Saturday, August 23, 2014

Today -100: August 23, 1914: Of false fleets, coal, and gay flags

Some Americans are volunteering for the French military, including aviator William Thaw, who’s bringing his plane with him.

Several of the warring countries have published Blue Books or White Papers or Yellow Books purporting to show that they’re not responsible for starting the war.  The NYT reproduces the British one.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: the Austrian fleet supposedly fought for six hours against an enemy fleet that wasn’t actually there.

The deadline for Japan’s ultimatum to Germany to give up Kiautschou is reached, unanswered.  Japanese newspapers are now suggesting that Japan’s promise to restore the territory to China eventually was contingent on Germany handing it over to Japan peacefully, so it doesn’t count.

The US Senate passes a bill for the government to purchase up to 15 million ounces of silver to keep up the price, which is under threat by the war.

The Germans shoot the burgomaster of Aerschot (Aarschot), Belgium, plus his son and his brother and 153 more.

The British protest to the United States about a ship which left San Francisco carrying coal they believe is intended for German warships.  International law is a bit complicated about neutral countries refueling combatant ships: German ships in the Pacific can only legally take on just enough coal to get them to the nearest German port, which would be in Samoa, and not do it again for three months.

The Austrian army is defeated by a much smaller Serb force.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Antwerp Gay With Flags.”

Heartwarming Story of the Day -100: the life of a French soldier in Lorraine (from where the French army has been forced to retreat, by the way) is saved when a bullet is deflected by a bust of Kaiser Wilhelm he’d looted from a school.

The New York Bull Moose party decides that the State Committee meeting will be open to anyone to speak, in a not terribly subtle attempt to get the meeting to stampede Theodore Roosevelt into running for governor, because no matter how many times he says he won’t run, no one really believes him.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Today -100: August 22, 1914: Of indemnities, peace, linoleum, splashes, and chaunceys

Germany imposes a war levy of $40 million on Brussels and $10 million on Liège, in violation of the rules of war as codified by the Hague Conference of 1899.  Bakers in Brussels will be required to supply the Germany Army with bread, at local prices. Various other goods, including cars and horses, are being “bought” at fixed prices by the Germans. Prominent Brusselèèrs have been taken hostage against the good behaviour of the populace.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Peace in Santo Domingo.”  The first sentence elaborates: “Peace plans, supported by the guns of American warships and a regiment of marines, have been agreed upon by the warring factions in Santo Domingo.”  Because nothing says peace like American warships and marines.

Japan’s ultimatum to Germany over Kiautschou (which has expired, unanswered) is freaking out some Americans.  Sen. Jacob Gallinger (R-NH) offers a resolution supporting the territorial integrity of China, which is evidently threatened when Japan holds a piece of it but not when Germany does.  Gallinger thinks Japan intends to seize every Pacific island between Japan and San Francisco.  The US has told Japan that it “understands” that Japan will confine any military actions to Kiautschou and if it plans to go beyond that at any point it needs to consult with the US first.

The war has struck home for Americans: it may affect linoleum manufacturing, which depends on imports of burlap from Scotland, where all the workers are now off at war, and those plants are in turn dependent on jute from India, which was transported on German ships before the war.

Orville Wright, flying a hydroplane with an army lieutenant as passenger, splashes down unexpectedly in the Miami River (Ohio), and they have to swim ashore.

Theodore Roosevelt takes back his endorsement of the alliterative Harvey Hinman for governor of New York.  Hinman will be the Republican candidate, but now the Progressive Party has to find its own candidate.  One possibility is Chauncey J. Hamlin.  I don’t know who Chauncey J. Hamlin is, but he is our Name of the Day -100.  Chauncey J. Hamlin.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan says of the Constitutionalist victory in Mexico, “Watchful waiting wins in Mexico.”

This is a genuine advertisement at the bottom of the NYT’s front page:

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today -100: August 21, 1914: Of triumphal entries, bayonet teeth, unimportant occupations, neutrality, and black popes

Venustiano Carranza enters Mexico City in triumph, occupies the National Palace, does the balcony thing, etc.

William Randolph Hearst is in negotiations with Tammany Hall to be the Democratic candidate for US senator from New York.

The Germans are said to be using bayonets with teeth on ‘em, the better to tear your skin.  On the other hand, Prussian bullets are extremely pointy and so are more likely to pass through bodies cleanly and not need to be extracted.

