The War of 1812 had been one with little glory for Americans. The invasions of Canada all failed, often the officers in charge displaying shocking military incompetence. Although the American Navy performed valiantly, the Royal Navy maintained control of the waves, and with the fall of Napoleon, veteran British troops from the Peninsular War were shipped across the Atlantic and inflicted such humiliations as the burning of Washington. On January 8, 1815 Major General Andrew Jackson and his rude frontier army of regulars and militia, confronted a British regular force twice their size. What followed was an amazing American victory. One of the finest accounts of the battle was written by Theodore Roosevelt:
Packenham had under him nearly 10,000 fighting men; 1,500 of these, under Colonel Thornton were to cross the river and make the attack on the west bank. Packenham himself was to super intend the main assault, on the east bank, which was to be made by the British right under General Gibbs, while the left moved forward under General Keane, and General Lambert commanded the reserve. Jackson’s position was held by a total of 5,500 men. Having kept a constant watch on the British, Jackson had rightly concluded that they would make the main attack on the east bank, and had, accordingly, kept the bulk of his force on that side. His works consisted simply of a mud breastwork, with a ditch in front of it, which stretched in a straight line from the river on his right across the plain, and some distance into the morass that sheltered his left. There was a small, unfinished redoubt in front of the breastworks on the river bank. Thirteen pieces of artillery were mounted on the works. On the right was posted the Seventh regular infantry, 430 strong; then came 740 Louisiana militia (both French creoles and men of color, and comprising 30 New Orleans riflemen, who were Americans), and 240 regulars of the Forty-fourth regiment; while the rest of the line was formed by nearly 500 Kentuckians and over 1,600 Tennesseeans, under Carroll and Coffee, with 250 creole militia in the morass on the extreme left, to guard the head of a bayou. In the rear were 230 dragoons, chiefly from Mississippi, and some other troops in reserve; making in all 4,700 men on the east bank. The works on the west bank were farther down stream, and were very much weaker. . . . Continue reading
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is fuzzy on this whole free speech thing:
Bill Donohue comments on the killing of 12 people at the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo:
Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.
Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses. Continue reading
An interesting picture of the Pope and the Pope Emeritus. Let’s have some fun with it! Time to write thought balloons. An example:
Pope Francis: I wonder if he is jealous about the slobbering media coverage I receive!
Pope Benedict: I wonder if he is jealous that I no longer have to care a fig about the media!
Contribute your thought balloons in the comboxes.
Back in 2011 I had a post on one craven reaction to the firebombing of the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Go here to read it. Well, now some group has gone far beyond firebombing to shut that magazine down:
In regard to Pope Francis it is helpful to look at views from abroad. Rorate Caeli has a translation of a recent article by Italian journalist Matteo Carnieletto:
The Pope seems to want two contradictory things: an economy that lifts more people out of poverty and ever tightening environmental regulations. Stephen Moore, chief economist of The Heritage Foundation, notes in an op-ed in Times that the environmental policies embraced by the Pope would make the poor poorer:
Pope Francis— and I say this as a Catholic — is a complete disaster when it comes to his policy pronouncements. On the economy, and now on the environment, the pope has allied himself with the far left and has embraced an ideology that would make people poorer and less free.
Pope Francis is reportedly preparing a lengthy encyclical message to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on the need for decisive action on climate change and will speak before the United Nations General Assembly on this subject this year. The pope recently declared: “The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”
This is the language of the radical green movement that is at its core anti-Christian, anti-human being and anti-progress. He has aligned himself with a secular movement that is antithetical to the fundamental theological underpinning of Catholicism — the sanctity of human life and the value of all souls.
The modern pagan green religion in developed nations needs to be denounced by the Vatican. These are the people and organizations that have come to believe that an excessive number of human beings is destroying Mother Earth.
Some of the great atrocities of the past half-century have been borne of this belief that the world is overpopulated. Has the Vatican forgotten the detestable and immoral population-control policies, including, eugenics, tens of millions of forced abortions and forced sterilizations, and one-child policies — all in the name of greens trying to save the planet? It was Pope John Paul II who heroically denounced this theology and reminded Catholics and all other Christians that human beings are resource creators, not resource destroyers.
