Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Fun Stuff - The Anglican Curmudgeon Vacations by Jousting with Other Windmills


     One would think that the Anglican Curmudgeon would just as soon sit in his study and listen to chamber music and enjoy a generous (but moderate) helping of some fine wine, a Chateau Petrus perhaps....nodding off a bit as he luxuriates in well-deserved rest.  His legal wars against the secular humanist usurpers of the Anglican Church and its traditions take up 30 hours of each of his days.   He is, in many ways, the intellectual Sherlock Holmes, the analyst Perry Mason, and audacious and brave Cisco Kid....and it must be exhausting.

Landelle - Charles Baudin amiral de France.jpg
Mons. Admiral Baudin
   He finds time, however, to remind El Gringo Viejo that somebody has some thing that Texas and all Texians might want.  The disgusting wooden and cork stump of a prosthetic lower leg  that Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had lost during a foolish, pointless military gesture/manoeuver against what must have been a very perplexed French Admiral Baudin.
     Two and one-half years after leading one of the most powerful armies on Planet Earth to multiple victories on multiple fronts against an enemy hopelessly mired in its own braggadocio, and then losing the  critical, and final,  battle in an incredibly (allow the writer to accentuate the meaning of incredible....ie - beyond the reach of believability) stupid, costly, cowardly, and disgusting breach of duty and trust, he was back.
     Having been allowed to return from Washington, D,C.  and New York to his very young wife, then 18 years old with a 3 year old infant son, part of the aristocratic structure of Xalapa, capital of Vera Cruz State, and her dowry-home, the Hacienda de Landeros....he leapt again at the opportunity to serve.   This time it was another batch of meddlesome Frogs who always seemed to want to be re-paid for something.  This time it was for failure of the Mexican authorities to keep the public peace and order after the disastrous exploits of the self-same Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's repression of the liberal, Republican States who had cloven unto the Mexican Constitution of 1824.   Governmental and social structure broke down severely in 1836 throughout Mexico, and especially where there was wealth, meaning especially in a place like Mexico City.   A French pastry chef who ran an academy and served finesse de patisserie of great fame, demanded recompense for the fact that the unwashed classes had literally burned down the bakery.   He wanted 3,000 pesos in silver, and all final French public and private claims against the Government finally came to an amount in excess of 600,000 pesos....read to-day, perhaps  20 billion dollars, or more.
     Antonio's "service" to his country was unauthorised and un-anticipated.  The French forces went about a careful demobilisation of Mexican resistance and degraded some of the artillery assets in Vera Cruz city.  They had also blockaded the entire Mexican east coast.  The Brits had come up to blockade the port of Corpus Christi, where much of Mexico's import/export was taking place during the "inconvenience". The Brits were actually protecting the port against Texian intervention, passively siding with the Mexican position. 
     Antonio rode into the fray with a hastily, ill-prepared force that Lopez de Santa Anna thought could out-number-to-death the French.  He failed to take into consideration the two heavily armed frigates and the man-o-war with 56 six - pounders,  28 per side.   Such firepower made quick work of any "shore mounted" infantry.   With a dead  horse, and his own lower leg shredded, and his ankle no longer a pertinent assembly, surgeons removed his lower leg.
    In s0ucceeding days, Antonio drew himself up for what should have been written up long, long ago as some event in a roaringly humorous opera, "Honours to the General's Leg".    Amid prancing chargers, and gloriously uniformed soldiers, with pennants, flags, standards, and ribbons flapping and bands playing stirring tunes....The lower leg of     Antonio de Padua María Severino  López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón, General of the Provisional Army of Vera Cruz was buried with full military honours and with the Sign of the Cross and ample amounts of Holy Water.
     This was all wonderment to the French who were well down the road already to having the Brits negotiate a settlement on French terms that the Mexicans accepted and with which they complied.   It all makes sense, although it helps to be completely insane, as in these days with a lunatic marxist loose in the White House.


