islands to Argentina failed. In 1979, an Argentinian businessman (Constantino Davidoff) purchased a former whale slaughterhouse on the South Georgia Islands from an Englishman(Christian Salvensen). The new owner wanted to dismantle the plant and sell the metal for scrap. The HMS Endurance was in the vicinity and the Argentine owner asked the Brits to loan him the use of their naval vessel to help him haul off the scrap. The crown denied his request. So, he went to his own Navy which obliged. This was the perfect set up for the Junta. It knew that the people of Argentina supported the idea of the nation gaining sovereignty over the islands off its coast and, if the Junta could use the situation properly, it could perhaps regain public support.  Besides, the Spanish never did acknowledge that the British had rightful claim when it ceded control in 1771.

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missiles

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missiles

So, in March 1982 when the Argentine Navy ship showed up at the South Georgia Islands, residents there complained to London that there was a warship with the Argentine flag floating in their waters. So, the British sent the HMS Endurance to the scene to prevent any landing by any Argentinians. Argentina responded by sending the military transport Bahia Parasio to the islands with the hope of occupying the islands peacefully. Now, the Junta had a plan for invading the Falkland and South Georgia Islands on the shelf for a couple of years. The nation had a pretty decent military and the battlefield would be 7500 miles from England. Also, they figured that they could use the weather as an ally by staging their invasion between June and October, which is the winter time in the Southern Hemisphere which would make things more difficult for England. The advantage really was with Argentina.

War Was The Big Headline in London

War Was The Big Headline in London

But…the people at home were getting restless and protests were growing quickly against the military leaders. So, they made the mistake of moving up their time-table. On April 2, 1982 Argentine ground forces of landed on the South Georgia Islands. The Falkland Islands War was on and the Argentine government appealed to President Reagan for support. The Rio Treaty of 1947 called on all nations of the Americas to come to the aid of any nation that was invaded by foreign forces. The Junta told Reagan that they were enforcing the rights of Argentine workers to legally do the job of removing the whaling slaughterhouse. I guess Ron didn’t agree because he didn’t lift a finger. After all, England was not your ordinary foreign invader. It had been our pal throughout the 20th Century and Reagan had established a strong bond with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who earned her reputation as the “Iron Lady” by calling the Argentine bluff.

Sinking HMS Conventry and other ships highlighted limitations and vulnerability of naval assets

Instead of quietly negotiating away the islands, she sent a task force of ships, submarines, sailors and over 10,000 troops all the way from England. The task force left on April 5, 1982…just 3 days after the Argentine invasion. The first encounter of the Brits and Argentines happened on April 25 and by the middle of June, the war was over with an Argentinian surrender…just before the winter got going. Many historians agree, the biggest mistake of the Argentine Junta was to attack in the fall instead of sticking to their plan of a winter assault. In the eyes of many, the Argentinians had a good case for obtaining the islands but, the military might and determination of Margaret Thatcher rendered any legitimate points moot. A little more than a year later, the Argentinian Junta was out of office and any hope of ever getting to the negotiating table with Britain over ceding the islands was doomed. They never should have neglected the weather forecast.  Or maybe they should have just agreed that the islands were of no value.  As it stands, many people died and treasure spent on a bunch of islands that no one really found  much use for except express misappropriated pride…but at last, that pride is redeemed…you see, oil was discovered a few years ago near the Falkland Islands and, once again, Argentina is claiming and Britain ain’t listening. 

Weather Bottom Line:  Yes, it’s cold.  Is your street clear of snow?  I think the Mayor is in Washington DC so maybe he’s not aware of the snow on the streets in your neighborhood.  Then again, perhaps the delay is just a money-saving tactic since it’s the weekend and they’ll just clear everyone’s road by Sunday night for the Monday start to the work week.  See, there is a model out there that just keeps throwing snow over the area for many days.  That would be the GFS.   Its been consistent in that assertion from last Thursday through early Saturday morning. I suspect that it will change its mind because it’s the outlier as most models do not have a low traversing the Ohio Valley and conspiring with one to the South to bring lots of snow, or at least several days of light snow.  Instead, most damp out the midwest low and make the southern low the dominant feature and routes it through Dixie and up the east coast.  The weather service still has a chance of snow in the forecast from Sunday night through Wednesday, but we’ll have to wait and see.  Either way, while it will remain cold for the forseeable future, we will come out of the ice bucket after the weekend.

The Patriot Went to the Dogs
October 6, 2010

The Ficticious Mars and Jupiter Showed Up with Gibson Probably Due to The Inspiration of a Real Life Story of General Washington and General Howe's Dog

Battle of Brandywine Sept 11, 1777

On This Date in History:  Following its victory at the Battle of Brandywine, the British Army captured Philadelphia and the troops camped in Germantown just north of the city.  American General George Washington decided a little counter-attack was in order as part of an attempt to surprise the British in their camp.  It seemed to be a grand opportunity since Washington was in the rather fortunate position of outnumbering his foe with about 11,000 men under his command while, his counterpart, General William Howe, commanded about 8,000 British and Hessian soldiers.  Thus, we have the outline for the Battle of Germantown which proved to be an engagement of note in the American Revolution.

Troop Movements Battle of Germantown

Now, Washington’s plan called for 4 columns to attack the British and “precisely 5 oclock with charged bayonets without firing.”   Basically, General Washington was trying to duplicate the surprise attack that he successfully initiated against the Hessians at Trenton on Dec. 25, 1776.  However, things didn’t work out so well because on the morning of October 3, 1777 the American columns were all well short of their respective planned starting positions.  The surprise element went by the wayside when a British piquet discovered one of the columns and fired some shots to warn of the impending attack.  That particular piquet was reinforced by a light infantry battalion that required great effort to push back.  Howe rode up to take a look for himself but his view was impeded by an early morning fog.  His initial notion was that his piquet had simply encountered an American raiding party. 

Chew House Fighting Was Fierce

British Colonel Musgrave was in charge of the light infantry battalion and had them fall back and establish a strong position at the home of Chief Justice Benjamin Chew.  The Americans made a strong assault on the stone home, complete with artillery support.  Well, American General Adam Stephen was supposed to follow orders and continue an attack on the British right wing.  Instead, he heard the commotion going on at the Chew House and ordered his men to turn and attack there.  That was not part of General Washington’s plan. 

Stephen's House May Be More Celebrated Than The Owner (Click For Details)

 In the Meantime, American General Nathanael (Nathaniel)  Greene had his men attack the British line as ordered and he broke through.  Stephen, for his part, went on beyond Chew House to continue the attack where, in the fog,  he ran into a brigade commanded by Brigadier General Wayne.  The two forces took up arms against one another.  The trouble was, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s Pennsylvania Brigade was on the same side as the men under Stephen.  I suppose the Americans must have put up a pretty good fight with one another because both forces withdrew and fled.  A result of the Battle of Germantown was that the Americans determined that General Stephen was incapacitated by drunkeness and he was drummed out of the service with his command given to the Marquis de Lafayette even though Lafayette had just had his 20th birthday!  That in itself holds some importance but there were more significant aspects to the outcome of the battle.   

Germantown Loss May Have Been Big Winner For Americans

In the end, the British suffered 500 casualties and the Americans lost 1000.  50 Americans were killed while assaulting the Chew House, which ultimately was a diversion from the original plan.  The Americans were forced to withdraw and most histories report the Battle of Germantown as a British victory since they held the field.  In fact, General Washington had to withdraw some 16 miles to escape the harrassment by British light dragoons.  However, sometimes a loss can be a victory.  In Vietnam, the TET Offensive was a total military disaster for the North Vietnamese but it was the turning point in the war as the American people withdrew their support for the war effort.  In the same way, while Washington’s effort was a big flub-a-dub at Germantown, the French were pretty impressed by the American’s ability to raise and army and mount an attack and were less concerned about the results.   Many historians point to the American failure at Germantown as providing profound influence on the French Court to support the American independence effort.   But, the British weren’t entirely successful either.  General Howe did not follow up and destroy Washington’s army.  Instead, he let General Washington flee to fight another day.  Maybe Howe was looking for his dog.

Note From General Washington to General Howe Concerning Dog

You see, General Howe had a dog that had wandered onto the battlefield and, as the Americans withdrew, the dog followed with them.  He ended up in the camp of General Washington.  Now, Washington was a lover of all dogs and when he saw that the dog’s collar had the name of his counterpart on it, on this date in 1777, he had a messenger ride all the way back to the British camp with the dog and a courteous note from General Washington related to the returning of the pooch.    Some say that its an indication of just how much Washington loved dogs and of the honorable and magnamimous nature of General Washington.  However, while it may have been all that, it was also a pretty shrewed move on the part of George Washington.  The note which was delivered to the British read, “General Washington’s compliments to General Howe. He does himself the pleasure to return him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the Collar appears to belong to General Howe.”  The story may have softened the view of British regulars toward General Washington but, no doubt, Washington’s courier most likely was able to report British and Hessian troop stregnth and positions back to headquarters.  Many of Washington’s men wanted to keep the dog in order to taunt the enemy but Washington knew that his act of kindness not only was a good bit of propaganda but also a great source of intelligence.