The Vatican’s warning that we are witnessing “great cataclysms” of weather events is contradicted by scientific evidence. The numbers of hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, typhoons, monsoons, earthquakes, floods, freezes and so on are not on the rise, as even the U.S. government’s own numbers confirm. The pope has been snookered. The best way to counteract death and destruction from severe acts of Mother Nature is through economic development. Continue reading
I guess there may have been a more heterogeneous force that fought a major battle in American history than the one that Andrew Jackson commanded on January 8, 1815, but it does not readily come to mind. Here was the composition of his army:
1. 968 US Army regulars-Many of these men were from the 7th Infantry Regiment that had garrisoned New Orleans during 1814 and had a reputation for being slackly disciplined hell raisers. The remainder were from the 44th Infantry Regiment recruited in Louisiana.
2. 58 Marines.
3. 106 Sailors of the US Naval Battalion.
4. 1060 Louisiana Militia, including 462 free blacks. The free blacks responded to an appeal from Jackson that said they would be treated precisely the same as white volunteers and not subject to sarcasm and insult. Jackson was as good as his word, but the State of Louisiana did not give them the promised 160 acre land grants that white volunteers received. Many of the white Louisianans spoke only French, but the language barrier did not stop them and their black comrades from rendering good service in the battle.
5. 986 Kentucky Militia-The Kentuckians gave a poor account of themselves in the battle but it wasn’t their fault. Most of them were unarmed, the Army sending them to New Orleans and shipping their rifles and ammo separately. These items arrived four days after the battle. A disgusted Jackson said they were the first Kentuckians he had ever seen who didn’t have a rifle, a deck of cards and a jug.
6. 150 Mississippi Militia.
7. 52 Choctaw Warriors-The Choctaws did good service as snipers and killed at least 50 British soldiers.
8. 1352 Tennessee militia and volunteers. The mainstay of Jackson’s army, many of them had served under Jackson throughout the Creek War in 1813-1814.
9. Baratarian Pirates-Jean Lafitte’s pirates. Jackson had offered Lafitte a free pardon for every one of his men who fought. The pirates formed three artillery companies and also fought with the militia. Their exact numbers are unknown, but my best guess would be 400-600. The pirates won accolades for their fighting prowess in the battle, with Jackson singling out for praise Jean and his brother Pierre. Continue reading
Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person’s gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm.
Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold form the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people’s hearts first — and then they will joyfully share their wealth.
Saint John Chrysostom, from On Living Simply, Homily XLIII
Update: I have been unable to properly source this with any of Saint John’s work available on the net. The quotation is cited as coming from On Living Simply, a compilation of sayings from the writings of Saint John. I can see no evidence of the quote itself on the net prior to 2007. Unless this quote can properly be sourced to an original writing of Saint John, I am going to assume that it is a fake internet quote, one of the minor banes of modern life. Sorry for my error in posting this.
Sigh. PopeWatch does wish that the only Marx Popes paid any attention to were the ones nicknamed Groucho, Chico and Harpo. Reinhard Cardinal Marx gave a recent demonstration as to why PopeWatch believes this:
Berlin – The Reformation anniversary in 2017 is considered a significant event also for the Catholic Church, according to the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx. “Luther did not aim to split the Church, but, with his calls to reform, wished to draw attention to grievances that obscured the message of the Gospel,” the Archbishop of Munich writes in a column in the journal of the German Cultural Council Politik & Kultur. “After 50 years of joint ecumenical dialogue, it is possible for a Catholic Christian to read Luther’s texts appreciatively, and to learn from his thoughts.”
Upon the commencement of the War of 1812, Jackson immediately volunteered for active service. Nothing happened. Jackson assumed he was not called to duty due to his vigorous opposition to many of the policies of Thomas Jefferson, Madison’s predecessor. ( It probably didn’t help Jackson that Aaron Burr, former vice-president and deadly enemy of Jefferson, had stayed three days with Jackson during his treasonous trip to the West in 1805, although there is no evidence of Jackson’s involvement in Burr’s plot.)
Jackson’s chance for military action came in 1813-1814 during the Creek War. After a very tough campaign, Jackson decisively defeated the Red Stick Creeks at the battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814. On the battlefield, Jackson found a two year old Creek boy with his dead mother. Jackson adopted him as his son, named him Lyncoya, and brought him home with him to the Hermitage and raised him with his other adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr. Jackson planned to have him educated at West Point, because he believed it to be the best school in the nation, but the boy died of tuberculosis in 1828. Jackson, the great foe of the Indians, is the only American president to adopt an Indian child. Jackson was nothing if not complicated.
