Friday, July 30, 2010

John L. Rapier
John Lawrence Rapier (June 15, 1842 - May 7, 1905) was an American Civil War soldier and businessman. A native of Mobile, Alabama, he saw action as a sergeant major in the Seven Days Battles, and later became a second lieutenant in the Confederate States Marine Corps. He was captured at Fort Gaines, Mobile Bay, Alabama, August 5, 1864, and paroled at Nunna Hubba Bluff, Alabama, May 10, 1865.

After the war, he became the owner of the Mobile Register, and served as postmaster of Mobile.

Family and early life
Rapier was born in Spring Hill, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, the son of Thomas Gwynn Rapier and Evalina Senac. His maternal uncle was Confederate Paymaster Felix Senac. He was also related to Angela S. Mallory, wife of Secretary of the Confederate Navy, Stephen R. Mallory. In 1857 he worked as a clerk in New Orleans until the outbreak of the American Civil War.

Confederate States service
Rapier was enlisted from Louisiana as a private in Captain Henri St. Paul's Company (First Company) of the Louisiana Foot Rifles on April 22, 1861. This was later folded into Company A, 7th Battalion, Louisiana Infantry. Their first assignment was Pensacola, Florida, where they arrived on April 28 and stayed until mid-September. They were then transferred to Richmond, Virginia, where they encamped for several months in the vicinity of Centerville. The battalion was then assigned to Brigadier General Richard H. Anderson's Brigade on the Virginia Peninsula in May 1862.

Rapier was promoted to Sergeant-Major of the battalion, in which capacity he fought in the Battle of Williamsburg and in the Seven Days battles. During the Battle of Frayser's Farm, June 30, 1862, part of the Seven Day's campaign, he was blinded temporarily by a shell exploding inches from his face. In August, his battalion was divided and his company became Company E of the Confederate States Zouave Battalion, Louisiana Volunteers. On August 12, this organization became part of Starke's Brigade of Taliaferro's Division. Rapier continued to serve as sergeant major. He then saw action at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Antietam and Fredericksburg, before his battalion was transferred to southeastern Virginia. In January, he was promoted to first lieutenant and adjutant of his battalion. In March, it is reported that Secretary Mallory offered him a commission in the Confederate Marine Corps, but Rapier did not initially accept it. However, several weeks later he took the examination, passed and was commissioned as a second lieutenant, dated July 11, 1863.

On August 1, he was ordered to report to Secretary Mallory, where he was then assigned to the Marine Camp at Drewry's Bluff, James River, Virginia, as part of Company A. He served there briefly until he was ordered on December 22, 1863, to report to Admiral Franklin Buchanan, commander of the Mobile Squadron. On arrival on December 28, he was assigned to the Mobile Marine Barracks. On August 3, 1864, Rapier and several fellow marines were ordered to reinforce Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, Mobile Bay, Alabama, during which time he was made Major W. R. Browne's adjutant. Thus he participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay. When the commanding officer of the fort, Colonel Charles D. Anderson, held a council with his officers on August 6, he revealed a document he wished them to sign, surrendering the fort. Rapier and one other marine, were some of the very few that refused to sign. Rapier was captured on August 8, 1864. He later escaped from prison in New Orleans on October 13, 1864, by making his way through the swamps and bayous until he reached Mobile on November 10. He met up with Captain Fry, a relative, who gave him command of two 32-pounder guns on the gunboat Morgan. He participated in the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely in April 1865. He was on this boat until he surrendered on May 4, 1865. He was paroled May 10, 1865, at Nunna Hubba Bluff, Alabama.

After the war
After the war, he married the daughter of a former commander, Regina St. Paul, in 1866, and after her death, he married Regina Demouy.

In 1866, Rapier took a position at the Mobile Times with his father-in-law Major St. Paul. The Times was later consolidated into the Mobile Register. He later became part owner, with Colonel John Forsyth, and upon the death of the latter, became the sole owner in 1877.

In December 1894, President Grover Cleveland appointed him Postmaster of Mobile, which position he held until March 1897. He was a member of the Catholic Knights of America, and for many years a member of the Striker's Independent Society and the Mobile Mardis Gras Society Order of Myths.

