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The Man Without a Country

"NOLAN. Died, on board U.S. Corvette 'Levant,' Latitude. 2 degrees 11 seconds South, Longitude 131 degrees West, on the 11th of May, PHILIP NOLAN."
--New York Herald, Obituaries, August 13th 1863.

The poor wretch. It is a wonder he had any name left to him at all, but let's go back in time. The year is 1807. US Army Lieutenant Philip Nolan faces a court-martial and is punished for his sins in supporting Vice President Aaron Burr in his vile treachery against the United States of America. Nolan shouts at the court, "Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!" And like the character in "It's a Wonderful Life" his wish is granted. He is sentenced to live the rest of his life on shipboard, and never to hear news of his forsaken country again. At first he is glad of it. He is granted a small cabin all to himself. After all... who would have him? As the years pass he longs for news, but it is not to be. He builds a small shrine in his cabin dedicated to his love for country, the country he had once scorned. He warns a young sailor, "Remember, boy, that [...], behind officers, and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to Her as you belong to your own mother." Yes. The breath of life was breathed into Her by the Divine Presence. Bless that flag and be grateful. Amen... But wait. Philip Nolan is not dead because HE WAS NEVER ALIVE! This is a short story submitted anonymously by Everett Hale, the great grand-nephew of Nathan Hale. It is not a hoax, but it feels so real that it is taken as real by the public. In the midst of the darkest days of the War between the States, Everett Hale has written a story to inspire love of country. Not just individual states, but the Union as a whole. The Union. Forever and ever. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I saw the movie, "The Man Without a Country". It was inspiring, but why were they playing it in class at my high school? The Vietnam War was going on at the time and some of the students were talking about skipping the country and going to Canada. I decided I wouldn't run. It was the first adult decision I had ever made. As it turned out I didn't have to suffer for that decision. The war ended a couple of weeks before my 18th birthday. But what was Everett Hale trying to do with his story? Enlistments were down. People were divided and discouraged. Hale was a minister and he wanted to bring the whole congregation together. What congregation? The political congregation. In case you haven't noticed, wars are being run like religious wars. We are on the side of virtue, and light. They are on the side of darkness, and evil. They must be stopped in the name of... what? In the old days, there was usually a strong religious component to a war, but as religious fervor fades into the background, other motivations must be stimulated. The girls really love a man in uniform! Truth, justice and the American way! Politics has become a secular religion, so beware. The god of government shall have no other gods above it. [3] [4]

A New Kind of War

President Lincoln, General Grant and General Sherman have been developing new tactics for the new technology of war. What new technology? Sewing machines that can produce shoes and clothing by the boxcar load, and boxcars that can be filled with goods needed to supply the army along the railway line. Each threshing machine and harvester can free up six farm hands to fight the war, and the new rifles have an effective range of 800 yards. That means when you mount your horse, take up your saber and yell, "CHARGE!", it will be a short and bloody trip. That is one reason why the Battles of Shiloh, Antietam and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania have become such bloody affairs. The old tactics of concentrating one's forces and riding to the sound of the guns depended on less accurate weapons with a shorter range. Now, concentrating one's forces allows one bullet to kill two soldiers. (In other words... spread out a little more guys!) Cannons are no longer an offensive weapon. They are now defensive, and earthworks are an essential part of any working war strategy. Every man behind earthworks and holding a rifle can hold off three times his number if he is backed up by cannon fire. Those who conform to the old ways of war are doomed to a swift and messy death. The Union has mostly got the message. They are changing... slowly. The Confederates have also recognized a need to change tactics. Certainly, General Lee knows this, but over all, the Confederacy has been sticking to the old playbook. General Grant and General Sherman are going to make them eat it. [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The old school says that one should not depend on innovation because tactics don't change, but frankly, that is BS. Tactics must change as innovation circumvents the old tactics. Back when the first bayonet was used, the musket had an effective range of 60 yards and took a skilled soldier 30 seconds to reload. Someone got the bright idea that he could run across the field in 30 seconds and stab the guy with a very big knife. During World War One, supply wagons would roll over the dead because just getting to the front lines was a death march in itself. Then the tank was invented so that soldiers could get closer to the enemy without being killed by the thousands. Tactics changed. Nowadays, weapons are extremely sophisticated. The reason is partly due to our technological advancement, but the major reason is that we are no longer willing to spend the lives of our troops in wholesale lots. That is a change in attitude from World War One when we certainly WERE willing to do that. We no longer say, "He gave his last full measure of devotion," as if he was defending friends and family. Now we say, "He made the ultimate sacrifice," as if he was a suicide bomber who went off at the wrong time. Bad luck. Our attitudes toward life and death are different now. I like the idea that fewer troops will die, but I know that there is someone out there thinking, "If I just take this big bomb and run across the field...." Nothing stays the same and that includes our tactical advantage. [6] [7]

Four Score and Seven Years Ago...