Gibson Probably Borrowed Dog Idea For The Patriot From Real Life Incident At Germantown

You see a seen similar to this true story in the fictionalized Mel Gibson movie called The Patriot.  In that film, the Gibson character of Benjamin Martin returned two Great Danes to British General Cornwallis.  I suspect  that Gibson took the real story and simply used it as a model for their story.  That is not unusual in “historical” movies.  They often borrow parts of other stories and then add them to their movie to make it more compelling for the audience.  The scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where they use too much dynamite to rob a train car probably came from the real-life misadventure of Al Jennings who really did use too much dynamite when he blew up the entire mail car in his 1898 train robbery attempt.  The Patriot was not well receieved by my historical academic bretheren for many similar items.  The main character, Martin, was not a real person but instead was based on  different people, the principal being Francis Marion with other contributors being Thomas Sumter, Elijah Clarke, Andrew Pickens and Daniel Morgan.  The problem that I have with all of that is that all or any one of these men have true stories that could be extremely compelling. 

Tavington Portrayal Ruffled Some British Feathers

The bad guy in the movie was William Tavington who was based on the real life British Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton.  Apparently some in Britain were not too enthused with the way in which the Tavington/Tarleton character was portrayed.  The UK Ambassador to the US didn’t have kind words for the entire movie.  For some reason, Gibson even made General Charles Cornwallis 10-15 years older than he really was and I have yet to figure out the rationale for that except that actor Tom Wilkinson was available.  I liked the movie but I am always afraid that people will think that its all a true story and that is how come Americans become ignorant of their own history.  It is suprisingly full of technical mistakes as well as historical inaccuracies.   Just remember, when Hollywood makes a story based on “history” it is usually loosely based on fact and full of “artistic license.”

Weather Bottom Line:  Beautiful weather will continue.  I saw today at one point the dew point was running in the 30’s which is awfully dry.  That means the temperatures will drop at night nicely and warm up nicely in the afternoon.  Look for upper 70’s for Wednesday and Thursday and low 80’s into the weekend.  We’ll probably nudge into the mid 80’s by Sunday afternoon.  A cold front will slip through on Monday and take temperatures down a peg but its so dry I doubt that there will be much in the way of rain.   I had to remove my sunflowers which just killed me but they were done.  The squirrels have been enjoying their bounty.  It’s really amazing how strong those 13 foot sunflowers are and the breadth of their root systems.  Then again, its not really all that amazing when you consider that they have to be able to support themselves with the weight of a flower full of seeds thats over a foot across and the windy weather they have to put up with.  But…the stalks are still pretty formidable.  I raised them from babies, protected them from critters and watered them dutifully only to put them in their final resting place.  Always sad.

The First Landship Was Such a Secret That It Was Called a “Tank”
September 15, 2010

Little Willie Didn't Fair Too Well in Its Debut But Big Willie Soon Followed

Leonardo Da Vinci's Early Version of what later was known as a Tank

On This Date in History:  In the mid to late 15th century, the Scots used covered war carts when they did battle with the English.  Leonardo da Vinci sketched a design for what became known as a tank in the 1480’s and in later centuries, various attempts at creating wind powered or steam powered “landships” were made.   The idea of ships being covered with iron plating for protection had been around since the US Civil War as “ironclads” became pretty popular by the end of that conflict.  Much like the submarine had gotten a boost from the vision or science fiction writer Jules Verne, perhaps the idea of a workable “landship” seemed to be more practical with the 1903  publication of H.G. Wells’ of “The Land Iron Clads” in Strand Magazine.  What most probably pushed the idea of a enclosed attack platform from the drawing board to the battle field was circumstance.  By 1916, trench warfare had taken hold in Europe during World War I and a case of stalemate had emerged in which neither side could gain an advantage facing another recent development: the machine gun.

This Part of "No Man's Land" in WWI Was Once a Forest

For miles and miles, mainly through France and Belgium, the axis and allies had dug series of connecting trenches.  The area in between the lines was known as “no man’s land” because any attempted advance over the top of the trench was met by heavy machine gun fire that cut down anything standing.  Barbed wire was also used to delay any advance attempted by footsoldiers and that made for an easy target.   The casualties in World War I were horrific and between flying bullets through the air and constant artillery bombardment, no living things survived;  grass disappeared and trees cut to pieces.  The result was a muddy muck that made any sort of travel exceedingly difficult.  Not long after the war began and trench warfare had taken hold,  British Colonel Ernest Swinton was sent to the front to make observations and recommendations.  Colonel Swinton noticed that he only way for travel was with caterpillar tractor with moving treads.  He had the notion that, if an armored vehicle with such tracks were developed, then perhaps the trenchlines of the Germans could be breeched.  He kicked his idea upstairs, but at first, General Sir John French flatly rejected the idea of a steel plated, caterpillar tracked vehicle.  But, Swinton did not give up.  He passed his idea on to Colonel Maurice Hankey and from Hankey it landed in the hands of Sir Winston Churchill, who at the time was the First Lord of the Admiralty

Little Willie Now Lives In a Museum

As the head of the Royal Navy, Churchill knew the value of armored plating and he got the project going.  Development began but it was done under ultra-secret conditions.  Those who worked on the project were told to tell anyone who questioned them that they were working on water carriers or water tanks.  It seems that, especially in the military, abbreviated terms come into common usage for a variety of topics and this was no exception.  Hence, the term “tank” was coined.  Officially, it was called a “Landship” and the Landships Committee and New Inventions Committee agreed that it was an idea worth exploring with certain specifications.  Lieutenant W. G. Wilson of the Naval Air Service and William Tritton of William Foster & Co. Ltd. of Lincoln were given the task of building a landship that could hold 10 men, move at up to 4 mph and be capable of making sharp turns at top speed.  The landship had to be able to climb a 5 foot earth parapet, cross an 8 foot gap and operate in reverse.  The armament would feature at least two machine guns and a 2 pound main gun.  

Mark I or "Big Willie" or "Mother" at the Sommes Sept 25 1916

The result was the 26 foot long, 14 ton No. 1 Lincoln Machine or “Little Willie” outfitted with the “creeping grip” track from the Bullock Tractor Co. of Chicago.   The nickname came about in reference to German Kaiser Wilhelm.   When the first prototype was demonstrated to the Landship Committee on September 11, 1915, it was a bit underwhelming.  Willie could barely muster a speed over 3 mph and over rough ground that dropped off to about 2 mph.  The biggest set-back was that it failed to overcome broad trenches.  But, Swinton was convinced that his tank could be improved and provide the needed push for an Allied victory.  A second model was created which looked very similar to the original and it didn’t work too well either when it was tried out in December 1915.  So, a new design was undertaken that put the track around the superstructure and it had a 6 pound gun.  The new version was referred to as “Big Willie” or “Mother,” though it was officially the Mk1 or Mark 1. 

Whoops! Some of the Big Willies Couldn't Negotiate the Big Trenches

The first use of tanks in battle was in the Battle of the Somme near the villages of Flers and Courcelette in France on this date in 1915.  The tanks included a crew of a subaltern, 3 drivers and 4 gunners.  One of the gunners was a non-commissioned officer who commanded the machine.  Rarely did the landship reach 4 mph in battlefield conditions and conditions for the crew were pretty tough.  It was extremely hot and noisy and exhaust from the engine made breathing difficult.  Hot, molten metal flew about as the armor was struck by machine gun fire.  As a result, the crews often became sick and incompacitated thus rendering long term operation impossible.  Then there was the issue of communication, which was very difficult within the tank and nearly impossible between tanks.  Because men could usually walk faster than the tank could move, officers would often get out of the tank and walk to another one nearby to coordinate their movements or tactics.

US M1A1 Abrams Tank descended from Little Willie

The first attack was supposed to come at 6:20AM on September 15, 1916 but it got going about an hour early.   Seems that Captain H.W. Mortimore got cranked up early.  His was supposed to be one of three tanks to initiate the action but the other two were delayed.   Mechanical issues proved to be a big bugaboo the first time out as only 32 of the 49 tanks available got off the mark that day.  Of those, 5 ended up stuck in a trenches or shell holes, 9 broke down and 9 were too slow to keep up with the other tanks, let alone the troops.   However, the 9 slow pokes were successful in mop-up operations as the 9 that managed to keep going, breeched enemy lines and caused considerable damage.  The sight of these new beasts were quite a shock to the German army.    While the British had a long way to go in fixing the problems associated with their first tank effort and they had to figure out how the new machine could most effectively be used, the Germans saw the benefits and started their own tank development program.  By April 1918, the Germans deployed their own version of the tank.  But, advancing Allied armies, German losses and the economic disaster that had become Germany were such that the new German tank could not save the day.  By November 11, 1918 an armistice was signed to end the war with terms that were very harsh to Germany.  Many say the signing of the Armistice in 1918 in a railway car in France set the stage for World War II.  Some historians argue that World War II was simply an extension of World War I.  By the time that war had come about, engineering advancements made the tank a necessary and needed tactical weapon on the field of war and tank technology has continued well into the 21st century, over 100 years after Little Willie first showed up.

