If I am not teaching human conflict techniques and training methods around the world then I am usually working on a project or two dealing with human conflict. The end of the month of May and the beginning of June was no exception. During this period I did some research on the War of 1812 and the Civil War starting from the state of Tennessee and working my way up to Lake Erie in Ohio. I do a tremendous amount of research at museums and battlefields around the world.
Memorial Day was on May 30th. This is a somber holiday for Americans to honor those in the military who were killed in the many wars that the United States of America has fought; starting from the Revolutionary War to the Afghanistan War today. However, it is also a time to give thanks for anyone who has served, or is currently serving, in the Armed Forces. A good example of people giving thanks to veterans is a message I received on my Facebook from Diana Lee Inosanto; the daughter of my former Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kaili instructor Dan Inosanto; the protégé of Bruce Lee. Diana posted a message on Memorial Day which read:
Hi Jim, this is to you & your FB Friends that served: This Memorial Weekend, I like to say a simple but heartfelt thank you to the men and women in uniform, here in the United States and abroad, who gave their lives, so graciously, so we might live in freedom. A special salute to you all :-)
The Civil War
After I had planted the small American flag that I had bought in California on my grandfather's grave I then drove to a Civil War cemetery that was down the road from where my grandfather lays. The state of Tennessee was part of the Confederate States of America (1861 to 1865) during the war, but interesting enough the stars and stripes are placed on each soldier’s grave every Memorial Day. On the graves that I saw and photographed they each had a bronze cross with the letters "CSA," which are the initials for the Confederate States of America, and then next to the tombstone was planted the flags; today’s 50 star flag. This may seem like a contradiction, because many who don’t know American history well view the southern states as an "enemy nation" at the time of the war, but it was not. Although twelve states ceded from the Union in 1861 (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina), and many Kentuckian Confederate sympathizers gave their allegiance to the government of Richmond, like Missouri, making Kentucky the unofficial "thirteenth Confederate State," the Union looked upon these states as rebels without legal authority to leave the United States of America. When the Confederate States of America designed their national flag it originally had 11 stars representing their new country, along with their battle flag the Stars and Bars, however the flag of the United States of America kept the twelve stars that represented the rebel southern states in their flag with the hope that one day they would be reunited. This was a self-fulfilling prophecy which eventually came to pass.
The next day, Tuesday, May 31 I drove up through Kentucky on Highway 75 for a few hours and pulled up to the Rogers House in Richmond. This restored stately farm house is now a museum that houses artifacts from the Battle of Richmond, and the surrounding land is where the battle took place on August 29 and 30, 1862; 600 acres of the battlefield are protected today.
Confederate generals Edmund Kirby Smith, Patrick Cleburne and Thomas Churchill were pushing eastward through the Bluegrass region to invade Kentucky because they wanted access to the Ohio River. The Confederate force consisted of two 3,000 man divisions, an 800 man cavalry brigade, and four small artillery batteries. The Federal generals trying to stop them from entering Richmond, Kentucky were Generals William "Bull" Nelson, Mahlon Manson, and Charles Cruft with nearly 6,500 inexperienced men.
During the two days of the Battle of Richmond the Northern troops kept getting beaten and pushed back.These troops bivouacked all around the Rogers House and it is believed that General Mahlon Manson actually used this house as his headquarters. The house, built in 1811, was owned by Adam Rogers. The 1860 census shows that the Rogers family owned over 20 slaves. Eventually the front lines moved down to the house and some of the most intense fighting was all around the house. The Federal troops fell back in a hasty retreat and were eventually defeated in Richmond. During the battle the Confederates had 98 killed, 492 wounded, and 10 missing. The Federals had 206 killed, 844 wounded and 4,303 captured or missing. This battle in Kentucky was considered one of the most overwhelming Confederate victories of the entire Civil War.
The Rogers House served as a field hospital for several weeks after the battle with patients from both sides. A year after the war Adam Rogers, the owner of the house, died and the property was sold by the family. In the 1940s the United States government acquired the property as part of the Blue Grass Army Depot, which is there today across the street. In 2005 the U.S. Army donated the Rogers House to the county and it is now run by the Battle of Richmond Association.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Rogers House museum. The displays are very inviting, the videos shown on a few screens on the first floor clearly explain the local history, and a large table topographical map has images projected on the surface to show the movement of Federal and Confederate forces during the two-day battle.
The War of 1812
After visiting the Rogers House I then drove up to Toledo, Ohio. After settling in, on Friday, June 3, I visited Fort Meigs that is just several miles southwest of Lake Erie. Fort Meigs (pronounced Megs) is the largest, and best preserved wooden fortification in the United States. It is also where the American forces repelled the combined British, Canadian, and Shawnee warriors in the War of 1812.
Although the Americans had gained their independence from the British after the Revolutionary War (1775 to 1783) Great Britain was fighting Napoleon Bonaparte’s military in Europe and felt that they had a right to not only set up naval blockades around American ports, but also to board ships and seize sailors to serve in the British navy against their will. It was also widely believed that the British government was inciting various Indian tribes to violence against settlers in order to prevent the western expansion of the United States. The British took advantage of the Indians’ resentment of the situation and supplied them with firearms, ammunition, and even paid warriors for American scalps (the removing of the hair still attached to the skin from the skull of their victims).
