gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
In the light of the current move to remove Confederate memorials and statues from public places (and thanks to the idiot Nazis who have accelerated that drive no end), I'd thought I'd turn my attention to the ten US Army posts still named for Confederates. In each case, I'm going to suggest a replacement name and give my reasons for why I think that person is the best choice.

In no particular order then:

  1. Fort Benning becomes Fort Bradley. Omar Bradley was an infantryman from the start and embraced combined arms warfare. As both a former commander of the Infantry School and the first commander of the 82nd Airborne (which received parachute training at Benning initially) the post would be well-served by this name.

  2. Fort Bragg becomes Fort Ridgway. Matthew Ridgway commanded the 82nd Airborne through most of WWII before commanding the XVIIIth Airborne Corps. Ridgway jumped on D-Day. Give the Home of the Airborne a name that reflects one of their own.

  3. Fort Hood becomes Fort Patton. Only fitting that the largest armor base in the Army, and a former site of a cavalry post, be named after the General synonymous with tanks in the service.

  4. Fort Lee becomes Fort Lafayette. Only about 50 miles from Yorktown, and holding the Army Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Transportation Schools, This is the perfect place to honor the French officer, and the French themselves, for all Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, did for our fledgling nation.

  5. Fort A. P. Hill becomes Fort DuPey. It's a training base and General DuPey was the first commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, better known as TRADOC. Also, I just know that troops will moan about a three-week deployment to Fort Dopey.

  6. Fort Pickett becomes Fort Morris. Seriously, the Virginia National Guard names its training base after the man associated with one of the biggest military disasters in American history? SGT Charles B. Morris earned the Medal of Honor in Vietnam and was born and raised in Virginia.

  7. Fort Polk becomes Fort Chennault. An officer from Louisiana who created the Flying Tigers in China and epitomized the idea of self-reliance and ingenuity in battle. Which is what they teach at the Joint Readiness Training Center

  8. Fort Rucker becomes Fort Baker. Addison Baker was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while leading a leading a B-17 raid on the Ploesti oil fields in 1944. Makes more sense for the Home of Army Aviation (and we're coming for the A-10s!)

  9. Camp Beauregard becomes Camp Villeré. Jaques Villeré was the second governor of Louisiana and before that was the commander of the 1st Division of Louisana Militia at the Battle of New Orleans. Can you think of a better name for the Louisiana National Guard's main training facility? (Yes, he owned slaves. You try finding great military leaders from that state who didn't.)

  10. Finally, Fort Gordon becomes Fort Sherman. Because fuck the Confederacy.

What you y'all think? More importantly, what silly nicknames will soliders come up for these new post names?
gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
Today is Camerone Day.

The French Army was besieging Puebla.

The mission of the Legion was to ensure the movement and safety of the convoys, over an 80 mile distance. On the 29th of April 1863, Colonel Jeanningros was informed that an important convoy was on its way to Puebla, with a load of 3 million francs, and material and munitions for the siege. Captain Danjou, his quartermaster, decided to send a company to escort the convoy. The 3rd company of the Foreign Regiment was assigned to this mission, but had no officers available. So Captain Danjou, himself, took the command and 2nd lieutenants Maudet, company guide, and Vilain, the paymaster, joined him voluntarily.

On the 30th of April, at 1 a.m., the 3rd company was on its way, with its 3 officers and 62 men. At 7 a.m., after a 15 mile march, it stopped at Palo Verde in order to get some rest. At this very moment, the enemy showed up and the battle began. Captain Danjou made the company take up a square formation and, even though retreating, he victoriously drove back several cavalry charges, inflicting the first heavy losses on the enemy .

By the inn of Camerone, a large building with a courtyard protected by a wall 3 meters high, Danjou decided to stay, in order to keep the enemy and so delay for as long as possible, any attacks on the convoy.

While the legionnaires were rapidly setting up the defense of the inn, a Mexican officer demanded that Captain Danjou surrender, pointing out the fact that the Mexican Army was greatly superior in number.

Danjou's answer was: "We have munitions. We will not surrender." Then, he swore to fight to the death and made his men swear the same. It was 10 a.m. Until 6 p.m., these 60 men who had had nothing to eat or drink since the day before, in spite of the extreme heat, of the thirst and hunger, resisted against 2,000 Mexicans: 800 cavalry and 1,200 infantry.

At noon, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died. At 2 p.m., 2nd lieutenant Vilain was shot in the head. About this time, the Mexican colonel succeeded in setting the inn on fire.

In spite of the heat and the smoke, the legionnaires resisted, but many of them were killed or injured. By 5 p.m., only 12 men could still fight with 2nd lieutenant Maudet. At this time, the Mexican colonel gathered his soldiers and told them what disgrace it would be if they were unable to defeat such a small number of men. The Mexicans were about to give the general assault through holes opened in the walls of the courtyard, but Colonel Milan, who had previously asked 2nd lieutenant Maudet to surrender, once again gave him the opportunity to. Maudet scornfully refused.

The final charge was given. Soon, only 5 men were left around Maudet; Corporal Maine, legionnaires Catteau, Wensel, Constantin and Leonard. Each had only one bullet left. In a corner of the courtyard, their back against the wall, still facing the enemy, they fixed bayonets. When the signal was given, they opened fire and fought with their bayonets. 2nd lieutenant Maudet and 2 legionnaires fell, mortally wounded. Maine and his 2 remaining companions were about to be slaughtered when a Mexican officer saved them. He shouted: "Surrender!"