The Union has won another bloody victory over the Confederates. The Battle of Gettysburg has ended General Lee's incursions into the North. 23,000 casualties for the Union and more for the Confederates. 8,900 dead total. Gettysburg has become a graveyard. A few months after the battle, it becomes a graveyard in fact. President Lincoln is invited to speak at the dedication. He almost doesn't make the trip. His son, Tad, is ill and his wife, Mary, is frantic. They are still mourning the death of their son, Willie. Luckily, Tad improves. Lincoln works on the speech that he will deliver the next day. The featured speaker is Edward Everett, the former Secretary of State. After two hours, President Lincoln takes the stand. His speech is short, but its impact will be felt into the modern day. Several versions of his speech have come down to us, but most people remember the opening line. [8] [9]

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

In Other News

  • A base is stolen for the first time in baseball! The culprit is Ned Cuthbert of the Philadelphia Keystones, but the dates are shaky, so if someone else tells you different, believe them. [10] [11]
  • The Seventh-day Adventist Church is established. If you read your Bible carefully, you will note that the seventh day (or Sabbath) is NOT Sunday! Sunday is certainly a special day in Christian circles, but this new Christian group decides that the Second Coming is nigh, so they are squaring themselves up a little. [12]
  • New York draft protests turn into a riot. 119 are dead. Irish immigrants protest the draft primarily because they can't afford the $300 price tag to excuse themselves from service. That is almost $6,000 in 2015 money. [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1863, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. The Man Without a Country - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 21 April 2016. “'The Man Without a Country' is a short story by American writer Edward Everett Hale, first published in The Atlantic in December 1863.[1] It is the story of American Army lieutenant Philip Nolan, who renounces his country during a trial for treason and is consequently sentenced to spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States. Though the story is set in the early 19th century, it is an allegory about the upheaval of the American Civil War and was meant to promote the Union cause.”
  2. Hale, Edward Everett (1863). Man Without a Country, The. Retrieved on 2 September 2016. 
  3. USS Levant (1837) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 2 September 2016. “In July 1861, a small bottle was found at Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia. It was corked and contained a card that read in part: 'Pacific Ocean' 'Levant' 'Written by the last remaining' 'three' 'in a boat' 'God forgive us'. Unfortunately, the card was damaged when it was removed from the bottle and parts of the message were unreadable. This card was in the possession of Thomas Willett of Pubnico, Nova Scotia, in 1862, who lost a son aboard this vessel.”
  4. Alex Shrugged notes: Karl Marx wrote about government as the new secular religion.
  5. Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era. Vintage Books. ISBN 0375725326. “In the Union high command such generals as McClellan, who agreed with Jomini in predicting: 'Woe to the general … who trusts in modern inventions, and neglects the principles of strategy … [which] will remain unchanged through all the improvements of the future,' had to be set aside. Halleck, with his insistence upon concentration and his querulous attacks 'against this scatteration system,' had to be ignored. The new team of Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman was evolving a new kind of war.” 
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: I am pulling a lot of my opinions from my general reading and past history segments. My remarks on World War One come from a reading of "The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front" by Peter Hart.
  7. Hart, Peter. Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front, The. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 9780297847052. 
  8. Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684808463. “On the day he was scheduled to go to Gettysburg, Tad was ill, too sick to eat his breakfast, and Mary Lincoln, recalling the deaths of her other boys, became hysterical at the thought that her husband would leave her at such a critical time. But so important was the occasion and so weighty was the message he intended to deliver that he brushed aside his wife's pleas and about noon left Washington on a special train of four cars.” 
  9. Gettysburg National Cemetery - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 2 September 2016. “The Gettysburg National Cemetery within the Gettysburg National Military Park is an American Civil War cemetery created for Union casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg.[14] In addition to reinterments from the Gettysburg Battlefield, the 1863 state-owned 'national cemetery' has subsequent sections for Spanish–American War, World War I, and other wars' soldiers and their spouses and children.”
  10. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 426-427. 
  11. Ned Cuthbert - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 2 September 2016. “Reportedly, Ned stole the first base in organized baseball in 1865 while playing for the Philadelphia Keystones, simply by waiting for the pitcher to be distracted and running from first to second base. However, according to Peter Morris' 'A Game Of Inches', base-stealing was part of baseball well before 1865; the earliest explicit account of stealing a base goes back to 1856.”
  12. Seventh-day Adventist Church - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 24 February 2015. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the middle part of the 19th century and was formally established in 1863.”
  13. New York City draft riots - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 August 2016. “Initially intended to express anger at the draft, the protests turned into a race riot, with white rioters, mainly but not exclusively Irish immigrants, attacking blacks wherever they could find them. The official death toll was listed at 119.”

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