Sunday, June 30, 2013

Returning to the Hellhole

Gettysburg, 
1888 


This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Often described as the turning point of the Civil War, it was there that Union forces halted the Confederate invasion of the North in 1863. The ferocious three-day fight produced the largest number of casualties of any battle in the war—over 46,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Black Warrior

1859


Launched in 1852, the steamship Black Warrior was christened after the legendary Indian chief Tuscaloosa whose name comprised two Choctaw words—tusca (warrior) and lusa (black). Two years later, during one of its routine trips between New Orleans, Havana and New York, the 225-foot ship and its cargo was seized Cuban customs officials claiming that its load of Alabama cotton should have been declared, even though it was not to be unloaded in their country. The incident caused a furor, effectively derailing President Franklin Pierce’s plan to buy the island. Instead, pro-slavery forces demanded war with Spain, seeing this as an opportunity to turn Cuba into a slave territory. As the United States grew increasingly bellicose, Spain  backed down and paid compensation for having detained the vessel whose fate seemed to presage the Civil War.