"We will only if you promise to allow us to carry and care for our injured men and if you leave us our guns".

"Nothing can be refused to men like you!", answered the officer.

Captain Danjou's men had kept their promise; for 11 hours, they had resisted 2,000 enemy troops. They had killed 300 of them and had injured as many. Their sacrifice had saved the convoy and they had fulfilled their mission.

Emperor Napoleon III decided that the name of Camerone would be written on the flag of the Foreign Regiment and the names of Danjou, Vilain and Maudet would be engraved in golden letters on the walls of the Invalides, in Paris.

Moreover, a monument was built in 1892, at the very place of the fight. The following inscription can be read there:

Ils furent ici moins de soixante
Opposés à toute un armée,
Sa masse les écrasa.
La vie plutôt que le courage
Abandonna ces soldats Français
Le 30 avril 1863.


"Here there were less than sixty opposed to a whole army. Its mass crushed them. Life abandoned these French soldiers before courage. The 30th of April 1863."
gridlore: The Imperial Sunburst from the Traveller role-playing game (Gaming - Sunburst)
What is the goal of a war? Why are you committing your blood and treasure to a machine that will consume both? Unless your leaders and population are mad, wars need to have goals, and a reasonable expectation of achieving them. The problem, of course, is the state you go to war with has it's own ideas about your goals, and will resist them if what you want disagrees with what they want. Such is human history.

In the mid-19th century, Central Europe was in flux. The map had been torn apart by Napoleon I, and glued back together by the Congress of Vienna, and in every state the effects of the Industrial Revolution was being felt. Onto this stage strode one of the true giants of world history, Otto von Bismarck. Son of a minor Junker landowner, and possessed of an iron will, von Bismarck climbed the rungs of the Prussian state until he was the effective head of the nation. But he wasn't satisfied. By winning two wars he had no right to win against the vastly superior Austrian and French Empires, he forged a new united German state.

And then he stopped making wars and turned to diplomacy. Because von Bismarck understood what I stated above, that wars have to have a reason and a goal. The Imperial Chancellor hated wars, as they were something that was out of his control. But he still kept them as a possibility, as an instrument of state policy if needed. But even for this master statesman who created and ran Germany for 40 years, there was one line he would not cross unless forced: Russia.

Speaking to the German Ambassador to Vienna in 1888, Bismarck stated that one would not actually defeat the Russians. “The most brilliant victories would not avail; the indestructible empire of the Russian nation, strong because of its climate, its desert, its frugality, strong also because of the advantage of having only one frontier to defend, would, after its defeat, remain our sworn enemy, desirous of revenge, just as today’s France is in the West."

Which is relevant to my novel, as I'm writing about a massive, multi-sided war out among the stars. But we don't live in deep space, we live on planets. And what von Bismarck had to say about Russia applies ten-fold to taking an entire world. Unless there is only a small colony present, or the inhabited body is incapable of supporting life and can be threatened with destruction of life support facilities, an invading force has only two real options.

The first is the doctrine of total war. Since you can't control the planet, render it useless to the enemy. Destroy orbital facilities, cripple the surface by hurling projectiles at a small fraction of the speed of light at vital points (as energetic as a nuclear device, with no radiation. So your colonists can move in when the dust settles.)

This doctrine is needlessly destructive, and is usually only resorted to by desperate commanders or in reprisal for similar attacks by the enemy. No, if you want to hold a world, exploit it, rule it, you have to put boots on the ground.

But we just established that conquering a planet is impossible! True, but you can control enough of it to maintain effective control of the rest, just like a police officer can neutralize a comabative subject with the right twist of a wrist. This is called nodal warfare. The idea is simple. Control or disrupt the important points that allow a civilization to function (the nodes) and you gain control by proxy over the rest of the planet.

Some nodes are obvious. Government centers, major cities, transportation hubs. Others may be less obvious. Gain control over the communications network, and you not only can make sure the population hears what you want them to hear, but you also make it hard for resistance cells to operate. Control the sources of food and water and rebels face a desperate choice. There are others, but I think the idea is clear.

This invasion and occupation would be supported by one or two orbiting cruisers, or perhaps a small squadron of destroyers. They're they to both coordinate efforts on the ground, and provide retributive fire if needed.

The final key is popular opinion. If the previous government was oppressive, the invaders may be greeted as liberators . . . or not. (See George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq, 2003.) If the occupation is handled well, and a strong propaganda campaign is in place, you might turn popular opinion your way.

But still. Don't invade Russia. It's a bad idea.
gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
Today is Camerone Day.

The French Army was besieging Puebla.

The mission of the Legion was to ensure the movement and safety of the convoys, over an 80 mile distance. On the 29th of April 1863, Colonel Jeanningros was informed that an important convoy was on its way to Puebla, with a load of 3 million francs, and material and munitions for the siege. Captain Danjou, his quartermaster, decided to send a company to escort the convoy. The 3rd company of the Foreign Regiment was assigned to this mission, but had no officers available. So Captain Danjou, himself, took the command and 2nd lieutenants Maudet, company guide, and Vilain, the paymaster, joined him voluntarily.

On the 30th of April, at 1 a.m., the 3rd company was on its way, with its 3 officers and 62 men. At 7 a.m., after a 15 mile march, it stopped at Palo Verde in order to get some rest. At this very moment, the enemy showed up and the battle began. Captain Danjou made the company take up a square formation and, even though retreating, he victoriously drove back several cavalry charges, inflicting the first heavy losses on the enemy .