Rapier died on May 7, 1905, in Mobile, and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beginning of the Korean War
On June 25, 1950, the North Koreans (NK) invaded the South

Striking in overwhelming force, without warning, they crushed the unprepared Republic of Korea (ROK) army. The NK were only contained by the entry of the United States, quickly supported by the United Nations.

For a time, the issue was in doubt. Although the NK had virtually annihilated the ROK forces, the surprised ROKs had resisted desperately, and the NK had suffered grave losses in men and material in the savage fighting. When the NK first met our own army, and realized the US had really entered the conflict, they paused for a few weeks to re-group. This gave the US and UN time to build up our own forces, and to finally stop the NK completely, in the battle of the Pusan Perimeter.

On September 15, 1950 Joint Task Force Seven, with more than 320 warships including 4 aircraft carriers, carried the nearly 70,000 man strong force of X Corps into the dangerous tides of Inchon harbor. Preceded by heavy naval bombardment and under a blanket of fighting aircraft, led by the veteran 5th Marines, elements of the 1st Marine Division were landed 100 miles behind the North Korean lines and fought their way on to take Seoul, by 9/25. The newly reinforced 7th Infantry Division protected its flank. The stroke was decisive.

Conceived and directed by our brilliant general Douglas MacArthur, the assault at Inchon was a strategic masterpiece. The invasion had suddenly positioned some of our finest fighting men across the main NK lines of supply, and retreat, far in the rear of their attacking armies. Within two weeks, the North Korean army was largely destroyed or made ineffective.

The way to the Yalu, and total destruction of North Korea's military power, seemed virtually unopposed.

With the North Korean invasion hardly a week old, and their armies running amok down the Peninsula, General MacArthur began planning an amphibious assault to retake the communications center at Seoul. This would trap the main NK combat forces, and permit us to destroy them at leisure.

MacArthur placed army Major General Edward M. Almond in charge of X Corps, with the responsibility of carrying out this operation. The Marine Corps were expert in amphibious assault, so this was a surprising move. It led to serious problems from the beginning, and was almost fatally damaging later in the rugged Taebaek mountains.

For the assault to have maximum effectiveness, a strong military force was required on the southern part of the Peninsula to keep the NK fully engaged. However, the violence of the NK attacks was menacing their very existence. A series of military defeats, and organizational difficulties, repeatedly delayed formation of a strong enough reserve force to stage such a daring amphibious counter-stroke.

United States Marine Corps Readiness
President Truman, guided by his Cabinet and the JCS and a strong personal dislike of the USMC, had cut the Fleet Marine Force to 34,000 officers and men, giving a ground fighting strength of only six infantry battalions, and a total Corps strength of 74,279 officers and men. Eliminated were the two Marine divisions which would surely have enabled Eighth Army to meet and defeat the In Min Gun in the Pusan Perimeter. Corps strength was so reduced that the 3 battalions available for a provisional brigade only had two companies each.

Truman had so weakened the Corps that they could not man the third companies ... the elements of maneuver! The third companies did not join 5th Marines until after the second Naktong battle, and then mostly manned by reservists who had been driving buses and bagging at supermarkets barely weeks before.

As it turned out, the single Marine RCT which still was capable of rapid deployment effectively saved the Perimeter, and South Korea, with its valiant defeats of the NK in the Naktong battles. When Truman permitted calling up the Reserves, the Marines were once again ready for decisive counter-attack behind enemy lines.

5th Marine Regiment
Originally selected by MacArthur for the amphibious operation, early Eighth Army defeats made the need for reliable infantry in the perimeter paramount.
5th Marines formed the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and landed at Pusan 8/3, serving with distinction at the Naktong Bulge, well supported by their M26 Pershings and Marine Corsairs. By "distinction", the 5th Marines typically won their engagements with the NK forces whereas Army units did not, and half the Army casualties were usually MIAs whereas the 5th usually had none. On 9/12, the 5th mounted out from Pusan to help form the rest of 1st Mar Div and X Corps at sea.

1st Marine Regiment
1st Marines were activated in August, and staged in Japan. 1st joined the Inchon invasion in the afternoon of the first day, assaulting Blue beach.

