Little Bits of History

January 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 23, 2017

1795: The Battle of Texel takes place during the War of the First Coalition. The war itself was fought between 1792 and 1797 and involved several European monarchies battling the French First Republic. This particular battle had the Republican French facing the Dutch Republic. Den Helder is located at the northern tip of North Holland and south of the island of Texal in what was, at the time, a shallow portion of Zuiderzee bBay. In the fall of 1794, the French began their conquest of the Netherlands and by January 1795 had taken Amsterdam to use as a winter base. Only eighty miles north, a Dutch fleet of fourteen ships was anchored at Den Helder.

The winter was exceptionally cold and the Zuiderzee froze solid. The 8th Hussar squadron was led by Jean-Guillaume de Winter northwards. He and his troops arrived at Den Helder on this night. The fleet was, as intelligence had suggested, trapped in the ice. Each hussar carried along on his horse, one infantryman of the 15th Line Infantry Regiment. They quietly approached the ships after the hussars had covered the horses’ hooves with fabric. The ice held and the hussars and infantrymen were able to complete the sneak approach and board the ships. The Dutch lost 14 warships and 850 guns along with several merchant ships. It is the only time in military history where cavalry captured a fleet. It is to be noted that one other time cavalry, on land, was able to secure the capture of two ships stuck on a sandbar.

The entire Dutch resistance was quashed when the fleet surrendered. There is some dispute about whether or not an actual battle with shots fired ever took place or whether the Dutch simply surrendered to overpowering forces. The French had been drafting young men for years prior to this and had a supply of infantrymen to take and hold lands. After the fall of the Low Countries, France established the Batavian Republic as a puppet state. The troops rolled on into Prussia and after a peace treaty with Spain, they were able to move eastward. By the following year, with three fronts advancing, one of them under Napoleon Bonaparte, the French troops linked up and could march on Vienna.

The French continued their move forward with some defeats. However, Napoleon’s creative battle tactics were able to offset these. By February 24, 1797 the last battle was fought resulting in an unconditional surrender to the French troops and Austria’s forces were the last to fall, this time. The Treaty of Campo Formia was signed in October and Austria ceded Belgium to France and recognized France’s control of the Rhineland and much of Italy. The War of the First Coalition ended although Great Britain and France remained locked in hostilities.

 It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse. – Adlai E. Stevenson

A siren is the sound of the twenty-first-century cavalry on the way. – Rosamund Lupto

We pay for the navy, and we have no commerce for the navy to protect; we pay for the army, and we loathe and execrate the work upon which it has been engaged. – John Edward Redmond

Neither the Army nor the Navy is of any protection, or very little protection, against aerial raids. – Alexander Graham Bell

Taken at Sea

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 23, 2015
Santa Maria,

Santa Maria

January 23, 1961: The Santa Maria, a Portuguese cruise ship, is hijacked.  The 609 foot long, 20,900 ton luxury cruise liner was the second largest ship in the Portuguese merchant navy at the time. It was owned by the Lisbon-based Companhia Colonial de Navegação and she and her sister ship, Vera Cruz, were the most luxurious Portuguese-flag liners at the time. The Santa Maria was used mostly for colonial trade to Angola and Mozambique in Africa and for migrant transportation to Brazil. The Atlantic crossing had several stops between Lisbon and Port Everglades. Madeira, Tenerife, La Guaira, Curacao, and Havana (later San Juan) were all stops between the two terminal ports of call.

On this day there were 600 passengers and 300 crew aboard ship. Men, women, and children were aboard as were 24 Iberian leftists led by Portuguese military officer and politician Henrique Galvão. He was a political foe of dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, the head of the Estado Novo regime. Galvão and his companions had boarded, some at La Guaira in Venezuela and some at Curacao. They pretended to be civilian passengers and their luggage had secret compartments in which to hide their weapons. When they seized the ship, the also cut off all communications. One officer was killed – 3rd Pilot Nascimento Costa – and several others were wounded before takeover was complete.

The rebels forced the crew to alter course. Captain Mario Simoes Maia was forced to sail where directed. It was several days before the missing ship was located by a massive US search effort. The sea and air search found the Santa Maria in the Mid-Atlantic and began communication with it. A fleet of US naval vessels, included four destroyers, surrounded the ship. Some of the destroyers were staffed with USMC infantry belonging to “G” Company, 2nd Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The fleet was under the command of Rear Admiral Allen E Smith. When surrounded, the Santa Maria was still fifty miles offshore of Recife, Brazil.

