The national arms have been covered with glory

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more in the US than in Mexico. While some complain that it is just another ‘commercial’ holiday used to sell Corona, I think it is fitting that the US should celebrate the Mexican Victory at the Battle of Puebla, because the outcome of the American Civil War may have been different if the Mexicans had been defeated, and if the French had decided to intervene on the side of the Confederacy.

Napoleon III had dreams of a Second French Empire, conquering Mexico and Central America, and building a Canal across Nicaraugua. The French, along with the Spanish and English, invaded Mexico in 1861 / 1862. They occupied the port of Veracruz on the pretext of collecting debts repudiated by President Benito Juarez (the Customs House in Veracruz was the main source of revenue for the Mexican Government). The Europeans gambled that the US, embroiled in the American Civil War, would not be able to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. When Spain and Great Britain realized that Napoleon intended to take Mexico, they abandoned the venture.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862. About 4,500 Mexican soldiers, artillery, and cavalry commanded by Ignacio Zaragoza defended a pair of hilltop forts North of Puebla. The overconfident French, commanded by Charles de Lorencez, attacked the forts with about 6,000 soldiers and artillery. The French assaults were repulsed, and Zaragoza counterattacked, flanking the French and forcing their retreat. Zaragoza’s one-line message to Juarez read, ”The national arms have been covered with glory”.

As a result of Zaragoza’s victory, Napoleon sent about 29,000 soldiers to reinforce the French Intervention. Napoleon installed Maximilian, an Austrian Archduke, as the Emperor of Mexico in 1864. The Mexican Republican Liberals under Juarez (with American arms and aid) tied up the French forces until the end of the American Civil War. In 1865, the USA sent warnings to the French that the Monroe Doctrine would now be enforced (in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s “one war at a time” policy), sent troops to the US / Mexican border, and established a naval blockade to prevent French reinforcement. Note that ‘liberal’ meant something else back then…

The French agreed to withdraw in 1866, Mexican Republican forces defeated Imperial forces, and Maximilian was executed in 1867.

Viva Mexico! Viva Juarez! Viva el Cinco de Mayo!

Repost from 2008.


Maximilian did leave a legacy of brewing beer in Mexico - he introduced the Austrian lager – today represented by beers such as Dos Equis or Yazoo Dos Perros…

The shot heard round the world

April 19th is Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord that began the American Revolutionary War.

These days, Patriot’s Day is a Massachusetts State Holiday (celebrated on the third Monday in April) and festivities include reenactments, parades, and the Boston Marathon.  When I lived in Massachusetts, I worked a block away from Lexington’s Battle Green, and I’ve seen the reenactment of Paul Revere’s Ride and the Battle of Lexington.  Paul Revere rides (with Police escort) the dozen miles from Boston up Mass Ave and gives the alarm, arriving at Lexington about 5:30 AM.  As he rides through town, the British get off their buses and assemble.  A few reenactors yell at each other then the shooting starts.  The British get back on their buses and head to Concord, while the people of Lexington start serving pancakes.

In 1775, the Battle was much different.  The British planned to raid Concord (17 miles from Boston) and destroy rebel weapons (including artillery).  Even though the raid on Concord was secret, Patriots knew something was up by the increased activity.  About 800 British Light Infantry and Grenadiers marched from Boston at midnight, crossing the Charles River on naval barges, landing at Cambridge in waist-deep water.  Paul Revere started his “midnight ride” as the British assembled for the crossing.  The British  column was followed six hours later by a relief column of about 1,000 line infantry (good move by the British, even though they started later than planned).  Note that the numbers of soldiers on each side is very fuzzy…

As the British advanced through the towns and countryside, they saw that the region had already been alerted.  At Lexington Green, an advance party found a band of colonial militia – amid the confusion and noise a shot rang out and the British fired a volley into the militia.  The colonial civil unrest had become the Revolutionary War.

While Lexington likes to claim “the shot heard round the world”, none of the American militia are thought to have fired their weapons.  The Battle of Concord is where the Patriots fired on the British at the North Bridge.   The British left Concord after destroying three 24-pound cannon and numerous arms, but were harassed by colonial militia almost immediately.  Independent companies of town militia started firing on the British until the Redcoats broke and ran back to Lexington, under fire the entire way.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (of Concord – his family home of many generations was beside the North Bridge) wrote “Concord Hymn” in 1836:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

Spirit, that made those spirits dare,
To die, and leave their children free…

The British relief column had marched to Lexington and deployed on high ground.  The survivors of the rout from Concord were organized, fed, and rested, then the whole force marched back to Boston under withering fire from all sides.  However, they fought while retreating, for example killing eleven militia who tried to ambush the Redcoats at Russell’s Orchard.

