Sunday, September 29

This week in the Civil War: Sept. 29, 1863

Attack on USS New Ironsides near Charleston Harbor

The armored Union warship USS New Ironsides came under attack the night of Oct. 5, 1863, while patrolling near Charleston, S.C. The attack by the Confederate steam-powered torpedo boat CSS David inflicted damage on the warship but it manage to escape worse fate and remained active in enforcing a Union blockade of Confederate ports well after the attack. Charleston Harbor, where the Civil War had begun with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, was a major target of Union warships seeking to enforce the blockade against gunrunners and other smugglers seeking to transport supplies to the secessionists. But the last major Union attempt to take Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor went down in failure in early September 1863. At the time, about 500 Union soldiers and Marines in small boats had approached Sumter in an unusual nighttime operation only to see five Union troops killed, several wounded and more captured. Though the Confederates suffered no loss of life, the blockade that brought USS New Ironsides to waters outside Charleston would only be solidified through the rest of the war — creating no real imperative for the Union to try further to take Charleston militarily.

Friday, September 27

The great steampunkin

It took awhile, but I finally got my mini Steampunkin!

Isn't it cute?!

Made by Isher Creations, his mini mini steampunkins not only have a color-changing LED pack inside, but also a strong magnet for shoulder riding action! 

Phoenix area residents can get their very own steampunkins this weekend at Keen Halloween

See you there!

Sunday, September 22

A tale of two grumpies

Apparantly, we are unimpressed.
I came, I saw, I grumped.

Yes, that is correct. I got to meet Tardar Sauce, AKA Grumpy Cat.

Tardar Sauce was at Changing Hands Bookstore today to meet with local fans. Grumpy fans were allowed to take photographs and get their copies of Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book "pawtographed." We also got our choice of a Grumpy Cat pin or poster.

According to my calculations there were about 1,300 people there to see Arizona's viral internet sensation. We weren't allowed to touch, but I was pleased to see them let children with disabilities pet her.

And while I was not quite as popular as Tardar Sauce, I did find my own fans.

In fact, Tardar Sauce kind of reminded me of myself.

Small in stature. Big in imagination.

This week in the Civil War: Sept. 22, 1863

Battle of Chickamauga, Ga.

Union fighters who had previously occupied Chattanooga, Tenn., would see Confederate opponents pushing back this month 150 years ago in the war in hopes of retaking lost ground. Confederate fighters under the command of Braxton Bragg clashed with Union forces in late September of 1863 in northwest Georgia, amid a Confederate aime to recapture nearby Chattanooga, Tenn. The fighting erupted in earnest at Chickamauga in extreme northwest Georgia on Sept. 19 of that year. Combat raged for hours with the Union line stubbornly holding. But a Union general's attempt to shore up a perceived gap in his lines created an opening for Confederate James Longstreet to break through during a two-day battle before Union forces regrouped and stopped Longstreet's strike force. In the end, Confederates won a costly but critical battlefield victory. By Sept. 20, 1863, the secessionists had gained enough ground to begin positioning themselves on mountain heights around Chattanooga, menacing Union forces holding the city. All told, some 16,000 Union and 18,000 Confederate casualties were reckoned as the toll at Chickamauga — some of the bloodiest fighting in the so-called Western theater. The Confederate achievement would allow Bragg's army to besiege Union troops occupying Chattanooga enough to throttle the federal supply line for weeks. Fresh Union forces would begin arriving in the coming weeks and the Union's William T. Sherman would arrive by November before fighting later in 1863 would drive Confederates from the region.

Sunday, September 15

The future is in the past

I was asked this weekend if I had ever been to Gravity Falls.

Heck, I hadn't even heard of it but it does sound like a place I'd like to visit. 

According to Wikipedia:

For their summer vacation, 12 year old twins Dipper and Mabel are dropped off to live with their Great Uncle (usually shortened to "Grunkle") Stan in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Things are not what they seem in this small town, and with the help of a mysterious journal Dipper finds in the forest, they realize that their everyday lifestyle has changed. With appearances from Wendy, Dipper's crush; Soos, friend of Dipper and Mabel and handyman to Grunkle Stan; plus an assortment of other characters, Dipper and Mabel always have an intriguing day to look forward to.

This sounds like Phineas and Ferb meets The X-Files.

Count me in!


This week in the Civil War: Sept. 15, 1863

Lincoln suspends writ of Habeas Corpus throughout U.S.

President Abraham Lincoln, bidding to gain the upper hand in the Civil War, issued Proclamation 104 on Sept. 15, 1863, suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus throughout the United States. He wrote in his proclamation that "this suspension will continue throughout the duration of the said rebellion, or until this proclamation shall, by a subsequent one to be issued by the President of the United States, be modified or revoked." Such a writ is a right under U.S. law allowing a prisoner to petition to be brought before the courts to determine if that person's continuing detention by authorities is lawful. Constitutionally, it can be suspended only in extraordinary circumstances such as ensuring public safety in times of rebellion or invasion. Lincoln's move to suspend the writ was controversial at the time.

Wednesday, September 11

Carry me back to old Virginia

As far as we can tell from the photos, the family road trip began at Mount Vernon, Va.

Grandmomma (or her sister) in front of Mount Vernon.
Mount Vernon was the plantation home of our first President of the United States, George Washington. The Washington family had owned land in the area since 1674. Washington inherited the estate in 1754, but did not become its sole owner until 1761.

