Friday, November 2, 2018

A Bit o' Complainin' - A Bit o' History

Prisoners from the front - Winslow Homer
Those three Confederate soldiers in the foreground describe my week very well.

Left: I can do this. Sure I didn't get squat for sleep Sunday night but dang it, I got this whipped.

Middle: Holy crap, I can't make it to the weekend. Hell, I can't even make it to retirement!

Right: Heck, today's Friday, eight hours and then I have the weekend. Oh yeah before I forget - Yank, that's gotta be the stupidest looking hat I ever did see.


Yes, it was a rough week. I kept waking up close to midnight (either side of that witching hour) and thinking, "Whoa, I feel so rested, what a great night's sleep..."

Only to check the time and realize I've only been in bed for a couple of hours. The rest of the night goes well, but by 0530 I wake up and groan that I could have slept thirty more minutes. But nature calls and at my age one must listen.

So you get short rations today. I'm tired and just a wee bit cranky. Sorry Joe, but it's a common condition amongst fellows our age, having to get up to attend to (ahem) "business" and then being cranky about it. You know what I mean.


About the painting, I really like Winslow Homer and that painting is one of my favorites. I found the title intriguing, Prisoners from the front, I don't ordinarily think of the Civil War (yup, that's what I call it) as having a "front" per se. Now World War I and World War II had clearly delineated fronts. But the Civil War I always thought of as being closer to the Napoleonic Wars, the so-called front was the area between the two armies, usually fairly concentrated and not stretching for miles.

In reality though, there were multiple fronts in that war. Though most of us tend to think of the one in Virginia and the one along the Mississippi River. There were others though, usually smaller. So I guess the concept of "the front" does apply. I just never thought of it that way. Please feel free to enlighten me in the comments. (Like y'all need permission...)

I've always been a fan of military art, but one thing to bear in mind - war is never as picturesque as the artists see it. Photographers are better at catching the real grit and pain of war.

Civil War Battle Scene - William B. T. Trego
For some reason, I can't think of that war without thinking of the Irish. On both sides...

Tears me up it does.



The Irish Volunteer

Me name is Tim McDonnell, I’m a native of the Isle,
I was born in Ireland’s bogs and left when but a child.
Me father fought in’98, for liberty so dear;
He fell upon old Vinegar Hill, like an Irish volunteer.

Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere,
We’ll fight and fall beneath the folds like Irish volunteers!
Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere,
We’ll fight and fall beneath the folds like Irish volunteers!

When I was driven from me home by an oppressor’s hand,
I cut me sticks and greased me brogues, came over to this land.
I found a home and many friends, and some that I love dear;
I’ll stick to them like bricks and glue says the Irish Volunteer.

Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere,
We’ll fight and fall beneath the folds like Irish Volunteers!
Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere,
We’ll fight and fall beneath the folds like Irish Volunteers!

Now when the traitors of the south commence their warlike raid,
I quickly laid down my hod, to the devil went me spade!
To a recruiting office I went, that happened to be near,
And joined the good old sixty-ninth like an Irish Volunteer.

Then fill the ranks, and march away! No traitor’s do we fear;
We’ll drive them all to blazes, says the Irish Volunteer.
Then fill the ranks, and march away! No traitor’s do we fear;
We’ll drive them all to blazes, says the Irish Volunteer.

When the Prince of Wales came o’er, and made a hullabaloo,
Oh, everybody was turned-out in gold and tinsel too;
But then the good old sixty-ninth they didn’t like lords or peers,
They wouldn’t give a damn for Kings, the Irish volunteers!

We love the land of liberty, it’s laws we will revere,
“But the devil take the nobility!” says the Irish volunteer.
We love the land of liberty, it’s laws we will revere,
“But the devil take the nobility!” says the Irish volunteer.

Now if the traitors in the south should ever cross our roads,
We’ll drive them all to blazes, as Saint Patrick did the toads,
Well give them all short nooses that come just below the ears
Made strong and good from Irish hemp, by Irish volunteers.

Then here’s to brave McClellan, whom the army now reveres,
He’ll lead us on to victory, say the Irish volunteers.
Then here’s to brave McClellan, whom the army now reveres,
He’ll lead us on to victory, say the Irish volunteers.

