Thursday, May 31, 2012

150th of Seven Pines/Fair Oaks

Today and tomorrow mark the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks in Virginia.  This was the first major battle of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, and marked a significant turning point in the American Civil War.

All through the Spring of 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac, 105,000 men, under the command of US Major General George B. McClellan, had been creeping its way up the Peninsula, the finger of land between the James and York Rivers.  The goal was the capital of Virginia and the Southern Confederacy, Richmond.  Standing in the way was initially hardly anything, but eventually, a Confederate force of 60,000 men under CS Gen Joseph E. Johnston arrived from Northern Virginia to confront the Union host.

Johnston gave ground before the larger foce of McClellan for weeks, and by the end of May 1862, the Union Army sat within sight of the steeples of Richmond.  It was at that point that Johnston finally resolved to attack, and attack he did on 31 May 1862 at the area known as Seven Pines or Fair Oaks in Henrico County, Virginia.  The target would be two Union corps isolated from the rest of McClellan's force by the swampy Chickahominy River: the III and IV Union Corps.

File:Seven Pines.png
US Brigadier General Heintzelman commanded the III Corps, while US Brigadier General Keyes commanded the especially isolated IV Corps.  [Map by Hal Jespersen,]

CS Gen. J.E. Johnston ordered the right wing of his army, some 39,000 of the total 63,000 in his command, to attack the left wing of McClellan's army, those two Union corps totalling about 34,000 men.  The attack was supposed to have three elements involved: the CS Divisions of Longstreet on the left, D.H. Hill in the center, and Huger on the right.  Although the attack was to begin at 8AM on 31 May, Longstreet routed his and Huger's men on the wrong road -- so CS Major General D.H. Hill opened the battle at 1PM instead.  Longstreet's men would arrive later, but Huger's never would.

File:Battle of Fair Oaks Meagher.jpg

The fighting would be terrible and bloody driving the Union IV Corps back with great loss -- and at dusk, CS General Joseph Johnston was wounded.  CS Major General Gustavus Smith took temporary command.

During the second day of fighting, 1 June 1862, both sides rushed fresh troops into the battleground, but neither side was able to deliver a decisive blow.  By noon, the battle was done.  The final casualties were around 5,000 for the Union and 6,100 for the Confederacy.

The NPS account is found here:

Here is the account from the Civil War Daily Gazette:

Effective that second day of the battle, 1 June 1862, however, President Jefferson Davis appointed CS General Robert E. Lee commander of what the general would rename the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Robert Edward Lee.jpg
Two Giants of the Age: CS General Robert E. Lee (Left) and US Major General George B. McClellan (Right)

US Major General McClellan remained outside Richmond with his Union Army of the Potomac, but he had now lost the initiative to man that was more than willing to use it.  CS General Lee would oversee an aggressive series of attacks at the end of the month that would save Richmond -- the Seven Days' Battles...

Live well!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Siege of Corinth, MS

Today, 30 May, 150 years ago, the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi came to a rather quiet end.

The sign to the left refers to the Battle of Corinth that followed in October 1862 The map to the right shows the location of the modern city of Corinth, Mississippi in the state.

In the wake of the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederate Army of Mississippi withdrew south to the area of Corinth, MS, which was a significant rail junction.  This army was under the command of the Louisiana native, CS Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who had taken command with the death of CS Gen. Albert S. Johnston at Shiloh.  The army of Beauregard was supplemented by the arrival of the much smaller Confederate Army of the West under CS Major Gen. Earl Van Dorn, which had fought at Pea Ridge, AR that spring.  In all, the Southern Confederacy had about 70,000 men to defend Corinth.

File:Pgt beauregard.jpgFile:Henry Wager Halleck - Brady-Handy.jpg
CS Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard (Left) and US Major Gen. Henry Halleck (Right)

The Union force was a Grand Army under the overall command of US Major Gen. Henry Halleck, who was the commander of Union forces west of the Appalachians, and would later serve as General-in-chief for Lincoln.  Second in command of this Grand Army was US Major Gen. U.S. Grant, who still remained in limbo in the wake of the controversial bloodbath of Shiloh.  The Grand Army consisted of those forces engaged at Shiloh: the Union Army of the Tennessee under US Major Gen. George Thomas (this had been Grant's army), and the Union Army of the Ohio under US Major Gen. Don Carlos Buell.  In addition, the Union Army of the Mississippi of US Gen. John Pope arrived to bolster the Union numbers.  In all, perhaps 120,000 men-at-arms stood for the Union.