7th Marine Regiment
7th Marines were activated around 9/1, staged at Kobe around 9/9, and on 9/21 were landed at Inchon to join 1st Mar Div.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

With Sketch-pads and Guns, Semper Fi
United States Marines can do more than fight and win wars.

By Carol Kino
Quantico, Virginia
Published in The New York Times on July 18, 200

A bigger difference, though, may be the program’s requirement that members be both Marines and full-fledged artists, not one or the other. (In the Vietnam War, however, it used civilian artists too.) When deployed, they carry the same 75 to 100 pounds of combat gear — including food and water, body armor, a Kevlar helmet, an M-16, a 9-millimeter pistol and ammunition — as their fellows, as well as art supplies. Also, said Joan Thomas, the art curator at the Marine Corps museum, they must be vetted by her and by artists who preceded them in the program.

The latest on the arts, coverage of live events, critical reviews, multimedia extravaganzas and much more.

“We’re looking for someone who is not just copying a photograph,” she said, “we’re looking for gesture drawings, we’re looking at if you’ve done any plein air work, if you’ve done work from life.”

These requirements impress even the program’s competitors. “The Marines are doing it the way it should be done,” said Gale Munro, the head curator of the Navy’s art collection. “They have really good artists, they’re chosen from within the ranks, they’re in it for the long term, so they can get a long perspective.”

And being in combat, Sergeant Battles and Mr. Fay agreed, can be a fantastic way to develop as an artist.

“You’re balancing a tactical eye as a Marine with your artist’s visual eye,” Sergeant Battles said. On the one hand, he said: “you’re thinking ‘Is that a sniper? Is that an I.E.D.?’ ”

But, Mr. Fay added, “you’re also sort of looking strategically” as an artist.

“Yeah,” Sergeant Battles said, “You’re still looking at, ‘Wow, look at the way that light is bouncing off the body armor.’ ”

Company commanders don’t need to worry about protecting the artists, as they need to do, for example, with embedded journalists, and this has won support for the program throughout the rank and file. “The biggest worry a unit leader has is: ‘Oh, my God, who is this guy? How am I going to take care of him?’ ”said Col. Richard D. Camp, retired, vice president of museum operations for the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. “But once they find out these guys are fully capable of taking care of themselves, all that is off the table.”

One skeptic turned supporter is Col. Robert Oltman, who met Mr. Fay in 2005 when the colonel was commanding Second Battalion, First Marine Regiment, part of an expeditionary unit that had been assigned to clear insurgents from Ubaydi in western Iraq. On the final day they were ambushed and lost six men, many of whom were “younger Marines, newly married, new fathers,” Colonel Oltman said. Some months later he visited the museum and was shocked to see Mr. Fay’s drawings of those same men on display.

Although he had first viewed the presence of a combat artist as an “administrative burden in trying to step off into combat,” he said, he began to realize its value.

“We have somebody who was there who can tell the story,” he said, “so when their children grow up, there’s an archived history of what their father or loved one did.”

The Marine Corps museum, which opened in 2006, has in its collection more than 8,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures dating to 1825, long before the corps’s first formal program was set up in 1942. A planned expansion, slated to begin in early 2012, is expected to increase the area allotted to art from the approximately 85-foot-long corridor it now occupies to at least 5,000 square feet of gallery space, in addition to an on-site studio where visitors will be able to see combat artists at work.

Some of the work in the collection is forgettable — for example, grand battle scenes commissioned after the fact — but there are many gems. From World War I there are quick battlefield sketches made in France by Capt. John W. Thomason Jr., who inspired the whole program. From World War II there’s a vigorously worked scene of men engaged in combat on Tarawa, painted by Harry Jackson, later an Abstract Expressionist and today a hugely successful Western painter.

Representing the Vietnam War are a tension-filled watercolor of Marines tiptoeing across a rice paddy by Maj. John T. Dyer (later the collection’s first curator) and a 1968 oil painting of a gruesome field surgery, whose composition suggests Rembrandt’s “Anatomy Lesson,” by Capt. Peter Michael Gish.

From Iraq and Afghanistan there are piles of Mr. Fay’s sweat-stained combat notebooks and some great paintings, like his “All Eyes Down” (2002), which shows Marines in a barren landscape surveying the ground for landmines; and “The Interface — Civil Affairs at Samhat, Iraq” (2008) by Sergeant Battles.