Belgian troops are retreating before the massive German influx.  The British embassy in the US claims that because the government had already left Brussels and the city was undefended, its occupation by the Germans “is not of great importance.”  The Brusselèèrs might disagree.

Fog(gy Demographics) of War of the Day -100: The German government is evidently circulating the claim that there are 33 million people of German descent in the US, so it will never go to war against Germany.

China, believing for some reason that if Japan gets hold of the German colony of Kiautschou, it might decide to keep it rather than handing it back to China like it says it will do – eventually – suggests that Kiautschou go instead to the United States, which would give it to China.

Germans from German East Africa (aka Tanganyika, now Tanzania) raid British Kenya and steal some cattle.

The US issues another neutrality proclamation, this one for the war between Germany and Belgium.  A reminder that this is still officially a bunch of separate wars.  Austria, for instance, hasn’t declared war on Belgium yet, but will in a day or two.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany supposedly shot a blind Alsatian bishop as a spy.

Unlikely Headline of the Day -100: “Death of Pope May Aid Peace.”

The Vatican is asking the warring European countries whether they will allow the cardinals to go to Rome to elect a new pope.  Presumably they will, but will be less accommodating to the guys who need to come to Rome to elect a new head of the Jesuits (who is called a Black Pope)(whoops, Wikipedia says that term is derogatory) to replace the one who died at the same time as Pope Pius.  That election may need to await the end of the war. (Spoiler Alert: it won’t.)

IWWer Becky Edelson is released from prison on a bond collected by her friends who were afraid she’ would fast to death.  Supposedly she has hunger-struck for 37 days and not been forcibly fed.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Today -100: August 20, 1914: We are getting the best of it

Pope Piux X has died. Supposedly the 79-year-old pope died from heartbreak over his lack of ability to prevent the slaughter of the Great War.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day, Atrocities Division: Italians say they were forced out of Germany at gunpoint, starved along the way, and shot when they shouted “Viva Italia!” on being told they were finally being permitted to leave Germany.  German newspapers say that German women were dragged naked by their hair in Antwerp and elsewhere in Belgium and German children were thrown out of windows.  And the (London) Daily Mail repeats a Russian report that Czech and Polish troops in the Austrian army rebelled, shot down their officers, and held Prague for like a day before the Austrians retook the city and slaughtered and pillaged and raped and blah blah blahed.

Fog of War?  Germany purportedly tried to bribe Greece into entering the war on its side by offering it Serbian Macedonia and the Aegean Islands (which Greece already occupied in the last Balkan War, or maybe the one before that).  Greece rejected the offer after hearing that Germany was also offering the Aegean Islands (and Salonika) to Turkey if it joined them.

A French aviator drops leaflets on besieged Liège reading “Keep up your courage, people of Liège.  We are getting the best of it.”

A battle between Mexican horse thieves and Arizona sheriff’s deputies in Devil’s Canyon resulted in the deaths of two of the former and one of the latter.  Later in the day an ambush by the Mexicans resulted in one bandit being killed.  Then, a fight with a posse killed two on each side.  White residents of Ray then invaded the Mexican side of town, killing 7 more and driving the rest into the hills.  Whites are now looking for more Mexicans to kill, as is the custom.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today -100: August 19, 1914: Be neutral in fact as well as in name

Woodrow Wilson chooses Attorney General James McReynolds for the empty seat on the Supreme Court.  Mostly so he doesn’t have to deal with the thoroughly unpleasant McReynolds in Cabinet anymore.  There really doesn’t seem to have been any more thought behind it than that.  Wilson chose a lot more carefully for the next vacancy, appointing Louis Brandeis in 1916, which made for some awkwardness because McReynolds was a HUUUUGE anti-Semite.  Wouldn’t even talk to Jews, including fellow justices, or listen when a woman lawyer was speaking.