The admiral left his ship, the USS Gearing, and went to Galvão’s ship and began negotiations. The presidency in Brazil was soon to change and the incoming President was more sympathetic to Galvão and his followers. This was a bargaining chip. The day after negotiations began, the Santa Maria and the US Naval fleet of escorts, entered the harbor at Recife. There, Galvão and all 24 terrorists surrendered the ship and all passengers and crew in exchange for political asylum. Galvão eventually left Brazil for Angola to set up an renegade Portuguese government in opposition to Salazar. Galvão told his story in Santa Maria: my crusade for Portugal, published in 1961. Galvão remained in Angola where he died in exile in 1970 at the age of 75.

In politics, what appears is.

Do not discuss God and virtue. Do not discuss the homeland and its history. Do not discuss the authority and prestige. Do not discuss the family and its moral. Not discuss the glory of work and their duty.

Who is not patriotic can not be considered Portuguese.

Teach your children to work, teach your daughters modesty, teach all the virtue of economy. And if not make them saints, at least make them Christians.  – all from António de Oliveira Salazar

Also on this day: Shaanxi Earthquake – In 1556, the deadliest earthquake on record strikes central China.
More Than Vases – In 1368, the Ming Dynasty came to power in China.
Greenbriar Ghost – In 189, Elva Zona Heaster was murdered but did not leave this mortal coil.
Poppies – In 1912, the International Opium Convention was signed.
Cowboys and Indians – In 1870, the Baker Massacre took place.

Cowboys and Indians

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 23, 2014
 Marias or Baker Massacre

Marias or Baker Massacre

January 23, 1870:  The Marias Massacre takes place. Also known as the Baker Massacre, it involved the US Army and Piegan Blackfeet Indians during the Indian Wars. The Blackfoot Confederacy was comprised of Blackfoot, Blood, and Piegan tribes in the Montana Territory. Relations between the tribes and the influx of white settlers has been strained for years. Both sides behaved badly and hostilities escalated.

Owl Child was a young Piegan Blackfoot. In 1867 he stole some horses from Malcolm Clarke, a white trader in the area. Owl Child claimed they were payment for horses he had lost. He blamed the loss on Clarke. The trader and his son tracked Owl Child and found him with a group of Blackfeet. They beat him up. On August 17, 1869 Owl Child and a group of Piegan warriors found Clarke and killed him and seriously wounded his son. There were legends stating that Clarke had also raped a Blackfoot woman who was both a relative of his own wife and Owl Child. Oral history claimed that the woman gave birth as a result of this rape.

Clarke’s death infuriated white settlers of the area who called for the US Army to do something. Mountain Chief was the local leader and the army sent an ultimatum to him. In two weeks he would produce the corpse of Owl Child, or the US Army would attack. The time passed without a corpse being delivered. General Philip Sheridan sent in a squadron of cavalry to take care of the problem. It was led by Major Eugene Baker a known alcoholic. He was to find Mountain Chief.  Baker left Fort Ellis on January 6, 1870 and arrived at Fort Shaw to pick up two more companies of cavalry as well as two scouts, Joe Kipp and Joseph Cobell, who were both familiar with the Piegan bands. By order, non-hostile bands were to be left alone.

They left Fort Shaw on January 19. Three days later they saw a small band of Piegan (5 lodges) and were told others considered to be hostile were farther upriver. The company moved along and found a larger camp with 32 lodges. They positioned themselves and Kipp, the scout tried to warn that this was Heavy Runner’s camp and peaceful. Kipp was arrested, Heavy Runner appeared with his document from the Indian Bureau guaranteeing safe conduct. He was killed. Most of the men were out hunting. The US Army Cavalry attacked and killed 173 people – 15 of them warriors and the rest women and children. Later investigation showed that fifty of those killed were under the age of 12.

As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. – Pythagoras

We used to root for the Indians against the cavalry, because we didn’t think it was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Indians won it was a massacre. – Dick Gregory

When the war of the giants is over the wars of the pygmies will begin. – Winston Churchill

There was never a good war, or a bad peace. – Benjamin Franklin

Also on this day: Shaanxi Earthquake – In 1556, the deadliest earthquake on record strikes central China.
More Than Vases – In 1368, the Ming Dynasty came to power in China.
Greenbriar Ghost – In 189, Elva Zona Heaster was murdered but did not leave this mortal coil.
Poppies – In 1912, the International Opium Convention was signed.

