Monday, June 1, 2020

Two Union Soldiers Named Jacob Miller


Jacob C. Miller was born on August 4, 1840, in Bellevue, Ohio. His parents were John R. Miller (1801–1868) and Christiana Alspaugh Miller (1807–1870). 

During the Civil War, he volunteered and served with the Union Army in Company G, 113th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Her rose to the rank of Sgt., and is said to have served exceptionally. After the war, Miller became a laborer, than a "house carpenter," and later a mail carrier. He lived in Illinois for a while, but then settled in Nebraska. He married Martha Adelia Homan Miller who was born in New York on February 25, 1846. It's believed they were married in either 1868 or 1870.

Some sources say he had a daughter, Lottie, and two sons, Percival and William. I couldn't find any trace of a daughter or a second son. From what I can find, their only child was a son, William Eugene Miller. who was born on October 6, 1871. Sadly, William died a mere ten days after his 8th birthday on October 16, 1879.

Jacob C. Miller lived until the age of 76 when he died in Omaha, Nebraska. He passed away on January 13, 1917. He was buried in the Cedar Dale Cemetery in Papillion, Nebraska. When his wife Martha passed away a few years later in 1923, she was interred with her loving husband.

Jacob, Martha, and William are buried together in a family plot in the Cedar Dale Cemetery in Papillion, Nebraska. There is a headstone for William, and a smaller marker for Jacob and Martha. Along side both is a headstone that has the words Medal of Honor inscribed just beneath Jacob C. Miller's name.

Yes, Jacob was a Medal of Honor recipient for bravery during the Civil War. In fact, during the Siege of Vicksburg, Miller is said to have volunteered for a dangerous mission that meant almost certain death. As amazing as it was, he survived and was later awarded our nation's highest honor. 


It's true. This Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient served in the Union Army in Company G, 113th Illinois Infantry during the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on May 22, 1863. The battle involved a long siege of the Confederate forces defending a very important position on the Mississippi River. Whoever controlled that position, controlled Vicksburg and would ultimately control the vital supply line of the Mississippi River.

General Ulysses S. Grant was in command of the Union forces at Vicksburg. What became known as the Siege of Vicksburg started on May 18, 1863 and lasted until July 4, 1863. It was considered a decisive Union victory. There were over 77,000 Union soldiers at the siege of Vicksburg. During the repeated assaults and 47-day siege, the fighting was fierce and cost in blood was high. As a result, 120 Union soldiers earned Medals of Honor.

Miller was a member of a small group of volunteers that charged the Confederate lines. In fact, it's said that he was at the head of his attacking force where the enemy fire was the heaviest and the odds of his making it through alive were not in his favor. Yet, he survived the charge. Years later, on August 20, 1894, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry in the face of the enemy.

During the month of May at Vicksburg, the union forces tried on several occasions to storm the city. One of the charges against the Confederate redoubts was taken up by volunteers. It would become known as the “charge of the volunteer storming party.” Among those who volunteered was Jacob Miller. It was during this charge that Miller was cited for his audacious courage and awarded the Medal of Honor.

So about now you're saying, tell us how Jacob C. Miller was shot in the head and lived? Tell us about the picture atop this article with him wearing the Medal of Honor? 

Well, while the Internet says that Jacob C. Miller was shot in the head? The Internet is wrong. Jacob C. Miller who won the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Siege of Vicksburg is not the man in the above picture. Jacob C. Miller is not the man with a bullet hold in his forehead. The picture below is Jacob C. Miller.


The picture of a man with a hole in his head is Jacob Miller. Just not Medal of Honor recipient Jacob C. Miller. 

As for the decoration that looks like the Medal of Honor? Well, it's not the Civil War-era Medal of Honor. The medal that he is wearing is actually the medal of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) which was a fraternal organization that was formed after the Civil War by Union veterans for the benefit of Union veterans. The GAR medal looks almost exactly like what the Civil War-era Medal of Honor looked like.

The story of the second Jacob Miller is fairly amazing in my book. He was born in Indiana in 1838 and enlisted in the Union Army's 9th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in 1861. I couldn't find out much more than that regarding his personal life. 

Of course, according to some sources, he saw a lot of action during the Civil War. Yes, several skirmishes and battles, including the Battle of Chickamauga. That battle was fought from September 18th to the 20th, 1863. It was end of a Union offensive, called the Chickamauga Campaign, in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia. The battle of Chickamauga didn't turn out well for the Union. It was a Confederate victory. 

That battle is regarded as the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. And here's something else, the Battle of Chickamauga resulted in the second-highest number of casualties. It is only second to the Battle of Gettysburg. 

It was during the Battle of Chickamauga in a forest along the Chickamauga Creek in Georgia that a Confederate musket ball struck the second Jacob Miller right in the forehead. The story is that he was hit at the exact moment that he was aiming his rifle.

Because of the Union forces were retreating, the second Jacob Miller was left for dead. Frankly, it's not too hard to think he was done for after getting shot in the head. That round laid him out. He was completely unconscious and looked to be dead as his comrades were retreating. It is said that he came to later and immediately realized that he was where he shouldn't be. He was in the midst of Union and Confederate dead at the what was the rear of the Confederate line.

As we can see by the picture of him in his old age, he lived to tell the tale of what happened. In fact, he recounted his experience to The Daily News of Joliet, Illinois, on June 14, 1911. It was at that time that he said how he woke and after realizing where he was, he feared becoming a prisoner of war.

It was then that he used his rifle as a crutch and started walking. Covered with blood, he said he walked and "those that I met did not notice that I was a Yank."

He walked until he came upon a road which he followed. Exhausted, he laid down by the side of the road and passed out again. Passing ambulance bearers found him. They put him on a stretcher to a wagon that carried him to the Union field hospital. 

In that 1911 newspaper interview, Jacob Miller recalled how he was laying in the hospital tent. He said, "a hospital nurse arrived and put a wet bandage over my wound and around my head and gave me a canteen of water. The surgeons examined my wound and decided it was best not to operate on me and give me more pain as they said I couldn’t live very long, so the nurse took me back into the tent. I slept some during the night. The next morning, the doctors came around to make a list of the wounded and said they were sending all the wounded to Chattanooga, Tennessee. But they told me I was wounded too bad to be moved."

The Army doctors told him that Jacob that if he was taken prisoner, that he could be exchanged later. Even with a bullet still in his head, he knew better than to let that happen. After hearing the doctor, he left on his own to make his way to Chattanooga. He knew the treatment troops got as prisoners of war. He knew his chances of survival were slim if he were taken. So he left and walked until he passed out along side a road.

A wagons taking the wounded to Chattanooga came by and saw him. The drivers loaded him in the wagon. He passed out again in the wagon. He woke the next day in Chattanooga. From there, he made his way to another hospital in Nashville. From there, he was transferred to an Army hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Then, he was sent to another hospital in New Albany, Indiana. 

During this whole time, he kept asking doctors to remove the bullet. He said, "In all the hospitals I was in, I begged the surgeons to operate on my head but they all refused.”

After nine months of suffering, Jacob Miller met with two doctors who agreed to operate on his still open wound. It was then the doctors took out the musket ball. Jacob Miller remained in the hospital until his enlistment ended on September 17, 1864.

But that's not the end of the story of what happened to Jacob Miller. Fact is, there was more than just a musket ball in Jacob's forehead. As he stated in that 1911 newspaper interview, "Seventeen years after I was wounded, a buck shot dropped out of my wound. And thirty one years after, two pieces of lead came out."

During that interview, Jacob Miller wanted readers to know that he hasn't doing the interview to complain about his suffering, or about what happened, or his treatment, or even to blame anyone for leaving him when everyone was retreating. He simply thought he would relate what happened to him during the Civil War fighting for the Union. In fact, he made no qualms about how grateful he was to the government, saying, "The government is good to me and gives me $40.00 per month pension."

And for you folks who might be curious, $40 in 1911 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1,079.53 in 2020. To give you an idea of how that $40 was spent, typical prices for 1911 for food included a loaf of bread for 7 cents, a dozen eggs for 34 cents, a quart of milk for 9 cents, a pound of steak for 26 cents, and renting a room would cost about $2 a week. So for a disabled veteran at the time, $40 must have seems like enough to get him by. And if he had a job, he was that better off.