By the inn of Camerone, a large building with a courtyard protected by a wall 3 meters high, Danjou decided to stay, in order to keep the enemy and so delay for as long as possible, any attacks on the convoy.

While the legionnaires were rapidly setting up the defense of the inn, a Mexican officer demanded that Captain Danjou surrender, pointing out the fact that the Mexican Army was greatly superior in number.

Danjou's answer was: "We have munitions. We will not surrender." Then, he swore to fight to the death and made his men swear the same. It was 10 a.m. Until 6 p.m., these 60 men who had had nothing to eat or drink since the day before, in spite of the extreme heat, of the thirst and hunger, resisted against 2,000 Mexicans: 800 cavalry and 1,200 infantry.

At noon, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died. At 2 p.m., 2nd lieutenant Vilain was shot in the head. About this time, the Mexican colonel succeeded in setting the inn on fire.

In spite of the heat and the smoke, the legionnaires resisted, but many of them were killed or injured. By 5 p.m., only 12 men could still fight with 2nd lieutenant Maudet. At this time, the Mexican colonel gathered his soldiers and told them what disgrace it would be if they were unable to defeat such a small number of men. The Mexicans were about to give the general assault through holes opened in the walls of the courtyard, but Colonel Milan, who had previously asked 2nd lieutenant Maudet to surrender, once again gave him the opportunity to. Maudet scornfully refused.

The final charge was given. Soon, only 5 men were left around Maudet; Corporal Maine, legionnaires Catteau, Wensel, Constantin and Leonard. Each had only one bullet left. In a corner of the courtyard, their back against the wall, still facing the enemy, they fixed bayonets. When the signal was given, they opened fire and fought with their bayonets. 2nd lieutenant Maudet and 2 legionnaires fell, mortally wounded. Maine and his 2 remaining companions were about to be slaughtered when a Mexican officer saved them. He shouted: "Surrender!"

"We will only if you promise to allow us to carry and care for our injured men and if you leave us our guns".

"Nothing can be refused to men like you!", answered the officer.

Captain Danjou's men had kept their promise; for 11 hours, they had resisted 2,000 enemy troops. They had killed 300 of them and had injured as many. Their sacrifice had saved the convoy and they had fulfilled their mission.

Emperor Napoleon III decided that the name of Camerone would be written on the flag of the Foreign Regiment and the names of Danjou, Vilain and Maudet would be engraved in golden letters on the walls of the Invalides, in Paris.

Moreover, a monument was built in 1892, at the very place of the fight. The following inscription can be read there :

Ils furent ici moins de soixante
Opposés à toute un armée,
Sa masse les écrasa.
La vie plutôt que le courage
Abandonna ces soldats Français
Le 30 avril 1863.

"Here there were less than sixty opposed to a whole army. Its mass crushed them. Life abandoned these French soldiers before courage. The 30th of April 1863."
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
I'm currently reading The Alexiad, written by Anna Komnene. She was the daughter of Alexios I Komnenos, Emperor of Rome from 1081 to 1118. The book is a fascinating look at one of the more interesting Byzantine emperors from an inside perspective. Anna herself is an interesting figure.

You also have the fact that this book was written in the middle of the 12th century, which flavors the views of the author. Anna, despite being a highly-educated woman and possessing a healthy dose of skepticism about prophecy and astrology, accepts religious miracles as fact. Which leads to one of the best ideas for a RPG dungeon crawl I've ever seen.

Book I of the Alexiad concerns the rebellion against Nikephoros III Botaneiates that brought Alexios to the throne. Nikephoros Melissenos, a brilliant general, was also marching on Constantinople. The two forces were exchanging letters trying to broker as deal. Here's the relevant passage:

Adventure seed

A tomb that seeps oil that cures all manners of things.

OK, let's make this an interesting Place of Mystery. The Temple honoring Demetrios is is fairly remote. The Church of the Healing God used to holy oil not only to effect cures at the hospital built there, but to manufacture heal potions that were a nice money maker for the order. People who made the pilgrimage to the temple also tended to leave generous offerings.

This will be a large complex. Aside from the actual temple and hospital, you'll have a religious school, a caravanserai, quarters for the priests and craftspeople, satellite temples, a tomb complex for the notable priests, storehouses, and a complex where the holy oil was turned into potions. Put the actual temple up against a bluff, that was it can be built into the cliff side. There will also be several agricultural villages nearby to provide the complex with food.

The actual tomb of Demetrios is inside the bluff, in a stone sarcophagus carved out of the rock. The oil that seeps out is collected in a series of drains, which takes to a collecting and barreling room on a lower lever. That space will be connected to a surface room by an elevator. Workers collect the oil, move it to the elevator, which takes it to the workshops mentioned above. The entrance to the tomb is behind a secret door in the temple. The workman's entrance to the collection room is more obvious and outside the temple proper.

Now, the who thing was overrun by barbarians, orcs, Perfidious Genoans. . . whatever baddies you want who would attack, loot what they could find, and move on. Dumb is better, as they wouldn't stop to figure out things like secret doors and the like. The Church of the Healing God knows that the odds of that areas being secured anytime soon is slight. So they have another plan: Get the body.