SPC thinks strong storms are possible Thursday

Weather Bottom Line:  On Wednesday evening, the dewpoint in Louisville was 49 and the humidity 23%.  There is a front approaching and normally I’d say there was a chance for scattered showers on Thursday morning but I don’t see how it happens without moisture.  The morning event may serve to moisten up the column sufficiently to allow for a better chance for rain and t’storms with the actual cold front on Thursday afternoon or evening.  If we are moist enough, then we may be able to support a squall line ahead of the front and if that happens, some of the storms could be rather strong.  After that, no rain chances are in sight.  We will pull back on the dry heat temperatures that we’ve had on Friday with highs in the low to mid 80’s but as high pressure moves to the east, we go back to the 90’s for Saturday and at least the first part of next week.

A Union Victory Perhaps Greater But Less Celebrated Than Gettysburg
July 3, 2010

US Grant and his Army Celebrated Independence Day in Vicksburg While the Rest of the Nation Was Fixated on Gettysburg

Greatness of Grant Often Obscured by History

On this date in History:  General Ulysses S. Grant had to battle more than the Confederate Army in his rise through the ranks of the Union Army; a rise that would see him gain a rank not seen since George Washington and would culminate in his election as the 18th President of the United States.   His chief adversary was his superior officer, General Henry W. Halleck.  In an ironic twist, Halleck indirectly aided Grant in his rise to prominence when he rescued William T. Sherman from obscurity.  Not long after the outbreak of the Civil War, Sherman briefly had been in command of what would become the Army of the Ohio in Louisville when he was ousted following, among other things, claims that he was unstable or “crazy.”  Halleck took Sherman on his staff in St. Louis to give him time to settle down.  Sherman did and went on to be US Grant’s right hand man and most dependable officer.  But Halleck, in general, did not care for Grant.  After Grant rose to national prominence following his victories at Ft. Henry and  Ft. Donelson , Halleck relieved Grant from command for supposed insubordination.  When the officer chosen to replace him fell ill, Grant was reinstated.  Following Grant’s bloody victory at Shiloh, Halleck appeared on the scene and took charge, leaving Grant without any command at all.  Grant nearly resigned but his friend Sherman talked him out of it.  Following a slow and deliberate assault on Corinth, MS Halleck was called to Washington on July 11, 1862 to assume overall command of the Union Army.  Halleck’s rise was more fortunate for Grant than Halleck.

Henry Halleck Didn't Think Much of US Grant

With Halleck out of the way, Grant gained command of the Union Army in the West.  Grant had valuable support from several members of Congress and, more importantly, from President Abraham Lincoln.  When Lincoln was urged to fire US Grant due to charges of Grant’s drunkeness, careless and bold style or typically large casualty figures, Lincoln said of Grant, “I can’t spare this man.  He fights.”  Grant knew that with that kind of support, his career was tied to the fortune of the president.  It was imperitive to Grant that Lincoln be re-elected.  He knew that his own future was at stake but also he thought that only with Lincoln as president could the Union secure an ultimate victory.  So, this fighting general was well aware that the public was growing restless with the length of the war and the few successes of the Union Army against the Confederates.  So, he took bold action.

Admiral Porter Was Confident In His Gunboats

His target was Vicksburg, MS which stood high on bluffs over looking the Mississippi River.  The Union controlled the river to Memphis and also controlled the mouth at New Orleans.  If he could gain control of Vicksburg, the Union would gain control of the entire river and effectively divide the Confederacy in two and deny vital supplies from the Western part of the rebellious states.  Also, such a victory would help the voters gain confidence in the President.  The trouble was that Vicksburg had the river to the west, friendly territory to the South and East and to the North there was a big swampy area that was very difficult to navigate.  After failed attempts to attack from the North, Grant decided that he would take his troops, cross the Mississippi, move down the river on the Louisiana side and then recross the river south of Vicksburg.  Sherman advised against it.

Union Ironclad Carondelet Ran the Mississippi Gauntlet

The scheme would require the Union Navy to run the gauntlet of Vicksburg cannon in order to move down the river and facilitate a recrossing of the river.  Also, Grant would be cutting off his supply and communication lines and be putting his army in enemy terrritory.  To conclude his plan, he had to move North to Vicksburg and attack from the East, which would put his army between Gen. John C. Pemberton’s army at Vicksburg and Joseph E. Johnston’s Army at Jackson, MS.  Talk about high risk, high reward.  But, Grant did it anyway.  Rear Admiral David D. Porter of the Union Navy successfully moved down the river past Vicksburg and transported Grant’s men across the river.  Grant had his men take only the essential supplies, though he was able to create a  very long line of supply. He wanted his force to be able to move quickly.  Henry Halleck ordered Grant to wait for General Nathaniel P.  Banks to reinforce him from New Orleans before he moved to Vicksburg.  But, Grant knew that Banks was slow and in order for his plan to work, he had to move fast.  With his communications relegated to a circuitous route, it took a very long time for Halleck’s orders to reach Grant.  When they did, Grant told the courier that the orders were too late, that he as already moving.  So, now if Grant failed, he faced a potential court martial. 

Grant Took A Long Route to Get to Vicksburg

He took his men northeast and he had Sherman attack Jackson from the Northwest in order  to tie up Johnston.  Grant then turned East on the road between Jackson and Vicksburg and began his assault.  Pemberton had been ordered by Johnston to come out of Vicksburg and meet Grant before he could lay seige to the city.  Grant’s forces met Pemberton’s at Champions Hill on May 16, 1863.  The victory of the Union Army over the Confederates at the Battle of  Champions Hill is considered by many historians as the most important battle of the war.  Pemberton was forced back into Vicksburg and Grant was able to surround the city as Sherman continued to prevent Johnston from attacking Grant from the rear.   For the rest of May and into part of June, Grant attempted to break through the formidable defenses around Vicksburg but failed.  So, he lay seige to the city.  We have a glimpse of what it was like to be in the Union Army  leading up to and the actual siege to Vicksburg  from the diary entries of Union soldier Osborn H. Oldroyd.  We also know what it was like ot be inside Vicksburg.   Without supply or relief of any kind, it is said that the siege of Vicksburg resulted in the citizenry tunnelling into the ground for shelter, not only living like rats but in some cases actually eating rats.  In the early July heat of Mississippi, Pemberton knew that he would not receive any help and that his last stand was over.

Grant Was Never Able to Break Vicksburg's Formidable Defenses

Keep in mind, that at this time, the public’s attention was focused on the battle raging on at Gettysburg.  Robert E. Lee had managed to move north of Washington DC and there was great fear that his seemingly invincible army might be in a position to sack the nation’s capital.  So, while all eyes were on Gettysburg, PA at 10 AM on this date in 1863 John C. Pemberton raised white flags around the city of Vicksburg and sent a message to Major General Ulysses S. Grant asking for terms of surrender.    He proposed that, in order to “save the further effusion of blood”  a committee of three commissioners of each side should meet and negotiate terms.   Characteristically, Grant replied, ” The useless effusion of blood you propose stopping by this course can be ended at any time you may choose, by the unconditional surrender of the city and garrison.”    Grant concluded his response with, “”I do not favor the proposition of appointing commissioners to arrange terms of capitulation, because I have no terms other than those indicated above.” 

Vicksburg Lay In Ruins After the Siege and Provided 172 Artillery Pieces For the Union

On Independence Day of 1863, the nation celebrated the bloody three day victory of General George Meade over the Confederate Forces of Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  No doubt the victory at Gettysburg was a key turn of events for the Union but George Meade’s failure to follow Lee after the victory was criticized.  On that very same day, John C. Pemberton surrendered his forces to those of Ulysses S. Grant.  The terms: unconditional.  However, given that Grant was not able to handle so many prisoners, he did allow for a parole of all soldiers and the officers could keep their horse, private belongings and private sidearms.  This was a fairly common practice and it was supposed that the paroled soldiers would not return to fight another day, though some undoubtedly did so.  Many others though had an honorable excuse to avoid fighting any further in the bloody conflict. Grant had suffered 9, 362 casualties, or more than he lost at Shiloh.  Pemberton’s casualties totaled around 8,000 but he surrendered 29, 491 men and their 172 cannon and howitzers.  The war continued for two more years but, the clock was ticking on the Confederacy.  Not so much because of Robert E. Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg, but because of the strategic victory of Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg.  On July 4, 1863, the Union Army and US Grant celebrated Independence Day.   The people of Vicksburg did not celebrate the fourth of July for 100 years.

