Little Bits of History

April 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2017

1457 BC: The Battle of Megiddo is fought. The Egyptian forces were led by the Pharaoh, Thutmose III while the opposition was a coalition of Canaanite vassal states led by the King of Kadesh. The battle is noteworthy because it is the earliest battle to have been recorded in what is today considered to be relatively reliable detail. It was not written about at the time of the battle itself, but rather later in the Pharaoh’s life when he had his scribe/historian write out the wonders of his many conquests. The hieroglyphic writings were preserved in the Hall of the Annals in the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, Thebes or what is today, Luxor. Tjaneni was the author.

The battle was the 21st day of the first month of the third season of Year 23 of the reign of Thutmose III which calculated to this date, according to the Middle Chronology. Other publications put the date in 1482 BC or 1479 BC. The battle was an Egyptian victory and not only were the Canaanite forces defeated, but they were forced to flee to city of Megiddo which was then placed under a lengthy siege. The battle was the first where composite bows were used and it was the first to have had a fairly accurate body count. Thutmose led between 10- and 20,000 men into battle with 4,000 killed and another 1,000 wounded. The Canaanites had between 10- and 15,000 men fighting with 8,300 killed and another 3,400 captured.

This was Thutmose’s first campaign in the Levant (a term first used 3,000 years later to describe the eastern region of the Mediterranean Sea and the lands found there) and is also sometimes referred to as the Fertile Crescent region, the lands of the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates Rivers. The Pharaoh brought his scribe with him and Tjaneni kept a daily journal on parchment. Years later, in the 42nd regnal year and after Thutmose’s campaigns in the Levant had ended with great expansion of lands under his control, he had his scribe write out the history of his illustrious battles. Also included were the tribute received from the conquered and the gifts offered to Amun-Re.

Megiddo is an archaeological tell or mound found in present day northern Israel about 20 miles southeast of Haifa. This important site is more familiarly known by its Greek name, Armageddon. During this time in history, it was an important Canaanite city-state. It was first settled in the Early Bronze Age about 3500 BC – 3100 BC and there have been 26 layers of excavation at the site. Megiddo was at its largest during the Middle Bronze Age and was still able to prosper after Thutmose conquered it during this campaign in the Late Bronze Age. During this time, and elaborate palace was built there.

By 3000 B.C. the art of Egypt was so ripe and so far advanced that it is surprising to find any student of early culture proposing that the crude contemporary art of the early Babylonians is the product of a civilization earlier than that of the Nile. – James Henry Breasted

Egypt gave birth to what later would become known as ‘Western Civilization,’ long before the greatness of Greece and Rome. – John Henrik Clarke

Our earliest evidence of government, in the ruins of Babylon and Egypt, shows nothing but ziggurats and pyramids of wasted taxpayer money, the TARP funds and shovel-ready stimulus programs of their day. – P. J. O’Rourke

A book has got smell. A new book smells great. An old book smells even better. An old book smells like ancient Egypt.  – Ray Bradbury

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Gettin’ Outta Dodge

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2015
Bat Masterson in 1879

Bat Masterson in 1879

April 16, 1881: Bat Masterson arrives in Dodge City, Kansas. William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was born in 1853 in Quebec. He was a prominent figure in the Old Wild West of American folklore. He had two brothers, James and Ed; both were lawmen. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas in the 1850s. Eventually there were five brothers and two sisters born to the Irish immigrants. Ed, Bat, and Jim left the family farm to become buffalo hunters. Bat, out on his own, fought in the Battle of the Adobe Walls in Texas and then spent time working as a scout for the US Army. In 1876, Bat participated in his first gunfight – over a girl. The soldier who attacked him and the girl in question were both killed while Bat recovered from a gunshot wound to the pelvis.

In 1877, Bat joined his brothers in Dodge City who were both working with the US Marshals. The confrontational Bat was soon in trouble with the law, but after his release from jail, he served as a deputy with Wyatt Earp and Bat was soon elected county sheriff for Ford County, Kansas. He was cleaning up the area and gaining the confidence of the citizenry. Although still sheriff, he took part in a conflict in Colorado regarding railroads. Ed, the eldest brother, was killed in the line of duty in 1878. He was 25 years old at the time. The assailants were not aware that Bat had returned and he managed to kill the man who shot his brother.

