Saturday, November 30, 2019

The California Column Routed The Confederacy


OK, so I'm always amazed at history that had such a huge impact yet is almost forgotten. Worse is that it's completely unknown and never acknowledged. That includes the role which Californians played in the Civil War. They played a big part in the Civil War. Certainly a lot bigger role than most know.

Among other things, California volunteers routed the Confederacy out of California, Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas. It's true. Californians spoiled the Confederacy's plans to invade California, steal Union gold, and establish itself in America's Southwest.

During the early days of the Civil War in 1861, the United States Army withdrew all regular troops from the West and Southwest to re-enforce Washington D.C. and the Eastern states. This left only local militia and volunteers to defend the Western frontier. Because of the vulnerability of the Union's gold supply and the subsequent threat of a Confederate invasion of California, as well as the threat to the Western territories, the California Column was created.

The California Column was in fact the Union force sent to Arizona and New Mexico to deal with the Confederate Army. Made up of miners, shop keepers, teamsters, hunters, lawmen, and many other men of various trades. They were also members of vigilante groups and local militias, from mining camps and towns, big and small. They were California's contribution to the war effort on the side of the Union. And frankly, what became know as the California Column turned out to be a formidable force from the West.

The State of California and the Territory of New Mexico, which included the present day states of New Mexico and Arizona, remained with the Union. The State of Texas joined the Confederate States of America. With the Union Army gone, Confederate President Jefferson Davis saw the West as extremely vulnerable and subsequently wanted to seize the opportunity to try and win the entire American Southwest including the California gold fields that funded the Union war effort.

As early as July of 1861, a group of Texans, led by Confederate Lt. Col. John Baylor, had captured the southern half of the New Mexico Territory and renamed it the Confederate Territory of Arizona. Then, that fall, Confederate Brig. Gen. Henry Sibley was given permission by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to open a wider corridor to California through the upper New Mexico and Arizona territories to capture the California gold fields.

The fighting raged up and down the Rio Grande River with Sibley fighting Union Col. Edward Canby in an attempt to take control of the Union forts lining the great river, the border between Texas and the New Mexico Territory.

Earlier that year, in May of 1861, the Union War Department ordered Major James Henry Carleton and his First Dragoons from Fort Tejon to Los Angeles to protect a one-man quartermaster depot occupied only by Captain Winfield Scott Hancock, chief quartermaster for the Army’s District of Southern California. Later, Winfield Scott Hancock would be a General embroiled at the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Dragoons settled into a temporary tent encampment just south of the depot and named it Camp Fitzgerald. This camp was abandoned after a few months in favor of a new site named Camp Latham, located along Ballona Creek in what is today Culver City, California. The first site chosen was a half-mile from the harbor on a low sandy plain where the old and leaky tents gave little protection from the wind, sand, or rain. This camp would not last long because it was soon determined that a post nearer the harbor was needed. The second location was named Camp Drum.

By December of 1861, Washington sent Colonel Edward Richard Sprigg Canby and a force of 4,000 New Mexico and Colorado Volunteers occupied Santa Fe -- but could they hold it?

In April of 1862, out of Camp Drum, newly promoted Colonel James Henry Carleton and the California Column would head out to help stop the Confederate invasion of the New Mexico and Arizona Territories. The objective of the California Column was to drive any and all Confederate troops out of Arizona and New Mexico which they had occupied in 1861.

Much like the Confederate Army of New Mexico, which was also known as the Sibley Brigade, which had entered New Mexico from Texas in December 1861, the California Column traveled in small groups at intervals of a few days so men and horses would not exhaust the springs and wells along the way. The column followed the established route of the Butterfield Overland Mail, which had ceased operation the year before. It should be noted that the mail posts on the route were filled with food and grain. It was such because Union spies had stockpiled those provisions there before the march.

The California Column originally consisted of ten companies of the 1st California Infantry, all five companies of the 1st Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry, Company B, 2nd Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry and Light Battery A of the Third U.S. Artillery. This command contained 1500 well drilled and disciplined troops. Later on, Lieutenant Colonel George W. Bowie's 5th California Infantry was added, bringing the total strength of the Column to 2350 men

In 1862, the California Column commanded by Colonel Carlton was ordered to send over 2,000 men to the Rio Grande River in New Mexico – over 900 miles away – to drive invading Texan rebels out of Arizona Territory. These men traveled by foot, from April to August, through the desert with 120 degree temperature in full wool uniforms. They traveled in groups of 400 to conserve water for the men and horses, and stayed in a series of forts spread out between the Camp Drum and the Rio Grande.

The 2,350 men, largely on foot, in summer, wearing wool uniforms and carrying heavy rifles and knapsacks, made the journey in a very hot and dry environment without losing a single man due to non-battle causes. And while this might not sound that impressive, think about this, that hike from Wilmington, California, to El Paso, Texas, has been reported to be the second longest infantry march in infantry history.

The first in what has been called the longest infantry march in history, approximately 1,850 miles, began on July 20, 1846 on the Little Pony River in Council Bluffs, Iowa. That took place during the Mexican War of 1846. As incredible as it sounds, the California Column, the entire command, marched over 900 miles from California through Arizona and New Mexico Territory to the Rio Grande and as far east as El Paso, Texas, between April and August of 1862.

During their advance the California Column engaged the Confederates in skirmishes. During one such skirmish, Confederates attempted to burn forage gathered at Stanwix Station near the end of March 1862. What is not known is that the Confederates tried everything they could to stop or slow them down.  In fact Arizona Confederate volunteers, their Company A, Arizona Rangers, arrested the Union Army agent, Ammi White, destroyed White's flour mill at Casa Blanca, and destroyed supplies of food and fodder being gathered there, as well as at other stage stations along the California Column's route between Fort Yuma and Tucson.

After the establishment of the Confederate Arizona Territory, Governor John Robert Baylor decided he needed to supplement existing militia companies with a regiment of Rangers like the Texas Rangers. He intended this regiment would consist of several companies of cavalry. Baylor was a ruthless man. Among other things, he was known for having a genuine hatred for Indians of all tribes.

In 1861, he organized the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles to drive the Union forces from the southwest and led his men into New Mexico Territory. Following his victory at the First Battle of Mesilla and the surrender of federal forces in the area, he proclaimed himself the military governor of Arizona Territory which today is a region encompassing the southern half of the modern states of New Mexico and Arizona.

At one point, while he was Governor, Baylor's frustration with the attempts by the Apaches to drive out Anglo-American invaders hit an all time high. To give you, my reader, a glimpse at what sort of savage Baylor really was, take a look at an order he issued to his men pertaining to the treatment of Apache Indians wanting peace.

He issued the following: "Use all means to persuade the Apaches or any tribe to come in for the purpose of making peace, and when you get them together kill all the grown Indians and take the children prisoners and sell them to defray the expense of killing the adult Indians. Buy whiskey and such other goods as may be necessary for the Indians and I will order vouchers given to cover the amount expended. Leave nothing undone to insure success, and have a sufficient number of men around to allow no Indian to escape."

His Arizona Rangers did in fact delay Col. Carleton's California Column, and to make things worse for the California unit -- most of Carleton's attempts to send messages to General E. R. S. Canby, the Union's departmental commander of New Mexico, were being intercepted. In fact, because of the intercepted messages, one of Col. Carleton's patrol which was sent to meet Mr. Ammi White was actually surprised and captured by the Confederate Arizona Rangers at White's Mill at the Pima Indian villages.

At White's Mills, near the Pima Villages, about twenty miles south of present Phoenix, the Confederate Arizona Rangers under the command of Captain Hunter captured the scouting party of nine men of Company A, 1st Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry under Captain William McCleave. They did so without firing a shot. Following their surprise of McCleave they destroyed caches of hay stored at the Butterfield stage stations along the barren route from Fort Yuma to the Gila River.

At the villages of the Pima Indians on the Gila River, about 30 miles south of present-day Phoenix, Capt. Hunter also discovered 1,500 sacks of flour from wheat purchased from the Pima by federal purchase agent Ammi M. White. It had been ground into flour and stored in his mill in anticipation of the advance of the Union forces. Hunter's men arrested White, disabled the mill and confiscated the flour. However, because of insufficient transport, Hunter could not remove the flour, so they gave it to the Pima Indians for them to use.

When news of the capture of McCleave got back to Fort Yuma, a larger force under Captain William Calloway was sent along the same route with orders to find and free Captain McCleave and his men. Capt. Calloway's force clashed with elements of the Arizona Ranger company burning hay at Stanwix Station and after a brief skirmish, the Arizona Rangers retreated to Tucson. Afterwards, Capt. Calloway reached the Pima Villages and the main supply point between Fort Yuma and Tucson and after a short rest, set out toward Tucson.

As they approached Picacho Pass, Indian scouts brought in information that Confederate pickets were just ahead. Lieutenant James Barrett and a small group of his Company A, Arizona Rangers 1st Cavalry, were ordered to make a wide detour to strike them on the flank, while Capt. Calloway would make a frontal attack with the main party.

