Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, Last Living World War II Medal of Honor Winner, Dead At 98.

Sad news: Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last living Medal of Honor winner from World War II, has died at age 98.

Williams was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 5, 1945, from President Harry S. Truman for his “valiant devotion to duty,” the Woody Williams Foundation said.

“Today at 3:15am, Hershel Woodrow Williams, affectionately known by many as Woody went home to be with the Lord. Woody peacefully joined his beloved wife Ruby while surrounded by his family at the VA Medical Center which bears his name,” the Woody Williams Foundation wrote.

Williams, who was born in Quiet Dell, West Virginia, served for 20 years in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserves and then worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for over 30 years as a veterans service representative.

The U.S. Navy commissioned a warship called the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams in his honor in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2020.

I had previously honored Williams for my 2019 Veterans Day profile.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945.

Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machinegun fire from the unyielding positions.

Covered only by 4 riflemen, he fought desperately for 4 hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out 1 position after another.

On 1 occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon.

His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective.

Cpl. Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Sometime in the next decade or two, the last living World War II veteran will die, and that epoch-changing conflagration will pass out of living memory.

New York’s Unconstitutional Gun Law Was Written By A Notorious, Corrupt Thug

Larry Mulligan-Hicks and Tim Sullivan

The Sullivan Act was named after Timothy D. Sullivan, one of the most corrupt politicians of his age.

On the morning of January 23, 1911, an unstable Harvard graduate with the theatrical name of Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough walked up to the novelist David Graham Phillips on a Manhattan street and unloaded six shots from his .32-caliber pistol into him. Goldsborough, who believed the novelist had defamed his sister, reloaded his gun, placed it against his temple, and pulled the trigger. Goldsborough died instantly.

The murder-suicide shocked the city. Although the crime destroyed many lives, none of them would change history quite like George Petit le Brun, the man who performed the autopsies on the bodies at the city coroner’s office.

“I reasoned that the time had come to have legislation passed that would prevent the sale of pistols to irresponsible persons,” he later wrote. After two years of imploring local politicians to institute gun control laws, le Brun finally found an ally in Timothy D. Sullivan, one of the most corrupt politicians of his age, a Tammany Hall operator known to New Yorkers as “Big Tim.”

One of the big talking points in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision last week—it is mentioned in nearly every news piece—is that New York’s “may issue” permit law had been on the books for more than 100 years. And that’s a long time. But time does not make a law constitutional or efficacious.

The Sullivan Act, passed in 1911, was the nation’s first statewide gun control law. It required New Yorkers who possessed firearms small enough to be concealed to ask local cops—who could deny the request not just to “irresponsible persons” but to anyone, and for any reason, they liked—for a license.

People caught owning guns without one would face a misdemeanor charge, and those carrying guns without one a felony. In addition to handguns, the law prohibited the possession or carrying of weapons such as brass knuckles, sandbags, blackjacks, bludgeons, and bombs, as well as possessing or carrying a dagger, “dangerous knife,” or razor “with intent to use the same unlawfully.”

Such discretionary and capricious gun laws would allow corrupt cops to disarm rival gangs that threatened Tammany Hall’s authority or undermined its political interests. Big Tim’s cronies could use the law to punish business owners who didn’t pay protection money or deny entire neighborhoods the ability of self-defense.

Although Big Tim was corrupt in every way imaginable—he was involved in bribery, gambling, prostitution, and rigging elections, for starters—historians like Terry Golway assure us Sullivan really wanted to clean up neighborhoods “awash in cheap pistols.” “His law is now off the books,” writes Golway, “His wisdom remains.” One would have to suspend disbelief to accept that some of the most corrupt bureaucrats of the age, people who weren’t beneath exploiting women and children or shaking down businesses, wouldn’t abuse a malleable law that empowered them to deny their political opponents the right to defend themselves. Moreover, whatever Sullivan’s intentions were, there was no decline in gang violence or murder in New York in the ensuing years.

In 1911, there were 366 homicide arrests in New York. By 1920, there were 743. Then, like now, criminals remained unconcerned with attaining proper licensing before engaging in criminality. Only law-abiding citizens cared. We will never know how many shopkeepers and immigrants were left defenseless to thugs in those years. Even after the fall of Tammany, getting a gun for self-defense was prohibitively difficult. Essentially, the Second Amendment didn’t exist. The wealthy—Trumps, Sulzbergers, and Rockefellers, among many other notables—had no problem obtaining licenses over the years. This leaves poor and minorities, who often lack the resources or time to figure out the process, without their rights.

It’s always been a mystery to me why those critical of law enforcement are fine with allowing them to make key decisions. Then, as now, it was up to citizens to beg officials to allow them to defend themselves against subjective reasons that allow politicians, bureaucrats, and law enforcement to pick and choose who gets to practice their rights.

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

June 6: A walk across a beach in Normandy

Today your job is straightforward. First, you must load 40 to 50 pounds on your back. Then you need to climb down a net rope that is banging on the steel side of a ship and jump into a steel rectangle of a boat bobbing on the surface of the ocean below you. Others are already inside the boat shouting at you to hurry up.

Once in the boat, you stand with dozens of others as the boat is driven towards distant beaches and cliffs through a hot hailstorm of bullets and explosions. Boats moving nearby are from time to time hit with a high explosive shell and disintegrate in a red rain of bullets and body parts. Then there’s the smell of men near you fouling themselves as the fear bites into their necks and they hunch lower into the boat. That smell mingles with the smell of burnt gunpowder and seaweed.

In front of you, over the steel helmets of other men, you can see the flat surface of the bow’s landing ramp still held in place against the sea. Soon you are within range of the machineguns that line the cliffs above the beach ahead. The metallic sound of their bullets clangs and whines off the front of the ramp.

