Monday Map – New York 1776

George Washington and New York City are Forever Linked

This map was used by Washington to plan the defense of New York City against British invasion

Click to Enlarge and Zoom In

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Today is George Washington’s 289th birthday

First in war, first in peace, and first to have a birthday sale named after him, Washington expected the Battle of New York to be his first test as the new commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. His opponent, the Viscount Willam Howe, had other ideas.

Both commanders knew the city would have been destroyed had it been directly involved. But Washington used this map with the express purpose of fighting house to house in hopes of inflicting extensive casualties upon the much larger forces of the Crown.

Instead of a direct assault, Lord Howe landed his army outside of New York Harbor, on what is now Brooklyn, where the Battle of Long Island took place on August 27, 1776. Outnumbered and outflanked, it turned into a major defeat for Washington. But as historian David McCullough makes clear in his excellent book, 1776, it was Washington’s masterful series of strategic withdrawals that saved most of his army, and the future of the USA along with it.

The British commander repeatedly out-maneuvered the Americans before, during, and after the battle, so they were forced to withdraw further up Manhattan Island to the heights later named for General Washington. And then they skedaddled all the way across New Jersey to Pennsylvania. The city had been spared, only to have much of it burned to the ground in the Great Fire less than a month later, on the night of September 20.

Originally drawn by British Army engineer John Montresor, the specific map Washington used is housed in the collection at Yale University Library.

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The City of New York in 1776. Broadway has 13 blocks (it is now 13 miles long.) What is City Hall today and its park were still an “intended square or COMMON.”

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Part of Greenwhich Village and the estate of one Lady Warren (née DeLancey,) the recently deceased widow of the intrepid Admiral Sir Peter Warren of the Seven Years War with France, whose remains were interred in Westminster Abbey after an illustrious career in Parliament.

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Never losing his nerve, George Washington survived to fight another day, and many other days yet to come, beginning with the surprise attack victory at Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas Day, 1776.

Six years of savage fighting later, George Washington returned to New York to say bid farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern, which still stands at 57 Pearl Street. General Washington did not know he would soon return to the City of New York, the first national capitol of the United States America, were he served as its first President.

I first learned of this NYC map thanks to the very cool article in Smithsonian Magazine on Washington’s personal map collection, in November of 2010, currently available on line at the link below.

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https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/george-washington-and-his-maps-72194830/

The Lost Continent of Zealandia

A True Atlantis, Zealandia Sank Beneath the Sea

The eighth continent really existed for over 100 Million Years!

New Zealand and New Caledonia are all that remain of a lost eighth continent, now known to science as Zealandia.

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But at the time Zealandia was above water, what is now New Zealand’s South Island was positioned to the east of North Island, with its current southwest tip pointing to the northeast. It swung around to its current location with the continental plates long after the rest of Zealandia was lost beneath the briny waves.

Schoolchildren often imagine with wonder how islands are really the tops of underwater mountains. But in this case, the island nations of New Zealand and New Caledonia aren’t the tops of individual marine volcanoes; they are actually the highest parts of a continent half the size of Australia that contained its own species of land plants and air-breathing animals reaching back to the time of the Early Cretaceous, when Titanosaurs like this Saltasauras left their footprints as they grazed on the vegetation of Zealandia and co-existed with other exotic species known only by small fossil fragments.

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More interesting to me is the fact that much of land remained above the waves until “only” about 25 million years ago, meaning the dinosaurs had nearly 20 Million years to evolve into unique species after Zealandia separated from Australia, and some 40 Million more years followed their extinction, when unknown lifeforms replaced them and continued to evolve on what is now the lost continent of Zealandia.

This BBC article reveals fascinating details about 400-year search to find the predicted “eighth continent” once thought to be hiding somewhere between Australia and South America, and the modern scientists who eventually found out what happened to it.

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Mike Curtis Remembered

My Mind Turns to Mad Dog Mike Curtis on Super Bowl Eve

The NFL Hall of Fame inductees will be announced tonight. One name that has faded out of sight is that of my childhood sports hero, Mike Curtis, the only linebacker to make All Pro at the Outside and Middle positions

Curtis died in April at the age of 77 years old. That week, Sports Illustrated ran an editorial lobbying for why he should be in the HoF.
After 11 years with the Colts, and the interception that sealed Super Bowl V, he was stolen away as the Seattle Seahawks #1 draft choice, back when expansion teams got to draft from other teams. Passed his prime, he was as much a teacher for the Seahawks and later his hometown Redskins, than a player.