By the way, Jacob Miller died sometime in 1927.

So there you have two Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Both named Jacob Miller. In reality, that's probably a fairly common name for those days or today. One was a Medal of Honor recipient, the other was a man who proved miracles do happen. 

Tom Correa 




Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Memorial Day Visit


"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

                           For The Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon

When I was much younger and fresh out of the Marine Corps in the late 1970s, I remember driving by a cemetery full of American flags and what looked to be a Memorial Day observance taking place. The sight, the color, the breeze, the movement atop every grave, the sight of the people gatthered, all grabbed me for a second. I pulled in and stopped. After getting out, I found that I just missed the ceremony.

For some reason, I started walking the graves, reading the stones, the names, the dates, seeing which were veterans, from which war. Of course wondering if there were those my age when they died.

A few rows over from where I was, I saw an old woman sitting on a stone bench just looking at a headstone. She said quietly just taking in the moment. Though there were many others there that day, for some reason, she looked over at me and nodded with a small smile. I smiled back and nodded my hello. In her hands was a rosary and what looked like some tissue.

I have no idea why, but for some reason I found myself slowly making my way over to her. I don't know if it was curiosity and my wanting to see the stone she was looking at so peacefully. I don't know if I just wanted to see what branch he was in, that is assuming that he served. For whatever reason, I found myself drawn to the old woman side.

She looked up at me, then she said, "He's my husband."

I nodded looking at the stone, seeing his name, his rank, his branch of service, his war, and the date he passed. The sentiment on the bottom. I noted the empty space on the stone, and figured that it was for her.

"He died after being home for only a few months," she sighed. "He was wounded and shipped back to the states. We all thought he would be fine. At least that's what we told ourselves. That's what we kept telling him to give him hope. You can't lose hope."

I listened, and didn't say a word.

"He was overseas. Almost thirty, he was older than most of the others. He was a good Soldier." She smiled still very proud of him. "He was a good man. He liked the service. He did his job. He did his part. We all did in those days. We did what was needed."

She took in a breath and slowly sighed again, "We were married for a few years when the war broke out. We were happy to have jobs again. Times had been so tough. And we had so many plans. Of course, one day, well one day we'll be together again. But until then."

I listened and simply nodded in agreement. I looked at her, and watched the years in her eyes as a tear streamed down her cheek. She shook her head a little as if shaking off a regret and reached over to squeeze my hand. Here was this old woman who I didn't know. And for a moment, she seemed so frail and worn beyond her years. It was as if she were tired from waiting. And she needed to be there and tell a stranger their story.

"After he enlisted, we had only a short time together before going overseas. I was a real camp follower because we knew he might not come back, and we wanted as much time together when we could. We didn't talk about that. But of course, that didn't matter. I understood why he needed to go. He wasn't a shirker. No, not him. When he was needed, he went. He was gone for two years. Then when he came home. Well, so many surgeries later, he still died."

She reached up to wipe a tear. "He died for me, our daughter, our grandchildren. For all of us I guess. He is still the man of my dreams. He's still my hero. After all of these years, I still miss him."

I said. "Lest we forget. He should not be forgotten. There's nothing wrong with being always faithful. It's just right."

Her eyes met mine and she smiled hearing what I said. Again she reached over and this time clutched my hand, and said, "Thank you for that." Then she slowly stood. "God bless you. Thank you for that."

Her grandson who was over talking with some friends came over to help her. He said, "Thanks," and shock my hand. Then said, "She still misses grandpa. Especially today. It's their anniversary."

As they walked to their car, I thought about what the day is all about, those who were killed overseas, those who passed away after returning. I also thought about her love for him. Her pain of missing him still. Her missing him after so many years.

Things seemed to stand almost at a still while she reminisced for those few moment and tell me of her love. Soon, I again looked at the small flags caught in the breeze. It was Memorial Day, and in the distance I watched flag bearers and a civilian honor guard still present from a ceremony which must have ended just before I arrived.

I couldn't help but think about the honor guards that I've been a part of while in the Corps. For a moment, I thought about the funerals, the ceremonies, and how the speakers always talked about love of country and those who make the ultimate sacrifice. They talk about the history of Memorial Day and why it's so important for us to observe those who made sure our freedoms are intact -- about how it's our responsibility to not let their deeds nor their sacrificed be forgotten, how we should not forget them.

That was more than 40 years ago. I still remember the woman in her late-sixties who seemed older than her years. The loving wife who still wept for her beloved husband gone more than 30 years before. I remember how she missed him still.

She held on to the promise that we will again be united with those we love. While I believe that those who are dear to us do not stop loving us just because they die, we must do the same and not stop loving them because they have gone before us. While I have no idea if she's still with us, I believe her husband knew how much she loved him, how proud of him she still was, and how she still saw him as her hero.

For me, every once in a while, when I pass a graveyard on Memorial Day weekend, I'll see the flags and wonder if there is another loved one missing their hero. After all, they should not be forgotten. And frankly, there's nothing wrong with being always faithful. It's just right.

Lest we forget.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

A Message From Merced County Sheriff Warnke

Merced County, California, Sheriff Warnke
It has come to our attention that there has been some rumors about a letter sent to the State of California and if it was actually authored by Sheriff Warnke. Well, we are here to tell you IT WAS and you can read it below.

My “Official” stance regarding this is explained as follows;

When this Pandemic first came to light and our nation took the stance to “shelter in place” I was skeptical but supported any effort to protect our citizens from this disease. This included having to deal with a local church pastor who defied his order.

As time marched on, it became very apparent that decisions were being made on what “could happen” but hasn’t come close to the “predictions” that are being fed to our citizens. “We are going to peak within the next two weeks!”

This has been the battle cry for two months. I even went so far as to secure equipment to house all the bodies that were to overrun my county due to COVID based on what was being reported out of the Governor’s Office. Guess what, it still hasn’t occurred.

You know what “could happen” each day? Car crashes, airplane crashes, food poisoning, LE getting ambushed, and I could keep going!! But we as citizens continue to face these “could happens” each day. The world is a very dangerous place and we face it daily knowing the risks. But here in America, we decide what chances to take based on any risk factor and that includes going to work as a cop for the last 41 years.

The Constitution gives us that right. I doubt that the Governor would ever take a job where the dangers are as constant as they are in my CHOSEN profession. But I, along with millions of men and women do this every day knowing the risks.

Nobody has the right to dictate what risks I’m going to take when I leave my house and this includes an elected governor. If I go to a business and I feel that the risk is to high, I can make a choice whether or not to do business there. And this includes getting a haircut or getting a routine dental checkup.

When Governor Newsom took to the airwaves and then singled out a county because they didn’t follow his orders and treated them differently, it became obvious to me that this whole lock down was based upon him being able to have control over the citizens of this state.

He is treating this state’s counties as he has claimed to be treated by the President in the very recent past. That statement also pointed out that different counties have different issues and should be treated independently and not covered under one blanket. That statement is a fact whether or not there is a pandemic.

He is using the Public Health director as his authority in an attempt to maintain control over the citizens based solely on what “could happen” keeping in mind that the PH Director reports directly to him. Governor Newsom now threatens the different local jurisdictions regarding funding if they don’t follow his orders.

Didn’t he sue the President for holding funding due to him defying the President’s orders?

Our current situation is reflective of a short statement I recently read that seems to fit here; “If the barn yard were to hold an election, the cows, chickens, pigs and horses would vote for the hand that feeds them. Even though that same hand will eventually lead them to slaughter” Hmmm. That’s what is happening here in this state and possibly other states.

Economic slaughter is what we are facing because of his continuous behavior to keep this nation’s greatest state economy from thriving. The majority of the citizens are on the verge of a state wide revolt because they are losing the possibility to regain their businesses because of the tremendous financial loss they suffered.

I truly believe that Governor Newsom’s motivation is to have the majority of the citizens (and illegal residents) dependant on governments assistance so he could maintain this control once this “pandemic” is declared over. This is being caused based upon a crisis he himself has caused in this state based on a declared pandemic on a virus that should have been dealt on a completely different level. The CURE should not be worse than the disease.

So, the answer you are looking for is this. I WILL NOT be taking any enforcement action in this county for any of the COVID-19 “violations”.