From 29 April 1862 to the night of 29 May 1862, these two sizable armies stood face to face in northern Mississippi.  Both sides were still reeling from the bloodbath of Shiloh, and sought victory without costly frontal assaults.  Halleck slowly approached the Confederate lines, constructing entrenchments to protect his men.  By the end of May, the Union army was within striking distance of the Confederate lines with their artillery, and at that point, the Confederates determined to withdraw.

Here is a link to a high-resolution antique map of the siege lines:

Beauregard oversaw a masterful evacuation during the night of 29-30 May 1862.  The Confederate retreat to Tupelo took the Union totally by surprise, and brought the siege to a close -- each side having lost about a 1,000 men.

Here is the NPS battle account:

Here is the account, and a mention of happenings in the Shenandoah Valley, from the Civil War Daily Gazette:

The forces involved at the Siege of Corinth would evetually determine the fate of the war in the west: the Confederate Army of Mississippi, now under General Braxton Bragg, would invade Kentucky that summer, with the Union Army of the Ohio following in pursuit.  Those two armies would be renamed later to the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland, and tangle for control of Tennessee and north Georgia over the next couple of year, culminating in the Atlanta Campaign.

The Confederate Army of the West would remain in the west Tennessee-Mississippi area, clashing with the Union Army of the Mississippi at the Battle of Iuka and again at the Battle of Corinth that fall.

Finally, the Union Army of the Tennessee would return to US General Grant's control, and after participating in the campaigns of northern Mississippi that fall, began its long, hard goal of capturing Vicksburg, MS, which would culminate in the summer of 1863.

File:ACW Western Theater May - October 1862.png
The Western Campaigns of the Summer and Fall of 1862 began with evacuation of Corinth, MS [which is on the bottom left corner of this map].

Tommorow, however, our attention will turn back to Virginia...

Live well!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Music of the Viceroyalty of Brazil

Not to neglect the last great Viceroyalty of Latin America, today I will take a tour of the music of the Viceroyalty of Brazil.  While this Viceroyalty was a Portuguese possession, it did, from 1580-1640AD, during the Iberian Union, have the same monarch as those of Spain.  Unlike the Spanish Viceroyalties that splintered into multiple nations upon independence, Brazil has remained a single, massive, nation. 
File:Brazil states1789.png
Viceroyalty of Brazil in 1789.

Now to the music...

First, a religious piece for Christmas -- not sacred for liturgical use, but for popular use outside of Mass -- Matais de Incêndios, thought to be by António Marques Lésbio (+1709).

In an example of a 18th century piece, this is a Te Deum by Luís Álvares Pinto (+1789), a Brazilian-born, and Lisbon-trained composer.

This is a recording of the Salve Regina by Lobo de Mesquita (+1805) with splendid images of the Brazilian town of Diamantina, Minas Gerais (a state rich in precious metals) where he was organist at one point:

Next, another Salve Regina, this one by Inacio Parreiras Nevas (born 1730), another composer from the state of Minas Gerais.  This video presents images of that state, in particular the town of Ouro Preto, and its colonial architecture:

Here is yet another composer of that same Minas Gerais region, Manoel Dias de Oliveira (+1813), with images of that state -- this time a setting of the Magnificat:

If you wish to listen to more colonial Latin American music, this is a great page on youtube:

Live well!

Monday, May 28, 2012

HHS Mandate and the Church

Recently, the Obama administration in the United States has handed down a new mandate that attempts to coerce American citizens to violate their consciences and participate in objective evil.

Sadly, this has been done at the particular direction of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who claims Catholicism as her Faith.

Emperor Julian the Apostate (reigned 361-363AD)

For those that want to learn more, or keep track of the response to this affront to the liberty of the Church and her members, here are some resources.

