We Wish You a Merry Christmas … or, not?

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The argument has been ongoing forever. Well, maybe not that long. Many moons ago, when I was younger, Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas were virtually one & the same – interchangeable – whether it be on a Hallmark Card or a classic Christmas Carole or in personal exchanges. Not many ever gave it a thought. I know that I sure never did.

Tchristmas_pie_charthen, came the age of political correctness – a time I hope that will end soon and be nothing more than a bad memory – that is, a time where rather than express our pure and spontaneous feelings, we first ran our thoughts through a “who might this offend” filter. In and of itself, not a totally bad thing, but, as with so many other fads, fashions & agendas created by the progressive, liberal left, it got carried away to the extreme and had more bad consequences than the original good intentions warranted.

After all, this whole silly movement was started by progressives who, by their very nature, absolutely cannot leave well enough alone. Ironically, in 2016, it is these very liberals who are now complaining about folks causing them to have to THINK about what to say. Well, how very appropriate. Isn’t that what they did in the first place? Back in the day, one did not have to think about it, they simply said it and went about their business, never realizing the extent of outraged & ostracized people they were leaving in their wake. “Merry Christmas … oh wait … might this person not CELEBRATE Christmas? O my gosh! What should I say?” So, in the beginning, it was Christians, by & large, who had to stop and think, because liberals made them feel self-conscious and over-bearing in their own beliefs.

Maybe 15 years ago – could be longer – 20? – I remember that the Post Office was bandying around the absurd idea of discontinuing religious-oriented Christmas stamps. It was a serious push. Only public outcry halted it in its tracks, but forevermore, the seed was planted in the minds of many. “Merry Christmas … oh, can I still say that?” Can’t put a number on how many times I heard that over the years as a window clerk at the local PO.

Now, Facebook is littered with posts by mostly left-leaning users [some of whom are Christians] lamenting the fact they there is even a discussion. They claim that their conservative-leaning friends are forcing them to think about how they say things, that they just say Happy Holidays because it’s a catch-all to cover ALL the holidays they claim fall during this period – upwards of 2 dozen, I have seen quoted – so that no one is offended. Well, ain’t that some s–t! If there is any truth at all in this pretty outrageous claim, it is that it’s a REACTION to their initial ACTION. It’s called, “Why Trump Won the Election.” Lesson not learned.

There is so much wrong with this “claim” that I cannot enumerate all the reasons, but the most glaring is this: There is NOTHING inherently wrong with saying Happy Holidays, if that’s the way you feel. What is wrong, is drawing attention to it every year, every time it’s said, as if it is the enlightened way to go that other idiots simply can’t comprehend. Just say it, or not. Move on. In a [still] largely Christian nation, Merry Christmas is perfectly acceptable. That’s what naturally flows from my mouth, without thinking about it. Always has. Always will.

The left’s push to make ME think about it has come full circle. If you, as a liberal, find yourself with that dilemma, just look in the mirror. As with every other one of your causes, rather than letting it flow of its own accord, you attempt to shove it down the throats of all. And then, as always, complain about it being puked up all over your wonderful ideals.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

 

 

Why I Will Vote For Donald J. Trump!

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And why you should, too!

Donald Trump is not an ideologue. Whatever else anyone thinks about him, he is not that. Hillary Clinton is incurable cancer. He is change. Real change, not rhetorical change. He will do what he feels is best for the Country, not for one party or demographic. He will straighten out many of the scandalous practices that are presently inherent in the system. More than likely, he will be more moderate than Hillary Clinton would be – he has no Progressive base to pander to, will at least pretend to defend the Constitution, and will treat us all alike. He will be so much more inclusive than anyone gives him a chance at being. He will be fair to all citizens … as it should be. He will take a new approach toward the economic aspects of the job. We will be safer, more prosperous, and less preoccupied with “make-believe” social issues. Donald Trump will lead an Administration that will be fun – in the sense that he is himself – while it gets down to business; he will choose trustworthy, genuine, competent people to surround himself with, Gov. Mike Pence being just the first.

It is not so much about virtue, for in the end we are all imperfect. It is about loving, believing in, and preserving the Republic.

He will make America GREAT again. That means WE will be great again!

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  • Here is the list of the “Contract with the American Voter” policies detailed by Trump:
  • Propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress
  • Institute a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health)
  • Require for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.
  • Institute a five year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.
  • Create a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
  • Institute a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
  • Announce intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.
  • Announce withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Direct Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.
  • Direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.
  • Lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
  • Lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.
  • Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.
  • Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.
  • Begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.
  • Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities.
  • Begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.

When all is said & done, I know this. If I am fortunate enough to meet George, Thomas, Benjamin, John or Samuel up there in God’s Country, I want to be able to look them in the eye, and say, “I did what I could, I am sorry.”


Why I cannot vote for a Democrat:

Do Democrats even exist any longer? I mean really. They used to be somewhat sensible — from JFK on to Bill Clinton. Oh they were a fun lot before that, and even a bit after — you know, the KKK, Jim Crow laws, the Great Society. Seems a lot has changed. They started to swiftly move to the left. Blue Dog & Reagan Democrats have vanished. Democrats are not liberal, not in the classical sense. A few are, most THINK they are, but really, they aren’t. Liberal is no longer a strong enough description for them. Now, they are Progressives. Man, they are full of themselves, too. Progress connotes a positive thing, generally. But in this case, I think it fair to say that their progress helps to destroy family units, abort babies, encourage drug use, create fear & mayhem in common areas that ought to be private like public restrooms, minimizes the importance of traditional marriage, sweeps aside religious freedoms and, in fact un-separates religion from the State when it serves their purpose, creates an even LARGER State, works to erode the Constitution, lives to divide our identities into groups – most of which are given “victimhood” status, strive for a borderless world – not to mention – Country, believe white men are evil incarnate – people who are inherently racist, bigoted, privileged, demons [unless, of course, they ARE “progressive”], and, in the end, they want a common payer – not just for health, but for just about everything. Democrats have become, in a rather short period of time, Statists … Socialists … made up of anarchists, atheists, the dependent, and every other half-baked group that is not the beneficiary of that old, white, privilege.

In short, the Founding Fathers suck.

Sad, because if they continue to lead the Country in the direction it has been headed, it will very soon not be America any longer. It’s already looking foreign to me, and I’ve lived here all my life, by God! 😉

To me, Democrats = not-so-Progressive Socialists, and for now on, that’s what I am referring to them as. And, you may call me what you wish.


Why I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton [one reason, of many!]:

Has the atmosphere of political corruption become so insidious that it has actually seeped into the mindset of the electorate and is embraced & accepted as part of the process and thus OK?
A teary-eyed Hillary Clinton says she is sorry – after 6 months of saying that she has done nothing wrong – and accepts responsibility. What is she sorry for? For having a private e-mail account. That is what she apologized for. Not for having her own secret, private server. Not for mixing her private and State Department e-mails. Not for deleting, according to her, about half of them. Not for picking & choosing which ones to be deleted. No, not for possibly having the server wiped clean. Not even for having top secret e-mails passing through that server. And that according to IGs. And, of course, not for lying about any of that.
Still, #1 in the Democrat primary polls. One of 20 people in Obama’s circle, who is supposed to know what classified material looks like. She said so herself. Over time, she has added qualifiers … one after another … as she got pushed further & further into a corner. Yet, they are/were there.
So, she’s sorry. And, responsible. So? If I get a speeding ticket, I am responsible. I pay the ticket. If my drawer was short at the Post Office, I was responsible. I paid the shortage. What does being responsible mean to Hillary Clinton? 4 men dead at a Libyan facility. She was responsible. Classified material passing through her private server – against the rules – she was responsible.
Show us Hillary. Take responsibility. Drop out!

Hillary tells us who she is — she is UNFIT to lead this Nation. There will always be a swirl of controversy surrounding her … because she is a lying, conniving, entitled, corruption-manifesting, career politician.

VOTE TRUMP/Pence in 2016!!

The Little Rascals … with guns!

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Off in a small wooded tract of land adjacent to Memorial Junior High School on Hendrickson Avenue in Valley Stream stood a few abandoned & boarded-up old homes … known as the old Sloan place. In the late 50s & early 60s they were the perfect place for a bunch of Long Island kids to find some mischief to get into.

If memory serves correctly, one couldn’t see the structures from the road. They sat off in those woods. Yet, we found them. It was kind of like life had just stood still in that wooded lot. It was quiet and the buildings stood there silently observing. So, of course we just had to give them something to see.

doc_richWe used to run around in there, jump off the rooftops, generally raising innocent hell. One day, in search of something to do, we pried the plywood off one of the windows – maybe more – and went on in. We weren’t invited. I remember well the musty smell of the place, a ketchup bottle [don’t ask me why that sticks in my mind!!!!], old calendars, writings … the place was fully stocked & furnished – like the people that had lived there had simply vanished. It was quite an adventure arena for a bunch of young lads …

… One time, we were robbed – of some loose change, crayons, baseball cards – whatever we had in our pockets. Some of us were outside, others inside, someone was climbing through the window … I think we were on our way out. Suddenly, a gang of “thugs” were there … at least some of those outside scattered & returned home. The rest of us were robbed! A major haul it was, too, for those gangsters, at least a couple of years older than we were .pinky balls.. 10 cents worth of cold, hard cash!

The event that solidified that place in the logs of ancient lore for “our gang” was the finding of the guns. Today, at least one of those guns resides down in the sewer … dumped in the drain at the southwest end of Amherst Avenue – the same drain that swallowed up many a baseball, a few pensy-pinkies, and lots of grand memories – tossed there to forever hide the evidence.