More Than Vases

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 23, 2013
Zhu Yuanzhang

Zhu Yuanzhang

January 23, 1368: The Hongwu Emperor ascends to the throne of China, beginning the Ming Dynasty. The Dynasty lasted until 1644, covering 276 years of Chinese history. Zhu Yuanzhang became Hongwu Emperor and ruled over approximately 72,700,000 people. His rule lasted for 30 years and he established his capital at Nanjing. He replaced Mongol bureaucrats with his own Han Chinese associates.

Dynastic rule began in China before 2700 BC with the Three August Ones and the Five Emperors ruling for over 600 years. Dynasties lasted for as few as 15 years and up to hundreds of years. They spanned the centuries from thousands of years BC to 1912 when the final dynasty – Qing – fell to rebellion and poor leadership as well as a changing landscape in world affairs.

The penultimate dynasty was responsible for building a vast military structure. There was a huge navy with many four-masted ships displacing as much as 1,500 tons as well as a standing army of 1,000,000 troops. By 1600 the population of China had reached 150,000,000 so the percentage of military to citizens was still less than 1%. The nation produced more than 100,000 tons of iron ore per annum or roughly 2 pounds per inhabitant. They also printed many books using movable typeface.

The founder of the Ming Dynasty had a legal code drawn up that was overseen by the Emperor himself. His code was comprehensive and easily understood. Loopholes were eradicated in order to prevent minor authorities from being able to erroneously interpret the law. The laws addressed family relationships and improved the treatment of slaves. Hongwu embraced Confucianism, especially the elevation of agriculture and the parasitic view of merchants. Even so, commerce increased throughout the Ming Dynasty even in these early stages.

“From nobody to upstart. From upstart to contender. From contender to winner. From winner to champion. From champion to Dynasty.” – Pat Riley

“What luck for rulers that men do not think.” – Adolf Hitler

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.” – John Quincy Adams

“Revolution is not a onetime event.” – Audre Lorde

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Zhu Yuanzhang was born in 1328 and was 40 years old when he rose to power. He was one of several children, many of whom were given away because the family was too poor to support them. After a flood and plague killed his family, except for him and one brother, Zhu joined a Buddhist monastery. He stayed only a short time before that, too, fell on hard times and it was destroyed by an army putting down a local rebellion. Zhu joined the rebels against the Yuan Dynasty and rose rapidly to become a commander. He amassed a power base and in 1356 his army conquered Nanjing which would become the base of operations and the official capital of the Ming Dynasty.

Also on this day: Shaanxi Earthquake – In 1556, the deadliest earthquake on record strikes central China.
Greenbriar Ghost – In 189, Elva Zona Heaster was murdered but did not leave this mortal coil.
Poppies – In 1912, the International Opium Convention was signed.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 23, 2012

Botanical drawing of the opium poppy

January 23, 1912: The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague. This was the first international drug control treaty. Thirteen nations gathered in Shanghai, China in 1909. The International Opium Commission was formed at the conference in response to growing criticisms of the opium trade. The title refers to opium and its derivatives but Egypt with Chinese and American support wished to include hashish in the Convention.

India and some other countries objected to some of the language in the document. They pointed to legitimate usage in religious rites as well as social customs on the sub-continent. Wild growth of cannabis would make enforcement difficult. Shipments of drugs across borders needed to be controlled because of legitimate medicinal usage, as well. Later Conventions superseded this 1912 document. The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is the latest version.

As opium usage spread, more people became addicted. The Convention was the first concerted effort by the world’s leading nations to control the movement of harmful drugs. Immature seed pods of opium poppies produce a sap containing up to 12% morphine, a narcotic. The sap can be processed to make heroin. The process is laborious and takes multiple steps. Different methods lead to the production of #3 heroin, or smoking heroin, and #4 heroin, or injectable heroin. Poppy sap can also be used to produce valuable legal drugs, such as morphine sulfate, codeine, papaverine, thebaine and noscapine.

