Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jintai Art Museum - Cuba, US Civil War and WWII

No new history or archaeological information today so I’ll present the latest Military and War art collection from the Jintai Art Museum in Beijing.  The gallery is here.

There are a number of recent sketches of modern world leaders who have been involved in the political side of various world conflicts.  Kofi Annan (Secretary General of the UN from 1997-2006 and also served as a UN-Arab league special envoy to Syria through part of 2012); Henry Kissinger (US Secretary of State 1973-1977 and US National Security Advisor 1969-1975); Boutros-Boutros Ghali (Secretary General of the UN 1992-1996); Boris Yeltsin (First President of Russia 1991-1999); Fidel Castro (First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba 1961-2011, 15th president of Cuba 1976-2008, 16th prime Minister of Cuba 1959-2008); Tony Blair (Prime Minister of the UK 1997-2007); Gerhard Schroeder (Chancellor of Germany 1998-2005); William J. Clinton (42nd President of the US 1993-2001)

Fidel Castro, revolutionary and Prime Minister of Cuba, in Washington DC April 1959, trying to win US support for his rule in Cuba prior to declaring himself a communist

2005 Sculpture of "Before the Decisive Battle" – Abraham Lincoln.  There is not a particular battle this relates to.  The artist simply wished to show Lincoln as a leader.

Lincoln and McClellan, October 3, 1862, near Antietam after the September 17 Battle of Antietam, Maryland

October 3, 1862 photo near Antietam of Allan Pinkerton, Lincoln and Major General McClernand. 

Pinkerton headed the Union Intelligence Services during the war and among other accomplishments filed at least one assassination attempt against Lincoln.

McClernand was a powerful Illinois War Democrat and was given senior command positions.  However, he was somewhat unsuccessful, relieved of command June 18, 1863 then reinstated in field command in 1864 by Lincoln because of his political sway in Illinois.

Possibly 1868 painting "The Peacemakers" showing Sherman, Grant, Lincoln and Admiral Porter.

Major General Sherman is best well known for his “scorched earth” policy of waging total war against the Confederacy.  After the Civil War, he presided over much of the US Army’s conflicts with Native Americans.

Ulysses S. Grant defeated Robert E. Lee in the US Civil War and effectively ended that conflict.  Afterwards he was elected to be 18th President of the US with his term marked by scandal.

Admiral Porter served effectively in both the Mexican-American War and the US Civil War, afterwards helping to raise the standards of the US Navy.    

2004 Sculptures of the Wright Brothers.  They helped to develop early aviation in general and assisted the US military in developing military aviation capabilities. 

 Fort Meyer, Virginia September 3, 1908 – Wright Brothers  demonstrating an aircraft for the US War Department

General of the Air Force Henry “Hap” Arnold, taught to fly by the Wright Brothers and victorious commander of US Army Air Forces during WWII

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fondazione Musei Senesi - Garibaldi and Italian condottieri

Today’s Military and War Collection comes from Fondazione Musei Senesi in Siena, Italy and can be found here.

16thC “Baptism of Constantine” – Constantine was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337 and defeated Maxentius and Licinius during Roman civil wars.  He spent a considerable amount of time fighting and defeating various barbarian tribes.

1886 Victor Emmanuel II Meeting Giuseppe Garibaldi at Teano – Garibaldi lived from 1807 to 1882 and was instrumental in creating the Italian nation.  He was an active military leader, operating in both South America and Italy.  Victor Emmanuel II was King of Italy, the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century.   The painting celebrates the famous meeting of the two men on October 26, 1860 at Teano where Garibaldi passed control of South Italy to Emmanuel and hailed him as King of Italy despite his own republican leanings.

{{PD-1923}} – published before 1923 and public domain in the US.

16th C Public Virtues of Greek and Roman Heroes

1328, Guidoriccio da Fogliano, condottieri – This painting depicts the condotierre conquering the castles of Montemassi and Sassoforte in 1328.  Montemassi was first noted in 1076 and is the most famous monument in the Italian territory of Roccastrada.  Sassoforte was taken in 1328, sold to Siena soon after and then partially torn down.