In one of those dimly lit houses we were exploring all the nooks & crannies that held the memorabilia from a time gone by … old furniture, toys, dishes, doll-houses. We were just poking around looking for cool stuff we could heist. I opened a closet door … pay-dirt … the Holy Grail. There they were standing in the corner. I’ll let Doc recount it: “Richie [edit: that’s me] opened a closet and found three guns, a .22, a duck hunting pump shotgun, and a double barrel shotgun that was rusted and in two pieces. Henry Cavanaugh took the pump gun, pumped it once, pointed it at my stomach and pulled the trigger. It was empty. Richie  being of more intelligence, [edit: debatable ;-)]  pointed the .22 toward the window and pulled the trigger. It fired off three rounds .. one at a TV screen. I will never forget it. Had Henry grabbed the .22 it is very likely that I wouldn’t be here today. I think Ronnie [edit: my brother] was there, also. Richie brought the rifle home on his red Schwinn and his dad took the firing pin out. Imagine a kid riding his bike today with a rifle across the handle bars. One of the luckiest days of my life.”

Yeah, Ronnie was there alright. Simultaneously to the pump gun incident, I was pointing that [unknown to me at the time] loaded .22 rifle right at him. I guess, at the last split second, that little birdie in my head reminded me of my parents always telling me not to point a gun at another person. I moved the gun, pointed it to a window, and pressed the trigger. POW! Shattered glass.

But for the grace of God, there was nearly a double homicide on that day. Makes you wonder … maybe guardian angels really exist. Summer of ’64? We were all but 8-12 years old. Imagine the headline that could have been, but for the intervention of fate, “2 VS Youths Shot & Killed at the Old Sloan Place.” Yeah, it was one of the luckiest days in ALL of our lives.

Those were the days my friends …

 

 

On the Confederate Battle Flag …

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~~ Random thoughts ~~

 

When I was a boy, my Father instilled upon me a sense of history … a story … of my Country. I was born in Brooklyn. Grew up on Long Island. I am a Yankee. Though, if truth be told, I am a Dodgers fan and have lived in North Carolina since late 1991. Back to His Story. Forts William Henry & Ticonderoga and Gettysburg were places he loved to take the family. At Gettysburg, I was exposed to my first Confederate flag. Racism wasn’t part of my experience. It was “just” a flag that Americans fought under in a terrible & bloody war.

States rights were at issue, and on that point, I am very sympathetic with the Confederacy. The Federal Government is far too big, out of all Constitutional proportion.

After this war, slaves were free. But they had no skills. Many thought they were actually worse off being free. White soldiers – most of whom never owned a slave – came back from the war damaged, many missing limbs. They were poor when they went off to war, more so now that they were back. The land was ravaged by Union soldiers, pillaged & burned in many places … as scarred as the men who came home. Many just wandered with no purpose. Their economy was broken, and all suffered. Economically, whites & blacks in the South were now somewhat on equal footing. Reconstruction had begun.

It all was growing pains for a fledgling Nation … all part of the story.

In the end, Americans, north & south, black & white, died, were maimed, suffered. The men who fought the great battles that decided this war and reshaped a Nation deserve to be honored … preserved land, monuments … and perhaps most of all, those banners … the flags they gave their lives for should be flown anywhere, by anyone, who chooses to. And, it should be done without the “flyer” being branded as a racist.

That’s tolerance. That’s America.

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No Confederate Flag I know of has ever slid down its pole and killed anyone. No gun that I know of has ever come down off its gun rack and gone off on its own and killed anyone. A mentally unbalanced & disturbed person? Now there’s something that could happen. He/she COULD go off and kill someone, on their own, with or without a gun; with or without any knowledge of a Confederate Flag – or any other flag – even ever existing. So what does Governor Haley of SC do? Caves. Caves like Amazon, Apple, the Memphis, TN City Council, TV Land and so many others. She makes the “hard” choice and orders the Flag taken down from the SC State House property. That’s what passes as crisis resolution in today’s wimpy society. It may or may not have been a good choice at another point in time, but right now, in my opinion, the brave choice, in these times, would have been for her to propose a bold and innovative mental health initiative in her State. That may actually have helped to fix a problem. Now, though, everyone can feel all warm & fuzzy for accomplishing nothing that had anything to do with a mass murder. All the politicians who voted in support of her Flag decision would never, ever get my vote again if I lived in SC. What a joke … and not a very funny one at that!

The issue of the Confederate flag flying from State buildings or on their grounds should, in my opinion, be up to the people of those individual States. My fear is that it is but a foot in the door, and one-by-one – as we have already begun to see – all symbols of the Confederacy – one half of America at the time – will be eradicated. I don’t really believe that it has much to do at all with slavery, but more with the belittling and continued humiliation of the American South … the Republican American South. Has the South not suffered enough? Does it not end until it is beaten into submission? Reminder – that already occurred, 150 years ago. Since that time, great, great strides have been made in repairing racial relations. You find the flag offensive? Look elsewhere. I find Al Sharpton more than offensive – he has surely done more to damage racial relations in recent times than any Confederate flag may have done in that same period … and he gets to sit with our Divider-in-Chief at the White House – excuse me, the Rainbow House. We, as a Nation, have welcomed into our society many enemies of the past [some not so “passed”] … integrated them into our fabric. Japanese, Germans, Russians, Italians, Mexicans, Muslims … What a wonderful thing. Blending their heritage, their music, their foods, their holidays, their FLAGS in with ours. One day, as I watched a baseball game, I learned that it was Japanese Heritage Day … and there they were, in the stands, watching our National Pastime, hundreds of Japanese-Americans … waving their little Japanese flags … very similar, if not exact, to those on the planes that bombed Pearl Harbor. Nobody was offended Yet, now, 150 years after the most tumultuous time in our history, there is a vocal, self-proclaiming “tolerant” and “open-minded” segment of our society that STILL can’t forgive and forget and accept the heritage of millions of their FELLOW Americans. Instead, in their giddy little posts about rainbows, they still spew hate toward the American South. It’s all mainly driven by political forces. “Y’all” should be ashamed of yourselves.


 

Oh my gosh. I hate to sound like I’m saying, “some of my best friends are Black,” but I guess, to a certain extent, I am. Eddie and Sydney were two of my brothers working on the psychiatric wards for the criminally “insane”- among others – and we trusted our safety with each other. Joanne was a Hussy Busser [long story]. Wayne & Steve were both bandmates. Many others. Not only friends, but some of my favorite customers, while working as a record store manager and later for the USPS, were Black.

I have to say all that because I know the way many people think these days, and saying I am against the removal of the Confederate Flag from the SC State House, maybe in Mississippi [update: NOT!], and definitely from Wal-Mart shelves [sure this is just the beginning of a great tsunami] will cause some to think – maybe even say – that I am a racist. It has happened before. If you really know me, then you know that not to be true. I am a great champion of American heritage & history, and I do not like to see it destroyed, whatever the part we might be discussing. The totality of our heritage is what we are today. The Confederacy was a part of one of the most tumultuous eras in our formation. They were Americans, White AND Black. 10153482141895930Was slavery an issue? I cannot say no to that question, but it became THE issue ONLY after it became politically expedient. Sound familiar? Oh, the Union had its share of Abolitionists driving that cause, but the war was steeped in the overall issue of State Rights versus large Federal Government. Gee, much like today. Thousands of good, hard-working, family men – some of great heritage going back to the Revolution and before – lost their lives slugging it out on American soil. Half fought under the Confederate battle flag. I won’t give you a history lesson. Consider though … slaves were sold to European traders by BLACK African lords and traders; many slaves were held in northern states – though the institution was abolished by the time of the Civil War – so what makes the American Flag any less evil? Why is one an accepted symbol, the other not? The fact is, both sides had slaves, one just gave them up sooner. We all owe it to one another, as Americans, to hold together all the traditions that were a part of the journey that made us great. Not to pick & choose. What someone today chooses to have that flag represent is largely irrelevant. What it meant to the average Confederate soldier in the 1860s was that it served as a symbol of their defense of the homeland. Blacks were not the only slaves in history. You do know that. Whites were slaves, Jews were slaves, American Indians adopted slaves. Africans held their own slaves. It’s not just a sin of American White folks many years ago. It has been a human sin that few cultures are not guilty of. A sad day it is when we try to erase the memory of our past so that someday it will be no more. Peace, brothers & sisters. To learn from the past you must remember the past. But who can remember it in the future if we destroy it now?


 

If you are paying attention you will see that the removal of the Confederate flag in Columbia is not a singular event. There is a coordinated effort going on to erase all reminders of the Confederacy … and more, now expanding toward Jefferson, the American flag, etc. This had to be in the works; just waiting for the moment to spring it. It is, like I mentioned yesterday that it would be, a tsunami. As always, the focus is on race. How about Heritage? I know the progressive left is behind this all. That is not surprising. What is would be how easily Republicans are going belly up on it. When will we learn that our “national conversations” are simply about giving in to the left. Our Constitution is under attack. 2nd Amendment here they come!


 

I guess we just owe everybody … About slavery: Slavery in America “only” lasted 222 years – Muslims have been enslaving whites and Christians and Jews since around 600 A.D. – Whites have been enslaved “From Virginia to Barbados” – the English enslaved Irish/Vikings and Scots by the millions – Whites [and Americans] were enslaved by the millions by North Africans and Muslims forcing the USA, under President Jefferson, to build a navy and go to war to stop the enslavement – In the English colonies of early America, prior to 1640, most sugar grown was done by forced white labor – Legal white slavery in Massachusetts in 1658 – In England, in a 1765 report, a 90% mortality rate for slave children in “workhouses” was recorded – The word slave derives from slav, a Caucasian ethnic group so often taken and enslaved by Muslim Ottoman empire – Blacks in America [and first slave holder Anthony Johnson] owned whites as slaves – As white slaves and indentured servants decreased from Scotland/Ireland/Germany, the need for African slaves increased – By around 1756, it became mostly black slavery – According to John Adams, white labor was preferred by most to black labor at that time.

