Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Angel Of Marye's Height's

Richard Kirkland
  I had the opportunity to visit several battlefields in Virginia when my son Rob Segroves was stationed at Norfolk. His guided missile cruiser, the U.S.S. Wainwright, was dry docked there for a year in 1991. He went into dry dock on Aug 1, and Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait the next day. Fortunate timing. This was a dream come true for me. I spent one whole day by myself driving and walking over battlefields like Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. Union soldiers were mowed down by the thousands in the battle of Fredricksburg which took place on December 13, 1862. This battle occurred just two weeks before the Battle of Stones River. I have since found out that December 13, 1862 is also an important date in my own family's history because my great, great, grandfather Isaac Mayfield, a Union soldier from Kentucky, died in a military hospital in Louisville at the age of 42. He left ten children without a father, including my great grandmother Mattie Mayfield, along with her twin sister Elizabeth, was only one year old when he died. 

  One of the most interesting stories about the Battle of Fredricksburg is that of Sgt Richard Kirkland, the "Angel of Marye's Height's". He was a Confederate soldier who was a member of Kershaw's South Carolina Brigade posted behind the stone wall on Marye's Height's. Kirkland was born in South Carolina in 1843 and survived many of the war's fiercest battles, 1st Bull Run, Savage Station, Antietam, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. The Union Army attacked the stone wall on Marye's Height's time after time in fruitless attacks. The Confederates were well protected. On the morning of the 14th over 8,000 dead and wounded Union soldiers lay in front of the stone wall. The Confederates had listened to the cries of the wounded all night. Sgt Kirkland could not take it anymore and asked permission from General Kershaw to go over the wall in order to aid the wounded. Kershaw agreed but ordered Kirkland not to carry a white flag because he didn't want the Union Army to mistake it for a surrender flag. 

  Kirkland gathered as many canteens as he could carry and at great risk to his on life he jumped over the wall and began giving water, aid and comfort to the wounded and dying soldiers. After awhile the Union Army realized what he was doing and did not fire at him. He made several trips over the wall with water and blankets giving aid to both Union and Confederate soldiers at great risk to himself. Kirkland's action's earned him the nickname of "the Angel of Marye's Height's and he became a legend in Fredricksburg. Kirkland would eventually become a Lieutenant but unfortunately he was mortally wounded by a bullet in the chest at Chickamauga on September 20, 1863 attacking Snodgrass Hill. His last words were "I'm done for...save yourselves and please tell my Pa I died right".
Monument to Sgt Kirkland

Colorized picture of Confederate dead behind the wall at Maryes Heights

The Angel of Marye's Heights
Snodgrass Hill

From Pearl Harbor To Calvary

  Commander Mitsuo Fuchida led the Japanese air attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was born on December 3, 1902. In 1924 he graduated from the Japanese Imperial Naval Academy and began a long career as a pilot in the Japanese Navy. On December 7, he radioed the signal for two waves of Japanese aircraft from six different carriers to open the attack. When he realized he had achieved complete surprise he radioed "Tora, Tora, Tora" to the flagship Akagi. He remained over Pearl Harbor until both waves were finished with the attack. Upon return to his carrier he discovered 21 flak holes in his aircraft and the main control wires were barely hanging together. In June 1942 he was wounded and barely escaped alive from the carrier Akagi when it was sunk in the Battle of Midway. The day before the atomic bomb was dropped Fuchida was in Hiroshima attending a week long military conference for Japanese officers. He received a phone call to return to Naval Headquarters in Tokyo which saved him from certain death. The day after the attack he was sent back into Hiroshima with a group to assess the damage. Everyone in his group contracted radiation sickness and died. All with the exception of Fuchida who never even showed symptoms of the disease. 

  After the war he was called to testify in a war crimes trial. This angered him because he felt Americans treated their Japanese prisoners with the same brutality as they had shown Americans. When he talked to returning Japanese prisoners of war however they said that they were not mistreated or abused by their American captors. He talked to a friend who had been captured at Midway and he told him about a Christian missionary couple who treated him with kindness. Fuchida was taught the code of Bushido where revenge was not only expected but a responsibility. He was obsessed with the idea of forgiveness and could not understand how someone could forgive their enemies. In 1948 he was handed a pamphlet that told the story of an American Airman named Jacob DeShazer whose B-25 bomber crash landed during the Doolittle Raid. He was captured by the Japanese and was starved, beaten, and tortured for three long years. While he was a prisoner of the Japanese DeShazer became a Christian. This story inspired Fuchida and he became a Christian after reading the Bible in 1949. In 1950, the year I was born, Fuchida and DeShazer met for the first time. Fuchida eventually applied for a green card and settled in the United States. He toured the United States and Europe as a Christian missionary. He wrote several books including his autobiography "From Pearl Harbor to Calvary". Fuchida died in Japan in 1976 from complications brought on by diabetes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Japanese Balloon Bombs