Bat left town and made his living as a gambler and moved around the Wild West. Wyatt Earp invited Bat to Tombstone, Arizona so that he might manage a gambling concession in a saloon. While there, he received an urgent, unsigned telegram stating that two men were trying to kill his younger brother, Jim. He returned to Dodge City on this day. Updergraff and Peacock were Jim’s partners, running a saloon. Peacock was a dishonest drunk and Jim demanded Updergraff, his brother-in-law, fire him. Threats were made and the telegram sent. Bat got off the train and recognized the two men who were supposed to be threatening his brother. Shots were fired; Updergraff was wounded (but eventually recovered). Bat was arrested and later found out his brother had not been in danger. Since citizens had randomly participated in the shoot-out, no one knew who had wounded Updergraff. Bat was fined $8.00 and released. He and Jim left Dodge City. It was Bat’s last gunfight.

Jim died in 1895 at the age of 39. Bat lived much longer, dying in 1921 at the age of 67. He had lived through a raucous, lawless time in the Wild West. His latest biographer concludes that aside from sanctioned fighting (wars/raids), he used his gun against other people only six times, far less than some of the other gunslingers of his day. His fame is attributed to a joke played on a gullible journalist in August 1881. A wide-eyed naïve journalist asked a Colorado resident about tales of the lawless west and his host pointed to a nearby young man (Bat Masterson) and said he had killed 26 men and then gave details. Masterson’s fame was based on lies.


We are rough men and used to rough ways. – Bob Younger to a newspaper reporter following the 1876 Northfield, Minnesota raid

For my handling of the situation at Tombstone, I have no regrets. Were it to be done again, I would do it exactly as I did it at the time. – Wyatt Earp

Never run a bluff with a six-gun. – Bat Masterson

Also on this day: Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
Goya Sunk – In 1945, the Russians sunk the German refugee ship.
High Flyer – In 1912. Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Taking Marbles; Leaving – In 1858, the Wernerian Natural History Society ceased to exist.
Great Neighbors – In 1818, the Rush-Bagot Treaty was ratified in the US.

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Great Neighbors

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2014
Rush-Bagot Treaty memorial

Rush-Bagot Treaty memorial

April 16, 1818: The Rush-Bagot Treaty is ratified in the US. The treaty was between the US and Britain following the War of 1812. That war was fought between June 18, 1812 and February 18, 1815 and ended in a draw with little accomplished other than thousands killed and many more wounded. Many of the battles took place on the Great Lakes. The US allies included the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek while the British were helped by over a dozen tribes and Spain. Their rule of Canada remained intact at the end of the war. The war did finalize some of the unresolved issued left over from the Revolutionary War but no borders were changed and Canada remained a British colony.

The purpose of the treaty signed on this date was to demilitarize the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. The British maintained several different military installations along the international boundary and these were to be dismantled and vacated. British North America and the US could each maintain one and only one ship of not more than 100 tons burden on both Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. They could each have one and only one cannon not to exceed eighteen pounds at each site as well. The other four of the Great Lakes could each have two ships of similar size and cannon also within this limit. Between this treaty and the one actually ending the war, it was set up to demilitarize the boundary between the US and Canada.

The ideas put forth in the treaty were first established in correspondence between acting US Secretary of State Richard Rush and British Minister to Washington Sir Charles Bagot exchanged on April 27 and 28, 1817. The terms were officially written up as the Rush-Bagot Agreement and presented to Congress. On this date, the Senate ratified the treaty. The Treaty of Washington in 1871 completed the disarmament and the entire border was thus affected. In 1946, both the US and Canada agreed through diplomatic exchange, to permit naval vessels on the Great Lakes to be used for training as long as each government was advised prior to the movement of ships to the area. In 2004, the US Coast Guard began to arm its 11 Great Lakes ships with M240 7.62 mm machine guns to help control the increase in smuggling operations on the lakes.

Today, there are still military installations on or near the Great Lakes. Canada maintains 17 such installations scattered throughout Ontario. The US has 11 such installations scattered across five states. This treaty created the longest east-west boundary in the world which stretched for 5,527 miles. Today, the Canada-US border is the longest demilitarized border anywhere. Each of the two countries has a plaque commemorating the Rush-Bagot Agreement and celebrates the ability to live in close proximity without malice and without military protection of an agreed upon border. There is a plaque in Kingston, Ontario, one in Washington, D.C., and a third is located on the ground of Old Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, New York), as well.