He happened upon the friezelike scene in a town in Al Anbar province, with Marines lined up on one side and Iraqi women and children on the other, bisected by the interpreter. “You’re always looking,” said Sergeant Battles, “and this is one of those instances where it came together.”

Mr. Fay came to the program after two tours of active duty in the 1970s and ’80s. Three failed attempts at art school and several years as an artisanal furniture designer later, he was recruited in 2000 by his predecessor, Col. Donna Neary, retired.

A few years on, Sergeant Battles came to the program after sending an e-mail message to Mr. Fay’s blog, Fire and Ice. He had already served 10 years as a reservist and two as an evangelical missionary in Haiti, aiding local artisans. Now married, he was finally working as an artist full time.

Mr. Fay checked out his Web site,, and was impressed. Sergeant Battles re-enlisted and soon found himself deployed to Iraq. (He now has his own combat art blog, Sketchpad Warrior.)

So why should the Marines have artists in addition to photographers? The Marines interviewed for this story mostly said that what counted was the added emotional resonance that artists can bring.

“If you and I are in the same firefight, what you see and what I see are two different things, based on our own background and experience,” said Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas, retired, the president and chief executive of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. “When a photograph is taken of a battle or any type of scene in combat, you see the image. But what the artist does is he takes that image and interprets it.”

And, of course, capturing a moment in a painting also serves one of art’s most ancient purposes. “It’s the pact we make with the warrior: You will live forever and we will remember you,” Ms. Blair said. “And to me the best way to do that is through art. We can’t give him his life, but we can give him that immortality.”

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Nicky Daniel Bacon
SSgt, US Amy, Ret.
Medal of Honor recipient

Nicky past away Saturday July 17, 2010 at his home.

Nicky Daniel Bacon (November 25, 1945 - July 17, 2010) was a retired United States Army first sergeant from the Americal Division who served during the Vietnam War. For his actions in combat in Tam Ky, Vietnam, Bacon was awarded America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.

Bacon was born in Caraway, Arkansas, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in Phoenix, Arizona. He reached the rank of staff sergeant while serving his second combat tour in Vietnam as part of the 21st Infantry Regiment, 11th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. On August 26, 1968, while commanding a squad of the first platoon of Company B, 4th Battalion in an operation west of Tam Ky, Bacon and his unit came under fire from enemy positions. While Bacon destroyed these positions with hand grenades, his platoon leader was wounded in open ground. Assuming command, Bacon led the platoon to destroy the remaining enemy emplacements.

When the third platoon of Bravo Company lost their own leader, Bacon took command of that platoon as well as his own and led both platoons against enemy positions. During the evacuation of the wounded, Bacon climbed the side of a nearby tank to gain a vantage point and direct fire into enemy positions, despite his exposure to enemy fire. He was personally credited with killing at least 4 enemy soldiers and destroying an anti-tank gun.

For his actions in this battle, Bacon was awarded the Medal of Honor. For his distinguished military service in Vietnam and throughout his career, he also received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars (with combat "V"), the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and numerous other awards and decorations.

After the war, Bacon continued to serve in the Army until his retirement as a first sergeant. He later served as president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Director of Veterans' Affairs for the State of Arkansas. In the 1990s he traveled to Vietnam as part of a POW/MIA task force and traveled to Israel at the invitation of Jewish veterans, urging the Israeli government not to cede the Golan Heights to Syria. Bacon lived with his wife, Tamara, and their sons in Rose Bud, Arkansas, and remains active as a veterans' advocate.

Medal of Honor citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky. When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault. He advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. As he did so, several fellow soldiers including the 1st Platoon leader, were struck by machine gun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon. S/Sgt. Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a single-handed effort. When the 3d Platoon moved to S/Sgt. Bacon's location, its leader was also wounded. Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight. In the ensuing action he personally killed 4 more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question. Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated. As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon's extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front. S/Sgt. Bacon's bravery at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vernon J. Baker
This is about a very brave US Army hero. He died recently and he was the last living African American who received the Medal of Honor during World War II. Within a decade, most all World War II veterans will be dead. Many of them have something they would like to be made public through a reporter of a newspaper, and with all my (Noah H. Belew) pleading, the Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola, Fla., (Gannett Newspaper Company), refuse to allow one story published weekly. Shame on Kevin T. Doyle, President/Publisher, and Richard A. Schneider, Executive Editor.