The King of England still controlled Canada to the north and had concerns that the Americans would support the French. To hurt France they had to disrupt their economy.Therefore, in order to protect American commerce and safeguard their ships in international waters the United States declared war on Great Britain in June of 1812. Although the Americans held their own in sea battles against the world’s largest navy at the beginning of the war the American army suffered humiliating defeats on the ground. The British soon took Fort Detroit, and all of the territory of Michigan, and Fort Dearborn (Chicago), and were planning on moving south into Ohio. Under the leadership of Major General William Henry Harrison Fort Meigs was built atop a forty-foot natural embankment overlooking the Maumee River (pronounced Ma-mee) to block the British advance. Two West Point-trained engineers, Captains Charles Gratiot and Eleazer Wood, started having the fort built on February 2.
On May 1, 1813 British gunners on the opposite bank of the Maumee River fired across the river and into Fort Meigs. By the time of the attack the earth-and-log stockade enclosed ten acres fort had been completed.There were seven two-story log block houses spaced irregularly along the stockade, five artillery batteries protecting the perimeter, and two underground powder magazines placed at each end of the camp.
For three days the British army bombarded the fort, while the Americans had to conserve their ammunition until reinforcements arrived. On May 4 American Major General Green Clay arrived with 1,200 reinforcements from Kentucky and attacked the British gun placements with 800 troops on the north shore and 400 troops were thrown against the Indian forces on the south bank. After the attack the survivors made their way to the fort with 42 Canadian prisoners. Unable to take Fort Meigs the British withdrew from the siege.General Harrison reported that 89 men were killed in the bombardment and 189 wounded. The battle marked an important turning point in the war.
Although Washington D.C., the capitol of the United States, had been burnt to the ground by British forces the Americans started winning major ground victories and eventually a peace treaty was signed with Great Britain. Never again would the British pose a threat to the new country, and with the end of the war came the unimpeded expansion west. In 1840 William Henry Harrison returned to Fort Meigs when he was runny for president of the United States. A political rally was held there in his honor with an estimated twenty-five thousand people coming out to welcome the candidate. There were mock battles, parades, songs, bands and speeches. Harrison was elected as president of the United States.
I visited the fort with one of my friends from the local area, Tim Womack. Before Tim moved from California to Ohio he had participated in several training scenarios that I had set up for various SWAT teams and the United States Marine Corps. Like me, Tim is a history buff and has a good grasp on American history. We were very fortunate when we visited Fort Meigs because there were only a half dozen people visiting when we were there. Essentially we had most of the fort to ourselves. Near the Quartermasters building Tim and I were given a demonstration by a reenactment soldier of a flintlock rifle; the same type used in the War of 1812. The ancient rifle had a rapid pan flash and then a loud KABOOM! The report was much louder than an assault rifle of today. From a distance the shot even sounds like a small cannon. The "soldier" even gave us a question and answer session.
In the visitor's center gift shop I bought a book titled Fort Meigs War of 1812 Battleground by Larry Nelson, published by Ohio’s State Memorials Ohio Historical Society, and a fairly comprehensive book about the War of 1812. After lunch I took a few hours to read both books. By the evening I had a greater appreciation of the history of that era. America had taken on the most powerful empire of that time, for a second time, and prevailed.
On Saturday, June 4, my one week trip came to an end. I drove up to Detroit, Michigan, turned in my rental car, and took two planes home back to Southern California. It was not only a great Memorial Day, but a Memorial Week for me. Many of the photographs and information that I obtained on this trip will end up in my future articles, books, and DVDs.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure." On June 4, in Toledo, Ohio I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Ronald E. Rosser.
On January 12, 1952 Corporal Rosser was fighting in the Korean War. His army unit was assaulting a heavily fortified enemy hill position. The advance was stopped by intense automatic, small-arms, mortar and artillery fire. Armed with only a carbine rifle and a grenade, Corporal Rosser charged enemy emplacements three times, returning each time for ammunition, suffering wounds and killing at least three dozen enemy soldiers.
Both Ronald Rosser and his wife wanted to know if I had served in the Armed Forces and I told them about the military police unit I was serving in currently in California. They both thanked me for my service. Although I am very proud of my service to my state and my country, nothing can compare to a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. The United States Congress does not give out that award liberally. Very few American soldiers in history have received that honor. I had to come back with, “Thank you for your service. It is an honor to meet you.”
On May 27, the day before I set out on my journey to Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, a self-defense company approached me (I am withholding the name of the company by request) asking me if I would train two of their instructors my Passenger Pilot Survival Course. The owner of the organization is one of my Reality-Based Personal Protection Level 1 instructors located in Southern California, and so I trusted him with this delicate information that I was to teach.
My background in aviation is fairly extensive. I am a private pilot certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, I was a United States Federal Air Marshal, and I have been a guest instructor for aircraft interdiction courses for the German Counterterrorist team GSG9, the Brazilian Air Force GEPA, and for the United States Air Force and United States Army. I also was an instructor for the Los Angeles Airport Police, and have had many Transportation Security Administration agents and their foreign counterparts come to my Reality-Based courses.
My course was broken down into sections: Cockpit Penetration, Airport Terminal Attacks, and Outside Airport Attacks (foreign travel, kidnappings, hotel security, and other likely trouble a pilot could run into). I’ve worked with airlines and air
Wilderness Survival Photo Shoot
On June 3, the day before I returned to California, I went to the Toledo Zoo in Ohio to photograph wild animals, reptiles, and insects for my continuing research into Wilderness Survival.
Although teaching my Wilderness Survival course is a rare event (I just completed a course in northern Italy on April 3) I still do research from time to time on the subject, and that includes taking my own photographs when the opportunity presents itself. A great source for wildlife photos is a good zoo, and the Toledo Zoo afforded me some great shots. The photographs I shot will be used for future articles, books, and DVDs. Not only do I enjoy taking photos for work, but I am fascinated by the animal kingdom in general.
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