When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, ‘Well, what do you need?’ – Steven Wright

Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity. – Marshall McLuhan

If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia. – Margaret Atwood

Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party. – Robin Williams

Also on this day: Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
Goya Sunk – In 1945, the Russians sunk the German refugee ship.
High Flyer – In 1912. Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Taking Marbles; Leaving – In 1858, the Wernerian Natural History Society ceased to exist.

Goya Sunk

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2013


April 16, 1945: A German refugee ship, Goya, is sunk by a Russian submarine. The ship was built as a freighter at the Akers Mekunika Verksted shipyard in Oslo, Norway in 1940. She was 476 feet long and 57 feet wide and weighed 5,230 tons. Her top speed was 18 knots. During World War II, Germany occupied Norway and in 1943 the ship was seized by the Germans to be used as a troop transport.

On this date, the Goya was part of a convoy sailing away from the Hel Peninsula and crossing the Baltic Sea on the way to Germany. Operation Hannibal saw many ships sailing across the frigid waters. The Goya was overloaded with passengers who were fleeing from the Red Army. The ship was transporting both refugees and Wehrmacht troops. Records show there were 6,100 passengers listed, but it is thought many more hundreds of people were crammed aboard.

As the convoy was moving out of Danziger Bay, they were tracked by a Soviet minelayer L-3 submarine. Many of the ships were faster than the sub, but there were some ships in the convoy experiencing engine trouble. There was a 20 minute delay while engines were repaired. The Russian captain, Vladimir Konovalov, gave the order to fire on the Goya at 11:52 PM. Sources disagree on the exact time it took for the ship to sink, some giving four minutes while others list the time as seven minutes. But all agree within minutes, the Goya had sunk. She was a freighter, overcrowded, and without any lifeboats.

Nearby ships saved 183 people, but four of them died shortly thereafter. Some sources say as many as 334 people were saved. As the ship sunk in the frigid waters, between 6,000-7,000 passengers drowned or died of hypothermia. Over the next few weeks, thousands of bodies washed up on nearby shores. The Soviet captain was rewarded with the highest military decoration available. He was given the Hero of the Soviet Union award and promoted to rear admiral. The ship’s remains have been discovered resting in the frigid waters and found to be remarkably intact.

“The last great decisive battle of this year will mean the annihilation of (the Soviet Union) …. The enemy is already beaten and will never be in a position to rise again.” – Adolf Hitler, 1941.

“The stakes of war are the existence, the creation, or the elimination of States.” – Raymond Aron

“The problem after a war is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?” – A.J. Muste

“War is death’s feast.” – John Ray

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Vladimir Konovalov was born to a Jewish family in what is now the Ukraine in 1911. The family moved when he was young and he studied at the Donetsk National Technical University before joining the Soviet Navy in 1932. He graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1936. He was a submariner serving in the Black Sea Fleet and in 1940 was appointed as second in command of the Soviet submarine L-3. He was promoted to her commander in March 1943. The minelayer was involved in 11 torpedo attacks while under Konovalov’s command. He won a variety of awards for his service during World War II. He was promoted to the rank of rear admiral before his death in 1967.

Also on this day: Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
High Flyer – In 1912. Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Taking Marbles; Leaving – In 1858, the Wernerian Natural History Society ceased to exist.

Taking Marbles; Leaving

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2012

Abraham Gottlob Werner

April 16, 1858: The Wernerian Natural History Society ceases to exist. The Scottish society was named for Abraham Gottlob Werner and was a spin off from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Werner was a German geologist who died in 1817. His belief system, called Neptunism, has now been discredited. It stated all rocks were formed by the crystallization of minerals in the oceans of the newly formed Earth. The overall theory has been disproven although the formation of sedimentary rock is similar to the proposals of Neptunism.

Robert Jameson, Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh founded the Wernerian Society in 1808. He had studied under Werner at a mining academy in Frieberg, Saxony in 1800. After Jameson returned to Scotland, he wished to form a society of learned men to further natural history and scientific studies. The first meeting took place on March 2, 1808 although the society itself was founded on January 12 of that same year.

The elite group of nine scientists and laymen was headed by Jameson, but also included a botanist and anatomist as well as other scientifically interested men. There were two Presidents listed, one from the Royal Society and one from the Royal Irish Academy. Werner was an honorary member as well.

Between 1811 and 1839, the Society published eight volumes of memoirs with Jameson contributing over a dozen papers on geologic or mineralogical topics as well as more on the subjects of botany and zoology. After 1839 proceedings were published in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal rather than their own private publication. Jameson died in 1854 and without his leadership and interest, the society waned. The Society opted to shut down and sold off their assets on this date.