Woodrow Wilson addresses the nation, asking Americans to censor themselves in the name of neutrality:
The effect of the war upon the United States will depend upon what American citizens say and do. Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned. The spirit of the nation in this critical matter will be determined largely by what individuals and society and those gathered in public meetings do and say, upon what newspapers and magazines contain, upon what ministers utter in their pulpits, and men proclaim as their opinions upon the street.
The people of the United States are drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations now at war. It is natural and inevitable that there should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict. Some will wish one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle. It will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it. Those responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility, responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to its government should unite them as Americans all, bound in honor and affection to think first of her and her interests, may be divided in camps of hostile opinion, hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse and opinion if not in action.
Such divisions amongst us would be fatal to our peace of mind and might seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace, the one people holding itself ready to play a part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace and accommodation, not as a partisan, but as a friend. 
I venture, therefore, my fellow countrymen, to speak a solemn word of warning to you against that deepest, most subtle, most essential breach of neutrality which may spring out of partisanship, out of passionately taking sides. The United States must be neutral in fact, as well as in name, during these days that are to try men's souls. We must be impartial in thought, as well as action, must put a curb upon our sentiments, as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before another.
Wilson signs an amendment to the Panama Canal Act to give foreign-built ships US registry.  This will allow German ships which were caught on the wrong side of the Atlantic when the war started to be sold to Americans without being sunk by the British (who insist that the sales of the ships be permanent and not a ruse to avoid being sunk).

Evidently a couple of weeks ago Wilson rejected calls from President Carbajal (and even from a majority of his own cabinet) to send troops to Mexican City to “preserve order” during the Constitutionalist takeover.

The first British forces arrive in France. Field Marshal Kitchener warns the troops, “you may find temptation both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy.”

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):  “Swordsmen on Aircraft.”
According to the LAT (and it’s smudged, so I may have the spellings wrong), “Georges Breitmayer and Rouselei Lorcieres, two of the most celebrated swordsmen in France, have enlisted to work machine guns aboard air craft.”

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: the German crown prince is reported wounded.

Fog of War: German troops reportedly burned the town of Bruzweiler and blew up its factories because a German patrol was fired on.  I can’t find evidence that this town ever actually existed.

Fog of War: The London Daily Mail claims that the German General Staff has warned against the “lunatic frenzy” in which automobiles suspected of carrying spies are attacked in Germany, resulting in the recent deaths of 2 officers, 3 chauffeurs, some soldiers, 2 civilians and an Austrian countess.

A letter to the NYT says that panhandlers are pretending to be stranded European army reservists asking for a loan for passage to go home and fight.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Today -100: August 18, 1914: Of war and, you know, rumors of war

Turkish troops may be marching towards Greece.

Russia demands that Turkey grant its ships free passage through the Dardanelles.

The US is now in charge of the diplomatic interests of Russia, as well as those of every other country in the war except Serbia and Montenegro.

France and Russia come to an agreement whereby France will be nice to any Polish POWs from Austria it captures and Russia will be kind to any POWs it captures from Alsace-Lorraine.

The Belgian government abandons Brussels, moving to Antwerp.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Today -100: August 17, 1914: Of ultimata and kings

Japan gives Germany an ultimatum: remove your navy from Japanese and Chinese waters and to turn over to Japan your colony (“concession”) in China, Kiautschou, “without condition or compensation.”  Japan will give it back to China, you know, eventually.

Austria, jumping the gun a little on annexing Russian Poland, names a King of Poland, the Archduke Karl Stephan.  This may be a rumor or someone floating a kite.  So Russia’s offering the Poles “autonomy,” and Austria is offering them... another Habsburg.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today -100: August 16, 1914: Russia expects from you only the loyalty to which history has bound you

The Panama Canal officially opens.

Former NY Gov. Sulzer, impeached last year, is chosen as the Prohibition Party’s candidate for governor, although he refused to sign a pledge of personal total abstinence (though he does claim to be a teetotaler).  “He advised the members of the committee that it would be poor politics to take any such step.  There were several who disagreed with him.”

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany is said to be imprisoning all Russians in the Reich, because Czar Nicholas threatened to send all Germans to Siberia.

Germans are taking mayors, prefects, priests etc of Belgian towns hostage to ensure the towns’ good behaviour.  They’ve supposedly executed a priest.  In each town troops enter they post a proclamation: “The Kaiser Liberator [!] is the champion of the small nations of Europe against the [unreadable, possibly despotic something] of barbarian Russia.”  Another story, which I can confirm, unlike the priest one, is that 11 men were shot in Linsmeau (the gruesome details given in the NYT I’m less sure about).

