Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday, Monday*

OK, I'm not a big fan of poetry, not against it mind you, just not a fan.  Most of the poetry I'm familiar with is the lyrics of several Fighter Pilot songs.  Most definitely not appropriate for Sarge's delicate ears.

So, you ain't getting poetry today.

I thought about a food posting based on a story our DIL told at brunch today.  Seems one of my former students, who went to Med School, got married, has a kid and another on the way and works in the Urgent Care Clinic in town (i.e. She Done Good!), volunteered to provide a meal for the Men's ACTS retreat recently.  However something, based no doubt on all the factors outlined in that sentence, caused her to forget her commitment until the last minute.

Reaching deep into her culinary repertoire, she produced a sumptuous meal that was well appreciated by all.  She called it "Nut Pate with a grape reduction compote served on a Brioche".

Doing research for how to expand that into a post, I found several sites that transformed a normal item into a culinary legend.  My personal favorite? "Pan seared yeast leavened flat bread with tomato herb curdled dairy accompaniment".   Made some of that one night last week

But, nah, that ain't it either.

Based on a comment of one of Sarge's posts last week, I thought about talking about my terrain walk of the Vicksburg battlefield with the other 49 Students in my SAMS class.  Quite interesting.  Given that I was one of 3 non-Army students (1 Navy O-4 Logistician, 1 AF O-4 Logistician and Moi), we were a little out of our league.

The school had assigned roles to each of the students in the class based on their MOS.  So an Infantry guy was Grant (He's now the current USARPAC Commander, he was my roommate on these trips and running buddy. (reminder to self, never choose an infantry guy to run with.)). Another was Pemberton. 

So on and so on.




Documented evidence to the contrary, historians believe that Air Power's role in the Civil War was limited to observation balloons and they weren't used at Vicksburg.
Source


So, my role was as a Union Cavalry officer.  Run around, causing havoc where ever he happened to have the opportunity.  Havoc is my middle name.

No, I don't have a clue what his name was.

In any case, we're walking various battlefields (because the Vicksburg campaign raged from Vicksburg to Jackson and New Orleans to almost Memphis) and at each point, the students whose assigned persona took part in that portion of the campaign would talk about that person's actions, results, accomplishments and mistakes.

The first battlefield we visited, mostly because we arrived late in the day, and they wanted to get the terrain walk started, was on the riverfront in Vicksburg itself.  We walked a mile or so away from the preserved fortifications and found a trenchline that was more or less intact.

So, the folks with speaking parts began speaking, I'm looking around and trying to figure out how anybody knew what was going on.  You couldn't see squat for trees and vines and other foliage.

Yes, the fighter pilot was learning.

We visited "Grant's Ditch", an attempt to dig a canal that would bypass Vicksburg cutting it off while simultaneously opening up the Mississippi.  This engineering feet was conducted on what very loosely was called an island.  It actually was a swamp.  

Yes, it was a terrain walk, we walked in the swamp.  No, I wasn't enthused.

Needless to say, the person charged as Grant's engineer detailed many mistakes and failures.

Finally, it's the third and last day and we're going East of Vicksburg about 20 miles (AKA 20 minutes in a bus, about 4 days when marching, fortunately the instructors didn't have 4 days).

Grant has three columns moving toward's Pemberton's forces on the high ground known as Champion Hill.  At last, poor naive me thinks.  We'll be able to see something.


Source
Not so much.  Also, the road wasn't paved when we were there, it was dirt.  Since it had been raining most of the time we were in Vicksburg, it wasn't actually dirt, it was mud.  The Army spared no expense to help me experience just how good they've got it. 

So, we're standing in the mud and driving rain, I give my spiel how the cavalry had spotted a weakness in Pemberton's position which if exploited could split the Confederate forces and allow then to be cut off.  

Cheers rained from my fellow students as I finished my brilliant analysis which I'd found from the diary of whomever it was I was supposed to be that day and had read to them.

We then trudged back down the road to the waiting busses.  As I'm slogging along, in the mud and water, I kick my foot against what I think is a rock.  My big toe is screaming at me.  I fish in the puddle for the offending rock and pull out a portion of what appeared to have once been a sphere about 6 inches in diameter and made of iron, convex on one side, concave on the other.  It was the remnants of a cannon ball that had exploded there during the battle.

Unfortunately, based on the National Park Services rules, I was not allowed to keep it.

Given that my big toe was sprained, I believe, that not only was I the last casualty of Pearl Harbor, but I was also the last casualty of the Civil War.

And that's my claim to fame.

*

30 comments:

  1. I must be having a good Monday, because by the time I finished reading, "Nut Pate with a grape reduction compote served on a Brioche," I knew what it was and my smile pretty near cracked the corners of my mouth. The only thing lacking was a random scattering the word "Artisanal" into the food description.

    When my wife and I visited Antietam we realized just how little you can see of the battlefield when you are standing on the ground. Quite a different view when we visited Gettysburg and we looked out from the Union lines across the fields where Pickett's Charge started and thought, "They walked from there, to here, until rifle and cannon fire." Then we just shook our heads.

    Very good post.