In the Battle of Picacho Pass, the California Column's cavalry engaged alone and suffered defeat in a brisk engagement. A total of 12 California Column cavalry troopers and one scout, commanded by Lieutenant James Barrett of the 1st California Cavalry, were conducting a sweep of the Picacho Peak area, looking for Confederates reported to be nearby.

The Arizona Confederates were commanded by Sergeant Henry Holmes. Barrett was under orders not to engage them, but to wait for the main column to come up. However, later it was reported that "Lt. Barrett acting alone rather than in concert, surprised the Rebels and should have captured them without firing a shot, if the thing had been conducted properly."

Instead, in mid-afternoon the lieutenant "led his men into the thicket single file without dismounting them. The first fire from the enemy emptied four saddles, when the enemy retired farther into the dense thicket and had time to reload ... Lt Barrett followed them, calling on his men to follow him."

Three of the Arizona Rangers surrendered. While Lt. Barrett was securing one of the prisoners and had just remounted his horse, a bullet struck him in the neck -- it killed him instantly. Fierce and confused fighting continued among the mesquite and arroyos for 90 minutes, with two more Union fatalities and three troopers wounded. Exhausted and leaderless, the Californians broke off the fight and the Arizona Rangers, minus three who surrendered, mounted and carried warning of the approaching Union Army to Tucson.

Lt. Barrett's disobedience of orders had cost him his life and lost any chance of a Union surprise attack on Tucson. Captain Calloway returned to the Pima Villages and started work on a permanent camp, throwing up earth works around the flour mill of Ammi White, who had been taken away with McCleve to Mesilla by the rebels a few weeks before. This earth work was named "Fort Barrett" in honor of their comrade. There, they waiting to gather resources to continue the advance. Confiscation of the wheat and burning of hay now forced a halt at the villages while new supplies were gathered.

All in all, it required several weeks for the main elements of the California Column to reach the Pima Villages because of the time needed to gather more hay along the route. Further delay occurred because only detachments of less than four companies could move over the desert routes within twenty-four hours of each other, due to the scarcity of water.
After Picacho Pass, the Arizona Rangers retreated. And since Governor Baylor refused to send Confederate reinforcements, Captain Sherod Hunter and his men withdrew as soon as the California Column again advanced. The net effect of the Arizona Rangers' actions was to delay the advance of the California Column for over a month, which probably saved the Confederate Army of New Mexico, now retreating back to Mesilla from its defeat at the Battle of Glorietta Pass from being intercepted and destroyed by the California Column during April 1862.

The Battle of Picacho Pass was one of a handful of times when members of the California Column engaged Confederate troops, and it is considered the western-most battle during the Civil War.

The California Column arrived in Tucson on May 20, 1862, forcing the heavily outnumbered Confederate garrison to withdraw without a fight. After the fall of Tucson, a Southern sympathizer by the name of Sylvester Mowry was arrested at his mine in Mowry, Arizona, by the Californians. General Carleton, an old political enemy of Mowry, charged him with selling lead for musket balls to Confederates. Mowry was jailed for six months at Fort Yuma before being released due to the lack of evidence. As a result of his being arrested and jailed, his mine was destroyed and he was forced to leave Arizona.
As for General Carleton's messages, in June of that year, a scout named John W. Jones was finally able to outrun pursuing Apaches and get one to General Canby.  The message said, "The Column from California is really coming."

After capturing Confederate Arizona's Western outpost in Tucson, General Carleton prepared to march east with his main body in July, intending to enter New Mexico through Apache Pass in Southeast Arizona. To prepare for the advance of his main force, he sent an element of his column ahead as he had on his march from Yuma to Tucson.

On July 9th, 140 men of Co. E, 1st California Infantry and Co. B, 2nd California Infantry, was led by Captain Thomas L. Roberts. His united was accompanied by two 12-pounder mountain howitzers, a twenty-two man cavalry escort from Company B, 2nd Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry led by Captain John C. Cremony, and twenty-one wagons plus 242 mules and horses.

After Capt. Roberts reached the San Pedro River, it became necessary to learn whether Dragoon Springs, twenty-eight miles further east, could supply both companies with water, or whether they would be forced to separate into smaller detachments. Capt. Roberts led the advance detachment with his infantry company, joined by three wagons, the howitzers and seven of Cremony's best horsemen to serve as scouts and couriers.

Capt. Cremony remained behind with fifteen cavalry and ten of Roberts' infantrymen, including the detachment left as a garrison at the river, where an adobe stage station building provided shelter and a defensive position to guard the remaining wagons and animals. Capt. Roberts found the water at Dragoon Springs was enough to support the entire force, and Cremony joined with him the next day. Together they advanced on the springs at Apache Pass in the same manner, leaving Capt Cremony with the guard detachment.[

Then came the Battle of Apache Pass. The Battle of Apache Pass was fought in 1862 at Apache Pass, Arizona, between Apache warriors and the California Column. Why was the Battle of Apache Pass such a big deal? Well, fact is that the battle between the Californians and the Apache was one of the largest battles between Americans and the Chiricahua during the Apache Wars.

At noon on July 15th, Capt Roberts' detachment had just entered Apache Pass. After traveling about two-thirds through, his force was attacked by about 500 Apache warriors led by Mangas Coloradas and Cochise. And yes, if you're wondering, a young warrior by the name of Geronimo claimed to have fought in this battle as well.

The Californians were not in a good situation. The infantrymen had walked dozens of miles across the hot Arizona desert, heading for the spring at Apache Pass, which was now blocked to them by the well-armed Chiricahua warriors. Low on water, and realizing a retreat back to Tucson without water could cost him many men, Capt. Roberts chose to fight.

The Apaches had thrown up defenses consisting of several breastworks made of stone. They had also surprised the Californians with an ambush, waiting until the soldiers came within thirty to eighty yards of their positions before opening fire. Behind almost every mesquite tree and boulder hid an Apache armed with a rifle, a pistol, and knife.

At first the California volunteers could barely see their attackers. Because of this, after a few minutes of intense combat, Capt. Roberts ordered retreat to withdraw his force to the mouth of Apache Pass. His men regrouped and unleashed their two mountain howitzers for an advance against the Apaches. It is interesting to me that this was one of the first times the U.S. Army had ever been able to use artillery against the Indians in the Southwest.
Capt. Roberts ordered his infantry to take the hills overlooking the pass, while he remained in the pass to direct the artillery support. The skirmishers moved forward where they were able to take cover in an abandoned Butterfield Overland Mail station.

The foot soldiers were now about 600 yards from the spring. The Apache behind the breastworks on the hills were delivering a deadly fire against the attackers. Capt. Roberts advanced with his two howitzers forward and had them open fire. Their effectiveness was limited by the fact that they were 300 to 400 feet below the Apache defenses. But that did not stop Capt. Roberts who moved his guns ahead to a better position, all the time under heavy fire. Once the guns were in effective range, Capt. Roberts' artillery opened fire in earnest.

The Apaches held their positions until nightfall when they fled for someplace safer. Their retreat allowed the California troops to reach the spring. After allowing his tired men to enjoy a meal, Capt Roberts returned to Capt Cremony's detachment to bring them up. The next morning the Apaches again returned. But as soon as the two mountain howitzers opened fire, they fled. Two of Captain Roberts men were killed and three wounded in the battle for the spring.

According to a report General Carleton on September 20, 1862: "From the hostile attitude of the Chiricahua, I found it indispensably necessary to establish a post in what is known as Apache Pass; it is known as Fort Bowie, and garrisoned by one hundred rank and file of the Fifth Infantry, California Volunteers, and thirteen rank and file of Company A, First Cavalry, California Volunteers; this post commands the water in that pass.

Around this water the Indians have been in the habit of lying in ambush, and shooting the troops and travelers as they came to drink. In this way they have killed three of Lieutenant-Colonel Eyre's command, and in attempting to keep Captain Roberts' company. First Infantry, California Volunteers, away from the spring a fight ensued, in which Captain Roberts had two men killed and two wounded. Captain Roberts reports that the Indians lost ten killed. In this affair the men of Captain Roberts' company are reported as behaving with great gallantry."

According to Capt. Cremony, a prominent Apache who was present in the engagement had said that sixty-three warriors were killed by the artillery, while only three died from small arms fire. He said, "We would have done well enough if you had not fired wagons at us." The howitzers being on wheels, were called wagons by the Apaches, who were unfamiliar with artillery tactics.

Apache Chief Mangas Coloradas himself was wounded in the action, receiving a bullet wound in the chest when attempting to kill one of Capt. Roberts' cavalry scouts. One day after the battle, on the New Mexico side of Apache Pass, the bodies of nine murdered and scalped white civilians were found. Becuas of that, General Carleton decided that it was necessary to establish a post at the pass to prevent settlers from being ambushed as they passed through it.

On July 4, the first units of the California Column reached Mesilla, New Mexico, along the Rio Grande. At the same time, the last remnants of the Confederate Army withdrew to Texas. The 5th California Infantry was ordered to build a fort in Apache Pass, calling it Fort Bowie in honor of their Colonel, George Washington Bowie.

