Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Enter At Your Own Risk

  I am weary of Democrats politicizing every school shooting. If they would put as much energy into actually making our schools safer rather than exploiting these tragedies maybe we could protect our children. I have put a lot of thought into this issue over the years and I have a few suggestions on how to prevent school shootings in the future. The problem is gun free zones. Gun Free Zones are soft targets and we must be harden them at all costs.

1. At the beginning of each school year screen every employee working in the school. The principal, teachers, teachers aids, maintenance workers and janitors. Find out which school employees have military experience, combat experience, law enforcement experience and weapons experience. These people should be looked at as an important resource. Obviously everyone who has been in the military is not necessarily an expert with a pistol but there are plenty of veterans who are. Do background checks on each employee. The ones that pass a background check should be given yearly refresher courses on weapons safety and rules of engagement. Allow these hand selected employees to carry concealed weapons. Of course this program would be voluntary. 

2. Encourage parents and grandparents of the students to volunteer their time who also meet the above criteria and allow them to be armed on school property. They could patrol the interior and exterior of the schools during school hours.

3. I don't want to take credit for this one because I heard it on a talk show but it makes sense. Set up a gate system within the school. This would trap a shooter to a small area whenever the gates are activated. 

4. The only backpacks that should be allowed in a school are the clear see through type.

5. Set up an exchange badge system. Limit the students and school employees to just a few entry and exit points. Every student and employee should have two photo ID badges that are identical except for the color. For example the student or employee would carry a blue ID card and exchange it for a red ID card. Have turnstiles for entry and exit. Visitors should be screened through a separate secure area. This could be monitored by security personnel or the teachers themselves.

6. This is another idea worth consideration that I heard on the Rush Limbaugh show. Allow students to take on line classes from home.

7. Last but not least take down those god awful Gun Free Zone signs. Replace them with signs that read (The Use Of Deadly Force Is Authorized. All Criminals Enter At Your Own Risk) or (Staff Heavily Armed And Trained Any Attempt To Harm Children Will Be Met By Deadly Force). Place them at every school entrance and at the entrance of the roads leading into school property. People like Nicklaus Cruz might be crazy but they ain't stupid.  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Party Of Death

  Andrew Jackson, who is credited with founding the Democrat Party, was called a Jackass by so many of his political enemies that he proudly used a Jackass as a political symbol in his campaign. The symbol came to characterize the Democrat Party as a whole. The leadership of the Democrat Party today could be characterized as Jackasses and Dumbasses for that matter but when you examine it's history the Grim Reaper would be a better symbol for the Democrat Party. It was the Party of slavery, the Trail of Tears, segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, and Japanese internment camps. The Party has been responsible for the holocaust of over fifty million unborn babies since 1973. It supports the Islamic religion that throws homosexuals off of buildings, stones women do death, decapitates Christians and Jews. Performs genital mutilation, conducts honor killings, fly's airliners into buildings, runs people down in the streets, blows people to smithereens and mows innocent people down with firearms. Democrat led cities have the highest crime and murder rates. More blacks die in our inner cities than have died in some of our wars. The Democrat policies such as the War on Poverty have been responsible for the destruction of the American family through promotion of welfare abuse, drug use and sexual promiscuity. Their support of the ACLU and the mythical separation of church and state is destroying our spiritual heritage. I could come up with many more examples but I think you get my point. All this needless death makes me very angry. We have had another school shooting and all the Democrats can talk about is gun control. Seventeen precious lives has been lost because of their insistence on gun free zones instead of actually doing something to stop these situations from happening. Guns are not the only answer for stopping the carnage but guns in the hands of the right people are a big part of the answer The Democrats continue to politicize the gun issue and innocent people will continue to die. A year from now we will have another shooting.  Nothing will get done, gun free zones will remain and the Party of Death will continue to live up to it's well deserved name.     