Vernon Joseph Baker (December 17, 1919 - July 13, 2010) was a United States Army officer who received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II. He was awarded the medal for his actions on April 5-6, 1945 near Viareggio, Italy, when he and his platoon killed 26 enemy soldiers and destroyed six machine gun nests, two observer posts and four dugouts.

Early life
Baker was born on December 17, 1919, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the youngest of three children. After his parents died in a car accident when he was four, he and his two sisters were raised by their grandparents. His grandfather Joseph S. Baker, a railroad worker in Cheyenne, taught him to hunt in order to feed the family and became "the most influential figure in Vernon's life." His relationship with his grandmother was much more strained, and he spent a few years at the Boys Town orphanage in Nebraska to be away from her.

Baker graduated from high school in his grandfather's hometown of Clarinda, Iowa. He then worked as a railroad porter, a job he despised, until his grandfather's death from cancer in 1939. A series of menial jobs followed until his enlistment in the U.S. Army in mid-1941. At his first attempt to enlist, in April 1941, he was turned away, the recruiter stating "We don't have any quotas for you people." He tried again weeks later with a different recruiter and was accepted; he requested to become a quartermaster but was instead assigned to infantry.

Military service
Baker entered the Army on June 26, 1941, six months prior to the U.S. entry into World War II. He went through training at Camp Wolters, Texas, and after completing Officer Candidate School was commissioned as a second lieutenant on January 11, 1943.

In June 1944, Baker was sent to Italy with the all-black 92nd Infantry Division. He was wounded in the arm in October of that year, hospitalized near Pisa, and in December rejoined his unit in reserve along the Gothic Line. In early spring, 1945, his unit was pulled from the reserves and placed in active combat. On the morning of April 5, he participated in an attack on the German stronghold of Castle Aghinolfi. During the assault, Baker led his heavy weapons platoon through German defenses to within sight of the castle, personally destroying three machine gun nests, two observation posts, two bunkers, and a network of German telephone lines along the way. It was for these actions that he was later awarded the Medal of Honor.

After the end of the war, Baker remained in Europe with the Allied occupation forces until 1947. He later joined the Army Airborne forces and left the military in 1968 as a first lieutenant.

Medal of Honor
In 1993, a study commissioned by the U.S. Army described systematic racial discrimination in the criteria for awarding medals during World War II. At the time, no Medals of Honor had been awarded to black soldiers who served in World War II. After an exhaustive review of files, the study recommended that several black Distinguished Service Cross recipients have their awards upgraded to the Medal of Honor. On January 13, 1997, President Bill Clinton awarded the medal to seven African American World War II veterans; Baker was the only recipient still living at the time.

Baker's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, near Viareggio, Italy. Then Second Lieutenant Baker demonstrated outstanding courage and leadership in destroying enemy installations, personnel and equipment during his company's attack against a strongly entrenched enemy in mountainous terrain. When his company was stopped by the concentration of fire from several machine gun emplacements, he crawled to one position and destroyed it, killing three Germans. Continuing forward, he attacked and enemy observation post and killed two occupants. With the aid of one of his men, Lieutenant Baker attacked two more machine gun nests, killing or wounding the four enemy soldiers occupying these positions. He then covered the evacuation of the wounded personnel of his company by occupying an exposed position and drawing the enemy's fire. On the following night Lieutenant Baker voluntarily led a battalion advance through enemy mine fields and heavy fire toward the division objective. Second Lieutenant Baker's fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his men and exemplify the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.

Awards and decorations
Baker has been awarded the following: Medal of Honor; Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge; Croce Al Valor Militare (Italian Decoration).

On September 11, 2008, Vernon Baker was awarded the Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind by Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. Along with the award, Baker received an honorary doctorate from the college.

Family and later life
Baker's first wife was Fern Brown; the couple had three children. After his wife's death in 1986, he moved to a cabin in the Benewah Valley of northern Idaho. Baker was an avid hunter, and hunted
elk in northern Idaho before and after moving to the area. In 1989, he met a German woman visiting the U.S., Heidy Pawlick, whom he would later marry.