Then the coxswain shouts and the klaxon sounds. You feel the keel of the LVCP grind against the rocks and sand of Normandy as the large shells from the boats in the armada behind you whuffle and moan overhead. Then the explosions all around and above you increase in intensity and the bullets from the machineguns in the cliffs ahead and above rattle and hum along the steel plates of the boat and the men crouch lower. Then somehow you all strain forward as, at last, the ramp drops down and you see the beach. The men surge forward and you step with them. Then you are out in the chill waters of the channel wading in towards sand already doused with death, past bodies bobbing in the surf staining the waters crimson.

You are finally on the beach. It’s worse on the beach.

The bullets keep probing along the sand, digging holes, looking for your body, finding others that drop down like sacks of meat with their lines cut. You run forward because there’s nothing but ocean at your back and more men dying and… somehow… you reach a small sliver of shelter at the base of the cliffs. There are others there, confused and cowering and not at all ready to go back out into the storm of steel that keeps pouring down. And then someone, somewhere nearby, tells you all to press forward, to go on, to somehow get off that beach and onto the high ground behind it, and because you don’t know what else to do, you rise up and you move forward, beginning, one foot after another, to take back the continent of Europe.

If you are lucky, very lucky, on that day and the days after, you will walk all the way to Germany and the war will be over and you will go home to a town somewhere on the great land sea of the Midwest and you won’t talk much about this day or any that came after it, ever.

They’ll ask you, throughout long decades after, “What did you do in the war?” You’ll think of this day and you’ll never think of a good answer. That’s because you know just how lucky you were.

If you were not lucky on that day you lie under a white cross on a large well kept lawn not far from the beach you landed on.

Somewhere above you, among the living, weak princes and fat bureaucrats and rank traitors mumble platitudes and empty praises about actions they never knew and men they cannot hope to emulate.

You hear their prattle, dim and far away outside the brass doors that seal the caverns of your long sleep. You want them to go, to leave you and your brothers in arms to your brown study of eternity.

“Fifty years? Seventy-five? A century? Seems long to the living but it’s only an inch of time. Leave us and go back to your petty lives. We march on and you, you weaklings primping and parading above us, will never know how we died or how we lived.

“If we hear you at all now, your mewling only makes us ask among ourselves, ‘Died for what?’

“Princes and bureaucrats, parasites and traitors, be silent. Be gone. We are now and forever one with the sea and the sky and the wind. We marched through the steel rain. We march on.”

We remember those who gave in full measure to their country.


Most Americans have no clue why we celebrate Memorial Day.

Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Less than half of Americans know the true meaning behind Memorial Day, according to a survey taken last year.

The survey of 2,000 Americans revealed just 43 percent were aware it’s a holiday honoring those who died in service while in the US Armed Forces.

Twenty-eight percent mistakenly believed Memorial Day was a holiday honoring all military veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces — which is actually Veterans Day.

It was revealed to be a common mistake: A third of respondents (36 percent) admitted to being unsure of the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of University of Phoenix, the survey tested Americans on their knowledge of the holiday.

“For many Americans, Memorial Day is a much-needed day off to relax and enjoy their family. It is important to understand that it is also a solemn day of remembrance. For me, as a combat veteran and for military members and their families, this day holds great significance. Not everyone I served with was fortunate enough to return home,” said Brian Ishmael, senior director, University of Phoenix Office of Military and Veteran Affairs and former US Army sergeant.

Even though there’s some confusion about the holiday, 83 percent of Americans believe it’s important to do something to commemorate Memorial Day.

There have been only three servicemembers assigned to 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta that have been awarded the nation’s highest honor for heroism for combat action while serving in the unit. These Sergeants were the first two, awarded posthumously seven months after they were killed in action.

Oppressors Beware


23 May 1994

Medal Of Honor

Citation

Master Sergeant Ivan Gordon, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Master Sergeant Gordon’s sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site.

After his third request to be inserted, Master Sergeant Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Master Sergeant Gordon was inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members.

Master Sergeant Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Master Sergeant Gordon used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Master Sergeant Gordon then went back to the wreckage, recovering some of the crew’s weapons and ammunition.

Despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help. Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew.

After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, “good luck.” Then, armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot’s life.

Master Sergeant Gordon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.


Medal Of Honor

Citation

Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as a Sniper Team Member, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Sergeant First Class Shughart provided precision sniper fires from the lead helicopter during an assault on a building and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. While providing critical suppressive fires at the second crash site, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the site. Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site.

After their third request to be inserted, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader received permission to perform this volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader were inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site.

Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader, while under intense fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members.

Sergeant First Class Shughart pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Sergeant First Class Shughart used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew.  Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot’s life.

Sergeant First Class Shughart’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, a popular misconception.
Instead, it commemorates a single battle.

In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the Indigenous Zapotec tribe—was elected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments.

In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces.

France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.

The Battle of Puebla
Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either Indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla.

The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault.

The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.

Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. In 1867—thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the Civil War—France finally withdrew.

REMINDER: It’s Victims of Communism Day.

Today is May Day. Since 2007, I have advocated using this date as an international Victims of Communism Day. I outlined the rationale for this proposal (which was not my original idea) in my very first post on the subject:

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their [authority]. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims.

The authoritative Black Book of Communism  estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so….

Our comparative neglect of communist crimes has serious costs. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other similar events promote awareness of the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of left-wing forms of totalitarianism, and government domination of the economy and civil society.

While communism is most closely associated with Russia, where the first communist regime was established, it had equally  horrendous effects in other nations around the world. The highest death toll for a communist regime was not in Russia, but in China. Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward was likely the biggest episode of mass murder in the entire history of the world.

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Why Commemorate Black April?

Today marks the 46th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, which signified the true end of the Vietnam War. Who could forget that famous picture of people queued up on a Saigon building (mistakenly thought to have been the US Embassy), getting on a UH-1 helicopter leaving Vietnam, as shown in this video:

There were some other great pictures in that video, too. However, the real last helicopter flight out was that of a CH-46 (Callsign “Swift 22”). The video describes the helicopter evacuation operations that were part of Operation Frequent Wind, the largest such operation in history, which commenced on 25 April 1975…………

The non-Communist Vietnamese who escaped the country have long referred to April 1975 as “Black April.” Those who escaped to the US have become some of the most patriotic and anti-Communist of all Americans. Many of them, as well as their progeny, mark Black April on 30 April each year. Here is a typical comment from one person on the 40th anniversary that explains what Black April means:

For Van Truong Le in Boston, this is a painful day, a time he and others who fled Vietnam call “Black April.”

