Category: Ride Ideas (page 2 of 5)

Short ideas for rides without the detail of a Premium Ride Guide

Trans America Trail

This looks very cool.

http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/travel/a31107/traveling-the-road-less-traveled/

Battle of New Hope Church / Hell’s Hole 25 May 1864

In mid May 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman was picking his way down North Georgia. His counterpart, General Joseph E. Johnston had just reluctantly retreated from Cassville, Georgia to the Allatoona Gorge in the hopes of luring Sherman into a tight killing zone. Johnston’s only worry was that the position at Allatoona was too good. Unbeknownst to Johnston, Sherman knew the position was too strong to attack head on. Sherman had spent a lot of time in the area as a young officer and had spent much time around the Etowah Indian burial mounds nearby. Sherman decided to swing west and go directly after the strategic crossroads around Dallas, Georgia.

After a few days rest, the Union forces moved south. General Joseph Hooker was in the van of the middle column and began a pursuit of a small band of Confederate cavalry which was acting as a screen for Johnston’s forces to the south. “Fighting Joe” Hooker lived up to his name and went fast and hard at the Confederates under General John Bell Hood. Hooker had hoped to catch the Rebels off guard and press home and advantage. Hood had other ideas. Taking his cue from his cavalry screen, Hood had begun entrenchments and selecting defensive positions. The first of Hooker’s assaults led by Brigadier General John W. Geary was thrown back when it encountered an undetected enfilade Confederate position which hit them hard. Hooker persisted with two more Divisions and the battle was enjoined.

Hood’s middle was held by Major General Alexander P. Stewart’s Division and they bore the brunt of Hooker’s onslaught for several hours in the afternoon. The battle raged with such ferocity that Johnston became worried that Stewart might relinquish the position. Stewart, a Tennessean, held firm even though some of Hooker’s men got close. With a fierce thunderstorm brewing and setting in, Hooker made one last throw of the dice and pulled Geary out of reserve through dense wood to push through a perceived advantage. Stewart’s artillery which had been so effective now opened up with even more canister rounds and caused the veteran Geary to claim that it was the hottest he had experienced with his command. The Union forces were praised for the courage and coolness, but the day was no to be theirs. With the drenching from the rain and the gloom of the stormy evening setting in, the Union forces settled down in their positions and awaited daylight. The battle has been called New Hope Church, but the soldiers knew it by “Hell’s Hole.”

The next day would bring probing for weakness all along the line, two days later, the fighting would continue near Pickett’s Mill.

Ride Suggestion

Next time you are buzzing down I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta, jump off at Cartersville for a great little circular ride that takes in Allatoona Lake, The New Hope and Pickett’s Mill Battlefields and a couple of mountainous switchback roads near Dallas, Georgia.

Meriwether Lewis and Mid-Life Crisis

In a desolate camp in the middle of modern day Montana, Captain Meriwether Lewis of the Corps of Discovery sat down in a thoughtful mood. The Pacific Ocean seemed a long way away through impenetrable wilderness. Lewis picked up his pen and wrote the following. Historian’s have argued what this passage is about. I don’t know. You decide.

“This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existance, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.”

— Captain Meriwether Lewis, 18 August 1805

The Battle of Bloody River / Rapido River 20-22 January 1944

In mid January 1944, the slow, hard slog up the Italian peninsula was into its fourth month already and the Allies were looking for innovative ways to break the formidable German defenses. With the plan for an amphibious operation at Anzio, US Fifth Army Commander Mark Clark feared the landing force being forced back into the sea by the German reserve forces around Rome. In an attempt to draw the Germans away from the Rome and Anzio area and further south, he ordered an attack by the 36th Infantry Division from Texas across the Rapido River to the south of Cassino. Secondarily, there was even some hope that the attack might succeed with an armored follow up by the 1st Armored Division that would storm up the Liri River valley and beyond. Clark met his first objective, but failed miserably with the secondary objective. The Battle of of the Rapido River, or “Bloody River” as its participants called it, was a disaster on the scale of Omaha Beach, but without the merit of a final success.