4,000 Patriots drove the British back to Boston, and the alarm raised about 20,000 Patriots who started the siege of Boston leading to the Battle of Bunker Hill. But that’s a story for another day…

Milblogs go silent

Milblogs all over the country are going silent until December 18, 2009. 

Silent, that is, except for a post supporting CJ Grisham. 

The Huntsville City Council and the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education both meet Thursday night (Dec 17).  Each of these bodies has the power and duty to help make this right.  The City needs to ensure that Police do not chill Freedom of Speech.  Plus I expect the HPD to apologize to Master Sergeant Grisham for their actions during the PTA meeting and for their unacceptable response to his complaint.  The Board of Education needs to apologize to Master Sergeant Grisham for trying to destroy his career.  The Board also needs to investigate the Schools’ actions and take corrective actions.

Board member Jennie Robinson should use tomorrow’s meeting to either fulfill her promise to call for Superintendent Moore’s resignation or explain how being lied by the Administration is now acceptable.

It should be obvious to City leaders  elected officials that this issue is not going away – you can’t ignore it – it keeps growing.


C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues — particularly PTSD.  In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this…

On Wednesday 16 December, readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it.  Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington. 

Some milblogs will remain silent for several days; some just for the day.  All have agreed to keep the post about the silence and C.J. at the top of their blogs until Friday 18 December.

CDR Salamander

Army Master Sgt. C. J. Grisham has always led from the front, from combat that earned him the Bronze Star with V device, to doing right by the men he led. His honesty won him readership and respect, from the White House on down. Yet, when he stood up for his children in school, his command did not stand by him.

 Ace of Spades

This is not a group apt to fly off the handle and complain at small slights. As a group they are, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, “more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” I think the fact that they have taken this step shows the importance they attach to this issue.

Confederate Yankee

There are good reasons for the military to restrict what milbloggers post—kissing up to small-minded, small-time local politicians isn’t one of them.

 Hugh Hewitt

New and old media should be covering this story.


Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to the public.  They have provided vital context and analysis on issues critical to operations and to the informed electorate critical to the Republic.

If you want to help CJ Grisham with his legal expenses please contribute at RFCU.  You can even fill out a slip at the drive-through and help out with your pocket cash.  Grisham hired attorney Neal Puckett (“When your future is on the line”) to defend him in the Article 15.  Local litigator Joel Jaqubino of  Wolfe, Jones, Wolfe, Hancock, and Daniel  is pursuing legal remedies for Grisham.

Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893

We can’t undo what’s been done to the Grisham family, but we can make it right.



MILBLOGS GO DARK FOR THE DAY, in support of C.J. Grisham.

Note to Huntsville officials – Instapundit by itself gets 435,000 visits per day (that’s like 9 times the circulation of  The Huntsville Times).  Add to that all the readership of all the Milblogs and Huntsville’s getting to be (in)famous…

Heckuva job, Dr. Moore.

Time to call in the world

 Huntsville received some press in the current issue of the Military Times (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Times).  Normally, being part of a story read by more than 300,000 military people would be a good thing for the City.  However, this story is partly about the Huntsville City Schools and the Board of Education – and their foul treatment of Master Sergeant CJ Grisham.

Bouhammer’s Afghanistan Blog posted the Army Times article “The Rise and Fall of a Military Blogger”:

…he (CJ Grisham) is an unabashed con­servative with razor-wire wit who has cast stones at what he calls “Repugnicans” and “Dumbocrats” alike but has also been to the White House twice — invited first by President George W. Bush, and more recently by President Barack Obama for roundtable discussions on military outreach.

All this while remaining a top­rated senior noncommissioned officer, a troop-leading first sergeant and an active counterin­telligence agent, according to his fitness reports. “A true Soldiers’ Soldier. Promote to SGM immedi­ately,” gushed his senior rater in Grisham’s most recent evaluation in June

Grisham’s most recent battle with his superiors grew out of his blogging about disagreements he had with the local school board after they decided to im­plement a student uniform policy halfway into the year without input from parents.

Grisham, who had two kids in the school, posted unflattering video he shot of school officials fumbling through a meeting. School offi­cials called the Army to complain. His company com­mander, Capt. Brian Hawkins, called Grisham in to talk about it. “I felt like this was a matter be­tween him and the school,” Hawkins said. “They were con­cerned about him being a threat. I can tell you he’s not a threat. I read what he wrote. I didn’t take it as threatening.” Hawkins’ message to the school: “If you feel threatened by him, if you feel threatened by anyone, you should call the police.” School officials instead took their complaints up the chain of command.