Church where Archie and Elyse Mitchell attended.
  When I was stationed at Kingsley Field AFB in Klamath Falls Oregon from October 1968 until April 1970 I visited a local museum where I learned about a historical event that very few Americans know about. There was a strange object in the museum that had been part of a Japanese balloon bomb found in the forests around Klamath Falls. In November 1944 the Japanese military launched 9,000 balloon's that were 33 feet in diameter carrying 35 pounds of explosives. The Japanese called them Fugo's. They rose to an altitude of 30,000 feet where they were carried by the jet stream east where they arrived three days later over the west coast of the United States. The intent was to start massive fires and panic in the U.S. when these bombs exploded in the forests of the Northwest. This was in retaliation for the firebombing attacks of Japanese cities by the American Air Force. This would lift the morale of the Japanese people. The only problem with this plan was that the balloon attack occurred in the winter and rainy season when our forests were generally wet. Secondly, when these balloon's were found as far east as Nevada and Montana the U.S. Government ordered the news media to censor any reporting of them. Can you imagine the news media doing this today? They didn't want to encourage the Japanese to continue the attack. 

  Tragically six people were killed by one of these bombs in Oregon in May of 1945 when Elyse Mitchell, a pregnant Sunday School teacher, and five children ranging in age from 11 to 13 on a picnic found one of these balloon bombs in the forest. One of the children found the bomb and when the others in the group went to investigate the bomb blew up. This was the only time in World War II that Americans were killed in the continental U.S. by enemy action. The Reverend Archie Mitchell, husband of Elyse Mitchell remarried and became a Christian Missionary to Vietnam. In 1962 he was captured by the Viet Cong and was never heard from again. The third picture is the church where Archie and Elyse attended at the time of Elyse's death.

Andrew Jackson Was Not A Good Speller

  Andrew Jackson was a bad speller. When he was the prosecuting attorney of Davidson County he would approve court records by writing Oll Korrect on them. After awhile this became tiresome so he began signing the papers with "OK", thus coining the word okay.

Nat Love - "Deadwood Dick"

Nat Love

Nat Love / Pullman Porter
  Nat Love, pronounced Nate, was the most famous black cowboy of the old west. His nickname was "Deadwood Dick". Nat was born a slave in Davidson County, "Nashville" in 1854 on the plantation of Robert Love. After the Civil War and the end of slavery Nat's father tried to run his own farm but soon died. Nat won a horse raffle, sold the horse, gave his mother half the money and headed west, ending up in Dodge City Kansas where he became a cowboy. He became so skilled he gained the respect of white cowboy's and eventually won a rodeo rope, tie, throw, bridle, saddle, and bronco riding competition on the 4th of July, 1876 in Deadwood South Dakota, which is where he got the nickname "Deadwood Dick". He was an expert shot and was captured by Indians in 1877 but because of his bravery they released him. He wrote an autobiography of his life and worked as a Pullman Porter in his later years. He died in Los Angeles California in 1921 at the age of 67.

Thankful Taylor

Thankful Taylor
  There used to be a Sunday magazine section of the Tennessean newspaper which I liked because it had interesting stories about local history. I think they did away with it in the 1970's. It was through this magazine that I first read about the story of Thankful Taylor, a young girl who lived in Christiana during the 1800's that had a 23 inch long snake pulled from her stomach by a Murfreesboro Doctor in 1874. She apparently accidentally swallowed a baby snake while drinking from a creek in Christiana while working on her farm. For five years she suffered from convulsions and stomach problems before seeking medical help. A sympathetic neighbor made her drink liquor which exacerbated the problem. People could see the snake moving in her stomach. Her pastor looked in her mouth and saw the head of the snake. He was the first to identify the problem If you Google Thankful Taylor the Daily News Journal did a thorough story on the incident in 2010 under the heading" Bosom Serpent, a Rutherford Snake".