The Allied plan was for a forceful movement against the Gustav Line, of which the Rapido River area around Sant’ Angelo was a central part of, to tie down the German defenses. Additionally, Clark wanted to inflict enough damage to bring out German Field Marshal Kesselring’s reserve forces away from Anzio. Clark instructed the British 10th Corps, led by Lieutenant General Richard McCreery, to attack the Gustav Line on 18 January at three places. The British 5th Divison would attack across the Liri River near Minturno on the west coast of Italy. The British 56th Divison would attack over the Liri near Castelforte. Finally, the British 46th Divison would attack over the Liri near Sant’ Ambrogia and most importantly continue to the area of Sant’ Apollinare and secure the high ground that overlooked the US 2nd Corps’ 36th Division’s assault area near Sant’ Angelo. The 36th’s Commander General Fred Walker had real reservations about his part of the operation and claimed (with some support) that Clark promised the 36th would not have to proceed if the southern high ground around Sant’ Apollinare had not been secured by the British 46th. This issue would prove disastrous.

A little background is in order about the relations between the British and the Americans in Italy. British General Harold Alexander was in overall command of the Allied forces in Italy in the form of the 15th Army Group, which consisted of Mark Clark’ Fifth Army and Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese’s UK 8th Army. Fifth Army consisted, in part, of the US 2nd Corps under General Geoffrey Keyes and the British 10th Corps under McCreery. The British and the American military leadership often saw the same battlefield in two different ways. According to Carlo D’Este in Fatal Decision, the British were all about concentration of force, but the Americans liked to probe on a broad front, then exploit weak spots. More importantly, the key Generals in this fight exhibited their countrys’ worst stereotypical traits. Whereas Eisenhower was known first and foremost as a humble diplomat and a great smoother of Allied tensions, Clark seemed pathologically ambitious, vane and held contempt for anyone who might have the gall to cross him. Likewise, where Churchill’s manner was leavened by his American mother, Alexander showed the British aristocracy’s patronising view of all things American. These traits combined with Clark’s coming of age in the Salerno campaign and finding that the Alexander controlled publicity machine made it out to be a British victory made the ground fertile for bad decisons. Clark held a deep distrust of the British and could not stomach the Brits getting any more glory in the Fifth Army sector. Therefore, Clark had made up his mind that the breaking of the Gustav Line, if it happened at all, would be led and exploited by the Americans.

In the Liri Valley plan, McCreery felt his 10th Corps had been spread too wide and did not want to force any particular area too hard for fear of getting in a fight with too few troops and taking heavy losses. This led to the tragically predictable consequence of McCreery’s Corps delaying their start by 24 hours, knowing full well it would enrage Clark, then, despite early success, not pushing to take the high ground near Sant’ Apollinare without having secured a bridge over the Liri behind them. Clark was livid, if not surprised, but was now presented with two decisions. First, Clark could, but not realistically, delay the 36th’s Rapido River assault, because he was already butting up against the 22nd of January which was the planned date for Operation Shingle, the Anzio landings. The Rapido River assault was needed to ensure that Kesselring would have to deploy his reserves away from Rome and Anzio. Second, and ironically, Clark had a good choice and refused to take it. Clark could have followed American doctrine and re-enforced the British 10th Corps’s definite, but limited success, but just could not accept the idea of the British getting the credit for the break through. Clark declared the operation was to proceed as planned. The 36th Infantry’s Texans and General Walker would bear the brunt of this All-American bravado.

All of this high level bickering and positioning did not mean that the 36th were inevitably doomed to fail, but it surely seems that they were. The 36th had fought hard and painfully in the area around San Pietro in the bloody slog up to the Rapido. They were battle weary and filled with too many green replacements. However, most importantly, the 36th seemed to be filled with the belief that they drew all of the hard missions and the ones no one else wanted. In this case, they may have been right, but that belief in a combat unit is contagious and almost always self defeating. This included their General and at least one of their Colonels, who made their doubts about the operation public, without any notable objections up the chain. The 36th entered the battle looking for failure and they found it in spades.

The plan was for 2 line regiments of the 36th, the 141st and the 143rd to attack across the Rapido on the night of the 20th and in the early morning hours of the 21st of January. The lead elements would cross in boats, then be followed by the engineers who would build foot bridges for the remainder of the regiments’ troops to cross. It was a clear and simple plan, but the execution was under-equipped and ill practiced to the point of negligence. The fact that so much coordination was needed was obvious to many, but 36th officers were too busy feeling hard-done-to. Some basic exercises were practiced on the Volturno River, but nothing to the scale that was required of such a tough operation. It was as if the 36th felt the result was not in question, so no real effort should be spent in preparation. The engineers were woefully short on the proper equipment and got little support from Fifth Army. Rather than amphibious DUKWs and specially made foot bridges, the troops got rubber dingys, wooden scows and catwalks laid over pontoons. Adding to the mess was the fact that no roads led to crossing sites and the area was open to German observation all throughout the day. The engineers cleared the mines during the night as best they could, but the infantry had to drag all of the boats and equipment forward themselves.