In the weeks that followed, Grisham says, Redstone Arsenal garrison commander Col. Robert Pastorelli and Command Sgt.

Maj. Rickey Cooper repeatedly called him on the carpet, ordering him to remove posts.

Grisham said he was ordered to see investigators at Criminal In­vestigation Command to deter­mine whether he’d broken any laws.

“They said the only threat I made was to threaten a lawsuit and, of course, that’s not illegal,” Grisham said…

“It’s not a lawful order and it goes to the heart of free expres­sion,” said Capt. Mike Lebowitz, an Army lawyer for the Virginia National Guard who regularly lectures at Yale University on mil­itary free speech issues. “Filming anyone at a public meeting is fair game.” “I don’t know how he disgraced the NCO Corps,” said Sgt. 1st Class Chad Vervaet, an instructor at the NCO Academy, who has moved his son out of the same school because of problems there.

“This never should have been a military issue in the first place. I was at all the same meetings at the school with C.J. and he never once threatened anyone.” “This is a failure of leadership on the Army’s side,” said Dale Jack­son, a former soldier and local radio journalist who has been cov­ering the controversy. “Instead of the commanders protecting their soldier, they just tried to make the problem go away by telling C.J. to shut up. Except C.J. stood his ground. He’s not one to be bullied.”

Blackfive posted “Military Times covers CJ Grisham”:

Now, pray that there is not yet more retaliation against him for defending himself.  Given all that has gone on, I have no faith or confidence that he will not face official, or more likely unofficial and potentially illegal, retribution for standing up for himself. 

Frankly, I still hope that Congress or others might like to look into all that has happened, from the initial IG investigation and ruling on same, and have already suggested same to some members of Congress.  Yes, I really do think it has reached such a point as what has happened smells to high heaven, from the school system on to command functions. 

Mayor Battle – I know you don’t like this kind of negative publicity – can you and Chief Reyes please review HPD’s involvement in this?

Huntsville Board of Education – this is not over, you will not be able to avoid it, just make it right.

Dr. Robinson – you said “I absolutely believe that Dr. Moore is telling the truth…If I didn’t have faith in her to that extent (telling the truth), I’d be asking for her resignation”.  At the last School Board meeting, you said you had “since learned that her comments weren’t accurate”.  Follow through with your promise.

And to the guy who accused CJ of bringing the spirit of terror into the school, read this:

Grisham took down a squad of Iraqis when his counterintelligence detachment got pinned down in an ambush.

He earned the Bronze Star with “V” after rushing through the gunfire by himself with just a 9mm pistol and a hand grenade.

USS New York underway

The USS New York (LPD-21) left New Orleans this morning headed to New York City for commissioning.  The ship is a San Antonio (LPD-17) class ship which was built incorporating steel recovered from the World Trade Center.  Huntsville’s own Intergraph played a role in the development of the ship class, providing design and data management tools and services to the Northrop Grumman Avondale Shipyard.  The LPD-17 program was one of the first shipbuilding projects to use an integrated data environment in the design and construction of the ships (think CAD / CAM).

The ships are pretty cool (I guess I think that all ships are pretty cool) and have as much new technology stuffed into them as possible.  The LPD-17s were built using stealth design and materials (like the enclosed mast).  They were also made to be as comfortable as possible for the crew and embarked Marines – with sit up bunks and an updated kitchen and dining rooms (er, galley and mess decks).  The ships have a fitness center and classrooms for briefings and training.   

An LPD (or Landing Platform Dock) is an amphibious warfare ship with a well deck for landing craft and amphibious vehicles plus a flight deck for helicopters.  LPDs carry about 700 Marines, and usually operate as part of an Amphibious Ready Group (which is made up of an an Amphibious Task Force of three ships and a Marine Expeditionary Unit of about 2,200 Marines plus lots of helicopters).  Add a cruiser and some destroyers and a submarine, and you’ve got an Expeditionary Strike Force.  BTW, the USA has seven MEUs either deployed or getting ready to go.

The USS New York’s motto:

“Never Forget”

Security Clearances Nowadays

It’s been awhile since I’ve had to deal with Security Clearances.  Once upon a time, I knew secrets and was even a Facility Security Officer a couple of times.  It is a very serious topic, unless you’re a big-name Democrat like Sandy Berger or John Deutch (in which case the rules don’t apply to you).

Just this morning, I was interviewed by a DOD investigator for a clearance for a friend of ours.  They used to do it on the phone, but nowadays they do it in person.  The investigator was a very pleasant young lady who recently moved to Huntsville from Georgia.