The Becket Fund has not only a splendid name, recalling the stand made by Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury against violations of the rights of the Church by King Henry II of England, but they have assembled an excellent site will a great deal of information on this case, and on the lawsuits filed against the government:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well, have released some statements and present some information on the situation:

Here is the original statement of the policy from HHS:

Finally, you can read the "compromise" of the Department of Health and Human Services:

Live well!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Music of the Viceroyalty of Peru

Speaking broadly, the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru includes the modern-day nations of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and, at one point, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Argentina, and Paraguay.  Essentially, for some time, the Spanish possessions in South America fell under this jurisdiction.  For our purposes here, I will include all those areas once in the Viceroyalty, including New Granada and Rio de la Plata.  As in New Spain to the north, Spanish culture was alive and well.  In what follows, you will find a few examples of the music of the Spanish New World colony.

The Viceroyalty of Peru at various stages: Green indicating its 17th century height, brown its 18th century boundaries.

To give a sense of the old political entity, this video presents a slide show of splendid baroque architecture of the old Viceroyalty.  Musically, this presents Dos Cachuacas written for Bishop Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón (Bishop of Trujillo, Peru from 1779-1790, and Archbishop of Santa Fe de Bogotá from 1790 to his death in 1797) and included in the "Códice Trujillo del Perú."

This piece, dating to 1631AD, is of Peruvian origin -- it seems it was published by a Fransciscan, Juan Pérez de Bocanegra, and employing the native Quechua language.  It is called, Hanacpachap cussicuinin, and is a processional hymn to Our Lady:

Next, Estacio Lacerna (+1625AD), born in Seville, and died in Peru.  This is an organ work Tiento de sexto tono, with photos of the Convent of Santa Clara de Sucre (Bolivia).

Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco (+1728AD) was a choirmaster of the catherdral at Lima, Peru.  This setting of the Mass for Six Voices is a good example of his work (this video only includes the first half of the musical setting of the Mass).  This images in this video are of the cathedral of Lima:

Juan de Araujo (+1712AD) was Iberian born, served as Choirmaster at Lima and at Cuzco, but ended up the Choirmaster in La Plata, now Sucre, Bolivia.  This is a setting of the Magnificat:

Andrés Flores (+1754AD) would succeed Araujo in Bolivia, and would write this setting of Tota Pulchra Es:

Finally, also writing in La Plata (Sucre), Bolivia, was Roque Ceruti (+1760AD), with this lively setting of Dixit Dominus:

Live well!

Friday, May 25, 2012

150th of the Battle of Winchester

Winchester, Virginia was often the focus of activity during the American Civil War.  Today, 25 May, in 1862, a battle was fought at Winchester that, despite all of the other actions in the area, has gone down in history as the Battle of Winchester, or First Winchester.

The Battle of Winchester was continuation of Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign.  Jackson, with his Confederate Army of the Valley, faced with three Union armies in his quest to control Virginia's breadbasket of the Shenandoah Valley at to tie down Union troops to defend Washington, DC and Northern Virginia.  He had blunted US Major General Fremont's Mountain force at McDowell at the beginning of May, forcing the Pathfinder of the West back into the area of modern West Virginia.  The Rappahannock force of US Major Gen McDowell, off to the east, had not yet entered the Shenandoah Valley.  He now moved against the former Speaker of the House, US Major Gen. Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts, who commanded the Army of the Shenandoah.

Stonewall Jackson.jpg
The Foes: CS Major Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (Left) and US Major Gen. Nathaniel Banks (Right)

On 23 May 1862, Jackson had evaded Banks, and overwhelmed the Union garrison at Front Royal.  This gave Jackson a straight route to Winchester, and forced Banks to evacuate his defenses at Strasburg, VA.  The two forces proceeded to race to get to Winchester first -- Jackson from Front Royal, and Banks from Strasburg.  Banks would arrive first, and his arrival would set the stage for the Battle of Winchester on 25 May.

The routes of the two armies to Winchester; Map by Hal Jespersen

In the circumstances, Nathaniel Banks faced Stonewall Jackson rather outnumbered.  It would be the particular talent of Stonewall Jackson in his 1862 Valley Campaign to generally outnumber his foe on the field of battle, when outnumbered overall in the campaign.