The movement started as it was to follow, chaotically. Many of the boats had been damaged by German artillery and the infantry had not been trained how to handle them or even how many or what kind of oars were needed. The infantry stumbled through mine lanes in the dark, rattling boats and equipment all the way with at least one group straying into a minefield. The Germans were alerted by the sounds and started to bring fire down on the hapless Texans. When some did make it to the Rapido River, they found that it was narrow, but deep and fast. Many of the boats foundered or were hit by German fire. Shamefully for the 36th, a small number, but too many refused to go or fell in the river on purpose to avoid going. Many of those that did get to the western side of the river were drenched and exhausted. Each regiment got significant numbers across, but could not follow up with supporting battalions and the engineers could not keep their footbridges in tact for more than few hours. The tenuous positions on the western side of the river were quickly becoming untenable and the disaster was setting in by mid morning of the 21st. The lead battalion of the 143rd fell back across the river to their start point. This certainly helped them, but it allowed the Germans to concentrate all of their fire on the northern crossing and the 1st Battalion of the 141st. This battalion was stuck and would never be rescued.

By midday on the 21st, Clark and Keyes were demanding a renewed offensive. Walker wanted a new offensive too, but only to retrieve the lost 1/141st and Walker wanted it under the cover of darkness. Keyes demanded that the new offensive should take place in the mid afternoon, but various other foul-ups meant it did not happen for the 143rd until 15:00 and the 141st until 21:00 on the 21st. Both crossings established a perimeter on the German side, but not large enough to get armor across for fire support. These assaults worked no better than the earlier ones. In fact, the new was exactly like the old, only worse. By midday on the 22nd, the situation was dire and all units were looking to pull back, but had their bridges and boats destroyed. In Cassino: The Hollow Victory, John Ellis says Keyes was not having it and demanded that the Division reserve, the 142nd Regiment, be committed. Walker balked, but complied. Soon, however, the losses became too great and the attack was cancelled in the mid afternoon of the 22nd. What was left of the 2 regiments retreated as best they could, but the 1st of the 141st, as a unit, was never heard from again.

The numbers tell the soldiers’ story. 143 killed, 663 wounded an 875 missing ( approximately 500 were confirmed later to have been taken prisoner by the German 15th Panzer Grenadier Division ). The 36th Texas Infantry Division ceased to exist as a combat capable unit. The German 15th Panzer Grenadier Division had 64 killed and 179 wounded. Clark achieved his goals of tying up the Germans prior to the Anzio landings and even managed to get the Germans to send their reserves south. However, embarrassingly for Clark, they were sent in response to McCreery’s 10th Corps assaults, not the 36th’s.

Churchill had pushed for the Italian campaign, calling it the “soft underbelly” of the German monster, but nothing could have been further than the truth. The German military machine was probably the best defensive army ever assembled and the succession of mountains on the Italian peninsula gave them a natural advantage. The Italian theatre was as grueling a campaign as anything in World War II and worst than most. The Battle of the Bloody River was its saddest moment for the Americans.

Map: Maps courtesy of the USMA, Department of History

Books

Ride Suggestion

Check out this ride that starts in Naples, then winds through the mountains south of the Liri River and finally follows the Liri up to the Rapido River around Sant’ Angelo in Theocides.

Corporal Edward Scott Severely Wounded in Pinito Mountains Battle of Sierra Pinto

After the Apache leader Geronimo’s escape in April 1886, rumors of his whereabouts floated around, but soon his band of Apaches raided the Peck family ranch in the Santa Cruz Valley in modern day Arizona, killing Mrs Peck and a child. The Apaches took Mr Peck and another child captive.

Company K of the 10th Cavalry (one of the famed Buffalo Soldier units, the other being the 9th Cavalry [Buffalo! , I’m a veteran of D/2/9]), led by Captain Thomas Lebo, followed in hot pursuit for 200 miles through the Sonoran desert. When the troopers found him, Geronimo took his band up into the rocky heights of the Pinito mountains. A fire-fight ensued where 2 Apaches were killed and 1 wounded. Private Hollis of the 10th was killed and Corporal Edward Scott was critically wounded in the legs. Lieutenant Powhatan Clarke braved the hail of bullets and pulled Corporal Scott to safety. Geronimo escaped again, but was continually harried by the 10th and then the 4th Cavalry who re-engaged in the same area on 15 May 1886.