I started out saying that I knew this was very serious and that the last question she would ask would be ‘would I trust this person with the security of the United States’ or something like that and that I could just answer yes right now and we could be done (I know it doesn’t work that way).

The interview was pretty fun.  We chatted about her and Huntsville and kid-friendly things to do (e.g., Monte Sano, Botanical Garden), then we talked about the person under investigation: how long and how well do you know the person, financial situation, other income (I spilled the beans about the possible sale of a web application), foreign travel (I said he’d TOLD me he was a Marine, but I didn’t KNOW that), drinking and drug habits (I’ve never seen the person drink more than a couple of beers), and associations with anti-American groups (I’m fairly certain he’s a right-wing extremist, according to the DHS).

What I found interesting was that the investigator had been trained at least a bit in interrogation – she was checking out my responses and even asked me questions about the guy like “what’s his wife’s name?”.

And then… the last question… Would you trust blah blah blah? Absolutely.

I am honored to have been named as a reference for this security clearance.

Le blog de Tanit

Information Dissemination linked to Le voyage de Tanit, the blog of the French yacht captured by Somali pirates and assaulted by the French Navy, resulting in the death of the yacht owner.

If someone out there reads French and would like to post translations, I would appreciate it.  From what I can understand, the French Navy ship Floreal contacted the Tanit to explain new travel routes and warn of the latest pirate attacks.

French Free Captured Yacht

The French Navy freed four hostages, but one hostage was killed in the assault.  At least two pirates were killed.

From the Press Association:

The French Navy has stormed a hijacked French boat off the Somali coast after pirates threatened to execute the hostages…
Defence Minister Herve Morin said French authorities had proposed a ransom but the pirates rejected the offer.

The Somali pirates holding American merchant Captain Richard Phillips have threatened to kill him unless they are paid $2,000,000 in ransom.  The Captain escaped earlier today, but he was recaptured.

The American captain held hostage by four Somali pirates made a desperate escape attempt Friday but was recaptured after they fired shots, and officials said other pirates sought to reinforce their colleagues by sailing hijacked ships with other captives aboard to the scene of the standoff…
The pirates’ strategy is to link up with their colleagues, who are holding Russian, German, Filipino and other hostages, and get Phillips to lawless Somalia, where they could hide the hostage and make it difficult to stage a rescue, the Somali said. That would give the pirates more leverage and a stronger negotiating position to discuss a ransom. Anchoring near shore also means they could get to land quickly if attacked.

Somali Pirates hold Captain

The crew of the Maersk Alabama have retaken the ship but the Pirates still hold the Captain (from the FT):

The USS Bainbridge arrived at the scene on Thursday morning to monitor events aboard the pirate-held lifeboat, containing four pirates and Richard Philips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, the first US-flagged ship to be seized by Somali pirates. The lifeboat ran out of fuel shortly after the pirates left the Maersk Alabama with it on Wednesday following a struggle with the vessel’s 20-strong crew of US citizens.

The crew had handed over a pirate they had held hostage in a deal that would have seen Mr Philips returned, but the pirates reneged on the deal and left in a lifeboat with him, only to run out of fuel only a short distance away…

“There does seem to be movement of other pirated ships towards the area in question,” the analyst said. “There are a myriad of different reasons why one would do that. There’s apparently some co-ordination going on.”

The USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) is on the scene, which is somewhat ironic since the ship’s namesake Captain William Bainbridge fought State-sponsored African pirates in the First and Second Barbary Wars (against Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli).  Bainbridge also commanded the USS Constitution during the War of 1812.

BTW, the US Navy was created to fight pirates

“1794 – President George Washington signed “an act to provide a naval armament.” By authorizing the construction of six frigates (ed. – including the USS Constitution)  the Third Congress in effect creates the U.S. Navy. The immediate issue was the need to protect the large American merchant fleet from continuous and increasing attacks by the North African “Barbary pirate” states…”

Captain’s Journal has a good discussion of the problem and suggests a solution to piracy:

I had a chance to talk extensively with one Marine who had pirates in the sights of his Sasser .50 caliber rifle while on board a CH-53.  “Did you take the shot,” I asked him?  “No,” he answered.  “RoE.  Who wants to have lawyers put him in jail when he gets back to the States?”…

So we must consider which is the more humane and civilized way to deal with piracy: continuing to allow them free reign over the Gulf of Aden, or ending the problem quickly with hard actions.  In the end, this isn’t for purposes of shock and the counsel given above is serious.  We must decide, for there isn’t an easy alternative within the existing RoE to deal with piracy.

We may not want to deal with piracy this way, but this only shows that we want piracy more than we want the solution.  Piracy exists because we want it to.