Here's the scenario. The Church needs a party of experienced adventurers to lead a high-ranking priest and several acolytes to the temple. Once there, the priest will oversee the ritual of removing the body from the tomb. If the body is touched by anyone who is unclean, the body rots away. Also, the Church wants as much oil as can be loaded onto a wagon or two. In return, the party can keep 90% of what they find (the person making the offer will mention that there is a large treasuty somewhere near the altar) and receive free healing for life from the temple. Raise Dead will still cost the usual fee.

There's always a catch. The priest is not an adventurer. He's spent his whole life in temples and the church bureaucracy. All the church people are dedicated pacifists and sworn to heal all who need it. Including monsters. The priest can be just naive about the realities of the world or an arrogant buffoon. They all know a few healing spells, and are great at first aid, but utterly useless in a fight.

Finally, there is something living in the oil collection chamber. Pick any appropriate monster, but living ankle deep in miracle healing oil has changing it. Whatever it is, it is a huge version of the monster, with a regeneration ability that would make a troll jealous. And it's addicted to the oil, and would not appreciate any attempt to remove any of the barrels, or the removal of the saint's body. Oh, and the oil is highly flammable.

For Pathfinder, party level should be around 7 with one person having the Leadership feat. Having loyal retainers to guard the horses would be ideal. Killing the priest is a decidedly evil act, and the Gods will notice.

So, what do y'all think?

gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
I'm reading Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel. There's a passage describing what Western Anatolia was like at the time of the rise of the Tribe of Osman. Both the Byzantine and Seljuk-Ilkhanid empires were in decline; the former withdrawing steadily towards Constantinople, the latter wracked by internal strife and clinging to territories along the Mediterranean coast to the south. The lands between these two fading states were. . .
. . . criss-crossed by overlapping networks of nomads and seminomads, raiders, volunteers on their way to join military adventurers, slaves of various backgrounds, wandering dervishes, monks and churchmen trying to keep in touch with their flock, displaced peasants and townspeople seeking refuge, disquieted souls seeking cure and consolation at sacred sites, Muslim schoolmen seeking patronage, and the inevitable risk-driven merchants of the late medieval period. 
Tell me that isn't an epic setting for adventures! Right in that passage, I see barbarians, fighters, rogues, clerics, and arcane magic users all crossing paths, uniting to save (or plunder) a column of refugees or follow up on the rumor of lost treasures on either side of the Byzantine/Seljuk split. Replace the Turkomen with hominids, add in some bad magic events, some lost cities.. the area is lousy with tombs and caves, and is home to one of the greatest subterranean cities known, the Derinkuyu site in Cappadocia. Plus, the highlands hold many ancient ruins dating to the Hittites and Hurrians. More lost places of mystery to explore!

Dervishes, in reality wandering Muslim holy men who had taken strict vows of poverty and charity, make great models for the tradition FRPG monk class. Everything else can be dropped in with almost no modification.

I'm picturing the larger setting being the rise of a new limited pantheon led by the Moon God, who has assumed the role of God of War. The Imperial Sun God cult has lost that, as it is old and tired. So along with the looting of tombs and slaying of monsters, you have the larger game of armies marching under the Crescent Moon. Will the players defend the Unconquered Sun? Rise in power until they can challenge the walls on Constantinople? Or forge a third path?

Let's find out. I need players.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Penguin - Exploding)
Why do I even fucking bother?

As most of you have heard, the U.S. Treasury has announced that a new run of $10 bills will feature a prominent woman from American history. In a thread on the decision, people were making suggestions, some serious, some farcical.

I suggested Jeannette Rankin. Suffragette, Organizer, Social Worker, first woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, and active up to her death in fighting for weird concepts like "liberty and justice for all." Who also, as you'll see if you read that link (do so, she was an amazing woman), was the only member of Congress to vote against our entry into both world wars. I mentioned that, to show that even in the face of immense pressure, she held true to her principles, despite the cost. Which I find admirable in a person, especially in those times.

Well, boom goes the dynamite. What's funny was just how mind-boggling ignorant these fuckers are! They asked if Rankin was thinking of the victims of the gas chambers. The first death camp, Chelmno, opened the same week as the US war vote, and gas chambers weren't used until the spring of 1942, plus, that was Germany. We didn't declare war on Germany until December 11th, after they declared war on us.

Then I had to explain the difference between concentration camps and extermination camps. Then I had to explain that the "Nacht und Nebel" order was a secret decree, issued by Hitler the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack, and only applied to dissidents in occupied countries. Finally, that no one really knew about the Holocaust in detail until late 1944 when we started finding the damn camps and capturing SS officers and documents!

Once we were finally back to Japan, another idiot asked if she supported Japanese cruelty and domination of colonies taken by force. I replied that under that logic we should have declared war on King George VI and the British Empire for doing the exact same thing to Egypt, India, Ireland, and big chunks of China for centuries.

The reply? "Well, that's a different situation."

Where the hell is my SMITE button?
gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
Today is Camerone Day.


The French Army was besieging Puebla.

The mission of the Legion was to ensure the movement and safety of the convoys, over an 80 mile distance. On the 29th of April 1863, Colonel Jeanningros was informed that an important convoy was on its way to Puebla, with a load of 3 million francs, and material and munitions for the siege. Captain Danjou, his quartermaster, decided to send a company to escort the convoy. The 3rd company of the Foreign Regiment was assigned to this mission, but had no officers available. So Captain Danjou, himself, took the command and 2nd lieutenants Maudet, company guide, and Vilain, the paymaster, joined him voluntarily.