Hashish is produced from the cannabis plant. Cannabis has been around since at least 6000 BC when seeds were used as food in China. The plant was also used as hemp and woven into cloth. The Legend of Shiva mentions it as “sacred grass” about 1500 BC. By 700 BC ancient texts written throughout the Middle East mention the narcotic effects of the plant. By 1000 AD many texts were debating the pros and cons of hashish. By the late 1800s, India was importing 155-175,000 pounds (70-80,000 kg) of hashish per year. Drugs are expensive and to increase profits, are often adulterated with cutting agents, some of these even more dangerous than the drugs themselves.

Tao. Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither. – W. Somerset Maugham

The book can produce an addiction as fierce as heroin or nicotine, forcing us to spend much of our lives, like junkies, in book shops and libraries, those literary counterparts to the opium den. – Phillip Adams

Drugs and terrorism are very close, they feed each other. As the production of opium increases, the terrorists entrench themselves. – Mohammed Daoud

I don’t think it’s decreasing. There are poppies everywhere — in places where there were no poppies when we were young. The opium trade is still flourishing. Those who say it is decreasing are blinded by the SPDC. – Colonel Yod Suk

Also on this day:

Shaanxi Earthquake – In 1556, the deadliest earthquake on record strikes central China.
More Than Vases – In 1368, the Ming Dynasty came to power in China.
Greenbriar Ghost – In 189, Elva Zona Heaster was murdered but did not leave this mortal coil.

Greenbriar Ghost

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 23, 2011

Zona Heaster Shue, murder victim

January 23, 1897: Elva Zona Heaster is found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Zona was born some time around 1873 and had a child out of wedlock in 1895. In October 1896, she met Erasmus (aka Edward) Shue. He had moved to Greenbrier looking for work as a blacksmith. They soon married over the protestations of Zona’s mother, Mary, who did not care for her new son-in-law. On this day, Zona’s body was discovered by a boy who had been sent to the house by Shue. Zona was found lying at the foot of bed, stretched out and with her feet together and one hand on her stomach.

The boy ran to his mother who called the local doctor and coroner, George Knapp. It took more than an hour for the doctor to arrive and by that time, Shue had come back home and moved the body, washing and dressing the corpse (a job usually handled by the women of the community). The doctor did not wish to intrude on the new husband’s grief and only briefly examined the body. Knapp did note some bruising around the neck, but Shue’s violent reaction to closer examination led the doctor to cease and desist. Zona’s death was attributed to “everlasting faint” and later changed to “childbirth” although it is not known if she was pregnant at her death or shortly before. She was buried on January 24.

It wasn’t long before Zona appeared as a ghost to her mother. She described a terrible death and told her mother exactly  how she was murdered. Zona told her mother things she would have had no other means of finding out, according to legend. Mary went to the authorities and convinced them to exhume Zona’s body. After a thorough medical examination, it was found that Zona’s neck had been broken and the cause of death was changed along with bringing a charge of murder.

As the preparations for the trial were underway, more information about Shue came to light. He had been married twice before with his first wife getting a divorce on the ground of great cruelty while his second wife died under mysterious circumstance less than a year after they were married. Shue had been heard saying he wished to marry seven women; Zona had been number three. The trial brought only facts in the case and the ghostly sightings were not brought out at first. Mary never wavered under cross-examination about the visits from her daughter. Shue was found guilty and sent to prison for life. He died in 1900, the victim of some epidemic running through the prison.

“Interred in nearby cemetery is Zona Heaster Shue. Her death in 1897 was presumed natural until her spirit appeared to her mother to describe how she was killed by her husband Edward. Autopsy on the exhumed body verified the apparition’s account. Edward, found guilty of murder, was sentenced to the state prison. Only known case in which testimony from a ghost helped convict a murderer.” – from a state historical marker near where Zona Heaster Shue is buried

“The devil had killed her.” – Mary Heaster, upon hearing of her daughter’s death

“They cannot prove that I did it.” – Edward Shue upon hearing the news his wife had been murdered

“A ghost is someone who hasn’t made it – in other words, who died, and they don’t know they’re dead. So they keep walking around and thinking that you’re inhabiting their – let’s say, their domain. So they’re aggravated with you.” – Sylvia Browne

Also on this day:
Shaanxi Earthquake – In 1556, the deadliest earthquake on record strikes central China.
Ming Dynasty – In 1368, the Ming Dynasty began.