Tag Archives: Neglected history


USS ConstellationMemorial Day Weekend rolls along with another topical post from Balladeer’s Blog. This one covers some naval actions from America’s undeclared, neither fish nor fowl, quasi-Naval War with France. Often called Stoddert’s War in reference to America’s first Secretary of the Navy, this conflict was waged largely in the West Indies.

John Adams

John Adams

President John Adams wanted the infant United States Navy to protect American shipping in the West Indies from French vessels seizing our ships and sailors. The French Revolutionary government had adopted this policy to (in their view) “punish” the U.S. for not declaring war on France’s side in the Wars of the French Revolution.

Thus far America had remained neutral due to divided public opinion on the matter. Some voters felt the U.S. should join the war on the side of France but others felt that the current French Revolutionary government had overthrown, imprisoned and slain virtually all of the French figures who had aided America during our war against England, therefore negating any obligation on our part.

President John Adams later took great pride in keeping America out of an all-out land war. (Sentiment against France grew so strong that 80,000 men volunteered to serve against her.) He chose instead to act largely on defense by protecting our coastline, safeguarding U.S. shipping and expanding our Navy from three whole vessels (WOW!) to FIFTEEN.

Here are a few of the battles from this virtually unclassifiable conflict:

Stephen Decatur

U.S. Naval hero Stephen Decatur

JULY 7th, 1798: Off the New Jersey Coast, Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr led his 20-cannon Delaware against the 10-cannon French privateer craft La Croyable. The French vessel had just plundered the American merchant ship Alexander Hamilton. After a long chase and running fight La Croyable was seized by the Delaware. The French ship was renamed Retaliation and joined the growing U.S. Navy.

NOVEMBER 20th, 1798: Off Guadeloupe, the Retaliation (commanded now by William Bainbridge) ran afoul of two French vessels: the 40-cannon L’Insurgente and the 44-cannon Volontaire. The French opened fire and soon captured Retaliation, then imprisoned the crew in the hellish Basseterre Prison on St Kitts.   

FEBRUARY 9th, 1799: Nearly fifteen miles off the coast of the island of Nevis, American Captain Thomas “Terrible Tom” Truxton took his kickass nickname and his 36-cannon ship the Constellation into battle with the 40-cannon French vessel L’Insurgente. The battle began shortly after Noon and roughly two and a half hours later the French surrendered.     Continue reading


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As part of this Memorial Day weekend Balladeer’s Blog offers an examination of neglected areas of United States military history.

Oneida Nation's First Allies Unit

Oneida Nation’s First Allies Unit


Conflict: Revolutionary War

Comment: The Oneida Nation of Native Americans were America’s first allies. During the Revolutionary War most Native American tribes sided with the British but the Oneida Nation’s Chief Shenendoah (sic), led his people to ally themselves with the emerging United States instead. The Oneida alliance with the U.S. therefore PREDATED France’s recognition of an independent America.

The Oneida warriors fought alongside American forces throughout upstate New York, most notably at the Battles of Oriskany and Saratoga. They also provided desperately needed food and medical supplies for the Continental Army during the terrible winter at Valley Forge. Two treaties were signed and honored to this very day regarding Oneida sovereignty, retention of their land and a yearly ceremonial delivery of bolts of cloth to the Oneida leaders. That ceremony continues once a  year.    Continue reading

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Trump taunting scumbags


Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’ve often made it clear that my three “favorite” presidents have been: Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, Democrat John F Kennedy and de facto Third Party President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump rock starPresident Trump stands virtually alone – the outsider shaking up all the career criminals called Democrats and Republicans, who grow ever more frantic and irrational in their attempts to bring him down. EVERY DAY IS FUN WATCHING TRUMP INFURIATE ALL THE RIGHT CROOKS TO INFURIATE!

mother-jonesThe late Mary Harris Jones aka Mother Jones once again weighed in despite having been dead since 1930: “President Trump is an undeniable hero helping the working class and the poor of ALL colors every way he can while being attacked daily by America’s corrupt politicians and the bloated rich pigs who OWN those politicians.”

I had to cut her short because otherwise she goes on and on for hours about President Trump’s greatness, but Mother Jones DID go on to recommend the following links for keeping track of the Donald’s wonderful accomplishments:   Continue reading

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With the Memorial Day Weekend coming up, here’s another seasonal post looking at Medal of Honor Winners in the overlooked Philippine War from 1899-1902.

Medal of Honor picFRANK C HIGH

Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Private First Class 

Citation: May 16th, 1899. Near San Ysidro in the Philippines. PFC High was yet another member of the legendary unit Young’s Scouts to receive a Medal of Honor during the Philippine War.