General Carleton was placed in command of the Union Army's Department of New Mexico, and he continued to campaign against the hostiles in that area. When the California Column finally reached the Rio Grande River in August of 1862, the Confederate troops had retreated. General Carlton followed them into West Texas, capturing Franklin, Texas and advancing as far as Fort Quitman.

Because of the grit and bravery of the California Column, the vulnerability of the Union's gold supply and the subsequent threat of a Confederate invasion of California, as well as the threat to the Western territories, was effectively over.

Parts of the California Column were then scattered throughout the Southwest. Most of their service after that would be as garrisons in West Texas to prevent the return of the rebels. Their main activity for the remainder of the war was as garrisons of the settlements and forts in New Mexico Territory, and fought the Apaches, Navajo and other tribes.

While the focus has usually been on what took place back East, we need to acknowledge the bravery and endurance of the California Column who took the fight to the Confederates from the West and protected Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas from any further Confederate invasion. Our acknowledging their bravery and endurance is the least that we can do for those California volunteers.

That's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving & A Few Thoughts From 1885

Found in Pennsylvania's Harrisburg Telegraph on November 25th, 1885:

While it sounds as though the writer worked for the Harrisburg Telegraph newspaper, it also sounds as though he was a cynical person to say the least. But even with that, the writer did make a good point. We should all thank our blessings, let us all give thanks, and also give charity to those in need.

For me, I've always believed in giving to those less fortunate than myself. Yes, looking back on my life, I can honestly say that's been the case even when I haven't had much more than they did. Among the things that I'm thankful because that's the way I was brought up. But more than simple charity, I was taught that it was the cowboy way to give a hand up instead of simply giving a handout. Maybe that's why I was taught to help others by giving work to others even though I myself may have been stretched for cash. 

My parents and grandparents taught me that giving a person a job if you could, versus simply giving cash, accomplished more than we knew. They taught me that by giving someone a job, we actually save their pride so that they don't feel they simply got a handout -- and instead earned what they got. 

My grandmother used to repeat the Great Depression Era philosophy and say, "A man feels better about himself when he's working." She used to say that you can see it in how they walk, how they talk, how they deal with others, and how their home-life improves when a man is working and earns their way. People feel better about life in general when they can make money to make their things better. I believe that applies to both men and women. 

And whether or not my grandma knew it or not, statistics prove she was right. Statistics show that when Americans are out of work, the numbers of people suffering from depression and all sorts of domestic related problems go up. Statistics show that in contrast, during economic prosperity, the numbers of domestic violence reports go down, drug use usually falls, the divorce rate decreases, and the number of homeless go down. Today, because of the great economy affecting most states, we are seeing that and other positive indicators. Positive indicators such as how millions of our fellow Americans are getting off of Food Stamps. This is a great indicator of people working and doing well for themselves. 

And while I can easily turn this into a political blog post by talking about all of the wonderful things that President Trump is doing to create such a robust economy, an economy that historically we only seen during wartime production and not during peacetime, I'll simply say that we have a great deal to be thankful for this year. He is one thing that I am thankful for. I appreciate his hard work and the positive things he's bringing back to our nation. 

Of course, on the smaller scale, while I try to do what I can for the needy, give to those who have less than me, and maybe try to pass on some work to someone out of a job, I remember to be thankful for what President Trump is doing to make our nation more productive. And while I will certainly get email about that simple sentence, I really believe that giving credit to those who deserve it is important. I will give credit to where credit is due simply because I never want to be known as being ungrateful. Especially, ungrateful for all of the work that he's put in to making our lives better.

Fact is, I'm very thankful that we have a president in office that cares more about America and Americans than the welfare of other countries. That's what putting America First is all about. While I'm going to get a lot of hate mail about my feeling this way, I feel every American should want that for our fellow Americans. 

So while I thank God for the food on my table, the roof over my head, the clothes on my back, and all of my other blessings, I also thank God for allowing America to prosper again in spite of the resistance to such good. 

We are a good and noble people. We still do more good than harm, and we're still the place that people want to live. Make no mistake, there is a reason for that -- contrary to what some say. And while we can't open our doors to allow a flood of people to come in, our doors are open to some. Most want to assimilate and join our family as Americans. Most love freedom and liberty as much as I do. Most stand for our flag, take off their hats and place it on their hearts when our anthem is played. Most believe in God. And yes, I'm very thankful for all of that as well on this Thanksgiving. 

God Bless you and yours!

Tom Correa

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Bone Wars -- The Cope and Marsh Feud

Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope
Also known as the "Great Dinosaur Rush," the "Bone Wars" were actually a ruthless competition between a couple of fossil hunters. Fossil collecting, or fossil hunting, is exactly what it sounds like -- the collection of fossils for scientific study and profit. Hunting for fossils today takes an organization, money, sponsors, equipment, and time. And like today, fossil hunting for their commercial value means making a lot of money. This hasn't changed since fossil collecting started.

From the mid-1870's to the early 1890's, there was a heated rivalry between Othniel Charles Marsh of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University and Edward Drinker Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Educated or not, intellectual elite or not, these two paleontologists were no gentlemen. They were both as underhanded as they get while trying to outdo the other in the field.

How bad did it get? How low did these two educated gentlemen go in their rivalry? How rotten were they? If these two did anything, they showed the world that an education means nothing when it comes to behaving like hoodlums and thugs. In fact, some of what they did looked no different than what uneducated thugs would do.  

For example, they both used bribery, they stole from each other, they tried to cut of the other's funding, and even destroyed fossil samples, bones, just to screw the other. But these guys were scientists, men of letters, and while one would think they were above such nastiness, they got real personal as each "scientist" attempted to ruin the other's professional reputation by attacking the other in scientific publications. That's how scientists go low, as they still do today when someone does not agree with one's findings. 

Fossil hunting led the two, as well as others, West to Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming where rich "bone beds" were discovered. These two were the preeminent paleontologists of the Gilded Age, and they used their wealth and influence to finance their own expeditions and to procure services and dinosaur bones from fossil hunters. It is said that by the end of the Bone Wars, both Cope and Marsh were financially and socially ruined by their attempts to out-compete and disgrace the other.

Yes, imagine that. While they did make a few significant contributions, and provided substantial material for further study after their deaths, they were so self-absorbed that each used up their funds in the pursuit of "paleontology supremacy." 

Were they always out to screw each other? Well, it's said that their professional relationship was amicable. Supposedly the two scientists spent time together in Europe during our Civil War, and they even named discoveries after each other. Of course, it's said that "even at the best of times, both men were inclined to look down on each other subtly." 

Coming from different backgrounds didn't help them get along. Edward Drinker Cope was known to be a snob who came from a wealthy and influential Philadelphia family. Who knows if his wealthy Yankee family paid a lot of money to get him out of the country and to the safety of Europe during our Civil War. We do know that in 1864, a year before the Civil War ended, he was already a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, a professor of zoology at Haverford College and joined a fossil hunting expeditions West.

In contrast, Othniel Charles Marsh grew up poor in Lockport, New York. He lucked out by having a rich uncle, philanthropist George Peabody, who Marsh persuaded into building the Peabody Museum of Natural History. Of course, Marsh was the head of the museum. With his position at the museum and his inheritance that he received when Peabody died in 1869, Marsh was in a good position financially.

So how did scientist stab each other in the back in the 19th century? Well, in some cases they used dynamite to destroy and bury potentially critical fossil remains, in other situations they simply used bribes. An example this happening is the time when both scientists went fossil-collecting at Cope's marl pits in New Jersey, this was one of the first dinosaur finds the United States and it was rich with fossils. The two worked together fine, but then parted company. That's when Marsh secretly bribed the pit operators to divert future fossil discoveries to him instead of Cope. Cope found out about what took place and war between the two was on. 

The two began attacking each other in published scientific papers and publications. Marsh actually attempted to humiliate Cope by pointing out in a publication that Cope's reconstruction of a specific type of dinosaur was wrong. Cope placed its head where the tail should have been. Cope looked bad, and in turn Cope went to Kansas and Wyoming to collect fossils in the area that Marsh considered his turf. 

In the 1870s, Cope used his influence in Washington, D.C. to get a position on the U.S. Geological Survey. Though it was an unpaid position, Cope used his position to collect fossils in the West and publish his findings. Marsh on the other hand spent little time in the field, but delegated the task of searching for bones to his employees. 

At the time, paleontologists tried their best to please their sponsors by sending telegrams back East while providing a slight description of their finds. They would later publish a detailed description upon their return. The problem that both Cope and March had was their discoveries was not new to anyone in a race against another, they made mistakes. While they were trying to outdo the other, they also started "making discoveries" of species that were already found. Their finds were nothing new, but it's believe that March and Cope knew that. In fact, it's said they simply called their new discoveries "new" while knowing that they already been found and labeled by others paleontologists.