     Now, we move on to the point.   During the next significant war, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna is once again at the head (or tail) of an Army...a large Army waiting to receive a slightly smaller army commanded by General Winfield (Fuss and Feathers) Scott.   Everything fell apart when the left flank of the Mexican defence feel apart, and a route among untrained National Guard occurred.   Lopez de Santa Anna was a fool, a cad, an evil person, but he really was a good general.  He had gone to Vera Cruz after successfully blunting the American northern strategy, outside of Saltillo.   Some think he may have been drugged up, or drunk and drugged up, or just realistic.   Remember the comments of Rommel who is said to have said either "If they gain a toe-hold, to-morrow it will be a foot-hold, and a month from now they will be crossing the Rhine"....when he began receiving reports from Normandy;  or  "If they are still there to-morrow and the Panzers are not mobilised to-night, the War is over."   Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was wise enough to know that interior lines of provision and communication help to win wars, but for Germany and the Confederacy...and Mexico....not so much.
     He dashed to the next "must" defence point...Puebla de los Angeles, guarding the best (and only realistic) pass over the Ixtaccihuatl and Popocatepetl mountain nexus....with their snow covered peaks above 17,000 fasl.   When this 100 mile dash (190 miles by road) started expendables were left behind.   Among those things were clothes, finery, and personal items that would not be needed.   Some of Antonio Lopez's stuff in trunks was entrusted to teamsters and a few younger officers.  They were told to take the things to the Hacienda de Landero and to deliver everything to Antonio's new mid-teen wife.   The old one was worn out and dead at the age of 22.
File:Nebel Mexican War 12 Scott in Mexico City.jpg
Scott and Worth arrange for the formal surrender
 and Mass to celebrate the Peace.  Metropolitan
 Cathedral of Mexico is in the background.
     Somehow, the Illinois Fourth Regiment of Volunteers, apparently a mixed infantry and cavalry group chased down one of these trains and upon opening the trunks found what they determined to be "Santy Anny's wooden leg".   In fact, it was Santy Anny's prosthetic leg...part wood and part cork.  But!   It was not Santy Anny's only wooden leg.   He had several.   Supposedly, he had two of ebony, which considering the weight of ebony leaves the student of history scratching his head.   The area around where Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna lived was and is replete with master carpenters still dedicated to semi-custom and custom rustic and refined furniture.   There are literally hundreds of 'carpenteros" and "carpenterias".   It is known that many items were brought as gifts by both peon and aristocrat made of and by these skilled people among them the very coffin that was used for Antonio's first wife interment.  (We should point out that Antonio might have actually had feelings greater than what he reserved for himself in his emotional dealing with this beautiful and talented girl.   It is said that he had to have minders among the servants who feared that his silence and dark countenance foreshadowed an extreme emotional distress that might lead up to suicide.)

     It is probable that Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had numerous prosthetic legs.  He had enough to preside over the disastrous retreat all the way into the Zocalo in downtown-most Mexico City....and he had a selection to take with him on his subsequent self-imposed exile, which he took before the American forces arrived in the greatest, most populous, and most advanced city in the Americas at that time.   So when people tell you that the Americans "picked on" the poor stupid, defenceless Mexicans...please stop listening.  Mexico had a greater GNP, a greater supposed and possible land area, more literate people, unlimited resources, a larger standing army, interior lines of communication /supply and an unconquerable geography.   They lost when they should easily have won a war, because it pleasured them to argue among themselves as the Gringos came into the Valley of Tenochtitlan, marching in good order to  the bands playing Yankee Doodle and Green Grow the Rushes,  O! .

    So, the folks in Indiana have something that Texians really neither want nor need.  Were it even to exist as a result of battle with Texians on Texas soil, that might be different.   And, it is not because of any disrespect or discrimination.   One of the true gentlemen and examples of valour under fire was Old General Castrillon whom the Texian officers tried to exempt from the effective fire of their soldiers.  It was to no avail and the old man was killed in action, facing the enemy.   He had been an advocate of military rules and considerations for the POWs and civilians, which Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna eschewed with scorn and laughter.   But Castrillon was buried on Texas soil, in the family cemetery of his friend in Mexico and enemy in Texas, Lorenzo de Zavala, the first Vice-President of Texas, financier of the Texian Revolt, Inscriptor of the Declaration of Independence and most of the provisional Constitution of the Republic of Texas.

    The article sent by my aforementioned favourite authority on matters pertaining to legal, historical, and social matters than involve Anglicanism as a Catholic and Orthodox and Evangelical force in Christianity was of considerable interest.  There was a throw-away attachment that showed a bit about the writers and editors of the article and that was the flag depicting a cannon, and written upon the flag was the challenge, "Come and Take It!"    Perhaps El Gringo Viejo is being overly sensitive, but the particular flag with the cannon pertained to an issue that preceded even The Alamo, and oddly enough was a contention between the Texians and an Anglo Mexican by the name of Colonel Juan Bradburn.   He is buried at or near the cemetery where El Gringo Viejo's father-in-law's village of birth is found on the banks of the Rio Grande...a place called Grangeno  (grah  HEIN oh) which means a type of riverine hackberry, very popular berries for songbirds southern Texas.