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One Sports Illustrated writer declared these 1970, ’71 Baltimore Colts the greatest linebacking core in NFL history. (Curtis, with Ted Hendrix, and Ray May who went on to captain the Broncos’ defense a few years later.)
Bart Starr played against Butkus twice a year, but said the only man he was ever truly afraid of was Mike Curtis, who was known as the Mad Dog.
A tall, skinny rookie named Ted Hendrix lined up next to him in 1969, and was so gangly the press nicknamed him the Mad Stroke as a joke.
Hendrix is in the Hall, as is Butkus, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, and Ray Nitchke. Many players of the time thought Curtis was their better. But he showed no interest in lobbying for the HoF and was pretty much forgotten, except when various Baltimore Ravens would seek him out at his favorite blue collar bar to buy him beer.
I still have his football card, now in a frame with an autographed photo I snagged off Ebay.
There’s gonna be some serious buzz saw linebacker play tomorrow to look forward too. “The human buzz saw” being his other nickname from back in the day.

Mississippi Votes to Secede from Rebel Flag

5 a.m. – the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger Reports a Rare Sunday Vote to Remove Confederate Symbol from State Flag

“Here he is, Boss. Deader than hell but won’t let go.” – Cool Hand Luke

The only Civil War military fatality directly related to me was a Mississippian volunteer in a Confederate regiment who died of disease in a Federal prison camp in Missouri.

I have no idea where his sympathies lay in terms of Slavery and such like, since so few Southerners owned slaves, and because many who supported or fought for the Confederacy felt their patriotic duty was to their state, not the confederation of independent states it belonged to under the Stars and Stripes.

After all, prior to the War it was grammatically correct to say, “the United States of America are …,” not “the United States of America is…”.

That being said, many people today do not know or understand that at no time did every southerner condone or support Slavery or the rebellion started because of it.

Every state that joined the Confederacy but one had whole regiments of volunteers that organized and marched away to fight for President Lincoln and the Union he was elected to lead, against the secessionists who forced those states to take up arms against the USA’s legal, constitutional government.

The exception being Georgia, although hundreds of white Georgians served in the Federal Armed Forces none the less.

Some of those states had entire areas under the control of loyalist Americans, who at times engaged in guerilla activities including lethal combat against the rebels in power.

Deep in Mississippi, Jones County was so dangerous to the Confederate militia and their sympathizers that ultimately it was avoided entirely, having to be gone around rather than through. It became known as the “Kingdom of Jones.”

Today, there is a major difference between someone having pride in being a Southerner, or the citizen of a particular state, or having nostalgic affection or sympathy toward southern traditions and ancestry vs. someone who supports or reveres the Confederacy, whose leaders made perfectly clear the CSA was conceived in the fallacy of White Supremacy and dedicated to preserve the heinous institution of Slavery as long as possible.

Or, for that matter, having solemn respect for the marshal gallantry of those that Ulysses Grant described as having “…fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

There remains nothing incongruous in holding such opinions and beliefs about venerable Southern traditions while also supporting the complete debunking and expungement of the racist mythos surrounding the “Lost Cause” fantasies, which have been as sadly tenacious as that deceased snapping turtle, deader than hell but won’t let go.

The main symbol of that movement was the Northern Virginia battle flag of crossed blue bars with white stars set against a red field, which was later incorporated into the second official flag of the Confederacy. It has often been claimed by the misguided to represent nothing more than being a non-conformist, independent, hell-raising “rebel,” rather than as the banner of those ignorant adherents to the asinine belief in “White Supremacy,” which it certainly was. And which it has remained to this day as the sullied symbol of the most horrific traits and institutions to ever exist in our national character and its history. And which is finally getting its due as Mississippi becomes the last state to remove it from its flag.

Not a great day in American history, but surely a reverent and momentous one.

Happy Birthday to a Couple of Mustangs

The Ford Mustang and my late father share a birthday

The first Ford Mustang rolled off that fabled assembly line on March 9, 1964.

I didn’t realize back then that it was such a new model, when my dad got one in 1968, or maybe it was ’67. I also didn’t realize the Mustang and my dad had the same birthday! He would have been 92 today.

The color of my dad’s Mustang was sort of muddy maroon.

Ford Mustang March 9

The author with his Stingray and the 1968 Mustang (left)

He did not own it long, as an icy, winding river road and a small tree in someone’s snowy front lawn put an end to his prize for having made partner at the law office. But he did get that black tree repair tar and went back to the house where he crashed, and saved the tree’s life for its owner. I am pretty sure it is still there, growing ever after with a bent trunk where he hit it.

Here is a delightful article with various video links, about the Ford Mustang, well worth the nostalgic look.