Friday, April 25, 2008

The One-Two-Three Meme

My Beloved Bride just did this one in her 25APR entry. She says she got it from John S. He and LawDog both received it from Matt, who blames it on Tamara who in turn got it here, from the first blogger in the string I don't personally know. Hey, this is more fun than the actual meme.

Speaking of which, here's the Book Meme - - -

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
2. Find page 123.
3. Find the first five sentences.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Well, okay.

1. Humm - - I reached onto the book shelf above my monitor and took down the first book I touched. Not a good one. Second one, also not good for this purpose. I did NOT cheat, but both of those books were technical references, consisting largely of tables and lists. Right. This third one will work.

2. Done

3. Let's see . . . three, four, five. Okay, listo.

4. It was not a popular cartridge, and died out in 1912. Like most other single-shot cartridges, this one was too long for the short repeating actions such as the Model 92 Winchester. These were, in addition, too small for the larger actions.

Go 'way down past the end to see the source of this quote, and a small challenge.

5. Let's see - - I've never tagged anyone for a meme before. Most of those I'd bother with this have already participated. Let's see if these three have time to participate.
Ambulance Driver
Fatale Abstraction's own

And anyone else who wants to go along.

Best regards

PS - - My three sentences came from Cartridges of the World, 11th Edition, by Frank C. Barnes. Name the cartridge referenced and win a lollipop.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lazy Day, Light Supper

I spent all day, hanging out 'round the homestead, just doing odds and ends of stuff. I'd loaded up a bunch of .38 Special cartridges and needed to gauge 'em all. I'm glad I did, because one round that didn't have a proper crimp and really didn't want to chamber. Under some conditions, this could be a bit inconvenient.

BB had previously scheduled dinner with a pal. She asked if she should bring me some food when she returned. I told her, no, I'd either fix something or go out for a meal. I really don't mind eating alone, especially when I have a good book with me. I have a nearly finished Pournelle mercenary novel, and also General Doolittle's autobiography, I Could Never Be So Lucky Again. It stays in my truck as contingency reading material, and I'm only about 20% into it.

So, I pondered what kind of really nice meal I'd buy for myself. Chinese buffet? No, BB likes that, too, and I'll save it for some time when we're eating out together. Mexican food is always a good choice, but same comments apply. Korean food? It's been a while since I've had bulgogi and kimchi, but that didn't strike a chord. Greek? No, we had that just the other evening.

I didn't want a sandwich or a burger - - These are lunch fare, or something to eat on the run. Hey! Jason's Deli has a dyn-o-mite salad bar. I can certainly make a sumptuous meal on an elaborate salad. But no, it's already warm weather, and soon enough, it'll be hot in North Texas. I'll be eating a lot of salad and fruit lunches once it does. Italian? There are two really good restaurants nearby. But that's really heavier fare than I want this evening.

Well, if I can't become enthusiastic over anything, I'll hold off 'til I can. I'll fix myself some sort of meal, even if it's just a can of soup. Checking the pantry . . . Alright. Here's a can of Campbell's Chicken Gumbo. I haven't had authentic, down-on-de-bayou Cajun Curry since I wrote up the recipe back in February. I loaded up the rice cooker, put it on, and started on the curry.

Huh. Thought we had a can of white meat chicken to add to the rather thin gumbo. None present. Well, I can do without. About the time everything was ready, BB returned home. They'd called it off early. She hadn't been able to finish her order of catfish and brought home a “doggie bag.” HAH! The dogs weren't getting anywhere NEAR that fish. I chopped it up, tossed it into the pot, and turned on the fire again. I hadn't had fish curry in about 20 years, and it was pretty durn good.

A tasty meal, plenty spicy, not too heavy. I am well satisfied. Think I'll go reload some .44 Special ammo.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Texas, 1836

The Alamo, under Travis and Bowie, had fallen. The defenders of Goliad had been massacred, after what their commander, Fannin, had thought was an honorable surrender.

The provisional government of Texas had met and declared independence from Mexico, after General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had refuted the Constitution of 1824 and set himself up as dictator. The Texas forces under Sam Houston, were in full retreat. Houston desperately tried to consolidate his resources and train his men into a semblance of an army. Santa Anna was in hot pursuit, determined to destroy those dedicated to a free Texas. Most of these were of Anglo descent, but many were Tejanos, of Spanish and Mexican Indian stock, some of whom had been in the area since the 1500s.

