This April has more history content than most recent months. Every year there’s a nodding acknowledgment to the embattled farmers who confronted the redcoats at Lexington and Concord in ’75 (that’s 1775 for products of Outcome Based Education), and for more recent history buffs, April 18 is the anniversary of the brashly daring Doolittle Raid (1942) and the semi-miraculous navigation and timing attending the interception of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s bomber near Bougainville in the Solomon Islands (1943). If you don’t know who Admiral Yamamoto was, clearly you’ve stumbled onto the wrong blog, but you can look him up on Wikipedia.
Obviously the 16th president did not mean what he said, or drastically changed his mind, but that’s peripheral to this month’s Rant.
Colonel James Barrett dispatched the militia companies that swapped lead with the Brits at Concord Bridge. His kinsman Deacon Samuel Barrett owned a gun making firm with a laboratory “where every branch of that business is carried on.”
Lapse-dissolve, fade in, 80 years after Yorktown.
By 1861 some of the Tillman/Tilghman family had meandered westward, many settling in Ohio. But both branches of the clan (originally settled in Virginia and Maryland) remained in the east and south. Throughout the Civil War, Dad’s kin opted for the Confederacy by 8 to 1. Probably the best known was Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, a Marylander who barely graduated from West Point in 1836. In 1862 General U.S. Grant captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. After a prisoner exchange he resumed his duties until KIA near Vicksburg the next year.
Saddest of so many sad developments is that members of both sides of my family died in Confederate prison camps: a Tillman from Ohio and a Barrett from Maine.
Family division did not end with the War Between the States. Shortly before Pearl Harbor, a concerned mother in North Carolina grew suspicious of a German national’s attentions to her daughter. Being mistrustful of Yankees and other foreigners, my great aunt notified the FBI, which investigated. An exaggerated account of the situation held that a “Nazi spy” married into the family, but in truth he was an exchange student who was interned for the duration.
On the other hand, maybe it’s time to start thinking the unthinkable: balkanizing the USA along cultural-philosophical lines before we start shooting at each other again. The last time it cost more than 600,000 American lives, when the population was merely 130 million—barely 40 percent of today’s figure.
Something for every family to ponder.