The campaign against the Red Stick Creeks had made Jackson a national figure. It also almost killed him. Suffering from a chronic stomach disorder, Jackson could only get relief from the pain by bending a sapling and leaning over it with the sapling pressed against his stomach. The campaign was arduous for his troops also, a mixture of militia and regulars. On one occasion the militia decided they had had enough and began to march home. Jackson used the regulars to stop them. On another occasion the regulars decided they were through, and Jackson used the militia to force them to return to their duties. When both militia and regulars decided to leave on yet another occasion, Jackson rode to the head of the troops, aimed a musket at them and made it quite clear that he would kill the next man to take a step. The men looked at Jackson, Jackson gazed back at them, and they returned to camp. Afterwards, Jackson ordered that the musket be repaired as it couldn’t have fired in any case. Most of the men Jackson led were frontiersmen and had a great deal of experience in cutting down trees. The toughest wood they knew of was Hickory, and Old Hickory, and doubtless some other unprintable ones that have not come down to us, is the nickname they gave their determined general.
While Jackson was crushing the Red Sticks, the War of 1812 was going badly for the country. With the abdication of Napoleon, hordes of British veteran troops were sent across the Atlantic to teach the Yankees a lesson. The burning of Washington in August 1814 was part of the lesson, and the American government had intelligence that a mighty British fleet and army were on their way to seize New Orleans. In August 1814 a British fleet established a base, with the consent of the Spanish government, at Pensacola, Florida, and used it to supply Indians hostile to the US. On November 7, 1814, Jackson seized Pensacola, chased the British troops out and destroyed the fortifications. The British fleet sailed off and Jackson marched to New Orleans.
Jackson arrived at New Orleans with his rough frontier army of militia and regulars on December 2, 1814. He had beaten the Brits to New Orleans but just barely. The British fleet appeared in the Gulf of Mexico just off New Orleans on December 12. The British force on board the fleet was commanded by Major General Thomas Pakenham, the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law. Pakenham was a combat general and had received laurels for his courage and professionalism in many of the battles that Wellington fought in Spain. Brushing aside a small American naval force that guarded access to the lakes that led to New Orleans, by December 23 an 1800 man vanguard of the British troops was ashore on the east bank of the Mississippi, nine miles south of New Orleans. When Jackson learned of this, he did what he usually did when confronted with a sudden challenge: he attacked. Leading 2131 men in a short, sharp night attack, Jackson inflicted about 250 casualties in exchange for about the same losses on his part. He then withdrew to the Rodriguez Canal four miles south of New Orleans and began to fortify it. Continue reading
Hattip to Instapundit. I tend not to read much fiction, but I will make an exception for this, which takes a look at the parents of a very unique precious snowflake:
Alan and I knew instantly that our child was exceptional. He was just so adorable, with his pentagram birthmark and little, grasping claws. His red eyes gleamed with intelligence. When the doctors came in with all their charts, they just confirmed what we already knew. Our child was “one of a kind” and “unlike any creature born of man.”
Alan and I were ecstatic — but also a little bit nervous. Raising a gifted child is a huge responsibility. And we were determined not to squander Ben’s talents. We vowed then and there that we would do all we could to ensure he achieved his full potential.
The first step was getting him into the right preschool. We figured it would be a breeze, given Ben’s obvious star quality. But, to our great surprise, he struggled with the interview requirement. At Trevor Day, a teacher asked him how old he was. Instead of saying “three,” he gored open her stomach and then pinned her to the ceiling with his mind. We were able to get him an interview at Trinity, thanks to a family connection. But when Ben saw the crucifix in the lobby, his eyes turned black and the walls wept blood. Why was Ben behaving this way? There was only one logical explanation: attention deficit disorder. We took him to a specialist on Park Avenue, and within five minutes our son had his first prescription for Ritalin.
The Kilmax, I noticed, had produced several troubling side effects. Ben’s eyes — usually so bright and searing — had dimmed to a pale ocher. His horns were pointed downward and his fur was falling out in clumps. I was telling him about another option — the birthright trip to Israel — when he suddenly held up his claw, cutting me off midsentence.
“No . . . more.”
I screamed for Alan, and he came running.
“Ben spoke!” I cried. We leaned in toward our son, keeping as still as possible. Ben gasped a few times, obviously struggling. Eventually, though, he managed to continue.