Baker died at his St. Maries, Idaho, home on July 13, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. He had been near-death due to brain cancer in 2004 but had recovered. Funeral arrangements at Arlington National Cemetery are pending.

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Quadruple Amputee to Survive
Brendan Marrocco, a soldier who served in Iraq, came back as a quadruple amputee. Despite his disabilities, he is full of joy and moving on with his life.

Last year, on Easter Sunday, soldier Brendan Marrocco was driving in Iraq with his best friend Michael Anaya when their military vehicle tripped a roadside bomb.

Anaya was killed instantly, and both of Marrocco’s arms and legs were blown off. The carotid artery in his neck was severed.

“That alone should have killed me," Marracco said.

But in a strange twist of fate, he hardly bled at all from his injuries: the bomb was so hot that it instantly cauterized his wounds, saving his life.

Of course, Marracco’s life would never be the same again. Now a quadruple amputee, he is slowly and painfully learning to live without the use of his limbs, undergoing daily physical therapy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is able to wear prosthetic limbs for brief periods of time, but because of the stress on his body, he spends much of the day in bed or a wheelchair.

But despite everything he has lost, Marracco is full of joy to be alive.

“I’m the first quad amputee ever to survive, I just want to keep progressing, keep going and doing more stuff. I don’t want to live a life where I just sit and do nothing with my life."

Marracco is already making big plans. Recently, he got engaged to Kate Barsto, a young woman that he met at Walter Reed. "He’s such an incredible person and people don’t need to feel sorry for him," she said. Even with his disabilities, "he’s better than normal to me."

And while Marracco is still living in a hospital room at Walter Reed, he and Barsto will have a home to go to when they’re ready to begin their life together: several non-profit groups on Staten Island, where Marracco is from, have joined up to build a new, fully-accessible home for Marracco.

Marracco is also hoping to get a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, and possibly go into a job for the CIA or FBI.

Specialist Marrocco is setting an example for us all with his quintessentially American spirit, courage and refusal to give up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

American Revolution
When General George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army in July 1775, his Adjutant General, Horatio Gates, reminded recruiters, “not to accept any deserter from the Ministerial army, nor any stroller, negro, or vagabond.” In response, the British offered enslaved Blacks freedom if they would fight for the Crown, and many joined the British.
Benjamin Quales explained the dilemma of the Black soldier in this war: ... can best be understood by realizing that his major loyalty was not to a place nor a people, but to a principle... He was likely to join the side that made him the quickest and best offer in terms of those “unalienable rights” of which Mr. Jefferson had spoken.

Historians have noted that the Revolutionary War was not universally supported among colonists. It has been estimated that only one third of the colonial population supported it, one
third was against it, and the other third was neutral. Consequently, it was not easy to enlist.

Note: The terms Blacks, Negroes, Colored and Africans are used interchangeably. People of African decent were not regarded as Americans until the passage of the 14th Constitutional Amendment (13 June 1866).

Soldiers to fight the British. By the end of 1775, numerous issues including personnel shortages forced General George Washington to reverse the ban on the use of Black soldiers.

During the American Revolutionary War, the typical Black soldier was a private, often lacking a name or official identity. He was carried on the rolls as A Negro man, or Negro by name, or a Negro name not known.

Some Black soldiers were identified by the classic Negro surnames of the times like Cuffe, Jack, Jupiter, or Cato. However, an unspecified number may have adopted European names, which makes it difficult to determine the actual number of African Americans who served during this war.
As the war continued, enslaved Blacks substituted for White masters who chose not to fight. Pressured by Congress to increase enlistment, some states compensated slave owners up to 120 pounds for enslaved Africans who served.

By 1778, Massachusetts and Rhode Island allowed enslaved Africans to enroll in the service. Subsequently, a Negro commander led the Bucks of America, an all-Negro company from Massachusetts. Except for the four all-Negro units from these states and Connecticut, most Negroes were integrated into the combat units with whites.

In the Continental Navy, many black sailors served on Revolutionary gunboats. A Negro, Captain Mark Starlin of the Virginia Navy, was commander of the Patriot. Despite his battle record, Starlin was re-enslaved by his old master at the end of the war.