First Responders

  Whenever we have a mass shooting the same people come out of the woodwork to scream gun control and it always makes me fighting mad. Maybe that is because the older I get the more I appreciate the great wisdom behind our Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Next to the Bible they are the most sacred documents ever written. They are why Americans are the most unique and exceptional people on the planet. These documents recognize the self evident truth that the individual is supreme. Each of us has a God given right to life, liberty, and property. Jefferson changed property to the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence. However the term property had a broader meaning when John Locke originally wrote those words in his 2nd Treatise of Government. We have a property in our own life and our own liberty, As an individual we are primarily responsible for defending our lives when our lives are threatened and our liberty when it is also threatened. Or the lives and liberty of our loved ones. This morning when I was taking my shower while getting ready for work I had an epiphany. We call our police officers, firefighters, and paramedics first responders. That is not true. They are the second responders. As individuals we are the first responders. This is not to slam what they do. I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. However until the police officer arrives I am responsible for protecting my life and liberty. John Locke said that when the thief enters your home and binds you up, he not only has it in his power to rob you of your liberty but he has the power to rob you of your life. We should never under any circumstances surrender our liberty. The passengers on the four hijacked planes on September 11, 2001 surrendered their liberty to a small band of hijackers and they paid with their lives. Granted they were conditioned to believe that as in past hijackings there would be negotiations and hopefully they would be set free. Unfortunately they surrendered their liberty and the decision was no longer theirs. Flight 93 waited too late to fight back but as the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto they died on their feet and not on their knees. I tell my daughters, if you are ever approached by a man with a weapon in a parking lot and told to get in your car, or their car, do not do it. Fight, kick, scream, run, but do not give up your liberty. Even if you are shot or stabbed you are more likely to get help in that parking lot than out on a deserted road where they can do anything they want to and there is no one to help you.  If a fire breaks out in my home it is up to me to get my family and myself to safety, or put out the fire if that is possible before the fire department arrives. When someone has a medical emergency such as a heart attack, stroke, or is bleeding profusely, one or more people on the scene can mean the difference between life and death until the paramedics arrive. A gun is only one of many tools that we can use to fight for our liberty and our lives. What if the government passed a law saying that citizens were not allowed to own fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, or Scott air packs? Or what if they said that an individual was not allowed to own first aid kits, tourniquets, or defibrillators? As a nation of individuals we have to quit looking to the government for answers. My safety is my responsibility. Government is too big and too incompetent to provide it. They have proven that far too many times. Jefferson said that government is a necessary evil. He also said that the best government is the least government. It doesn't matter if Nicklaus Cruz was mentally ill or what possessed him to do what he did. There are thousands of Nicklaus Cruz's out there just waiting to harm us. So how do we prepare to protect ourselves against them? It is not important what he is thinking but it is important what we are thinking. Our thinking has to change. We are the primary protectors of our life and liberty. We are the first responders and no one else.   

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Day Theodore Roosevelt Visited Nashville - October 22, 1907