… and that just touches the surface. Turns out, really, that America isn’t the big, bad racist, slave holding, complex that many tout us as being. As I have said here 47 zillion times … and counting … it is a part of the history of mankind …. war, subjugation, the whole kit & kaboodle. So, what other nation went to war, at least in part, to free slaves from bondage at the cost of 620, 000 killed and maybe another million wounded and missing? America is the greatest country ever, and perhaps the only that was founded on ideals: 1. Rights come from God, not government 2. All political power emanates from the people 3. Limited representative republic 4. Written Constitution 5. Private Property Rights

“As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.” — James Madison


 

For those who still think it was all about the “flag” … sickening. I think we should remove all – everything – reminders of anything in our past. It’s all evil. Every bit of it. Take it all down, from Columbus to Obama’s last words. Blank slate. And keep it blank, so that no one ever knows what has ever happened. Freaking lunatics. Historical monuments were constructed to preserve history. Now, we are destroying it. ISIS-like. Do you feel better now? Will it benefit future generations in any way. I am so pee’d off my eyes could shoot blood. Ridiculous!

Why? Why can’t they let a dead man rest? And his wife? This kind of overreaction is insane … I mean that literally. It all stems from a mass murder in Charleston, SC. How do we get from that to this? At best, a very weak link. The odd thing? Confederate and Union veterans often met at anniversaries of certain Civil War events. Men who would have bludgeoned one another on the battlefield now hugged, shook hands, exchanged stories, shared camaraderie. They were the ones who put their lives on the line, and they could forgive. Not today’s extreme progressives. No. They, collectively, have got to be the biggest bunch of hate filled hypocrites in the Country. Think of it, too … most all these monuments, national cemeteries, memorials, commemorated sites, etc. were established during, or not very long after [relatively speaking], the Civil War was fought. Hatred might have been expected to be waxing at that time. But, to the contrary … All of it was done to remember … the errors, the horrors, the heritage, the history. Why, oh why, can’t people realize that? Why are some people enveloped in hate 150 years after, when the people who were there could see it for what it was and protect it for the sake of our National well-being? We are far too self-righteous in this day and age. You know, sometimes, the people who preceded us knew better. We are not always “the Bomb”. As usual, Abe says it best:

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth. “

Erasing the “scars” [i.e. digging up graves] is the antithesis of Lincoln’s words.


 

The Civil War was a war fought in which the issue of slavery did not become the driving force until mid-stream, when, much like today, an issue became politically expedient. The North fought to preserve the Union. The South called the war the War of Northern Aggression [which should tell you why they fought]. That rotten scoundrel Confederate general … what was his name? … oh, Robert E. Lee … “racist” Southerner that he was … was probably the best General in all the land. He was asked, by the North, to be in charge of the DC defense as a Major General at the war’s outset. He politely declined, stating that he could not fight against his fellow Virginians. That was the war in a nutshell, but don’t let spin get in your way.


 

We have these monuments and gravesites, battlefields and banners the battlers fought under. It’s called Preservation of History And that keeps our story straight for other generations … like a wampum belt, if I may. Does destroying these things change the History?

Better question: When I look in the mirror these days I no longer see the young man I once was; I see, instead, an aging geezer. Should I smash the mirror? Will that make me look & feel younger? I think not.

No … everything will be exactly the same.


 

I’ll let President Lincoln have the last word:

 “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.” … Abraham Lincoln

Confederate Spirit (2015_07_26 15_19_56 UTC)

There’s no place like home … the exodus of the Northern Cheyenne

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Many are familiar with the Cherokees of the SE and their forced removal to Indian Territory known as the Trail of Tears. Many, too, know of Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce tribesmen of the NW and their battles to attempt escape into Canada. Not as many are familiar with this particularly heartbreaking exodus ~~~

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After a rousing defeat of the US 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn River in Montana, the victorious bands of united Sioux & Cheyenne began their dispersal moving to what would be their winter camps. Meanwhile, embarrassed by the defeat, just before the Nation’s Centennial, the military stepped up the intensity and numbers of soldiers in the field. Harassed and starving, nearly all bands – both Sioux & Cheyenne – surrendered or fled into Canada over the next couple of years.

In May of 1877 great Oglala Sioux war leader Crazy Horse surrendered his band at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. With him were at least two bands of northern Cheyenne led by chiefs Dull Knife & Little Wolf. They had been driven from their winter camps by the US Army and found their way to long-time friend & ally, Crazy Horse, whose camp was subsequently attacked, as well. It was a long, hard winter for these people. In the spring, with much suffering among the women, children, and elders, Crazy Horse took his bands to the fort. One officer on the scene commented that it looked more like a victory parade than a surrender.

Unexpectedly to the Cheyenne, they were instructed to be moved to the southern Cheyenne reservation in Indian Territory [present day Oklahoma]. Little Wolf & Dull Knife became enraged by this bad news. Both had signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 which forevermore had ceded lands in Montana & South Dakota, including the Black Hills, to the  Sioux AND Cheyenne.

It had been a bad time since the victory against Custer on the Little Bighorn. Now, the bands were all separated, the harassing winter campaigns by the Army had driven many of them into the stark, bitter winter snow … only to finally reach relative safety to be greeted with this news.

They began their trip to the south. Arriving in early August of 1877, the 972 souls who had began had now dwindled to 937. Some older folks had passed away during the arduous journey and were buried along the dusty trail. Some of the warriors slipped away at opportune times to rejoin their brethren in the north. Looking around their new surroundings, the Indians were disgusted by the poor, dusty, dry conditions. Many of the southern Cheyenne had been beaten a decade before along with many Comanche, Kiowa, Plains Apache and Arapaho. Others came in after the Red River Wars in 1874-75. It was clear to the newcomers, free just a few months ago, that reservation life down in this alien landscape might just be worse than death. When allowed to hunt and no game was found, merely old buffalo remains, starvation seemed possible. Then, a measles outbreak spread among them.

In the pre-dawn hours of September 10, 1878, Dull Knife & Little Wolf silently led their people north to try, at all costs, to make it back to their homeland. Their numbers now stood at an estimated high of just 353. As the Indians silently slipped from the reservation in the darkness, it wasn’t long before their departure was realized. Soon, a detachment of some 240 infantry & cavalry were in hot pursuit.

Battle_Canyon

The Canyon at the Battle Site of Punished Woman’s Fork

For the next six weeks, the Indians managed to elude the pursuing troops through a series of running skirmishes and rear guard actions, most notably at Turkey Springs, along the Kansas border, and at Punished Woman’s Fork a bit further north. Though they were able to forage meager supplies during the Turkey Springs affair, they ended up losing all their food, some supplies, and 60 of their horses during the Punished Woman’s Fork battle. In fact, they almost lost it all. The Indians found themselves corned in a pit at nightfall. Against all odds, they slipped out of a tight situation by stealth overnight. Following, as they moved hurriedly through Kansas, a series of depredations occurred as the Cheyenne desperately sought food. Through cunning and treachery, they attacked homesteaders & cowboys on into Nebraska. Meanwhile, more soldiers from the forts in the region joined the chase, as did some 3,000 settlers — all told, 13,000 VS some 300. Five times the army caught up with the Cheyenne; five times the army was foiled by the mobility of the warriors and their families.

Winter was approaching and their numbers were continuing to dwindle. Council was held. Little Wolf’s people decided they wanted to continue with the exodus north. They moved a bit and then wintered, peacefully, in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. Once spring arrived, the small band of less than 115 people moved out into the Powder River Country of Montana. They ended up surrendering to officers at Fort Keogh, near present day Miles City. They had reached the homeland and the men joined service with the white man as army scouts.

As this somewhat happy ending was playing out, Dull Knife’s band of about 150 would have a tougher go of it. They were tired and no longer wanted to run. Their plan was to turn themselves in to Red Cloud Agency of which Fort Robinson was a part. After all this turbulence and tribulation, they would end up back where the journey had started. The worst, though, was yet to come.

Red_cloud_agency

— Red Cloud Agency – sketch published in Harper’s Weekly, 1876

Before they could reach their goal, the Cheyenne were surrounded by elements of the Army. On the night of October 23, 1878, the Indians, in camp & still surrounded, disassembled their guns and distributed the parts among the woman who hid the larger pieces under their robes & blankets while actually wearing the smaller pieces as ornaments & jewelry. Two days later, the 150 Cheyenne people were crowded into a barracks built for 75 soldiers. The guns were reassembled and hidden under a floor board. Dull Knife agreed to a peace if his band could stay on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

 

The Pit And so it stayed as an official response from Washington was awaited. That word arrived on January 3, 1879. It was not good. The northern Cheyenne were to be returned to the south, in Indian Territory, with their southern relatives. Dull Knife refused. To “entice” him to change his mind, the windows were barred and rations & firewood were withheld. Still, the Cheyenne refused to leave. On January 9, the Army took one of the lesser chiefs as a hostage to use as a bargaining chip. That night, at approximately 9:45, the Cheyenne removed the guns from hiding and fought their way out of the fort into the freezing elements and snow covered ground. The soldiers gave hot pursuit and a running battle in the darkness ensued. Soon, there were a string of bloodied dead & wounded in the snow. 32, following a warrior named Little Finger Nail, hid in a place now known as The Pit at the Hat Creek Bluffs. They were discovered by soldiers who repeatedly fired into the pit. Out of ammo and defenseless, Little Finger Nail brazenly charged the soldiers to protect the women & children. He was quickly cut down. There were 9 survivors in the pit. 65 Cheyenne were returned as prisoners the next morning. Of those, 23 were wounded. Another 6 were found hiding within miles of the fort over the next several days. Dull Knife was among the survivors. Months later, the US Government finally relented and allowed the surviving members of Dull Knife’s band of northern Cheyenne to join Little Wolf at Fort Keogh.