As the Governor has also directed the Sheriff’s to release felons onto our streets and LE in general to completely disregard the safety of our citizens by not allowing most felons from even being booked but then wants us in LE to arrest people for standing closer than 6 feet or worshiping their religious beliefs in a building.

My decision is based on the Constitutional Rights afforded our citizens and I as the Constitutional Law Enforcement Authority in Merced County, I am here to uphold them. The citizens themselves can make informed decisions on how to proceed and protect their lives and livelihood and not the Governor of a state.

Remember that the people elected a governor, not an emperor.

Sheriff Vernon H. Warnke
Merced County, California


Editors Note:

I'm posting his message here because Merced County Sheriff Warnke represents all freedom loving Americans who have we the people's best interest in mind. Of course, let's keep in mind that the dilemma for most officers is keeping their jobs and feeding their families while knowingly enforcing orders to arrest Americans who have not committed a crime -- orders from mayors and governors who would not hesitate firing an officer who refuses to carry out their edicts.

While police chiefs are political appointees and the state police agencies like the California Highway Patrol answers to the governor, county sheriffs are voted into office by we the people. I truly believe that's the reason sheriffs departments aren't "just following orders" while other department are when it comes to enforcing the edicts of the mayors and governors. 

Remember this, their edicts are not laws. Kings, Queens, Emperors, and Dictators issue edicts, proclamations and decrees. Edicts are not laws because laws are passed by legislatures. If governors are concerned about our safety and upholding their oath to protect and defend our rights, they would call for sessions of their legislatures and passed laws. Laws can be challenged in court. 

Instead, Americans are now in a position of being arrested for challenging the edicts of governors and mayors no differently than what takes place in dictatorial nations. And sadly, there are law enforcement agencies who are enforcing those edicts just as if laws are being violated when no crimes are being committed. Thankfully, the majority of America's county sheriffs are not.   

It's great Americans like Merced County Sheriff Warnke that should give us hope for our future.

Tom Correa
Editor/Publisher
The American Cowboy Chronicles






Monday, May 18, 2020

The Camp Grant Massacre 1871


As with police departments when there's a drop in the crime rate, and the military during peacetime, budgets get slashed and allocations are cut. That situation was what the people in Tucson, Arizona, saw happening when the reduction of Indian hostilities took place in that area in the early 1870s.

It was a region that feared an economic crisis because the Federal government saw the cessation of hostilities as a good reason to reduce funding for operations meant to pacify and control the Apaches. It's said that Tucson as a whole enjoyed a sense of prosperity as a result of the "blankets for peace" government program. The economy there was as dependent on war with the Indians as some cities today are dependent on automakers keeping their plants operating.

It's not a new story at all. It's a story that was played out in the Old West time and time again. When that which feeds the local economy stops being there, businesses fail, people lose their jobs, and ghost towns are all that's left. When the cattle drives dried up, so did several of the cowtowns that cheated and hated the drovers young and old. Of the ones that survived, it was usually due to people staying put and finding other means of industry. For example, when mines went bust so did mining towns. The town of Tombstone can thank Hollywood and tourist for keeping that town alive.

In early 1871, there were those in Arizona who saw it their civic duty to increase hostilities with the Indians -- just to stoke public fear and get the Federal government to increase federal funding to keep the troops there and the "blankets for peace" program intact. 

Fort Grant was established in August 1860 in the Arizona Territory as outpost named Fort Breckinridge. In 1871, Fort Grant, also known as Camp Grant, was a sun-scorched collection of assorted adobe buildings. Located about 50 miles Northeast of Tucson, it sat at the convergence of the San Pedro River and Aravaipa Creek. It was a place the Apache knew as their home long before their tribe had been driven away by American soldiers. The prelude to the massacre started in February of 1871 when five starving Aravaipa Apache women arrived at Camp Grant seeking sanctuary. 

Early in 1871, 37-year-old First Lieutenant Royal Emerson Whitman assumed command of Camp Grant. Lt. Royal Whitman was the officer in charge of the Post and he decided that they could settle at the Camp after meeting with them. In reality, he took them in as "prisoners of war. In that way they would be under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army. Of course, by his allowing them to settle at the camp, he and the U.S.Army became responsible for their protection and providing them with the food they needed.

Soon, over 500 more Aravaipas arrived at the fort. Led by Chief Eskiminzin, he requested that the Apaches be allowed to grow crops along the creek so they they could help feed their people. Lt. Whitman gave them permission to do so and even arranged for the Apaches to work as ranchhands for local ranchers -- all so that the Indians could earn money and assimilate into American society.

The Apaches saw this as an opportunity to lead happy peaceful live on their home territory beside the creek that had provided their water. This was a huge change for the Apache who knew that living near white settlers always brought problems. But since the U.S. Army in this situation was now their protector, they hoped this time would be different. Sadly, it wasn't.

By March, things started to erupt for the worse. A renegade band of Indians attacked a baggage train and two men were murdered. The renegades who some say were Yavapais Indians and not Apache Indians also stole 16 mules in the raid. Later that month, a rancher was killed and a Mexican woman from the south of Tucson was kidnapped. Soon old fears were inflamed and outraged residents of Tucson sent representatives to see U.S.Army Gen. George Stoneman for protection. 

Gen. Stoneman was responsible for all military policies in the Arizona Territory. He had stationed his 3rd Calvary northeast of Tucson. Though the people of Tucson saw this as his leaving them without military protection, Gen. Stoneman did not move his troops closer to Tucson.

A few weeks later in early April, another Indians again raid took place on ranch. This time 19 head of cattle were stolen. Word of the raid got to the people of Tucson and immediately the citizenry gathered. Even after realizing that the news of the attack was delivered by Papagos Indians who were the sworn enemy of the Apaches, a large posse was organized to go after any and all Arivaipa Apache Indians. 

By the end of the posse's first day out, they found and killed an old Indian man who was identified as being an Arivaipa Apache from Camp Grant. The posse was not as fortunate later in skirmishes with renegades. In those battles, three whites were killed about 30 miles from Camp Grant. They returned to Tucson with little to show for their efforts against the renegades. 

On April 30th, 1871, things would go horribly wrong for the Arivaipa Apache at Camp Grant. Two days before that on April 28th, 148 Arizonans, comprised of six Americans, 48 Mexicans, and 94 San Xavier Papagos Indians began to leave Tucson a few at a time to avoid suspicion. 

Their leader was an Americans by the name of William S. Oury. He organizer of the raid. Oury was known as an easily angered Virginian, and he had fought in the Texas war for independence including serving at the Alamo and in the Mexican War. The leader of the Mexicans was a skilled tracker by the name of Jesus Elias. Apaches had recently attacked the Elias homestead, killing two of Elias’ brothers. So yes, Jesus Elias had a score to settle -- and it didn't matter if the Indians that he would kill had anything to do with killing his brothers.

The 6 Americans and 48 Mexicans were joined by 94 San Xavier Papagos Indians led by their chief Francisco. They hated Apaches and welcomed the chance to rid the earth of them. It was an age old hatred that may have been around before the first Europeans stepped foot on North American soil.

The 148 Arizonan raiders were armed to the teeth and headed for Camp Grant to inflict as much death on the Arivaipa Apache as humanly possible. They were not after the raiding renegades. They simply wanted to exterminate Apache -- their being peaceful didn't matter.

After traveling for two days under the cover of darkness, the raiders arrived at Camp Grant. Hiram Stevens, a friend of Oury's stood guard at the intersection of the road to Camp Grant to prevent any early warning and detection, while the raiders gathered outside the camp where the Apaches slept. 

There, just before dawn of April 30, 1871, eight Arivaipa Apache men and 110 Arivaipa Apache women and children were brutally murdered in the brief span of 30 minutes. It's true, the Papagos Indians used clubs and lances while the Americans and Mexicans attackers used rifles and pistols to 118 Arivaipa Apache men, women and children in just 30 minutes. 

And besides the brutal attack, 28 Arivaipa Apache babies were kidnapped from the ghastly scene. Why steal the babies? To sale them in the child slave trade in Mexico. 

By the time Lt. Whitman got word that armed Arizonans intended to raid the Apaches at Camp Grant, it was simply too late to act. By that time, the Indians had already been slaughtered. And when the soldiers led by Lt. Whitman finnally arrived at the Apache encampment, it was half past seven that same morning. 