To make matters worse, it became a war of credibility. As it turned out, while many of Marsh's finds were labeled correctly and were deemed as valid finds -- many of Cope's were not. Some say none were. At the same time, the two battled on classifications, names, and who could make claim to what find. All to the point where the scientists argued over classifications and nomenclature. The one constant was they return West for more fossils to outdo the other. 

Marsh's last trip was in 1873. For the rest of the Bone Wars, Marsh would use local collectors to send him what he needed to satisfy the scientific world and keep his name in the forefront of American paleontology. While Marsh had used employees to fossil hunt for him, Cope was limited because of his association by then with the Army Corps of Engineers. 

By 1875, Cope and Marsh stopped collecting because their sponsors were repulsed by their rivalry. Because that was the situation, when both returned West about ten years later, they did so using their own personal wealth.

Of course, besides having problems with each other, as the fossil boom flooded areas in places in South Dakota and Nebraska, others started sabotaged their digs as well as others. In fact, because of heavy competition from third parties interested in bones, fossils were flooding the East. As for Marsh and Cope, they filled the newspapers with  accusations of stealing, sabotage, spying, poaching workers, and even the destruction of each other's digs. While I couldn't find out if anyone ever drew a pistol or lifted a rifle to a shoulder, there was a report about how their rival camps fought each other with fists, rocks, and clubs over the same piece of ground. 

As the years went by Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh kept fighting over fossils in the West. As they were busy trying to outdo each other, believe it or not Marsh and Cope hastily gave descriptions of new species -- and were wrong! Their findings were wrong, but that didn't matter to them since it was all about who can find the most fossils. Of course, their errors led to all sorts of confusion and misconceptions that lasted for decades after their deaths.

Besides the attacks on their digs, and the errors that they kept making, their tactics to smear one another didn't stop as well. Yes, so much so that Cope made every effort to publish every mistake and shady deal that Marsh was believe to have made. This tactic was used in turn by Marsh. As for the toll it took, such hatred ruined both men financially. But more importantly, their public display of hatred for each other had a negative effect on the public's perception of such men of science.

Before Cope's death in 1897, he actually made one last challenge to Marsh. It had to do with Cope's brain and skull. Cope donated his skull to science with the provision that his brain be measured. Since it was believed at the time that the size of a person's skull was a clear indication of intelligence, Cope challenged Marsh to do the same so that everyone would know who was smarter.

Marsh is said to have had a smaller head than Cope. At least that's according to their hat size. But none of that mattered since Marsh never accepted the "measure of intelligence" based on skull size challenge. As for Cope's skull, believe it or not, it's supposedly still housed at the University of Pennsylvania.

What did their rivalry produce, most agree that they discovered some of the most well-known dinosaurs species to have walked the North American continent. But since their findings were seen as suspect and the behavior seen as repulsive, the whole of the scientific community was seen as being the same. In fact, the very public feud harmed the reputation of paleontology for years to come.

In American History, rivalries are nothing new. One of the most famous rivalries was between Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison over who was the better inventor. Theirs was the competition between two geniuses, resulted in their "War of Currents" in the 1880s. Their competition was over whose electrical system would power America and subsequently the world. They did not garner any animosity from the public as did the rivalry between Marsh and Cope.

Why? Well, because while the Bone Wars resulted in an increase of knowledge in regards to prehistoric life and actually increased the public's interest in dinosaurs, the pure ruthlessness of those two supposedly educated men was seen as something more fitting the dregs of society. They were wonderful examples of the pretentiousness of the "upper classes" as they attempted to slander and ruin each other at every turn. At the time, the public believed those things weren't the things that intelligent and learned men did.

Men such as these proved the point that a good education doesn't give one class or good character.

Tom Correa

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Year Was 1881

American illustrator Thomas Nast is said to have "invented" the image that we recognize as Santa Claus. Created in woodblock, Thomas Nast made his familiar illustration of "Merry Old Santa Claus" for the January 1st, 1881, issue of Harper's WeeklyIt's believed that he first drew Santa Claus for the 1862 Christmas season Harper’s Weekly cover and center-fold illustration to memorialize the family sacrifices of the Union during the early days of the Civil War. 

America has always had a majority of Christians, and of course the holiday celebrating the birth of Christ is a long standing American tradition. When Nast created his image of Santa Claus, it's said that he was drawing on his native German tradition of Saint Nicholas who was a fourth century bishop known for his kindness and generosity. Nast’s Santa appeared as a kindly figure representing Christmas. It would be how Americans see Santa for the rest of time.

On January 11th, 1881, Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff George Gillis was shot in El Monte, California. He died the next day.

Deputy Gillis and Los Angeles County Sheriff William "Billy" Richard Rowland had gone to the city of El Monte while attempting to find a man who was believed to be a person of interest in a criminal investigation. Sheriff Rowland returned to Los Angeles after they could not locate the man, but Deputy Gillis remained in El Monte to continue the search.

Deputy Gillis located the man while the individual was fighting with another man. Deputy Gillis identified himself as a deputy and ordered the men to stop fighting. The man then pushed Deputy Gillis out of the saloon door, drew a handgun, and shot the Deputy. The subject then stole Deputy Gillis' horse and fled to San Juan Capistrano. The killer was later captured, tried and convicted of Deputy Gillis' murder.

If you've ever wondered why vigilante groups acted out in so many instances in the Old West, it's because lenient sentences took place even back in those days. No, it's not just something taking place these days. A great example of that is how Deputy Gillis' killer was sentenced to a mere 11 years in prison. It is said that many there at the time felt Deputy Gillis' killer got away with murder.

On January 25, 1881, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell formed the Oriental Telephone Company. During that same year on February 5th, the City of Phoenix, Arizona was incorporated.

On February 19, Kansas became the first state to outlaw alcoholic beverages in its Constitution. By 1878, the temperance movement was organized and had a great deal of political influence there. That movement wanted a national constitutional prohibition, and they started their march to obtain their goal in Kansas when they staged the first National Temperance Camp Meeting in Bismarck Grove near Lawrence in late August and September of 1878.

While they couldn't organize a Prohibition Party, Kansas voters elected Republican John St. John as their governor. He was a prohibitionist. In his inaugural address to the state legislature, he called for decisive action to deal with the liquor issue. In response, the legislature passed a state constitutional amendment that prohibited "the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors" in the state. It was ratified by a majority of the voters in November 1880, and took effect on January 1, 1881.

The Kansas Legislature made manufacturing alcohol a misdemeanor. While the law took effect on May 1st, 1881, the law had no teeth and did not "dry up" the state. Saloon owners simply paid the $100 fine each month to keep their businesses open and the booze flowing. It is interesting to note that because of built in loopholes in the state law, and the law's poor enforcement, all in all the law led to an increase in the number of saloons and other "joints" in Kansas. And just for the record, Kansas didn't drop it prohibition on alcoholic beverages until 1948.

On March 4th, James A. Garfield was inaugurated as 20th President. He was the first sitting member of Congress to be elected to the presidency, and still remains the only sitting member of the House to have gained the White House. Later that same year, he would be assassinated.

For those of us who love a circus, and I'm not talking about the sort that goes on in Congress these days, the "Greatest Show On Earth" was formed by P.T. Barnum and James A. Bailey on March 16th, 1881. A few days later, the "Barnum & Bailey Circus" debuted its "Greatest Show on Earth" in Madison Square Gardens, New York City.

On April 7th, 1881, a North Carolina moonshiner by the name of Lewis R. Redmond was wanted for two murders and cornered at his home. Back on March 1st, 1876, twenty-four year old Deputy U.S. Marshal Alfred Duckworth attempted to arrest Lewis Redmond on a warrant for transporting illegal alcohol in Transylvania County, North Carolina. Redmond was found on a road near the East Fork area of the county. He was told that he was under arrest.

During the arrest, Redmond supposedly demanded that Deputy Marshal Duckworth read the arrest warrant out loud. After reading it, Redmond faked surrender by saying that he would go along peacefully. Marshal Duckworth made the mistake of believing him and started to put his pistol away when Redmond produced a small pocket pistol and shot Duckworth in the neck.  

Marshal Duckworth was killed while serving a federal warrant on Redmond for the illegal manufacture and sale of distilled liquor. Right after he murdered Marshal Duckworth, Redmond fled to Pickens County, South Carolina. It was an area known as "Dark Corners." 

While there, Redmond is said to have has a number of encounters with the law. Sympathetic newspapers who saw nothing wrong with killing lawmen, actually labeled Redmond the "King of the Moonshiners." And as surprising as it might sound, there was a lot of local sympathy for Redmond. 

Supposedly, the folks there at the time attempted to justify their support for the killer by saying that Redmond was just living the life that he was accustomed to living. The justification was that since he grew up in the 1850's and 1860's when the production of distilled alcohol was seen as simply an additional source of income for Southern farmers, he was just fighting for his way of life.

Newspapers were portraying that cop killer as a folk hero. During Reconstruction, many illegal distillers, known as moonshiners because they produced their product "out of the light of day," tried to get around paying liquor taxes. This led to an ongoing war with the federal government.  