The good news to this bit of history is that, eventually, the Cheyenne of the northern plains did end up with their own plot of land in their home territory of Montana, the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.


 In the above slide show of 4 photos, one is the ledger that was found on Little Finger Nail’s body. It is housed at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. Back in the 80s, I visited there and they also had his shirt on display, complete with bullet hole. I searched their online archives and could not find the shirt to add to this account. I had taken a photo of both the shirt & ledger book while there, but I cannot find it, so, for now, the ledger picture alone must suffice.


 

For a much more detailed account, read Cheyenne Autumn by Mari Sandoz

Though not entirely historical, an entertaining movie directed by the legendary John Ford is available on DVD: Cheyenne Autumn [Richard Widmark, Carrol Baker, Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Sal Mineo]

Obama’s Middle East

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Where to start? Arbitrarily, here … After several terrorist attacks and a declaration of war by Osama Bin Laden, President Bill Clinton lobs a couple of cruise missiles into Afghanistan and hits a pharmaceutical building.
Fast forward … 4 hijacked airliners crash into various places in the US killing 3,000 people. Right then & there, I vowed I was done with Democrats and regretted my vote for Bill Clinton. I had already skipped my one & only ever Presidential election. Just couldn’t pull the lever for either Al Gore or George W. Bush. From this day forward, I became a most respectful man toward our relatively new President Bush. I would vote for him in 2004.
Faced with one of the greatest massacres in American History – and on our own soil – Bush responded with the Wars in Afghanistan, and, later, in Iraq. It should be remembered that the 2nd was entered into with bi-partisan support. Of course, later with 20/20 hindsight, the catchy little phrase, “Bush lied; people died,” became trendy among the Democrat left in this Country. There was no lie, but what does that matter? World-wide faulty intelligence was to blame. End results were, however, that Bush won 2 wars in Iraq … first against the Iraqi Army, in short order, capturing Saddam Hussein in the process, and then, an unexpected war against the insurgency, otherwise known as al- Qaida in Iraq.
By the time our current President Obama took office, things were pretty much under control. Obama & his VP, Joe Biden, would later claim that Iraq was stable and would go down in history as one of the Obama Administration’s greatest achievements. Yes, they really said that … and more. At that point, Iraq became Obama’s War.
And then, as promised, Obama had our military withdraw from Iraq. No doubt in my mind he could have reached an agreement with Iraqi leaders to leave a substantial, stabilizing force behind, but it was not to happen. Thus, a nice little power vacuum. And so was born The JV.
Benghazi (2015_03_29 07_24_21 UTC) (2015_05_03 19_44_34 UTC) (2015_07_26 15_19_56 UTC)Meanwhile, Hillary had her little “reset” stunt with Russia go awry. Arab Spring was a mirage. Israel has been alienated at every turn. Despite the left’s gurgitations about no more nation building., we take out Khadafy in Libya and create the next tumultuous state. Remember Benghazi! The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. And Syria became a bloody mess, partially exacerbated by Obama’s infamous do-nothing “red line.” Oh, and, the growth of the Islamic State, ISIS, or, ISIL, or, their proper name, The JV. I mean, is this all a bad joke?
Not funny. Russia takes Crimea and invades Ukraine … *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*
Suddenly, 1 — yes, that’s ONE – hour prior, a Russian general informs us in Bagdad that Russian airstrikes will begin in Syria and we had better get out of the air. One freakin’ hour. Fairly humiliating, I would think. So, Syria is a complete mess. Thanks, Obama. Migrants, refugees, whatever you choose to call them are streaming northward and westward by the millions. What to do? A lot of fingernail biting, I guess.
And here I go forgetting all about that sad sack of a nuclear arms deal with our new “friends” in Iran.
What now looks like an unholy alliance forming in the Middle East – Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran – makes a hot bed a Hell. Thanks again, Obama. I suppose we just have to wait and see. Have fun, Next President!
Now, I know, I am no Middle East expert … I may be, according to some of my “critics”, a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, an Islamaphobe, a close-minded ignoramus, a worthless piece of s—t, and, most recently, a paranoid schizophrenic. Take this all with a grain of salt. Perhaps, the cradle of civilization is one big Nirvana.

A timeline ~~~

Jimmy Carter [D] — On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and took approximately seventy Americans captive.

Bill Clinton [D] — On February 26, 1993, WTC in NYC attacked by a powerful truck bomb killing 6 and wounded over 1000.

Bill Clinton [D] — On June 25, 1996, 19 American soldiers killed by a truck bomb in Saudi Arabia.

Bill Clinton [D] – On August 23, 1996 Osama bin Laden declares war on the US via the Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.

Bill Clinton [D] — On August 7, 1998, US embassies attacked in Tanzania & Kenya, killing 200 including 12 Americans. afterwards, US strikes back with cruise missiles with little effect.

Bill Clinton [D] – On October 12, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked in Yemen killed 17 sailors and wounding another 39.

Bill Clinton [D] – On September 10, 2001, Clinton said, “I’m just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden … He’s a very smart guy. I spent a lot of time thinking about him. And I nearly got him once. I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him.” On September 11, 2001 – in large part because of Clinton’s inactions & failures – 3000 people were killed in NYC, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

George W. Bush [R] — On October 7, 2001, the US launches its first serious retaliatory strikes against the Taliban & al Qaeda beginning the war in Afghanistan. Later, with huge bilateral support, the US attacks Iraq, quickly dismantling the Iraqi forces and capturing Saddam Hussein, before being bogged down with an insurgency. A successful military surge was implemented in 2007 – 08.

Barrack Obama [D] – 2009 – 11, authorizes huge troop withdrawals from Iraq directly contributing to the widespread growth of ISIS, who he routinely underestimates, and loss of most of the gains achieved by the surge.

Barrack Obama [D] – to Present – well, just pay attention to the news.

God help us.

BRADDOCK’S DEFEAT

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BRADDOCK’S DEFEAT

… Battle of the Wilderness …

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… Inspiration for LOTM’s Massacre Valley?

A large force of British regulars tramps down an old Indian trail which serves as their roadway. Resplendent in their bright red uniforms and polished steel accoutrements, they provide a rich visual counterpoint to the lush greenery of the surrounding virgin forest. Accompanying this arm of the Crown are many colonial militia, women, sutlers, and the like. But for the tramping of feet, the jangle of equipment, the songs of the birds … there is silence.

 

 Suddenly, near the rear of the column, a small band of Indian warriors emerges from the darkness of the woods. They cut down several of the British. They disappear. A grenadier company – the cream of each British regiment – forms up and fires at a nearly invisible enemy. The march resumes. There is firing upon the right flank. A party of Rangers & Indian allies pursues the unseen foe into the forest. To no avail. Confusion & panic begins to permeate the ranks …

Seemingly, the above description is right out of Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans, and its depiction of the Fort William Henry massacre. But is it? Fast forward to …

Hidden in the forest within the depths of the trees, and on both sides, are hundreds of Indian warriors. They begin a fusillade of fire which tears into its increasingly terrified targets. The British fire blindly. As comrades fall, and their attempts of their own defense prove futile, panic spreads. Troops huddle in a mass, desperately attempting to reach the safety of the center. Gunfire, women’s shrieks, smoke, war whoops … it all equals death to the bewildered British. All sense of order is lost. Officers desperately attempt rally, or even orderly retreat. It is useless. Warriors swoop upon the mass. Proud British might has been reduced to rubble in the unfamiliar confines of the wilderness …

Still think we’re speaking of The Last of the Mohicans? It is easy to see why. These two portions of our account of an historical event, though separated in time by 3 days, very closely approximate the filmmakers’ vision of the Fort William Henry massacre. [Please see our FORT WILLIAM HENRY … The Siege & Massacre for the true story!] In some respects, as pointed out in our On the Trail of the Last of the Mohicans guide booklet, it resembles James Fenimore Cooper’s version, largely based on the panic-stricken refugees’ early reports of the affair … people like Jonathan Carver of Massachusetts. Yet, it isn’t. It precedes the Fort William Henry siege by two years. It does not occur in the colony of New York, but rather in that of the Penn’s Woods, Pennsylvania, in the early stages of the great French and Indian War.

Call it what you will, the Battle of the Wilderness, the Battle of the Monongahela, or simply Braddock’s Defeat, as it is popularly known, it is very much not any scene from The Last of the Mohicans. It centers not around Fort William Henry, guarding the passage way of the Lake George/Lake Champlain corridor, but rather about a great French fortress, Fort Duquesne, standing guard at the confluence of two mighty rivers, the Allegheny and the Monongahela – joining forces to form one grand river way, the Ohio. It was a critical juncture in the frontier. Holding this point meant control of the Ohio River Valley and the fur trade & Indian alliances that came with it.