Weather Bottom Line:  The heat and humidity have returned right on schedule and I have no idea when we will get another break.  Look for highs in the low to mid 90’s and overnight lows in the mid to maybe upper 70’s.  Humidity is back to the uncomfortable range and I see no rain in the offing for the forseeable future.

U.S. Grant-It’s all in the name
May 30, 2010

Greatness of Grant is Obscured by History

Grant Loved Horses, Especially Cincinnati

On this Date in History:  One thing that I have learned in researching history is that, in order to really understand a subject, one must look at the complete historiography.  So often, you find people referring to one author as the authority on a particular subject when, the truth is, two or three people can have different perspectives.  Beyond points of view, authors can also have biases such that they will enhance data that fits their worldview and suppress any documentation that may bring an eye of skepticism.   For instance, there is no doubt about the fact that the 18th President of the United States and Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant was born as Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822 near Point Pleasant, Ohio.  So, the quesiton arises as to how Hiram Ulysses Grant became Ulysses S. Grant?

Lt. Grant at age 21

One pretty reliable source that I use quite often claims that on May 29, 1839 that Hiram Ulysses Grant enrolled at West Point as Ulysses S. Grant because he wanted to avoid the intials H.U.G.   However, in the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant,  Grant says that he “reported at West Point on the 30th or 31st of May.”   Obviously, something is amiss.  Grant biographor William S. McFeely indicates that Grant had checked in to the Roe Hotel in West Point prior to actually reporting.  Grant had always been known by his middle name, Ulysses, and he signed in as U.H. Grant, flipping his first and middle initial on the hotel register.  He used the name Ulysses H. Grant and probably would have continued to do so had it not been for the sloppiness of a Congressman.

Hamer's sloppiness gave us US Grant instead of UH Grant

You see, it was Grant’s father’s idea for him to go to West Point.  Jesse Grant had thought that the military academy would provide a secure future for his son and , after all, it was free.  The richest  boy in their hometown, Bartlett Bailey, had been dismissed and that provided an opportunity for Jesse Grant to gain his son’s admission.  He initially went to Senator Thomas Morris for an appointment but he was denied.  So, he then turned to Congressman Thomas Hamer, which was difficult for Jesse since Hamer was from the oppposing political party.   Now, Hamer had known the boy as Ulysses and when he made the appointment falsely assumed that was his first name.  Hamer needed to provide a middle initial and most likely recalled that Grant’s mother’s maiden name was Simpson.  On this date in 1839, when the young lad walked from the hotel to register at the academy, he found on the roster two Grants: Elihu Grant from New York and U. S. Grant from Ohio.  From that point forth, he was forever known as U. S. Grant. 

Hand Written Copy By Grant of his "Unconditional Surrender" Notice to Buckner

Grant had success in the military in the Mexican War but, after he left the army, he was somewhat adrift.  When the war began, he was  working as a clerk in the family store in Galena, IL.  He gained a position as a colonel in the Illinois volunteers but quickly rose through the ranks.  He gained the moniker Unconditional Surrender Grant due to his lack of desire to negotiate with the enemy for terms of surrender.  At Fort Donelson, Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner was left to surrender the fort to Grant after the two officers in charge of the garrison had fled.  Buckner had known Grant from the Mexican War and had even lent him money when Grant was in one of his numerous financial potholes.   It had been assumed that Buckner could use his friendship with Grant to secure favorable terms.  But, when Buckner offered an armistice on February 16, 1862 for the purpose of convening a commission to discuss terms of capitualtion, Grant responded, “No terms except and unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.  I propose to move immediately upon your works.”    Buckner was forced “to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you (Grant) propose.” 

Pemberton's Capitulation to Unconditional Surrender Grant

On July 3, 1863 Grant received a message from Confederate General John C. Pemberton who commanded the garrison at Vicksburg, MS which had been under seige by Grant since mid-May.  Grant had made one of the most daring and brilliant moves in US military history when, instead of attempting to attack Vicksburg from the north, he crossed the Mississippi River, moved south through Lousiana and then recrossed the Mississippi, putting his army south of Vicksburg.  This totally went against all the rules of warfare put forth by Jomini, whose tactics were taught at West Point.  Grant had cut off his own supply and communications lines and put his army in a position that put two enemy armies between him and his base and also put the Mississippi River at his back.  Grant himself said in Memoirs that he was a poor student and it is probable that he never read the theories of de Jomini, which is why he stood out above all other Union generals.  Anyway, Pemberton offered an armistice for the purpose of a commission just like Buckner did and Grant responded similarly: ” “The useless effusion of blood you propose stopping by this course can be ended at any time you may choose, by the unconditional surrender of the city and garrison.”  Pemberton accepted and Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863.  It was militarily probably the most significant victory of the Civl War but it fell on the same day as the conclusion of Gettysburg, so  publically its been lost to much historical commentary.

US Grant Rise to Lt. General Followed Initial Confederate Invasion into Kentucky

Unfortunately, the presentation of Ulysses S. Grant has been rather lousy in American history classes.  We are told that he was a drunk, that he was the “butcher” as a general due to the large losses his armies sustained and that his presidency was one of the most corrupt in history.  Most of the time, the Grant administration is listed near the bottom of all presidential lists.  However,  US Grant rose to the level of Lt. General of the United States Army.  No one since Washington had such power.  He was re-elected for a second term and, in 1880, very nearly gained the nomination for a 3rd term as President.  He was wildly popular in the US and around the world as he took a two year journey around the world from 1878 to 1880 in which he literally was the guest of the crowned heads of Europe and other parts of the world.  His speeches were always short, but in total he spoke to millions of people around the world who came to see him. 

Grant's Way of War Lives in 21st Century; Lee's Left in Ash Heap of History

It was President US Grant who destroyed the Ku Klux Klan when he sent troops into the South and the organization did not rise again until the early 20th century.  He remains on the 50 dollar bill today, though some want to replace Grant with Reagan.  In Memoirs, Grant does not mention drinking once.  Biographers such as McFeely mention some drunken escapades.  But, given that he could not stand the site of blood and he presided over the deaths of so many men whom he saw die, it’s probably more surprising that he survived at all.  He was seen by his men as cool under fire and decisive.  U.S. Grant was not perfect, but he was far from the worst.  In fact, a good argument can be made that the American Way of War in the late 20th and early 21st centuries was invented by US Grant.  His tactics were used by Rommel and Montgomery as well as Norman Schwartzkoph in the Gulf War and the “Shock and Awe” tactics of the US in its invasion of Iraq.  The main difference was that Grant used cannon fire while the Americans in Iraq used bombers and missiles.   One can also argue that the command and control structure of the modern US military was invented by Abraham Lincoln and US Grant.

US Grant Lives on $50 Bill

Grant’s father more or less made him go to West Point.  His appointment came about due to the dismissal of someone else.  He rose to prominence in spite of his failings in civilian life and in spite of the fact that he was constantly opposed by his superior officer, Henry W. Halleck.  And is truly fitting name, US Grant came about due to a Congressman not doing his homework.  It was almost as if it were destiny.  Although historians continue to try to bury him the way Halleck tried to bury him, US Grant lives today on the $50 bill and lives on in the tactics of the United States military.  A great man who continues to fight to this day. As a side note….The Personal Memoirs of US Grant are considered the greatest presidential memoir of all and is still in print today.  The original publisher was none other than Mark Twain.

Weather Bottom Line:  Same song.  Look for more numerous thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon. Not everyone will get wet but if you find yourself under a storm, it could drop a pretty fair amount of rain.  Monday afternoon will feature probably more numerous thunderstorms than on Sunday…lets say excessively scattered.  Same story though…could have some heavy down pours in spots though a few people may get no rain at all, but might hear some thunder or feel the cool breezes from nearby storms.  Go to Cave Hill Cemetery for the Memorial Day services at 11AM. Should be dry.  If you see towering cumulous clouds by noon time, then its a fair bet that it will be active in the afternoon.

Woodrow Wilson: Did He Know The Lusitania Carried Munitions?
May 7, 2010

RMS Lusitania

Lusitania Sank Awfully Fast
Lusitania Sank Awfully Fast

On This Date in History: On June 28, 1914 Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip. The Habsburg Austria-Hungarian government set it’s eyes on Serbia. Now, in his farewell address President George Washington warned the United States against getting involved in entangling treaties with foreign governments when he left office. World War I is a great example of his wisdom because European nations had mutual defense agreements among one another. An attack on Serbia meant an attack on Russia. Germany had previously announced support for Austria. England had vowed support for Russia, the French for the Russians and so forth. Basically, Europe chose up sides in a Baltic conflict which is why there was such a rush during the Clinton Administration to stem the conflict in that region in the 1990’s before it expanded.