Whitman and his men which included their Post Surgeon Conant B. Briesly were met with corpses left to rot in the morning sun of Arivaipa Canyon. It was said to be a macabre sight that made most of the combat hardened troops sick to their stomachs. And among the dead, the troops found only one woman alive. Dr. Conant B. Briesly chronicled the sight in his log. Lt. Whitman made his report to Gen. Stoneman later.

Lt. Whitman had the bodies buried, and immediately sent interpreters into the mountains in an effort to locate the Apache men and assure them that his soldiers had not participated in the "vile transaction". Its said that because of Lt. Whitman efforts, the surviving Aravaipa Apache began returning to Camp Grantby the following day. Of course, after the massacre several groups of Apaches joined up with the Yavapais in the Tonto Basin. From there they waged a guerrilla warfare which lasted into the 1880s.

So yes, with the animosity at full boil on both sides, a boil that would not simmer down for years to come, the merchants of Tucson got their wish of extending the hostilities for their financial gain -- even if their gain came with the murder of 118 innocents and later the lives of American troops. 

If one wants to know what sort of darkness celebrates killing men, women, and children, those 148 Arizonans are it. It's said that by eight o'clock that morning, the 148 Arizonans responsible for that horrible act, for undertaking such an evil deed, were having breakfast and celebrating what they did in Tucson itself. Believe it or not, though their victims were defenseless and sleeping, those Arizonans saw what they did as a victory over the Apache. 

Leading up to this, we know that atrocities were committed by both the white man and the Indians. By the 1870s, American immigrants were moving into the Western Frontier by the thousands. As what took place in other regions where people flood into an area, they exhaust the native food and water resources. As with what took place during the California Gold Rush of 1849, local tribes that relied on game and native plants as their primary food source soon find they now go hungry because they now have competition for food. This alone has led tribes to steal livestock, mules, and horses. Tribes also had problems with new diseases introduced by whites, and saw them as uninvited guests.

As for the settlers, they were frustrated with government representatives who were unavailable to protect the white citizenry. Of course, it didn't matter to them that a major problem faced by the U.S. Army was they had too few soldiers for too vast an area of land. There was also the problem of troops deserting. And lastly, we should remember that in the 1870s and into the 1880s, there were also other Indian Wars taking place all over the West. So in reality the number of troops in the West were in fact stretched pretty thin.

There was another problem going on that some might not have realized taking place. Divided into four sub-tribes, the Tolkapaya (Western Yavapais), the Yavepe and the Wipukpaya (Northeastern Yavapais) and the Kewevkapaya (Southeastern Yavapais). The Yavapais ranged from the Colorado River to the Tonto Basin. They too killed and mutilated white settlers for all the same reasons as other tribes. While most reports at the time have the Apaches as the biggest problem, Yavapais Indians were often mistakenly identified as Apache. 

Like the Apache, the Yavapais were mobile. The Yavapais also used guerrilla warfare tactics. This made it extremely difficult for the U.S. Army to distinguish one tribe from another. And of course, there was the problem of a tribe like the San Xavier Papagos Indians using the whites to exterminate their lifelong enemies the Apache. 

In October, a Tucson grand jury indicted 104 of those who took place in the massacre. All toll, there were 108 counts of murder. By December, eight months after the massacre, 104 of those who took it upon themselves to slaughter those innocent people were indicted and brought to trial. The only reason they were brought to trail is because President Ulysses S. Grant demanded that the Territory of Arizona bring those individuals responsible for that heinous act to trial. President Grant actually threatening to put the whole Territory of Arizona under martial law if the Governor didn't do anything to bring those responsible to justice.

So yes, there was a trail. The trial focused solely on Apache atrocities and was 5 days long. The jury deliberated for only 19 minutes. Then all 104 men were found not guilty of killing Indians. The only thing the trial proved to all there was that no one was going to be found guilty of murdering innocent Apaches men, women, and children in the 1870s in the Arizona Territory. 

Lt. Whitman published letters on behalf of the Apache. Nothing came of that. And frankly, there's probably a reason that was the case. While to us today we certainly understand how that massacre wasn't right by any stretch of the imagination, believe it or not, many of the settlers in Arizona at the time considered the massacre simply a case of "justifiable homicide".

Imagine that.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Our Dog Holly Has Passed Away -- I Will Miss Our Pretty Girl


About 8 years ago, I wrote about how my dog Jake died suddenly. Yes, very suddenly. I pulled up that day and my father-in-law said, "I think Jake is dead."

He was right. My big very healthy looking dog that I had for a couple of years had simply died after playing with my in-laws' dog Oliver. It was a shock to my system. I think the reason that it was such a shock has to do with my being retired and having so much time to spend with him. Though my wife also loved the brute, he was really my big brown dog. He kept an eye on me late into the night while I sat here writing, and then he was gone.

About a year after losing Jake, my wife and I talked about getting another dog. Again, we went to the pound looking for a dog to rescue. Since I have a liking for a basic brown dog, we found a smaller version of Jake.

We were told she was two or less when she was picked up. And when we first saw her, my wife and I saw she was just a sweetheart looking for a home. We gave her one. We called her Holly. And I really believe she loved her name. 

That was seven years ago. And today, well today Holly passed away.

Over the last two days, she acted as if she picked up a bug. She wasn't moving as fast and she wasn't taking her treats as she would. And friends, she lived for treats.

This morning, my wife woke me up telling me that Holly was wobbly and couldn't stay on her feet. Immediately, we decided to get her to a Vet. We called our Vet located in San Andreas to see if she could fit us into her busy schedule. We arrived before 11am and immediately the Vet ordered blood work and tests. She told us to go grab lunch and be back at 1pm.

When we returned, she told us that she believed Holly had Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. She then explained that autoimmune hemolytic anemia is an immune system disease in which the body attacks and destroys its own red blood cells. In dogs with autoimmune hemolytic anemia, their red blood cells are still being manufactured in the bone marrow -- but once released into the circulation, they simply don't stay around like they should.

What causes autoimmune hemolytic anemia? Frankly, I'm still not clear on that. I do gather from talking with the Vet and looking it up, that there are two types of autoimmune hemolytic anemia.

One is "primary" while the second is "secondary." In the case of primary autoimmune hemolytic anemia, the dog's immune system is not working properly, and it incorrectly makes antibodies that target its own red blood cells. It's estimated that about three-quarters of cases of autoimmune hemolytic anemia are considered primary.

With secondary autoimmune hemolytic anemia, the surface of red blood cells actually become changed by some underlying disease process or by way of a toxin or poison. The dog's immune system then recognizes the changed red blood cells as "foreign invaders" that must be destroyed.

Secondary autoimmune hemolytic anemia might be triggered by cancer, some sort of infection, blood parasites, reactions to drugs, chemicals, toxins, reactions, snakebites, or even bee stings. Cancer is the most common cause of secondary autoimmune hemolytic anemia.

The biology behind all of this says that the targeted red blood cells are either destroyed within the blood vessels or when they circulate through the liver or spleen. In both situations, hemoglobin will be released. When that happens the liver will attempt to break down the excess levels of hemoglobin. This actually has the effect of overloading a dog's organs.

What are the symptoms of autoimmune hemolytic anemia? Well, dogs with autoimmune hemolytic anemia have severe anemia, and their gums will be very pale rather than the normal pink to red color. Dogs with anemia will be listless and tired or will get tired easily. The reason for this is that the dog doesn't have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues. Because of that, a dog may actually appear wobbly and disoriented due to low oxygen levels in the brain. To compensate for the lack of oxygen to the tissues, their heart rate and their breathing increases.

As things go along, excessive levels of bilirubin will build up within the dog's body. Excessive levels of bilirubin cause the skin, eyes, and gums to appear yellow and jaundiced. The dog may vomit, and lose it's appetite. If a dog's autoimmune hemolytic anemia is so severe that it is life-threatening, then a blood transfusion will be needed. Understand, blood transfusions can cost $2,000 or more depending on where you take your dog.

Our Vet recommended a blood transfusion. I was on the phone talking with a few places regarding a blood transfusion for Holly when she died tonight.

We got her from the pound and we were gifted to have her as a part of our family for the last seven years. She was a great companion. She was great around strangers, children, and other dogs. She was a lover dog, a wonderful friend, a dog that would lick you to death.