On the 30th of April, at 1 a.m., the 3rd company was on its way, with its 3 officers and 62 men. At 7 a.m., after a 15 mile march, it stopped at Palo Verde in order to get some rest. At this very moment, the enemy showed up and the battle began. Captain Danjou made the company take up a square formation and, even though retreating, he victoriously drove back several cavalry charges, inflicting the first heavy losses on the enemy .

By the inn of Camerone, a large building with a courtyard protected by a wall 3 meters high, Danjou decided to stay, in order to keep the enemy and so delay for as long as possible, any attacks on the convoy.

While the legionnaires were rapidly setting up the defense of the inn, a Mexican officer demanded that Captain Danjou surrender, pointing out the fact that the Mexican Army was greatly superior in number.

Danjou's answer was: "We have munitions. We will not surrender." Then, he swore to fight to the death and made his men swear the same. It was 10 a.m. Until 6 p.m., these 60 men who had had nothing to eat or drink since the day before, in spite of the extreme heat, of the thirst and hunger, resisted against 2,000 Mexicans: 800 cavalry and 1,200 infantry.

At noon, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died. At 2 p.m., 2nd lieutenant Vilain was shot in the head. About this time, the Mexican colonel succeeded in setting the inn on fire.

In spite of the heat and the smoke, the legionnaires resisted, but many of them were killed or injured. By 5 p.m., only 12 men could still fight with 2nd lieutenant Maudet. At this time, the Mexican colonel gathered his soldiers and told them what disgrace it would be if they were unable to defeat such a small number of men. The Mexicans were about to give the general assault through holes opened in the walls of the courtyard, but Colonel Milan, who had previously asked 2nd lieutenant Maudet to surrender, once again gave him the opportunity to. Maudet scornfully refused.

The final charge was given. Soon, only 5 men were left around Maudet; Corporal Maine, legionnaires Catteau, Wensel, Constantin and Leonard. Each had only one bullet left. In a corner of the courtyard, their back against the wall, still facing the enemy, they fixed bayonets. When the signal was given, they opened fire and fought with their bayonets. 2nd lieutenant Maudet and 2 legionnaires fell, mortally wounded. Maine and his 2 remaining companions were about to be slaughtered when a Mexican officer saved them. He shouted: "Surrender!"

"We will only if you promise to allow us to carry and care for our injured men and if you leave us our guns".

"Nothing can be refused to men like you!", answered the officer.

Captain Danjou's men had kept their promise; for 11 hours, they had resisted 2,000 enemy troops. They had killed 300 of them and had injured as many. Their sacrifice had saved the convoy and they had fulfilled their mission.

Emperor Napoleon III decided that the name of Camerone would be written on the flag of the Foreign Regiment and the names of Danjou, Vilain and Maudet would be engraved in golden letters on the walls of the Invalides, in Paris.

Moreover, a monument was built in 1892, at the very place of the fight. The following inscription can be read there :

Ils furent ici moins de soixante
Opposés à toute un armée,
Sa masse les écrasa.
La vie plutôt que le courage
Abandonna ces soldats Français
Le 30 avril 1863.






"Here there were less than sixty opposed to a whole army. Its mass crushed them. Life abandoned these French soldiers before courage. The 30th of April 1863."
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Penguin - Carpe)

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson

An Act for establishing religious Freedom.

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;

That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,

That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;

That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions, which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical;

That even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;

That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,

That therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right,

That it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it;

That though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;

That to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;

That it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;

And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

gridlore: The word "Done!" in bold red letters. (Done!)
I took a couple of days off for the holidays.

Done today:

  • Did a pretty big shopping at Smart&Final.

  • Remembered everything without a list.

  • Put all groceries away.

  • Did two loads of laundry.

  • Did all the dishes. Still need to unload the last bit out of the drying rack.


To be done tomorrow:

  • Get a haircut.

  • Go to Autzone for Darby stuff.

  • Go to the dollar store for cheap fuel treatment.

  • Take down holiday decorations.


Today's fails:

  • Forgot to bring bags for shopping


I also finished The Hittites, one of the books in the Folio Society's Empires of the Ancient Near East series. I now know more than I did when I started the book. Next up, The Babylonians, I think.
gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
One of the joys of reading history is you occasionally stumble over something new that reignites your passion for learning. I mostly read medieval history, of course, but inspired by an article in one of our Uncle John's Bathroom Readers I picked up Double Eagle: The Epic Story of the World's Most Valuable Coin at the library.

The 33 Saint

Long story short. In 1933 Roosevelt signed a law making it illegal to own gold to prevent the collapse of the US banking system. The Philadelphia Mint had struck 450,000 $20 gold coins, dated 1933. These were never circulated. 500 were sent out for testing, with 24 being destroyed in the process. Two coins were sent to the Smithsonian for their collection. All the 1933 Double Eagles were supposed to be destroyed.

Of course, they weren't. At least ten were somehow stolen. Nine were recovered. The story of that last coin is amazing.

But this book isn't about the coin, it's about people. The dying sculptor and his bitter rival at the Mint. The man who saved the American banking industry. Shady Mint employees and coin dealers facing off with hard-boiled Secret Service agents. King Farouk of Egypt and his court. Laywers, informants, auctioneers, and liars. The last 33 Saint had an amazing cast of characters around it.

