Showing posts from March, 2014

The Great War- Part 1 The Newfoundland Regiment

     When the Great War started in August 1914, the area we know know as Newfoundland was still part of Great Britain and not Canada. When the call for volunteers came out in 1914  following the annihilation of the regular army in Belgium and France, nearly 1,000 men out of the 250,000 people in Newfoundland came forward to answer the call. There had been no military unit from the area in 45 years, but soon the men found themselves on transport ships heading east toward the old world and a continent tearing itself asunder. They saw limited action in support of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) at the failed Gallipoli campaign against "Johnny Turk" in an attempt to take control of the inlet to the black sea away from the Ottoman Empire so that ships could reach Russia and lend support to the Czar. They soon found themselves transferred to the Western Front in preparation for "the big push" against the Germans.     1916 was a year of massive bloo

Characters in History- Sir Hiram Maxim

     There is something out there called "The Great Man" idea in history. The idea that a few prominent and great men shape the course of events in the history of human kind. People like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Stalin, Augustus Caeser, ect. There is also another theory that says all those men would have not gone anywhere without the people under them fighting, working, and dying. Well this series deals with none of that debate. This series is just about weird people who sometime succeed gloriously, fail spectacularly, or do both in grand and entertaining fashion. This is the story of an American emigrant to Europe who invented some things that could have changed the world, and one thing that absolutely changed the world. His name was Hiram Maxim.     Hiram Maxim was born in the north eastern United States in 1840. As he grew up he grew a fondness for tinkering with things. In his early years he invented many things that were simply ahead of his time and did not sel

Small Factoid-Nuclear Conditioning

     Did you know that in the very early days of the atomic age that the United States Army, unaware of the real effects of lingering radioactivity at test sites used to purposely hold their desert warfare training near areas that had been used for above ground testing for atomic weapons? The idea was that just as the human body's immune system can be strengthened by small exposures to certain diseases and poisons, that the human body could be conditioned to handle the radiation on the future battlefields by being exposed to it in increments during peacetime training.     In the U.S. Navy the idea was somewhat the same. During the famous series of late 1940's tests at the pacific atolls, the observing ships pulled water straight from the ocean for bathing and showering, exposing men to radioactive contamination. Many of these men would develop odd illnesses some 10 to 20 years later that we now know is due to radiation exposure from fallout. And if you ever want

Did You Know? Part 4- Haiti Shaped America

Image is not a country we often think about in our day to day lives in the United States. But if it was not for the events that occurred in that nation in 1802, America would likely be very different today socially, economically, and indeed geographically. That is because from 1791-1804 Haiti was the only nation in the history of the world to have a successful slave revolt, and it was only the second nation to shake off a colonial power in a bid for independence. This small one half of the island of Hispaniola shaped events that led to a change of course in the Napoleonic enterprise for French world domination and the sale of the Louisiana Territory to the United State in 1803. And here is why...      While we don't think of it as a HUGE cash crop today, back in the 19th century and before, the sugar trade was big business for the British and French colonial empires. British Jamaica and French Haiti were responsible for almost 80% of cane sugar production at one point.

Did You Know? Part 3- Odd Booth-Lincoln Story

     This is a story about just how different siblings can be from one another, and just how small of a world we live in. We all know the name John Wilkes Booth, the famous, or should I say infamous assassin who shot President Abraham Lincoln at Fords Theater in Washington D.C. in April 1865. But did you know that John Wilkes Booth had a brother who was also an actor of high standing? Indeed the Booth brothers were two of the most famous actors of the 1860's in America with the older brother Edwin Booth being renown for his parts in the tragedies of Shakespeare.     A few months before Lincoln was assassinated by his younger brother John, Edwin Booth actually happened to save the life of Abraham Lincoln's son Robert Todd Lincoln.  The two men were at a train station. The rail car floor was even with the train station platform but there was a gap between the two. When the crowd began to push forward, Robert Todd Lincoln was pushed off balance and fell in between the rail car a

Did You Know? Part 2- The Bed That Might Have Killed a President

     On July 2nd, 1881 President James A. Garfield was shot with a British 442 caliber Bulldog type revolver by a man named Charles Guiteau. It had only been 16 years since the first president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Fords Theater. Ironically, Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln(now secretary of war) was accompanying the president when he was shot in the back twice by Guiteau. What is interesting about this assassination was that the President, being strong, lived on for 11 weeks before succumbing to his wounds. And that is where the story gets interesting, because had a few interesting turns of events gone differently, he would have likely survived.      When he was initially shot, the president's doctors assumed he would not live through the night, but indeed he did pull through and had one of the two bullets removed. The other could not be located. This is where a man known for his invention of the telephone comes into the story. As the pre

Did you know? Part 1- Alamo Related History In Illinois

        We have all heard the tale of the Alamo where brave American and Texan icons like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie were among the nearly 200 brave souls that perished to defend the old Spanish mission from almost 2,000 Mexican soldiers led by the famous General Santa Anna. Santa Anna may have won that day, but in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 he was not nearly successful. While he was super crafty and played Mexico and America in order to get back into his homeland from an imposed exile(offered to negotiate a settlement for the USA, and offered Mexico his military leadership...which he then used to take power), he ultimately failed to defeat the American army. He was surprised by American soldiers and ran off after a battle....well hopped off.     What you may not know(unless you watched the one episode of King of the Hill) is that he had an old war injury from a previous war against France called "The French Pastry War". France militarily intervened in Mex

Know your Constitution Series: Part 1 - The Motivation for the First Amendment

     Most of all have taken some sort of American government class at some point and time, and we all learned about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights but we really did not learn the history behind the various amendments. Every single law, and amendments are laws, are on the books for a reason. They are a reaction to an existing or past problem that intends on creating a solution. The purpose of this series on this blog is to tell the story behind the amendments. What better amendment to begin with than the first one. " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. "      The "Establishment Clause" as its called is perhaps one of the most misunderstood rights we possess in the United States of America. Most people have probably hea