Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The History Files #50: Pirates!

One must look the part, of course.

We thought we'd do something special with the 50th installment of The History Files, so why not take a look at the history of piracy? The detailed show notes are over at CSICON, but here are a few supplemental items that may be of interest.

First off, this is a topic near and dear to our hearts here at the History Files. We've been known to dabble in historical nautical pursuits from time to time...

Sir James Brook, Rajah of Sarawak

[Note from Neb: When I was hunting down links for Gordon's notes, I found this image of James Brooke. I'm used to running into Gordon's historical doppelgangers, but this was a new one for me. For all I know Gordon could be some kind of time traveler. The evidence continues to mount.]
Gordon at Sutter's Fort, mid 1990s
Ferrotype of Gordon as a Sailor, by Wm. Dunniway


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The History Files #49: British Colonialism in India

As is becoming our habit of late, here are a few supplemental items to episode 49 of the History Files podcast.

This book, "The Kingdom of New Spain" was writtenoriginally in 1774, by one Don Pedro Alonzo O'Crouley y O'Donnell, who was born in Cadiz, Spain of (quite obviously!) Irish parents.  The Spaniards were quite fond of the Irish, as they made excellent bureaucrats for the Spanish Empire as they were Catholic, had a good Northern European work ethic, and hated the English, all of which endeared them to the Spaniards.

O'Crouley's book seems to have never been published, but it is a marvelous look at the attitudes and worldviews of the Spanish colonists of the 18th Century towards their colony of New Spain, of which modern Mexico occupies for the most part.

Doubtless to modern (21st Century) mores, the most alarming part of the book is the series of wonderful watercolours which show all of the various mutations of racial mixture which existed in the colony at the time, which of course, with fine Spanish attention to detail, all had specific names.

I've actually been privileged to see the watercolours in person, as an exhibit at the Seattle Museum of Art was lucky enough to host a wonderful show of Spanish Colonial material culture, entitled "Spain in the Age of Exploration" some 10 or so years ago.  They are indeed wonderful, though doubtless proved highly offensive to many of the patrons, but there it is.  "They did things differently in that day and age", as it were, so there you have it.

The book was translated by Sean Galvin and published some years ago, and I was extraordinarily lucky in that I was able to find a copy on remainder at one of the big-box book stores, probably 25 years ago by now, but I treasure it today.
Not much is available on-line to study, but if you get a chance, check out a copy of the book.  Perhaps your local library has a copy (if they haven't all been burned by "politically correct" librarians, that is!)  Worth the effort!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The M1911: Gordon's Gun Closet ep. 3

Just a few notes and images as a supplement to episode 3 of Gordon's Gun Closet...

Typical US Cavalry rig ca.


Cased Borchardt pistol. Image via
Hmaag at Wikimedia Commons

John Moses Browning and Mr. Burton with a
Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) M1918

Portraying a 1916 US Cavalry soldier

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chasing Pancho Villa: supplement to History Files episode 47

This is the blog post to go along with both our History Files episode 47 on the Border Raid on Columbus New Mexico in 1916 by Pancho Villa. Here are a few photos for your enjoyment.

This photo shows what a real cavalryman looked like in 1916 or so, with his M1911 pistol in it's M1912 mounted pattern holster, and the mounted pattern Mills Belt. As you might notice. there are two different types of pistol ammunition pouches on the front of the belt, one for magazines (on the soldier's left side) and one for loose ammunition (on the soldier's right side). Originally the belt was set up for loose ammo on both sides, but the left hand side's tabs have been removed, and replaced with a magazine pouch, model of 1912 carrying two 7-round magazines.

This photo is of Major Del Berg, with me at Camp Parks in California. Technically we're portraying the 11th Cavalry ca. 1942, but it's not like the Cavalry changed a whole lot during the inter-war period.  We're holding our M1911 pistols at the "ready" (but I'm not paying proper attention! My horse, Twister, was being a bit of a handful at the time, as I recall.  Not that this was unusual for him...but he did know his drill!)
This photo too is technically a bit late for 1916, as I believe it is ca. 1930 or so, but it shows the proper packing of the M1904 McClellan saddle. This is, as the notation suggests, a photo of the "near side" of the horse, the other side being the "off side". You may notice that, just behind the horses front legs is hanging down the scabbard for the M1913 "Patton" sabre.  While useful to counterbalance the weight of the M1903 Springfield rifle on the near side, they were deliberately left in barracks by the cavalry troopers who chased after Pancho Villa due to the excess weight, and the assumed lack of need for a sabre when chasing what were essentially a bunch of cowboys through the desert.

This photograph shows my Grandfather's encampment, part of the 7th California National Guard Infantry, on the road to Nogales, I believe. Note the horses and wagons in the foreground.  The US Army was still largely horse-drawn in 1916.
Goofing off

In another photo by my Grandfather, a field-grade officer (since he's set up for riding a horse, with his saddle, saddle-bags, boots and spurs, and in an Infantry unit only the field-grade officers rode horses) is shaving with his straight-razor in what passes for a tent. Note the canvas water buckets near the tent-pole. 
Practicing an assault up-hill. If you take careful note, their gear is a mish-mash of equipment from the past 20 years prior..

7th California NG Infantry on the march, with the mounted field-grade officers in front. The lead horse is obviously a private-purchase officer's mount, as the Army really, really didn't like to buy horses with four white "stockings". BTW, the above original photo's were taken by my Grandfather Herschel G. Frye Sr., while in service with the 7th CA NG "on the Border" in 1916.

If you wondered what early 20th century US Cavalry looked like in color, here we have a recreation of a patrol either in Mexico or along the border, ca. 1916. This shot was taken by Jim Hatzell (I believe) in South Dakota at the "Artist's Ride" back in the late '90s, and consists of myself (with the field glasses), Alan Brooks with the guidon, and Bill Wade.