“Because that was when folks from South Vietnam lost our country to the North Communist regime,” he said. “It was the day we lost our country. So we refer to it as Black April 1975. In fact for the last 40 years on April 30, the Vietnamese who have resettled here for the most part commemorate and observe that day as a day to commemorate the loss of Vietnam.”

And that name fits with good reason. Forced reeducation camps and a communization of the economy were in store for those who remained in Vietnam, as part of North Vietnam’s Communist takeover. Here is an excerpt of an account by Quyen Trong, who relates his father’s oral history:

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Today is Camerone Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Camerone.

On this day in 1863, 3 officers and 62 men of the French Foreign Legion exemplified stoic determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Legionnaires under Captain Jean Danjou, retreating in good order from Palo Verde as a diversion, made a stand in an hacienda in the Mexican town of Camarón de Tejeda and were surrounded by as many as 2000 Mexican troops.

When called on to surrender, by Colonel Francisco de Paula Milán, the Mexican commander, Captain Danjou replied, “We have munitions. We will not surrender.”
In the ensuing battle, nearly all of the Legionnaires, including Captain Danjou, were killed. When the last 5 unwounded men ran out of ammunition, under the command of Lieutenant Maudet, they loaded their last round, fixed bayonets, and charged the enemy.

Inevitably, they were surrounded and captured.  The last remaining NCO, Corporal Maine, insisted that the wounded be treated, the survivors be sent with their arms back to France, and that the body of Captain Danjou be escorted for a proper military burial. Colonel Milan reportedly said Que podré negar a cierto hombres? No, estos no son hombres, son demonios. “What can I refuse to such men? No, these are not men, they are devils.”

The Foreign Legion celebrates this day as an annual holiday where, on parade, the wooden prosthetic hand of Captain Danjou is carried as a high honor.

A repost:
Dachau; I’ve been there. Everyone walked around in silence, and when people did speak, it was always in near whispers, even during the liturgies in the memorial chapels that had been built years later.
I don’t know about today, but 30+ years ago, you could walk right into the building where the gas chambers and crematory ovens are, and feel the hair rise up on the back of your neck as you looked into the black insides of those ovens that burned uncounted dead.
Murder. Mass murder. Concentrated, premeditated murder on a scale that makes the ‘mass shootings’ the mewling liberal proggies wail about in their rants for gun control, pale in piddling comparison.
And although you could walk right up to multiple little mass grave plots the size of a postage stamp front yard, marked Graves of Thousands Unknown this was ‘merely’ a concentration camp. Not one of the camps in Poland designed for industrial level mass slaughter.


US troops liberated Dachau concentration camp 77 years ago

77 years ago the U.S. Army liberated Dachau, a concentration camp operated by Nazi Germany during World War II.

On April 29, 1945 the U.S. Army’s 42nd Infantry Division (Rainbow), now a part of the New York Army National Guard, uncovered the concentration camp in the town of Dachau, near Munich Germany. According to a press release by the New York National Guard, the frontline soldiers in the Army unit knew there was a prison camp in the area, but knew few details about the camp’s true nature.

“What the Soldiers discovered next at Dachau left an impression of a lifetime,” the division assistant chaplain (Maj.) Eli Bohnen wrote at the time, according to the release. “Nothing you can put in words would adequately describe what I saw there. The human mind refuses to believe what the eyes see. All the stories of Nazi horrors are underestimated rather than exaggerated.”

The U.S. Army unit uncovered thousands of bodies of men, women and children held in the concentration camp.

“There were over 4,000 bodies, men, women and children in a warehouse in the crematorium,” Lt. Col. Walter Fellenz, commander of the 1st Battalion, 222nd Infantry, said in his report. “There were over 1,000 dead bodies in the barracks within the enclosure.”

“Riflemen, accustomed to witnessing death, had no stomach for rooms stacked almost ceiling high with tangled human bodies adjoining the cremation furnaces, looking like some maniac’s woodpile,” wrote Tech. Sgt. James Creasman, a division public affairs NCO in the 42nd Division World News, May 1, 1945.

“Dachau is no longer a name of terror for hunted men. 32,000 of them have been freed by the 42nd Rainbow Division,” Creasman wrote of the liberation.

The U.S. Holocaust Museum places the estimated number of those freed from the camp at more than 60,000.

On this day in 1960, President Eisenhower signed the law into effect making Wilson’s Creek a national battlefield monument


The Battle for Wilson’s Creek’s recognition

 In southern Greene County, there is peace.

You can’t hear traffic. The wind howls through the trees, birds chirp, and a creek churns through the hills.

But as soon as you hear the name of this creek, your opinion of this place will change. This is Wilson’s Creek and in 1861 peace was far from here.

“The Battle of Wilson’s Creek is the second major battle of the Civil War,” superintendent of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Sarah Cunningham said. “It’s also the first major battle west of the Mississippi.”

Missouri was a key state to hold thanks to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. A large Confederate army was camping near Wilson’s Creek with plans of claiming the state for the South. But on August 10, 1861, General Nathaniel Lyon led his Union soldiers from Springfield to surprise the southern encampment on what became known as Bloody Hill.

“It was a five or six-hour bloody battle that took place,” Cunningham said.

A few hours into the fight, General Lyon was killed while positioning his troops. He becomes the first Union general killed in action in the Civil War.

“For years, veterans of this battle would come back to remember,” Cunningham said, “and commemorate the battle that occurred here.”

Those veterans would lay rocks at the spot where their leader, General Lyon died. In 1928, the rocks were replaced with a stone marker made by the University Club of Springfield. But to see it, visitors would have to trespass on the private land.