  The South had been ravaged by the Civil War. Especially in Middle Tennessee. Republican Presidents weren't popular in these parts for a long time. The Spanish American War in 1898 had given the North and South an opportunity for healing. Northern and Southern boys were serving together in the same army again. Former Confederate Officers  like Fighting Joe Wheeler had fought side by side with Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba. Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill had helped catapult him into the presidency and with the South's military tradition it loves military heroes. Nashville gave Roosevelt a warm welcome on the morning of October 22 1907 as his special train arrived at Union Station. On Broad the president climbed into a horse drawn carriage and was accompanied by 30 automobiles. The former Rough Rider was escorted by a troop of Confederate Veteran Cavalry. At 8th & Broad his procession was met by 2000 students from local schools such as the Hume and Fogg Schools, Buford College, the University of Tennessee Medical school, Radnor College, Boscobel College, Belmont College and St. Cecelia Academy. My two oldest sisters attended St. Cecelia in the 1950's and 60's. In May 1963 I stood on the corner of 8th and Broad as John Kennedy passed by on his way to Vanderbilt University. From 8th & Broad Roosevelt was taken to the Ryman Auditorium where he gave his main speech of the day. After the speech he boarded a 50 horse power Peerless automobile and began his journey to the Hermitage. The presidential procession drove out 2nd Ave to College Hill. This is the area of 2nd & Lindsley where if you are my age you will remember Howard School and the old Children's Museum. At that time Peabody College, the University of Nashville Medical College and Montgomery Bell Academy were located there. After Roosevelt addressed a crowd, while standing in his car, the procession continued out Lebanon road to the Hermitage. There Roosevelt was met by a crowd of 10,000 people. One of these people was the great grandfather of my wife's best friend Carolyn Robinson Blackford. His name was Thomas Monroe Givan and the picture of Roosevelt, along with a picture of Jackson's tomb were taken by him. Roosevelt was taken on a tour of the Hermitage and he promised to provide Federal funds to help in it's preservation. He was served lunch and this is where the myth was originated that Roosevelt loved Joel Cheeks Maxwell House coffee so much he quipped "This is "good to the last drop" In reality he was served coffee but no one really knows whose coffee that it really was. The Nashville Banner wrote that Roosevelt was quoted as saying  "This is the kind of stuff I like, by George, when I hunt bears."  Fourteen presidents have visited the Hermitage. James Monroe in 1819 to ask Andrew Jackson to become the territorial governor of Florida. Martin Van Buren was Jackson's Vice President and had been a close personal friend. James K. Polk on many occasions, especially in 1844 when he was running for president. Polk was a protege of Jackson and was nicknamed "Young Hickory". Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft in 1910, Theodore's cousin Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, Harry S.Truman, Lyndon Johnson in 1967, Ronald Reagan in 1982, and Donald Trump in 2017. Hayes was probably well received in the South because he ended reconstruction in 1877. Franklin Roosevelt had a replica facade of the Hermitage constructed on the front lawn of the White House as a reviewing stand for his 1937 inaugural parade. FDR was a god in the South because of TVA, rural electrification, and New Deal programs like the WPA and the CCC. He would solidify the Democrat Party's hold on the South for many years to come. Jackson was a hero to Truman and he would have Jackson's clothes measured on his trip in order to have a statue erected in front of the Jackson County court house in Kansas City Missouri. Finally Lady Bird Johnson rode in an actual carriage belonging to Jackson while LBJ walked along beside it. 
Roosevelt speaking on College Hill
Theodore Roosevelt Arriving at the Hermitage

Roosevelt at the tomb of Andrew Jackson

Picture taken by Thomas Givan

Thomas Monroe Givan

Thomas Givan as a baby

Thomas Givan and his family- Carolyn's grandfather Robert Thomas Givan is standing on the left

Robert Givan is sitting on the horse

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


  The battle of Chancellorsville - April 30 through May 6, 1863

  In 1991 my son Rob was stationed at Norfolk while his ship the USS Wainwright was in drydock. We took our vacation in Norfolk that summer. While there we visited Williamsburg, and Yorktown. I also took a day by myself to see several battlefields.  Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. Although Chancellorsville is considered Lee's greatest victory he could not have pulled it off without Stonewall Jackson. The Confederates were outnumbered more than two to one. General Hooker had a great plan. Hooker hoped to keep Lee pinned down at Fredricksburg while he circled in behind with the bulk of his army through the Wilderness, catching the Confederate Army in a vice, between his forces and those of General John Sedgewick at Fredricksburg. Hooker didn't figure on the boldness of Stonewall Jackson who was blocking his way as he came out of the Wilderness. Because of Jackson Hooker lost his nerve and the initiative and refused to venture any further. Although Chancellorsville is considered Lee's greatest victory I have to give the lions share of the credit to Stonewall Jackson. The hunter, Joseph Hooker, became the hunted. It was Jackson's idea to split Lee's forces, encircle Hooker, and fall on his right flank. Had Jackson been able to attack sooner, and had more daylight, it is quite possible that he could have routed the Union Army and captured the whole lot. This is why Jackson was wounded by friendly fire and later died. Night battles were rare in the Civil War but he smelled victory and was determined not to let it slip through his hands. The death of Jackson was a loss that the south would never recover from. In my opinion Jackson was the Souths best strategist and if the powers that be had listened to him he was their best chance for victory. One hundred and thirty thousand Union soldiers fought at Chancellorsville. Of those more than 17,000 were casualties. Seven thousand five hundred Union soldiers were killed. Out of  60,000 Confederates, more than 12,000 were casualties (three thousand five hundred were killed or reported as missing).
Jackson & Lee at Chancellorsville

