3, 1951: Published
on this date in Life
magazine, is a story entitled “Who Gets the General’s
Body.” It discusses
a controversy surrounding the disinterment and reburial of
’s great Revolutionary War heroes, General
Daniel Morgan. General Morgan – who was a
colonel throughout most of the Revolution – led regiments
of frontier riflemen, and it is quite possible that America
owes its very freedom as a nation to his leadership and the
exploits of his soldiers. Throughout
Morgan’s life he was often both at the center of attention
and the center of controversy.
The article in Life demonstrates that he was
also such in death. When
he died in 1802 at age 66, he was buried in Winchester,
Virginia, and few people at that time thought he would ever
be forgotten. However,
he pretty much was. Then,
during the Civil War, his remains were moved for fear that
Yankee soldiers might dig him up.
With the further passage of time, his gravestone
became chipped and difficult to read and the cemetery to
which he had been moved suffered from a lack of maintenance.
So a chapter of the Daughters of the American
Revolution from Spartanburg, South Carolina, a city near the
site of the Revolutionary War’s Battle
of Cowpens, which was one of Morgan’s great
victories, decided to again move the general’s remains to
a location that they believed would provide more respect for
his memory. This
effort suddenly awoke the people of
, and when a delegation from
showed up with picks and shovels, a group of
“patriots” drove them away.
General Morgan became the real victor of this
altercation, for in self-defense and to re-insure Morgan’s
memory to posterity the Winchester-Frederick County
Historical Society erected an impressive granite monument
over his grave.
5, 1877: Sometimes
a virtually unknown individual can in the moment of a heart
beat influence history. Such
was the case for William Gentles, an Irish emergent whom
like many others found a home in the United States Army.
While working as a 26-year-old common laborer in New
York, he sought to improve his lot by signing up for a
5-year enlistment in 1856. He
served “out west” in Company K, Tenth Infantry, to be
discharged at Fort Laramie in 1861.
The Civil War then being on, he re-enlisted with the
First Missouri Volunteer Engineers.
Clearly Gentles favored life in the army, for after
the Civil War he again enlisted, and again his service,
which was with the Fourteenth Infantry, was “out west.”
In 1877 the Fourteenth Infantry served at and around
Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Fort
Robinson happened to be one of the key forts at which many
of the Sioux and Cheyenne “hostiles” surrendered after
the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
The mix of reservation Indians and surrendering
hostiles led to tribal jealousies and unrest.
Involved in this were two well-known figures: Red
Cloud and Crazy Horse. Red
Cloud had been a “reservation Indian” prior to the Sioux
War, while Crazy Horse was, of course, one of the most
respected and feared of the Sioux war leaders.
As army officers sought to defuse this perceived
increasing friction, it was determined that Crazy Horse
should be arrested. On
the afternoon of this date, Gentles was on duty at Sentry
Post #1, which was located near the Fort Robinson guard
house. Crazy Horse
had been escorted to the fort, and when he realized that
officers intended to place him in that guard house, a sudden
struggle ensued: he pulled a knife, was restrained by other
warriors, and somehow was fatally bayoneted by Gentles.
It still remains unclear whether Gentles
intentionally bayoneted Crazy Horse or if he simply leveled
his rifle and the struggling Crazy Horse was shoved into the
bayonet. Whatever the
cause, the bayonet passed almost completely through Crazy
Horse’s body piercing both of his kidneys.
He died around midnight.
Gentles was immediately hidden within the fort and
then spirited away to Camp Sidney, Nebraska.
Some nine months later, at age 48, Gentles died of
natural causes at Fort Douglass, Utah.
The United States Air Force initiates Operation
Ranch Hand in Vietnam, which is explained as a
"modern technological area-denial technique"
designed to expose the roads and trails used by the Viet
Cong. In other words,
C-123 Providers, start dumping an estimated 19 million
gallons of defoliating herbicides over 10-20 percent of
and parts of
for the color of its metal containers--is the most
frequently used defoliating herbicide.
Lasting from 1962 to 1971, the operation succeeded in
killing vegetation, but not in stopping the Viet Cong.
Both during and after the war, the use of Agent
Orange was controversial. There
were unanswered questions concerning long-term ecological
impact and the possible effect on humans who either handled
or were sprayed by the chemicals. Beginning
in the late 1970s,
veterans began to
cite the herbicides, especially Agent Orange, as the cause
of health problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer to
birth defects in their children. Similar problems were
reported among the Vietnamese people who lived in the areas
where the defoliating agents were used.
War always has its collateral damage, and sometimes
that damage lurks unknown until it haunts victim’s years
later. Sadly we are
still losing veterans – friends and loved ones - over
health related problems caused by Operation Ranch Hand.
22, 1871: In
Mono County, California, just a few miles south of the
turnoff on Highway 395 to Mammoth Lakes and the Mammoth
Mountain ski slopes, and directly across from the southern
section of the Mammoth Lakes - Yosemite Airport, there is a
road that leads west toward the High Sierra and a beautiful
deep mountain lake. That
road passes, rides up the sides, and tops out over ancient
glacial moraines to reach the lake just at its exit stream.
The road then winds around the southern shore through
a small lakeside campground to a turn-around.
The mountain rising from the far end of the lake (Mt.
) is steep and colorful, and the waters of the lake are a
rich blue. If one
knows where to go, huge Brown trout lurk a few yards off
shore for wads of worms, and near the forested entrance
stream, Rainbow trout can often be caught by drifting a line
down through the stream’s rapids as it enters the lake.
