Thursday, June 30, 2016

Today -100: June 30, 1916: If ever a man deserved capital punishment, it is he

Mexico releases the 10th Cavalry prisoners.

What do you think this obviously deeply racist NYT reporter would be saying about the black soldiers if he weren’t doing the rah rah nationalism thing? He uses the phrase “big buck negro” in the next paragraph.

There’s an unconfirmed report that Pancho Villa is still alive.

Headline of the Day -100:  

There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.

Sir Roger Casement makes a statement in court, objecting to the whole concept of being tried in England by an English jury under an English statute (the 1351 Treason Act). He is of course found guilty by the English jury and sentenced to English death. The Daily Telegraph says (but then it would, wouldn’t it?), “If ever a man deserved capital punishment, it is he.” The Daily Express, coming close to hinting at Casement’s homosexuality, says “The Irish have a genius for the canonization of martyrs, but even they will hardly find ground for admiration in the career of this clever, educated, and rather sordid and extremely degenerate traitor.”

The Berliner Tageblatt newspaper reappears, after running afoul of the censors for saying that corporations want to see the war go on indefinitely for the sake of their profits. The editor had to sign a promise not to disturb “the uniformity of patriotic enthusiasm.”

Germany is extending meat rationing to the entire Reich.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Today -100: June 29, 1916: Of spillsburys, courts-martial, and German gold

The Carranza government orders the release of the American prisoners. That’s 23 negro soldiers and their Mormon scout Lem Spillsbury, which is more or less the name you’d expect for a Mormon scout, I guess. Although the US is also still demanding Carranza’s active consent to the US Punitive Expedition roaming the Mexican countryside, the Mexican-American War II: Electric Bugaloo (is that how you spell bugaloo? I’ll be damned if I’m gonna look it up) seems for now to have been averted. To mixed reaction in Juarez, according to the NYT’s ever-condescending correspondent:

All foreigners living in Juarez are being disarmed, in retaliation for the disarming of Mexicans in El Paso.

Karl Liebknecht is sentenced by court-martial to 30 months in prison and dismissal from the army (which, as a member of the Reichstag he shouldn’t have been drafted into anyway, but then neither should he be tried when he has parliamentary immunity, so whatevs). The charges were attempted high treason, gross insubordination and resistance to the authorities for his speech at a May Day rally. The trial was held in secret, with newspapers banned from printing any details except the verdict.

Sir Roger Casement’s lawyer faints during his closing speech at Sir Roger’s treason trial. He was able to call no witnesses, because they’re all in Germany, where the treason allegedly took place. He claimed that the Irish brigade Casement was recruiting from POWs was only intended to fight for Irish Home Rule, not to assist Germany. Casement, making a statement, denies taking any “German gold.”

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Today -100: June 28, 1916: Of treason and rough riders

More Mexican soldiers are arriving at the border. The worry in the US is that they’ll invade the US through El Paso while the US Army is elsewhere.

Mexico is recruiting for its army, just like the US is. Including from its jails. A circular promises that the Mexican Army will capture Washington D.C.

Spoiler Alert: It won’t.

At his trial, Sir Roger Casement’s lawyers try to have his treason indictment quashed because the alleged treason took place... outside the country. Is that even against the law?

In event of war, Theodore Roosevelt plans to ask the War Department to be allowed to field his own Rough-Riders-type unit and organize it according to his own notions, with horses and airplanes and everything. He’s already started recruiting.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Today -100: June 27, 1916: It is the acme of idiocy to inquire of a man what his purpose is after he shoots you in the face

The Progressive Party’s National Committee, after a long, bitter debate, endorses Charles Evans Hughes for president, following the instructions of Theodore Roosevelt. A motion to instead run Victor Murdock, newspaperman and former Republican congresscritter for Kansas, is defeated 2 to 1. And that’s pretty much it for the Progressive Party. You were fun while you lasted, Bull Moosers, not least because you were called Bull Moosers.