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    1. Yeah, I NEVER got what everybody was talking about when they said Little Round Top was Key Terrain. On a map, it doesn't look like much.
      However, standing atop it, even I could understand what they meant by Key Terrain.

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    2. I learned how key it was playing Avalon Hill's "Gettysburg" game. That hill and the one next to it control the roads and if you position artillery on it, you've got the game, mostly, if the dice are on your side.

      In real life? Yikes, seen some really good footage from civwar reenactors, and, well, Yikes again. Too much exposure to fire to try to take that hill if defended.

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    3. It is impressive, and to think that, arguably, the Union was saved by a Cavalry General exhorting his commander to get there as fast as he could, and defended that terrain until they arrived. Who knows what would have happened had that not happened and Lee had been successful in his invasion.

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    4. Well, at least Lee's troops would have had shoes.

      The game had a variant where you could play it without charging Little Round Top. Guaranteed loss by the Unions 3 times out of four if you were that stupid.

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    5. For want of a nail (Shoe)....

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  2. Perhaps you were portraying Colonel Benjamin Grierson? (Just a shot in the dark there.)

    FWIW, I loves me some nut pate with a grape reduction compote.

    Nice post, gave me a much needed laugh on a Monday!

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    1. That's what I thought, and it may be, but none of the things I read that he'd done during the battle rang a bell. I blame water on the brain, and shoes, and armpits, and ears and....and....

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  3. Ah, Juvat, you have learned, an infantry man's lot is not an easy one. No warm beds with clean sheets. No splendid meals in a "Dining Facility" and not a vitreous china facility in sight to relieve one's self. And you may ask, do we envy you aviators who have all those wonderful things and fly above the muck and mire? You bet your sweet a$$ we do!

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    1. All true, and there are different levels of understanding things. One is able to read the words "...and an infantry man's lot is not an easy one. No warm beds with clean sheets. No splendid meals in a "Dining Facility" and not a vitreous china facility in sight to relieve one's self." and understand them at the "Well, Duh!" level of understanding and an entirely different level of understanding when one is waste deep in swamp water wondering if that thing ahead is a submerged branch or some member of Agkistrodon piscivorus who's annoyed at you for infiltrating his domain.

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    2. At least Crotalus adamanteus will have the courtesy (sometimes) to announce his displeasure of your invasion of his territory. Winston Churchill said 'There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at with no result.' but having a chance encounter with either without adverse effect will definitely make it a memorable day.

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  4. A good post to start off the week.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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  5. I was wondering what to prepare for dinner tonight until I read “pan seared...”
    Having had a career doing same, I think I can handle that.

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    1. As suggested above, your Bride will be much more impressed if you make it "Artisinal pan seared...."

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  6. Okay, I need another cuppa tea because it took me until the comments to realize that "Nut Pate with a grape reduction compote served on a Brioche" was ye ol' PB&J.
    Walking the ground where battles have been fought is always educational. If nothing else, it shows how much abuse the human body can handle.

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    1. Yeah, when the DIL related the story yesterday, it took me a moment also.

      I've walked quite a few battlefields. My thought process always follows the "How did they handle this?" followed by the "I wonder if I could have?" Normandy especially fit that process.

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  7. I have been to several French and Indian war sites and often wondered exactly what it took to assault those fortifications. CW forts and battlefields even more so. Pbnuc

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    1. Yeah, I need to get up in Sarge's neck of the woods and check out some of the sites up there. I wonder if I could find a guide, say someone with some knowledge of military history, ply him with some Adult Recreational Beverages to encourage his storytelling. Wonder if they have that sort of listing in the yellow pages.

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    2. Look under "fat retired Master Sergeants."

      Just a hint. 😁

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    3. Ahhhh! We have a similar category down here. "Old, fat, bald, retired fighter pilots." Got to be real careful engaging them, though. They can go through Adult Recreational Beverages faster than an Eagle goes through JP-4 in full grunt.

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  8. That'll teach you to kick sh... stuff... And those battle'fields' weren't really fields. They were woods, with limited visibility, limited maneuverability, and multiple 'things' that could bite, sting, and otherwise get one's attention.

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    1. I've driven through the Wilderness Battlefield. The highway through is essentially the road built by the Union as it went through. That's not a forest...it's a JUNGLE. Then add fire to the melange. That would be, quite literally, hell on earth.

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  9. Considering the shutter speed required for that cavalryman's picture, it's amazing the aircraft was able to hover there so long!

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    1. Not really Proof, I mean, all you have to do is "Hit the brakes and he'll fly right by." Another "documented" tactic that will make you a Movie Star!

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  10. Still like one of those meals every know an then, especially if cut diagonally! As for being the last casualty of the Civil War? Yes, but since you had to leave the cannonball remnant behind, someone will surely knock you out of the top slot eventually. As for that Tomcat, I heard that Lincoln got a ride in the back of it out to the Union Carrier Bush.

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    1. What is it about Diagonal Slicing that makes a sandwich taste better? That is certainly a worthy subject for a post.

      I also heard that about Lincoln. Then he took a COD which delivered him to Ford Theater. And the rest, as they say, is history!

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)