Clarke was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. Clarke later wrote to his mother about the actions and said this of Corporal Scott “The wounded Corporal [Scott] has had to have his leg cut off, the ball that shattered it lodging in the other instep. This man rode seven miles without a groan, remarking to the Captin that he had seen forty men in one fight in a worse fix than he was. Such have I found the colored soldier.”

Ride Suggestion

Take a ride from Tucson, Arizona through the Santa Cruz Valley and then on to Tombstone, Arizona.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/99129398@N00/310540601/

 

The NATO Frontier Border with the Warsaw Pact from 1948 to 1990

Intro

I haven’t often written about my own military experience on this site, but I thought I might update this old post to explain a little of what we used to do in the Cold War.

I got posted to Germany in June of 1988 with the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment (2ACR) and the border was the reason I had requested the posting. It was one of only a few places in the Army at that time that had a real readiness rating to keep things fixed and running as if the balloon might go up at any time (Korea being the other main one). 2ACR had a long lineage of distinguished service going back to the Seminole Indian Wars in 1836 and they had retained that strong history after World War II by assuming the front line against the Russians and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. A lot more of 2ACR’s history can be found here.

When discussing my border service, it is important to point out that I am speaking of the frontier border of West Germany and not the border in Berlin. Everyone assumes you mean Berlin when you speak of the Cold War border, but the frontier border was the long border between NATO member, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany), and the Warsaw Pact members of Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic (DDR or East Germany). Even more specifically, the 2ACR was responsible for the Bavarian (FRG state) border from Austria to a point near Bad Konigshofen, west of Coburg, FRG. In Germany (east and west), the border followed the historical borders of Bavaria with Saxony and Thuringia. The border with the then Czechoslovakia (modern day Czech Republic), Bavaria bordered the Karlovy Vary, Plzen and South Bohemia regions. The 11th ACR had the next, northern, stretch of the Thuringia border with Bavaria and Hesse until it met the British sector in the far North.

Border Sectors
For US Army forces, the border was split between the 2d ACR in the south and the 11th ACR in the north.

11ACR Sectors2ACR Sectors

Significance

The reason this area was so important to NATO in the Cold war was that the Fulda Gap in 11ACR sector and, to a lesser degree, the Meiningen and Hof Gaps in the 2ACR sector provided the most likely avenues of approach for a Soviet thrust into West Germany. NATO believed it could win a drawn out conventional war, but feared a deep Soviet thrust into the FRG that would so rattle the NATO allies that it could not be overcome. Therefore, the thin line of hyper-alert cavalry regiments along the most likely avenues of approach seemed to provide the best chance of detecting potential Soviet movements and moving quickly enough to stem the tide. Those of us who manned this border often, only half-jokingly, referred to ourselves as the world’s most effective speed bumps.

The Physical Border and Its Make-Up

The border when I was there had quietened down from its worst times of the 1940s through the 1970s. Events such as the Berlin airlift, the 1st Russian nuclear weapon, the space race, the Berlin Wall and Vietnam kept NATO and the Warsaw Pact faced off at high alert. However, there were still sectors of heavily mined fence zones until the early 80s. Particularly gruesome were the automatically triggered “shotgun” mines that were placed at different heights on the fence and had a 25 meter blast radius. Even until the end of 1989, the fences and walls were formidable obstacles to civilians trying to escape. And, if there was any doubt what the border was designed for, one need only look at who built the fences and what they were designed to do.

DDR Fence Zone StructureCzechoslavakian Fence Zone Structure

US Cavalry Patrols

We had variable schedules and tiered configurations for patrolling the border in the 2ACR sector. At any given time, a Troop (company) from each of the 3 ground Squadrons (battalions) would occupy a border camp(s) in their assigned portion along the whole Regiment’s sector. Each camp had a camp duty officer (usually one of the Troops platoon leaders) who was responsible for all operations in that camp’s area of operations. Each camp would be on 3 levels of readiness. 1st, several patrols a day, usually led by Sergeants, would keep up a presence on the border. 2nd, a reaction force would be ready to roll extra patrols or the whole reaction platoon and its armored vehicles to a border section within 15 minutes. 3rd, the whole troop could muster and be ready to move within an hour.
During my time there, it was not common to have major issues on the border, but each patrol would normally spot our opposite number on the ground on the other side of the border. Of course, the towers were usually manned. We sometimes saw Russians, but normally we saw East German troops.
The patrols were conducted in HMMWVs (Hummers) or Mercedes 300 series SUVs normally, but also on foot inserted by trucks or helicopters. In the winter, it was not unheard of to patrol on nordic skis. Additionally, the 2ACR’s 4th Squadron of helicopters, kept up a routine of over-flights along the border.