The US demands Mexico release the prisoners it captured at Carrizal, or else. The US also wants permission for its troops to remain in Mexico, doing whatever the hell they want.

Thousands of Carranza soldiers arrive at the Arizona border.

The US Navy tells ships to ignore Mexican lighthouses, which are either out or doing something unspecified but sneaky (there’s never any follow-up, so I have no idea what this is about).

Capt. Lewis S. Morey, the sole American survivor (other than those captives) of the Carrizal fight, himself wounded in the shoulder, reports that the men of the 10th Cavalry faced death with smiles on their lips and singing, although sadly he does not say what they were singing. That may all be true, who knows, but when a white captain is saying it about his negro subordinates, it sounds a little, well...

Morey is repeating the story that the Mexicans started the fighting.

The House and Senate are still negotiating the Militia Bill, and yes they probably will screw over the families of members of the militia sent to war in Mexico. Sen. William Stone (D-Missouri) says supporting the dependent sons of militiamen would just make them “degenerate.”

Speaking of war, they’ve decided not to. Specifically, they’ve removed the phrase “in the opinion of Congress an emergency now exists,” which could have been taken as acknowledging a state of war, and we can’t do that. Sen. Lawrence Sherman (R-Illinois) disagrees: “It is the acme of idiocy to inquire of a man what his purpose is after he shoots you in the face.”

The British Cabinet might break up over Irish Home Rule. Lord Selborne has resigned as president of the Board of Agriculture, and others may follow. Or they may not.

Ernest Shackleton is unable to reach his men on Elephant Island. Too much ice. He thinks/hopes they can survive on “short rations, supplemented by penguins” until he can get his hands on an icebreaker.

The 8th Earl of Sandwich dies at 76. His book “My Experiences in Spiritual Healing,” in which he claimed to be able to cure disease through prayer and the laying on of hands, came out just last year. Awkward. It was the 4th earl who could cure hunger through the laying on of meat between two slices of bread.

A note about the NYT -100’s fidelity to the facts: the earl was born in 1839, so they just went ahead and said he was 77. They always do this. Always.

The Cleveland Indians become the first baseball team to wear numbers so fans can identify the players.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Today -100: June 26, 1916: Change of food and water causes more deaths than bullets

Germany’s food dictator threatens to ban all meat consumption starting in September.

Col. Terribery of the NY National Guard announces the standards for new recruits: they must be at least 5’4” and weigh 128 to 195 pounds (max 165 for mounteds). No four-eyes, no “excessive nervousness.” No one with bad molars (the British Army had a dental-health standard for recruits, but dropped it in early 1915 – insert your own joke here). And there’ll be a negro regiment, which will be a first for New York.

Ad of the Day -100:

According to, it’s sodium bicarbonate.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Today -100: June 25, 1916: Mexico has long been an international nuisance

The Wilson administration is rather annoyed at not being able to formulate a Mexican policy (i.e., go to war) because of Gen. Pershing’s delay in sending a full report on exactly what happened at Carrizal (i.e., who really started the shooting between Mexican and US forces). The delay is in part because US soldiers are still making their way back in dribs and drabs. But the US is demanding the immediate release of captured US soldiers.

Gen. Jacinto Treviño, the Carrancista chief in Chihuahua State, says in a telegram to some random Mexican that at Carrizal he was only following Carranza’s orders. The US will take this as an admission that if there’s a war, the Mexicans started it.

The threat of impending war has brought Mexicans together, with some of Pancho Villa’s generals and men flocking to join Carranza’s army.

The US Senate Military Committee drops the $1 million the House appropriated for the families of National Guardsmen drafted into federal service. Instead, any guardsman with a wife and/or children may ask to be discharged. The Committee also removes the House’s 3-year limit on the terms of service, leaving it as “the period of the emergency.”

William Howard Taft says the duty to invade Mexico is clear – “Mexico has long been an international nuisance.” But, as he was told when he president, it will take 250,000 soldiers, we’ll need to capture every major city and port and then deal with guerilla warfare and it will all take two or three years.