May 12, 2014

Posted in Uncategorized

Illinois Museum Has Gen. Santa Anna’s Legs, Texas Wants It Back

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It is very hard for non-Texans to understand the value of Texas history in the Lone Star State. I write this as someone who grew up in the most non-Texas place in the country (New York City), and came to Texas for the first time for my job interview (layovers at DFW and IAH don’t count). But, Texas history is a big, big deal. And central to that history are the battles fought against Mexico for independence. Central to that war was General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who led the attack on The Alamo, and who ultimately surrendered to the Texians following the Battle of San Jacinto. And, Texas is gearing up for another battle over Santa Anna. This time with Illinois.
Last month, the San Jacinto Battle Monument and Museum launched a petition on the White House website, hoping to get 100,000 signatures to lure an important artifact to Texas. It suggested that the wooden and cork leg used by Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna — the villain of the Alamo and Goliad and a figure deeply embedded in Texas lore — should join other historical items in a Texas museum.
The leg, curiously enough, is in the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield. And officials there are in no mood to give it up.
“We know Santa Anna is a big deal in Texas history,” said museum curator Bill Lear. “But it’s here. It’s going to stay here. You don’t trade artifacts.”
Given that attitude, San Jacinto museum officials thought a petition might do something to kick it loose.
“We tried to get the White House to diplomatically tiptoe between the interests of the states,” said San Jacinto museum president Larry Spasic.
There is a certain irony that Texas, where the President’s federal authority is not exactly respected, is asking the President, a native son of Illinois, for federal help here.
“I cannot imagine a president from Illinois seriously trying to remove a piece of Illinois history and send it to Texas,” he said this week.
I couldn’t agree more.
How the heck did Illinois get the leg anyway?
While Texas has coveted the piece for years, the state has no real claim to it.
Santa Anna had both his original legs when he led Mexican forces against the rebellious Texians. He eventually lost the war and territory in the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto.
Two years later, back in Veracruz, Mexico, Santa Anna was fighting invading French forces when cannon fire shattered his ankle, forcing the amputation of his leg.
He took the lost leg and had it buried with full military honors. Later, during the U.S. war with Mexico, the Mexican general had to beat a hasty retreat on a donkey during the Battle of Cerro Gordo in 1847, Lear said. A contingent of Illinois infantrymen overtook his position, finding Santa Anna’s carriage with a sack of gold and the prosthesis.
They kept the leg. The veteran who owned it even sold peeks at the leg during the 1850s and 1860s for 10 cents a pop, before his family donated it to the state.
Note the word “Texian.” This is how the people in the Republic of Texas, before it joined the United States, are called.
This reminds me of an episode of the West Wing where North Carolina demanded that Connecticut return a copy of the state’s Bill of Rights, that was stolen by a Union soldier during the Civil War. This is actually the episode where Akhil Amar is mentioned as Josh Lyman’s law school classmates.
    Akhil Amar was mentioned during last night’s “West Wing” episode. Josh Lyman said “One of my law school classmates published an article on the constitutionality of Lincoln’s general order” and another character (a lawyer from North Carolina complaining about the fact that North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights was stolen by a Union soldier in the Civil War) said “Akhil Amar.”
It’s actually a thorny constitutional issue. If Lincoln’s view of the war is correct, and the south never really seceded, than all of the property in the rebel states could be seized under the Union’s executive authority to put down the insurrection. After all, this was the legal basis of the Emancipation Proclamation–the slaves were seized as property of the rebels, and immediately emancipated. Note that none of the slaves in the Union states were emancipated, as these states were not in rebellion.

The director of the Illinois Museum is not giving it up.
“The leg is a big draw for our museum,” Lear said. “It’s a centerpiece.”
He also mentioned that almost a decade ago there were some rumblings of Texas obtaining Santa Anna’s leg and trading it to Mexico in exchange for a flag that flew over the Alamo, now displayed in a Mexico City museum.
There was a wariness in his voice.
“It doesn’t go on loan to anyone because it’s a main exhibit for us,” Lear said.
He is almost daring them come and take it.
“No one had anything in mind for removing it by force,” he said. “And if the leg goes missing, we’ll just keep it between us.”
Not to worry, Illinois. He was just pulling your leg.
Molon Labe.
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     We Texians do not need Antonio's worthless leg.  Had he lost it upon the Sacred Soil of Texas then we would wish to have it to use in the next Texas University of Applied Arts and Mechanical Engineering (Texas A and M) pre-UT game bonfire.  As an alumnus of Southwest Texas State University (to-day formally known as Texas State University), it would probably be thrown into the nearest Dempster Dumpster, and sent to the Big BFI in the Sky. 

    Others might have been, allow me to say - certainly were,  worthy enemies in the fight he brought us.  He was not a worthy enemy.

     We ask all OROGs to seriously consider how a flick of the finger by the Anglican Curmudgeon can assign a person back to his previous studies.  Even in humour, serious questions, answers, and understanding are provoked.  He is not only a do-er, but also that finest form of teacher who calls on people to re-do their research, to also teach, and to also learn.  When El Gringo Viejo "orders" his OROGs to read a particular element of the Anglican Curmudgeon's blog, it truly...very sincerely....is more a gift than an order.

There, Illinois.  You have it.  You are the German Shepherd who caught the Volkswagen.  Now, you are stuck with it.  Not even the Mexicans want it.  Not even the Texians want it.  Perhaps with Obama's Socialised Medicine Initiative we can use it in the rehabilitation programmes of the future.

El Gringo Viejo