Santa Anna considered the fate of Mexico and his own personal fortunes inextricably bound together. The dictator, called "Tyrant" and "The Bastard," by Mexican and Anglo alike, could ill afford to allow any showing of independence on the part of the Texians, fearing that if he granted any requests, he would lose his iron-fisted control. To this end, he had ordered the disarmament of the Texas settlers in the fall of 1835. This resulted in the unthinkable act of defiance by inhabitants of Gonzales: They refused to turn in a small, antique Spanish field piece held to impress hostile Indians. They were likewise determined to hold their powder, shot and small arms. The settlers took a bed sheet and black paint and made a banner: A cannon tube, a single, five-pointed star, and the words, "COME AND TAKE IT." It may have been the first use of the Lone Star symbol on a Texas flag, and under this crude device, these recalcitrant individuals successfully repelled a Mexican force sent to confiscate the munitions.
Gonzales Battle Flag
The largely symbolic victory at Gonzales was the prologue to armed conflict between the settlers in Texas and the Tyrant's forces. It presaged the Texians' truly significant expulsion of the Mexican garrison from San Antonio de Bexar in December. Santa Anna's reprisal took the form of the complete annihilation of the Texians defending the Alamo and San Antonio the following March.

Houston knew his enemy. He realized that he needed to capture Santa Anna and compel him to order Mexican forces out of Texas, because, in the long run, the larger, better disciplined armies would inevitably overcome the willing but unorganized Texians. Houston's awareness of the situation may have lacked strategic coherence, but at some point it became clear to him that tactically, he would have the upper hand if he could constrict the portion of the Mexican forces personally led by Santa Anna before they could join with other, stronger columns coming overland from Mexico.

To this end, Houston led his rag-tag army to the area bounded by the confluence of the Brazos and San Jacinto Rivers, and Buffalo Bayou. On 20 April 1836, both forces arrived upon the plain of San Jacinto. The low, marshy area became an island when Houston sent Deaf Smith and his scouts to destroy Vince's Bridge. Some say the wood was too green or too wet to burn properly. Others say Smith decided to chop down the bridge, to keep from alerting the nearby Mexican forces by the smoke. In any case, this robbed Santa Anna's forces of a valuable withdrawal route.

Houston had planned to allow his little army, probably numbering fewer than 800, but certainly well under one thousand, a period of rest and "organization," after the lengthy chase. The battle plans called for an attack on the 22nd, but sentiment was for immediate attack, and Houston determined to strike while morale and the blood lust were high. It mattered not that they were seriously outnumbered. The actual numbers of the enemy are in dispute, even today. Probably 1,500 Mexican troops. Possibly as many as 2,500 had arrived. But if they were as few as 800, these were organized, blooded, veteran troops. Few were recruits. Most had been blooded at Zacatecas and at Bexar and at dozens of battles in the internal strife of Mexico. Say what you will about the Tyrant or the government of Mexico, the typical veteran Mexican soldado was tough, a good fighter, and, by the standards of the day, pretty well equipped and organized. Even had the numbers been equal, the Texians would have faced a daunting task.

The Texian settlers, whatever their origins, seem to have been long on guitars, banjos and mandolins, and quite short on instruments of martial music. There was no bugle, no trumpet, and not a bagpipe in the crowd. There was a German with a fife, and a Negro freeman had a drum. Two other musicians came forward, probably with flutes or fifes. The four knew no military or patriotic music in common. Houston soon had them practicing a popular air of the day, an off-color little ditty called, "Come to the Bower."

San Jacinto Battle Flag

The small army had no field artillery for support, save for two small tubes donated by Ohioans, and which had been shipped through Galveston, lacking any sort of mounts. Makeshift carriages had been cobbled together while on the march, and these two little four-pounders, christened "The Twin Sisters," were ready for action that afternoon.

The history books tell the tale very eloquently: T. R. Fehrenbach, in his work, LONE STAR, gives the order of battle, and the commanders of the various units. There have been entire tomes written about The Battle (The capitalization is intentional) and the preceding events and the aftermath and the long term results. Read and learn of Lamar's sixty cavalry and Burleson's First Regiment and Hockley with the two little field pieces. And the rest . . . .