Now fill your glasses up, me boys, a toast come drink with me,
May Erin’s harp and Starry Flag united ever be;
May traitors quake, and rebels shake, and tremble in their fears,
When next we meet the Yankee boys, the Irish volunteers.

God bless the name of Washington, that name this land reveres,
Success to Meagher and Nugent and the Irish volunteers.
God bless the name of Washington, that name this land reveres,
Success to Meagher and Nugent and the Irish volunteers.



34 comments:

  1. A good tune to enter into the last day of the workweek. Have to agree on that hat, looks dumba@@, course those kepis were no great shakes either, come to think of it, wearing a ballcap backwards, uh no....just no. Too many times wakeup is 04:30, sleep goes away when visiting that bathroom because of the bladder. But being retired sometimes that afternoon nap helps. Oh oh, looking at a hard frost mornings in the middle of next week.

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    1. We had a fairly heavy frost the other day, supposed to be in the 70s today. Gotta love New England weather.

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    2. Mrs. Andrew is envious that I can lurch wide awake, stumble to the bathroom, relieve pressure, come back to bed, affix face mask, and fall asleep like *snap* that. One of the few benefits of bad allergies, being on a constant state of exhaustion.

      Unless, of course, I wake up the hell-hound...

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    3. For me going back to sleep is rather like attacking a position I just lost and the enemy has been reinforced.

      On the weekends though, not really a problem. It's the "have to get up" as opposed to "want to get up" that makes the difference.

      The feline staff are old enough now to appreciate a bit more sleep. So the 1 AM "Is it time for breakfast?" dance is no more.

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  2. They sure did find a guy who looked like the fellow of the far right, for that scene in Gettysburg.

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    1. The look on his face really conveys that, doesn't it?

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    2. It does. They did a good job casting to match the painting. Love the movie. Watch it and Gods and Generals about every other year. I do watch 1776 every year.

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    3. I know what you mean. I re-read the books every now and then. I don't watch the movies as often as you. The scene in Gods and Generals where the Rebels Irish are shooting the Hell out of the Union Irish just tears me up, hard to watch.

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    4. The Irish played a central part in the Recent Unpleasantness. There were Irish regiments on both sides and they acquitted themselves with honor. One of my favorite, and least known, figures was Confederate General Patrick Cleburne who was killed in the Battle of Franklin in 1864. If you have never heard of him I urge you to look him up.

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    5. Ah, I am familiar with General Cleburne. He first came to my notice when Jeff Shaara used him as one of the main characters in The Smoke at Dawn, a novel covering the Chattanooga campaign.

      Anyone who fell afoul of Braxton Bragg is okay in my book. (I think Bragg was an idiot.)

      A good man was Cleburne.

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    6. Which, if you think about it, the whole both sides using the Irish and accepting them, was much better treatment that the Irish got after the Mexican-American War. Treated like mercenaries, shorted on pay, sometimes discharged far from any hopes of reaching home (or the east coast.)

      On the other hand, it was nice back in the days that the ethnic minorities wanted to fight for the country. Sigh.

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    7. A lot of Irish troops were recruited right off the boat.

      The citizen ethnic minorities still do, and have.

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  4. It's always hard to get your pace back, both sleeping and working, after an extended time away from the rowing bench. And you'll get into your groove just in time for Armistice Day, and then the extended Thanksgiving weekend. Then a hard grind right up to the 12 days of Christmas (and a celebration of juvat's retirement) and yet another stretch of away-time to mess up the mental schedule.

    Gee, whatdaya think you are, old or something?


    As to the first painting, interesting how WH got 'the kid,' 'the oldtimer' and 'the Errol Flynn-wannabe' as his representation of the South's soldiers. And also got the foppish slackjawed idiocy of many of the Union's officers, as I've seen bankers with more emotion and life in their faces.

    As to the second painting, we had this discussion earlier. Art patrons were willing to pay for Action, but were not really up to having guts and gore splattered all over their walls. We need our art patrons like they used to be, the ones pushing what was art rather than a bunch of mindless idiots wanting the next 'great' 'on the edge' piece of garbage (sometimes literally - I think it was one of the British museums that some workman put his lunch remnants on a pedestal and some other wag put a glass box over it, and the critics loved it and gushed over the intransigent nature of art or some other crapola like that, until the museum embarrassingly 'removed' the installation, so to speak.)