She loved being told she was pretty. Her tail would wag even faster when she heard us say that. She loved to go on rides and would jump at the chance to jump in my truck to go get our mail or run others errands. All I had to do is say "Let's go for a ride" and she instantly became the happiest dog in the world. Though sick, tonight I took her for a ride. The reason, I wanted her to because it could be her last. Sadly it was.

Over the years, she would watch over me when I went out to feed the horses. She actually looking forward to it, and when I'd say "Let's feed horses" she run to the door. And as for her telling us what she needed, she would let us know what she needed by pawing us to get up from watching a television show -- or for me to get away from my keyboard.

Most always, it was either to let her out to do her business or she'd want a treat. Sometimes, my wife or I would get up and she would then sit down facing the kitchen, That was her way of saying she wanted a treat. If we opened the door to let her out, and she wanted out, she scratched on the door to let us know she needed back in.

I buried Holly on our property near where Jake and my horse Murphy are buried. Tonight, I dug a grave for our lover dog. It was something that I really wasn't looking forward to. I am not going to say that I didn't know that this day would come. I just wish it was a few more years down the road.

No longer will I call out for my Holly girl. No longer will she give us love on a bad day, or make the world a better place. I can only hope that I will be with her again. Until then, I will miss her scratching at the door. I will miss our pretty girl.

There are reasons why I cried while I buried her tonight. Simply put, she was a love. And as for me, my one comfort is that I really believe she knew she was loved.

Tom Correa









From Private To General -- Samuel Emerson Opdycke

Union General Samuel Emerson Opdycke
As for regular General officers in the Union Army during the Civil War, like the Confederate Army, there were many. As for "brevet" Generals, it's said they were dime a dozen during that war. In fact, there were hundreds of brevetted Generals in the Civil War on both sides. While many were for valor, that wasn't always the case.

For example, it's said that the majority of career senior officers did receive some form of brevet promotion within the final months of the Civil War. If that sounds strangely political, that's the other part of brevet promotions. Doling out brevet promotions as political paybacks was nothing new in that war, especially since doling out military officers commissions to political friends during the war was common place on both sides. So yes, in some cases, those promoted as a brevet General were done so just because they knew the right people. In those cases, it was about politics and money.

Of course one of the most famous "brevet" Generals is George Armstrong Custer. In any discussion of such promotions during the Civil War, Custer's name is usually mentioned. Custer was in fact seen as a practical joker, known as a "class clown" and "prankster," while attending West Point. He actually finished last in his class at West Point. 

But please, don't think that something like graduating last in your class will stop those destined to rise through the ranks. Fact is, even though that was the case, Custer did go from 2nd Lieutenant to brevet Brigadier General of the Michigan Calvary Brigade Volunteers within four years during the Civil War.

Then there's the story of Samuel Emerson Opdycke who went from mere Private to Major General during the Civil War. Yes, from the rank of Private to the rank of Major General. He was born on January 7, 1830, on a farm in Hubbard, Ohio. While his family were farmers, his father fought in the War of 1812 and his grandfather was an officer with the New Jersey Militia during the American Revolution. Young Samuel was educated in the Hubbard common schools.

He was in his late teens when the California Gold Rush took place, and he left Ohio for a few years to see if he too would strike it rich. By his mid-twenties, he was back in Ohio working various jobs. Just before the war, Samuel worked in Warren, Ohio, as a merchant selling horse equipment and supplies.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Samuel's older brother Henry went off to Kansas and served in the Union cavalry there for most of the war. As from Samuel, he was 31 years old when he heard the bugle call. And like many, he enlisted in the Regular Army as a Private.

Because of his valor at the First Battle of Bull Run with the 41st Ohio Infantry, he received a commission to 1st Lieutenant on August 26, 1861. So yes, since Opdycke joined the Army as a Private in April of 1861 and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on August of 1861, he went from the rank of Private to 1st Lieutenant in less than four months.

Samuel Opdycke was promoted to Captain in March of 1862 just before the Battle of Shiloh. By that September, he resigned to return home so that he would be able to organize and form the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. To do that, he was made a Lieutenant Colonel on October 1, 1862.

By January 14, 1863, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and given the command of a regiment. His regiment is said to have earned a great deal of fame in the defense of Horseshoe Ridge at the Battle of Chickamauga. Soon he was in command of a brigade, and his men were at Missionary Ridge during the Battles for Chattanooga. The fighting during the Battle of Missionary Ridge was brutal, but 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry were still able to push Confederate General Braxton Bragg's men out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, by November of 1863.

In the spring of 1864, Col. Opdycke and the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry joined General William Tecumseh Sherman's Army in his Atlanta Campaign. And at the Battle of Resaca, Opdycke was badly wounded. It wasn't the first time he was wounded, but it was then that no one thought he'd pull through.

Actually, he did recover and led an assault in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was fought in June of 1864. It was the largest frontal assault launched by William Tecumseh Sherman's Union Army against the Confederate Army of Tennessee which was commanded by his old opponent Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. It's said that it ended in a defeat for the Union, but the fact is it didn't stop Sherman's advance on Atlanta. As a result of what happened there, Confederate Gen. Johnston was replaced with Gen. John Bell Hood.

Colonel Opdycke's brigade fought at the Battle of Jonesborough which was meant to draw the Confederate's Army of Tennessee commanded by Hood away from their defenses in Atlanta, Georgia. All so Sherman could burn it to the ground. It worked and Sherman did just that.

Colonel Opdycke's brigade is said to have pursued Gen. Hood's troops to Nashville, Tennessee. And from there, his brigade fought in the Battle of Franklin to secure the Union Army's victory at Nashville. It is no wonder that the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry gained a reputation as fierce fighters among Confederate forces.

During the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, Col. Opdycke distinguished himself at the Battle of Franklin. It was there that he achieved the status of a legend among his men. The story behind that has to do with the approach of Confederate troops under Gen. Hood. Opdycke's division commander was Gen. George D. Wagner.

Wagner ordered Opdycke along with two other brigade commanders to take up hasty defensive positions in front of the Union fortified line. Opdycke assessed the situation and actually challenged this wisdom of that order. It's said he argued with Wagner, and then took his men into a reserve position behind the fortifications.

As Col. Opdycke suspected, the Confederate assault broke the Union's line near the Columbia Pike. Seeing that was taking place, Opdycke sent his men into the battle. His men blocked the road at first. But then, Opdycke's Ohio troops straddled the road to allow retreating Union troops the ability to pass.

Col. Opdycke ordered his brigade forward to block the pursuing Confederates. It was about that moment when Union corps commander Gen. David S. Stanley arrived to observe what was taking place. Stanley later wrote, "I saw Opdycke near the center of his line urging his men forward. I gave the Colonel no orders as I saw him engaged in doing the very thing to save us, to get possession of our line again."

Opdycke's counterattack is said to have turned the tide of that battle, and secured an important victory for the Union Army. Opdycke's decision to defy orders and pull his brigade behind a fortified position ultimately led to a Union victory. It was for his action at the Battle of Franklin that he was honored with a brevet appointment to Major General of volunteers. He was promoted to a full Brigadier General of the Regular Army on July 26, 1865.

Brig. General Opdycke resigned from the Army in 1866. After the war, he moved to New York and helped establish the dry goods house Peake, Opdycke, Terry & Steele. Old soldiers are supposed to fade away, live out their live dealing with their wounds while writing their memoirs. He actually wrote several articles about what took place during the war. He was also very active in veterans affairs.

Sadly, it's said that on April 25, 1884, his wife and son heard a gunshot coming from his bedroom. Rushing to see what happened, they found the General with a bullet hole in his abdomen. He lingered in pain for a few days before finally dying. But before doing so, Brigadier General Opdycke managed to tell the doctor treating him that he accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. He was 54 years old when he passed.

The 54-year-old General was transported by train to his hometown and buried there in Oakwood Cemetery in Warren, Ohio. On that day, The St. Paul Daily Globe wrote, "With the death of Gen. Opdycke, passes away one of the most gallant and distinguished soldiers which Ohio sent into the Civil War."