It was 4:00 p.m. In the bright sunlight, there was still some mist rising off the sluggish bayou. Houston, up on Saracen, made no memorable speech. Those nearby said he merely told them to hold their fire and make it count. He drew his sword and yelled, "Forward--Texas!”

The music screeched out, "Won't you come to the bow'r I have shaded for you?" The line surged forward and men bent their backs to moving the Twin Sisters over the moist, soft, soil. They went up the gentle rise and came into full view of the Mexican camp. There were shouts and a few musket shots by sentries, still hundreds of yards distant. At about this point, someone, probably Colonel Sidney Sherman, first screamed out, "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" Those around him took up the cry, and it swept the line, and seemed to overwhelm the gunfire.

The twenty-first of April, 1836. Four o'clock in the afternoon. The rag-tag, poorly outfitted, nearly unorganized Army of the new Republic of Texas, eight hundred strong, charged headlong into a fortified position held by twice their number of the finest military force in the Western Hemisphere - - - and whipped them to a fare-thee-well!

It is said the battle lasted eighteen minutes, but the slaughter went on for hours. Every Texian present had lost a relative or close friend or lodge brother in the past few months. Frustration and privation, fatigue and hunger, dedication and blood lust - - - All were vented for hours, until individuals began reckoning, "There's been enough killing for one day."

The butcher's bill:

Mexican dead 630

Wounded and prisoner 200

Unwounded prisoners 430

Texian killed or later died of wounds: 9

Wounded but surviving 25

The many prisoners taken, thankfully, included the Emperor-General, His Excellency Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Brought before Sam Houston, who was grievously wounded in the leg, Santa Anna readily agreed to sign orders that all Mexican military forces immediately withdraw from combat and return to Mexico, pending a formal treaty. The following month, at the Treaty of Velasco, the war ended, and Mexico, at least temporarily, recognized the Republic of Texas.

And the remainder of the story? In February, 1846, Texas was annexed by the United States, bringing in parts of present-day Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Texas after San Jacinto

Mexico, while disputing the border, had been grudgingly tolerant of the Texas Republic, but protested when the U. S. A. moved troops to the Rio Grande. The Mexican-American War ensued, a war indeed a story unto itself, and one which would not have been fought but for the Texian victory at San Jacinto. The Mexican War formally ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ratified in July, 1848. This resulted in the U. S. purchase of California, Nevada, Utah, parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Wyoming. In short, The Battle gave substance to the Manifest Destiny of the United States of America.

Territory ceded by Mexico to the USA

The Battle of San Jacinto has been described as one of the ten watershed battles of history, in long term results. Waterloo, Agincourt, Tours, Lepanto, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Stalingrad, Kursk-- Never to belittle the sacrifice of life or the suffering at any of these—— San Jacinto, with under nine hundred casualties total, ranks in significance with them.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One must always wonder: At what point has a course of conduct inexorably begun? At what point might it have been stopped? Just ponder - -

If General Gage had decided NOT to seize the munitions at Lexington - - - -

If Santa Anna had NOT demanded that little gun at Gonzales - - - -

And, mainly, if either place had not been populated by FREE PEOPLE who cared more about their freedom than possibly getting hurt.

GOD BLESS TEXAS! GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! And may The Almighty forever bless and protect freedom-loving people everywhere.

--With due acknowledgment to T. R. Fehrenbach, Allen Damron, Tim Henderson, and others. - - - JPG

Friday, April 04, 2008

It Pays to Advertise

Beloved bride and I had occasion to drive past the county jail Friday afternoon. Across the street is a small building, covered with signs indicating it is occupied by a bail bond agency and a lawyer's office.

The structure's exterior is covered with a variety of signs. The bail bondsman has one that advises,
--------------- Get yours now! ------------

We had to wonder if this advertising was intended to catch the eye of someone planning to commit some crime, get arrested, and need to make bail. Hey, might as well to get a new shirt for your troubles, I s'pose.

Not to be outdone, the lawyer proclaimed,
*** Law Practice ***
--- Criminal -----
---- Family -------

I had to ponder that one. Does he seek a clientele made up entirely of families who violate immigration law? My BB thinks that I might have a slightly warped perspective
. Could she possibly be right?