“Schoolchildren would go to school and they would bring pennies, nickels, anything that they could save,” Cunningham said, “and contribute to the preservation of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.”

In 1951, the Foundation purchased the 37-acres of land known as Bloody Hill. Over the next few years, the property would grow in size but not in status.

With 16 Civil War sites as National Parks, the government didn’t need another. The Pea Ridge National Military Park in Arkansas was added in 1956. One account mentioned the National Parks thought Pea Ridge was enough to tell the story of the war west of the Mississippi.

After several failed attempts, the Foundation’s persistence paid off.

“On April 22, 1960, President Eisenhower signs into law the establishment of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield,” Cunningham said.

Over the decades, a tour road was built around the site as well as a horse riding trail and walking trails. Signs were placed telling stories about this battle and taking you to the points of interest.

In 2021, a $3.5 million renovation was made to the Visitor’s Center and Museum.

The Arts in the Park Music Series is back on Saturday nights in May at Wilson’s Creek. It’s also planning a large event over Memorial Day weekend. And, the National Parks just launched a Wellness Challenge you can do while at Wilson’s Creek. Just visit the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield website for more information.

The minute man depicted in the Army National Guard logo is meant to represent Isaac Davis. He was killed on April 19th 1775 leading his troops at the Battle of Concord.

 

Isaac Davis (February 23, 1745 – April 19, 1775) was a gunsmith and a militia officer who commanded a company of Minutemen from Acton, Massachusetts, during the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. In the months leading up to the Revolution, Davis set unusually high standards for his company in terms of equipment, training, and preparedness. His company was selected to lead the advance on the British Regulars during the Battle of Concord because his men were entirely outfitted with bayonets. During the American advance on the British at the Old North Bridge, Davis was among the first killed and was the first American officer to die in the Revolution.

In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1st series, vol. 5 (1798), Belknap assigned to it the date of 1 January 1798

In this undated letter, written at the request of Jeremy Belknap, corresponding secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Paul Revere summarizes his activities on 18-19 April 1775


Dear Sir,

Having a little leisure, I wish to fullfill my promise, of giving you some facts, and Anecdotes, prior to the Battle of Lexington, which I do not remember to have seen in any history of the American Revolution.

In the year 1773 I was imployed by the Select men of the Town of Boston to carry the Account of the Destruction of the Tea to New-York; and afterwards, 1774, to Carry their dispatches to New-York and Philadelphia for Calling a Congress; and afterwards to Congress, several times.

“Let the narrative begin here.”

In the Fall of 1774 & Winter of 1775 I was one of upwards of thirty, cheifly mechanics, who formed our selves in to a Committee for the purpose of watching the Movements of the British Soldiers, and gaining every intelegence of the movements of the Tories.

We held our meetings at the Green-Dragon Tavern. We were so carefull that our meetings should be kept Secret; that every time we met, every person swore upon the Bible, that they would not discover any of our transactions, But to Messrs. Hancock, Adams, Doctors Warren, Church, & one or two more.

About November, when things began to grow Serious, a Gentleman who had Conections with the Tory party, but was a Whig at heart, aquainted me, that our meetings were discovered, & mentioned the identical words that were spoken among us the Night before. We did not then distrust Dr. Church, but supposed it must be some one among us.

We removed to another place, which we thought was more secure: but here we found that all our transactions were communicated to Governor Gage. (This came to me through the then Secretary Flucker; He told it to the Gentleman mentioned above).

It was then a common opinion, that there was a Traytor in the provincial Congress, & that Gage was posessed of all their Secrets. (Church was a member of that Congress for Boston.) In the Winter, towards the Spring, we frequently took Turns, two and two, to Watch the Soldiers, By patroling the Streets all night.

The Saturday Night preceding the 19th of April, about 12 oClock at Night, the Boats belonging to the Transports were all launched, & carried under the Sterns of the Men of War. (They had been previously hauld up & repaired). We likewise found that the Grenadiers and light Infantry were all taken off duty.

From these movements, we expected something serious was [to] be transacted. On Tuesday evening, the 18th, it was observed, that a number of Soldiers were marching towards the bottom of the Common.

About 10 o’Clock, Dr. Warren Sent in great haste for me, and beged that I would imediately Set off for Lexington, where Messrs. Hancock & Adams were, and acquaint them of the Movement, and that it was thought they were the objets. When I got to Dr. Warren’s house, I found he had sent an express by land to Lexington – a Mr. Wm. Daws.

The Sunday before, by desire of Dr. Warren, I had been to Lexington, to Mess. Hancock and Adams, who were at the Rev. Mr. Clark’s. I returned at Night thro Charlestown; there I agreed with a Col. Conant, & some other Gentlemen, in Charleston, that if the British went out by Water, we would shew two Lanthorns in the North Church Steeple; if by Land, one, as a Signal; for we were aprehensive it would be dificult to Cross the Charles River, or git over Boston neck.

I left Dr. Warrens, called upon a friend, and desired him to make the Signals. I then went Home, took my Boots and Surtout, and went to the North part of the Town, where I had kept a Boat; two friends rowed me across Charles River, a little to the eastward where the Somerset Man of War lay.

It was then young flood, the Ship was winding, & the moon was Rising. They landed me on Charlestown side. When I got into Town, I met Col. Conant, several others; they said they had seen our signals. I told them what was Acting, & went to git me a Horse; I got a Horse of Deacon Larkin.

While the Horse was preparing, Richard Devens, Esq. who was one of the Committee of Safty, came to me, & told me, that he came down the Road from Lexington, after Sundown, that evening; that He met ten British Officers, all well mounted, & armed, going up the Road. I set off upon a very good Horse; it was then about 11 o’Clock, very pleasant. After I had passed Charlestown Neck, got nearly opposite where Mark was hung in chains, I saw two men on Horse back, under a Tree.

