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Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Random

Random Quote of the Week: "Five hours late but moving fast." - Douglas Adams

Random Reason this is LATE!: Field trip! There's been quite a bit of discussion in the blogosphere about the similarities between spaceships and submarines. Well, okay, a lot of discussion if you read the right blogs :o) Since we had family in town for Thanksgiving and one happens to be a retired navy Chief Petty Officer it seemed the perfect reason to hit the Naval War Museum in town that focuses on naval battle during the American Civil War

<-- This fabulous wreckage is the remains of the CSS Jackson, a Confederate ironclad that's missing quite a bit of her body. The silver girders actually mark out a ghost sketch of what the ship should look like. There's a hug chunk of the midship missing, lost to an exploded boiler. Ships like the CSS Jackson usually carried a crew of 200 sailors ranging from age 10 on up. Small boys were recruited as Powder Monkeys, they brought bags of powder to the gun crews. This is a replica of what an ironclad might look like in port ->
It's not to scale.

An interesting thing about these ships... when they hit port the sailors were very popular, and well regarded socially. On the wreck of the CSS Chicara a poetry book was found, a gift from a socialite in Charleston, South Carolin to a midshipman serving on the ship.

<--- This is the crew of the USS Monitor. The young man on the right in the front is one of my personal favorites. His name is Siah Carter, he ran away from life as a slave to freedom in the north, fought in the war, and went on to build a life afterward. I can't imagine what kind of nightmares he dealt with in the dark hours of the night, but I know he had a lot of guts.

The crew of the CSS Hunchback --->

Some people were very creative when came to naming ships. The museum is reconstructing another ship outside (which I didn't get a photo of because of the rain) named the Water Witch. I'm not sure if they ran out of war heroes to use as namesakes or if someone was just bored.

Note the clothing in both photos though... the uniforms aren't actually uniforms. Each person sewed his own clothes, and embellished them as he was able.

<-- USS Kearsage in battle with the confederate ship CSS Alabama off the coast of France. To prevent the Europeans from helping the Confederacy the Union formed a blockade around the southern ports called Operation Anaconda. The CSS Alabama took out 70 of the 100 ships lost in blockade maneuvers. When the USS Kearsarge was commissioned the mission given to the captain was to find and destroy the CSS Alabama. The captains of both ships (Winslow and Semmes respectively) were friends and schoolmates prior to the war. <-- The CSS Alabama sinking. Villain or war hero.... ---->
I have trouble picturing Captain Semmes as a violent blackguard who delighted in bloodshed. I think he was a man who had a duty and did it efficiently. Did he support slavery privately? I have no clue. But I think he saw the poverty and the problems the south would have if they lost everything to the more technologically adapted north. Now, in an era with a black president and the memories of slavery receding into the text books, buried by the tides of time, you can still see the effects of the war. The bright note is that what happened in the south was a lesson well learned, and when the USA went into WWI the US was the voice of reason during peace negotiations urging kinder censure. We'd already seen what the slash and burn method of peace did and we didn't want a repeat. France and England we're badly burned though, and they didn't listen. We still went and bailed them out in WWII. If someone starts WWIII we'll probably come help out again.

Overall, that was a lot of lives lost to drive home the scripture: "Love thy enemy."
A "lost boy" one of the powder monkeys in the Civil War who lost his youth and innocence young fighting for something he couldn't have understood at his age. Looking at his picture (all over the museum marking the signs of where to go next) I wanted to cry. How many boys did we lose? How many soldiers were fighting that war without really understanding why? How many nights did his mother stay on her knees, crying and praying, for him to come home safely. Or even for a letter from a prison camp so that she knew he was alive?

The only blessing of modern warfare is that casualty totals for a year number only in the hundreds compared to thousands that died daily in wars of the past.

On a lighter note.....

<---- Check out the detailing on this cutlass hilt! This was the only clear picture I took, but there were several beautiful displays. Even in this grim era people took pride in their artistry. They used their talents to the best ends. And they had a sense of humor. This quote from a letter home
amused me. The young man knew he might not come home. I'm not sure how many survived the maiden voyage of the Chattahoochee, I know 19 died the first day when a boiler exploded. But they went into it knowing the situation was bad and not going to get better, so they rolled up their sleeves and went to work. --->

That was my Friday........................what's your random?


  1. I feel like I just stopped in a the museum!

    Thanks for sharing. :)

    My random: I'm really confused and snacking more than normal...not good at all.

  2. Snack healthy and light :o) Pumpkin seeds are full of zinc which is fabulous for the body and helps stave off the winter blues!

  3. Hi,
    We're producing an HD documentary on The CSS Alabama and her captain, Raphael Semmes here at Alabama Public TV. We've been in contact with the CSN Museum Diretor and will be doing some shooting there.
    Permit me one slight correction...The CSS Alabama was not an ironsided ship. She was a wood sailing/steam ship. And her battle with the Kearsarge was the last battle between wood hulled warships. Metal ruled the day from then on when it came to building ships for battle.
    Thanks for sharing your visit to the museum!
    Tim Lennox
    Alabama Public TV

  4. Mr. Lennox,

    Thank you for the correction! I appreciate that. I took pictures of all the words I could get, but I was chasing three kids through the exhibit and missed some pertinent details.

    Good luck with your documentary!

  5. Museum tours are fab :)

    Random: I was going to start Japanese homework this morning. I'm rebelling and going to spend the morning gaming :D