The Continental Congress and General Washington courted Indian allies to join the colonial war effort only whe n treaties of neutrality broke down. It took three years to sign a treaty with the Delaware Indians who were used as scouts and light Calvary troops. However, most Indian tribes supported the British, since they desired English trade goods and resented the aggressive
expansionism of Americans. Unfortunately, the victors of this war viewed the Indians as defeated allies of the British and believed they had a claim to all Indian lands.

By the end of the American Revolution, over 300,000 men would fight, including approximately 5,000 Blacks, and participate in over 50 battles. However, the new U.S. Constitution re-emphasized Black inferiority by deeming that, for political representation, each enslaved Black would only count as three-fifths of a human being.

A few years later, Congress enacted the Militia Act of 1792 thereby restricting militia enrollment to every free and able white male citizen of the respective states…of the age [from] 18 to 45.

In 1798, the Marine Corps adopted a policy forbidding the enlistment of Negroes, Mulattos, and Indians. This policy was effective until 1942.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

John Paul Jones
A founder of the U.S. Navy

On July 6, 1905, United States Marines escorted the body of John Paul Jones from France to Annopolis.

John Paul was born at Arbigland, Kirkbean, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, 6 July 1747. Apprenticed to a merchant at age 13, he went to sea in the brig Friendship to learn the art of seamanship. At 21, he received his first command, the brig John.

After several successful years as a merchant skipper in the West Indies trade, John Paul emigrated to the British colonies in North America and there added "Jones" to his name. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Jones was in Virginia. He cast his lot with the rebels, and on 7 December 1775, he was commissioned first lieutenant in the Continental Navy, serving aboard Esek Hopkins' flagship Alfred.

As First Lieutenant in Alfred, he was the first to hoist the Grand Union flag on a Continental warship. On 1 November 1777, he commanded the Ranger, sailing for France. Sailing into Quiberon Bay, France, 14 February 1778, Jones and Admiral La Motte Piquet changed gun salutes — the first time that the Stars and Stripes, the flag of the new nation, was officially recognized by a foreign government.

Early in 1779, the French King gave Jones an ancient East Indiaman Duc de Duras, which Jones refitted, repaired, and renamed Bon Homme Richard as a compliment to his patron Benjamin Franklin. Commanding four other ships and two French privateers, he sailed 14 August 1779 to raid English shipping.

On 23 September 1779, his ship engaged the HMS Serapis in the North Sea off Famborough Head, England. Richard was blasted in the initial broadside the two ships exchanged, losing much of her firepower and many of her gunners. Captain Richard Pearson, commanding Serapis, called out to Jones, asking if he surrendered. Jones' reply: "I have not yet begun to fight!"

It was a bloody battle with the two ship literally locked in combat. Sharpshooting Marines and seamen in Richard's tops raked Serapis with gunfire, clearing the weather decks. Jones and his crew tenaciously fought on , even though their ship was sinking beneath them. Finally, Capt. Pearson tore down his colors and Serapis surrendered.

Bon Homme Richard sunk the next day and Jones was forced to transfer to Serapis.

After the American Revolution, Jones served as a Rear Admiral in the service of Empress Catherine of Russia, but returned to Paris in 1790. He died in Paris at the age of 45 on 18 July 1792. He was buried in St. Louis Cemetery, which belonged to the French royal family. Four years later, France's revolutionary government sold the property and the cemetery was forgotten.

In 1845, Col. John H. Sherburne began a campaign to return Jones' remains to the United States. He wrote Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft and requested the body be brought home aboard a ship of the Mediterrean Squadron. Six years later, preliminary arrangements were made, but the plans fell through when several of Jones' Scottish relatives objected. Had they not, another problem would have arisen. Jones was in an unmarked grave and no one knew exactly where that was.

American Ambassador Horace Porter began a systematic search for it in 1899. The burial place and Jones' body was discovered in April 1905. President Theodore Roosevelt sent four cruisers to bring it back to the U.S., and these ships were escorted up the Chesapeake Bay by seven battleships.

On 26 January 1913, the remains of John Paul Jones were laid to rest in the crypt of the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Md. Today, a Marine honor guard stands duty whenever the crypt is open to the public. Public visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.