Friday, June 24, 2016

Who Was the Worst General in History?


Success leaves clues.  So does failure.  Some of history’s best known commanders are remembered not for their brilliant victories but for their catastrophic blunders.  Here are history’s ten worst generals (in no particular order). 

1.     John Armstrong Jr.’s incompetence was responsible for the burning of Washington during the War of 1812.

2.     Oreste Baratieri was an Italian general responsible for the most crushing defeat ever suffered by a colonial European power by native forces in Africa.

3.     Edward Braddock’s army made so much noise the enemy always knew where he was, but Braddock didn’t have a clue where the enemy was until he was ambushed.

4.     Roman General Marcus Crassus stood his ground and hoped the enemy would run out of arrows before he ran out of men.  They didn’t.

5.     George Armstrong Custer announced to his men, “We’ve caught them napping!”, just before suffering the most stunning defeat of the Indian Wars.

6.     British Major General William Elphinstone is considered by some military historians to be “the most incompetent soldier who ever became a general”, possessed of “the leadership qualities of a sheep.”

7.     Brigadier General William Hull is the only American general to have ever been sentenced to death by a court-martial.

8.     Francisco Solano Lopez was responsible for the deaths of half of his fellow countrymen.

9.     Sir Charles MacCarthy forgot to take the ammunition and wound up having his skull used as a drinking cup at the annual Yam Festival.

10.  Alexander Samsonov didn’t feed the troops and ended up shooting himself on the battlefield.


History's Ten Worst Generals

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Victorian Cemeteries


Those who conceived the idea of the modern cemetery anticipated the movement for public parks.  Cemeteries provided the public with beautiful outdoor gathering spaces during a time when parks were scarce. Out of the movement to beautify cemeteries arose a custom of gathering in these new public spaces. Families picnicked near gravesites, and children played there. Somewhere along the way, this practice fell by the wayside.  The appreciation of cemeteries has made a comeback in the digital age.  Many genealogists have been using the Internet and GPS systems to locate the graves of long lost ancestors.  This renewed interest in cemeteries has spread to an interest in photographing tombstones, the growth of in-depth historical research, and even cemetery tourism.



Historic cemeteries are a treasure trove of art, biography and philosophy, one’s last chance to shout out to posterity “This is who I was, this is what was important to me”.  Art, symbols and inscriptions are called upon to succinctly capture the essence of life in a beautiful and meaningful way.




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

U.S. History of Arresting Dangerous Immigrants



America entered World War I on April 6, 1917. Un-naturalized Germans and even first and second generation naturalized German immigrants were widely seen as the “enemy within”.

Surveillance operations, conducted by such government agencies as the Alien Enemy Bureau, led to over 10,000 arrests.  Some 8,500 arrests were conducted under presidential warrants. Most of those arrested were released after a brief period of investigation.  Almost twenty five per cent of those detained, however, were found to be “dangerous enemy aliens” and interned in two camps set up by the War Department.  In the spring of 1918, the government began interning female enemy aliens suspected of aiding the enemy.  Scores of women were arrested, but only fifteen were held indefinitely

German-speaking communities were largely erased by the war and the anti-German feeling it created.  This was done through aggressive assimilation by hitherto self-identifying German-speaking communities.

A brief look at the changing historical views (1920 to the present) on the uses and abuses of American domestic propaganda during World War I. Was this a necessary evil or a gross infringement of civil liberties? How, when, and why has opinion changed?