Washington built the wooden mansion between 1757 and 1778 and it remained his country home for the rest of his life. Sadly, the estate progressively declined after his death in 1799.

The house was saved from ruin in 1858 by the The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Mount Vernon was then restored and escaped the damage suffered by many plantation houses during the Civil War.

Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After leaving Mount Vernon, it appears the family went to southwest Pennsylvania where they visited both Fort Necessity in Uniontown, Pa., and Summit Inn in Farmington, Pa.

Coincidentally, neither town is too far from Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field as part of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Never forget.


Monday, September 9

The Main Street Across America

You can only imagine my geeky excitement when Momma's first cousin, once removed, came over Sunday with an old family photograph album.

The album contained photos from a paternal family trip with Momma's (from left) 18-year-old grandmomma, 42-year-old great-grandmomma, 15-year-old grand-aunt, 8-year-old grand-uncle (her cousin's father), and a hired driver. As far as we can tell, the cross-country trip took place in September or October of 1925 and roughly followed the Lincoln Highway, which became known as "The Main Street Across America."

The Lincoln Highway was America's first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, predating Washington, D.C.'s Lincoln Memorial by nine years. Formally dedicated Oct. 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway spanned from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

As the first transcontinental improved highway for automobiles across the United States, the Lincoln Highway originally went through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.

The officially recorded length of the entire Lincoln Highway in 1913 was 3,389 miles. Over the years, the road was improved and numerous realignments were made, and by 1924 the highway had been shortened to 3,142 miles. 

According to the notes made beneath each photo
the travelers visited:

  • Mt. Vernon, Va.
  • Frostburg, Md.
  • Fort Necessity in Uniontown, Pa.
  • Summit Inn in Farmington, Pa. 
  • Rochester, N.Y.
  • Niagra Falls, N.Y.
  • USS Shenandoah in Ava, Ohio
  • Bourbon, Ind.
  • Springfield, Ill.
  • Joliet, Ill.
  • Hannibal, Mo.
  • Clifton, Iowa
  • Golden, Colo.
  • Lookout Mt, Colo.
  • Togwotee Pass, Wyo.
  • Yellowstone, Wyo.
  • Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • Grand Tetons, Wyo.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Union Peak, Nev.
  • Santa Barbara, Calif.

Don't worry, I shan't subject you to all of the approximately 180 photos, but I shall hit some of the highlights. The sites of two 1925 tragedies were among the trip's highlights: the June 29 Santa Barbara Earthquake and the Sept. 3 crash of the USS Shenandoah in Ava, Ohio.


Sunday, September 8

This week in the Civil War: Sept. 8, 1863

Union victorious in Little Rock, Arkansas

This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, a Union army led by Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele forced the last Confederate troops from the Arkansas capital of Little Rock. By Sept. 2, 1863, Union forces had swelled to some 15,000 troops nearing Little Rock. The Union columns were arrayed against nearly 8,000 Confederates commanded by Sterling Price. Steele ordered his fighters to swing into action Sept. 9, 1863, along the Arkansas River east of Little Rock. Fighting erupted a day later and an overwhelming fusillade of cannon and artillery fire by advancing Union forces began pushing the Confederates into retreat. Union cavalry relentlessly repulsed their rivals, sending the Confederates in the direction of southwest Arkansas. As Union fighters swept into Little Rock, the city's remaining civil authorities quickly surrendered that capital city on Sept. 10, 1863. Victory by the Union in Arkansas meant the federal forces were taking control of yet another capital city once under sway of the secessionists. 

Tuesday, September 3

A tip of the Unusually Stout Parasol

Momma and I were saddened to learn today of the death last month of one of our favorite authors, Barbara Mertz.

I knew her better as Elizabeth Peters, author of the beloved Amelia Peabody books.

As you might remember, Amelia was the inspiration for both my Unusually Stout Parasol and my utility belt.

As posted on her official website:

She died as she had told everyone she wanted to – unexpectedly, in her sleep. Shortly before her death, she had written a line to be posted on this webpage: “At 85, Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels) is enjoying her cats, her garden, lots of chocolate, and not nearly enough gin.”

"In the end the clouds will blow away and falcon will fly through the portal of the dawn."
The Falcon at the Portal

RIP Barbara Mertz. You shall be missed, but your characters live on.

Sunday, September 1

This week in the Civil War: Sept. 1, 1863

Confederates abandon Morris Island off Charleston, S.C.

Sporadic shelling of Confederate defenses on Morris Island, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, S.C., have their effect this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The night of Sept. 6-7, 1863, the Confederate garrison at Battery Wagner on Morris Island was evacuated - leaving the Union to control the barrier island near the harbor entrance. The battery was the object of a failed and bloody assault in July 1863 by African-American soldiers who fought courageously but were driven back by Confederate foes in fierce combat. One far bigger prize remains elusive to Union leadership: Confederate-held Fort Sumter. On Sept. 1, 1863, a Union frigate and other warships attempt to bombard Fort Sumter, which has been sporadically shelled for weeks from nearby vantage points. But Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began in April 1861, remained firmly in Confederate hands even as it was being pounded to rubble. Attempts to take the fort, including an attempt in early September by hundreds of Union forces, have all failed.