Martha White

Martha White Lindsey
  I will always remember Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs singing their jingle "you bake better biscuits, cakes, and pies, with Martha White Self-Rising Flour" after the announcer introduced them by saying "and this portion of the Grand Ole Opry is brought to you by Martha White". The real Martha White was Martha White Lindsey, who was three when her father Richard Lindsey Sr. opened the Royal Flour Mill of Nashville in 1899. He named his finest flour for her. When new owners acquired the company in 1941 they changed the name to Martha White. Martha White grew up in Nashville and attended Warner Elementary School and Hume Fogg High School. In 1923, Martha married Dr. George M. Russell, an orthodontist. The couple had three children and lived in Nashville until 1931, when they moved to Memphis. Martha White Lindsey Russell died there in 1949.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Ku Klux Klan In Tennessee

The Original Klan During Reconstruction

The Klan In Nashville In 1957

By Mark V. Wetherington , The Filson Club Historical Society

  The infamous Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was organized in May or early June of 1866 in a law office in Pulaski by six bored Confederate veterans (the "immortal six"). The Ku Klux Klan was, in its inception, a social club for young men seeking amusement and entertainment. It adopted similar oaths and rituals popular with college fraternities of the day, including oaths of secrecy, mystical initiations, outlandish titles for officers, costumed ceremonies, and pranks. The name "Ku Klux" was a derivation of the Greek word kuklos, meaning "band" or "circle." For the remainder of 1866 there is little evidence that the Klan was involved in vigilantism as new "dens" were formed for social purposes in many of the surrounding counties.

  In February 1867 Tennessee enfranchised freedmen, and Republicans established local chapters of the Union League, a political arm of the party, to mobilize the new black voters. In some respects the KKK became the conservative ex-Confederates' answer to the Union League, a rallying point for white Democrats determined to drive freedmen, Republicans, and their allies from the polls. During the spring of 1867 the KKK's innocent beginnings began to give way to intimidation and violence as some of its members sought to keep freedmen in their traditional place. The official reorganization of the Klan into a political and terrorist movement began in April 1867, when the state's Democratic Party leadership met in Nashville. An invitation sent by the Pulaski den to others in the state called for a gathering of members at the Maxwell House hotel, where Tennessee's conservative Democrats provided for greater control of an expanding KKK. A prescript established administrative protocols and emphasized the need for secrecy. Subsequently, former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was elected the first and only Grand Wizard. In 1868 a revised prescript declared the Klan the defender of the Constitution of the United States and the protector of the orphans and widows of Confederate dead. Klansmen were required to swear that they had never been members of the Union army, the Union League, or the Republican Party, and they supported re-enfranchising ex-Rebels and upholding the South's constitutional rights.

  Prior to 1868, however, the KKK essentially assumed a defensive posture aimed at protecting the white community from the perceived threats represented by Union Leaguers and the state militia. Indeed, early in 1867, some white conservatives still hoped to win over black voters to the Democratic cause. When the freedmen flocked to the Republican banner during the elections of that year, however, conservative Democrats, incensed over their political losses, decided that a new strategy of intimidation and violence was needed.

  The violent tactics of the KKK soon spread to parts of Middle and West Tennessee, where bushwhacking and general lawlessness were already common, and throughout much of the South in 1868. Klan activity was especially strong in Giles, Humphreys, Lincoln, Marshall, and Maury Counties in Middle Tennessee, and Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, and Obion in West Tennessee. The Klan was less successful in Unionist and Republican East Tennessee, with the exception of some activity in the vicinity of Bristol, a pocket of pro-Confederate sentiment.

  Irrespective of time and place, a major problem of the Klan's expansion from a leadership standpoint was a lack of control. Once the dens set aside social activity as their primary purpose and took up political terrorism and racial violence, they fed on local reaction to threats to conservative political control and white supremacy rather than to any coordinated direction on the state, or even county, level. This aspect of the KKK's character became clear when the violence did not disappear after the elections of 1868 but continued with little or no link to political activity. Klansmen attacked, whipped, and murdered black men and women whenever they found their activities offensive, no matter how innocent or trifling these putative transgressions were. Freed people who exhibited too much independence, established schools, or assumed positions of leadership were singled out for harsh treatment. 