The best thing is how this book is written. When we reach the theft of the coins, we get a brief amusing tutorial on how to steal from the US Mint. When discussing King Farouk's obsessive collecting, we learn the history of his life and Egypt in the 20th Century. So we get context for everything.

I read this in a single sitting. Amazing book.
gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
Today is Camerone Day.


The French Army was besieging Puebla.

The mission of the Legion was to ensure the movement and safety of the convoys, over an 80 mile distance. On the 29th of April 1863, Colonel Jeanningros was informed that an important convoy was on its way to Puebla, with a load of 3 million francs, and material and munitions for the siege. Captain Danjou, his quartermaster, decided to send a company to escort the convoy. The 3rd company of the Foreign Regiment was assigned to this mission, but had no officers available. So Captain Danjou, himself, took the command and 2nd lieutenants Maudet, company guide, and Vilain, the paymaster, joined him voluntarily.

On the 30th of April, at 1 a.m., the 3rd company was on its way, with its 3 officers and 62 men. At 7 a.m., after a 15 mile march, it stopped at Palo Verde in order to get some rest. At this very moment, the enemy showed up and the battle began. Captain Danjou made the company take up a square formation and, even though retreating, he victoriously drove back several cavalry charges, inflicting the first heavy losses on the enemy .

By the inn of Camerone, a large building with a courtyard protected by a wall 3 meters high, Danjou decided to stay, in order to keep the enemy and so delay for as long as possible, any attacks on the convoy.

While the legionnaires were rapidly setting up the defense of the inn, a Mexican officer demanded that Captain Danjou surrender, pointing out the fact that the Mexican Army was greatly superior in number.

Danjou's answer was: "We have munitions. We will not surrender." Then, he swore to fight to the death and made his men swear the same. It was 10 a.m. Until 6 p.m., these 60 men who had had nothing to eat or drink since the day before, in spite of the extreme heat, of the thirst and hunger, resisted against 2,000 Mexicans: 800 cavalry and 1,200 infantry.

At noon, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died. At 2 p.m., 2nd lieutenant Vilain was shot in the head. About this time, the Mexican colonel succeeded in setting the inn on fire.

In spite of the heat and the smoke, the legionnaires resisted, but many of them were killed or injured. By 5 p.m., only 12 men could still fight with 2nd lieutenant Maudet. At this time, the Mexican colonel gathered his soldiers and told them what disgrace it would be if they were unable to defeat such a small number of men. The Mexicans were about to give the general assault through holes opened in the walls of the courtyard, but Colonel Milan, who had previously asked 2nd lieutenant Maudet to surrender, once again gave him the opportunity to. Maudet scornfully refused.

The final charge was given. Soon, only 5 men were left around Maudet; Corporal Maine, legionnaires Catteau, Wensel, Constantin and Leonard. Each had only one bullet left. In a corner of the courtyard, their back against the wall, still facing the enemy, they fixed bayonets. When the signal was given, they opened fire and fought with their bayonets. 2nd lieutenant Maudet and 2 legionnaires fell, mortally wounded. Maine and his 2 remaining companions were about to be slaughtered when a Mexican officer saved them. He shouted: "Surrender!"

"We will only if you promise to allow us to carry and care for our injured men and if you leave us our guns".

"Nothing can be refused to men like you!", answered the officer.

Captain Danjou's men had kept their promise; for 11 hours, they had resisted 2,000 enemy troops. They had killed 300 of them and had injured as many. Their sacrifice had saved the convoy and they had fulfilled their mission.

Emperor Napoleon III decided that the name of Camerone would be written on the flag of the Foreign Regiment and the names of Danjou, Vilain and Maudet would be engraved in golden letters on the walls of the Invalides, in Paris.

Moreover, a monument was built in 1892, at the very place of the fight. The following inscription can be read there :

Ils furent ici moins de soixante
Opposés à toute un armée,
Sa masse les écrasa.
La vie plutôt que le courage
Abandonna ces soldats Français
Le 30 avril 1863.






"Here there were less than sixty opposed to a whole army. Its mass crushed them. Life abandoned these French soldiers before courage. The 30th of April 1863."
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (US Flag)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)

I am the Infantry--Queen of Battle! For two centuries I have kept our Nation safe, Purchasing freedom with my blood. To tyrants, I am the day of reckoning; to the oppressed, the hope for the future. Where the fighting is thick, there am I… I am the Infantry! FOLLOW ME!

I was there from the beginning, meeting the enemy face to face, will to will. My bleeding feet stained the snow at Valley Forge; my frozen hands pulled Washington across the Delaware. At Yorktown, the sunlight glinted from the sword and I, begrimed… Saw a Nation born. Hardship… And glory I have known. At New Orleans, I fought beyond the hostile hour, showed the fury of my long rifle… and came of age. I am the Infantry! FOLLOW ME!

Westward I pushed with wagon trains…moved an empire across the plains… extended freedom's borders and tamed the wild frontier. I am the Infantry! FOLLOW ME!

I was with Scott at Vera Cruz… hunted the guerilla in the mountain passes… and scaled the high plateau. The fighting was done when I ended my march many miles from the old Alamo.

From Bull Run to Appomattox, I fought and bled. Both Blue and Gray were my colors then. Two masters I served and united them strong… proved that this nation could right a wrong… and long endure. I am the Infantry! FOLLOW ME!