When I got near them, I discovered they were British officer. One tryed to git a head of Me, & the other to take me. I turned my Horse very quick, & Galloped towards Charlestown neck, and then pushed for the Medford Road. The one who chased me, endeavoring to Cut me off, got into a Clay pond, near where the new Tavern is now built. I got clear of him,

and went thro Medford, over the Bridge, & up to Menotomy. In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the Minute men; & after that, I alarmed almost every House, till I got to Lexington.

I found Mrs. Messrs. Hancock & Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark’s; I told them my errand, and inquired for Mr. Daws; they said he had not been there; I related the story of the two officers, & supposed that He must have been stopped, as he ought to have been there before me.

After I had been there about half an Hour, Mr. Daws came; after we refreshid our selves, we and set off for Concord, to secure the Stores, & there. We were overtaken by a young Docter Prescot, whom we found to be a high Son of Liberty. I told them of the ten officers that Mr. Devens mett, and that it was probable we might be stoped before we got to Concord; for I supposed that after Night, they divided them selves, and that two of them had fixed themselves in such passages as were most likely to stop any intelegence going to Concord.

I likewise mentioned, that we had better allarm all the Inhabitents till we got to Concord; the young Doctor much approved of it, and said, he would stop with either of us, for the people between that & Concord knew him, & would give the more credit to what we said.

We had got nearly half way. Mr Daws & the Doctor stoped to allarm the people of a House: I was about one hundred Rod a head, when I saw two men, in nearly the same situation as those officer were, near Charlestown. I called for the Doctor & Daws to come up; were two & we would have them in an Instant I was surrounded by four; – they had placed themselves in a Straight Road, that inclined each way; they had taken down a pair of Barrs on the North side of the Road, & two of them were under a tree in the pasture. The Docter being foremost, he came up; and we tryed to git past them; but they being armed with pistols & swords, they forced us in to the pasture; -the Docter jumped his Horse over a low Stone wall, and got to Concord.

I observed a Wood at a Small distance, & made for that. When I got there, out Started Six officers, on Horse back, and orderd me to dismount;-one of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from, & what my Name Was? I told him. it was Revere, he asked if it was Paul? I told him yes He asked me if I was an express? I answered in the afirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston? I told him; and added, that their troops had catched aground in passing the River, and that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.

He imediately rode towards those who stoppd us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop; one of them, whom I afterwards found to be Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, & told me he was going to ask me some questions, & if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out.

He then asked me similar questions to those above. He then orderd me to mount my Horse, after searching me for arms. He then orderd them to advance, & to lead me in front. When we got to the Road, they turned down towards Lexington. When we had got about one Mile, the Major Rode up to the officer that was leading me, & told him to give me to the Sergeant. As soon as he took me, the Major orderd him, if I attempted to run, or any body insulted them, to blow my brains out.

We rode till we got near Lexington Meeting-house, when the Militia fired a Voley of Guns, which appeared to alarm them very much. The Major inquired of me how far it was to Cambridge, and if there were any other Road? After some consultation, the Major

Major Rode up to the Sargent, & asked if his Horse was tired? He told answered him, he was – (He was a Sargent of Grenadiers, and had a small Horse) – then, said He, take that man’s Horse. I dismounted, & the Sargent mounted my Horse, when they all rode towards Lexington Meeting-House.

I went across the Burying-ground, & some pastures, & came to the Revd. Mr. Clark’s House, where I found Messrs. Hancok & Adams. I told them of my treatment, & they concluded to go from that House to wards Woburn. I went with them, & a Mr. Lowell, who was a Clerk to Mr. Hancock.

When we got to the House where they intended to stop, Mr. Lowell & I my self returned to Mr. Clark’s, to find what was going on. When we got there, an elderly man came in; he said he had just come from the Tavern, that a Man had come from Boston, who said there were no British troops coming. Mr. Lowell & myself went towards the Tavern, when we met a Man on a full gallop, who told us the Troops were coming up the Rocks.

We afterwards met another, who said they were close by. Mr. Lowell asked me to go to the Tavern with him, to a git a Trunk of papers belonging to Mr. Hancock. We went up Chamber; & while we were giting the Trunk, we saw the British very near, upon a full March.

We hurried to wards Mr. Clark’s House. In our way, we passed through the Militia. There were about 50. When we had got about 100 Yards from the meeting-House the British Troops appeard on both Sides of the Meeting-House.

In their Front was an Officer on Horse back. They made a Short Halt; when I saw, & heard, a Gun fired, which appeared to be a Pistol. Then I could distinguish two Guns, & then a Continual roar of Musquetry; When we made off with the Trunk.

As I have mentioned Dr. Church, perhaps it might not be disagreeable to mention some Matters of my own knowledge, respecting Him. He appeared to be a high son of Liberty. He frequented all the places where they met, Was incouraged by all the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, & it appeared he was respected by them, though I knew that Dr. Warren had not the greatest affection for him. He was esteemed a very capable writer, especially in verese; and as the Whig party needed every Strenght, they feared, as well as courted Him.

Though it was known, that some of the Liberty Songs, which We composed, were parodized by him, in favor of the British, yet none dare charge him with it. I was a constant & critical observer of him, and I must say, that I never thought Him a man of Principle; and I doubted much in my own mind, wether He was a real Whig. I knew that He kept company with a Capt. Price, a half-pay British officer, & that He frequently dined with him, & Robinson, one of the Commissioners. I know that one of his intimate aquaintances asked him why he was so often with Robinson and Price? His answer was, that He kept Company with them on purpose to find out their plans.

The day after the Battle of Lexington, I came across met him in Cambridge, when He shew me some blood on his stocking, which he said spirted on him from a Man who was killed near him, as he was urging the Militia on. I well remember, that I argued with my self, if a Man will risque his life in a Cause, he must be a Friend to that cause; & I never suspected him after, till He was charged with being a Traytor.

The same day I met Dr. Warren. He was President of the Committee of Safety. He engaged me as a Messinger, to do the out of doors business for that committee; which gave me an opportunity of being frequently with them.