View of Fort Duquesne as it must have looked in 1755 … Diorama photo courtesy of Table Top Studios

Chains of forts sprouted up around the frontier extending the lines of communication from New York to Fort William Henry, from Quebec to Fort Duquesne. Each little garrison became an isolated outpost serving not only as frontier guardians, but as supply depots and campaign launching points. Thus, destruction of links in these communication lines severely hampered, if not crippled, operations of the enemy. So it was that Major General Edward Braddock, then 60 years old, led an expedition against the French strategic stronghold, Fort Duquesne. Though well versed in military tactics, Braddock had never before led troops in battle. Carrying huge siege cannon with him, this didn’t figure to be much of a battle anyway. The fort would fall.

The French, too, knew this. They had neither the manpower or supplies to survive an extended siege by the British firepower being lugged their way from Maryland’s Fort Cumberland, over 100 miles of wilderness away. Duquesne, very near the location of a previous, short-lived, structure originally constructed by the British, before being driven off by superior French forces and rebuilt, would be only the first to fall, for surely a domino effect would occur throughout the region. The other forts were smaller in size and garrison. It was simple. To maintain dominance in the area, to strengthen alliances with the native population, Duquesne could not be allowed to fall.

Manning the fort was a recently swollen garrison of some 600 or more French & Canadians, with plenty of artillery in its massive bastions. Yet, it was readily accepted that it could not stand against the columns of British now known to be creeping, ever so slowly, their way … numbers that were falsely reported to be as high as 4,000 men. So it was that a body of men comprised of 36 officers, 72 Regulars, 146 Canadian militiamen, and 637 Indians, from the assorted allied tribes of Hurons, Potawotomis, Ottawas, Shawnees, Missisaugas, Iroquois, Delaware, and Mingos, all under the command of Captain Daniel-Hyacinthe-Marie Lienard de Beaujeu, were dispatched from Duquesne on the morning of July 9, 1755 rushing to intercept the approaching British as they were fording the Monongahela at one of two crossings. For reasons not fully known, they were late. The British crossed both fords, in force, unmolested.

The column of British meandering their way through unfamiliar wilderness to lay siege to Fort Duquesne read like a who’s who of Colonial British America – George Croghan, Horatio Gates, Robert Orme, Sir John St. Clair, George Washington, Thomas Gage, Daniel Boone. These, and others, made their uncertain way through the forest with Braddock. They lugged both field and siege cannon, as well as a train of supply wagons, further slowing the progress. All in all, perhaps 1600 men were in the field, consisting of 2 Regiments of British regulars, the 44th, under the command of Colonel Sir Peter Halket, and the 48th, commanded by Colonel Thomas Dunbar. Accompanying these regiments were 200 sutlers, wagoners, and other armed “hands,” a group of volunteers, 40-50 women, and a few Oneida Indian allies. One private in the group bore the name – a wonderful LOTM tie-in – of Duncan Cameron.

Let’s back up three days earlier, to July 6, 1755. This is the day skirmishing took place that is described in the opening paragraph above. This was the first contact between the opposing forces of this campaign, and when Fort Duquesne commander Captain Claude Pierre Pecaudy, sieur de Contrecoeur, first learned of the presence, in the immediate area, of this rather large British assemblage. Awed by the display of artillery, it was decided to attack the force on the move, rather than await their arrival at the fort. The next two days passed without incident. The 7th was spent by Braddock’s men excruciatingly slowly skirting some swampland. On the 8th, they passed through a 3 mile long valley, with heavily wooded hills on both sides. It appeared a perfect ambush place, and Braddock had the heights scoured by flanking parties. Nothing happened.

Dawn came on the 9th of July. It wasn’t till sometime after 9AM that Captain Beaujeu’s mixed French and Indian force left Duquesne. By that time, Braddock was crossing the fords. By noon, it was completed. They were safely across the Monongahela. Braddock had expected an ambush the day prior, back in the valley. It never came. Surely, the French wouldn’t miss another opportunity. Yet, again, no ambush was forthcoming during a time of British vulnerability. Braddock and his officers decided that it must be that there was to be no ambush. Obviously, the French had decided to make a stand at the fort. Braddock’s force was now about a mile from the river.

It was a complete and utter surprise … for both sides! It was an accidental collision in the woods. The English now had a false sense of security. The French were still intent on a crossing ambush and were rushing, pell- mell, to the fords. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gage led a vanguard force of some 300. They rounded a bend in the narrow road, with a rise of land to their right. Scouts came rushing back with the news. The French were just ahead. The French force, taken equally by surprise at the appearance of the scouts, opened fire. Gage ordered his force into line and they fired several volleys in the finest European tradition. At a distance of about 200 yards, it was mostly a futile display. At least one ball, however, found its mark. French commander Beaujeu fell dead. Momentary disarray permeated the French body, but it didn’t last long as second in command, Captain Jean-Daniel Dumas, quickly rallied his men. The Indians streamed down both flanks, under cover of the forest, took aim from behind trees, and raked the British with enfilade fire. The French regulars took position across the road to the front, most probably in a pre-dug trench. [If there was a trench, it was obviously not dug on the spot. Perhaps, a French work party had dug it, in the days immediately preceding, to delay British siege supplies on the “road.”] It was described as a massacre.

The French had deployed in a crescent shape and were virtually unseen. From the forest, from the trench, and from the rise of ground, they poured down lead on the British advance party. The besieged began to give way. Gage attempted an orderly withdrawal, but lagging behind, was a work party, still advancing. The retreat crashed into the advance, adding further to the confusion. It was only 15 minutes into the battle and a fifth, or more, of Braddock’s army was in utter disarray.

It got worse. The baggage train followed the work party. The seething mass of terrified men, mingling almost aimlessly, now had whatever hope of escape they might have had blocked by their own supplies. Officers desperately tried to maintain order throughout the battle. The chaos was becoming uncontrollable. The horses of the train began to feel the panic. They, too, became uncontrollable. The war whoops of warriors added to the surreal atmosphere of death and destruction.

Meanwhile, Braddock, with his staff, including George Washington, and the bulk of the army, having finished the fording of the Monongahela, heard what they at first thought was skirmishing up ahead. As the nature of the seriousness of the affair became apparent, Braddock led the bulk of troops forward to join the fray. For the second time, a collision occurred on the narrow pathway. As the mingled and mangled vanguard, work party, and baggage train attempted desperate withdrawal, their comrades rushed forward to their aid. Two forces of equal momentum bearing down on one another. All the while, the French and Indian crescent spread out, and after an hour’s time, had about completely engulfed the army of Braddock.

Four times, Braddock had his horse shot out from under him. His officers bravely urged the men to stand. Many officers were shot down by their own rebellious troops. Instead, they huddled. They attempted to burrow to the center. It was slaughter for the British regulars. At one point, 2 6-pounders, that had accompanied the vanguard, were turned against them upon capture by the French. Many of the American militiamen reverted to forest warfare and attempted resistance. Mistaken for Indians, some were killed by their own allies, the British regulars … what relative few were actually returning fire. For two more hours the British attempted to cut their way out of the trap. In vain, a meager attempt was made to seize the rise of ground. It failed.

Deterioration continued, despite the best efforts of Braddock. Mortally wounded, he still attempted rally. The envelopment continued. It was close to becoming a complete encirclement from which there would be no escape. The wagoners, et al, most prominent of whom may have been Daniel Boone and Daniel Morgan, were gone. They had chosen to live to fight another day. Most, if not all, organized resistance ceased to exist. The body of men, those surviving, finally, after enduring 3 hours of hot lead, hideous screams, and death all around them, broke and fled through the opening to the rear not yet closed off by the French. Casualties were horrific. Nearly all the officers and about two-thirds of the fighting men were dead or wounded. Of Braddock’s staff, only Washington was alive and relatively well. The rout was complete. Left in its wake, were artillery, guns, ammunition, wagons laden with supplies, horses, cattle, Braddock’s papers & personal effects, a chest of gold, and dead men … perhaps 500 of them. Pursuers caught the stragglers, captured them, tortured them, killed them. The carnage reached all the way back to the Monongahela River crossing. There, it was abandoned. Pillaging the dead and wounded became the order of the day.

Back at Fort Duquesne, a prisoner whose life was spared, recalled this, a final snippet from right out of The Last of the Mohicans:

After sundown, I beheld a small party coming in with about a dozen prisoners, striped naked, with their hands tied behind their backs, and their faces and parts of their bodies blackened; these prisoners they burned to death on the bank of the Allegheny river, opposite to the fort. I stood on the fort wall until I beheld them begin to burn one of these men; they had him tied to a stake, and kept touching him with firebrands, red-hot irons, &c., and he screamed …: the Indians, in the mean-time, yelling like infernal spirits.

And what of Duncan Cameron, the private? He survived, and his eye-witness testimony adds much to our present day interpretation of the event. He says, simply, of the aftermath: At Night when the Coast was clear, I got me out of my Hiding-place.

One Reliable Estimate of the Casualties

ENGAGED TOTAL KILLED WOUNDED
BRADDOCK
Officers & Staff 96 26 36
Troops, etc. 1373 430 484
BEAUJEU
French 200 8
Indians 600 20

It was a shocking debacle. A superior force was nearly annihilated by an enemy barely half its size. The repercussions, though temporary, were tremendous. The French maintained exclusive control of the forks of the Ohio and the all important Ohio Valley. They had demonstrated their might by crushing a more numerous foe, convincing the united tribes of whom to call Father. Fort Duquesne stood proudly still.

One more thing. Had the fort fallen in 1755, it is very conceivable that Fort Niagara would have followed suit and the French, abandoned early on by their Indian allies, rolled up back into Canada. Very possibly, the siege at Fort William Henry might never have happened. There very well may never have been a The Last of the Mohicans tale to tell!