File:Jackson's Valley Campaign May 21 - June 9, 1862.png
Map of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign -- notice the dotted blue lines showing Banks withdrawal to Winchester after the 23 May battle of Front Royal, that Jackson followed Banks as far as Charles Town, WV after the victory at Winchester on 25 May 1862, and that the action of the campaign would move south to the Harrisonburg, VA area.  Map by Hal Jespersen

Banks and his army stood little chances, and would be routed by Jackson and his force -- the Louisiana Bridge outflanking his force on Bower's Hill being the decisive blow.

The National Park Service account his here:

Here is the description from the Civil War Daily Gazette:

Stonewall Jackson would pursue the fleeing army of Banks toward Harpers Ferry, but would eventually have to turn south toward Harrisonburg, VA, lest he be trapped in the lower valley with the arrival of both the armies of Fremont (Mountain) and McDowell (Rappahannock).  At least that of Banks (Shenandoah) was dealt with!

As a side note, US Major General Banks and his army dropped so much in the way of supplies and provisions in these few days of late May that the Union General received the nickname "Commissary Banks" from his Confederate foes...

Live well!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pythagorean Theorem

For those that have studied geometry, such as my students taking their final exam today, the Pythagorean Theorem is one of the most memorable formulas:
A2 + B2 = C2


The great Geometer Euclid, of course, derived this Theorem in Proposition 47 of Book I of his Elements.

There is no day like today to derive the Pythagorean Theorem, right?

File:Sanzio 01 Euclid.jpg
Euclid the Geometer in the School of Athens by Raphael.

Live well!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Front Royal

We've reached another milestone in Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Vally Campaign -- today, 23 May 1862, Jackson's force routed the smaller Union garrison at Front Royal, Virginia.

The sitaution was this:  Jackson, having chased Fremont's Union Mountain Department force back into the hills of modern West Virginia, turned north, and by 21 May, was just south of New Market, Virginia.  Off to the east, and not yet relevant, was the Union Rappahannock Department force of US Gen. Irvin McDowell.  The main Union force actually in the Shenandoah Valley at that point was that of US Gen. Nathaniel Banks, who sat at Strasburg, VA with his army.  Banks had detached a small garrison under US Colonel John Kenly to Front Royal to protect the northern end of the Page Valley.  Banks expected that if Jackson made a move, it would be down (north) the Shenandoah Valley to his prepared position at Strasburg.

File:Jackson's Valley Campaign May 21 - June 9, 1862.png
Map of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign from Front Royal to Port Republic.  Map by Hal Jespersen.

Running down center of the Shenandoah Valley, from Harrisonburg, Virginia in the south to Strasburg-Front Royal in the north, is the Massanutten Mountain.  Stonewall Jackson used this ridge to great advantage.  Crossing the Massanutten at New Market Gap, Jackson proceeded up the narrow Page Valley, which is wedged between the Blue Ridge and Massanutten Mountain, and struck not the main Union army in the Valley at Strasburg, but the much smaller garrison at Front Royal.

On 23 May 1862, Jackson attacked Front Royal, routing the inferior Union force under Colonel Kenly, and forcing Banks to abandon his position at Strasburg to protect the much more important position at Winchester.  This battle was notable for two regiments designated the 1st Maryland, one Union and one Confederate, fought in battle.  Two days later, Jackson and Banks would fight at Winchester...

For the National Park Service account of the Battle of Front Royal, check here:

Finally, here is the Civil War Daily Gazette's account of the day's actions:

Off to Winchester...

Live well!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Medieval University & the Arts

In this graduation season, it is interesting to recall the Medieval origins of the University.  In these universities, there were four faculties -- each of which still retain their own hood colors in modern academic garb -- Arts (White), Theology (Red), Law (Purple), and Medicine (Green).  Historically, the highest degree in Arts was the Master's degree, while Law and Medicine, as today, terminated with a Doctor's degree.