  In an effort to curb the violent acts of the KKK, Governor William G. Brownlow called for an extra session of the legislature which, following the investigation of a Ku Klux Klan committee, reestablished the militia and gave him the power to declare martial law in any county necessary. Members of the Klan and other secret societies engaged in terrorism were subject to arrest by any citizen, a five-hundred-dollar fine, and imprisonment for up to five years under a so-called Ku Klux Klan Act. Brownlow, who wished to see prominent KKK leaders and ex-Confederates tried and convicted in order to make examples of them, employed a Cincinnati private detective, Seymour Barmore, to infiltrate the Klan and gather names. When Barmore's body turned up in the Duck River on February 20, 1869, with a rope around his neck and bullet hole in his head, Brownlow declared martial law on the same day in nine counties in Middle and West Tennessee. Five days later Brownlow resigned as governor to fill a seat in the U.S. Senate. Subsequently, Nathan Bedford Forrest, believing that the Klan had served its purpose, called for the members to destroy their robes.

  After a hiatus of almost fifty years, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in 1915 stimulated a new interest in the KKK in Tennessee, the South, and the nation. In the aftermath of World War I, the Red Scare, the Scopes trial, and rising nativism, many conservatives saw the KKK as the protector of traditional American values. Many working-class whites in Tennessee's urban areas, feeling threatened by economic competition from blacks and immigrants, joined the Klan. By 1923 over two thousand white men had enrolled in Knoxville, for example, and soon became involved in local and statewide elections. The political influence of the KKK in Tennessee helped elect Governor Austin Peay in 1923 and U.S. Senator Lawrence D. Tyson in 1924. Membership declined sharply during the Great Depression, however, and the Klan disbanded as a national organization in 1944.

  During the post-World War II years various groups of individuals have organized under the Klan name and in turn have disbanded, depending upon conservative white reaction to perceived threats during the civil rights and school desegregation movements. Jerry Thompson, a journalist for the Nashville Tennessean, infiltrated the KKK and in 1980 and 1981 produced an award-winning series of newspaper articles on Klan activity. In 1997 the U.S. Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc., received incorporation from the secretary of state's office as a nonprofit organization at Camden, Tennessee.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Desmond Doss - Medal Of Honor Winner

  Desmond Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal Of Honor. He was a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and was born on February 7, 1919 He died March 23, 2006. Doss was ridiculed for his beliefs. Not only for his pacifism which was based on his interpretation of scripture but his strict observance of the Sabbath. Adventists believe that you should not work from sundown on Friday night until sundown on Saturday. He served as a medic in the US Army. His citation reads as follows.

  He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machine gun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire.

  On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of one arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

  This action occurred at the battle of Okinawa in 1945 which was the costliest battle fought in the Pacific. It was fought from April 1st 1945 until June 22, 1945. The Japanese lost 100,000 men as opposed to 50,000 men for the Americans. Desmond was wounded twice and toward the end of 1945 he contracted tuberculosis and eventually lost a lung. He did all this without ever carrying a rifle.

The Lesson Of Leadership - Ronald Reagan

  There was a famous moment during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 when General Eisenhower recognized the fact that Hitler had overextended himself presenting the Allies with a golden opportunity. Most of his other Generals were in a panic mode after seeing their forces pushed back and encircled after being surprised in the Ardennes. Eisenhower had the strategic vision to realize that we had the forces and resources to overwhelm and cut off the German and win the war. The Republican Congress can do the same thing to Obama in their fight over not raising the debt ceiling. His Majesty's popularity rating has fallen to 37%. Granted Congress rating is even lower because we see them for what they are. Corrupt career establishment politicians. Yet if they would just lead, and fight the good fight. they would win in the end. Instead they are showing signs of caving. This is what we have come to expect. Their resources however are the American people. Most grass roots Democrats, Republicans, and Independents like myself do not want Obamacare and we never have. We realize that if we don't get spending and debt under control our kids will not have a future. Besides these issues there are many other issues that unite us like the 2nd Amendment, illegal immigration, gay marriage, Islamic encroachment, political correctness, keeping God in the public arena, or 1st Amendment issues, a strong military, liberal indoctrination in our educational system, and the list goes on and on. It is not left versus right but right versus wrong. We make up the majority of Americans but we have no leadership to rally around in Washington. The Republicans, like Eisenhower, need to have the strategic vision to realize that it is Obama that is overextended and exploit this opportunity by calling on their vast resources, the American people, to defeat this tyrant. They could also learn from Reagan who always had his finger on the pulse of the people. He believed in them and trusted them to do the right thing when they were properly informed. He knew how to by-pass a biased media and talk directly to the people. The left never knew how to fight Reagan and all they could do was watch in complete frustration because he had the people on his side. Reagan had a saying. "When they don't see the light, you turn up the heat".