Europe Gets It On in 1914

Toward the end of 1914, hostilities opened up with Germany invading Belgium, Luxemborg and France while Austria-Hungary was invading Serbia and Russia attacked Prussia. In the meantime, perhaps keeping to the wisdom of General Washington, the United States decided to sit this one out. While all parties in Europe thought it would be a short war, Americans thought it was “over there” and not their business. America though had experienced strengthening ties with the mother country, England. While America declared neutrality, most Americans privately sided with England and some press reports about supposed attrocities by the Germans did not help change public opinion. Nevertheless, President Woodrow Wilson took a strong, public and vocal stance regarding the neutrality of the United States and expected all parties to recognize the US as such.

Coded and Deciphered Version of Zimmerman Telegram

The Germans, however, were skeptical of the United States. Not only did they think that the true sympathy of the Americans was on the side of the Allies, but they suspected that Uncle Sam was providing materials to support the Allied war effort. Though it was slightly smaller than the RMS Titanic had been, the RMS Lusitania was still one of the largest ocean liners in the world at the time. Between 1907 and 1915, the Lusitania made 202 transatlantic crossings. On this date in 1915, the German submarine U-20 sank the RMS Lusitania . All British shipping was ordered to travel at full speed and in a zig zag pattern as a precaution against German U-Boat activity. Germany had already declared unrestricted submarine warfare against all shipping in the Atlantic providing munitions or aid toward the allied effort in the war. Theorthetically, the Lustitania should have been exempt from submarine attack as it was a luxury passenger liner and it was filled with civilians.

Why Was a Royal Navy Officer Like Captain Turner at the helm of the civlian RMS Lusitania?

On May 7, 1915 the Lusitiania ran into some thick fog so Captain William Thomas Turner slowed the ship and stopped zig zagging. It was an easy shot for the U-Boat. Some 1200 went down with the ship including 128 Americans. The attack resulted in a letter of protest from President Woodrow Wilson. The Germans claimed the ship was carrying munitions. The US denied the charge and the American public grew quite angry as passions against the Germans grew. The sneak attack on perhaps the most luxurious passenger liner at the time created the image of the ruthlessness of the Germans. Nevertheless, the United States did not enter the war following the sinking. Nearly two years later, America learned of the Zimmerman Telegram (the British coincidentally provided it to the Americans) in which the Germans proposed that Mexcio attack the US should the Americans enter the war. The sinking of the Lusitania primed the pump but the Zimmerman Telegram was the ultimate catalyst that led to the US entry into the Great War.

Here’s the rub. The Germans were right. The Lusitania was carrying munitions.

Captain Walther Schwieger: Justified in Sinking Lusitania?

When the U-20 slammed it’s torpedo into the starboard side of the RMS Lusitania, almost immediately a secondary explosion rocked the ship. The torpedo explosion probably wouldn’t have sunk the ship but the second explosion caused a huge gash in the hull and the great liner sank in just 18 minutes. The story that was told to the American public was that the Germans fired at least two torpedoes. That was false. What the people did not know was that the passenger liner was indeed carrying a deadly cargo  as a manifest shows tons of munitions and supplies for the war effort. As it turns out, the British had regularly used passenger ships as supply transports, disguised warships as merchant ships, armed merchant ships and utilized Q-ships which were disguised military ships that flew a neutral country’s flag as cover. The Lusitania, along with its sister ship Mauritania, had intially been taken out of service as part of the war effort before it returned to regular service. And, both the Lusitania and Mauritania were listed in the British Naval Packet Book and Jane’s Fighting Ships as armed merchantmen. No wonder U-20 Captain Walther Schwieger went ahead and attacked. Schwieger later told of the attack:

A U-20 Class German U-Boat

“When the steamer was two miles away it changed its course. I had no hope
now, even if we hurried at our best speed, of getting near enough to attack her…. I saw the steamer change her course again. She was coming directly at us. She could not have steered a more perfect course if she had deliberately tried to give us a dead shot….I had already shot away my best torpedoes and had left only two bronze ones…not so good. The steamer was four hundred yards away when I gave an order to fire. The torpedo hit, and there was a rather small detonation and, then after, instantly a much heavier one. The pilot was beside me. I told him to have a look at close range. He put his eye to the periscope and after a brief scrutiny yelled: ‘My God, it’s the Lusitania.'”

Lusitania Sinking Did Not Lead Directly to US Entrance in World War I

The Lusitania’s Captain Turner was an officer of the Royal Navy, not the Cunard Line. On April 24, 1915 the German government had taken out ads in some 40 US newspapers announcing that a state of war existed between Germany and Great Britain and that passengers would travel by steamship at their own risk. After the sinking of the Lusitania, Wilson urged the American public to remain neutral and he sent the protest letter to Kaiser Wilhelm stating that Germany would be held to “strict accountability” if the attacks conitnued. If the president really thought that it was a naked attack on civlians, might he not do something more than write a letter? Earlier, Wilson had offered to arbitrate an end to the war and both sides refused. But, German Ambassador asked President Wilson on September 2, 1916 if he would help negotiate an end to the war in return for a German withdrawl from Belgium. The great peacemaker Wilson refused! He wanted to wait until after the upcoming presidential election. He apparently was afraid that if he helped negotiate a peace that it might hurt his re-election chances. He knew that he had a small chance of ending the war and he passed it up in favor of political concerns. It went on for two more years. What else did he know and ignore for political reasons?

Wilson Lied?

Wilson claimed that the RMS Lusitania was strictly a civilian ship and carried no munitions. We know that is not true. I have yet to read anything in historical annals that say that President Wilson lied. I suppose he had plausible deniability and historians have given him a pass. In January 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare. In February 1917, the British made the Zimmerman Telegram available to the Americans. In subsequent weeks, the Germans sank a few more ships. So, on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany, which it did two days later. The question as to whether Wilson knew that the Lusitania was hiding munitions among its passengers will never be known. But we do know that nearly 20 million people perished in The Great War.

SPC Severe Risk Fri AM to Sat AM

SPC Friday Tornado Probability

Weather Bottom Line:  Friday is here.  We have our cold front approaching.  There is a severe threat but it really does look like Ohio will be the target as that is the region with the parent low.  I just don’t think that the atmosphere had enough time to recover from the weak front that came through and brought such pleasant conditions on Thursday and a cool Friday start.  Southwesterly winds will be helping to move temperatures well into the 80’s and moisture will be increasing.  We have a bit of a cap on the atmosphere so afternoon heating will have to work on that and it should put a lid on any afternoon stuff.  I suspect that the front will create storms, there may be some gusty winds and a little rain but otherwise, I’m not totally convinced that there will be more than that.  Regardless of what my gut is telling me, the SPC does have our region in a slight risk for severe storms for late Friday night.

SPC Severe Wind Probability Friday

As I had mentioned yesterday, the dynamics look great for the late afternoon but by the time we actually get rainfall according to the models, the dynamics back off.  However, between the afternoon heating and the dynamics that are remaining, t’storms will probably be in the area.  Keep in mind though that both the GFS and NAM are not very enthusiastic about rainfall, which seems odd.  The NAM only advertises less than 1/10th of an inch of rain while the GFS is only .028 inches.  What this tells me is that rainfall amounts will vary with regions that get an errant thunderstorm getting more and places in between getting decidedly less. The Hydrometeorlogical Prediction Center has jumped on board with this scenario as well as they are looking at perhaps a tenth of an inch of rain for the region with the heaviest amounts of up to 1.5″ around the Great Lakes.  That previous little front really knocked out the moisture and, as I said, it should serve to limit our rain potential.  That is fine with most people because we had our fair share of rain last weekend.  On a side note, I had a guy tell me some time ago that the Old Farmer’s Almanac worked on an assumption of a 7 day cycle.  So, if they initiated the weather correctly at the beginning of the year then it was astonishingly accurate.  I used to teach class on Thursday evenings and I noticed that 6 out of 7 Thursdays we had thunderstorms.  This is the 3rd consecutive weekend that we’ve had a cold front come through and bring t’storms.  It’s kinda interesting.

SPC Severe Hail Probability Friday

Anyway, the nitty gritty of the indicies reveals that the 6Z NAM had a CAPE of 1937, CINS of 5, Helicity 191, Bulk Richardson Number 32.34, Lifted Index of -5.5, the Total Totals at 54, K-Index of 29, Showalter index of -5 and SWEAT Index of 493.  Normally, I’d say that those numbers indicate a round of strong thunderstorms with the possibility of hail, high winds and even a tornado or two.  All of those numbers are high except the K index, which I think is telling and the Total Totals.  But, when it begins to rain at 8PM, the CAPE falls to 1436, the CINS stays up there at 6, the Helicity falls significantly to 66, BRN is still rather high at 26.73, TT falls to 48, the K-Index actually rises but is still not all that impressive at 34,  SHOW falls to -1 and the SWEAT goes to 353.  Suddenly, when it starts to rain its not so great.  The GFS is similar with the CAPE going from 1012 to 868, CINS is off the scale but falls to 22 which is still pretty good, BRN goes from 22.31 to 17.29, LI holds relatively steady from -2.7 to -2.2, K Index is a pedestrian 21 and goes down to a weak 17, SHOW is -2 to -1 and the SWEAT index is 414 to 351.   The GFS numbers are from 4PM to 7 PM with rain starting sometime between 7 and 10 pm, but it ain’t much.  The SWEAT numbers tell me that that there will be some wind energy available but it would appear that by the time anything gets here, the energy is rapidly depleting as the evening wears on.  The front is strong and should supply some lift for storms, but otherwise, it’s worth a look but not worth putting your house on the market.