The Friday evening after, about sun set, I was sitting with some, or near all that Committee, in their room, which was at Mr. Hastings’s House at Cambridge. Dr. Church, all at once, started up – Dr. Warren, said He, I am determined to go into Boston tomorrow – (it set them all a stairing) – Dr. Warren replyed, Are you serious, Dr. Church? they will Hang you if they catch you in Boston. He replyed, I am serious, and am determined to go at all adventures.

After a considerable conversation, Dr. Warren said, If you are determined, let us make some business for you. They agreed that he should go to git medicine for their & our Wounded officers. He went the next morning; & I think he came back on Sunday
evening.

After He had told the Committee how things were, I took him a side, & inquired particularly how they treated him? he said, that as soon as he got to their lines on the Boston Neck, they made him a prisoner, & carried him to General Gage, where He
was examined, & then He was sent to Gould’s Barracks, & was not suffered to go home but once.

After He was taken up, for holding a Correspondence with the Brittish, I came a Cross Deacon Caleb Davis;-we entred into Conversation about Him;-He told me, that the morning Church went into Boston, He (Davis) received a Bilet for General Gage-(he then did not know that Church was in Town)-When he got to the General’s House, he was told, the General could not be spoke with, that He was in private with a Gentleman; that He waited near half an Hour,-When General Gage & Dr. Church came out of a Room, discoursing together, like persons who had been long aquainted. He appeared to be quite surprized at seeing Deacon Davis there; that he (Church) went where he pleased, while in Boston, only a Major Caine, one of Gage’s Aids, went with him.

I was told by another person whom I could depend upon, that he saw Church go in to General Gage’s House, at the above time; that He got out of the Chaise and went up the steps more like a Man that was aquainted, than a prisoner.

Sometime after, perhaps a Year or two, I fell in company with a Gentleman who studied with Church -in discoursing about him, I related what I have mentioned above; He said, He did not doubt that He was in the Interest of the Brittish; & that it was He who informed Gen. Gage That he knew for Certain, that a Short time before the Battle of Lexington, (for He then lived with Him, & took Care of his Business & Books) He had no money by him, and was much drove for money; that all at once, He had several Hundred New Brittish Guineas; and that He thought at the time, where they came from.

Thus, Sir, I have endeavoured to give you a Short detail of some matters, of which perhaps no person but my self have have documents, or knowledge. I have mentioned some names which you are aquainted with: I wish you would Ask them, if they can remember the Circumstances I alude to.

I am, Sir, with every Sentment of esteem,

Your Humble Servant,

Paul Revere

Combine a small apocalyptic sect with one of its major prophecies being fulfilled, as they saw it, by a law enforcement agency who it is said were looking for headlines to bolster its reputation for an increased budget, and what you wind up with is this.


The Waco Siege: What Happened When the Feds Laid Siege to the Branch Davidian Compound

“The record of the Waco incident documents mistakes. What the record from Waco does not evidence, however, is any improper motive or intent on the part of law enforcement.”

The siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, is an important event in American history because it directly led to one of the biggest terrorist attacks on American soil – the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. It’s not necessary to defend this act of terrorism to understand why the entire freedom movement of the time was so incensed by it. Indeed, it stood as a symbol of federal overreach and the corruption of the Clinton Administration.

It’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the siege of Waco, just as it is important to do so with the siege of Ruby Ridge or the attack on the American consolate in Benghazi. With every event, it is important to stick to the facts and what can be extrapolated from them to make the strongest argument about what went wrong and why, and what could be done differently in the future.

The Raid of Waco

The actual events of the raid can be difficult to tease out. Each side disagrees as to what the sequence of events were.

What we know is that, based on an affidavit filed by Davy Aguilera, the ATF obtained a search warrant. This was based on the testimony of a postal agent about what he considered to be suspicious deliveries to Mt. Carmel. However, none of the deliveries were in and of themselves illegal, and included items such as forty five AR-15 upper receivers, and five M-16 upper receivers.

The search warrant was mostly based on the number of weapons possessed by the Davidians. But in the United States of America, we have the right to own as many weapons as we can afford. What’s more, the notion that the Davidians were “stockpiling” weapons is a red herring: They were selling weapons (legally) in addition to buying them, so “inventory” might be the more accurate term for what they had at Mt. Carmel.

According to Dick J. Reavis, author of The Ashes of Waco:

“One of the prophecies that has been around Mt. Carmel since 1934 called for an ultimate confrontation between God’s people, or those at Mr. Carmel, and the forces of an armed apostate power called Babylon . . . Perhaps with that in mind, in 1991, the Davidians began studying armaments and buying and selling guns. He (Koresh) pretty quickly found out there is a lot of money to be made at gun shows and he and other people started going to gun shows. And they bought and sold. They bought items that weren’t guns, and they bought items that were guns. We now say, or the press now says, most people say, they stockpiled weapons. All gun dealers stockpile weapons. We call those stockpiles an inventory. There was an inventory of weapons at Mt. Carmel. A number of guys were involved in the gun shows, just as a number were involved in souping up and restoring cars, and just as a number were involved in playing in the band. There were circles or knots or subsets of people who had hobby interests that were only indirectly related to theology, and guns were one of those interests.”

The ATF’s raid, codenamed “Showtime,” was moved up one day in response to a local newspaper’s article on the Davidians. The local sheriff was not aware of the raid, but the Davidians knew it was coming. The ATF chose to raid the property rather than pick up Koresh while he was in town. An ATF agent who had infiltrated the group reported that they knew of the raid and that his cover was blown. When asked what they were doing when he left the property on the day of the raid, he said that the Davidians were praying.

There was another factor influencing the ATF’s decision to raid the Davidians when they did: Money. According to Henry Ruth, one of three independent reviewers of the Treasury Department’s report on Waco:

“With appropriations hearings a week away, a large successful raid for the ATF would’ve proposed major positive headlines for the agency. It would’ve helped counter the narrative of the ATF as a rogue agency. And it would’ve spread fear about radical fringe groups which would put pressure on Congress to increase its budget. Part of their motivation was to use the siege at Waco as a publicity stunt.”………..