The Four Capitals Of Tennessee




   There have been four capitals of Tennessee since our founding as a state on June 1, 1796. Knoxville was the capital on two occasions. The first time from 1796 until 1812. The second time from 1817 until 1818. Kingston was the capital of Tennessee for one day! On September 21, 1807, the Tennessee General Assembly met in Kingston. They declared it to be the state capital, passed one item, and adjourned. That one item was the acquisition of Cherokee territory that was known as Fort Southwest Point. The Indians had ceded the land around the Fort to the State with the provision that it would be named the State capital, which it was, but only for one day. Before the Indians realized that they had been tricked, the capital was moved back to Knoxville. 

  Murfreesboro was the capital from 1818 until 1826. It was chosen because it is the geographic center of the state of Tennessee. While it was in Murfreesboro Davy Crockett served in the state legislature. I read somewhere that they moved the capital from Murfreesboro to Nashville because the courthouse that was being used as the capital building burned down. This was a temporary move until they could rebuild it. When the time came to transport the official government documents from Nashville to Murfreesboro the city didn't want to pay the 100.00 dollar freight charge and this is why Nashville is the capital today. Nashville has been the capital twice. The first time from 1812 to 1817. The second time from 1826 until the present.

Sgt York Kills 28 German Soldiers And Captures 132 Prisoners On October 8, 1918

Sgt York

Frogge Mountain


  On October 8, 1918, Alvin C. York won the Medal of Honor, becoming the most decorated American soldier of World War I. York was an expert shot with a pistol and a rifle. He learned to shoot growing up in the mountains around Pall Mall Tennessee near Jamestown. He took out 32 German machine gun nests and killed 28 enemy soldiers. In addition, York single handedly captured 132 German POW's. This action was part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The war would last another month, ending on November 11, 1918. York was born on December 3, 1887 and died on September 2, 1964 at the VA Hospital in Nashville when I was 14. One of my favorite movies of all time is Sergeant York starring Gary Cooper. The movie has many historical inaccuracies. The battle scenes are accurate and regardless of the inaccuracies the movie captures the essence of the man. He was a true Christian in every sense of the word. He turned down the equivalent of one million dollars in today's currency for commercial endorsements. He didn't want to exploit his fame. In his mind it was blood money. His conscience told him that killing was wrong but he felt he had to kill in order to save the lives of his men. One tactic that York used to kill Germans was the same tactic he used to kill a flock of wild turkeys. He would shoot the last turkey in the flock and work his way forward. The turkeys up front were not frightened and wouldn't scatter. They were unaware that they were being picked off one at a time, rear to front. This was depicted in the movie. Besides his bolt action Springfield rifle, York also used a 1911 model 45 caliber pistol. In the movie Gary Cooper used a German Luger.

  My grandmothers family, the Frogges, were from Jamestown and Pall Mall. Many of York's closest friends were Frogge's as were his worst enemies.There is a Frogge Mountain near York's home and the Frogge's are buried near York in the same cemetery. My mother-in-law Margaret Traughber Phillips was born on October 8, 1918. Her mother, Grace Traughber Brown told me that she was 16 when she delivered Margaret. Nashville's General Hospital was so crowded with flu patients that day that she delivered in the hallway. Five patients died that day. The Spanish flu was raging across Europe and the United States. Some estimates say that one third of the worlds population was wiped out by the Spanish flu pandemic. The second picture is Frogge mountain that can be seen from the York home. It was named after my great great great great grandfather Arthur Robinson Frogge. The first settler in the Valley of the Three Forks of the Wolf River was Conrad, or Coonrad Pile, the great, great, grandfather of Alvin York. Among the very first after Coonrad was Arthur, who became a friend of Coonrad, and was a combat veteran of the War of 1812, fighting in the battle of the Thames against Tecumseh.
Artist rendition of York's heroism on October 8, 191
October 8, 1918, Alvin York, seen in the middle rear of the two German officers, bringing in 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. Counting York there were only 8 men guarding 132 prisoners.

Sgt York standing on the hill where he killed 28 Germans and captured 132

York in New York wearing his medals

Alvin and his mother Mary in Pall Mall

Alvin and Mary York

Alvin with Benjamin Butler York

The mountain in Pall Mall where York prayed

Alvin York's house in Pall Mall
An Alvin York Turkey shoot

Gary Cooper with York before the New York premier of Sgt York

York wetting his sights

York teaching his son to shoot
Alvin and Gracie's grave in Pall Mall