While he was certainly a brave man, Brigadier General Samuel Emerson Opdycke is not the only soldier to make the incredible journey from Private to General during the Civil War. There were others. And while some are amazed at how George Armstrong Custer who was a West Point graduate could go from 2nd Lieutenant to brevet General in pretty quick time, his feat pales in comparison to what happened to America's "Boy General." No, George Armstrong Custer was not the original "Boy General."

That deserving distinction was given to Uriah Galusha Pennypacker in newspaper around the country long before Custer's men started calling Custer that. Fact is, the man known as America's "Boy General" is believed to be the youngest General in American history. And yes, the Valley Forge-native is believed to still holds the record for being the youngest General in the history of the United States Army. 

Thought born in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, it's said he was raised without having any memory of his parents. His mother died when he was still a baby, and his father was adventurer who left for California where he supposedly founded a newspaper and then sold it. The 1880 Census had his father living in Oakland, California. Uriah Galusha Pennypacker was raised by his grandparents. 

After enlisting with the 9th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in 1861 at the age of 16-years-old, he was a Private assigned to the job of Quartermaster Clerk. Believe it or not, it was there that he earned a commission to the rank of Captain because of his organizational skills. Not a brevetted rank, but an actual commission. 

When he was 19-years-old, be was promoted to the rank of Major because of his valor at Cold Harbor. Because of his bravery in battle at the Siege of Petersburg, he was promoted to full Colonel. And at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in early 1865, Col. Pennypacker was not only wounded while leading an assault -- he was awarded the Medal of Honor because of his valor and promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. 

He was only 20-years-old. It was an unheard of achievement that made him an instant national sensation. His story was carried in newspapers throughout the Union, with of course the exception of those newspapers which were owned by Copperhead Democrat Confederate sympathizers. 

And think about this, while he was the youngest person to hold the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Army at the age of 20, he is also the only General who was ever too young to vote for the president who appointed him. General Uriah Galusha Pennypacker retired from the U.S. Army in 1883, and died of natural causes in Philadelphia in 1916 at the age of 72.

Where Uriah Galusha Pennypacker was as good a man as they come, on the other side of the spectrum is one who is said to have been pure evil. Nathan Bedford Forrest began his military career as a 40-year-old Tennessee cavalry volunteer with the rank of Private. Shortly after enlisting in the Confederate Army, he used the wealth which he accrued from his own very large slave-trade fortune to outfit a regiment. 

It was because of his wealth that he was given the commission of Confederate Lieutenant Colonel. He ended the war as a Major General. After leaving the Confederate Army, he went into Democratic Party politics and was instrumental in creating the Klu Klux Klan.

Another Confederate who rose from Private to General is Irish immigrant, and former British soldier, Patrick Cleburne. He was a native of County Cork. In 1846 at the age of 18, he dropped out of Trinity College Medical School. He then joined the British Army assigned to the 41st Regiment of Foot.

After leaving the British Army as a Lance Corporal, Cleburne moved to the United States and settled in Arkansas. It was there that he became a pharmacist and newspaper owner. He joined the Democratic Party and was a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party endorsement of keeping slavery in place.

When the Civil War broke out, the very prosperous 33-year-old Cleburne volunteered as a Private for a local Arkansas regiment. Because of his wealth and past military experience, along with his political ties, he was soon "elected" Captain. He rose to the rank of Major General. His comrades called him "The South’s Fighting Irishman."

Confederate Gen. Cleburne was killed in action at the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864. Some say he was shoot dead by Brig. General Opdycke's men at that battle.

Tom Correa



Friday, May 1, 2020

The John Coffee Hays Club's Annual Roundup -- Guest Speaker Tom Correa

Tom Correa signing books before speaking 
at the John Coffee Hays Club Annual Fundraiser
Photograph by Troy Ellis

Above is a link to my first speaking engagement. My subject was "Vigilantes in the Old West." As for the overall message of my speech, it was a simple one: We are the law.

Below is the backstory about how this all came about. You might find it interesting.

If I remember right, it was in May of last year, 2019, when I was contacted by Dan Terry who is one of the officers of the John Coffee Hays Club. He invited me to speak at their annual dinner which was supposed to be held later in October. Along with the invitation to speak at that event, he advised me that his organization would cover my transportation costs and they even offered me an honorarium. And also, he asked me to join the John Coffee Hays Club.

Before going on with how I ended up speaking at the dinner, let me just say that since starting my blog The American Cowboy Chronicles in December of 2010, there's been several groups who have invited me to attend their events. All have requested me to speak to them about some subject or another, but surprisingly not every group has wanted me to talk about Old West History.

All of them have been very gracious. All have been very respectful folks. But, even though that had always been the case, I hadn't accepted any invitations to speak to any group. Please understand, that's not to say that I haven't been flattered to have been invited. And that's not to say that some groups haven't made some very enticing offers of compensation for me to do so. It's just that I haven't been very comfortable talking to a group of people who I don't know.

Let's be frank here. I don't mind talking to the folks here in our small rural community. I don't mind standing up during our local Memorial Day observance or when I've had to officiate the funerals of friends. In those cases, folks know me. And besides, a few minutes of talking with a group where everyone more or less knows everyone else, and a few good words and prayers are needed to comfort those there, that's a lot different than giving a speech to people who I don't know.

Since Dan Terry said he was familiar with my work, I decided to look into the John Coffee Hays Club almost immediately after getting his invitations. The group's website says it is "a private, fraternal organization, with a selective membership."

Their website also states, "We organized a club through which we, as free men, may unite: to address the responsibilities we have to defend, protect and promote our shared American heritage, American culture and The American Way.

To educate the members and the public at large as to what The American Way has contributed, contributes in the present and will further contribute to the security of free men and the promotion of ordered freedom as defined by Natural Law and the Greco-Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Hebraic-Christian deposit of social capital here in the United States of America – the crowning glory and zenith of milenia of Western Civilization.

We advocate and support the timeless truths of the Natural Law, the triumphs of Western Civilization and the supremacy of The American Way.  This organization promotes our American heritage generally, the cultural legacy of the American West more distinctively and the patrimony and ideals of northern California specifically."

I immediately liked what I read. Yes, including when they said "John Coffee Hays was an American icon who lived by, respected, and honored the heritage of the American firearm."

The mission of the John Coffee Hays Club is "Defending The Republic." Their motto is "Virtuti, Honor, Traditio" which is Latin meaning "Virtue, Honor, Tradition."

The event which I was being invited to was their second dinner. By the way, their first dinner, their founding dinner, had a very prestigious speaker who is a world renown author and scholar. The previous speaker at their founding dinner was the famous Dr. Victor Davis Hanson. Friends, I'm a great admirer of Dr. Hanson and enjoy hearing his views on Fox News. I couldn't see myself following him on the second year. We are cut from two different types of cloth. Dr. Hanson is a very polished brilliant speaker. I'm just Tom.

While that's all the truth, to my absolute surprise, 12 hours after receiving Dan Terry's email, I accepted his invitation to join his group and to speak there. I found out later in an exchange of email that the event was actually a fund raiser for a charity that they sponsor. In fact, the charity which they sponsor is the Happy Trail Children's Foundation started by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

My Book & A Glass Of Whisky
Photograph by Troy Ellis
So now, I replied to Dan Terry, and in my reply I let him that I did know a little about John Coffee "Captain Jack" Hays. From what I know about him, Capt. Jack was really an impressive individual. He is a legend among Texas Rangers, a man who was also the first Sheriff of San Francisco County, and he was a die-hard Indian fighter. I think I let Dan Terry know that I've been working on an upcoming book which may have a story about Capt. Jack's relationship with the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851. When I say "may have" --  it's only if I'm satisfied and feel I do justice to the Captain.

Since I accepted his offer to become a member, I let him know that I would set up a back-link so that my readers can visit The John Coffee Hays Club website if they want to read more about the famous Texas Ranger. To answer some email asking me about that back-link on my website, that's why it's there.

As for my speaking to his group, I did ask if there would be other speakers there, when was it being held, and of course what topic would the club like me to address. I later learned that I was the only speaker scheduled. It became very obvious to me that I had no idea what took place at such events.

As for the club covering my transportation costs and any sort of an honorarium, I turned it down. Fact is I wasn't interested in letting them do that. Besides liking what I read on their website, I didn't feel right since I'm obviously not a professional speaker. Also, whatever they wanted to spend on me being there was better sent to their charity. After all, as I said before, I had found out that it was a charity fund raiser. That's a good cause.