File:Septem-artes-liberales Herrad-von-Landsberg Hortus-deliciarum 1180.jpg
The Seven Liberal Arts from Hortus deliciarum of Herrad von Landsberg (+1195AD)

These excerpts from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia give you an idea of the curriculum and course of study for those in the Arts faculty:
The studies leading to the Baccalaureate varied naturally with the length of time required. Those prescribed at Oxford in 1267 were as follows:

  1. The Old Logic: Porphyry, "Isagoge", the "Categoriae" and "De Interpretatione" of Aristotle, and the "Sex Principia" of Gilbert de la Porrée, twice; the Logical Works of Boethius (except "Topics", book IV), once.
  2. The New Logic: Aristotle, "Priora Analytica", "Topica", "De Sophisticis Elenchis", twice; "Posteriora Analytica", once.
  3. Grammar: Priscian, "De Constructionibus", twice; Donatus, "Barbarismus", once. Or, in place of Grammar, Natural Philosophy: Aristotle, "Physica", "De Anima", "De Generatione et Corruptione".
  4. To have "responded" "De Sophismatibus" for a year, or to have heard the "Posteriora Analytica" twice instead of once. [Anstey, "Munimenta Academica", 35, 36. Rashdall, "Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages", II, Pt. II, 455.]

The following list includes the books that were to be "read," or lectured on, by the Masters of the Faculty of Arts, at Paris in 1254. It covers the period of six or seven years from entrance, or matriculation, up to the Master's degree, and, were the "disputations" added, it might be regarded as typical of the Arts course in the medieval universities generally. A specific date was set for finishing the "reading" of each book.  
  1. Old Logic: Porphyry, "Isagoge" (Introduction to the Categoriae); Aristotle, "Categoriae" and "Perihermenia"; Boethius, "Divisiones" and "Topica," except Bk. IV.
  2. New Logic: Aristotle, "Topica," "Elenchi," "Analytica Priora," and "Analytica Posteriora."
  3. Ethics: Aristotle, "Ethica," (ad Nichomachum), four books.
  4. Metaphysics: Aristotle, "Metaphysica."
  5. Astronomy: Aristotle, "De Coelo," "Meteora," first Bk.
  6. Psychology and Natural Philosophy: Aristotle, "Physica," "De Animalibus," "De Anima," "Da Generatione," "De Causis (attributed at the time to Aristotle), "De Sensu et Sensato," "De Somno et Vigilia," "De Plantis," "De Memoria et Reminiscentia," "De Morte et Vita," Costa Ben Luca, "De Differentia Spiritus et Animae."     
  7. Grammar and Rhetoric: Priscian Major (16 books of his "Institutiones Grammaticae"), Priscian Minor (last two books of the same); Gilbert de la Porrée, "Sex Principia"; Barbarismus (third book of Donatus, "Ars Major"); Priscian, "De Accentu," (Cf. Chartularium Univ. Paris, Part I, n. 246.)

Thus, the Arts degree assumed competence in both the Trivium (the "Arts" of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (the "Sciences" of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy).  I wonder how many holders of Master of Arts degrees are ready to lecture from Aristotle's Categories?

Live well!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Music of New Spain

Many folks are not aware of the rather impressive musical contributions made by composers in the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Spain.  Another day, I will have to explore the music of the other major Viceroyalties of the Latin New World.
File:Nueva España 1795.png
The Viceroyalty of New Spain at its geographical greatest extent.

Take for instance the Spanish-born Hernando Franco (+1585AD) who would be musically active in Guatemala and Mexico.  This is a setting he wrote of the Salve Regina:

Here is a setting of the Regina Caeli by the same composer:

Worthy of note, too, is that the Church featured in the images of this video is the Church of Santa Prisca in the silver-mining town of Taxco, just south of Mexico City.

Next, from the Portuguese-born Gaspar Fernandes (+1629), this being his Piezas para la entrada del Virrey don Diego Fernández de Córdoba.  These pieces were written, as the name implies, for the arrival in Puebla, Mexico of the Viceroy of New Spain, Diego Fernández de Córdoba y López de las Roelas, Marquis of Guadalcázar and Count of Posadas (Viceroy of New Spain, 1612-1621AD):

Moving along, we have Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (+1664), a Spanish-born composer who was mainly active in Puebla, Mexico, and head of the choir in that city.  This is a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah:

The images in this video are from Puebla, Mexico -- again giving you an idea of the architecture of colonial New Spain.  The cathedral of Puebla, like Santa Prisca in Taxco, is magnificient, indeed!