 16th Century woodcut of an Italian condottieri

13th C Tournament and Hunting Scenes – A scene of knights charging each other on horseback wielding swords.
1886 Battle of San Martino – Better known as the Battle of Solferino and San Martino.  This June 24, 1859 battle served to end the Second War of Independence in Italy.  It was fought between the French united with Sardinia against the Austrians.  About 300,000 men were involved and is said to be the last major battle in world history where all armies were under the personal command of their respective monarchs.  The bloody aftermath of the battle also inspired Swiss Henri Dunant to begin work that led to eventual development of the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

D'Arcy Todd and a Shaanxi Tomb

Today I will definitely touch on two points. The 2,000 year old tomb found in Shaanxi province and research done by the National Army Museum. 

I asked researchers at the National Army Museum and the Royal Artillery Museum to check their records to see if a D’Arcy Todd (see my November 16, 2012 post) was listed in the British Army rolls about 1812 and operating in Persia.  Alastair Massie of the National Army Museum kindly responded saying that in both British and Indian army lists for active officers in 1812, he did not find a D’Arcy Todd.  It seems to both he and myself that the Benaki Museum's reference to a D’Arcy Todd receiving a Persian seal in 1812 is incorrect. More likely the seal was awarded to Elliott D’Arcy Todd in the mid 19th century. I’ll have to let them know.

In other news, a 2,000 year old tomb with 20 relics was recently discovered in Fengxiang county, Shaanxi province, China. The tomb was discovered during railway construction. The site was 7 meters deep (about 23 feet) and divided into four rooms containing weapons, pottery, copper coins and a bronze mirror. The coffins and skeletons were destroyed but researchers believe the tomb had been built for a general of the Western Han dynasty dating between 206BC and 24 AD. Dating was based on the tomb characteristics and the objects found. 

A staff member of the Chinese Institute of Archaeology informed me that the tomb held three iron-swords with lengths of 0.8m, 1.13m and 1.15m. There was also one set of armor but no further information was available. He also provided two interesting photos.

Sword found in Shaanxi tomb

Shield found in Shaanxi tomb

The Han period of China is considered China’s golden age and many Chinese trace their heritage back to the Han. Also, the sword pictured matches the general outline of swords made during the Han period.

Recommended reading:

Messerschmitt 323

I am finally able to address the two interesting points I have been wanting to share.  One dealing with the German WWII Messerschmitt 323 “Gigant” cargo plane found submerged off Sardinia in September.  The second deals with the 2,000 year old tomb and artifacts discovered in China’s Shaanxi Province.

The head of the crew that found the Messerschmitt, diver and amateur historian Cristina Freghieri, relayed a few bits of information to me.  I had asked her how she went about finding the aircraft, what she saw to indicate what it was, whether the plane is in danger of further corrosion and what the next stage is in relation to the plane.  The important thing to keep in mind is that only about 200 were produced for the war and that according to the Imperial War Museum in London, no complete surviving Messerschmitt 323 Giant is in existence.  The “Gigant” had a normal crew of 5, weighed 30 tons when empty, had six Gnome-Rhone engines and a wingspan of 180 feet.  Historical records indicate many 323’s were lost in the last weeks of the North African campaign in April and May of 1943 and this particular one went down July 26, 1943 flying from Sardinia to Pistoia in Tuscany and crashing off the Maddalena islands of Italy.  

 Messerschmitt 323

 Messerschmitt 323 with its rear end open

Ms. Freghieri explained that to find the plane, in January 2012 she lowered a wire-guided camera into the seas to see if it would be necessary for her to put together a team for the dive.  Apparently that turned out to be necessary.  (My words, not hers.)  Once she went down to find it, she saw that the wings of the plane and the six engines were fully visible.  She also explained that the sea water had fully stripped the aircraft and no further damage to it is expected. Except of course for any future man made damage  if someone were to go looking for souvenirs, hopefully not.  As for the future of the plane, Ms. Freghieri indicated that is a confidential matter.  Perhaps then we can look forward to greater attention given to the plane and more interesting historical information gleaned from it.

I tried to find a little information that might indicate what the plane’s mission might have been when it was shot down.  I found nothing for the plane but noted  Maddalena appeared to be a small naval port of some importance, protected by established minefields and anti-submarine nets during the war.  Also of interest, the US Navy used La Maddalena as a submarine base from January 1973 to January 2008.

US Navy Submarine tender USS Orion in port La Maddalena, 1983

Some other bits of information I found suggest the 323 might have flown out of Villacidro (Trunconi) in Sardinia or Venafiorita.  However, after doing a bit more research, I have decided to keep my information a secret for now because I actually think I may have stumbled on to something very interesting regarding our Messerschmitt.  We shall see.  And the Shaanxi information shall wait until tomorrow.   