Instead, I suggested the club simply buy my wife and me dinner. Friends, the dinner was held at one of the best steakhouses in Northern California -- the Back Forty Back Forty Texas BBQ Roadhouse & Saloon in Pleasant Hill. From everything that I heard about them, those folks know how to Bar-B-Q!

So okay, a few months go by and I hadn't heard from them to confirm a time or date. Frankly, I started to wonder if the invitation still held. Then, after a few emails, they let me know that they had some bad news. Their dinner had to be postponed until January or February because of scheduling with the folks at Back Forty Back Forty Texas BBQ. 

By the way, when I was informed of the date, they also let me know that there was an initiation to the club that I needed to do. Yes, an initiation. The initiation was going to be held at the grave of John Coffee Hays himself. Yes, at his grave.

When I told my wife about that, she asked me what sort of initiation? When I told a couple of close friends about it, they laughed and wanted to know if it included booze. Two of my very close friends who wanted to go to the dinner, also wanted to go to the initiation just to see what that was all about. 

So yes, my wife, my close friends Kevin and Brett Haight, and I arrived at the grave of John Coffee Hays in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland at about 2pm on February 8th. It was there that I had the pleasure of meeting part of the club's board of directors, Dave Yuers, Dan Terry, and Keith Schwartz. I met the rest of the board, Chuck Baumann and Daryl Chilimidos, when I arrived at the Back Forty Texas BBQ.

Among the very famous people buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland is railroad magnate and banker Charles Crocker, J. A. Folger who was the founder of Folgers Coffee, Domingo Ghirardelli who was the founder of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, and Austin H. Hills who founded with his brother, R. W. Hills, Hills Bros. Coffee in San Francisco in 1878. Also, Henry J. Kaiser is buried there. Many know Kaiser Hospital, but some might not know that he's considered the father of modern American shipbuilding. Besides such industrialists and businessmen, a large number of California governors and military men whose deeds are found in history books are also buried there. Many are Medal of Honor recipients.

As for those who are greats of American History who are buried there, of course there is none other than Texas Ranger legend John Coffee "Capt. Jack" Hays. The first time I visited Capt. Jack's grave was in 1980. I would have never thought that I'd be drinking outstanding whisky at his grave some 40 years later. But frankly, that was the situation in a nutshell. 

My wife Deanna, along with my friends Kevin and Brett, witnessed my initiation. Dave Yuers, Dan Terry, and Keith Schwartz, presented me with a whisky glass embossed with my name. They poured the drinks and I took the oath. We toasted Capt. Jack, and then poured a little on the grass near the three flags that sit atop his grave. The three flags represent the Texas Ranger, the California Pioneer, and the American Patriot that he was. It was a good thing all the way around.

Me talking with Keith Schwartz, Daryl Chilimidos, and Chuck Baumann
John Coffee Hays Club Annual Fundraiser

February 8, 2020
Photograph by Troy Ellis
When we arrived at the steakhouse, the club had already set up a table for me to sell and sign books. This was my first time doing a book signing and everyone who I met were all very nice and interested in the Old West. Believe it or not, some said they had already bought my book The American Cowboy Chronicles Old West Myths & Legends: The Honest Truth Book 1They bought it on line when they heard that I was going to be the keynote speaker.

We took pictures at the bar, we had a few drinks, then had dinner. Soon enough, I was introduced. David Yuers is the president and he gave me a very nice introduction. He opened by telling those there that I might explain where the 3-7-77 comes from.

The 3-7-77 was a vigilante group in Montana. I sort of decided to stick to my notes and pass on that. The reason that I did has to do with the 3-7-77 itself. I felt, since no one knows exactly where the numbers came form, and it is a real Old West mystery, explaining all of the different theories as to where that came might have been too time consuming. Looking back on it now, I could have simply told those there that the accepted version of what the 3-7-77 means has to do with the dimensions of a grave back then. And frankly, I wish I had. 

Below is the link to the video, I hope you enjoy it: 
John Coffee Hays Annual Roundup - Speaker Tom Correa 

Tom Correa speaking at the John Coffee Hays Club Annual Fundraiser
February 8, 2020

Photograph by Troy Ellis
It was my first experience as a public speaker. They say we're all our worse critics. For me, that's always been the case. I admit that I was sort of nervous at first and I did lose track of time. And besides not addressing where the 3-7-77 is believed to have come from, my only regret as far as my talk goes is that I had so many great stories about vigilantes that I wanted to tell, but time got away from me. 

As for the video, I cannot thank photographer/cinematographer Troy Ellis enough. He did such a great job making me look better than I felt by the end of the night. As for the sound, I think I sound horrible. My friends who've seen the video say that doesn't sound like me. But there may be a reason for that. And yes, that goes to my coming down with the flu. That morning, my throat was killing me so loaded up on flu medications. So while that night was great, I felt horrible and fought the flu for the next three weeks after that. 

Brett & Kevin Haight
As for the dinner, it was really great. The food and drinks were outstanding. The sense of camaraderie was wonderful. Frankly, it made me think I should leave the farm more often. As for my friends, besides Kevin and Brett, my friends Rudy and his wife Paula showed up, so did my in-laws Tom and Fran Prickett. All seemed to have had a very good time. 

I have to say that the people who attended the dinner were very nice. And as for the John Coffee Hays Club's board of directors, folks would have a hard time finding a nicer group of guys. After the dinner, my wife and I were surprised when Dan Terry's wife presented my wife with a bouquet of roses. Dan presented me with a Bowie Knife.

I was touched by their graciousness and class. Little did they know that I have a small collection of Bowie knives, bayonets, my old K-Bar from my days in the Marine Corps, and such. So yes, it was very much appreciated. I enjoyed it a lot.

After my talk, a few people came up to me to ask questions. All said they enjoyed what I had to say. A couple of people who I spoke with asked where and when would be my next speaking engagement. They said they wanted to learn more. I told them they were very nice to say that, but that I don't usually do public speaking even though I've been asked to in the past. I told them that I'm a lot more comfortable writing. 

So now, with all that said, I have to admit that I left the door open to do it again for the same group simply because I like the guys who are the board of directors. They are some of the nicest guys who I've ever met. While it felt like they were going out of there way to be gracious, I think it just comes natural for them.

Every once in a while I get to meet a person who impresses me. Sometimes it's because of their craftsmanship, skills, or maybe because of their fighting the good fight. Sometimes, every blue moon or so, I'll meet someone with truly exceptionally good character. Well, I've never met a group that impresses me as much as Dave Yuers, Dan Terry, Keith Schwartz, Chuck Baumann, and Daryl Chilimidos, did that day. They are truly exceptional.

Dave Yuers, Keith Schwartz, Tom Correa, Daryl Chilimidos, Chuck Baumann, Dan Terry
Me with the John Coffee Hays Board of Directors

February 8, 2020
Photograph by Troy Ellis
Because of who they are and how they treat others, they impressed me. They treated my wife and I as welcome friends. They treated my friends and in-laws wonderfully to the point that my friends still talk about how nice they were that night. Yes indeed, these are guys who I'd ride to the river with.

My grandfather once told me, "When telling a story, always to tell the truth while remembering that people won't believe it anyway." My favorite Gunny Sgt. put it this way, "When telling a fish story, always keep the fish the same size. Just make the catching sound better."

What do those quotes have to do with my speech. Well, it goes to the heart of my telling stories about what took place in the real Old West -- when I tell real stories about what took place in American History. While some people like fiction, I believe the truth about what took place in the Old West is much more fascinating and enjoyable than the tale tales and fabrications Hollywood and fiction writers come up with.

As a writer, as a storyteller, I enjoy telling stories about life in the Old West as it really was. I like telling folks what I've learned about our heritage. I like telling others why we need to celebrate our history as Americans. And while some will not believe it, it will be the honest truth.  

Tom Correa








Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Thomas Livingston Correspondence 1863


This is just a short tale of something that happened during the Civil War. It has to do with the practice of Confederate troops killing prisoners of war. One Union commander found a way to stop local Confederates from doing just that. Below is the correspondence between that Union commanding officer and the Confederate commander.