Russia promises autonomy to the Poles, as well as freedom of language and religion.  After the war, of course.  And the Poles will get “unity,” which either means Russia acquiring Austria’s and maybe Germany’s Polish provinces or possibly treating the Polish parts of Russia as a single unit.  “Russia expects from you only the loyalty to which history has bound you.”  In other words, they’ll still be ruled by the czar.  Also, the Russian army has been ordered not to harm any Poles.  Meanwhile the German Army, moving into Russian Polish territory, issues a proclamation which on one side of the page offers jewels to the Catholic Church and the Madonna, and on the other threatens to blow up any house from which someone fires at German troops.  Poles are meanwhile taking advantage of the weakening of Russian authority to re-establish Polish local governments.

The Russian government is telling all its soldiers and peasants that there’s a solar eclipse coming and that it’s a natural phenomenon, not an evil omen.  A likely story.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Belgian Boy Princes Saddened By the War.”

The Senate passes a bill to regulate opiates, although there’s a loophole for products with under 2 grains of opium, ¼ grain of morphine, or 1 grain of cocaine.  Which would be “soothing syrups” for babies, harmless stuff like that.

The Constitutionalist army enters Mexico City, without a shot fired.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands will live the “simple life” during the war.

Secretary of State Bryan says that foreign reservists living in the US cannot be forced to return to their home countries to serve in the military.

The State Dept also says that it would prefer banks not make loans to any of the warring countries.  While not having the power to block such loans, it says they are “inconsistent with the true spirit of neutrality.”  So J. P. Morgan won’t give France a loan, it will give it a “commercial credit.”

Headline of the Day -100:  “Horse Kicks Boy in Buggy.”  Sounds like a euphemism.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Today -100: August 15, 1914: Of a half Asiatic and slightly cultured barbarism

Headline of the Day -100:  “3,000 in Forts Harass 250,000.”  Liège continues to hold out.

There was an article about censorship of war news in Russia yesterday, and one about Austria today. The civilians of both countries are being kept in absolute ignorance of who’s fighting where and how they’re doing.

Austria is evidently still trying to convince Italy that it is obligated by treaty to come to Austria’s aid.  This is only true if Austria is fighting a defensive war, but, Austria explains in a note to Italy, Britain declared war on it based on lies: “Austria’s war against Servia, an independent State, for a cause which did not affect international politics, cannot be considered as the cause for the present European war.”  And Austria’s declaration of war against Russia was purely defensive, because of Russian mobilization.

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg also gives his interpretation of the causes of the war (hint: not Germany), asking the Americans to examine them with unprejudiced eyes: “The sympathy of the American nation will then lie with German culture and civilization, fighting against a half Asiatic and slightly cultured barbarism” (he means Russia).

Maj. Gen. von Bülow, brother of the former German chancellor, is killed in battle.  (Update: The Belgian story, which is a little too Boy’s Own to be true, will be that an 18-year-old Belgian soldier, the sole survivor of the Battle of Haelen, spotted a German officer reading a map, snuck up on him and shot him, then wore his uniform to slip through the German lines on his horse.  Also, there was $27,000 in cash in von Bülow’s pockets, which was appropriated for the Red Cross, and secret documents.)

German airplanes are reportedly dropping pamphlets on Russia’s Polish provinces, urging the Poles to revolt and promising them independence and liberty.

The NYT has stories asserting that the Russian Empire’s Finnish and Polish populations are entirely loyal to the Czar, no matter what you may have heard.

Turkey buys two cruisers from the Germans, and everyone (France, Britain, Russia, Greece, Italy) is quite upset by that.
The Austrian steamliner Baron Gautsch hits a mine off the Dalmatian coast and sinks, killing 150, half of its passengers.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: the London Times denounces rumors, including one that the Walton-on-the-Naze pier was blown up by the Germans. The rumor caused many holiday-makers to leave town.

Fog of War?  Supposedly the reason the Austrian Army hasn’t done much since the beginning of the war Austria started is that it’s been disintegrating into its constituent ethnic parts.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Fear Duty on New Clothes. Americans Who Lost Baggage on Continent Face a New Terror.”  Not a my-village-is-being-shelled terror, but an I-might-have-to-pay-40%-duties-on-clothes terror.

Married Canadian men volunteering for the war must get written permission from their wives.

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