Lewis Redmond shot and killed Deputy U.S. Marshal Van Buren Hendrix on February 12th, 1877, while the marshal led a posse to track down and arrest Redmond. Redmond shot and killed Deputy U.S. Marshal Van Buren Hendrix in Greenville County, South Carolina. That killing didn't stop other lawmen from hunting him down, and two years later he was captured Swain County. 

Even though he was shot six times while trying to escape, believe it or not Redmond survived to stand trial. And yes, this story also goes along with what we were talking about previously with Officer George Gillis who was shot in El Monte, California, and his killer only got 11 years. 

Though murdering two Deputy U.S. Marshals, Lewis Redmond was acquitted on grounds of self-defense for his killing of Deputy U.S. Marshal Van Buren Hendrix. As for killing of Deputy U.S. Marshal Alfred Duckworth, he was convicted and only sentenced to 10 years in prison. As incredible as that sounds, Redmond was pardoned after only serving just 3 years. 

Of course, one of the more famous events in 1881 took place on April 28th. On that day, William Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, escaped from the Lincoln County Courthouse jail, near Carrizozo, New Mexico. In his wake, he  killed two deputies who were assigned to guard him.

He was being held for the shooting of Sheriff William Brady. On April 13, Judge Warren Bristol sentenced Bonney to hang. His execution was scheduled for May 13th. While legend says that the Judge pronounced sentence saying they he was to hang until he was "dead, dead, dead!" The rest of the legend says that Bonney responded to that by telling the judge, "you can go to hell, hell, hell!"

This is the sort of Hollywood legend that takes hold and simply won't go away. Fact is, according to the county records, William Bonney did not say a word in response to Judge Bristol issuing his sentence. While awaiting his sentence, Bonney was held in the Lincoln County Courthouse jail under guard on the second floor. There were two guards on duty, Sheriffs Deputies James Bell and Bob Olinger.

On April 28, while Sheriff Pat Garrett was away, Officer Olinger went across the street to the Wortley Hotel to have lunch. This left Officer James Bell with Bonney. It was during that time that Bonney asked to use the outhouse. The jail's outhouse was located behind the courthouse.

After coming out of the outhouse, on their return to the jail, Bonney was walking ahead of Officer Bell up the stairs to his cell. One story says that Bonney got ahead of Bell and somehow slipped out of his handcuffs before beating Officer Bell with the iron handcuffs. Supposedly, during the fight with Bell, Bonney is said to have grabbed Officer Bell's revolver and shot him.

The other story is that a sympathetic citizen placed a 1876 Colt Single Action Army revolver in the outhouse and Bonney retrieved it. From there, as with the first version, since there were no witnesses it's actually anyone's guest how he shot Officer Bell in the back. Some say it was when Officer Bell tried to get away.

We do know that after killing Officer Bell, Bonney broke into Sheriff's office and found a loaded shotgun that supposedly belong to Officer Olinger. Legend says that Olinger used to taunt Bonney by telling him that he had special loads just for him.

Legend says that Bonney waited at the upstairs window of the jail as Olinger returned after hearing the gunshot that killed James Bell. Legend says that he called out to him, and when Olinger looked up, Bonney shot and killed him before fleeing town. Deputy Robert W. Ollinger was the last victim of William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid.

On May 1st of that year, a little known story is that of a family wagon got stuck on train tracks in the town of San Lorenzo, California, as a train approached. The accident was horrifying as 5 of 6 children aboard the wagon were killed.

On May 16th, Guadalupe County, Texas, Deputy Sheriff Richard "Texas" McCoy who was shot and killed in LaSalle County while searching for cattle thieves. He was part of a posse of several Texas Rangers and cattlemen when they discovered approximately 100 stolen cattle. The posse round up the cattle and took them to a nearby home to temporarily store them. What they didn't realize was that that was the home of the cattle thieves.

After arriving at the ranch, Deputy McCoy asked the woman of the house if he could pen the cattle there. Deputy McCoy was no rookie. He was a veteran of the Confederate Army, and had previously served as a Texas Ranger for a year. McCoy and the others didn't know that the cattle thieves inside the house had setup an ambush. When they opened fire on the posse, they killed Deputy McCoy almost instantly as he opened corral gate.

Those who did the ambush were charged with Deputy McCoy's murder. But because the defense questioned the credibility of a witness, believe it or not, the charges were dropped. One of those men later murdered another Deputy in another part of Texas on April 7th, 1887. It is said that there were a large number of residents in Guadalupe County, Texas, who felt that they should have taken those killers out to the nearest tree. Some folks are said to have voiced the opinion that if that had, then they may have saved the life of that second Deputy.

On May 21st, Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons founded the American National Red Cross. It was set up as a charitable group with links to the U.S. military to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters.

On Sunday, June 5th, 1881, in Ohio, Oberlin Police Department's Constable Frank Stone succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained on May 12th.

Constable Frank Stone chased down a subject on an assault warrant. The suspect is said to have initially cooperated with the Constable, but then changed his mind when they passed a blacksmith shop where his father and brother were working.

When his family members came out of the blacksmith shop, they attacked Constable Stone. This gave the subject the opportunity to escape. Right after that, Constable Stone swore out warrants for the father and brother.

The following day, Constable Stone attempted to make the arrest at the home the subject's father. As the countable stood in the doorway, the subject appeared with a rifle and shot the constable in the chest. Constable Stone was taken to his home where he remained until passing away on June 5, 1881.

The subject's father was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. But, he only served 10 years because he was pardoned in 1891 due to his frail health. Knowing that the killer only spent 10 years in prison for murder, and then being pardoned, didn't sit well with a lot of folks there at the time.

On June 12, the steamship USS Jeannette sank under ice during an expedition to reach the North Pole. The crew abandoned ship, and attempted to reach Siberia in three lifeboats. Less than half of the men survived the ordeal.

In early July of 1881, US Army Lt. Augustus W. Greely led a scientific expedition to Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic and called the site Fort Conger. While the expedition set out with 25 American soldiers with the mission of establishing a scientific base in the Arctic, it was a horrid failure and only 6 survived before starving to death.

On July 2nd, less than five months after his inauguration, the 20th President of the United States, James Garfield, was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau at the Washington railroad station. As insane as it sounds, the killer's motive was that he felt that he earned an appointment as consul to France -- because he worked so hard to get the president elected.

President Garfield lived out the summer with a fractured spine and seemed to be gaining strength until he died on September 19th. As for Guiteau, he was arrested at the time of the shooting. And, in spite of his plea of insanity, he was convicted of murder. Guiteau was hanged in June 1882.

On July 4th, former slave Booker T. Washington establishes the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He started out with 30 students. His goal was to establish a "normal" school and industrial institute where "colored" people with little or no formal schooling could be trained as teachers and skilled workers.

On of my favorite events in history took place on July 8th when Edward Berner of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, created the first Ice Cream Sundae. Such a wonderful contribution to mankind should not go unsaid.

On July 14th, the punk killer who was known as Billy the Kid, though born as Henry McCarty, and used the names William H. Bonney or Kid Antrim, was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Just a few months earlier, he had killed two deputies and fled to Fort Sumner.

Accompanied by lawmen John Poe and Thomas C. "Kip" McKinney, Sheriff Pat Garrett set out to find Bonney after Pete Maxwell alerted the law to his whereabouts. Sheriff Garrett arrived and awaited inside as Bonney entered the room. Garrett shot him in the chest.

On July 20th, while still fugitives from the reservation, Sioux Chief Sitting Bull leads the last group of his tribe to surrender to U.S. Army at Fort Buford, Montana. He and his group fled into Canada after the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.

Sitting Bull had his young son hand over his rifle to General Terry in an attempt at insulting the General, then saying, "I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle. This boy has given it to you, and he now wants to know how he is going to make a living."

Then there was the case of Silverton, Colorado, Town Marshal David Clayton "Clate" Ogsbury. He died on August 24th, 1881, at the age of 33, while in the capacity of acting town marshal. He was only in that position for three months when he was killed in the line of duty by a member of the Stockton-Eskridge Gang. The gang was known for robbing and rustling cattle in northern New Mexico then escaping into the Silverton, Colorado, area.

The gang had arrived in town on August 24th. Marshal Ogsbury and the San Juan County Sheriff were said to be waiting for arrest warrants to arrive from La Plata County. The warrants did not arrive until 11 p.m. that night. That was when La Plata County Sheriff Luke Hunter showed up from Durango with the warrants in hand.

Sheriff Hunter contacted Marshal Ogsbury who was asleep in his room in the back of Goode's Saloon. The two, along with town deputy Emerson Hodges, walked to the Diamond Saloon where the outlaws were drinking it up.

It is said that Marshal Ogsbury saw one of the wanted men leaning against the saloon in the dark. But before he could say a word, or draw his pistol, the outlaw opened fire mortally wounding Marshal Ogsbury. It was then that the other outlaws pulled their guns and started firing. Sheriff Hunter and Deputy Hodges were forced to retreat out of the saloon. When the lawmen returned, it's said the townsfolk joined them. Soon, the outlaws were captured. The townsfolk, what some call vigilantes, took over and lynched the killers.