Point State Park – the site of Fort Duquesne in
present day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

GETTING THERE!

Point State Park, a National Historic Landmark, is at the tip of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle. The 36-acre park is accessible from the east and west by I-376 and I-279, from the north by PA Route 8, and from the south by PA Route 51. In 1758, Fort Pitt was built on the site of Fort Duquesne after the retreating French burned it in the face of superior approaching forces. One of the three restored bastions now houses a museum, the Fort Pitt Museum, which details the history of that era.


On the retreat to safety, General Braddock
succumbed to his wounds a few days after the Battle.
Along the Braddock, or Wilderness, Road [above, with monument on the rise to the left], he rests to this day!

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A Moment in Time at Crow Agency …

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The unzipping sound of a tent flap in the darkness was the first sound of this early morning. I stumbled out into the cool, fresh eastern Montana air. Bumbling around with my flashlight, I managed to get a pot of coffee started on the old propane Coleman stove. Then went off to relieve myself.

We were at Crow Agency, Montana … home of the Crow Indian Tribe, mortal enemies of the Lakota interlopers to their homeland. That is how 6 of them came to be scouts for the 7th U.S. Cavalry, led by General [brevet] George Armstrong Custer, back in 1876. This little campground was just to the east – maybe a little north – of the famous Last Stand Hill where Custer and about 50 of his men were found mutilated … and very dead. But, at that moment, it could have been in my back yard. All was dark & silent, except, for the sound of coffee beginning to percolate. I just sat in silence, absorbing the smell of those brewing coffee grinds.

Poured myself a mug full of the awakening beverage, and then, that zippering sound again. Out rolled my oldest boy, Jesse — then 6 years old. This was 1987. We quietly chatted. Then, the sky began to brighten, ever so slowly. It is very likely that my two other urchins, Adam & Christopher, popped out of the tent about this time.

The day before, we had driven and hiked around the battlefield which stretches some 3 miles along the Little Bighorn River. One of the things that struck me, as we were on foot among the markers – [they are not headstones, though there is a National Cemetery in the Park, but rather markers that denote where bodies,  in some cases specific bodies, where found by the burial parties] – was that you could almost feel the flow of the battle. Those markers make this the most unique National Battlefield in the Park system. Little Bighorn – or, Custer’s Last Stand – is a pristine & peaceful place. Yet, for two days in June it was dusty, loud, violent, and bloody. The dichotomy cannot be ignored.

Little Bighorn sky

courtesy of National Geographic Magazine

The morning sun began to rise. We had a clear view from our campsite up to Last Stand Hill and Battle Ridge beyond. The markers glistened. There was a beautiful orange glow cast upon the site. It was quiet, we had our comforting coffee, it was a glorious sunrise. And we were gazing upon an iconic location where a scene of lifelong interest had taken place. Now, in my reflective mind, it was coming to life.

It was a recipe for our own private nirvana. To this day, those moments were among the most calming I have ever known. Wish I could bottle it: some quiet solitude, a cup of coffee, a dash of children, sprinkle in some sunrise, and a scenic and/or historical site to jump start the imagination. Perfect, to my taste!

Gatherings for the Ages!

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Almost spontaneously, after being innocently suggested by Eric Hurley (Soldier #2) on our Bulletin Board several months ago, the idea of a Mohican Gathering grew out of a love for the film, a desire to see the locations, and, probably most of all, a gnawing craving to meet one another …

So began our first informational page about the Great Mohican Gathering of 1998. In 1999 we saw another Gathering come and go … one that would be very hard to top. Never ones to turn our backs to a challenge, we turned our thoughts to a Third Annual Great Mohican Gathering. Whether it, the 2000 Gathering,  was more successful or not is a matter to be determined by those who came. The 2001 Great Mohican Gathering is behind us, and now the Gathering of 2002 rates as still another smashing success …

2003, unfortunately, had to be “postponed.” And, in 2004 the Gathering continued the hits kept on coming!

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1998 “We came from Indiana & Illinois. We came from Florida, Texas, California and Oregon. We came from North Carolina and the Alaskan frontier. We came from across the Atlantic. Some came only in Spirit. It didn’t matter, for WE came, and we could almost FEEL the presence of those who had wanted to. We came together without anyone making a profit. We came without really knowing WHO it was we were coming to meet. We came to the unknown. Why? Why would virtual strangers, most of whom knew each other ONLY through that intangible realm known as Cyberspace, send their money to who-knows-where for T-Shirts, CRP Packages & movie tickets, pack their bags, and drive, or FLY, to some non-existant place called MohicanLand? This is a question to ponder, much like “The meaning of life,” but we’ll save that for another time. We imagined a dream. We trusted one another. We put a plan together. We MADE it happen! The lure, the one common thread we knew we all shared, was “The Last of the Mohicans”, in its broadest sense. The mystique of that film, of that cast, of those mountains, of even the novel, and certainly, the history was strong enough to make us put aside any fears and turn an unruly mob of merry Posters into an Event we will long remember. So many, though, who helped to foster that dream, and many others who will stumble upon it after the fact, were not able to attend. And so, as the ever-diligent Program Guide Editors pointed out in the GREAT Program Guide (and, it WAS!), we remember you, and dedicate this page to you (along with, of course, those who actually attended). It probably would never have happened without you! A mighty thanks to Rebecca, Victoria, Lynne, Joy, Neuromancer, Bill, Petra, Heather, Joe, She-Who-Tracks …, Norm, Carmen, Katja, Major Bray, Mike, Gretchen, Kathy, Georgette, Kiki, Juanita, Morwenna, and, of course, the illustrious Dr. Mary! (Did I forget anyone?) This Gathering is behind us now … It was a glorious time, but bittersweet, for it was SAD to have to say good-bye. You know? The Gathering firebar 1999 “Did you ever imagine this when you first started?” That question has been asked of us many times, regarding many different situations. The answer is always, “No.” From gaining inspiration from a movie, to tracking down the film’s locations, to laying out a guide booklet, to finally having it printed, to creating a web site through which to sell it, to seeing that web site expand far beyond our wildest dreams, to all the cast contacts, to all the fine contributions from people we had never before known, to watching as a real live virtual community sprung up before our eyes and called itself MohicanLand – the combined personality of which extends to The Gathering – to seeing the interactive part result, spontaneously, in a Great Mohican Gathering last year that was to become a lifelong memory for 38 lucky people … An amazing odyssey. It’s been creative, fun, challenging … and endearing. We have, with the love and support of so many of you, overcome huge obstacles placed in our path. We have laughed till we’ve cried & cried till we laughed. How could another Great Mohican Gathering, in 1999, be anything but a disappointment, a letdown … With the spontaneity gone, would it, COULD it, ever be a success? Or would the Trail finally run out?

Eric & KidsThe answer, as 52-some odd folks can readily attest to, is that the Trail can be seen disappearing well into the horizon. We have gathered again, we have trekked the trails that crisscross the beautiful greenery, the blue-tinted mountains, the rushing rivers, that make up MohicanLand. We have had, for the SECOND time, a GREAT Mohican Gathering. All the camaraderie, the joking, the poking & retorts … all the shared love of a movie and time … all the creative juices that we can proudly say makes our Board a most very special place … the joy, the scenery, the calm, the music, the wonderful personalities … the totally incongruous mix of people that SOMEHOW fits together to make it all click … it all came together a second time, and it worked! There is a magic about these Gatherings that comes from within each and every individual that attends. That’s what truly makes it all viable. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all for making the 1999 Great Mohican Gathering such a grand success …

It was nearly a year in the making. Almost immediately, following the ’98 event, the planning began. The Gathering is NOT a one man, or woman, show. Ilse Maan, our Dutch Trader, took on the work of designing & producing a unique T-shirt to help commemorate the event. Jo Tishler, a hold over from last year’s 3 Little Piggies, teamed with a fourth, Sarah Zentner, to create a beautiful & informative Program Guide to help to orient everyone to the proceedings. The Mighty Mohican Mama, Marcia Meara, set up our splendid Chimney Rock deal, including the infamous Bunkhouse, put together the welcome packets, and handled the organizing of the raffles, among other things. We heartily thank you all for making our job so much easier. It wouldn’t have happened without you. Then, of course, there’s Soldier #2, Eric Hurley, who each year blesses the event with his bubbling personality, good-will, and on the scene perspective of the filming at almost every location that we visit, John Evans with his collection of props from the film, Susan Houck with her Celtic music, John Harkins with his longhunter outfit, Emily McGowan with her 35mm preview of LOTM – donated for future Gatherings – Adrienne Brown and her magnificently sculpted Hawkeye doll … so many things brought to display or donated to raffle. And then, there’s each & every person who attends, bringing their own special charms & personality, that all blend together to create that magic … Yes, it always comes back to those who come … that is, indeed, what it is all about! Group At Linvillefirebar 2000

We could begin the telling of this tale in very much the same way the past two Gathering events were recounted. In fact, we could probably get away with using the same WORDS, practically verbatim … Ahhh, but that would be cheating! And, in fact, this Gathering, in the year 2000, was very much different from previous events. It would seem, that all three Gatherings to date have had their own unique personalities, despite the obvious similarities. The first one was new … and short. The second time around, we expanded to a third day, visited The River Walk, and had a very special guest in Eric Schweig. Then, the third rolled around. The second had been pulled off to near perfection. Could it be matched? Well, the sign up list grew … and grew … and despite a last week shuffling of attendees due to cancellations, near cancellations, and last-minute sign ons, the roster was at an all-time high. Amongst those putting The Gathering together, this was a cause of some trepidation. How in the world would we handle a group of 80, far surpassing either of the past two Gatherings – in fact, nearly equaling both of them COMBINED – on the trails that lead through Mohicanland? How would a 30 or 40 vehicle caravan ever stay together through the twists & turns of Mohicanland’s back roads? And then, even though there were many returnees from the previous groups, there were even MORE newcomers! Would we jell? Would the camaraderie & friendships; the good-humor & good-will still be center stage? Or, instead, would it simply deteriorate into a “tour” of film locations?

