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Robert Gould Shaw’s sword, thought lost to history, found in attic

Colonel Robert Gould Shaw clutched the sword in his hand until he was killed in battle by enemy troops at the murderous assault on Fort Wagner. (Photo by Stuart C. Mowbray/MHS)

Descendants of Col. Robert Gould Shaw, killed leading the 54th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War, recently stumbled across his sword.

Last week the Massachusetts Historical Society announced they had acquired a collection of Shaw’s papers, photographs, and relics, to include his engraved Wilkinson sword, which he was carrying when he was killed.

“To have located ‘the holy grail of Civil War swords’ is a remarkable discovery,” said MHS President Dennis Fiori in a statement. “Through an amazing research effort, our curator and staff were able to put together a detailed timeline to authenticate the sword.”

The sword, a Wilkinson given to him by his uncle when the 25-year-old was promoted to full colonel of volunteers just weeks before the grim frontal attack that claimed his life, was found in an attic by descendants of his sister.

More here.  

Gould’s actions, and the 54th, would be retold in 1989’s Glory.

Principles of Operation (1943) United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1

The above U.S. Army training film explains the principles of operation of the M1 (Garand) Infantry Rifle.

John Garand’s M1 rifle was developed at Springfield Armory over a five-year period and put into production in August 1937, with over 5 million produced by SA, Winchester, Rock Island Arsenal, International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson by 1957 when it was theoretically replaced by the M14.

Gen. George S. Patton called it “the greatest battle implement ever devised” after seeing it in action during some of the heaviest ground combat in World War II. It went on to hold the line in Korea, the Cold War, and the early days of Vietnam. The old M1 remained in National Guard armories through the 1970s and as many as 250,000 DoD-owned Garands still serve with various military and civilian honor guards.

Enjoy!

52 years ago this week

Note the WWII-era M3 Grease Gun and cross-draw shoulder holstered M1911A1, both remained in U.S. military service well into the 1980s. Some things never go out of style.

Note the WWII-era M3 Grease Gun and cross-draw shoulder holstered M1911A1, both remained in U.S. military service well into the 1980s. Some things never go out of style.

On July 12, 1965, Lt. Frank Reasoner of the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, led by U.S.M.C. became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam. Reasoner repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire, killed two Viet Cong, single-handedly wiped out an enemy machine gun emplacement, and raced through enemy fire to rescue his injured radio operator. Trying to rally his men, Reasoner was hit by enemy machine gun fire and was killed instantly. For this action, Reasoner was nominated for America’s highest award for valor.

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commanding Officer, Company A, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division in action against hostile Viet Cong forces near Danang, Vietnam on 12 July 1965. The reconnaissance patrol led by First Lieutenant Reasoner had deeply penetrated heavily controlled enemy territory when it came under extremely heavy fire from an estimated 50 to 100 Viet Cong insurgents. Accompanying the advance party and the point that consisted of five men, he immediately deployed his men for an assault after the Viet Cong had opened fire from numerous concealed positions. Boldly shouting encouragement, and virtually isolated from the main body, he organized a base of fire for an assault on the enemy positions. The slashing fury of the Viet Cong machine gun and automatic weapons fire made it impossible for the main body to move forward. Repeatedly exposing himself to the devastating attack he skillfully provided covering fire, killing at least two Viet Cong and effectively silencing an automatic weapons position in a valiant attempt to effect evacuation of a wounded man. As casualties began to mount his radio operator was wounded and First Lieutenant Reasoner immediately moved to his side and tended his wounds. When the radio operator was hit a second time while attempting to reach a covered position, First Lieutenant Reasoner courageously running to his aid through the grazing machine gun fire fell mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit, valiant leadership and unflinching devotion to duty provided the inspiration that was to enable the patrol to complete its mission without further casualties. In the face of almost certain death, he gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. His actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Thank you for your service, Lt. Reasoner.

My 1960s EDC

Every now and then I like to channel the early Don Draper days with the below carry option.

It consists of a pre-71 Colt Detective Special in .38 SPL (stoked with period-correct standard velo 158 gr. soft lead SWC-HCs), a giant 1950s vintage Rosco-imported Mauro Mario Italian stiletto with Brazilian horn scales, a Bowers Kalamazoo Slide Sleeve lighter, Dr. Grabow Savoy imported Mediterranean briar pipe, and a custom steel pipe tamper. Not shown is the leather pipe pouch I use and the companion Bianchi IWB holster for the Colt snub.

All of the above inhabit the desk drawer in my office when not in use, and work just as well as the day they were created.

Five castaways belonging to four different carriers

This has to be a great story in this picture, taken of five men who evidently survived being shot down in the Philippines in late 1944/early 1945 and survived as best they could until being plucked up by a VPB-54 PBY-5A Catalina flown from the cargo ship turned seaplane tender USS Tangier (AV-8), then afloat in the Leyte Gulf.