On August 27th, a hurricane hit Florida and the Carolinas. More than 700 Americans died as a result of the horrible devastation. Also in August of that year, The Edison Electric Illumination Co. began building its 1st DC generating plant in Manhattan. The station was completed in September of 1882.

On September 5th, a fire in Michigan burns over a million acres and killed 169 people. On September 13th, Inventor Lewis Latimer patented an electric lamp with a carbon filament.

On September 19th, the 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield, died of wounds inflicted by assassin madman Charles J. Guiteau. What some might find interesting is that inventor Alexander Graham Bell made several unsuccessful attempts to remove the assassin's bullet from the dying President with a new metal detection device. Also, it's said that standard medical practice at the time had doctors inserting their un-sterilized fingers into wounds in an effort to probe and locate the path of the bullet.

Germ theory had not been accepted as standard practice yet. So even though 16 doctors attended to President Garfield, and each probed his wound with their fingers and dirty instruments, it's believe that infection was a significant factor in President Garfield's death. Of course, the day after President Garfield's death, Vice President Chester A. Arthur was sworn in as the 21st President of the United States.

End of an era! Here's something to think about. The last big cattle drive to Dodge City took place late that summer of 1881. There are a few reasons for the end of the era of the cattle drives. Mostly it was because livestock became plentiful on the plains, and that made long drives no longer profitable. Also, by 1881, most states were then prohibiting driving out-of-state cattle across their borders.

Another thing was barbed wire. The increasing use of barbed wire to enclose farms and grazing land effectively ended the era of the open range. In the 15 years since Texas cowboys first hit the trail, over two million longhorns were driven to market in Dodge. By the end of that summer, that all ended.

Just as a side note to the end of the cattle drives. Let's think about this when comparing cattle boomtowns with mining boomtowns. In reality, while mining towns dried up and blew away, turning into ghost towns, most cattle boomtowns actually survived after their boom went bust. The reason has to do with who stayed. In relation to mining towns, miners left when the mines petered out. Subsequently, most mining towns simply died.

In contrast, even though the trail drives stopped, the cattle and agriculture industries around cow towns survived because ranchers and farmers took root in the surrounding areas. They stayed put, endured, and prevailed.

On Saturday, October 1, 1881, McLean County Deputy Sheriff Henry "Teddy" Frank was shot and killed in Illinois. The forty-one year old deputy was shot and killed by a prisoner who he was moving within the county jail. The prisoner, who was a convicted horse thieve, somehow grabbed Deputy Frank's service weapon. The prisoner actually grabbed the Colt .38 caliber revolver from Frank's hip pocket when he was unlocking a door. That was at 6:30 pm.

Deputy Frank yelled at the prisoner to stop. The prisoner turned and fired. The round stoke the deputy in the shoulder. This didn't stop Deputy Frank from grabbing the prisoner. During the struggle, the prisoner fired four more shots. Two struck the deputy in the chest and actually exited his back.

It is said that Deputy Frank's sense of duty wasn't slowed despite being mortally wounded. In fact, it's said that he was actually able to stop the prisoner's escape until the Sheriff and other reinforcements arrived. Though shot three times, twice in the chest, Deputy Henry "Teddy" Frank is said to have actually walked to a nearby cot to lie down. Once there, he succumbed to his wounds and died.

Within a couple of hours of hearing what took place, vigilantes gathers outside the jail. At the same time, in the jail, the Sheriff and his Deputies tried to keep the citizens from entering the jail. It's said that a mob is defined as "a large and disorderly crowd of people especially -- one bent on riotous or destructive action." The mob that gained entry to the jail that night used two telephone poles used as battering rams. They also brought a keg of gunpowder to blow up the door if the Sheriff and his Deputies found a way to stop them from battering it down.

Deputy Frank was a Union veteran who served during the Civil War. He was survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, and six siblings. The townspeople knew him and his family. They weren't going to chance his killer getting away with it. They demonstrated the same sort of anger and frustration over lenient sentences, acquittals, and pardons that fueled the growth of vigilante groups.

In fact, it's said that more than 5,000 local citizens, no hoods or disguises, gathered outside of the jail and demanded the prisoner be turned over to them. Once inside, they took the prisoner and walked him across the street where he was hanged from a tree.

On October 26th, in Tombstone, Arizona, Deputy U.S. Marshal/ Tombstone Town Marshal Virgil Earp, his two brothers Wyatt and Morgan, and "Doc" Holliday showed up a lot adjacent to the rear of the OK Corral livery stable. The official story is that they were there to disarm, arrest, and fine Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne for violating a city ordinance pertaining to a ban on carrying guns in the city limits.

While I have been in contact with people who say it was merely the Earp faction exercising their ability to disarm their enemies, I've had others tell me that the Earps were there simply to enforce the city ordinance. Some see the Earps as simply lawmen doing their job, while some see them no different than the people they were confronting. Either way, during the subsequent shootout, Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury were killed; Virgil and Morgan Earp were wounded.

And while I have heard from readers who tell me that Wyatt Earp was not even shot at during the short gunfight, it is a fact that Wyatt Earp's role in the shootout grew after his autobiography was published in 1931. Because of a 1950's movie of the same name, people will come to call the 30 second incident the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral."

On August 30th, 1881, the Battle of Cibecue Creek took place. In that fight, the U.S. Army and White Mountain Apaches clashed at Cibecue Creek on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. After soldiers arrested a prominent Cibecue Apache medicine man named Nock-ay-det-klinne, the soldiers were taking Nock-ay-det-klinne back to the fort when they were ambushed by Apache warriors.

During the fight, U.S. Army soldiers killed the medicine man and most of the twenty-three Apache scouts actually mutinied. It was the first time that Indian scouts had mutinied in United States history. The mutiny forced the soldiers to retreat to Fort Apache.

The following day, the White Mountain Apache mounted a counterattack. The events sparked general unrest and led to White Mountain Apache warriors leaving the Fort Apache Indian Reservation to join forces with Geronimo.

On November 7th, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were arrested and jailed for their participation in the now famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. 

On November 8, after counting 45,497 votes, Denver was elected Colorado's capital city. Denver was named after the governor of the Kansas Territory, James William Denver.

On November 14th, assassin Charles J. Guiteau went on trial for murdering President Garfield. He was convicted and hanged the following year.

On December 1st, the Earps and Holliday were exonerated in court for their action in what later became known as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

On December 13th, San Jose, California becomes the first city west of the Rocky Mountains with civic electric lighting when they erect a 237-foot-tall "moonlight tower" to illuminate downtown.

On December 28, at about 11:30 pm, in Tombstone, Arizona, Virgil Earp was ambushed as he walked from the Oriental Saloon to his room. Though not killed, he was crippled for life. After the shootout near the O.K. Corral, the Earps relocate their families to the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

On the day after the ambush Marshal Virgil Earp, newspapers reported that "he was fired upon with double-barreled shotguns, loaded with buckshot, by three men concealed in an unfinished building diagonally across on Allen street."

Virgil was hit in the back and left arm by three loads of buckshot from about 50 to 60 feet away The Crystal Palace Saloon and the Eagle Brewery which were on the other side of Marshal Earp were hit with a large number of buckshot. In fact, it is said that three buckshot went through a window and landed about a foot over the heads of some of the men who were standing at a faro-table.

There was little doubt that the Clanton faction did the shooting. Ambushes and not straight out duels were the way enemies settled things more than not in the Old West.

In 1881, the Marlin Firearms Company was incorporated. Marlin-Ballard rifles are well-known for their accuracy and workmanship. It was that year that Marlin introduced their Model 1881 lever-action tubular magazine repeating rifle. This rifle was available in a variety of calibers including the big .45-70 Government. Marlin's Model 1881 lever action repeater was the first lever action that could handle big bore cartridges such as the .45-70. The Winchester didn't come out with a big bore lever action until 1886.  

In 1881, Reverend F.M. Warrington described the mining town of Bodie, California, as "a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion."

In that same year, the city directory of San Francisco included 233,959 residents, 428 restaurants, 342 oyster saloons, 18 oyster dealers, 90 coffee saloons, 299 bakeries, 254 retail butchers, 205 fresh fruit sellers, some 1400 grocers and an equal number of bars, 40 brewers and 15 champagne importers. One of those businesses was owned by Joseph Brandenstein who opened a coffee company in San Francisco. He named it after his son Michael J. Brandenstein and Co. The name was later shortened to MJB Inc.

In 1881, Fort Hays, Kansas, became the temporary home to the U.S. Army's "buffalo soldiers." 

It was during that year that Hawaii's King David Kalakaua embarked on a world tour with San Francisco as his first stop. The United States Navy provided him with a warship to make his world wide tour. 

Up in Oregon's Rogue River area, Henry Rosenbrook, also known as Dutch Henry, went on trial for murder. He homesteaded in the area, raised cattle, grew crops, and mined. Oregon's Dutch Henry was a German miner best known as the "Gangly Murderer." He was tried in 1881, but acquitted for the murders of his two mining partners. William Black was Dutch Henry's second victim. 