Along with 21 other members of Young’s Scouts, Frank charged across a bridge that the Filipino forces had set fire to. The 22 men rushed under heavy fire to cross the burning bridge before it collapsed. In one of those “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” moments the soldiers routed roughly 600 Filipinos from their entrenched position.


Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Captain

Citation: October 29th, 1899. Near Labo, Luzon. Captain Mathews, an Assistant Surgeon, was tending to officers and wounded of his unit when he came under severe fire from the enemy. Grabbing a carbine he returned fire and drove off the enemy soldiers attacking the patients under his care.

I like to think he shouted “Say hello to my little friend Hippocrates,” but I’m kind of weird.


Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel Continue reading

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Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer picPART EIGHTEEN: In this issue the Fool Killer stated his mission in his newest incarnation (Or “regeneration” we could say with tongue in cheek.) was “the general overturning of all established institutions of every kind.” … “The Hour of Doom has struck for many of this old world’s pet institutions.” Quite a long way from his 1830s mission of driving the Devil out of the Tennessee Hills and killing fools who tried stealing the “hidden” gold of the Melungeons!

A look at the “fools” targeted by the Fool Killer in the September, 1919 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication The Fool-Killer

*** Astronomers claiming that an alignment of planets on December 17th, 1919 would cause a solar explosion visible from Earth, resulting in catastrophic storms and a devastating winter here. A nice touch of cultural kitsch is the way that, with the proposed League of Nations a topic of interest, the astronomers were calling the alignment “The League of Planets.” 

*** Democrat President Woodrow Wilson and his operatives who had tried to keep the Bullitt Report out of the public record. This situation came to light when William C Bullitt, Jr was testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his mission to the Soviet Union in February and March of 1919. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge allowed Bullitt to enter his suppressed report into the Senate record.

           Pearson’s Fool Killer obviously shared his creator’s suspicion that the Wilson Administration wanted Bullitt’s findings suppressed because those findings put Lenin and the Bolshevik Government in Moscow in a better light than Wilson wanted. Continue reading


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Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer 1910-1929PART SEVENTEEN: Resuming my look at James Larkin Pearson’s Fool Killer (Or Fool-Killer as he wrote it). In August of 1919 Pearson brought the Fool Killer (I prefer no hyphen) out of his latest hibernation with the words “After resting for two years the Fool-Killer goes on duty again.”

This time around the figure had nationwide exposure and with the enormous number of railroads criss-crossing the country by now he could get around more quickly than ever. 

In the previous installment I provided the background information on Pearson and his Fool Killer. This time around we can jump right into the “fools” who were the fictional figure’s August 1919 targets:

Fool Killer Gray Beard*** People still pushing Democrat President Woodrow Wilson’s claim that the World War (1914-1918) was fought to “Make the world safe for Democracy.” The Fool Killer would swing away at such people while pointing out the less-than-democratic nature of some of the Allied Powers governments from the recent conflict, especially England, Italy and Japan.

*** Bloated rich pigs – “plutes” as this Fool Killer called them, short for plutocrats – who try to blame the “class consciousness” of American laborers wanting better working conditions on the fairly new Bolshevik government in the emerging Soviet Union. (An especially idiotic claim by the plutocrats, since American workers had been striking, etc, for decades before the Bolsheviks took power.)  

Skull walking stick*** A preacher who publicly said that he “almost wishes sometimes that Jesus would come already.” The Fool Killer added a joke wondering how that preacher would feel if he was on a trip and his wife said that she “almost wishes sometimes” that he would come back from his trip already. (Pearson was, sad to say, very religious and often took shots at clergy members he found insufficiently “devout.”) 

*** White Russians (The fallen Russian aristocrats and their supporters).

*** Mossbacks (Narrow-minded conservatives. Think of the clueless, stuffy white guys in suits at National Review for just one example.) Continue reading


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Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer 1910-1929PART SIXTEEN: James Larkin Pearson, poet and newspaper man, carried on the Fool Killer tradition from 1910 to 1917, then again from 1919 to 1929. Pearson’s fellow North Carolinian Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans had written the Fool Killer Letters of the 19th Century so it’s appropriate that another Tar Heel continue the lore for so many years of the 20th Century.

James Larkin PearsonIn August of 1917 Pearson’s nationwide publication called The Fool-Killer changed its title and format because of America’s entry into World War One four months earlier. That change from the hard-hitting satire of Fool Killing was made to show solidarity while the war raged.

In August of 1919 Pearson changed the name back to The Fool-Killer and resumed the hard-hitting political satire. For us fans of Fool Killer lore we can put tongue in cheek and assume that the figure had gone into hibernation for a few years, like he had during the Civil War.   Continue reading


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