High Tension Events

Very occasionally, we would have an event that would warrant a heightened state of alert. Some of these would be a Soviet aircraft tracking or pacing a Regimental aircraft which was considered aggressive. Other issues, would be observed alerts on the other side of the border or the most anticipated of all events, an International Border Crossing (IBC). About once a quarter, some east German would make it across the heavily fortified area and make it to freedom. These were normally co-ordinated through family members in West Germany and the FRG agencies (Zoll, Grenze Polizei or Bundesgrenzshutz (BGS)). The Regiment never caught an IBC whilst I was there, but there were always stories of some old Sergeant somewhere who had helped an IBC across the border back in the 1960s or 70s.

Results

We won! Eventually. Which is the only good news. I was on the border, the day it fell. That afternoon, I went out to the road crossing to see the spectacle. There were miles of Trabants lining up to enter West Germany. In the years following the fall of the eastern bloc, I’ve had occasion to speak to East Germans, but mostly Czechs and Poles. They had a very hard life during the time I was enjoying all of the western treats a kid from Kentucky gets in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. I wish we had won a lot earlier. I have now also traveled extensively through Poland, East Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic states. They are still recovering a sense of self and creating lives that they can be happy with. If you are ever tempted to say they had it better in some areas than we in the West did, I suggest you go and talk to a few more of them…. you’re sample size may be limited.
I am very proud of my service on the border and I hope we continue to look back on it with pride for many generations.

Today

Take a ride, hike and/or drive in the Frankenwald Park in northeastern Bavaria near Hof, Germany and go to Mödlareuth to get a good feel for what the area was like during the Cold War. 27 years on, the vestiges of the border are fading, but at Mödlareuth there is an open air museum to commemorate the time.

Shawnee Chief Tecumseh Delivers War Speech to Creek Indians at Tuckabatchee Alabama in October 1811

Background

Prior to the War of 1812, the British and the Spaniards had been forging alliances with Indians on the American frontier to try to slow American expansionism, and therefore power. One significant Indian Chief, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, used this time and support to try to build an Indian Confederacy along the western edge of the American frontier. Tecumseh’s Shawnees were based predominantly in current day Indiana, Illinois and western Kentucky, but were historically linked to the Creek people of current day Alabama and Georgia. Tecumseh traveled to Alabama to rally the Creeks to war against the whites in the region.

Below is Tecumseh’s speech to the Creeks at Tuckabathcee in October 1811 as told by Sam Dale to JFH Claiborne;

“In defiance of the white warriors of Ohio and Kentucky, I have traveled through their settlements, once our favorite hunting grounds. No war-whoop was sounded, but there is blood on our knives. The Pale-faces felt the blow, but knew not whence it came. Accursed be the race that has seized on our country and made women of our warriors. Our fathers, from their tombs, reproach us as slaves and cowards. I hear them now in the wailing winds. The Muscogee was once a mighty people. The Georgians trembled at your war-whoop, and the maidens of my tribe, on the distant lakes, sung the prowess of your warriors and sighed for their embraces. Now your very blood is white; your tomahawks have no edge; your bows and arrows were buried with your fathers. Oh ! Muscogees, brethren of my mother, brush from your eyelids the sleep of slavery; once more strike for vengeance; once more for your country. The spirits of the mighty dead complain. Their tears drop from the weeping skies. Let the white race perish. They seize your land; they corrupt your women; they trample on the ashes of your dead! Back, whence they came, upon a trail of blood, they must be driven. Back! back, ay, into the great water whose accursed waves brought them to our shores ! Burn their dwellings! Destroy their stock! Slay their wives and children! The Red Man owns the country, and the Pale-faces must never enjoy it. War now! War forever! War upon the living! War upon the dead! Dig their very corpses from the grave. Our country must give no rest to a white man’s bones. This is the will of the Great Spirit, revealed to my brother, his familiar, the Prophet of the Lakes. He sends me to you. All the tribes of the north are dancing the war-dance. Two mighty warriors across the seas will send us arms. Tecumseh will soon return to his country. My prophets shall tarry with you. They will stand between you and the bullets of your enemies. When the white men approach you the yawning earth shall swallow them up. Soon shall you see my arm of fire stretched athwart the sky. I will stamp my foot at Tippecanoe, and the very earth shall shake.'”*