We might also note Francisco Lopez Capillas (+1673) who was Mexican-born. This is a setting of the Laudate Dominum found in the archives of the Cathedral of Oaxaca, Mexico:

Now, some music from one of the more prominent of the Mexican-born, mestizo, composers, Manuel de Zumaya (+1755AD), the Kappelmeister of the cathedral of Mexico City from 1715-1734, when he moved to Oaxaca.  This is a setting of Angelicas Milicas by Fr. Zumaya:

Showing he can handle the more solemn, as well, here is a setting of Hieremiae Prophetae Lamentationes -- the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah -- also by Manuel de Zumaya:

Finally, the Cuban-born composer, Esteban Salas y Castro (+1803AD), master of the choir at the cathedral of Santiago de Cuba from 1764AD, who wrote this setting of the Communio from the Requiem Mass:

My search for the equivalent music from the colonal English world is turning up rather dry.  For the Viceroyalties of Peru and Brazil, however, I have more for later posts...

Live well!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


This Sunday, as we enjoy a day of rest, we may well enjoy a good cup of coffee.  Taken for granted, there is much to coffee, from its different species to its unique process of production.

There are two primary species of coffee grown commercially, Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta (or canephora).  Both are members of the Rubiaceae family, the Madder family.  C. arabica is native to East Africa and the Arabian peninsula-- hence the name "arabica."  It is known for its splendid quality and comparatively smooth flavor.

File:Coffea arabica - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-189.jpg
Coffea arabica

Coffea robusta, also referred to as C. canephora, a West African native, is a much more robust coffee, as the name implies, that has a more earthy flavor and higher caffeine content.

Unripe C. robusta berries.

Today, C. arabica dominates yields in central and Andean America, along with East Africa.  C. robusta is dominate in West Africa and Southeast Asia.  Countries such as Brazil (which, incidentally, is the world's leading producer) grow both.

File:Carte Coffea robusta arabic.svg
This map illustrates current coffee production by species: r (dark green) is C. robusta, a (yellow) is C. arabica, and m (light green) is both species.

The C. arabica of the East African nation of Ethiopia are my personal favorite.  It is rather interesting to see the steps in the production of coffee, and this video clip presents it as it is in Ethiopia:

Of course, the cultural history of coffee as a drink is another interesting aspect.  Originally, coffee seemed to have been perceived as an Islamic drink.  Later, coffeehouses had quite the reputation for sedition and the spread of radical ideas.  Worthy of note, too, is the story of the Capuchin friar, Blessed Marco d'Aviano, the chaplain of the Christian relief army at Vienna in 1683AD, who supposedly created cappucino from captured Ottoman coffee.

If you are looking for some excellent coffee, and a worthy group to purchase from, you can't do much better than Mystic Monk Coffee:

Live well!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The House of Stuart

Today the Juniors and Seniors of Holy Family Academy will present the play, Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller (+1805).  It is splendid to be able to bring alive dramatic works that have been around for more than a couple decades! 

File:Mary Stuart Queen.jpg
Mary, Queen of Scots (1559AD), after Francois Clouet (+1572)

On the historic side of things, Mary, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542-1567, +1587), endured a tragic life.  Her father, James V of Scotland (reigned, 1513-1542), died when she was but 6 days old.

At the celebration of her marriage to the dauphin of France, her new Father-in-law died in the joust associated with the festivities.  The next year, her husband, Francis II (reigned 1559-1560), died of a brain abscess from a severe ear infection.

She would finally return to Scotland, to try to rule the Presbyterian kingdom as a Catholic.   In 1565, she wed her unpopular cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.  This marriage proved unhappy, but at least produced an heir, James (who would be James VI of Scotland and James I of England).  In the end, Darnley would be assassinated in 1567, and in what is the object of much historical debate, Mary wed a man probably involved in the plot, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, and this under odd circumstances.

To make a long story short, Mary would be forced to abdicate and to flee Scotland in the face of internal unrest, and she took refuge in England, ruled by her cousin, Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603).  She would be imprisoned there, and, in 1587, executed.  Meanwhile, her son, James VI (Reigned in Scotland 1567-1625, and in England 1603-1625) inherited England with the death of Elizabeth in 1603AD, bringing the House of Stuart to the throne of England.