The Final Siege of Mount Carmel

The newly minted U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was unhappy with the progress being made at Waco, and invoked (what else) the abuse of children in her pitch for a resolution to the conflict. For his part, President Clinton, who had dealt with a similar situation as Governor of Arkansas in 1985 – with The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord – initially urged waiting out the group. Reno, however, cited antsy agents and budgetary concerns. Ultimately, Clinton told her to do whatever she thought was best.

The FBI Hostage Rescue Team – derisively nicknamed the “Hostage Roasting Team” and which denied any evidence of child abuse – came armed with 50 caliber rifles and punched holes in the walls of the building with explosives so they could pump CS gas into a building with small children and infants inside. The plan was to announce to the group that there was no plan to take the house by force while slowly pumping greater amounts of CS gas inside to increase pressure on them to leave.

The fires began around noon on the final day of the standoff. The FBI maintains that they were started deliberately by the Davidians, with some survivors claiming that the FBI started the fires either intentionally or accidentally. Footage of the Davidians talking about gasoline seem to refer to them making Molotov cocktails to fight the FBI with.

Nine people left the building during the fire. The remaining people inside all died either from the fire, smoke inhalation, were buried alive by rubble or were shot. Some showed signs of death by cyanide poisoning, which would likely have been a result of the burning CS gas. All told, there were 76 deaths.

FBI claims in the 51 days during the standoff they never fired a single shot. Then 27 of the people in the compound died of bullet wounds. Then those were self-inflicted or inflicted by other members inside the compound. Federal investigators considered suicide as a possible form of gunshot death for the Davidians. It did not consider forced execution to be a likely cause of death.

An exchange between Sen. Chuck Schumer and Assistant Attorney General Edward Dennis in the Clinton Administration in the subsequent congressional investigation summed it up best:

Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Congressman, New York (D):We’ve heard that in the 51 days the FBI was involved, they did not fire a single shot . . . First, That would mean quite certainly that 27 of the people who died in the compound, I think the autopsy report showed 27, I may be off by one or two, who died of bullet wounds, those were self-inflicted or inflicted by other members within the compound . . .

Edward Dennis, Former Assistant Attorney General, Clinton Administration: I think that’s a key issue. The fact that Koresh was capable of setting the fire, of killing his own followers, that parents were capable of killing children, or adults were capable of killing children, really says more about the mentality of the individual that you were dealing with and the difficulty in trying to figure out the best way to talk he and his followers out of that compound.

After the Raid

Today the only building on the site is a small chapel erected years after the raid. The building itself was razed. The incoming head of the ATF, John Magaw, was critical of the raid and made the Treasury Department’s Blue Book report on the matter required reading for incoming agents.

Date Line – BOSTON,

Units of the Governor’s Counter Terrorist Task Force seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19th by elements of a para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimated that 72 were killed and more than 20 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement. Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices.

The governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals,” issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law and order.

The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons. Gage issued a ban on military style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early April between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms. One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned their weapons over voluntarily.”

“Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.”

During a tense standoff in Lexington’s town park, Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists. Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.

Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.

Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor has also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.


Captain John Parker, Massachusetts Militia;
“Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

General Gage’s orders for the confiscation and destruction of arms of the Massachusetts Militia.

Lieut. Colonel Smith, 10th Regiment ’Foot,

Sir,

Having received intelligence, that a quantity of Ammunition, Provisions, Artillery, Tents and small Arms, have been collected at Concord, for the Avowed Purpose of raising and supporting a Rebellion against His Majesty, you will March with a Corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, put under your Command, with the utmost expedition and Secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and distroy all Artillery, Ammunition, Provisions, Tents, Small Arms, and all Military Stores whatever. But you will take care that the Soldiers do not plunder the Inhabitants, or hurt private property.

You have a Draught of Concord, on which is marked the Houses, Barns, &c, which contain the above military Stores. You will order a Trunion to be knocked off each Gun, but if its found impracticable on any, they must be spiked, and the Carriages destroyed. The Powder and flower must be shook out of the Barrels into the River, the Tents burnt, Pork or Beef destroyed in the best way you can devise. And the Men may put Balls of lead in their pockets, throwing them by degrees into Ponds, Ditches &c., but no Quantity together, so that they may be recovered afterwards. If you meet any Brass Artillery, you will order their muzzles to be beat in so as to render them useless.

You will observe by the Draught that it will be necessary to secure the two Bridges as soon as possible, you will therefore Order a party of the best Marchers, to go on with expedition for the purpose.

A small party of Horseback is ordered out to stop all advice of your March getting to Concord before you, and a small number of Artillery go out in Chaises to wait for you on the road, with Sledge Hammers, Spikes, &c.

You will open your business and return with the Troops, as soon as possible, with I must leave to your own Judgment and Discretion.

I am, Sir,

Your most obedient humble servant
Thos. Gage.

Major John Pitcairn’s Report to General Gage

Boston Camp,
To: General Thomas Gage

Sir,

As you are anxious to know the particulars that happened near and at Lexington in the 19 th Inst agreeable to your desire, I will in as concise a manner as possible state the facts, for my time at present is so much employed, as to prevent a more particular narrative of the occurrences of that day.

Six companies of Light Infantry were detached by Lt Colo Smith to take possession of two bridges on the other side of Concord, near three in the Morning, when we were advanced within about two miles of Lexington, intelligence was received that about 500 men in arms were assembled, determined to oppose the Kings troops, and retard them in their march. On this intelligence, I mounted my horse, and galloped up to the six Light Companies.

When I arrived at the head of the advance Company, two officers came and informed me, that a man of the rebels advanced from those that were assembled, had presented his musket and attempted to shoot them, but the piece flashed in the pan. On this I gave directions to the troops to move forward, but on no account to fire, or even attempt it without orders; when I arrived at the end of the Village, I observed drawn up upon a Green near 200 rebels; when I came within about 100 yards of them, they began to file off towards some stone walls on our right flank.