    Hang in there. I should be dropping a post next week (damned constipation...) and maybe your lovely daughter...

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    1. It is the stop and go nature of the past month which has put me off my pace.

      I'm glad you called it Armistice Day. Someone's been paying attention. ;)

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    2. There are VG and VJ Days, then there's Armistice Day. They are not the same.

      Neither is the end of (most) hostilities during the Revolutionary War, October 19th, 1781 or the actual political date it ended, September 3rd, 1783.

      We're still fighting the wars against the muslim caliphates and such. No end date in sight.

      War of 1812? Political ending on February 17, 1815, with low-intensity fighting occurring before and after the ratification by the USA.

      Mexican-American War? I thought it ended on February 3, 1848, but recent activity by the current government and it's people seems to show Feb 3 as only an expensive cease-fire, since various Mexican army units and armed citizens have breached the cease-fire pretty much from the 'actual' date. I guess that's what happens when you 'win' against a kleptocracy.

      Civil War? Yes, Part the One ended May 9th, 1865, but then a rabid democrat (how surprising) managed to start Part the Two, otherwise known as Reconstruction, the effects of which we are still feeling thanks to LBJ and his handling of the Civil Rights issue (hwack-ptooie!!!!)

      The Spanish-American War ended on August 13, 1898. One of my great-grandfathers on my mother's side was a US Marine officer who fought in Cuba and was stationed there afterwards, returning just in time to go to the next conflict.)

      I guess we could count the Boxer Rebellion as a +1 in the Wins column, September 7th, 1901 (the same great-grandfather who was in Cuba during the SAW served in the Boxer Rebelllion, "55 Days in Peking" was required viewing, along with "Stars and Stripes Forever" when I was growing up.)

      Korea? Hasn't ended yet. Still going coldly strong. We'll see by 2024.

      Vietnam? Well, we left before the end, abandoning the people we swore to protect, so we're quitters in that respect. April 30th, 1975 is a dark stain against our honor as a nation and a people. I do blame LBJ and Nixon for that. We could have won, bigly, if we had quite playing nice and used the old WWII Rules of Engagement, which were "YES!" "MORE" "TO THE DEATH" That lack of use of old timey ROE will haunt us forever.

      Grenada was October 29, 1983. A truly just and noble war. Surprising how well those Cuban construction workers were, eh?

      Panama (the latest?) January 30, 1990. Damned Carter (hwack-ptooie) now the Canal is basically a Chinese entity. Jerk.

      We're still fighting the Gulf Wars, even though the players have officially changed their names several times. Really, it's right back to the whole Libyan Pirates thingy that we as a nation has been struggling with since Day 1. So, yes, Barkey the Moonbat was right in that muslims have affected our culture, just not in the ways he suggested.

      So. Armistice Day. I remember it for what is is. And then I remember all the other conflicts we've fought in, for those conflicts I remember. The various Banana Wars and Moro Insurgency? Did we ever really 'win' any of those, since we or other people are still fighting them?


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    3. Wars end, war does not. The conflict between good and evil will last long beyond our lives.

      It is what it is.

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  5. Following the principle of ' if you can't say/write anything nice, don't say/write anything at all. '

    ...

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. If only there were more folks who followed that principle.

      And the whole "topics not discussed in the wardroom." Life would be so much more, ya know, civil.

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    2. Thus bring back dueling. If more people had to answer with their lives for what their mouths say, we'd have a lot less loudmouths. And I don't care if you're a male, female whatever. Ya shoot off yer mouth, ya better be able to pay for it.

      Sigh. Unfortunately the bad rules of conduct are in the past, and now we have the new rules of conduct, which would have had our ancestors shooting themselves after they saw what they wrought.

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    3. Those rules were only for the well off. The peasants didn't get to play by those rules.

      Perhaps the Old West model would work.

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  6. I once read a book of the time after the War and it featured lots of Irish and patois. It was based in NYC but for all that, an excellent book, I thought. Literary it was.
    I told the one I cherish, this morning, that next time I brought the water pitcher to the table for dinner I was to be sent back to the kitchen with the damned thing.