We’re glad you asked!

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In a darkened theater, some 90, or more, pairs of eyes are fixed on their duty … the screen in front of them. On the horizon, for the morrow, is a hike along the Cliff Trail of Chimney Rock Park, but there it is, larger than life, before us right now. Uncas has been killed. One of the most poignant moments of a stirring film is unfolding. A lifeless lover has been tossed from the cliff by a ruthless villain. The remaining partner, dazed and confused by the horrors of frontier warfare, has come to grips with her ever downward spiraling situation and has, finally, taken control. She will plunge over the cliff to join Uncas. That villain, Magua, startled by this development, beckons Alice to come back …

[voice from the theater] “I’m coming honey!”

Funny, I don’t remember THAT particular line … I’ll have to go back and check the script.

The film rolls on … a father violently reaps his revenge. Yes, Chingachgook, father of Uncas, has caught  up with the Huron war party and stands face to face with his adversary … Magua. A brief, but brutal, struggle ensues and Magua collapses, broken & dead, on the rock, as Hickory Nut Falls gushes by. His head smashes to the ground, blood gurgling at his mouth. The audience cheers. After all, he IS the villain!

“Thank you, very much!”

Huh? Surely, THAT line’s not in the film! No, it’s not. But on this night, it is there, clear as day. It is the voice of “Magua,” emanating from right there in the center of the theater, come to life. We found we really were watching the film with Wes Studi …

… And that’s the kind of Gathering this was!

In a darkened theater, some 90, or more, pairs of eyes are fixed on their duty … the screen in front of them. On the horizon, for the morrow, is a hike along the Cliff Trail of Chimney Rock Park, but there it is, larger than life, before us right now. Uncas has been killed. One of the most poignant moments of a stirring film is unfolding. A lifeless lover has been tossed from the cliff by a ruthless villain. The remaining partner, dazed and confused by the horrors of frontier warfare, has come to grips with her ever downward spiraling situation and has, finally, taken control. She will plunge over the cliff to join Uncas. That villain, Magua, startled by this development, beckons Alice to come back …

[voice from the theater] “I’m coming honey!”

Funny, I don’t remember THAT particular line … I’ll have to go back and check the script.

The film rolls on … a father violently reaps his revenge. Yes, Chingachgook, father of Uncas, has caught  up with the Huron war party and stands face to face with his adversary … Magua. A brief, but brutal, struggle ensues and Magua collapses, broken & dead, on the rock, as Hickory Nut Falls gushes by. His head smashes to the ground, blood gurgling at his mouth. The audience cheers. After all, he IS the villain!

“Thank you, very much!”

Huh? Surely, THAT line’s not in the film! No, it’s not. But on this night, it is there, clear as day. It is the voice of “Magua,” emanating from right there in the center of the theater, come to life. We found we really were watching the film with Wes Studi …

… And that’s the kind of Gathering this was!

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A  personal reflection ….

Imagine … imagine you are in a company of perhaps 80-100 soldiers. You are sent into battle with comrades you have trained with, laughed with, cried with. Your company suffers very heavy casualties. The next time you muster up, there are perhaps only 50% of you left. You look around. Many friends are gone. Imagine …

I felt very much like that as I planned & prepared for this Gathering. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing; wasn’t sure I even wanted to proceed. Yet, something kept driving me, and though I was looking forward to “getting it over with” more than anything else, I proceeded forward into what I felt was the unknown. Certainly, I was looking forward to seeing some of the familiar faces I’ve come to know & love, and I definitely felt that I owed it to the “newbies” to show them a good time, but other parts of me felt it probably would have been better to just let it lay, with the Wes Studi-themed Gathering 4 the Grand Finale of it all! The events of September 11, 2001 also played a part … a large part … in the dismal outlook. It took months for me to somewhat shake the horrible feelings of that day and begin to feel like a Mohican Gathering might even remotely seem appropriate. Those feelings aside, I believe that once committed, stay the course … and so the Great Mohican Gathering of 2002, with much assistance from fellow Mohicanites, was allowed to be born.

As the time drew nearer, I had flashes of excitement, periods of the blahs … no matter how hard I tried to just go with the flow & let it be whatever it would turn out to be, it kept coming back to, “well, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.” It seemed, too, that Murphy’s Law was settling in, and just about everything that could go wrong did – delays, unexpected expenses, key cancellations – and all that compounded the gloomy feelings. In one way, it all very much felt like the first Gathering in 1998 – so much was unknown – yet for me it was lacking in that overall sense of euphoric excitement. And it all – or, mostly all – boiled down to so many missing faces as the root cause! It would have been oh-so-very-easy to allow the past dispute & ugliness to pervade & let the Great Mohican Gatherings die a rather unseemly death … tombstone & all … ala the old Mohican WWW Board. But like the old Mohican WWW Board, which has found rejuvenating life & exuberance in a new, revamped format … well, I’ll let the Gathering of 2002 tell its own story … but, before I do, some key moments & unknowing inspirers:

  • Diane Bunch writing an innocent E-mail to me where the unspoiled excitement of a soon-to-be new Gatherer allowed the freshness & enthusiasm of the Gatherings to once again seem possible to attain

  • Jayne Langan stepping forward as a worthy successor to head up Ariel’s Auction, allowing the Gathering to remain something more than simply a good time

  • Ann Colby & her never-dying positive outlook

  • Kate Penman rejoining the cause & helping to push for participation in Ariel’s Auction with an impassioned plea

So, I went on down to the Geneva, in Chimney Rock Village, on Wednesday evening, June 19, carrying with me much consternation, trepidation, a little hope, and a brand-new Gatherer, Ariel Segal who I had just picked up at the Greyhound terminal in Asheville. The hope began to swell, and the fears to subside, as we pulled into Hickory Nut Gorge on a early summer’s late afternoon. The sun drenched cliffs were a welcome, and invigorating sight, the familiar feel of The Gathering Place at the Geneva, filling with raffle items of all descriptions, not to mention folks I really cared about, all began to jell, beginning to create that special mix of Gathering magic that has been the Gathering’s trademark.

I returned home that night feeling a lot better about things, and then …

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Dear Rich and the Mohican Group:
 
Russell and I would like to express our appreciation to the Group for your gracious warm welcome at your annual gathering last month.  We had a wonderful time.  The bar-b-que was delicious, many thanks to those that organized and to all that gave us gifts, the bar-b-que sauce, Vermont syrup, apple butter, etc. etc. (and yes, Russell persuaded me [to] carry the left over short bread and ginger snaps on the plane home)!   You can take the man off the rez, but you can’t take the rez out of the man!
 
You are a great family.  May the Great Mystery continue to guide and protect the paths of you and your loved ones.  

… Pearl and Russell Means

firebarMore Gatherings, more photos, more details, at: http://www.mohicanpress.com/mo02000.html

Who Done It?

Tags

,

Didn’t mean for this to end up being my great American novel. It’s a long story!!

Arrest

Just happened to be my day off. Back in those days, we had rotating days off at the Post Office. It was a Thursday, the Thursday after Labor Day weekend – must have been 1998? – and it was my Thursday to be off. Sitting at my computer, hair loose & wet from a shower, I heard a vehicle coming up our long, gravel driveway. Got up, peered out the window. A Sheriff’s Deputy was approaching the house. My eldest son, Jesse, had left for work not very long before, so immediately my thoughts turned to the worst. I opened the door and stepped outside, with much trepidation, to greet the Deputy. “I have a warrant for a Robert …” then he stumbled over and badly mangled my last name. “No Roberts here.” “Can I see your ID?” “Sure.” I went to fetch my wallet and pulled out my driver’s license, handing it over to him. The Deputy studied it for a moment, then handed it back. “Well, I guess this is a bad warrant. Have a nice day.” Back to my PC I went, relieved that it had nothing to do with my son.

Maybe 45 minutes later, I heard the sound of tires on gravel once again. “Jeez Louise!” It was the Deputy’s car again. My house sat in the middle of 16 acres. Our front pasture bordered the road and a neighbor’s house sat across from it, also with a sizeable pasture. The neighbor had watched the Deputy come and go the first time, leaving empty-handed. The gentleman – I’ll call him “Mr. Neighborly” – jumped in his car and chased down the Deputy, returning to the Court House to get a new warrant issued. This time, in MY name. So, the Deputy comes up to the house. I once again greet him.

Deputy: “Richard Federici, I have a warrant for your arrest.”

Me: “What the … ? For what?”

“A dog shooting.”

“WHAT? Oh, I think I know what you’re talking about, but I have never shot anyone’s dog … ever!”

I found it hard to believe that someone could get arrested just on somebody’s say so. I remember thinking, “Can you just pick a name from the phone book and have them arrested?” And I said that to the Deputy. I also asked, “How can you arrest me without even questioning me? What if I was out-of-town the date of the incident?” We were discussing all of this as I sat in the back seat of his vehicle on my way to see the Magistrate. Before all that, he let me dry my hair. He was a nice fellow and sympathetic, but in essence, all he had to say was, “Tell it to the Judge!”