This is surprising: a Sunday NYT Magazine article on the rather obscure late artist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

The Mag also examines why so few French Canadians are joining the army. Evidently it’s because public schools in Quebec are not taught in French.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Today -100: June 24, 1916: Of emergencies, ammunition, home rule, and dicks

The House of Representatives passes a resolution authorizing the president to draft state militias into the US military and allowing them to be used out of the country in Mexico, to meet what Woodrow Wilson is calling an “emergency” and is pointedly not calling a “war.” The House also appropriates $1 million for the families of men in the National Guard (the families of men in the regular Army can suck it, evidently).

If there is a full-scale war with Mexico, there may well be an ammunition shortage, because US munition-makers have all recalibrated their machinery to supply the European market with ammo of a different caliber than that used in US Army rifles. US Army ammunition is made by government arsenals, whose capacity is fairly limited.

A convention of Irish Nationalists from Northern Ireland, held in Belfast, agrees by a vote of 475 to 265 to John Redmond’s demand (backed up by a threat to resign as leader of the party) that they accept Lloyd George’s proposal to implement Home Rule but “temporarily” exclude 6 Ulster provinces. Lloyd George, always a sneaky fuck, let the Nats think that the exclusion was for the duration of the war only while telling the Unionists that it wasn’t and that there would be a whole new set of negotiations after the war, which they could obstruct to their hearts’ content. Sir Edward Carson and the Unionists have already accepted the proposals, even though they entail a Home Rule Parliament in Dublin.

Disconcerting Headline of the Day -100:

That’s William Dick and his new bride, Madeleine Force Astor, widow of John Jacob Astor IV, who went down with the Titanic.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Today -100: June 23, 1916: Elk?

The Allies force Greece to demobilize its military. The resignation of the Cabinet yesterday also seems to be in response to Allied demands. Parliament will be dissolved and new elections called. The Entente also demands the firing of the Athens chief of police; he’s taking a leave of absence.

Carranza troops evacuate Juarez, expecting the US to occupy it if there’s a war, which would give the US Army access to the railroads, which they have not been allowed to use to supply the Punitive Expedition.

The NYT has heard rumors about Germany trying to influence Carranza into a war with the US, but doesn’t believe them.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Arabs are revolting.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today -100: June 22, 1916: The Battle of Carrizal

The 10th Cavalry (a negro unit) are attacked at Carrizal, Chihuahua, where they mistakenly thought they might find Pancho Villa, by Carrancista troops. Or at least that’s the American version. They lose the engagement, with 16 dead and 24 captured, though there are more Mexican casualties, including Gen. Félix Gómez. The first Pres. Wilson hears of this is literally hearing newsies yell “Extry!” and buying a newspaper.

There are several conflicting stories about how the fighting started. In one, the Mexicans ambushed the Americans under a flag of truce. In another, Gen. Gómez sent out a captain with a message ordering the Americans not to enter the town, but after hearing the message, they shot at the captain instead, injuring him and killing a private. I believe there’s a proverb about this sort of behaviour. A variant is that as the Mexican couriers approached, the Americans deployed in a skirmish line, making Gómez believe that they planned to attack, so he ordered his men to open fire.

Behind the scenes, Gen. Pershing is so pissed that he asks permission to seize the city of Chihuahua and the railroads, but Wilson tells him no. Hey, Wilson really did “keep us out of war.” Although he also took us to the brink of it. (Note that the 1916 Democratic election slogan is “He kept us out of war,” not as it is often misquoted “He kept us out of the war.” The slogan covers both Mexico and Europe).

Companies are being urged to continue the pay of employees who are off with the national guards, and many are, making up the difference between militia pay and regular wages or even paying full wages. But pacifist Henry Ford says no, and will treat any such workers as having quit. (Ford will deny this.)

The mayor of El Paso, Texas has Pancho Villa’s wife (as well as her sister, her sister’s 5-year-old child, and the child’s nanny) seized and deported to Mexico. Didn’t know mayors could do that.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.