Abraham Lincolns Final Day; “Now He Belongs To the Ages.”
April 14, 2010

145 Years Ago Today, the Course of the Nation Was Changed

Ward Hill Lamon Heard Lincoln Tell of his dream shortly before the President's Assassination

On This Date in History:  Historian Stephen B. Oates wrote in With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln that one night in the second week of April 1865,  President Lincoln spoke with his wife Mary and long time friend Ward Hill Lamon that he had ghostly dreams.  Lincoln told Mary Todd and Lamon that his most recent dream resulted in his waking and going to his bible where his search led him consistently to passages regarding dreams, supernatural visitations and visions.  When Mary asked what that particular dream was about, Oates describes Lincoln with a sad and serious voice responding:

Lincoln Dreamed of His Own Death in the White House

Lincoln's Dream Came True

“There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me.  Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping.  I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs.  There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but he mourners were invisible.  I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along.  It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?  I was puzzled and alarmed.  What could be the meaning of all this?  Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered.  There I met with a sickening surprise.  Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestiments.  Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully.  ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers.  ‘The President.’ was his answer; ‘he was killed by an assassin!’  Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd.”

Lincoln Was Chipper On April 14th After What He Thought Was a Good Dream

Mary Todd said the story was “horrid” and wished she had never asked to hear about the dream.  Lamon said that, as Lincoln spoke, he was pale, “grave and gloomy.”  But, when the President awoke on the morning of April 14, 1865 he had slept quite well.  He had no concerns regarding reconstruction and no bad dreams.  Instead, he had a dream that he had frequently had on the eve of good news.  He had the same dream prior to Union victories at Antietan, Gettysburg and Vicksburg.  So, when he awoke from the dream in which he was on a ship moving quickly toward a distant shore, he surmised that the day must be filled with good news.  After all, it was Good Friday.  However, I wonder if he recalled that “Good Friday” gained the moniker because it was the date that commemorates the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

Lincoln Funeral Train in Philadelphia

That Good Friday in Washington D. C. the weather began under sunny and pleasant conditions.  The President and First Lady planned on taking care of some executive business and then attending a performance of Our American Cousin, a comedy that was scheduled for the stage at Ford’s Theatre.  During a cabinet meeting at 11AM, Lincoln asked, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant if he and his wife Julia would like to accompany the Lincolns to the theatre.  Grant replied to this verbal invitation in the affirmative if they were in town but, if he was able to attend to his duties, that they were hoping to catch a train that night to visit their children who were then in Burlington, New Jersey.  Grant was able to finish his work before the evening train left Washington on the 14th and so he sent word to the President that he and his wife would not be able to attend. Mrs. Lincoln was quite fond of Miss Clara Harris and so, after several people besides the Grants had declined the invitation, Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancee, Miss Harris, accepted the invitation.  It’s not clear whether or not assassin John Wilkes Booth knew that Grant was not in the box with Lincoln but, when he shot the President in the head, he also stabbed Major Rathbone in the head and neck.  The young major apparently had a bright political future but his life resulted in a tragic scenario.  Rathbone went on to marry Harris and they had 3 children.  But, his mental health had deteriorated with speculation being he never overcame the trauma of the assassination.  Rathbone murdered his wife in 1883 and tried to kill himself but doctors saved his life.  He lived out the rest of his life in an insane asylum.  

Lincoln Funeral Train Route To Springfield, IL

The final letter known to have been written by Abraham Lincoln was a reply to James H. Van Allen, who had written Lincoln to guard against assassination.  The president assured Van Allen, “I intend to adopt the advice of my friends and use due precaution…I thaink you for the assurance you give me that I shall be supported by conservative men like yourself, in the efforts I may make to restore the Union, so as to make it, to use your language, a Union of hearts and hands as well as states.  Yours truly, A. Lincoln.”    Just prior to his leaving the White House for Ford’s Theatre, Lincoln concluded a meeting he had with George Ashmun, who had come seeking a political appointment.  The final words written by Abraham Lincoln was on a pass of admission for Mr. Ashmun that read, “Allow Mr. Asmum and friend to come in at 9 AM to-morrow.  A. Lincoln.”  By 9AM April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was dead.

Derringer Used By Booth Confirmed As Such in 20th Century by FBI

The President of the United States sat with his wife, Major Rathbone and Clara Harris in a special box at Ford’s Theatre watching the popular comedy Our American Cousin. The presidential party had but one body guard.  John Frederick Parker was assigned to guard the door.  He was there when the president arrived around 9PM but he disappeared following the intermission.  It is thought that he joined some other men in the saloon and then found a seat to see the play.  Incredibly, Lincoln’s missing body guard remained on the security staff after the events at Ford’s Theatre.  On this date in 1865, John Wilkes Booth , at about 10:15 PM, fired a single shot .41 caliber derringer into the back of the head President Abraham Lincoln.  Booth escaped by leaping to the stage but caught a spur in the bunting and he broke his leg when he hit the stage.  It is said that he shouted out, “Sic Semprer Tyrannus” which means “death to tyrants” in Latin.  The President was taken across the street to 453 Tenth Street at the home of William Petersen.  They placed him in the bed of a room rented by boarder William Clark.  Throughout the night, family and friends gathered around the President as he breathed laboriously but never regained consciousness.  At 7:22 AM, Abraham Lincoln breathed his last and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

Abraham Lincoln Shot 10:15 PM April 14, 1865; Died 7:22 AM April 15, 1865-He Belongs To the Ages

Ulysses S. Grant learned of the assassination in Philadelphia.  At the time, he was told that Secretary of State William H. Seward had also been murdered and it was likely Vice-President Andrew Johnson was also dead.  Naturally, with the potential decaptitation of the government, the commander of the Union Army was asked to return to Washington immediately.  Grant wrote in The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant that it was impossible for him to describe his feelings.  He said of Lincoln, “I knew his goodness of heart, his generosity, his yielding disposition, his desire to have everybody happy, and above all his desire to see all the people of the United States enter again upon the full priviliges of citizenship with equality among all.”    Since he was near his final destination, he accompanied his wife to Burlington and then immediately took a special train back to the nation’s capital.  He said upon his return he noticed the stark contrast of the crowds in Washington that had been so joyous when he left had “turned to grief.”  Grant speculated that the South would have been saved much hardship had Lincoln lived and that  “Mr. Lincoln’s assassination was particularly unfortunate for the entire nation.”

Booth Wanted Poster

Historian William J. Cooper, Jr says in Jefferson Davis, American that Confederate President Jefferson Davis, like Grant,  felt great regret upon hearing of the death of President Lincoln.  Davis felt that the South would have been dealt with much more leniently and expected no special considerations for himself or his Confederate colleagues from the new Democrat President Andrew Johnson.  Davis was right as the Johnson administration accused Davis as complicity in planning Lincoln’s assassination.  He issued a proclamation calling for the arrest of Davis and a reward of $100,000 in gold.  Later, during the trial of Booth’s co-conspirators, it was determined that no evidence existed to suggest any involvement by Davis or other high ranking Confederate officials.  The conclusion reached was the death of Abraham Lincoln was planned and executed by a small group of people led by John Wilkes Booth.  Booth had been a famous actor, well known across the nation. He  thought that he would be thought of as a hero.  Instead, his actions have placed him at the top of the list of American villains with whom no one wishes to acknoeledge any family ties or association.

Weather Bottom Line:  Weather still looks on line.  Warm and nice through the rest of the week. High pressure moves off to the east and a little cold front comes through late Friday bringing perhaps some showers or even a t’storm.  Thunder Over Louisville Weekend looks good still with highs on Saturday in the mid to upper 60’s.

Margaret Thatcher Shows Her Mettle
April 2, 2010

May 14 1979 Time Magazine Proved To Be a Prophecy

May 14 1979 Time Magazine Proved To Be a Prophecy

Falkland Islands Map

Falkland Islands Map

On This Date in History: It is not unusual for a government in turmoil with a risk of collapse from within to create an international incident in order to unify the country against a common foe besides the government. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Argentina had been ruled by a military dictarship that had once been popular but was rapidly losing support from the people as they grew weary of the number of political prisoners that had been taken as well as people who had simply disappeared. The economy was shrinking at 6% per year and inflation was running at 160%. The unions began to join forces with political opposition groups and the military Junta knew it was in trouble. Then, the thought a gift had been delivered to them.