Recommended reading:


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cincinnati Museum Center

Today’s museum showcase is the Cincinnati Museum Center.  They present eight paintings of military history interest found at my art gallery here.  The pictures I have posted are not those in the museum.  You'll have to go to the gallery to see those described below.

Ca. 1832 Capture of the Calloway Girls and Jemima Boone – Jemima was daughter of the famed Daniel Boone.  Cherokee-Shawnee raiding parties were trying to drive immigrants out of their lands who ignored treaties to stay out of their land.  Daniel and a rescue party found the girls and killed some of their captors.  Sadly, Daniel Boone had many friendly relations among the Cherokee and had promised them their sanctity which makes this event more meaningful in a wider historical sense of white and Native American relations.
A portrait of General Benjamin Logan – Served in the Virginia militia against the Shawnee.  Later served in the same militia during the American revolution fighting British led Natives and later still served as a US Army regular against the Shawnee again.

William Penn and the Treaty with the Shawnee

An 1835 painting of Cincinnati from Behind Newport Barracks – The barracks were built around 1803 in Newport Kentucky on the Ohio River across from Cincinnati.  During the Civil War it remained in Union hands though Kentucky was a Confederate state.  It served as a hospital for soldiers on both sides and was given to the city in 1895.  it is now the General James Taylor Park.

 Newport Barracks

A portrait of Peter Force – Served as a US Army officer in the War of 1812 and collected numerous documents related to the American Revolution.  These documents were purchased by the Library of Congress to expand its collections.

An 1890 portrait of Major General Manning Ferguson Force – Commander of the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the US Civil War.  Badly disfigured in the face during the war and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

1899 The Hornet’s Nest – Scene of Captain Hickenlopper’s battery at the Battle of Shiloh, April 1862.  An event where Hickenlooper’s 5th Ohio Independent Battery took a major role in the battle.  He was made an engineer later to allow him to advance eventually to rank of brevet brigadier general. 

US Civil War Battle of Shiloh
{{PD-US}} – published in the US before 1923 and public domain in the US.

A portrait of Governor John Brough – Strong willed pro-Union Ohio governor during the Civil War.  He helped convince other governors to support 100-day regiments for the war helping to ease Union manpower issues.

A portrait of Miles Greenwood – Established the Eagle Ironworks in Cincinnati which ably served the Union Army.  During the Civil War, the ironworks manufactured 12 iron anchors for pontoon bridges, machinery for the mass production of muskets and rifles, three turrets for ironclad gunboats and hundreds of cannons and other munitions.  His factories were burned three times by Southern sympathizers.

 First US ironclad gunboat

USS Carondelet in the Civil War

Ironclad gunboats at Fort Donelson

Recommended Reading:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I just wanted to drop a quick post about an amazing little WW2 diary I came across online.  The Central Florida WW2 Museum has the WW2 combat diary of Lt. Kermit D. Wooldridge, B-17 pilot, for 25 raids commencing June 29, 1943 posted online.  It’s a very quick read and highly informative, from a cockpit point of view, about B-17 bombing raids into Europe.  Wooldridge writes well and to the point.  You’ll want to read this, especially if you’re interested in WW2 combat aviation. 

B-17 attacking an enemy base in New Guinea, WW2 War in the Pacific

B-17E Flying Fortress in flight, 1942

B-17E Flying Fortress' in flight, 1942

 Doing a quick search for any other interesting information, I came across aircraft accident records showing Kermit Wooldridge was pilot of an AT-7C involved in an accident in January 1946 at Harlingen AAF.  Woldridge was based out of Midland AAF, TX at the time.  The record can be found here.   

Harlingen AAF was located in Texas and with the end of the war, it was one of many airfields closed by the Army because of a lack of need.  Harlingen was inactivated on February 1, 1946, just days after Wooldridge had his accident.  Harlingen was reactivated in 1952 as a USAF training command.  It went through many military uses until becoming a public airport in 1970, now the Valley International Airport.  And to round off the history lesson, Harlingen AAF was one of 120 air bases at which the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) operated during WW2.  

WASP member Elizabeth L. Gardner piloting a plane at Harlingen Army Air Field during WW2 time period

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