Friday, November 20, 2020

A Short History of the Cigar

 


The native people of the American continent were the first to grow and smoke tobacco. Tobacco was first used by the Maya of Central America.  When the Maya civilization collapsed, scattered tribes carried tobacco into North and South America. Columbus brought awareness of tobacco to Europe.

In due course returning conquistadores introduced tobacco smoking to Spain and Portugal. The habit, a sign of wealth, then spread to France, through the French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot (who eventually gave his name to nicotine).

The word tobacco, some say, was a corruption of Tobago, the name of a Caribbean island. Others claim it comes from the Tabasco province of Mexico. The word cigar originated from sikar, the Mayan word for smoking.

The habit of smoking cigars spread from Spain, where cigars using Cuban tobacco were made in Seville from 1717 onwards. By 1790 cigar manufacture had spread north of the Pyrenees with small factories being setup in France and Germany.  Cigar smoking did not become really popular in Britain until after the Peninsular War (1806-12) against Napoleon, when returning British veterans spread the habit they had learned while serving in Spain. Production of segars, as they were known, began in Britain in 1820.

Cigar smoking became such a widespread custom in Britain that smoking cars became a feature in trains, and the smoking room was introduced in clubs and hotels. The habit even influenced clothing--with the introduction of the smoking jacket.


How Sherlock Holmes Lived



Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are mysterious, forbidding, and dangerous.  The Superstitions are said to have claimed over five hundred lives.  What were these people looking for?  Is it possible that these mountains hide a vast treasure?  Is it possible that UFOs land here?  Is it possible that in these mountains there is a door leading to the great underground city of the Lizard Men?  Join us as we recount a fictional story of the Superstitions and then look at the real history of the legends that haunt these mountains in our new book:  Gold, Murder and Monsters in the Superstition Mountains.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Richmond Hospitals 1861-1865


Richmond became a major hospital center during the Civil War.  The Moore Hospital is seen below.  Running a hospital presented many challenges, none more challenging than obtaining supplies.  When the Civil War began, the Federal government cut off sales of medical supplies to the Confederacy. Unable to import enough medical supplies, the South began manufacturing medicines from its own native plants.

 

Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Va., April, 1865 (seen below) was the largest Confederate hospital.  With over five thousand beds in 150 buildings and tents, Chimborazo Hospital treated over 77,000 patients during the war.  The hospital relied on male slaves rented from local plantation owners to serve as nurses.




Women Doctors in the Civil War




Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Richmond Offices of the Confederate Government 1861-1865

The Custom House, the first Federal building ever built in Richmond is seen below.  This building provided offices for Confederate President Jefferson Davis and other executive staff, including the Confederate Treasury Department. At the end of the Civil War, the Richmond evacuation fire of 1865 left much of Richmond in ruins.


The view from the south side of Canal Basin is seen below, showing the Capitol, the Custom House and other structures after the fire of April, 1865.


The Custom House is seen below. With its stout granite walls and inflammable roof, the building survived the fire. In 1866, the Grand Jury of the United States District Court met on the third floor and indicted Jefferson Davis for treason. Davis was granted amnesty and never stood trial.









Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond (1861-1865)

 

Once Virginia seceded, the Confederate government moved the capital from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia.  Richmond was the South’s second largest city with a population of 40,000 (this tripled in the war years). The move served to solidify the state of Virginia’s position in the Confederacy. Virginia’s hundreds of factories, whose output nearly equaled that of the rest of the Confederacy, were vital to the new nation.


 
Richmond 1861-1865

Richmond was the iron and coal center of the South.  The Tredegar Iron works  manufactured a diverse array of products, including cannon and ordnance for the Confederate government.  Tredegar produced more than 1,000 cannons for the Confederacy.  It also made armor plating for use on Confederate ironclad warships.




The Tredegar Iron Works



                Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Civil War


The 1865 Fall of Richmond in Pictures


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Woodrow Wilson’s “Beast”

 

At the Woodrow Wilson Museum, Staunton, Virginia

Woodrow Wilson returned from the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 to be greeted by cheering crowds and this gleaming new Pierce-Arrow limousine.

Leased by the U.S. Government, this car quickly became the President’s favorite. One of the finest luxury cars of the day, Pierce-Arrow sold cars to the Emperor of Japan, the Shah of Persia, the King of Greece and royalty throughout Europe and the Middle East.  The company was often referred to as “the American Rolls-Royce.”

When Wilson left office, five of his wealthy Princeton classmates bought the car and presented it as a gift to the ex-president.  Although the first president to join the American Automobile Association (AAA), Wilson never had a driver’s license.  His wife Edith, however, owned and drove her own electric car.