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

Off of Argentina lay the Falkland and the South Georgia Islands. These islands had long been part of the British empire. Throughout the 20th century, the general global feeling was that empires needed to come to an end but, inspite of numerous attempts through the United Nations, Argentina was unable to get Britain to cede the islands that resided so far away from England. In 1979, an Argentian buisinessman (Constantino Davidoff) purchased a former whale slaughterhouse on the South Georgia Islands from an Englishman(Christian Salvensen). The new owner wanted to dismantle the plant and sell the mettle for scrap. The HMS Endurance was in the vicinity and the Argentine owner asked the Brits to loan him the use of their naval vessel to help him haul off the scrap. The crown denied his request. So, he went to his own Navy which obliged. This was the perfect set up for the Junta. It knew that the people of Argentina supported the idea of the nation gaining sovereignty over the islands off its coast and, if the Junta could use the situtation properly, it could perhaps regain public support.

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missles

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missles

So, in March 1982 when the Argentine Navy ship showed up at the South Georgia Islands, residents there complained to London that there was a warship with the Argentine flag floating in their waters. So, the British sent the HMS Endurance to the scene to prevent any landing by any Argentinians. Argentina responded by sending the military transport Bahia Parasio to the islands with the hope of occupying the islands peacefully. Now, the Junta had a plan for invading the Falkland and South Georgia Islands on the shelf for a couple of years. The nation had a pretty decent military and the battlefield would be 7500 miles from England. Also, they figured that they could use the weather as an ally by staging their invasion between June and October, which is the winter time in the Southern Hemisphere which would make things more difficult for England. The advantage really was with Argentina.

War Was The Big Headline in London

War Was The Big Headline in London

But…the people at home were getting restless and protests were growing quickly against the military leaders. So, they made the mistake of moving up their time table. On this date in 1982, Argentine ground forces of landed on the South Georgia Islands. The Falkland Islands War was on and the Argentine government appealed to President Reagan for support. The Rio Treaty of 1947 called on all nations of the Americas to come to the aid of any nation that was invaded by foreign forces. The Junta told Reagan that they were enforcing the rights of Argentine workers to legally do the job of removing the whaling slaughterhouse. I guess Ron didn’t agree because he didn’t lift a finger. After all, England was not your ordinary foreign invader. It had been our pal throughout the 20th Century and Reagan had established a strong bond with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who earned her reputation as the “Iron Lady” by calling the Argentine bluff.

Sinking HMS Conventry and other ships highlighted limitations and vulnerability of naval assets

Instead of quietly negotiating away the islands, she sent a task force of ships, submarines, sailors and over 10,000 troops all the way from England. The task force left on Aprl 5, 1982…just 3 days after the Argentine invasion. The first encounter of the Brits and Argentines happened on April 25 and by the middle of June, the war was over with an Argentinian surrender…just before the winter got going. Many historians agree, the biggest mistake of the Argentine Junta was to attack in the fall instead of sticking to their plan of a winter assault. In the eyes of many, the Argentinians had a good case for obtaining the islands but, the military might and determination of Margaret Thatcher rendered any legitimate points moot. A little more than a year later, the Argentinian Junta was out of office and any hope of ever getting to the negotiating table with Britain over ceding the islands was doomed. They never should have neglected the weather forecast.

SPC mentions T'Storm Potential Saturday

SPC Very small probability of strong storms Saturday

Weather Bottom Line:  In the short term, it’s pretty clear cut with a very nice Good Friday with a high pushing toward the mid 80’s.  I told you  a  few days ago that there would be some potential activity in the midwest and the target area today stretches from north Texas to the central plains.  I think Saturday will be good for most of the time but rain chances will increase as the afternoon goes on.  By late afternoon into the evening, a front comes down but the main storm center will be well to our North.   The storms moving in from out west should be fading when they get here but, I would have an eyebrow raised if some wander in here in the late day, before the sun goes down.  The most interesting aspect of this is the steep lapse rates.  Some of these storms may be elevated and if the lapse rates shake out as suggested,then we could have some hail or gusty winds.  The SPC puts a 5% chance for severe weather just to our west and northwest which would indicate the probable area of storms by late afternoon.   Not a big deal, but its something.  Then the front clears things out for Easter Sunday and we knock about 10-15 degrees off the afternoon highs.  Monday, the front comes back as a warm front another front approaches. Rain chances will probably elevate.  After that, it seems to me that we get pretty warm on Tuesday before another front comes in and causes some issues on Wednesday.

Battle of Glorieta Pass the Gettysburg of the West?
March 28, 2010

Is This Any Place to Have A Civil War Battle?

CSS Shenandoah Fired Last Shot of Civil War Two Months After It Was Over

On This Date in History:  When we speak of the US Civil War, one thinks of great battles in the eastern and southern parts of the country.  There were however battles on the high seas and in areas far from the main battle fields.  The last battle fought on land was the Battle of Palmetto Ranch in South Texas of all places and it came after the war was over in May 1865.  Communications were rather slow and so no one got the message that the south had lost so those who died near the Rio Grande River really did die in vain.  That would suck to fight a battle in a war that was over.  But, it wasn’t the first time.  The Battle of New Orleans was fought after the War of 1812 was complete.   While Palmetto Ranch was the last land battle fought, the last shot fired in the Civil War two months after hostilities had ended on June 22, 1865 when the CSS Shenandoah’s guns finally went silent in a battle in the Bering Strait.

From These Heights It's Easy to Control This Mountain Pass

The State of Texas was marked the farthest western edge of the United States except for California and Oregon.  The region in much of the west were US territories that had not been organized into states.  While the war was largely fought over the expansion of slavery in the new territories, very  little action took place in the West…except for New Mexico.  The Confederates had many grand plans at the outset of the war and one included capturing gold and silver mines in the West.  Success would give the slavocracy some hard currency that might lend legitimacy in international circles as well as permit it to actually pay for war supplies instead of operating on credit.  The first thing that the Confederacy did in 1862 was claim that the southern half of the Arizona Territory and the New Mexico Territory was the Confederate Arizona Territory. 

Out West, Without Your Own Supplies You're Doomed

The supposed capital was Mesilla which is outside of the booming New Mexico metropolis of Las Cruces.    Seems to me that I’ve eaten lunch several times in Las Cruces.  When traveling out west even today, places with adequate supplies are hard to find.  Well, that was true back in the mid 19th century and the Confederates in general were not nearly as well supplied as their Union adversaries.  Back East, Confederate Armies regularly foraged the land and took supplies from the citizenry for support.  Out west, there wasn’t really anything to forage and the Union Army forts were relatively well supplied.  So, Brig. General Henry Hopkins Sibley took his forces from the south and moved North where he ran into Union Colonel Edward Canby’s army.  Canby was defeated and went in retreat to his base at Fort Craig.  Fort Craig was near present day Truth or Consequences and that is well south of Santa Fe.  Instead of doing what he was supposed to do and capture Fort Craig, Sibley bypassed it and moved North to take Santa Fe. If you look closely, you can see that the route taken by the Confederate forces from Mesilla to Fort Craig and then to Santa Fe follows the exact route of the current I-25.  Now,  it’s generally not a good idea to leave a substanative enemy force in your rear and Sibley found out why.  See…from Fort Craig, Canby was able to disrupt the supply and wagon trains to Sibley’s army.

Sibley Looked Good But Should Have Checked His Rear

Sibley sent about 300 Texans to Glorieta Pass with the idea that control of the pass would mean that the Sibley could take a large force through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to attack Fort Union in the northwestern quadrant of modern day New Mexico.  On March 26 there was some initial skirmishing and the timing was good for the Confederates because the 400 Union soldiers at Glorieta Pass had just  gotten there a few hours earlier at the conclusion of a forced march from Denver.  The next day, not much happened except that each side gained reinforcements with the Union Army numbers rising to about 1300 and the Confederates fielding about 1100.  These numbers are way way less those associated with most Civil War Battles. 

Does This Painting Look Anything Like The Battle of Gettysburg?

Nevertheless, the battle took place on this date in 1862.  All told, between fighting in the pass and also in Apache Canyon, casualties were pretty even with the Union suffering 51 deaths and 50 Confederates died.  Casualties for the North numbered 78 to 80  wounded for the South.  As previously mentioned, an army can only go as far as the supplies can last and out west you almost always had to bring your own.  New Mexico volunteer leader for the North, Lt. Colonel Manuel Chaves reported that scouts had  found the Confederate wagon train.  So, Union officer in command Major John M. Chivington who  for some reason decided to observe the activity for an hour or so before ordering an attack.  On the battlefield, the Confederates had pushed the Union out of the pass and controlled the field.  But, because they had lost some 500 mules and horses as well as all of their supplies.  Seems that they forgot to leave enough men in the rear with the gear for defense.  So, even though they won the day, the Confederates lost because they had to retreat back to Santa Fe.  Eventually, CSA had to retreat all the way back to San Antonio, Texas.  Somehow, some historians apparently call the Battle of Glorieta Pass the “Gettysburg of the West” but I think that’s a bit over the top.  But, it is an interesting battle and outcome.

