Category Archive 'Americana'
03 Nov 2020

Election Day

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George Caleb Bingham, The County Election, 1854, Engraving.

15 Sep 2020

War of 1812 Veteran Fought at Gettysburg

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https://explorethearchive.com/john-burns-war-of-1812-gettysburg-soldier?sid=a7c5c9de8b6135a442b6cf37d5e484df&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Archive%20Weekly%20Newsletter%202020-09-14&utm_term=Explore%20The%20Archive
John Burns became a very early photographic subject after the battle.

The Archive:

[I]magine a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War fighting in the Civil War. That’s a span of more than 60 years—much longer than the 24 years that separated the beginning of WWII and the Vietnam War. Then again, during the 20th century, pivotal battles weren’t literally in our front yard.

An average 69-year-old might be happy to ride out his golden years from a rocking chair.

But not John Burns.

He fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and even tried to work as a supply driver for the Union Army but was sent back to his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He wasn’t too happy to be excluded from the war.

See, Burns already lived nearly twice as long as the average American of the time and was ready to do more for his country. But Gettysburg was much further north than the Confederates could ever attack—or so he thought.

Burns was considered “eccentric” by the rest of the town. That’s what happens when you’re fighting wars for longer than most people at the time spent in school.

When Confederate Gen. Jubal Early captured the town, Burns was the constable and was jailed for trying to interfere with Confederate military operations. When the Confederates were pushed out of Gettysburg by the Union, Burns began arresting Confederate stragglers for treason.

His contributions to the Union didn’t end there.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, Burns watched as the Battle of Gettysburg began to unfold near his home. Like a true American hero, he picked up his rifle—a flintlock musket, which required the use of a powder horn—and calmly walked over to the battle to see how he could help.

He “borrowed” a more modern musket (now a long-standing Army tradition) from a wounded Union soldier, picked up some cartridges, then walked over to the commander of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and asked to join the regiment.

This time, he wasn’t turned away, though the 150th Pennsylvania commanders did send Burns to Herbst Woods, away from where the officers believed the main area of fighting would be.

They were wrong.

Herbst Woods was the site of the first Confederate offensive of the battle. Burns, sharpshooting for the Iron Brigade, helped repel this offensive as part of a surprise counterattack.

John Burns was mocked by other troops for showing up to fight with his antiquated weapon and “swallowtail coat with brass buttons, yellow vest, and tall hat”. But when the bullets started to fly, he calmly took cover behind a tree and started to shoot back with his modern rifle.

He also fought alongside the 7th Wisconsin Infantry and then moved to support the 24th Michigan. He was wounded in the arm, legs, and chest and was left on the field when the Union forces had to fall back.

He ditched his rifle and buried his ammo and then passed out from blood loss. He tried to convince the Rebels he was an old man looking to find help for his wife, but accounts of how well that story worked vary. Anyone fighting in an army outside of a uniform could be executed, but the ruse must have worked on some level—he survived his wounds and lived for another nine years.

RTWT

Burns was photographed (being a hero in the North), had a poem written about him by Brett Harte, and has his own monument on the battlefield.

14 Sep 2020

The Old America

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July 1941. “Store with cap guns and fireworks for sale, Fourth of July, Vale, Oregon.”

Cap guns were still legal when I was a boy.

From Shorpy’s.

10 Aug 2020

“Put your guns away. Keep on punching them in the head, but don’t shoot em”

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HT: Vanderleun.

09 Aug 2020

Trying For the Original 1886 Pemberton Coca-Cola Recipe

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(Needs the real coca leaf.)

12 May 2020

“Tuff Muggs Take Notice”

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HT: Vanderleun.

21 Apr 2020

America!

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UPDATE: New York Post: “De Blasio’s social distancing tip line flooded with penis photos, Hitler memes.”

[A] caller phoned in a tip that de Blasio was seen performing oral sex on someone “in an alleyway behind a 7-11” early Sunday.

13 Apr 2020

For the Ladies

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Did girls actually gun down mashers back in the 1950s? I don’t seem to remember hearing about it, but here’s Colt marketing its light-weight 2″-barrel .38 Special Cobra revolver as the maiden’s answer to unwanted male attention.

25 Mar 2020

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The kid in the photo is not me.

But it strikes a chord. When I was a little kid, pre-school, I was allowed to adopt as a toy a huge old Damascus 10 gauge double-barreled shotgun. Only one hammer worked. My parents knew perfectly well that I had no way of getting any 10 gauge ammunition, and the gun was a junker that would probably have blown up if anybody actually tried firing it. My neighborhood gang and I treated it in our games as a cannon and we’d wheel it around on a flexible flyer wagon. We eventually played that old junker into pieces.

22 Mar 2020

Americans Love Living in a Disaster Movie

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Chadwick Moore has America pegged.

When something truly unnerving arrives, like a global pandemic, America serves up just the right pitch of high-octane, Hollywood disaster-flick pandemonium to make the whole thing a bit zanier and more camp. The world depends on us for that. We invented the genre. China may have unleashed a deadly and mysterious new virus but Americans have long infected the planet with our sense of drama.

That’s what we do. Americans are in the business of entertainment, not only with our films, but our politics, vapid celebrities, and gregarious displays of mass hysteria when a crisis hits. Or, when there’s no crisis at all — like a vote recount, a sex scandal, or the release of a new iPhone — America remains Earth’s favorite reality TV show.

We can’t help it. We’re exhibitionists by nature and a highly theatrical, expressive people. When a camera is rolling, average Americans, more than other nationalities, know the game, and we’re ready to perform. Local news stations across the US provide the world with its greatest viral video stars. If you doorstep a stranger in Possum Gulch, Arkansas, at a Gristedes on the Upper West Side, or outside a housing project in Nashville, Tennessee, chances are you’re going to meet a real character who’s eager to put on a show. We’re that way off camera, as well. I recall, in my early twenties, living in a cramped London flat with four Brits and three Americans. If we all were gathered in the common room the Brits would sit back, utterly amused, and watch the Americans interact, as though we were a sitcom. ‘You’re like an episode of Friends’, one said. ‘You’re like cartoon characters’, another said. We know, thanks!

RTWT

HT: Karen L. Myers.

19 Mar 2020

“And They Lived Happily Ever After…”

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

11 Mar 2020

Texas, 1927

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

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