J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “WWII”

Controversy Sparks Rallies and Radical Behavior

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Over the weekend, numerous rallies were held in support of the Confederate battle flag. One such rally took place in Hernando, Mississippi, on the grounds of the town’s historic courthouse. Hundreds were in attendance to show their support, and display their pride in their Southern history and heritage.

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But that wasn’t all that happened last weekend. Vandals took it upon themselves to paint graffiti on the monument of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis, Tennessee, by writing “Black Lives Matter” on the base. This desecration is completely unacceptable, as the monument is located directly above the graves of the general and his wife in what was previously known as Forrest Park.

In 1906, the first of several laws was passed, declaring that Confederate veterans are American veterans. That means that, by desecrating Civil War (specifically Confederate) headstones, monuments, etc., it is the same as vandalizing those from WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and other conflicts. To intentionally attack Confederate graves specifically is a rancid display of racism.

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The media is certainly feeding fuel to the fire. In a recently published cartoon, the artist depicts all that is wrong with America today. But the problem is that the Confederate flag is front and center, drawing the most attention, with the word “racism” plastered beneath it. For those who aren’t learned in Civil War history, most would assume the flag represents this deplorable act. However, the flag isn’t behaving in a racist way. On the contrary, those who are painting “Black Lives Matter” on everything Confederate are the true bigots.

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Honoring Veterans on Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is once again here, and signifies the start of summer. Although most of us think of it as an extra-long weekend to go swimming, eat barbecue, and enjoy the sun (or rain, as the case may be), we should keep in mind what the holiday is really all about, and give honor to those veterans around us. WWII vets are fast disappearing, so we should give them an especially heartfelt “thank you” if we have the opportunity.

Below are a couple of articles that discuss the importance of this national holiday. The first is at:
http://www.dailyemerald.com/mobile/opinion/memorial-day-memories-humbling-1.1484467
and is especially poignant coming from a veteran himself (although he gets his facts wrong about the origin of Memorial Day, which actually started in the South following the Civil War.

The second is at:
http://www.dallasblog.com/201005241006566/guest-viewpoint/memorial-day-matters.html

Battle of Brice’s Crossroads

(Painting by John Paul Strain)

One hundred and fifty years ago today, a significant battle took place at Brice’s Crossroads, Mississippi. The battle would prove to be General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s greatest victory of the war, and the best example of his strategic genius. It has been referred to as the perfect battle, and has been studied by contemporaries in battle strategy, including German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel during WWII.

On the evening of June 9, Forrest was informed that Union forces were approaching Brice’s Crossroads. When the morning dawned, he realized that the Federals would have to contend with the heat and humidity, which was something Northerners were unaccustomed to.

“Their cavalry will move out ahead of their infantry,” he told Confederate Colonel Edmund Rucker, “and should reach the crossroads three hours in advance. We can whip their cavalry in that time. As soon as the fight opens, they will send back to have the infantry hurried up. It is going to be hot as hell, and coming on a run for five or six miles, their infantry will be so tired out we will ride right over them.”

Forrest was following one of his homely but spectacularly effective combat aphorisms, one he stated again to Captain John W. Morton, Jr. while riding in pursuit of the routed Federals. “Get ‘em skeered, and then keep the skeer on ‘em.”

Forrest’s prediction proved accurate. Using the topography and heavy undergrowth to his advantage, he bluffed the Union cavalry into believing his forces were larger than they actually were. The Confederates charged, colliding with Federal cavalry. The battle devolved into hand-to-hand combat. By 12:30, the Federals retired from the field.

A half hour later, Union General Samuel D. Sturgis’ 8,500 foot-weary soldiers came up. The tremendous heat of the midday sun bore down on the men, who were given little time to rest. Forrest commanded his soldiers to charge, and the two sides again collided, resulting in close combat.

By 5:00, a final attack was made on the Federals. The charge was a classic Forrest tactic: a fierce attack in the front and a charge on both flanks and in the rear. Forrest, astride King Phillip, placed himself ahead of his Special Forces and ordered a pursuit.

Commanding his artillerists to charge the enemy with their guns, he said, “Give ‘em hell right over yonder where I’m going to double ‘em up.” His action is believed to have been the first time a commander ordered his guns forward in a charge without immediate support.

The 3,500 cavalrymen spurred into action, and as one member of the Seventh Tennessee Cavalry later reported, the fighting was intense.

When our movement was too slow to suit Forrest, he would curse, then praise and then threaten to shoot us himself, if we were so afraid the Yanks might hit us… He would praise in one breath, then in the next would curse us and finally said, “I will lead you”… guns once fired were used as clubs and pistols were brought into play, while the two lines struggled with the ferocity of wild beasts.

As before, Forrest paraded his soldiers to make them appear larger in numbers. The Confederates drove off their attackers and captured sixteen of their artillery pieces. Ordered to give chase, they fired on the retreating Federals, hitting wagons, killing horses and mules, and stampeding the Union soldiers. Drivers abandoned their wagons. Sturgis ordered the wagons burned, but Forrest’s men managed to save over 100, salvaging their contents of food, ammunition, and supplies.

General Forrest outfoxed nearly twice his opponents. His genius has been a subject of study ever since.

 

Hug a Vet

Tomorrow we honor those who have served in the armed forces on what is now known as Veteran’s Day. The day was originally established as Armistice Day, the day that the Armistice was signed ending WWI. Major hostilities were ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. President Woodrow Wilson declared it a holiday in 1919. In 1953, the idea was spread to include all veterans, changing it from Armistice Day to “All Veterans” Day, and in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law. All states within the United States observe this holiday. 

National ceremonies take place every year at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. The day will be celebrated with parades, speeches, and observances of our beloved veterans. So if you know someone who has bravely served in defense of this great country, give them a hug. If they are serving now, hug them. If they fought in the Middle East, Vietnam, or Korea, give them big hugs (my dad was a Korean War vet who served as a Marine). And if they are one of the few remaining veterans who fought in WWII, give them an extra special hug. Without these men and women, our freedom would be lost.

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