Thursday, September 1, 2016

History: The Year is 1862

I've uploaded year 1862 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Battle of Shiloh and the KKK -- It is the bloodiest battle to date... but it's a long year. And the Grand wizard of the KKK is shot, but not killed.

Freedom by Proclamation -- Abraham Lincoln is forced to free the slaves or be killed politically.

The Texas Housewife Riots -- Inflation and the need for cotton has caused housewives to fight for everything they need.

In Other News -- The bicycle, photosynthesis and "Les Miserables".

The Battle of Shiloh and the KKK

In Hebrew, the word "Shiloh" is related to the word for "peace" but nothing peaceful will be happening today. Union General U.S. "Unconditional Surrender" Grant has successfully tromped on Confederate forces at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson (and he has brought himself to the attention of the higher-ups). Grant leads his troops down the Tennessee River to Pittsburgh Landing which is deep into Tennessee. It is the location of a tavern (hmmm) and a small meeting house called Shiloh Church. Apparently, no one was expecting 45,000 Union troops to show up so Grant makes himself at home. There is a small and decrepit Confederate post across the river, but unbeknownst to Grant, the Confederate troops have been massing near a railroad junction just 22 miles southwest of his position. Confederate General Johnson organizes 40,000 men to drive Grant into the swamps at Owl Creek. As the morning attack ensues, Grant's forces unexpectedly turn toward Pittsburgh Landing. It is probably not the smartest thing to do, but it foils the Confederate plan and concentrates Grant's forces. Wave after wave of Confederate troops charge into Union positions... and die along with General Johnson. Command falls to General Beauregard (the fellow who fired on Fort Sumter). As evening falls, he calls off the attack and rests his troops. That evening, Union reinforcements arrive. They are worn out, but willing to fight. The Union is going to win this one, but it is going to cost them 13,000 casualties including 1,754 dead. The Confederates will lose about the same in dead but suffer fewer total casualties. It will prove to be one of the bloodiest battles of the war. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've simplified this battle quite a bit. My apologies to Civil War buffs. As a side note to the battle, Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest was nearly killed when a Union soldier placed the barrel of his musket into the side of the Colonel and fired... missing his spinal cord. After the war, Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, and his name was used for the fictional character, "Forrest Gump." No doubt that was done as an insult to Colonel Forrest, but don't discount this fellow. As a military leader, he was deadly. My second point is about the technology of the time. This many men could not have been killed without the miracle of transportation... namely trains and river barges. We are talking about logistics. Simply getting troops to the battlefield is not enough. You must supply them with food, water, and AMMUNITION. Ammunition is heavy. So is a rifle, a full pack and a tent when you are carrying them more than a couple of miles. Ideally, your troops should be well-fed and rested before battle. I'm not sure if General Beauregard made the right decision to rest his troops, but he hadn't made any big breakthroughs and he didn't know that Union reinforcements were coming. [4]

Freedom by Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln wants to pay the slave states to free their slaves and (apparently) to ship them off to Liberia. This was Henry Clay's old idea, and it isn't working for Lincoln either. The Northern states want slavery stopped now. Several Union generals have freed the slaves in their areas of responsibility. Lincoln writes, "as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, in time of war, I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy." Meanwhile, the Republican Congress passes the Second Confiscation Act which calls for the seizure of property from disloyal citizens and the freeing of slaves within Union jurisdiction. (There is also something in there about treason and death.) Lincoln has only one card left to play, or be rendered politically irrelevant. Perhaps a limited emancipation? But no. He needs some good news, before he can act. McClellan's bloody victory at Antietam gives Lincoln his opening. He announces that effective on January 1st, 1863, all slaves in all the states currently in rebellion are free. The Emancipation Proclamation is limited to the areas covered under his war powers. With fear and trepidation, he is committed. Later he will call it his crowning achievement, but right now it looks more like he is betting all his money on a pair of jacks. [5] [6] [3] [7] [8]
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.... and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.
-- Abraham Lincoln in response to criticism for his Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Of course, Lincoln's original argument about paying to free the slaves had a fundamental flaw. It presumed that slaves were property and not people. People are people. You might ransom them, but you don't pay for them. In the past, the United States avoided wars by paying off its enemies, but those wars were over land which is... let me check my legal dictionary... oh yes... LAND IS PROPERTY. Granted... many of the abolitionists were insane, but they were right and the slave idea is wrong. [10]

The Texas Housewife Riots

The main export crop for Texas is cotton, but the current blockade of the Confederacy limits the amount of cotton going out to England, France, and oddly enough... THE UNION STATES. Yes. Everyone needs cotton, but legally speaking and just between us gentlemen and ladies, Texas cannot sell that cotton directly... so they sell it to Mexican agents who then sell it to the highest bidder, which, often, is the United States of America, otherwise known as the Union. Prices are sky-rocketing. The cost for simple staples and household goods are out of control. Texas housewives are in serious competition for a limited supply which is causing riots amongst the women-folk. Mary Maverick of San Antonio fights her way to the counter to buy 1 bolt of cloth, one pair of shoes and a dozen wax candles. Total price? $180 which is $3,430 minimum in 2015 dollars. A wagon-load of goods might cost a merchant $60,000 (that's over a million bucks), but he pays the price because he will be sold out within a week. The General of the Military Department of Texas is outraged that this sort of underhanded commerce is going on, so he demands that all international transactions be approved by the state. While this might seem reasonable in a modern context, we are talking about 1862. Commerce suddenly grinds to a halt. The General is replace by another fellow who lifts all restrictions which only upsets the Confederacy. Laws are passed but the problem is never resolved. [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This is why so-called illegal markets flourish. The more stringent the controls, the more profitable it becomes to circumvent the controls. There is a happy medium, but like the drunk at the bar, pounding his fist for another drink, governments can't limit themselves no matter what their good intentions. Regarding the Confederacy, they needed hard currency desperately. The fact that selling cotton to the Union states diminished the Union and enriched the Confederacy seems not to have occurred to them.

In Other News

  • The first true bicycle is built. A baby-carriage-maker, adds a gear mechanism and pedals to the "dandy horse" and invents the bicycle. [12]
  • Photosynthesis is discovered. A German botanist finds that starches are produced in plants through interactions of chloroplasts and light. [13]
  • Victor Hugo publishes "Les Miserables". An ex-convict seeks redemption as he is chased all over France by an insane police inspector. I saw the musical and walked out. I was not interested in watching humanity suffer in perfect key. Anne Hathaway was good, though. [14] [3]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1862, Wikipedia.

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