    Before I was CHENG I used to get to sleep once in a night. If anything woke me it was just about impossible to return to sleep. Thank God that's over with.

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    1. So the rumor I heard that the CHENG never sleeps is true?

      (For you neophytes, CHENG is Navy speak for Chief Engineer.)

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    2. Funny, I always heard that the CHENG slept when all the noises were proper, to rise from his/her crypt/bunk like Nosferatu smelling blood upon hearing strange or wrong sounds.

      So, yeah, I guess modern CHENGS will never sleep, especially those on LCSssssssssss, or on the Zumies or the F(n)ord.

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    3. The noises are never proper, not to a CHENG anyway.

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    4. Former CHENG confirms that sleep is possible, but the slightest change in the sound or feel of the ship's internals will wake you up. All of the pumps, blowers, main engine turbines, ships service turbo generators (for electric power) have their own individual hums and pulses. The motion of the ship in the water (at least for destroyer size ships) will change with course changes as you cut the swells, or feel a following sea, and increased wave action is felt and heard. A course or speed change not mentioned in the skipper's night orders or at 2000 reports would usually result in CHENG's waking, and a call down to main control to see what was going on.
      Of course, there was that time after a long night pulling into a foreign port and arrival of dignitaries when the admiral, skipper and other big shots were sitting down in the wardroom for a fancy dinner. Perfect time for a nap to catch up on some sleep since CHENG was not on the guest list. However, it was a short nap as things got very suddenly totally silent. And dark. The stewards brought in candles and opened the weatherdeck doors to the wardroom and dining continued. While CHENG and his pals with flashlights went about making things noisy and light again. Ah, the good times in the steam powered Navy.
      John Blackshoe.

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    5. Sleep was once a fleeting dream but a curse of talent killed that dead. To put it into perspective.
      Senior Watch Officer - on the anchor watch detail as OOD.
      CHENG - Light off mains at 0500
      Only TAO/MCM Evaluator (other guy got fired for cause)
      Head of ECCT/DCCT- ran drills on both engines and damage control every shutdown at end of day when we anchored around 2000.

      Given the watches at anchor, 20-24, 00-04, -04-08 (nominal) and only 5 watch standing officers, odds were long on drawing one of those. Plus up at 0430 to conduct M/E lightoff by direction of CO.
      Proceed to Combat as sole TAO to take ship from anchorage to the mine-shape for sonar condition checks and then, on into the minefields where, for lunch and p breaks the CO relieved me. Proceed to anchorage, although once clear of the Mine Danger Area I was free to be CHENG for awhile. Write the night orders, conduct drills on engineering casualty control teams and damage control teams and then, maybe one of those watches mentioned above. After a week of that I could sleep upside down hanging from a net in a hurricane.
      Unfortunately, the very worst things that happened to that class of ship happened at anchor on what we call the generator watch. That's where the main space fires started that gutted and sank ships.
      It was an interesting time.
      I write about the essential man theory but for a time, I was that guy to the point that the CO, a rabid anti-smoker allowed as how an addict like me was free to smoke his head off if that's what it took to stay alert and on top of the mines without hitting them.

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    6. John Blackshoe - Great story of dinner in the wardroom.

      Good to know that there are a couple of CHENGs in the readership, just in case, ya know.

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    7. Cap'n - Yeah, it's all fun and games for the anti-smokers until the ship hits a mine. Or something.

      As an ex-smoker I don't feel the same anti-smoking zeal as my Dad did, another ex-smoker. Everybody deals with stress in different ways. I didn't smoke until I joined the Air Force. Ya know, the stress of having to stay in a three star hotel when deployed when all the cool kids were in a four star.

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  7. I've lamented my similar sleep problems here before, in my own posts and in comments regarding the same, so I can't add much more other than to say I do worry that a lack of sleep can/will affect my long term health, shortening it actually. I've stopped drinking anything past 7PM though, even having no more than a sip when brushing my teeth, and that helps block nature's call.

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    1. The lack of sleep won't kill you, the worrying about it will.

      Reduce stress, that's my mantra.

      Doesn't work for everyone.

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  8. OFF TOPIC:

    Did someone come up with ' presslatutes ' and I missed it?

    Paul

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