While it's believed that Dutch Henry murdered a large number of miners, he claimed they were all in "self defense." He was never convicted. He shouldn't be mistaken for Montana's outlaw bandit by the same alias of Dutch Henry.

In 1881, Frank Baum was the publisher of the South Dakota Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. Believe it or not, Braum called for the extermination of American Indians. He wrote, "Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the Earth."

Here's something to think about, Frank Baum later authored "The Wizard of Oz."

Tom Correa

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Gold Nuggets Can Be Found With Metal Detectors

A few years ago, I thought I lost a ring around my barn. I searched and searched and couldn't find it. While I knew that a very good metal detector can run a person anywhere from $600 to $800, some detectors come with all sorts of extras, including portable metal labs, and can reach into the thousands of dollars. Since I couldn't afford to spend that kind of money on a metal detector, I bought one for a couple of hundred dollars.

The Butte Nugget
No, I never did find my ring. But, all in all, I found a lot of nails, screws, nuts, bolts, and even an old watch. I also found that I didn't have the patients required to use a metal detector.

For those who do, big gold can be found with metal detectors. No kidding, big nuggets can be found. 

A beautiful gold nugget which weighed in at over 5 pounds was found with a metal detector. Imagine that. A solid gold nugget believed to be one of the largest gold discoveries in California in the past century was found in the summer of 2014 by an prospector using a metal detector.

Known as "The Butte Nugget," the confirmed weight of the solid gold nugget was 75 troy ounces. The nugget has no quartz inclusions and gold from this area is generally very high purity. What's amazing is that the guy who found is said to have been expecting to dig up a piece of iron when his detector went off. Instead, he turned up a find of a lifetime.

No one was dumb enough to say the exact location of the find, but it's believed that the monster nugget was found somewhere in Butte County, California. And if Butte County, California, sounds familiar, it should. From November 8th to the 25th of 2018, a major wildfire which became known as the "Camp Fire" destroyed most of the town of Paradise. That fire killed more than eighty people, and over 50,000 people in that county were displaced. That fire also wiped out 150,000 acres, and destroyed nearly 20,000 buildings. Today, the "Camp Fire" is known as California's most destructive and deadliest fire on record.

As for gold in Butte County, it was one of the original 19 counties that made up the State of California in 1850 for a reason. Since its beginning, it was a major producer of gold in the state. In fact, many millions of ounces of gold have been found there since the early days of the California Gold Rush.

For those who think all of the gold in California is gone, think again. It's said the state still has excellent potential for gold prospecting. Of course, huge discoveries like "The Butte Nugget" is proof that there are still some really big nuggets out there just waiting to be dug up. As for the worth of "The Butte Nugget," supposedly it was sold for $400,000.

So now you're thinking, what's the chances of that happening? Well, though rare, it's certainly not impossible to make such a find with a metal detector. Take for example the solid gold nugget known as "The Boot of Cortez."

The Boot of Cortez
"The Boot of Cortez" is another example of a prospector heading out to search for gold with a metal detector. In fact, it is said that the guy who found it was using an inexpensive metal detector that he bought from Radio Shack.

The story goes that he was from Senora, Mexico, about 70 miles south of the Arizona border. In 1989, he went to a Radio Shack and bought a cheap metal detector. Then, he simply went out seeing what he could find.

Though not an expensive detector, and what it was able to find was questionable at first, he started finding nails, a few shell casings, and the basic discarded nuts and bolts. Of course none of that stopped him from continuing his hunt. In fact, he actually kept going because he was finding all sorts of things that most would describe as junk.

His persistence paid off one morning when he got a big hit on an object. The large signal from his detector was unusual to say the least. Some say he thought it was a horseshoe. Others say he thought he found a buried metal box because it was so large. To his surprise, he found and dug up a huge solid gold nugget.

Appropriately, due to its shape resembling the boot of a Spanish conquistador, it's been named the Boot of Cortez. And yes, it was found using a cheap metal detector. Of course such huge nuggets like the Boot of Cortez are exceptionally rare. In fact, it is the largest existing gold nugget found in the western hemisphere -- actually taking that title form a solid gold nugget found in Alaska.

So now you're asking, How can that be the largest gold nugget if it was only found in 1989? Well, that's a legitimate question. The answer to that has to do with the fact that there have been larger nuggets found during the early California Gold Rush -- but they have all been melted down and sold for their gold content. The Boot of Cortez is the largest existing gold nugget.

One reason that the Boot of Cortez wasn't found earlier is because Mexico hasn't been prospected as much as other areas. Mexico is actually rich in gold and other valuable minerals. While there are some very large gold mining operations in Mexico that are in operation today, and there are currently mining operations that are producing considerable amounts of gold, fact is that the harsh desert climate limits searching for gold.

Because of the lack of water, the only realistic mining methods for prospectors looking for gold on a small-scale are metal detectors and dry washers. Dry washers use a mechanical apparatus to separate  free particles of placer gold from dry sediments.

Gold nuggets like the Boot of Cortez are highly collectable, if for no other reason than the fact that they are exceedingly rare. At 389 troy ounces, the prospector sold it to his boss for $30,000. It has changed hands over the years, and the last recorded public sale of the Boot of Cortez was in January of 2008 where it sold at auction for over $1.5 million. Many experts consider the Boot of Cortez to be finest solid gold nugget of its king in existence today. That is especially true due to its high purity gold.

I find it interesting that these nuggets remained in place for millions of years, up until the day that someone with a metal detector came along to find them. While I've read stories of prospectors with metal detectors finding all sorts of small nuggets here and there, this all makes me wonder if there are other gold nuggets out there, even bigger, just waiting to be found. It's a safe bet that there are. 

Tom Correa

Friday, November 8, 2019

Unknown California Ghost Towns -- Part One

Johnsville, California, circa 1890

I was recently talking with a friend about the town of Johnsville, California. Located in Plumas County. At an elevation of 5,180 feet, the old town sits in the heart of what is today Plumas-Eureka State Park. In fact, it actually became a part of the state park back in 1959.

As for the name Johnsville, it was made official in 1876 when the town was named after William Johns who was the well respected manager of the Plumas-Eureka mine there at the time.

The mining town of Johnsville was the site of a gold strike in 1849. That made it one of the earliest discoveries of gold in California when the rush was just getting started. Fact is, the folks there were placer mining in 1849. Then in 1851, the Eureka vein was discovered and the town boomed. And while the value of the total output of that mining district is really unknown, some believe the production of that area to be somewhere between $10 million and $20 million worth of gold.

Let's keep in mine that we're talking about 10 to 20 million dollars worth of gold at about $26 an ounce. So knowing that, just imaging how much gold was recovered from that area? Yes, tons!

Besides mining, the area was a well-known early-day "snowshoe" or ski resort area. And while we are all too familiar with the California wildfires in the news these days, we all hear them taking place these days in just about everywhere in California, such fires are really nothing new to California. The area of Johnsville is said to have been it with a number of disastrous fires.

Of course, as with most other mining towns, when the mines petered out, the people left. Today, the town of Johnville has a population of 20. That makes it an official ghost town.

Mormon Island, California, is another little know ghost town that was once a mining town. Located in Sacramento County, it was named Mormon Island because of the large number of Mormon miners looking for gold in the American River during the California Gold Rush. 

The story of their gold discovery is interesting because they stumbled on it. That took place in March of 1848 when a couple of members of the Mormon Battalion left Sutter's Fort to hunt deer. The story goes that they stopped on the south fork of the American River to fill their canteens when they found gold. 

Supposedly, they told others about what they found when they returned to the fort. Well, as anyone can imaging, it didn't take long for almost 200 Mormons and others to return to where that gold was found. Soon enough, that area became known as Mormon Island. And really, one of the reasons that this find is so interesting is because that was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall's initial discovery of gold at Coloma. 

As for the town of Mormon Island? Well, the population boomed to 2,500 by 1853. It's said that there were four hotels, three dry-goods and five general stores, it had an express office, a blacksmith's shop, two livery stables, a number of restaurants, and other small shops there. Supposedly, the first actually Ball to take place in Sacramento County was held there on December 25, 1849. 

As with Johnsville and other towns in the Old West, including Dodge City and Tombstone, a fire ravaged the town. For Mormon Island, their fire hit in 1856. Sadly, unlike Dodge and Tombstone, the town was never rebuilt. Technically, the town didn't have enough people left there not to call it a ghost town. 

Then when the Folsom Dam Project was started in the late 1940s, the town was flooded over. And while during droughts Folsom Lake drops to expose a few of the old structures of the town, most of the town remains underwater. Of course, there is the Mormon Island Cemetery which was relocated south of the Folsom Lake on the dry side of the Mormon Island Dam. The Mormon Island Cemetery may give people the impression that only Mormon immigrants and pioneers are buried there, but that's not the case. That cemetery also contains the re-interned remains from other cemeteries that were flooded over. 