“No more . . . arrrrrgh! Pleeeeeaseeeearrrrrgh! Me . . . not . . . sick. Me . . . arrrrrrrgh! Monster. Let . . . be . . . monster. Let be monster.”
My eyes filled with tears. I’d always assumed that Ben would never talk — and now here he was, carrying on a full conversation!
If Ben could master language, there was no limit to what he could achieve. I whipped out my iPhone and typed in Han’s number from memory.
It was time to start thinking about law school. Continue reading
Back in December of 1985 Cardinal John O’Connor forbade a Catholic funeral mass for Mafia kingpin Paul Castellano:
Without public announcement, Castellano’s body was transported from the Cusimano & Russo Funeral Home in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn at 9 a.m. Thursday and, police officials said, was buried at the nonsectarian Moravian Cemetery in Staten Island. A priest was present at the cemetery, Finn said.
The decision to inter Castellano in a nondenominational cemetery was made by the family and was not the result of the cardinal’s prohibition, Finn said. The question of whether a person receives church funeral rites is a ”judgment call” based on the principles of church law, according to Rev. Richard P. McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
So also, now that the Divine epiphany of the Word of God has taken place, the darkness of idols prevails no more, and all parts of the world in every direction are enlightened by His teaching. Similarly, if a king be reigning somewhere, but stays in his own house and does not let himself be seen, it often happens that some insubordinate fellows, taking advantage of his retirement, will have themselves proclaimed in his stead; and each of them, being invested with the semblance of kingship, misleads the simple who, because they cannot enter the palace and see the real king, are led astray by just hearing a king named. When the real king emerges, however, and appears to view, things stand differently. The insubordinate impostors are shown up by his presence, and men, seeing the real king, forsake those who previously misled them. In the same way the demons used formerly to impose on men, investing themselves with the honor due to God. But since the Word of God has been manifested in a body, and has made known to us His own Father, the fraud of the demons is stopped and made to disappear; and men, turning their eyes to the true God, Word of the Father, forsake the idols and come to know the true God.
Now this is proof that Christ is God, the Word and Power of God. For whereas human things cease and the fact of Christ remains, it is clear to all that the things which cease are temporary, but that He Who remains is God and very Son of God, the sole-begotten Word.
Saint Augustine, On The Incarnation of The Word
American history tends to be ignored by Hollywood and therefore it is unusual for a battle to receive treatment in a Hollywood feature film. It is doubly unusual for a battle to be treated in two Hollywood feature films, but that is the case for the battle of New Orleans, the two hundredth anniversary of which is coming up this week on January 8, 2015. The 1938 film The Buccaneer was directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille and had Frederic March, an actor largely forgotten today but a major star in his time, as Jean Lafitte. Two future stars have bit parts in the film: Anthony Quinn and Walter Brennan. Hugh Sothern who portrayed Andrew Jackson would also portray Jackson in 1939 in the film Old Hickory.
The 1958 remake was also to have been directed by Cecil B. DeMille, but he was seriously ill at that time, and relegated himself to the role of executive producer, turning the director’s chair over to Anthony Quinn, his then son-in-law, the one and only film that Quinn ever directed. DeMille was unhappy with the film and it received fairly negative reviews, although I think the battle sequences are superior to the first film. Yul Brynner plays Jean Lafitte and Charlton Heston is a commanding Andrew Jackson. Like Hugh Sothern, Heston would portray Jackson twice, the first time being in The President’s Lady (1953), the tale of the great love story of Rachel Jackson (Susan Hayward) and Andrew Jackson. Future stars in this version include Inger Stevens, Claire Bloom and Lorne Green. Adequate coverage of the battle is given in each film, although not much detail. The battle of course is merely an adjunct to the romantic tale of Jean Lafitte. Without the pirate turned patriot, I am certain the battle of New Orleans would have likely received the same indifference that Hollywood has shown for most of American history.