I led the charge up San Juan Hill… scaled the walls of old Tientsin… and stalked the Moro in the steaming jungle still… always the vanguard, I am the Infantry!

At Chateau-Thierry, first over the top, then I stood like a rock on the Marne. It was I who cracked the Hindenburg Line… in the Argonne, I broke the Kaiser's spine… and didn't come back 'till it was "over, over there." I am the Infantry! FOLLOW ME!

A generation older at Bataan, I briefly bowed, but then I vowed to return. Assaulted the African shore… learned my lesson the hard way in the desert sands… pressed my buttons into the beach at Anzio… and bounced into Rome with determination and resolve. I am the Infantry!

The English channel, stout beach defenses and the hedgerows could not hold me… I broke out at St. Lo, unbent the Bulge… vaulted the Rhine…and swarmed the Heartland. Hitler's dream and the Third Reich were dead.

In the Pacific, from island to island… hit the beaches and chopped through swamp and jungle… I set the Rising Sun. I am the Infantry!

In Korea, I gathered my strength around Pusan… swept across the frozen Han… outflanked the Reds at Inchon… and marched to the Yalu. FOLLOW ME!

In Vietnam, while others turned aside, I fought the longest fight, from the Central Highlands to the South China Sea I patrolled the jungle, the paddies and the sky in the bitter test that belongs to the Infantry. FOLLOW ME!

Around the world, I stand… ever forward. Over Lebanon's sands, my rifle steady aimed… and calm returned. At Berlin's gates, I scorned the Wall of Shame. I spanned the Caribbean in freedom's cause, answered humanity's call. I trod the streets of Santo Domingo to protect the innocent. In Grenada, I jumped at Salinas, and proclaimed freedom for all. My arms set a Panamanian dictator to flight and once more raised democracy's flag. In the Persian Gulf, I drew the line in the desert, called the tyrant's bluff and restored right and freedom in 100 hours. Duty called, I answered. I am the Infantry! FOLLOW ME!

My bayonet… on the wings of power…  keeps the peace worldwide. And despots, falsely garbed in freedom's mantle, falter… hide. My ally in the paddies and the forest… I teach, I aid, I lead. FOLLOW ME!

Where brave men fight… there fight I. In freedom's cause… I live, I die. From Concord Bridge to Heartbreak Ridge, from the Arctic to the Mekong, to the Caribbean… the Queen of Battle!

Always ready… then, now, and forever.

I am the Infantry! FOLLOW ME!

--

Here's a video that shows Fort Benning during the time I was there. Good training!

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Tonight, [personal profile] kshandra and I attended a party at her boss' home to inaugurate his new fire pit. Numerous prongs were available, along with various pre-cooked sausages and hot dogs. raw biscuit dough was also offered. All to be cooked in the oldest of old school ways, over an open fire.

Fire and food

It was actually a lot of fun. I tried hummus for the first time, and found a variety I enjoyed, cooked a sausage, found that a dog had bitten my roll (big whoop, I ate it anyway), enjoy a few beers, and played fetch with the aforementioned dog. Lots of kids and people I didn't know. But still, a fun evening.

Coming home, we stopped at BookBuyers in Mountain View where we still have a mountain of credit, and I picked up an abridged edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. You can't call yourself even an amateur historian of antiquity without owning this book.

I should note that Niece Prime is now working with me at Classic Limousine. She's kicking ass and is a threat to my security there. I have awesome nieces.
gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
Today is Camerone Day.


The French Army was besieging Puebla.

The mission of the Legion was to ensure the movement and safety of the convoys, over an 80 mile distance. On the 29th of April 1863, Colonel Jeanningros was informed that an important convoy was on its way to Puebla, with a load of 3 million francs, and material and munitions for the siege. Captain Danjou, his quartermaster, decided to send a company to escort the convoy. The 3rd company of the Foreign Regiment was assigned to this mission, but had no officers available. So Captain Danjou, himself, took the command and 2nd lieutenants Maudet, company guide, and Vilain, the paymaster, joined him voluntarily.

On the 30th of April, at 1 a.m., the 3rd company was on its way, with its 3 officers and 62 men. At 7 a.m., after a 15 mile march, it stopped at Palo Verde in order to get some rest. At this very moment, the enemy showed up and the battle began. Captain Danjou made the company take up a square formation and, even though retreating, he victoriously drove back several cavalry charges, inflicting the first heavy losses on the enemy .

By the inn of Camerone, a large building with a courtyard protected by a wall 3 meters high, Danjou decided to stay, in order to keep the enemy and so delay for as long as possible, any attacks on the convoy.

While the legionnaires were rapidly setting up the defense of the inn, a Mexican officer demanded that Captain Danjou surrender, pointing out the fact that the Mexican Army was greatly superior in number.

Danjou's answer was: "We have munitions. We will not surrender." Then, he swore to fight to the death and made his men swear the same. It was 10 a.m. Until 6 p.m., these 60 men who had had nothing to eat or drink since the day before, in spite of the extreme heat, of the thirst and hunger, resisted against 2,000 Mexicans: 800 cavalry and 1,200 infantry.

At noon, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died. At 2 p.m., 2nd lieutenant Vilain was shot in the head. About this time, the Mexican colonel succeeded in setting the inn on fire.