In May of 1863, near the town of Sherwood, Missouri, an exchange of letters took place between Union Colonel James M. Williams, 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, and Confederate Major Thomas R. Livingston, commander of the "Partisan Rangers". The letter is in regards to the treatment of captured black Union troops held by Major Livingston's command.

In the letter to Major Livingston, dated May 26th, 1863, Colonel Williams states:

"I desire to call to your attention to the fact that one of the colored prisoners in your camp was murdered by your soldiers. And I therefore demand of you the body of the man who committed the dastardly act. And if you fail to comply with this demand, and do not do so within forty-eight hours, deliver to me this assassin, I shall hang one of the men who are now prisoners in my camp."

On May 27th, 1863, Major Livingston responded:

"I confess my surprise that an officer of your rank should have fixed such conditions to your demand as you are doubtless aware that the one who committed the offense charged is not a member of any company over which I have any control, but was casually at my camp and became suddenly enraged and an altercation took place between him and deceased which resulted in a way I very much regret, and that said offender's whereabouts are to me unknown, consequently making it impossible for me to comply with your demand."

After receiving Major Livingston's reply, it's said Colonel Williams realized that the Confederate Major was not taking his demands to heart. So with that, Colonel Williams used another tack in his effort to convince the Confederate commander that his behavior of killing prisoners of war would not stand.

Colonel Williams ordered that one of the Confederate prisoners in his possession be shot and that prisoner's body be returned to Livingston personally while under a flag of truce. Colonel Williams' orders were carried out within a matter of thirty minutes. And right after that, he informed Major Livingston of his action. 

It's said that that ended the practice of the Confederates murdering prisoners of war black or white. At least that was the case in Missouri since Major Livingston's command never again murdered Union prisoners.

So who was Confederate Major Thomas Livingston?

Major Thomas R. Livingston was a "Border Ruffian" or "Bushwhacker" who murdered blacks and Republican abolitionist without hesitation. In the 1850's, Livingston was made a Captain of a "Border Ruffian" unit which was tasked with the defense of western Missouri against Kansas Jayhawkers. 

Jayhawkers were militant bands affiliated with the free-state cause during the Civil War. They were marauding gangs who were guerrillas. But make no mistake about what they did, they more than not fought pro-slavery groups such as the "Border Ruffians" or "Bushwhackers" in the Kansas Territory.  

At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Livingston joined the Confederacy by joining the 11th Cavalry Regiment of the Missouri State Guard as a Captain. As a Captain, he commanded a Confederate cavalry battalion which became known as "Livingston's Rangers." As insurgents creating chaos and death, they were authorized under the Partisan Ranger Act of the Confederate government to conduct guerrilla attacks. Because the Confederacy knew there was no way for them to conquer and hold Missouri, their plan was to destroy and terrorize Missouri using guerrilla warfare.

Livingston entered Jasper County, and then over into Arkansas and Indian Territory. Union Colonel James M. Williams, 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, was advised of Livingston's policy of shooting Union prisoners -- especially black Union troops who he had a personal grudge against. Because of his actions which was seen as barbarism even by the standards of the times, he was labeled an "Outlaw Bushwhacker."

On July 11th, 1863, Livingston led his Partisan Rangers northeast to Stockton, Missouri, with the plan of capturing Union supplies at a small Union garrison there. His unit of 250 cavalry surprise the town. Against them was 20 Union militiamen who sought cover in the town's courthouse. Those 20 made a stand and actually survived against overwhelming odds.

In fact, during the attack, one soldier in that group of 20 Union militiamen, of those who were holed up in the courthouse, actually shot Livingston out of his saddle. Soon after that, thinking their leader dead, Livingston's men retreated.  

After the fight, the 20 Union militiamen emerged from the courthouse. It's said it was then that they looked over the dead Confederates and found the wounded Major Livingston. Some say he reached for a rifle as they approached him. Others say he tried to get to his feet. Other say he simply laid there in pain begging for help. Fact is no one really knows what happened to make those Union militiamen shoot Livingston to pieces, but they did just that. And some say, it was done to make sure he was dead.

From there, he and the other dead Confederate invaders were buried in a mass grave. With Major Livingston's death, his leaderless battalion disbanded. And while it is said that some of his men may have fought on with other Confederate guerrilla groups bend on pillaging, burning, and murder, there were those who celebrated knowing that Livingston's guerrillas would not bother anyone again.

Tom Correa

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Gilleland's Civil War Double-Barrel Cannon


The story of the double-barreled cannon has to do with an experimental weapon during the Civil War. Of course, while that's true, the concept of such a field piece goes back to an arms maker in Italy in 1642. That particular gun maker did in fact cast a double-barrel cannon which was intended to be fired simultaneously. It was designed to fire two cannonballs linked by a chain from its side-by-side barrels. The rounds were to act as a mower or sickle to cut down enemy soldiers as if they were wheat. Imagine that!

In 1862, an Athens, Georgia, dentist by the name of John Gilleland, no relation to Georgia dentist Doc Holliday, raised money from Confederates there and cast a double-barrel cannon. It had twin side-by-side 3 inch bores. As with the Italian gun maker's design of 1642, Gilleland's cannon was designed to simultaneously shoot two cannonballs connected with a chain. For things to work out without a hitch, simultaneous ignition was key. The powder in each barrel had to ignite at the exact same moment in time to have things go well. An instant off in either barrel meant trouble. 

April 22nd, 1862, was the day of the first test of the Gilleland cannon. It's said that his double-barrel cannon was aimed at a couple of upright poles. The poles were going to be used to gauge the effect of the shot so that it could be accurately measured. Well, as with the best laid plans of mice and men, the powder ignited unevenly. 

Because of that and imperfections in the casting process, the twin barrels gave the connected balls a spinning movement in a direction other than where the targets were located. Witnesses reported that its rounds "plowed up about an acre of ground, tore up a cornfield, mowed down saplings, and then the chain broke, the two balls going in different directions." 

And no, things didn't go any better during the second test. During its second test, the chain broke when the barrels ignited a second or two apart and subsequently shot that chain over the horizon. Witnesses during the second test reported, "The thicket of young pines at which it was aimed looked as if a narrow cyclone or a giant mowing machine had passed through it."

On its third and last test, when fired, the chain snapped almost instantly. With that, one cannonball slammed into a nearby cabin and took out its chimney. The other cannonball took off in a whole different direction and killed a cow. 

So believe it or not, during those tests, the Gilleland cannon mowed down trees, cut through a cornfield, and showed that it was capable of taking out a cabin and killing a cow who wasn't a threat to the Confederacy. Were those trees, cornfield, cabin, or that cow even near the intended targets of Gilleland's double-barrel cannon? No. Not even close. In fact, none of those things including that poor cow were reported to be anywhere near its actual targets or impact area. 

Because it was such a failure, the Confederacy didn't want anything to do with it. In fact, no matter how much Gilleland tried to pawn it off on the Confederates, no one in the South's military wanted it. But its rejection wasn't the end of the story of Gilleland's double-barrel cannon. The folks in Georgia agreed to use if as a blank firing signal cannon to be used to warn the city of Monroe in the event of approaching Union troops. 

On July 27th, 1864, Gilleland's double-barrel cannon was actually fired once for just that reason. It was on that day when there was a report of several thousand Union troops being sighted approaching Monroe. The Gilleland cannon was loaded with shot but not cannonballs, it was readied and fired to signal the city that Yankees were advancing on Monroe. The cannon's signal did in fact incite mass hysteria in the city of Monroe. The hysteria died down and calm was regained in the city later when it was found that the reported sighting of Union troops turned out to be false. 

While that was the last time it was fired, today Gilleland's double-barrel cannon is on display in front of the City Hall of Athens, Georgia. As part of the Downtown Athens Historic District, it's said to be one of the city's most popular and well-known attractions there. 

And while Gilleland's double-barrel Civil War cannon never saw battle, and is today a very popular landmark, the folks in Athens, Georgia, found it fitting to point it facing north when they positioned it in front of their City Hall. Though it never used in battle, some say it's pointing North as a symbolic gesture of defiance against the Yankees that it was built to fight. Of course there are those who say the Yankees probably had spies in the South who reported how it was useless weapon all the way around. Unless of course the target was something other than what was being aimed at.  

Tom Correa