Some of the folks buried in that cemetery are from the town of Prairie City. If you've never heard of Prairie City, California, you're not alone. Prairie City was a gold-mining town that was also located  on the American River here in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Yes, it was near what is today the City of Folsom.

What happened to the town of Prairie City? Well, when the mining petered out, the town simply died. It went from a town of hundreds to just a few within a 30 to 40 year span. Then in the early 1900's, what was left of the town is believed to have been covered in river rocks from gold dredging of the American River. 

The town itself was forgotten until the construction of a freeway on-ramp began on Highway 50 in Folsom. During the moving of earth during the construction of that on-ramp, bodies were unearthed. Soon enough, a lot of bodies were unearthed. Though the names of those people are known only to God, it's believed that those folks were residents of Prairie City. 

Their skeletal remains were re-interned at the Mormon Island Cemetery. Today, the only note that Prairie City itself ever existed is an off-ramp in Folsom known as Prairie City Road. It leads to a Folsom subdivision named Prairie Oaks which is believed to be where the old town once stood.

For me, I find it interesting that not all ghost towns are easily found such as is the case of Johnsville located out in the wilderness of Plumas-Eureka State Park. I also find it interesting that some old towns only make an appearance now and then during a drought after years of sitting under some lake or reservoir. Then there are those towns that may have simply been plowed over, paved over, or simply blown away by the elements of time. For them, I can only wonder about the people who lived and died there. 

Tom Correa

Monday, November 4, 2019

Democrats Have Convinced Me To Vote For Trump In 2020

President Trump has focused on fixing our economy and working to make our nation a manufacturing giant once again. He has worked tirelessly to create low unemployment, and has taken on our global adversaries for us. Yes, on our behalf. Let that sink in, on our behalf.

He has accomplished a great deal of good for us while putting our concerns ahead of that of the rest of the world. These are things Americans have wanted, and we finally get it in President Trump.

But that's not the primary reason that I will vote to re-elect President Trump in 2020. I will vote for President Trump because Democrats have viciously and relentlessly sought to impeach him since he was elected in 2016.

Democrats started going after President Trump, and those of us who support him, before he took his oath of office. And sadly, Democrats have worked against our economic recovery while consciously refusing to work with him to keep us safe, secure, or prosperous. In fact, as pathetic as it is, Democrats have worked to shutdown businesses and attacked corporations who employ Americans. All while attempting to instill economic uncertainty among we the American people.

Shamefully, Democrats have done this while fostering hate, division, and violence throughout America. In fact, Democrats and the mainstream media which they control have done everything in their power to stop us from having a more harmonious nation since the 2016 Election. Their slanderous, unsubstantiated attacks, unfounded as they are, are all designed to increase discontent and hate among Americans. And it never stops!

Because of this, because of what Democrats have been doing since the 2016 Election, because of their drive to overturn the 2016 Election through "impeachment without cause," because I see Democrats as the real enemy of the American people as demonstrated by their actions, Democrats have convinced me to Vote for President Donald Trump again in 2020.

So now, for my readers who have written to ask why I'm voting for President Trump in 2020, there's my answer. If I lose you as a reader because you think that somehow what the Democrats have done is justifiable, than so be it. Frankly, I have to wonder about the value system, the basic character, the integrity of anyone supporting the hate and the underhanded viciousness of the Democrat Party today.

Tom Correa 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A Handgun or Rifle for Self Defense

After reading my article on The Rifleman, a reader wrote to ask if carrying a handgun is really a good option for self-defense. My reader insisted that having a rifle is the way to go. He asserted that carrying a rifle would accomplish more than carrying a handgun in a lot of ways.

He wrote to say, "a handgun is less accurate and less powerful than a rifle. A handgun has less of an effective range than a rifle, especially if your assailant is over 100 yards away. There's the added bonus of people wanting to leave you alone if they see you carrying a rifle."

Since he also wrote to say how he loves the Old West and would have loved to have lived during that time period, I thought he was referring to being armed in the Old West. And since I see the Old West time period as being between 1867 with the first cattle drives and 1916 just before World War One, I thought he was going to tell me his choice of rifle was one of the many different firearms makers back in the day.

Talking about his preference of rifle in the Old West, he said that he would prefer a "modern rifle" to pack on a daily basis. He went on to say that because of poor ballistics of period rounds and metallurgy of the weapons of the times, that he would want an AR-15 of some sort.

So OK, that's when I realized that he was just being flippant and messing with me. And no, I don't think he was serious. In fact, I know he's a collector of antique firearms and messes with me all the time over this and that.

But, for the sake of having something to write about other than history today, let's say he was serious. Of course he's right about a handgun being "less powerful than a rifle." Just as he is when he said, "a handgun has less of an effective range than a rifle, especially if your assailant is over 100 yards away." And yes, he's also right that "people will leave you alone if they see you carrying a rifle." While not the case so much in the Old West, that would certainly be the case today.

Of course, as an old Marine Grunt, I can tell you that I would prefer a rifle or a shotgun in a firefight when everything hits the fan. Let's be honest, like anyone, I'd want a rifle over a handgun if I knew that I was going into a combat situation that wasn't close quarters. In fact, it's a safe bet to say that any infantryman would want a rifle if going into a situation where you expect a firefight and it was in the open.

Some say a handgun is used as a weapon of last resort. Some say a handgun is used until we can get to a rifle or shotgun if things have gotten that out of hand. But all of this leads us to the question, should any of us arm ourselves for a military level combat situation on a daily basis? Yes, even if they were in what some perceive was a violent Old West? Which by the way, it wasn't that violent in comparison to what was taking place in the East. But that's a subject that I'd like to write about at another time.

For me, I carry a handgun because I would rather have a gun and not need it -- then to need a gun and not have it. Since most assaults take place between 3 to 7 feet, with 20 to 25 feet being the farthest, a handgun is the idea weapon for what's needed in that circumstance. That hasn't changed and is also how it was back in the Old West. And while handguns are the weapons of choice by criminals, handguns are excellent self defense equalizers because they are effective in close combat situations as I just mentioned.

And let's be frank here, if a threat is far enough away that we'd need a rifle -- then a jury wouldn't see it as a threat at all. Most juries would not see us in mortal danger if a threat is too far away. That's just how they look at it. That's where justifying the use of a rifle can be difficult.

Now, I realized that someone out there is going to think that I'm bad mouthing the use of an AR-15. Well, I assure you all that that's not the case. In fact, I was just reading a news story about a man who used an AR-15 against multiple intruders during a home invasion. He needed all of the firepower that he could muster against multiple assailants to keep his family safe. I tip my hat to him.

I have rifles and shotguns at my home for self defense purposes. It is a fact that I can get to any of them before getting to a pistol when I'm at home. And as for having a ranch rifle in my truck, I did for years before getting my CCW. So please, don't think this post is bad mouthing the use of a rifle or a shotgun for self defense. Fact is, while there is a place for every weapon, what's I'm talking about here is simply the practicality of walking around with an AR-15 platform as one's carry gun. I don't see that as very practical at all.

The practical aspects of handguns are overwhelming. Simply put, they are a great self defense equalizer simply because they enable anybody, regardless of age, sex, or strength level, the ability to defend themselves while using deadly force. Because of that, and concealability, handguns are used in thousands of self-defense situations and have saved countless lives. 

As for the limitations of carrying a handgun? Handguns cannot be carried everywhere. Like it or not, there are legal restrictions as to where we can and can't carry a gun. Besides airports and courthouses, most all government buildings forbid carrying a handgun on their premises. But then again, the same goes for someone carrying any sort of gun on their premises, rifle, shotgun, bb gun, musket, you name it. Even back in the Old West, officers were known to search people upon entering courtrooms. That's especially true after a few gun battles that took place in courtrooms back in the day. 

Unlike Lucas McCain in The Rifleman, it's not very wise to carry a rifle around with us on a daily basis without frightening people. In the Old West, people did. But they also put them up with the bartender or local law, especially in towns that had no carry laws. And again, let's be honest, more and more towns were adopting such laws as more and more Easterners came West to "civilize" the frontier. Of course, many were escaping the violent East. But as I said before, that discussion is for another day.

Fact is, in the hands of a citizen who has sought training, a handgun is all anyone will need in most self defense situations. Handguns have been a good fit for most all self defense situations and have served the purpose which they were designed for. Yes, close combat. Proof of this is in the statistics that show armed citizens are more likely to escape being robbed, raped, or assaulted than that of unarmed citizens. 

As for the deterrence aspect of handguns, studies show that a large percentage of felons are actually frightened by armed citizens, felons seldom if ever commit crimes on citizens who they believe are armed, felons are more concerned about being shot by an armed citizen than by the police, and felons are in fact afraid of the unseen handgun in the hands of a citizen trained in its use.

It is said that using a firearm is the last resort when no other option is left. So while we may not carry a rifle like Lucas McCain did in The Rifleman, a convenient, easy to conceal, easy to carry handgun is an undeniable self defense equalizer. And in an emergency, it may mean the difference between life and death. 

Tom Correa