Edith Wilson and her electric car







Saturday, September 19, 2020

John Singleton Mosby After the War

 

As a child, John Singleton Mosby was small, sickly and was often the target of bullying. He would respond by fighting back. During the course of the Civil War Mosby was wounded seven times. For someone who had been a sickly youth, he proved quite resilient, dying at the age of 82 on May 30, 1916.

Northern Virginia was a region of small and scattered communities set amid gently rolling hills.  It was an ideal area for cavalry operations; and in the last three years of the war Mosby's horsemen so dominated activities in the area that it was often called "Mosby's Confederacy". 

Mosby never officially surrendered to Federal forces.  Mosby wrote of his exploits, “It is a classical maxim that it is sweet and becoming to die for one's country; but whoever has seen the horrors of a battlefield feels that it is far sweeter to live for it.”

Mosby disapproved of slavery but once said,  “I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery – a soldier fights for his country – right or wrong – he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in . . . The South was my country.”

After the war, the thirty one year old Mosby opened a law office in Warrenton, Virginia and lived in a large white house at 173 Main Street for nine years.  When he decided to support President Grant and the Republican Party, many called him a turncoat. One night someone shot at Mosby after he disembarked from a train at the depot.

Mosby went on to become a distinguished railway lawyer.  He also served as U.S. consul to Hong Kong and in several other Federal government posts.  Although Mosby’s war time exploits have been romanticized, he himself once said that there was, “no man in the Confederate Army who had less of the spirit of knight-errantry in him, or took a more practical view of war than I did.”




 

Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Civil War

 A brief look at love, sex, and marriage in the Civil War. The book covers courtship, marriage, birth control and pregnancy, divorce, slavery and the impact of the war on social customs.



Civil War Humor 1861-1865

 A brief but fascinating look at humor in the Civil War including: (1) Stories Around the Campfire, (2) Parody, (3) the Irish, (4) Humorous Incidents, (5) Civil War Humorists, and (6) Lincoln.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

The Strange Case of the Republic of Fredonia (Fredonia, Texas)

 


If you have ever heard of the nation of “Fredonia”, you probably associate it with a mythical European state portrayed in the Marx Brothers' classic film Duck Soup.

 

There was, however, an actual, all be it short lived, independent state of “Fredonia” carved out in East Texas and centered on the modern day city of Nacogdoches (population 33,500).

 

In the early 1800’s, the Republic of Mexico granted land and privileges to so called empresarios  who agreed to bring settlers into the sparsely inhabited areas of Texas.  The empresarios pledged loyalty to Mexico, but in reality were a long way from the population centers of Mexico and became quite independent.  Stephen Austin was the most famous of these empresarios, but there were others, including one Haden Edwards.

 

In September 1825, Haden Edwards acquired a grant from Mexico to settle eight hundred families in an area that included Nacogdoches. Edwards posted notices in Nacogdoches demanding that all current landowners show evidence of their claims or forfeit their land to him. Edwards’ high handed methods alienated the existing population.  Ill feelings festered until authorities in Mexico annulled the Edwards land grant in 1826 and ordered Edwards to leave Texas.

 

Lt. Col. Mateo Ahumada, set out from San Antonio with 110 infantrymen and twenty mounted troopers to enforce the expulsion order.   Edwards, in turn, vowed to recruit an army and win independence from Mexico.  Edwards named his new country the Republic of Fredonia, and hurriedly sought to finalize a treaty with the nearby Cherokee to strengthen his hand.  Edwards also petitioned Stephen Austin for aid.  Not only did Austin refuse to help the revolution, but he also sent one hundred militiamen to support the Mexican army.

 

Haden Edwards appointed his brother, Benjamin, to lead the new nation, while he went to the United States to raise support. Benjamin Edwards gathered a band of thirty loyal men and rode to Nacogdoches. The rebels seized control of the Old Stone Fort and ripped down the Mexican flag, re-placing it with the flag of Fredonia.

 

The new republic only survived a few weeks. When the Mexican army arrived on January 31, 1827, the revolutionaries fled across the border into the United States without firing a shot.




Sneak Attack! (Four Alternative History Stories)


Sun Tzu, the Master of War, once said, “Those who are skilled in producing surprises will win. In conflict, surprise will lead to victory. ” Here are four stories about the history of the world IF wars we know about happened differently or IF wars that never happened actually took place.

Including:
1.The Hostage, in which Abraham Lincoln is kidnapped by the rebels.
2.The German Invasion of America of 1889, in which Germany unexpectedly launches its might against the United States.
3.The Invasion of Canada 1933, in which the new American dictator launches a sneak attack on Canada.
4.Cherry Blossoms at Night: Japan Attacks the American Homeland (1942), in which Japan attacks the American homeland in a very surprising way.