This seems an opportune moment to lay out the royal line of Stuart, from its becoming the royal line of Scotland in 1371AD, until the death of Cardinal Henry of York, the last English Stuart claimant.  This lineage also shows why the Stuarts became the royals of England, why George I of Hanover inherited the throne, and why, with the death of Cardinal Henry, the Catholic claim shifted to the Kings of Piedmont.  Stuart claimants without the crown are marked with a *.  The formatting for this has not be cooperative; pardon any defects thereof:

Kingdom of Scotland

House of BRUCE                                House of STEWART (Stuart)
Robert I                                James, 5th Steward of Scotland
(Scotland, 1306-1329)                                  (+1309)
      |                   \                                |
David II                 Marjorie Bruce = Walter, 6th Steward
(Scotland, 1329-1371)              (+1316)                   (+1326)
                                     Robert II
                          (Scotland, 1371-1390)
                     Robert III
                         (Scotland, 1390-1406)
                    James I
                (Scotland, 1406-1437)
                   James II
                       (Scotland, 1437-1460)
                   |                       House of TUDOR
           James III                             Henry VII       Kingdom of England
             (Scotland, 1460-1488)       (England, 1485-1509)
                 |                       /                 \
          James IV = Margaret Tudor                Henry VIII
  (Scotland, 1488-1513)    (+1541)             (England, 1509-1547)
               |                                       /              |         \
         James V = Mary of Guise                   Mary I        Elizabeth I    Edward VI
(Scotland, 1513-1542)  (+1560)    (England, 1553-1558) (E, 1558-1603)  (E, 1547-1553)
Mary, Queen of Scots
(Scotland, 1542-1567, +1587)
               |                                               House of BOURBON
James VI (I of England)                                               Henry IV of France
(Scotland, 1567-1625; England 1603-1625)            (France, 1589-1610)
                        |                      \                         |
Frederick V = Elizabeth                              Charles I = Henriette Marie
(Palatinate, 1610-1623, +1632)(+1662)     (EngScot, 1625-1659) (+1669)           
                              \                           /                  |                      \
Ernest Augustus    =    Sophia                          Charles II             James II                  Henrietta of Orleans
(Brunswick- Lüneburg, +1698) (+1714) (EngScot, 1660-1685)  (EngScot, 1685-1688)      (+1670)
                |                                                   /       |            \                     |     House of SAVOY
           George I                                                    Mary II    Anne        James [III]*     Anne Marie = Victor Amadeus II
(Hanover, 1698-1727, GB after 1714)(ES, 1688-1694) (ES, 1702-1714)  (+1766)    (+1728)   (Sardinia, 1675-1730)
           |                                                                       /         \                              |
George II                                                       "Bonnie Prince" Charles*        Cardinal Henry*      Charles Emmanuel III
(GB-Hanover, 1727-1760)                                 (+1788)                                (+1807)                (Sardinia, 1730-1773)
           |                                                                                                                 |
Frederick, Prince of Wales                                                                                                               Victor Amadeus III
(+1751)                                                                                                                                     (Sardinia, 1773-1796)
        |                                                                                              /                |
George III                                                                                   Charles Emmanuel IV*         Victor Emmanuel I*
(GB-Hanover, 1760-1820)                                                        (Sardinia, 1796-1802, +1819)   (Sardinia, 1802-1821)

Live well!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Ascension of Christ

Forty days after the Resurrection of Our Divine Lord, He Ascended into Heaven, we read in the Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11:

The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach, Until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And eating together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth. For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.

They therefore who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power: But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem...

For more details and customs associated with this great and high feast of Ascension Thursday, you can't do much better than this site:

Of course, the site of this event is the great Mount of Olives just across the valley from the old city of Jerusalem.  Most specifically, the Chapel of the Ascension:

In most of the United States, the obligation and observation of this great feast is transferred to the following Sundays -- except those in the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston (MA, ME, NH, VT), Hartford (CT, RI), New York City (NY), Newark (NJ), Philadelphia (PA), and Omaha (NE).