U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-305864

Note the .38 on Roccafort who seems to have gone the most Robinson Crusoe of the bunch, and the native machete on Doyle. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-305864

Caption: Five men were rescued on Luzon Island, PI, by VPB-54. Survivors left to right: ARM2C Clifford P. Schelitzche, Torpedo-14, USS Wasp (CV-18); Ensign Maurice L. Naylon, Fightin 31, USS Cabot (CVL-28); Ensign Nichol J. Roccafort, Torpedo 18, USS Intrepid (CV-11); Ensign John R. Doyle, USS Ticonderoga (CV-14); ARM3C William W. King, USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Photographed onboard USS Tangier (AV-8), January 10, 1945.

5 Decent tactical folders I’ve found useful for under $50

A good tactical folder for the purpose of this installment is a knife that can accomplish all your classic “penknife” or “pocketknife” tasks– cutting a thread or cord, trimming fingernails, touching up a shave in a pinch, cutting an apple, and box cutting and opening mail– while still being available as a fast and earnest edged weapon if needed. As such, they need to be at the fast ready, have a sufficiently long blade, be capable of one-handed opening, be strong enough to take real abuse, and, to prevent cutting off one’s own fingers in such a situation, lock upon opening.

Five “budget” tactical folders under $50 (if you shop around) that get the rotation in EDC: Ontario Knife Company’s RAT1A, a Spyderco Tenacious, Matthew Lerch’s CRKT Argus, Ken Onion’s 1660 Kershaw Leek, and a Gerber Applegate–Fairbairn Mini Covert.

All are used and have spent their time in pockets, clocking in as needed. The Leek even survived the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina with me in my pocket– and I was glad to have it several times in that week. As such, any spots, dings, scratches or mars on the blades or scales are honestly earned and not the fault of their maker.

Why the $50 benchline? Bottom line is, sure you can carry your Chris Reeve Sebenza 21 or really nice ZT, Benchmade or Microtech– and I have a few of those– but if you were to have one of these upper shelf blades pull a pocket jump without your knowledge while you are in your travels, you are going to be out a lot more than $50.

Of course, as with anything, your mileage may vary and by default, the best knife you have is the one you have on you.

I do a mini-review on each in my column over at Tac.44.com.

A special Combat Gallery Sunday: The original Fighting Irish, on the eve of the Wheatfield, 154 years ago

Absolution Under Fire, By Paul Wood, via the Snite Museum of Art Notre Dame. Note the drummer boys in distinctive Zouave uniforms and the famous green harp flag. Click to bigup

On July 2nd 1863, minutes before the Irish Brigade would charge the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, Father William Corby gave absolution to the men. Corby would later become President of Notre Dame University and the following quote from Col. St. Clair Mulholland comes from their web page on Corby:

Colonel St. Clair Mulholland was attached with the Irish Brigade and later gave this account of Corby’s famous absolution [Originally published in the Philadelphia Times, reprinted in Scholastic, April 3, 1880, pages 470-471]:

There is yet a few minutes to spare before starting, and the time is occupied in one of the most impressive religious ceremonies I have ever witnessed. The Irish Brigade, which had been commanded formerly by General Thomas Francis Meagher, and whose green flag had been unfurled in every battle in which the Army of the Potomac had been engaged from the first Bull Run to Appomattox, was now commanded by Colonel Patrick Kelly, of the Eighty-eighth New York, and formed a part of this division. The brigade stood in columns of regiments closed in mass. As the large majority of its members were Catholics, the Chaplain of the brigade Rev. William Corby, CSC, proposed to give a general absolution to all the men before going into the fight. While this is customary in the armies of Catholic countries of Europe, it was perhaps the first time it was ever witnessed on this continent… Father Corby stood upon a large rock in front of the brigade, addressing the men; he explained what he was about to do, saying that each one would receive the benefit of the absolution by making a sincere Act of Contrition, and firmly resolving to embrace the first opportunity of confessing his sins, urging them to do their duty well, and reminding them of the high and sacred nature of their trust as soldiers and the noble object for which they fought. The brigade was standing at “Order arms,” and as he closed his address, every man fell on his knees, with head bowed down. Then, stretching his right hand towards the brigade, Father Corby pronounced the words of absolution. The scene was more than impressive, it was awe-inspiring. Near by, stood General Hancock, surrounded by a brilliant throng of officers, who had gathered to witness this very unusual occurrence and while there was profound silence in the ranks of the Second Corps, yet over to the left, out by the peach orchard and Little Round Top, where Weed, and Vincent, and Haslett were dying, the roar of the battle rose and swelled and reechoed through the woods. The act seemed to be in harmony with all the surroundings. I do not think there was a man in the brigade who did not offer up a heartfelt prayer. For some it was their last; they knelt there in their grave-clothes — in less than half an hour many of them were numbered with the dead of July 2.

 

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