Wild West at the Homestead

Let’s back up to Labor Day, the date of the alleged incident. To the best of my recollection:

A Great Dane

The plan was to take the family out for a hike on Table Rock Mountain on Labor Day. Our dog, a border collie mix, decided it was time to go into heat. So, the night before the hike, our house was under siege by every male dog [aren’t we all] in the neighborhood. There was an all-night ruckus going on right outside my bedroom window … dogs snarling, barking, huffing & puffing, as they jockeyed for male supremacy, and, I guess, first dibs. It all sounded quite lively and downright vicious, and had a very detrimental effect on my sleep turning me into a snarling, barking, huffing and puffing sleep-deprived grump in the morning. Hike canceled! My now estranged wife – I have an estranged wife; she only has a very STRANGE husband – decided to go out and get a take-out breakfast as a little make-up treat for the kids, some of who accompanied her. They slipped out the back door to avoid the restless pack out front, hopped in the van, and drove off. Upon their return, the van was surrounded by the yapping crowd of dogs. The sliding side door of the van was opened, and a huge black Great Dane attempted entry. The dogs were pretty much in a frenzy. Wife & kids escaped through the front and made it safely back in the house. I asked my son, Adam, to see if he could disperse the pack who had now re-gathered out front. His novel approach to that task was to take a folding chair and catapult  it off the front porch into the midst of these barbarian hordes. It actually worked. All dogs took off for cover and disappeared, except for that huge black Great Dane, who just so happened to belong to that neighbor across the road, Mr. Neighborly. This little fella was known to run rampant on our property and on this very day was seen with one of our chickens hanging dead from his gapping mouth.

During all this time, dour old me was laying on the couch with a major headache. Not Daisy BB gunonce during any of these events of the morning did I step outside of the house. The Great Dane was insistent that he was staying put. “Just do whatever you can to get him to go,” I said to no one in particular. My son, Chris, then 12 years old, retrieved his Daisy BB gun and went to face the enemy. From the top of the porch steps he fired a BB down at the pooch’s feet. He backed down the front walk to the driveway, more afraid of the sound than anything else. It should be noted here that because of a line of tall evergreen trees it is impossible to see these events from the road. Chris followed the Great Dane sort of shooing him along until he was out in the pasture in full view of the road and the house he lives in just across it. At a distance of at least 100 feet, Chris fired another shot in his direction and he scampered off toward home. That was the last we saw of him that day, though he was back, rambunctious as always, within a day or two. But, for all intents and purposes, that was that. It was over. No harm, no foul. We never gave it another thought.

Until Thursday …

Get Me Outta Here

Sheriff’s car pulls up to the court House and takes me in to see the Magistrate. She looked over the charge; I reaffirmed my innocence. She responded that I would have to be held — in jail — unless I came up with $500 bond. I was incensed.

Me: “What! You’re going to hold me with bail for something I never did? For something I was never even questioned about? You couldn’t even get the warrant right!”

Magistrate: “Have to hold you.”

“Look, I don’t have the money. I’m not going to flee the Country over this bogus charge.”

“Sorry, we have to hold you.”

“I’m not fleeing, I have a wife & 7 kids back at the house.”

“Sorry.”

“I’m a land owner, I pay my taxes, you have got to be kidding!!”

“Sorry.”

“I have to pay you to get out of here because some guy says so? I didn’t do a thing.”

“Sorry.”

“You think I’m going to run over this BS? I work right at the Post Office …”

“OH! You work at the Post Office? OK, you can are free to go.”

Well dang! Who knew the Post Office held so much sway? I had POWER!

So, I made it to my court date, after a couple of continuances. One was a kicker. The guy accusing me was right there in the court room, yet, the Judge postponed it because of “failure to appear,” or something. I was told, because he didn’t answer to his name, he wasn’t there. I saw him. Sitting right there! At this point, I knew I was in for hell and that something was not right. What the heck just happened?

Court 1

I had hired a lawyer, still practicing today. He had told me that I would have been better off shooting the dog with a .22 and dragging him to a creek. That’s what he would have done, he told me. He also asked me if, as a last resort, he could call Chris as a witness. I agreed, as a last resort. It was crazy. my accuser brought a veterinarian from Hickory in as a witness, complete with X-Rays. They claimed the “bullet” had ruptured this and mangled that … the dog was dying because of his “injuries.” This was just impossible. A blatant, made-up testimonial. The Judge asked the plaintiff if he was sure it was me that shot his dog. “Yes, I am positive it was him. I see him mowing his pasture all the time. I know exactly who it was.” Another, blatant, made up lie! He even claimed, “I” was about 100 YARDS away from his dog when “I” fired. That was roughly 3 times further than Chris actually was. Another blatant, made up lie, but this one actually undermined his case. I guess it was last resort time, as much to my dismay, my lawyer then called my son as a witness. In short, “Who shot the dog?” “I did.” Not only because someone else admitted to the “crime,” but, the Judge, a firearms aficionado, stated at close, “there is no way a BB at 300 feet could do the damage portrayed in that X-Ray to a dog of that size. Case dismissed.”

End of story? Not quite.

Bad Boy or Good Boy?

So, Mr. Neighborly across the street, not satisfied with that result, decided – even though he was absolutely sure that he personally saw me shoot his dog – was going to press charges against Chris. To say I was teed off is a gross understatement. Before charges could be officially levied against my 12 year old, we had to endure an interview with some guy, name and title escapes me, to see if there was reason enough to proceed. Kind of like a Grand Jury – only just him. He had something to do with the schools – a mix between a guidance counselor, truant officer, and parole officer – I don’t know what he was. But, off we went one night for our interrogation. It was at Pleasant Gardens Elementary School, I believe [PG being a part of Marion] and lasted a couple of hours. I made the case that Christopher was an A student, active in sports, had no disciplinary history. I told him that he was only trying to protect his family and following my “orders” – things that should be complimented not punished – and that he had no desire to hurt the dog, nor did he. It was only a case of a young boy trying to find a way to shoo a huge, agitated animal off his property. What if, when the dog attempted entry to the side of the van, he had bitten my youngest child in the face? All for naught. I think we were just going through the motions; that his decision was already made before we walked in — I told you, something wasn’t right. “I find that there is reason to proceed.” Proceed we did.

Court 2

I wasn’t going to mess around this time. Now it wasn’t me, it was my son, and I did feel somewhat guilty for the actions of my lawyer in putting him on the stand. I asked around, “Who is the best lawyer in town?” Pretty much everyone responded with the same name, now deceased. In my limited experience in the McDowell County Courts, it was my observation that most of the lawyers were merely paper pushers. This guy was like a real trial lawyer. He dug up case law, interviewed thoroughly, and had a plan. He was actually going to present a defense. I felt that we were prepared. Still, I was VERY nervous. I had to sit in the courtroom and watch my son go through this. Poor Christopher.

Court date finally came. Mr. Neighborly was, strangely, sitting off to the left in a partitioned section of the Courtroom — WITH the Deputies. As I have said, something was amiss. I was called to testify … and testy I did become! I was appalled that there was no transcript from MY trial, because Mr. Neighborly had, during his time on the stand, contradicted that testimony several times. He claimed a van never went out or in the driveway, that he was on the phone talking and looking out the window the entire time. He claimed he could see Chris … not me … shoot from the porch [not possible], he changed the distance and so on. Our lawyer did ask him if there was any way he could have confused Chris for me [referring to the first trial]. While I was up there, the Judge had to tell me to behave, because I bluntly called the man a liar. Photos of a little puppy Great Dane were presented – how cute; so was one of our dead chicken. Our lawyer presented case precedents. Now, it was time for closing arguments.

The DA pretty much ignored everything and literally spun a yarn about what “really” happened. He went on about how Chris hadn’t actually done it at all. That I had forced my family to lie and that I had snuck out of the house with a gun and shot the dog. It didn’t make sense, was all a figment of his imagination, and I was fuming. On & on it went. He had just finished trying my son for a “crime” and now he was saying that I did it. What ever happened to double jeopardy? I was doing all I could do to contain myself and not blurt out something I’d regret. And, I might have done just that, but no sooner had the last lying word slanderously slithered out of the DA’s mouth when the Judge said emphatically, “Where I come from, if a dog kills your livestock, you shoot it. Case dismissed!”

My rear end must have flown about 3 feet up in the air. This, was finally over!

Addendum

Years later, the scene of the “crime” – Poor old Lassie can be seen, lower right, near the date stamp.

We all felt a great sense of relief. After hugs and thanks, I went to the office where one can file a false arrest counter suit. The clerk was getting me the papers, when who should walk by but, Mr. Neighborly. POP! I lost it. Got right in his face and ran up one side of him and down the other. All the pent up frustration just poured out. So did all the employees in the building it was so loud. We were pulled apart, and I remember someone saying to me in my ear, “You’re going to get yourself arrested.” Talk about creating your very own “Ground Hog Day”!. What a mess that would have been.

Anger & frustration released, I decided that we had won – twice – and the satisfaction of that would suffice. No counter suit filed.

Now, it WAS over!! CASE DISMISSED!

If only we had just gone to Table Rock! But, I have to wonder, where DID those X-Rays come from?


NOTE 1 – Prior to these incidents, there was no animosity of any kind – that I was aware of – between Mr. Neighborly & my family. In fact, I thought he was a good guy!

NOTE 2 – Justice prevailed. Due to the several anomalies recorded above, I had serious doubts that it would. I was getting the feeling that Mr. Neighborly & at least some law enforcement and/or court officials were cohorts. The results were even more rewarding because of that!

Note 3 – The story is recounted to the best of my recollection. Christopher, being younger & sharper, may be able to provide more detail and correct any that I reported incorrectly.