The battle around Chancellors House

The remains of Chancellors House

The remains of Union soldiers after Chancellorsville

Stonewall Jackson's uniform coat he was wearing when wounded

The Battle of Liberty Gap - The Duck River Line - June 24 - 26, 1863

After the battle of Stones River the Confederates retreated to the Duck River line. Bragg made his headquarters in Tullahoma. The Confederate Army was defending four gaps. Hoovers Gap, Liberty Gap, Bell Buckle Gap, and Guys Gap. Hoovers Gap protected Manchester, Bell Buckle Gap protected the railroad and Guys Gap protected Shelbyville. The Confederacy suffered three major defeats during the summer of 1863. Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Hoovers Gap and the collapse of the Duck River line. In my view the fall of Vicksburg and the Duck River line were greater disasters for the Confederacy than Lee's defeat at Gettysburg. By the summer of 1863 there was virtually no chance that England and France would side with the Confederacy, even if Lee had scored a decisive victory. The opportunity for that had been lost at Antietam. Gettysburg was a battle fought for political rather than strategic objectives. Lee's incursion into the North cannot be described as an invasion. The definition of an invasion is when the invaders have the ability to occupy the land that they have invaded. The Confederate Army was not strong enough to do that. It would be better defined as a large raid. The only strategic value of this raid was that it drew the invading Union Army northward. The Union could be defined as invading the South because the they were strong enough to occupy territory. Even if Lee had won a great victory, destroyed the Army of the Potomac and captured Washington D.C. there was no guarantee that the North would have surrendered. Remember that the British captured Washington and burned the city, including the White House, and America did not surrender in the War of 1812. The fall of Vicksburg and the collapse of the Duck River Line were greater Union victories than Gettysburg for various reasons. The loss of Vicksburg meant that the trans Mississippi Confederate states of Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana were cut off from the rest of the Confederacy. There was no way to move troops and supplies in any great volume from west to east or east to west. Prior to the fall of Vicksburg Northern farmers were unable to move their crops to New Orleans for shipment. This helped fuel Democrat Copperhead sentiment against the war in the Midwestern states. Finally, a whole Confederate Army of thirty thousand men was captured at Vicksburg. The fall of the Duck River line opened the deep South to invasion. It would ultimately lead to the fall of Chattanooga which was the gateway to the deep South. Grant's victory at Chattanooga would catapult him into command of all Union armies and the ultimate defeat of the Confederacy. Gettysburg and Vicksburg captured the publics attention then, and has captured that of historians since because of large casualty counts and more famous commanders. General William S. Rosecrans ignominious defeat at Chickamauga would overshadow his brilliant strategic victory at Hoovers Gap on the Duck River line. In 1972, after I was discharged from the Air Force, I began hunting Civil War relics.around Middle Tennessee. During the Spring of 1972 we found a couple of good spots near Bell Buckle Tennessee where the battle of Liberty Gap was fought. One spot was where Liddell's Arkansas Brigade fought the battle on June 24, 1863. A very nice elderly man in his eighties named Webb Lynch owned a farm there. My brother-in-law and myself became very good friends with him. He told us that we could hunt on his place any time and we didn't have to ask his permission. Unfortunately the man who owned the farm across the road wasn't so nice and he forbade us to hunt on his property. His sisters who owned the farm directly behind his were very nice and allowed us to hunt a high hill on their property where we found many relics. These farms were not only fought over during the Civil War but mock battles were conducted there during the Tennessee maneuvers in WW2. We found almost as many WW2 relics as we did Civil War. I can safely say that my brother-in-law Hulon Helms, and myself, found a good third of our collections at Liberty Gap. Between the two of us we found a multitude of minie balls, a Union cartridge box plate, a Union breast plate, two bayonets, numerous Union buttons, artillery shrapnel, and half of a Confederate ID tag which had the last name of Leach and Boro Tn on it. We also found a WW2 mess kit with Pvt. Dabbs, Oct. 1941 etched into it. A WW2 whistle, Army Signal Corps ring and numerous M1 Garand blank cartridges. Hoovers Gap at Beech Grove Tennessee was the primary target of Rosecrans and is where he would turn Braggs right flank. The attack on Liberty Gap was a feint to take attention away from the real goal of the Union Army. In the six months prior to the attack on Hoovers Gap Rosecrans continued to probe toward Guys Gap on the Shelbyville Highway in an attempt to convince Bragg that would be the ultimate direction of attack. Bragg fell for it and was not prepared for the attack on Hoovers Gap. Wlilders Lightning Brigade of mounted infantry took the gap, even though they were outnumbered, armed with the Spencer repeating rifle. This was one of the first battles in the Civil War where this rifle was used. When Hoovers Gap fell Bragg had to retreat in order to protect his rear and the railroad to Chattanooga. Casualties are unknown for the Hoovers Gap campaign. However you can take it to the bank that they were vastly lower than Gettysburg and Vicksburg.
General August Willich at Liberty Gap

The New York Times in 1863

The New York Times 1863

Monument to the battle of Liberty Gap in Wartrace Tn.

Liberty Gap in the 1970's

Mr. Webb Lynch

Me hunting at Liberty Gap in the 1970's

My brother-in-law Hulon Helms at Liberty Gap 

A minie ball that Hulon found lying on top of the ground

Hulon after finding two six pounders 

Union Eagle button

Half of Confederate ID found at Liberty Gap

Part of my collection

Part of My collection

WW2 mess kit found at Liberty Gap

Etching on mess kit

October 1941 etched on mess kit
Army Signal Corps
Confederate Polygonal shell
The Confederate Polygonal shell breaks up into pentagon shaped shrapnel. Found at Liberty Gap

Gettysburg- July 1st through the 3rd 1863

Gettysburg was not Lee's finest hour. Longstreet tried to talk him into flanking the Union Army. Place his army on high ground between Washington D.C. or Baltimore and force the Union Army to waste itself in fruitless charges trying to dislodge the Confederates. Lee decided instead to waste his army attacking the Union Army on the high ground at Gettysburg. He might have had a chance at victory if Richard Ewell had taken Culps Hill when he had the chance. Or Longstreet hadn't dragged his feet on July 2nd and attacked Little Round Top before Warren ordered it occupied. Longstreet was actually urging a strategy similar to the one Stonewall Jackson excelled at. A rapid march around the enemies flank in order to occupy the ground of his choosing. To paraphrase Jackson, he said that he had seen positions that he could not take but he had never seen a position that he could not hold. He believed in defense in depth. I used to think that Lee was a greater general than he actually was. His strategy was too wasteful. It might have worked if Lee had commanded the Union Army with it's nearly unlimited amount of men and material. Lord knows in the early days of the war the North, especially in the East, could have won with a bold an aggressive commander like Lee in command.The Confederacy however could not afford the heavy casualties produced by Lee's aggressiveness. His casualties at Gettysburg made it the costliest battle of the war for the Confederates. There were 23,049 casualties for the Union (3,155 dead, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing). Casualties for the Confederacy were 28,063 (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured, and 5,425 missing), this amounted to more than a third of Lee's army.
Mary Thompson House

Mary Thompson House

Lutheran Seminary

Three captured Confederate Soldiers near the Lutheran Seminary

John Burns

McPherson's Ridge


Dedication of the Oak Hill peace monument  by franklin Roosevelt

Emmitsburg Road & Baltimore Pike during the Civil War

Elizabeth Thorn

Dead at the Rose Woods

Dead at the Rose Woods

Confederate soldier either torn up by artillery or eaten by animals 

Same position today

Rose Farm

Abraham Trostle Farm

Trostle Farm

Trostle Farm

Hole caused by a cannon ball in the Trostle Barn

Union dead @ the Triangular Field near Devils Den

Dead Confederate in Devils Den - Same body as in the sharpshooter Nest picture
Same position today

The Slaughter-Pen

Dead Confederate
Same position today

Dead Confederate @ Devils Den

Little Round Top

Little Round Top

Blaine Segroves on Little Round Top
Little Round Top


Nashville Inglewood Baptist bus tour @ the Tennessee monument

Lee's position on Seminary Ridge
Pickett - Pettigrew Charge

Picketts Charge from the Angle

Armistead leading the charge at the High Water mark

Leister House

Hole that the family moved to safety after Jennie was killed

Place where Jennies body was laid

Vicksburg May 18 to July 4, 1863

  Vicksburg was Grants finest hour. Beginning in the Spring of 1862 he would set his sights on the capture of Vicksburg. Grant, like Lincoln, evolved in his thinking about the war. Shiloh taught him that the war would not be short but long and bloody. Not only Southern armies but the people themselves would have to be defeated. This would evolve into a grand strategy placing equal pressure on all Southern armies simultaneously. Before Grant took command of all Union forces in the Spring of 1864 individual armies would fight big battles.Whether they won or lost they would withdraw or remain in place until they could replenish and resupply.  It would be weeks and sometimes months before active campaigning began again. After the Union victory at Gettysburg Lee was not attacked again until May of 1864. After the Union Army won at Stones River Bragg was not attacked for six months. When Grant took command he insured that Confederates forces would be under constant pressure until the end of the war. Vicksburg taught Grant that supply lines were not necessary in fertile regions of the South like Mississippi. This lesson was learned the hard way during Grants first overland attempt to capture Vicksburg. Earl Van Dorn captured Holly Springs Mississippi on December 20, 1862 and Nathan Bedford Forrest disrupted his supply lines in West Tennessee in late December and early January. This forced Grant to turn back and temporarily give up his first attempt to take Vicksburg. He learned a valuable lesson during his withdrawal. His army was able to live off of the land. This lesson would ultimately serve him well when he approached Vicksburg from the western side of the Mississippi River. After Porters flotilla of gunboats ran the heavy guns at Vicksburg Grant was able to cross the Mississippi River to Bruinsburg. From there he defeated the Confederates at Grand Gulf, Raymond and captured Jackson. From there he marched toward Vicksburg. On the way Grant defeated the Confederates at Champion Hill, Big Black River and laid siege to Vicksburg. The city surrendered on July 4, 1864. He did all of this without supply lines. Sherman would pull this feat off again during his Meridian campaign which was a dry run for the March to the Sea. The casualties for the battle and siege of Vicksburg were 4,910 Union soldiers. The Confederates lost 32,697 of which 29,620 were captured. The full campaign, since March 29, claimed 10,142 Union and 9,091 Confederate killed and wounded. In addition to his surrendered men Pemberton turned over 50,000 rifles and 172 cannon.


Porter runs the Vicksburg batteries

USS Cairo

Colorized USS Cairo

Caves near the Shirley

The Tennessee Battery

A Vicksburg Mine Explosion