According to the common law of nature, deficiency of power is supplied by duration of time. – Robert Jameson

During my second year at Edinburgh [1826-27] I attended Jameson’s lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on Geology. – Charles Darwin

We learn geology the morning after the earthquake. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the City College of New York, and my great contribution to the field of geology is that I never entered it upon graduation. – Colin Powell

Also on this day:

Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
Goya Sunk – In 1945, the Russians sunk the German refugee ship.
High Flyer – In 1912. Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

High Flyer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2011

Harriet Quimby

April 16, 1912: Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly across the English Channel. She left Dover, England at 5:30 AM and was to fly to Calais, except that the cloud cover obscured her vision and after a 59 minute flight, she landed at Hardelot, France. Quimby was the first woman to get a pilot’s license in the United States when the Aero Club of America issued her license in 1910.

Harriet was born to a farming family in 1875. They lived in Coldwater, Michigan until early 1900 when the family moved to San Francisco. In the 1900 census, Harriet listed her employment as “actress.” Harriet moved to New York City in 1903 and worked as a writer for a newspaper called Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly. She was their theater critic as well as a photo-journalist who traveled the globe for writing assignments. She had over 250 articles published during her nine year tenure with the paper.

Harriet became interested in speed while writing about auto racing. She then went to the Aviation Tournament at Long Island, New York in 1910 and met a pilot. She was hooked and began taking lessons. She was not only concerned with flying, but the beautiful and talented woman also wrote 5 screenplays, all romances, that were filmed in 1911 as silent film shorts.

On July 1, 1912 she was flying in the Third Annual Boston Aviation meet with William Willard as a passenger. She had a new 2-seater Bleriot monoplane. The plane suddenly pitched forward when she was at 1,500 feet altitude and Willard fell from the plane. It is surmised, although unproven, that he leaned forward to speak with his pilot and threw the plane’s balance askew. After he fell, Quimby momentarily gained control, but without the ballast weight she could not maintain an even flight pattern. When she flew the plane without a passenger, she added weight to the second seat. She, too, fell from the plane. She died at the age of 37.

“Aviation is proof that given, the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.” – Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

“I owned the world that hour as I rode over it. free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds, but how inseparably I was bound to them.” – Charles Lindbergh

“If you want to grow old as a pilot, you’ve got to know when to push it, and when to back off.” – Chuck Yeager

“You know, being a test pilot isn’t always the healthiest business in the world.” – Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

Also on this day:
Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
Goya Sunk – In 1945, the Russians sunk the German refugee ship.

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Little Sure Shot

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 16, 2010

Little Miss Sure Shot, herself

April 16, 1922: Phoebe Mozee, or Moses, shoots 100 clay pigeons in a row from a distance of 16 yards at the age of 62. She was born to Quaker parents in Darke Country, Ohio in 1860 and was the fifth of seven children. When her father died and her mother remarried, she was sent to live in an orphanage. She had no formal schooling and later lived with a local family in near servitude where she was physically and mentally abused.

Phoebe became proficient with guns and could shoot with remarkable accuracy. She could shoot heads off running quail by the time she was twelve. She went to Cincinnati, Ohio when she was sixteen and bested Frank Butler, himself an accomplished marksman. In fact, he was so impressed with the backwoods girl, he eventually married her.

Phoebe was good with rifles, shotguns, and six-guns or pistols. The petite woman stood only five feet tall but her personally made her seem so much larger. She thrilled crowds at home and abroad. She once shot, with a .22 rifle, 4,472 out of 5,000 glass balls thrown into the air. She could hit playing cards that were thrown with the edge facing her. At 90 feet, she could hit a dime tossed in the air.

Phoebe and Frank toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for 17 years. Our heroine became famous worldwide for her skill with any kind of firearm. Chief Sitting Bull was so awed by her marksmanship, he dubbed her “Little Sure Shot.”  She toured Europe and even shot the ash from a cigarette held by Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Germany. She usually shot the ash from the cigarette as her husband held it between his lips, and the Crown Prince was willing to do this, but he only held it in his hand. She is best known by her middle name and a name she choose, seemingly from a place near her birth. We know her as Annie Oakley.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e.e. cummings

“Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep.” – Samuel Johnson

“Ability is of little account without opportunity.” – Napoleon

“If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today.” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1945 the refugee ship Goya was sunk in the Baltic Sea, killing thousands aboard.