The Light Infantry, observing this, ran after them. I instantly called to the soldiers not to fire, but surround and disarm them, and after several repetitions of those positive orders to the men, not to fire, etc. some of the rebels who had jumped over the wall fired four or five shots at the soldiers, which wounded a man of the Tenth and my horse was wounded in two places, from some quarter or other, and at the same time several shots were fired from a meeting house on our left.

Upon this, without any order or regularity, the Light Infantry began a scattered fire, and continued in that situation for some little time, contrary to the repeated orders both of me and the officers that were present. It will be needless to mention what happened after, as I suppose Colo Smith hath given a particular account of it..

I am, Sir, Your Most Obedt
Humble Servant
John Pitcairn


A report from Lieutenant General Hugh Percy to General Gage

In obedience to your Excellency’s orders I marched yesterday morning at 9 o’clock with the 1st brigade and 2 field pieces, in order to cover the retreat of the grenadiers and light infantry in their return from their expedition to Concord.

As all the houses were shut up, and there was not the appearance of a single inhabitant, I could get no intelligence concerning them till I had passed Menotomy, when I was informed that the rebels had attacked his Majesty’s troops who were retiring, overpowered by numbers, greatly exhausted and fatigued, and having expaned almost all their ammunition—and at about 2 o’clock I met them retiring rough the town of Lexington – I immediately ordered the 2 field pieces to fire at the rebels, and drew up the brigade on a height.

The shot from the cannon had the desired effect, and stopped the rebels for a little time, who immediately dispersed, and endeavoured to surround us being ery numerous. As it began now to grow pretty late and we had 15 miles to retire, and only 36 rounds, I ordered the grenadiers and light infantry to move of first; and covered them with my brigade sending out very strong flanking parties wich were absolutely very necessary, as there was not a stone wall, or house, though before in appearance evacuated, from whence the rebels did not fire upon us. As soon as they saw us begin to retire, they pressed very much upon our rear guard, which for that reason, I relieved every now and then.

In this manner we retired for 15 miles under incessant fire all round us, till we arrived at Charlestown, between 7 and 8 in the evening and having expended almost all our ammunition. We had the misfortune of losing a good many men in the retreat, though nothing like the number which from many circumstances I have reason to believe were killed of the rebels. His Majesty’s troops during he whole of the affair behaved with their usual intrepidity and spirit nor were they a little exsperated at the cruelty and barbarity of the rebels, who scalped and cut off the ears of some of the wounded men who fell into their hands.

Today Should Be a National Holiday: An Annual Tradition.

If there were any justice today would be a national holiday at least as big as Independence Day.  I’m not kidding.

Back in the 1770’s an unrest that had started more than a century before–with Colonial reaction to the English Civil War, the Catholic reign of James II, and the Glorious Revolution that followed–was growing in the American colonies, at least those along the Atlantic Seaboard from New Hampshire down through Georgia.  Protests over taxes imposed without the taxed having any voice in the matter, complaints about a distant monarch and legislative body making rules and laws over people to whom they are not beholden.

There had been clashes which fed that unrest, including the famous “Boston Massacre” where British troops fired into a rioting mob resulting in several deaths.  Think of it as the Kent State of the 18th century.

In an effort to quell the unrest, or at least have it be less of a threat to British officials, General Thomas Gage, Military governor of Massachusetts, under orders to take decisive action against the colonists, decided to confiscate firearms and ammunition from certain groups in the colony.  His forces marched on the night of April 18, 1775.

The colonists, forewarned of the action (the Longfellow poem, which children learn in school–or they did when I was in school “Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”–is historically inaccurate, but it sure is stirring, isn’t it?), first met the British troops at Lexington Massachusetts where John Parker, in command of the local Colonial Militia said, according to the recollection of one of the participants,
“Stand your ground.  Don’t fire unless fired upon.  But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

Whether Parker actually said those words, the first shot was fired.  No one knew who fired it, whether British or Colonial.  In the ensuing, brief battle the British regulars put the Colonial militia to flight.

The British then turned toward Concord.

A small unit of militia, hearing reports of firing at Lexington marched out but on spotting a British unit of about 700 while themselves only numbering about 250 they returned to Concord.  The Colonial militia departed the town across the North Bridge to a hill about a mile north of town where additional militia reinforcements continued to gather.

The British reached the town and began searching for the weapons they came to confiscate.  They found several cannon, too large to be moved quickly, and disabled them.  Other weapons and supplies had been either removed or hidden.

On seeing the smoke of the burning carriages from the cannon, the Militia began to move.  It is not my purpose here to go into detailed description of their movements but in the end the British regulars found themselves both outnumbered and outmaneuvered.  They fled, a rout that surprised the Colonial Militia as much as the British regulars.  Again, I simplify but in the end they marched back to Boston continuing to suffer casualties from what amounted to 18th century sniper fire from the surrounding brush.  The frustration of the British soldiers led them to atrocities, killing everyone they found in buildings whether they were involved in the fighting or not.

Eventually the British forces fought their way back to Boston where they were besieged by Militia forces numbering over 1500 men.

And the Revolutionary War had begun.

And so, on this day in 1775, the nascent United States took the course that would lead eventually to Independence.

And that’s why April 19 deserves to be a National Holiday on a par at least with Independence Day.  The latter was recognition of what became fact on the former.

EVENTS OF APRIL 18, 1775

“Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…”

With these words an American poet and ardent abolitionist named Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized Paul Revere and Old North Church in American history and myth. Many of us may remember the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” but it doesn’t portray the true events of what took place on that fateful night. Longfellow wrote the poem 80 YEARS after Revere’s famous midnight ride when the country was on the brink of Civil War in 1860. He wanted to inspire people to join the Union army by demonstrating that one person could make a difference AND change history in the process. As we shall see, the only one really changing history was Longfellow himself through his creatively altered story. The real events of what took place on April 18, 1775 are far more interesting.

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