Lead out the pageant: sad and slow,
As fits an universal woe,
Let the long long procession go,
And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow,
And let the mournful martial music blow;
The last great Englishman is low.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Something for the weekend. I Vow to Thee My Country set to scenes from the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill on January 30, 1965. Hard to think that half a century now separates us from that sad event. Churchill planned his own funeral and he made certain that all the great old hymns he so loved were well represented in the ceremonies. When he was asked if he was a pillar of the church, Churchill, whose attendance at services was sparse, said he was a flying buttress of the church, supporting it from outside. His beliefs about God were ambiguous, with contrary statements about religion being made about God and religion in the course of his life. I think that like many of his European generation coming of age in the late nineteenth century that he initially embraced agnosticism. Then, in battle he noticed that he was always praying for assistance, whatever his head thinking his heart obviously still believing in God! As he grew older I think a belief in God began to grow in him as he became acutely aware during his very long life of the mysteries of life and death. He sometimes spoke enviously of those who had religious faith untroubled with doubt, and perhaps at the end he joined their ranks. In a striking part of the funeral, two buglers played: the first one Taps and the second one Reveille, a symbol of the Resurrection.
The greatest man in secular history of the last century, Churchill wrenched the course of history and ensured that Hitler’s talk of a Thousand Year Reich would be remembered as a tyrant’s empty boast and not the beginning of a waking nightmare for all mankind. Politicians are always with us, as ubiquitous as fleas on a dog and often about as useful. A statesman like Churchill, who can see beyond present turmoil and disaster and point the way forward, is rare and precious indeed. On V-E day in Great Britain Churchill was hailed as the man who won the war. Churchill denied this and said that the victory belonged to the British people and it had merely been his privilege to give voice to the roar of the British lion. He was then promptly tossed out by the British people at the general election, his task completed. He would once again become prime minister in 1951, but it was anti-climactic, a mere epilogue to his career. His great moment had been when he sustained British morale and kept his nation in the fight against Nazi Germany at a time when victory seemed hopeless and even mere survival doubtful, and thus gave his people their finest hour.
For that he deserves to be remembered and honored, and not just by the British, but by all free men and women everywhere. Continue reading
When the Washington Times brandishes the banner headline “Obama finds an ally on political controversies at the Vatican,” it may be time to step back and assess what exactly is transpiring.
From income inequality to Cuba and soon to global warming, it seems that Pope Francis is doing some heavy lifting for President Obama, his political agenda, and his legacy. That’s not to say that’s what the Pope intends; it is to say that this may very well be the outcome of what the Pope actually doing.
Suffice it to say, the Pope’s interests are primarily evangelical. Economic structures that enrich the few but keep the many impoverished are certainly immoral. Only plutocrats would disagree. Political structures that accrue power to the few but exclude the many from the process are certainly immoral. Only oligarchs would disagree. Destroying the Earth’s biosphere is certainly immoral. Only the most virulent “anti-greenies” would disagree.
Yet, Pope Francis appears to be completely tone deaf to the message that his actions communicate. He’s providing President Obama cover to advance an economic, political, and environmental agenda that is more ideological than rooted in economic, political, and environmental fact. Imagine what would have been said if President John F. Kennedy had said the following about St. John XXIII in December 1962, as President Obama did about Pope Francis in December 2014:
He played a very important role. The pope doesn’t wield armies. He can’t impose sanctions. But he can speak with great moral authority, and it makes a difference. And it certainly made a difference in this case.
What’s especially troubling is how the Pope’s actions embolden liberal Catholic American politicians, most of whom are Democrat, to promote the Pope’s actions while advocating their ideologically-driven economic, political, and environmental policies. Again, that isn’t the Pope’s intention; but, his actions do allow others to politicize them for their own personal and partisan ends, as if Pope Francis is goading them on.
The problem, it seems, is not with the Pope’s agenda as much as it is the way the Pope’s agenda appears to be one-sided. While he will assert very strong moral opinions about economic, political, and apparently, environmental injustices, Pope Francis seems not to be very interested in or much inclined to be equally assertive in expressing Church teaching when it comes to grave moral errors like abortion, divorce/remarriage, and homosexuality.
That the Pope is touted in the press as one of President Obama’s “greatest allies” is disconcerting at best. Income inequality, unjust political structures, and the environment are important issues that politicians must deal with and, yes, they should consult with religious figures across the globe to find moral ways to resolve those issues. Yet, this Pope appears to believe it more important to articulate his solutions to these issues forcibly which, in turn, provides diplomatic cover for politicians, than he is to express with equal vigor and clarity their abject failure to address the grave moral errors of this era.
As the Washington Times, noted:
“It’s not quite a gift from God but, politically, it may be the next best thing.”
To read the Washington Times article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following linke: