President Biden’s address to the nation and its emphasis on unity and resolution of differences suggested to me that Americans had many choices that will determine the fate of our democracy. For us to work together to solve the many challenges facing our country, we must examine our values and choose the “right” ones.
“So in the days ahead, let us not sink into the quicksands of violence; rather let us stand on the high ground of love and noninjury. Let us continue to be strong spiritual anvils that will wear out many a physical hammer.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
By April 1861, the United States had gone from the crisis of secession to the calamity of civil war. Colonel Charles F. Smith was en route from Utah to New York City to assume the post of Superintendent of the Eastern Department of the General Services at Fort Columbus, New York. However, before he began his post in New York, he was sent to Washington to command the Department of Washington.
Colonel Smith reached the capital at eleven o’clock on April 6. Later that day, General Winfield Scott issued Special Orders No. 58 assigning Smith “to the command of all troops stationed in this city and at Fort Washington.
From his room at the Willard Hotel, Smith wrote to his wife Fanny: “My command at present consists of six companies are at Fort Washington (some 14 miles below this on the Potomac); 2 field batteries; a troop of the dragoons and 2 companies of Artillery, serving as Infantry which will soon be increased by several companies of horse and foot.”
On April 14, Smith’s friend Major Robert Anderson surrendered the garrison at Fort Sumter. After the surrender of Fort Sumter, many Americans expected the first real battle of the war would be fought over Washington. The union capital was surrounded by the slave states of Maryland and Virginia and lacked troops and fortifications. The city was guarded by 1,500 soldiers, marines, and militia. The only aid the city might receive came from the 75,000 volunteers President Lincoln requested on April 15.
Smith’s status was clarified on April 11 in Special Orders No. 102, which stated, “The 10 companies of militia called out and mustered into service of the United States in obedience to orders from the President, dated War Department, April 9, 1861, will be placed under the command of Bvt. Colonel C. F. Smith, commanding the Department of Washington.
On April 15, Scott told President Abraham Lincoln that “Col. Smith, the commander of the Department of Washington, like myself, thinks our means of defense, with vigilance, are sufficient to hold this till reinforcements arrive.”
The military leaders focused the city’s defense on three key sites: The Capitol; the Old City Hall area, which included the White House, Patent Office, and buildings containing the War, Navy, State, and Treasury departments; and Treasury Building the places were strengthened to withstand a ten-day siege and soldiers were stationed inside the buildings at night.”
Smith quickly put a plan of action to effect. He ordered Captain Kings Company I 1st Infantry to “take post at the Arsenal” and Brevet Major J. A. Haskins First Artillery to “proceed with his company as soon as practicable to Fort Washington.” In General Orders No. 4 on April 16, he designated “Col. Charles P. Stone, Inspector-General of the Militia of the District of Columbia” to command the “companies of volunteers from the District of Columbia now being mustard.”
On April 16, Smith wrote to Fanny, “Every disposition has been made constantly for defense.”
The government has been so tardy in its operations that we are now virtually surrounded by thousands of armed men, whilst I with a small force of volunteers (comparatively) are standing on the defensive. I hate this being cooped up. Oh! If I only had my old Utah force. But regrets are vain. I expect an attack tonight; the first occasion I have thought such a thing might occur although the military precautions I have taken many nights [and] have been of such a character to frighten timid people. I have sat in my office for the last three nights getting about two hours sleep in a chair and this with exercise of brain and body has much worried me – tho’ all say I never looked better.
By April 18th forces in Washington had increased 2 2800 two 3200 men composed of 1000 men from the army and Marines 1200 to 1500 men from the District of Columbia militia and 600 to 700 Pennsylvania volunteers “in poor order.”
To learn more about General Smith and his role in the Civil War, please see buy thebook at Amazon.
Congratulations to Martellus Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell for writing books which encourage children to want to read. Their efforts are very important to all authors because the children to read Bennett and Mitchell’s stories become adult readers and potential customers.
“It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it.” – Daniel Webster about Dartmouth College
“… when I called him to that station I was almost a stranger to him personally, having never seen him but once or twice, and knew nothing of his opinions on this [annexation] or scarcely any other subject. I approved him because he had the character of possessing great ability and honesty.” – President Anson Jones on his prior knowledge of Mr. Allen
“You are well aware of the fact that I have from the beginning been decidedly opposed to the Annexation of Texas to the United States. It is my first object to defeat, if possible, the consummation of this most obnoxious measure, so decidedly hostile, as I conceive it to be, and fraught with such evil consequences to the ultimate prosperity and high destiny of this Country. If I am successful in the accomplishment of this great result, I shall consider it the proudest period of my life.” – Ebenezer Allen on Annexation of Texas to the United States
“The final act in this great drama is now performed: the Republic of Texas is no more.” – Anson Jones on Annexation of Texas to the United States
“The importance of the measure and its incalculable influence on and among the value of our lands, developing the resources; promoting the prosperity and increasing the wealth of our State, if successfully consummated, can not [sic] be questioned.”– Ebenezer Allen’s application for a charter to build the Galveston and Red River Railroad
“On asking ‘who was present’! – the reply by the alphabet was, ‘Lafitte’ He went on to tell us that there was a large treasure buried in the back yard of Dr. McGuire’s house, – that the money was stolen from him by some of the men in his employ and concealed in that place – (probably while he occupied this island). He directed us to search for it and said we could obtain it and he wished us to do so. Said it would take a man two days and (as I understood) part of another to dig it out. Said it was six feet below the surface; also that he would show the spot by causing the table to march to it and stand over it. On Wednesday last (9th inst) the ladies, my wife being present, tried the experiment at Dr. McGuire’s. The table (a small four legged one of the ordinary form) immediately after moving, commenced a regular walk, moving a side at a time and moving forward through the back door and along the walk upon the ground about 15 or 20 feet then turned at right angles, to the right and advanced through the grass and shrubbery to a small figtree [sic], which it went around and stopped on the other side of it some 5 minutes. It then started again very suddenly and advanced about 6 or 8 feet further and remained stationary under a large figtree [sic]. Upon inquiry, it said ‘the table stood directly over the money.’ On the evening of the 10th inst I went to Ms. McGuires [sic] at her request, who shew [sic] me the places where the table stopped, and I struck my walking stick into the ground making a small hole at each place. The statement was confirmed by what purported to by other spirits.” – Ebenezer Allen on Lafitte’ treasure
“The flame ever springs from the dust of the slain Where Milam hath fallen and Travis hath bled! Then haste, lady, haste, for the soft breezes play To waft the swift bark o’er the billows away, Not to climes where the relics of cities are strown [sic], And gray ruin points to the glory that’s gone. No! Not to the time honoured [sic] retreats of the east, Where sighs the dim shade of imperial power, But blithely where freedom anew spreads her feast, And invites to the land of the star and the flower!” – Mrs. Ebenezer (Sylvinia) Allen on Texas
“For, engraven [sic] on tablets more lasting than stone, I read − “Man shall never be happy alone!” How thrilled then my pulses with raptures untold When my Bird flew towards me on pinions of gold, And entranced with her notes, as from bow’rs [bowers] of the blest, I wooed her forever to dwell in my breast.” – Ebenezer Allen “A Retrospect to his Wife“
Meanwhile, I am working on a new fiction book based on the events taking place in America in 2020. So far I have over 62,000 words and, thankfully, no footnotes, bibliography, or index.
On a completely different topic, I have been working with a colleague on a petition to change Fort Hood to Fort Oveta Culp Hobby. Please check out the Change.org page to read about this amazing lady. Also see #RenameFortHoodtoFortHobby.
There is a reason America’s Founding Fathers placed the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment ahead of other amendments in the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.
Today, threats to our democracy make enforcing the First Amendment rights more important than ever.
As writers, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and the press. This allows us to compose political and societal fiction and include our opinions in non-fiction works. Freedom of the press allows us to publish portions of our books and write articles based on these books. This press freedom permits us to be interviewed by the media about our books and/or the subject matter.
Consider how impossible it would be to write without these rights. Could we author inspirational and spiritual works, self-help guides, fiction and non-fiction histories and biographies, how-to manuals, and social commentaries?
Who do we have to thank for these gifts? James Madison. Future-President Madison is honored as the “Father of the Constitution” for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the Constitution of the United States and the United States Bill of Rights.
President James Madison
During the 1st Congress, Madison led efforts to pass several constitutional amendments that would form the United States Bill of Rights. Madison hoped to protect individual liberties against the actions of the federal government and state legislatures. He believed listing the specific rights would fix those rights in the public mind and encourage judges to protect them. After studying over two hundred amendments that were proposed at the state ratifying conventions, Madison introduced the Bill of Rights on June 8, 1789. His amendments contained numerous restrictions on the federal government and protected freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to peaceful assembly.
There seems to be an idea supported by President Trump that we should not change the names of U.S. military bases. I question the belief that the names of these bases are etched in stone never to change and that the United States does not have many post-1865 heroes.
Names of public places are changed all of the time. In some cases, it is because the building is used for other purposes, the mission of the organization has changed, or people forget why the building was named that way. I am not talking about monuments which as I have said in the past are an issue that each community should resolve. We have plenty of heroes in the past 150 plus years. When are we going to honor them?
General John Bell Hood
Let’s consider Fort Hood in Texas. General John Bell Hood had mixed reviews during his time in command of Confederate troops. He was praised for his actions in the Penninsula Campaign but criticized for his actions in the battles around Atlanta and Nashville. This may have to do with the wear and tear on his body and loss of limbs. Incidentally, he was doing exactly what his commander-in-chief Jeff Davis wanted in the Atlanta Campaign. Davis replaced Joe Johnston with Hood and ordered John Bell to fight.
Here are some Texans who might be worthy of replacing Hood.
George Lawson Keene – Most decorated American soldier in WW I
Audie Murphy – Most decorated U.S. soldier in WW II
Staff Sergeant Marcario Garcia – Medal of Honor, WW II Garcia became the first Mexican immigrant to win the nation’s highest award for valor.
Master Sergeant Roy Benevidez
Roy Benavidez – Medal of Honor, Vietnam – He made Rambo seem like a wimp – amazing story – Please read Roy Benavidez’s story
Oveta Culp Hobby – Colonel Women’s Army Corps, first secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower – Army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he became a five-star general in the Army and served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of Normandy in 1944–45 from the Western Front.
Chester Nimitz – commander of Allied naval forces in Pacific during World War II
Doris “Dorie” Miller – Navy Cross for valor at Pearl Harbor
David “Tex” Hill – Naval aviator, Flying Tiger ace, immortal fighter pilot