On September 17, 1871, some 130 miles to the north,
29 desperate men escaped from the Nevada state prison at
Carson City killing two people in the process.
After them rode a heavily armed posse of law officers
and Carson City citizens. That
posse eventually gave up, but a second posse led by Sheriff
Robert Morrison of Benton cornered a group of the bad
men in the forest at the base of this beautiful lake.
A gun battle erupted, Sheriff Morrison and several
others were killed, three of the escapees were captured, two
of which were promptly hung.
Within two months 18 of the 29 escapees were either
captured or killed. It
was from this incident that this beautiful lake received its
present name: Convict
2, 1835: By
ignoring the Constitution of 1824, General Antonio Lopez de
Santa Anna transformed the government of Mexico into a
military dictatorship. In
response, the state of Coahuila refused cooperation, the
state of Zacatecas rebelled, and tempers flared in the
. The rebellion in
Zacatecas was brutally crushed, Texan spokesman, Stephen
Austin, was imprisoned in Mexico City, and troops were sent
into Texas under the command of Santa Anna’s
brother-in-law, General Martin Perfecto de Cos.
But the garrisoning of Mexican troops in the province
of Texas in 1835 had the same effect as the garrisoning of
British troops in the English colony of Massachusetts in
1775 – it simply increased the pressure between the
provincials and the Mother Country.
Cos moved on San Antonio, where the garrison
commander was busily confiscating weapons from the local
citizens. It was
Santa Anna’s intention to seize all civilian arms and
ammunition. Word came
from the village of Gonzales that the citizens there were
renovating a small cannon, which years before they had been
given to help protect the village from Indian attack.
Troops were sent to confiscate the cannon only to
discover that the little Texan defensive force of only 18
had swelled to 167. In
the early morning, flying a flag made by a wife and
daughter, the Texans attacked.
The Mexican troops fled back to
. The flag pictured a
lone star above the shape of a cannon barrel on a white
background; below the cannon barrel were inscribed the
words, “Come and Take it!”
It was the first Texas Lone Star flag, and today it
is called “The Gonzales Flag,” or “The Come and Take
It Flag.” As were
the first shots of the American Revolution fired when
British troops attempted to confiscate patriot arms, so were
fired the first shots of the Texas Revolution.
Later it was said, “Everyone who knows the Texans,
or who has heard of them, would naturally conclude that they
would never submit to be disarmed.
Any government that would attempt to disarm its
people is despotic; and any people that would submit to it
deserve to be slaves!”
13, 1792: In
the afternoon a group of Freemasons march from Georgetown to
the present-day location of the White House.
At this time the spot is a raw construction site
called "President's Park," and the
"Presidential Palace," to be eventually named The
White House, is in the beginning stages of construction.
"Gentlemen of the town and area" had joined
with the marchers, and as they watch, the Freemasons spread
wet mortar on one of the Virginia Aquia sandstone foundation
stones, lay in a polished brass plate, and then cover it
with a cornerstone. Afterwards
they retire to
's Fountain Inn to celebrate the nation's future with toast
after happy toast. Somewhere
among all the toasts the location of the cornerstone becomes
hazy and then completely disappears.
History passes to 1946 when an old letter dated
October 20, 1792 comes to light.
It describes "the first stone" being laid
"in the southwest corner
of the president's house."
Before the discovery of this letter, the
cornerstone's location was believed to be in the northeast
corner of the White
years after the discovery of the letter, during the
administration of President Harry Truman, the White House is
completely gutted for remodeling, and historical enthusiasts
seize the opportunity to hopefully cut into the walls to
locate the “lost” cornerstone.
However, Truman refuses to allow any excavation into
stable parts of the building not requiring renovation.
The work crews do, however, discover a marble box
hidden under the White House entrance hall.
It contains an empty bottle of Hunter's
Baltimore Rye – an empty whiskey bottle.
There are many avenues people take in this world to find
fame. On this date, a
63-year-old former schoolteacher, Annie Edison Taylor, made
her bid for fame and fortune by becoming the first person to
ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Secured by a harness and sealed in a specially made
oak barrel, she was released into the current of the Niagara
River where she was swept over
. The barrel and
Annie plunged 173 feet into the churning cauldron below.
Pulled from the river some seventeen minutes later,
Annie emerged from the barrel cut and bruised, but not badly
hurt. "Have I
really gone over the falls?" she asked her rescuers.
Over the next 20 years Annie tried to capitalize on
the stunt, but in 1921 she died penniless.
Today she rests in Niagara's Oakwood Cemetery,
between two other luckless Niagara daredevils.
31, Traditional: There
is an Irish myth about a man named "Stingy Jack,"
who after inviting the Devil for a drink refused to pay.
Twice he tricked the Devil to avoid payment. The
second time he cornered the Devil up a tree by cutting a
cross into the tree's bark. Jack
refused to let the Devil down until he was promised that the
Devil would not bother him nor claim his soul for ten years.
However, Jack soon died, and according to the story,
the Lord did not wish to have such a trickster in heaven.
The Devil, true to his word, would not let Jack into
hell either, and sent him off to wander the night with only
a glowing coal to guide his way.
Jack put the coal in a carved-out turnip, and since
has wandered the Earth. The
Irish referred to the legend's ghostly figure as "Jack
of the Lantern" - shortened to "Jack O'Lantern."
As time went along, versions of Jack's lantern were
carved from turnips, potatoes, or large beats and placed in
windows to scare away evil spirits.
When the legend migrated with Irish emigrants to the
New World, they found pumpkins, native only to America,
perfect for Jack O'Lanterns.
“Cougar Heart” Jacobson