Weather Bottom Line:  I had to watch part of the UK game in the dark.  Snow White turned out the lights for Earth Hour.  The kitties and I were not amused.  Sunday will feature clouds and rain and perhaps some rumbles of thunder.  Anything worthwhile should stay to our South.  There really wasn’t much action on Saturday except for a few hail reports associated with cold air connected with the upper low.  Otherwise, nothing too earth shattering.  Now, this week will be interesting.  Skies clearing on Monday high mid 50’s.  Then low 60’s then low 70’s on Wednesday and I suspect that we will be pushing 80 on Thursday and in the low 80’s for Friday and Saturday.  A big fat high gets set up along the Gulf Coast.  We will get a nice southerly and then southwesterly flow.  By the end of the week I betcha we have a severe weather outbreak in the plains states.   Could be interesting around here on Sunday…long way out…but we’ll have to see.

Harry Towne: Great American Hero, Ordinary Citizen
March 19, 2010

Iwo Jima Memorial Represents the Extraordinary Effort, Courage and Sacrifice of Ordinary Americans Serving a Cause Greater Than Themselves

Joe Rosenthal's Famous Photo from Iwo Jima Feb 23 1945...but the battle was far from over

On This Date in History:  There are several small volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean.  As of June 18, 2007, one of those islands became known as Iwo To.   The name means “Sulpher” which apparently is also what Iwo Jima means.  But, according to USA Today, after the success of the Clint Eastwood Films, Flags of our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, the Japanese decided to change the name back to Iwo To, which had been what the civilians had called it before the war.  The locals were happy that their island had been remembered, but for some reason, they didn’t like the name.  The Americans held the island until 1968 when the United States returned it to Japan and now it’s home to about 400 Japanese soldiers.  Those “locals” don’t even live there anymore. 

Over 26,000 people died fighting for this 8 sq mile island

Anyway, in 1944 the Americans had gained control of the Mariana Islands which gave them a place from which to make direct bombing raids on the Japanese mainland with B-29’s.  However, the proximity of the 8 square mile island was such that the Japanese staged several rather destructive raids on B-29 bases around the Pacific.  So, that made Iwo Jima a target for US invasion.  The small island is made up of tough, ignatious rock and features the cone of what is thought to be an extinct volcano that rises about 550 feet above sea level.  With 21,000 Japanese defenders, it made for a natural fortress.  The Americans had bombed it often from the last part of 1944 through early 1945 but the Japanese use of the island’s geography rendered much of that bombing ineffective.  So, on February 19, 1945 the US Marine Corps sent 3 divisions onto the volcanic shores following a 3 day naval bombardment. (numerous videos from History.com)

Marines Received Heavy Fire After Hitting the Beach

The battle of Iwo Jima lasted 37 days:  Over a month for 8 square miles.  The Japanese strategy involved using the deep fortified bunkers dug in the volcanic rock to withstand all of the bombs and naval gunfire  the US could muster and then called for no Japanese survivors.  In other words, defend the island to the death.  And that’s exactly what happened as the Japanese were fighting on home soil that was only 650 miles from Tokyo.  Japanese commander Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi was a seasoned and dedicated leader who called on his men to kill 10 Americans before they were killed.  The fighting was horrific and while the Americans made some headway, the going was extremely slow.  By the time it was over, more than 6000 Americans had given their lives while 20,000 of the Japanese defenders were killed. 

With Enemy Holding High Ground of Hill 362, Even Off the Front Lines Rifle and Mortar Fire Was Heavy. Towne Was on the Front Line

One of the Americans in the fight was Harry Towne of Madison, Wisconsin.  He was a corporal who, on February 27, 1945 led his Company I, Third Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines, FIFTH Marine Division against a fortified enemy position guarding the approach to Hill 362.  In the successful assault, squad leader Towne was wounded as he and his men negotiated the pill boxes and caves defended by men who held the high ground.  Very tough.  In the back and forth of battle, the Japanese made a strong counter attack and Towne, though wounded, directed his men with hand signals and by voice.  Towne remained exposed to withering Japanese fire and tossed grenades from his position.  He did not retreat.  For his extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, Corporal Towne received the Navy Cross as described in his citation issued by President Truman.

Catholic Chaplain Offers Communion Amidst the Battle

The citation says much about Towne but doesn’t really mention much about his wound.  But, a letter he wrote to his mother on this date in 1945 reminds us that the stories of history are filled with people.  They have dreams and hopes and loves like everyone else.  Some are allowed to go on to live thier lives while others have a destiny that ends with the final words written about them.  In this case, Harry Towne lived to tell his own story:

“Dear Mom,

I don’t know if you have heard that I was wounded or not Mom.  I asked a Chaplain to write you, so you probably know about it.

I am coming along fine now and expect to be in the States before long.  I was wounded quite badly, Mother, but the Navy Medical Corps will fix me up like new again.  In a year or less I shall be able to walk just as before.

Don’t let this be a shock to you, Mother, I will be in almost as good shape as before now that they have these new artificial limbs.  Yes, Mother, I have lost my right leg, but it isn’t worrying me a bit.  I shall receive a pension for the rest of my life and with the new artificial limb, you can hardlytell anything is wrong. 

I lost my leg on the front lines of Iwo Jima on February 27, but have been moved around so much I couldn’t write.  I would like to write to Alma, but somehow I can’t force myself to do it.  You write and tell her, Mother.  I’ll try to write to her later on.

Don’t worry, Mom, the war for me is ended and I should be see you by fall. 

Love, [Harry]” 

 (Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999. Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler, ed. Random House, New York: 1999, pg 308)

Litter Bearers Risked Their Lives to Evacuate Brave Men Like Harry Towne

While Harry Towne was trying to reassure his mother and show a positive outlook, you can hear his anguish with how he struggles in even writing about his condition.  His frequent use of “Mother” shows that he is writing much as if he were speaking to her on the phone, searching for the right words to say.   His true feelings about his fate are revealed when he admits that he cannot bring himself to write to tell Alma, whom we presume is a wife or sweetheart.  This simple note reveals that this man suffered an injury so severe that his leg had to be amputated yet he perservered under extreme conditions to serve his country and support his men.  It also shows that behind the heroic tales of the American soldier in World War II, were ordinary American citizens who, while serving a cause larger than themselves, did extraordinary things.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.  I’d like to think that all American citizens are capable of making the same sacrifice if called today.  As an individual, you will have to determine if your devotion to country could lead you to follow the example of Harry Towe if called.

What a Difference a Day Makes. No NAM Snow Sunday AM

Weather  Bottom Line:  Thursday morning the models did a huge flop…which is why a forecast can be a flop if you start chortling about snow 5 days prior to the potential event.  I probably said too much about that yesterday and did not emphasize that the variables involved were many.  There had been a consistency though for days regarding the solution.  I recognize that the same level of uncertainty remains even with though new model runs of Thursday morning were almost identical.   That variability still shows up with later runs as they have changed a bit again.

What happened to the GFS Snow Sunday Morning?

What they did was instead of digging a big trof down with a cold front and running a low up along the front to give wrap around snow behind the boundary, they made the southern low cut off from the main jet stream and the general trof lifted north.  In the later runs of the day, the kinda started inching back to their initial solution with the trof staying in place for a longer duration but just prior to the front’s arrival in the Ohio Valley, then it cut off the low and ran it up over the Ohio Valley.  In fact, the Canadian model doesn’t fully cut off the low until it’s almost on top of our area.  So..what to do.  How about wait and see what happens?  That’s really all one can do. 

Weather Dunce

All along, intuitively it seemed unlikely that we’d get snow as the air wasn’t that cold and the trof not that deep.  But…it was there.  Now, the problem is that the models suddenly shifted to a completely new solution and then followed that up with something in between.  Often, when an event is on the way, the models are set on a game plan, change it suddenly and then when it all shakes out, it ends up being what was called for in the first place. My guess is that regardless of the particulars, we will be 40’s on Sunday and Monday.  The initial scenario of 30’s is still possible but it would seem the cautious approach of not even mentioning that potential until we got closer to the day was the wise move.  I get the dunce cap for that.  After a string of victories…humility came calling.  But..whatever..Friday will be lovely with highs nearing 70 and clouds increasing Saturday will be the only damper on a day in the upper 60’s to near 70.  Rain will still be likely on Saturday night and Sunday with a possible t’storm or two.  And the temperatures will still rebound by midweek.  As for snow…we’ll just have to wait and see…just in case.