Still, happy Feast!  Live well!

Ascension of Christ by Garofalo (1520AD)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Here is a delightful little video on the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis), one of the largest and more unique members of the Order Rodentia.  The host is the acclaimed British naturalist David Attenborough.  This is not only rather well done, but it is quite informative, too.  Enjoy the tidbit about the Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus)!

Of course, it is also interesting to note the historical role that Beavers, with their valuable pelts, played in the exploration and settlement of North America.  Fur dominated the trade of New France and fueled much of the European interest in the interior of the continent (other pelts factored in, as well).  This economic interest in the Beaver is reflected in the crest of the English Hudson's Bay Company that controlled Rupert's Land until its sale to Canada in 1870AD  -- notice the Beavers in the quarters of the shield:

["HBC-coa" by Qyd - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -]

Thus, fortunes and lives were made and lost in the quest for these rodents...

File:American Beaver.jpg
North American Beaver (Castor canadensis)
["American Beaver" by Steve from washington, dc, usa - American Beaver. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

150th of the Battle of Drewry's Bluff

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Drewry's Bluff.  The battle involved the attempt by a flotilla of Union gunboats to force their way up the James River to Richmond.  This naval action was in conjuntion with the larger Peninsula Campaign of US General George B. McClellan.

The Confederates had fortifications, called Fort Darling, atop Drewy's Bluff that sat on the south/west bank, overlooking a key bend in the James, and offering a commanding view of the river.  With the Confederate gunboat Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) out of the way, and Union troops now past Williamsburg, the Union flotilla probed Confederate defenses on this day.  These included the famous Monitor and the Galena.

File:Peninsula Campaign March 17 - May 31, 1862.png
A Map of the Peninsula Campaign through May 1862 (including the action at Drewry's Bluff); Map by Hal Jespersen

The National Park Services battle summary can be found here:

Here is the account at the Civil War Daily Gazette:

The battle did not unfold favorably for the Union -- the guns on the bluff, combined with the obstacles in the river preventing forward progress meant that the flotilla would be forced to withdraw.  The NPS page on their facility at Drewry's Bluff (part of Richmond National Battlefield Park) gives the following description:

"The Federal squadron steamed around the bend in the river below Drewry's Bluff early on the morning of May 15. The force, under Commander John Rodgers, consisted of five ships. The ironclad Galena and gunboats Port Royal, Aroostook, and Naugatuck joined the famous Monitor to comprise Rodgers' force. At 7:15 a.m. the Galena opened fire on the fort, sending three giant projectiles toward the Confederate position.

The five Union ships anchored in the river below the fort. When Confederate batteries in the fort replied, the whole vicinity shook with the concussion of the big guns. Southern infantry lined the banks of the river to harass the sailors. On the Monitor, the rifle balls of the sharpshooters 'pattered upon the decks like rain.'

On the bluff the defenders encountered several problems . The 10-inch Columbiad recoiled so violently on its first shot that it broke its carriage and remained out of the fight until near the end. A casemate protecting one of the guns outside the fort collapsed, rendering that piece useless.

After four long hours of exchanging fire, the 'perfect tornado of shot and shell' ended. With his ammunition nearly depleted, Commander Rodgers gave the signal to discontinue the action at 11:30. His sailors suffered at least 14 dead and 13 wounded, while the Confederates admitted to 7 killed and 8 wounded. A visitor wrote that the Galena "looked like a slaughterhouse" after the battle. The massive fort on Drewry's Bluff had blunted the Union advance just seven miles short of the Confederate capital. Richmond remained safe." 

The battle would have a unique link to the Marine Corps of both sides of the conflict -- for the Union, Corporal John F. Mackie would earn the Medal of Honor in the fighting on 15 May 1862.  For the Confederacy, Fort Darling was the base of operations for the Confederate Marine Corps, and also the site of their Naval Academy.

US Corporal John Mackie on the Galena,
earning his Medal of Honor.

In you ever find yourself on the southside of Richmond, Virginia, a visit to the site of Drewry's Bluff and the remnants of Ft. Darling are well worth a visit.  It is maintained as part of Richmond National Battlefield Park.  More here:

Live well!