* At the battle of the Holy Ground, which occurred some time after, the prophets left by Tecumseh predicted that the earth would yawn and swallow up General Claiborne and his troops. Tecumseh refers to the Kings of England and Spain, who supplied the Indians with arms at Detroit and at Pensacola. The British officers had informed him that a comet would soon appear [ed. The Great Comet of 1811], and the earthquakes of 1811[ed. the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812] had commenced as he came through Kentucky. Like a consummate orator, he refers to them in his speech. When the comet soon after appeared, and the earth began to tremble, they attributed to him supernatural powers, and immediately took up arms.

Source, pages 59-61
Life and times of Gen. Sam Dale, the Mississippi partisan (1860)
Author: Claiborne, J. F. H. (John Francis Hamtramck), 1809-1884

Unbeknownst to Tecumseh, his brother, Tenskwatawa or “The Prophet,” was busy picking a fight with William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe, Indiana shortly thereafter which would severely hamper his plans for an Indian Confederacy on the western borders to stop the ever expanding American frontier.

Ride Suggestion

Ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Tallassee, Alabama.  Near Tallassee, on the banks of the Tallapoosa River, is the historic meeting place of the Creeks called Tuckabatchee (many different spellings) where Tecumseh gave his speech to the Creeks. Try AL-229 north and AL-9 south to get feel for the traditional homeland of the Creeks.

Ride Guide – The Paiute War of 1860

The first of my new Ride Guides are now available to purchase for US$4.99 on Gumroad. The Paiute War of 1860 in present day northwestern Nevada.

If you live near or are coming to the Reno/Tahoe area, plan to in the future, or just dream of it, this Ride Guide is for you. Everyone rides up to Lake Tahoe and it is beautiful, but what if you want to see something different? With this Ride Guide, you will learn a little bit about the ancient Paiute Indian culture and how the settler/miner culture came into conflict with them. This will give you a great ride and a feel for the history of the area.

Check it out on Gumroad where you can buy it securely and have it delivered immediately.

Lewis and Clark Return to St. Louis on 23 September 1806

On 23 September 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis, Missouri to complete the expedition that President Thomas Jefferson had sent them on two years, four months, and nine days previously.

The expedition had reached the Pacific Ocean via an overland route through the USA’s newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. Through much trial and tribulation, but with remarkably little conflict with the native inhabitants, the expedition brought back an enormous amount of information that the USA needed to develop the new territory. The native Americans that the expedition encountered were overwhelmingly helpful or neutral to them traveling through the area and provided trade, guidance, and assistance.

In early July 1806, the expedition camped for a few days at Traveler’s Rest after crossing Lolo Pass. I stopped there on my recent trip to follow the Nez Perce War Trail. They gave me some directions to the Lolo Pass. (see image above)

Battle of Harlem Heights 16 September 1776

With American forces’ morale low and falling as they were reeling from the British landing at Kip’s Bay on Manhattan Island, General George Washington tried to hold a line, any line, against the British. Washington sent out rangers under Captain Thomas Knowlton to find and harass the advancing British forces. Knowlton did so and led the British into a fight. Washington sent another force to strike the British flank. For a few hours, the Americans were back on the attack and the British had to retreat a short way.

The engagement was not decisive and it did not much delay the British from taking most of New York in short order, but it was a much needed boost to morale for the American forces.

From the plinth in Riverside Park in New York, 121st Street and Riverside Drive; in grassy triangle south of Grant’s Tomb,

BATTLE OF HARLEM HEIGHTS / SEPTEMBER 16 – 1776 / IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF / THE BRAVE SOLDIERS / OF NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, / CONNECTICUT, MASSACHUSETTS, / RHODE ISLAND, PENNSYLVANIA,/ MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA / WHO UNDER / GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON / FOUGHT AND DIED ON THIS SITE / FOR LIBERTY / IN THEIR COUNTRY’S STRUGGLE / AGAINST BRITISH TYRANNY.n.

Map Credit – Public Domain, courtesy of the History Department, United States Military Academy

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