In spite of the heat and the smoke, the legionnaires resisted, but many of them were killed or injured. By 5 p.m., only 12 men could still fight with 2nd lieutenant Maudet. At this time, the Mexican colonel gathered his soldiers and told them what disgrace it would be if they were unable to defeat such a small number of men. The Mexicans were about to give the general assault through holes opened in the walls of the courtyard, but Colonel Milan, who had previously asked 2nd lieutenant Maudet to surrender, once again gave him the opportunity to. Maudet scornfully refused.

The final charge was given. Soon, only 5 men were left around Maudet; Corporal Maine, legionnaires Catteau, Wensel, Constantin and Leonard. Each had only one bullet left. In a corner of the courtyard, their back against the wall, still facing the enemy, they fixed bayonets. When the signal was given, they opened fire and fought with their bayonets. 2nd lieutenant Maudet and 2 legionnaires fell, mortally wounded. Maine and his 2 remaining companions were about to be slaughtered when a Mexican officer saved them. He shouted: "Surrender!"

"We will only if you promise to allow us to carry and care for our injured men and if you leave us our guns".

"Nothing can be refused to men like you!", answered the officer.

Captain Danjou's men had kept their promise; for 11 hours, they had resisted 2,000 enemy troops. They had killed 300 of them and had injured as many. Their sacrifice had saved the convoy and they had fulfilled their mission.

Emperor Napoleon III decided that the name of Camerone would be written on the flag of the Foreign Regiment and the names of Danjou, Vilain and Maudet would be engraved in golden letters on the walls of the Invalides, in Paris.

Moreover, a monument was built in 1892, at the very place of the fight. The following inscription can be read there :

Ils furent ici moins de soixante
Opposés à toute un armée,
Sa masse les écrasa.
La vie plutôt que le courage
Abandonna ces soldats Français
Le 30 avril 1863.






"Here there were less than sixty opposed to a whole army. Its mass crushed them. Life abandoned these French soldiers before courage. The 30th of April 1863."
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Norton)
Today is the 107th anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. For the first time ever, no survivors were present at the ceremony.

How do we react to devastating natural disasters here? We sing!

gridlore: The word "Done!" in bold red letters. (Done!)
So far, a productive day off.


  • Got a solid eight hours of sleep. With both of us suffering colds, that's an accomplishment.

  • Nuked Carthage and Mali 'till they glowed in the dark.

  • Went to The Auto Supply Store Formerly Known As Kragen's and picked up house-brand fuel system cleaner and a new tail light for Darby.

  • Went to Smart and Final for Cokes... and came home with just a bit more than that.

  • I was shopping hungry. Sue me.

  • Got home, put all the groceries away like a real grown-up.

  • Then installed the new tail light.

  • Thus renewing my Man Card for another year.


Now considering a post about the mystic possibilities of the Venetian Marriage to the Sea and the surprisingly long lives of the Venetian Doges and nobility. Many of the great medieval Doges were voted into office in their seventies and ruled for two decades. Doge Enrico Dandolo led a successful attack on Constantinople at the age of ninety and while completely blind. When I say "led", I mean he was the first man out of the galleys and the one who raised the banner of St. Mark on the captured walls. Wearing armor. Wielding a sword. Ninety. So yeah, there was something in the waters of the Venice Lagoon...

Or I may vacuum the place.
gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
Allen Ginsberg first gave a performance of Howl at the Six Gallery in San Francisco.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...


So, what's your favorite modern poem?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Just finished the epic history of Byzantium I've been reading. (Spoiler: Constantinople falls at the end. Also, Manuel II Palaiologos was actually Keyser Söze.)

Which led me to consider yet another fun campaign setting.

One of the biggest trade items in Medieval Europe was in holy relics. No monastery or cathedral was complete without a reliquary stuffed with bones, vials of blood, bits of clothing, and other tangible remains of the saints. Constantinople boasted of owning, along with the True Cross, the crown of thorns, Jesus' blood, his robe, three robes worn by the Virgin May, her shoes, and a letter written by Jesus. All of which protected the city. Relics were also placed in charms and in the hilts of weapons to bring the protection of God.

Now, about the Eastern Roman Empire. After centuries of warfare against the Sassanid Empire, both states were shocked by the explosive expansion of Islam in the seventh century. The Persian states simply vanished, while the Byzantines began a centuries-long defense of Europe, slowly losing ground to the Arab states.

Now replace the Islamic states (which in many ways were better organized and better run than their Christian counterparts; witness what the Crusaders did when they entered Jerusalem vs. what the Muslim Army did when they retook the city) with your monstrous horde of choice. Hordes of orcs pouring out of Arabia and seeping over the cities of the Levant and Anatolia. States crumbling overnight, and hordes of refugees fleeing west. Half the empire is lost in a matter of years. This is pretty much what happened in reality.

But rather than the highly organized and empire-minded Muslims, these are monsters. So the ruined cities still hold their treasures, for the most part. More importantly, the abandoned churches probably still hold their relics! The Empire is too weak, and beset by foes to organize a crusade, and the near-barbarians of the West are too fractured and quarreling to come to the aid of the Center of the World.

So it falls to small bands of brave heroes to venture into the lost lands and rescue the lost relics (along with a lot of gold and magic) and maybe eventually lead the Crusade against the dark forces.

One thing I'm not addressing is what cause the monster invasion. Something off-screen, deep in Arabia, caused this massive migration. That can be a late-campaign quest.

What do y'all think?

crossposted to [personal profile] gridlore and [community profile] tabletop

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