Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Abraham Lincoln Speaks: A New Birth of Freedom

Abraham Lincoln Speaks: A New Birth of Freedom

In the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1–3, 1863, the dead were hastily buried in trench graves in the fields.  A battlefield preservation committee was formed and land was purchased as memorial grounds,  including an area for a National Cemetery.   Reinterment of soldiers from the Gettysburg Battlefield graves began on October 17, with plans to formally consecrate the cemetery the following month.  The committee for the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg sent President Lincoln an invitation to the event,  "It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the Nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks."(1) He was not the featured speaker - that task was given to Edward Everett - but the committee felt that it was important that the President be invited to the momentous occasion.

On the morning of Thursday, November 19, 1863, Edward Everett delivered his two-hour oration (from memory) on the Battle of Gettysburg and its significance, and the orchestra played a hymn composed for the occasion by B.B. French. Lincoln, the quiet, self-taught man born in Kentucky, then rose to the podium and addressed the crowd of 15,000 people. He spoke for less than two minutes, and his entire speech was only 272 words long. He began:
Gettysburg Address
Less than a year before, Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation. When the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence, slaves had been excluded from equality. Lincoln, however, truly meant “all men are created equal,” regardless of race or heritage. In the address, Lincoln states that this battle, and by implication, this war, was about bringing the words of the Declaration into reality.

The essential themes and even some of the language of the Gettysburg Address were not new. In his July 1861 message to Congress, Lincoln had referred to the United States as “a democracy–a government of the people, by the same people.” The radical aspect of the speech, however, began with Lincoln’s assertion that the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, was the true expression of the Founding Fathers’ intentions for their new nation. At that time, many white slave owners had declared themselves to be “true” Americans, pointing to the fact that the Constitution did not prohibit slavery, but according to Lincoln, it was the initial 1776 nation-establishing document, “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” that defined what an American was. In an interpretation that was radical at the time–but is now taken for granted–Lincoln’s historic address redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for the Union, but also for the principle of human equality.

Lincoln went on:
Gettysburg Address


Lincoln pointed out two things. “We are met on a great battlefield,” on the surface, sounds pretty obvious -- they’re standing on the fields of Gettysburg. However, it wasn’t just soldiers fighting on a distant field. The entire nation was a battlefield, from the public square to the private home where brother pitted himself against brother. Lincoln knew that this this speech was not for just a new collection of stone monuments, but a dedication to the courage of those who died to uphold America’s founding principles.
Gettysburg Address
The Union had won two major victories that year. Lincoln considered it significant that the Union victories at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Vicksburg, Mississippi had both occurred on the same day: July 4, the anniversary of the announcement of the Declaration of Independence. However, Lincoln recognized that the victories had come at a great price. Coming on the heels of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of fighting, Gettysburg was the deadliest battle of the war. In addition, the war wasn’t over yet. Not only did the battles continue, but Lincoln knew that there there would be as much reconciliation once the war was over as there was fighting during it. Even if the Confederacy surrendered that day, there was an entire nation to heal and rebuild. His words were also a call to action - for people to not say, “It’s the Army’s war,” but instead to say “This is our country, this is our war.”

Lincoln concluded:
Gettysburg Address
When Lincoln talked of “a new birth of freedom,” he was making reference to the Founding Fathers and the ideals of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that were first stated in the Declaration of Independence. During that initial struggle for freedom from the tyranny of England, it was easy to fight because the oppression was current. While the day was dedicating a cemetery that would contain the bodies of a few hundred, Lincoln was in essence dedicating an entire nation to the thousands who fought for its principles throughout the "four score and seven years."  Those who joined the Army did so because they believed it was a path to a better life, for themselves and their country.  Like today’s soldier, they believed in their country enough to be willing to risk dying for it.   Lincoln wanted people to remember that the nation was fought for, and belonged to, all Americans, not just the ones buried in the fields of Gettysburg.

Throughout the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln reiterates a common theme from his presidency. The nation consisted of the people, was founded by the people, and was intended for the people. While the Founding Fathers set the ideals that the United States was founded upon, slaves were excluded from equality; it was a sad but necessary compromise to attain a unanimous coalition against Britain. However, in his heart, Lincoln believed all men were equal, regardless of race, and this war was fought by men who felt the same. Lincoln knew that the dedication meant more than just honoring the men who died at Gettysburg - part of “the people”, but also honoring their courage to die for their beliefs. He modestly claims, “The world will little note or remember what we say here,” but it is the power of these few words that makes them memorable. A humble upbringing made Lincoln of the people, his words highlighted the sacrifice of the people, and his consolation and call to action are for the people. His words, simply stated so long ago, still call to us to the same resolve today.

(1) Wikipedia, Gettysburg Address.

Abraham Lincoln Speaks:
Part 1:  A House Divided 
Part 2: The President's Job Description
Part 3: Liberty for All?
Part 4: A New Birth of Freedom
Part 5: With Malice Toward None
Part 6: Now He Belongs to the Ages








©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Battle of Gettysburg

Luke's American Adventures: The Battle of Gettysburg

The fate of the nation hung in the balance during the summer of 1863. General Robert E. Lee, commanding the "Army of Northern Virginia", led his army north into Maryland and Pennsylvania, again bringing the war directly into northern territory. The Union "Army of the Potomac", commanded by Major General George Gordon Meade, met the Confederate invasion near the Pennsylvania crossroads town of Gettysburg, and what Lee thought would be an easy victory turned to desperation. The first three days of July 1863 held one of the most crucial battles of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War; the Union victory ended General Robert E. Lee's second, more ambitious, and most importantly final attempt at invasion of the North.

After Lee’s first attempt at invasion failed in Antietam, he took what was left of his army and returned to Virginia. On the return march, the Army of Northern Virginia soundly defeated Union troops at Fredericksburg (December 1862) and Chancellorsville (May 1863). These victories gave Lee hope that the loss at Antietam was a fluke. Lee decided that he would again attempt to ease the burden on the war-ravaged Virginia farmlands by moving the war to Northern soil. In doing so, Lee also hoped to scare the North into stopping the war. If he could penetrate Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and other northern cities could be in striking distance while Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC would be sandwiched between Confederate holdings.

Lee felt emboldened by scouting reports; he believed there was chaos in the Army of the Potomac and only a few local militiamen guarded Gettysburg. He had defeated Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker at Chancelorsville with a force half the size of the Union’s, and Hooker’s leadership and reputation were under considerable scrutiny. (On June 27, 1863, Hooker was relieved of his command and replaced by Gen. George Meade.) Although the town itself was small, ten major roads crossed in Gettysburg. If they could take the town, Confederate forces could easily reach and lay siege to nearly any major northern city. Lee could also trap Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC between Confederate holdings. It was decided; Gettysburg would be the Confederacy’s northern destination.

The Gettysburg Campaign



Gettysburg campain map
The Gettysburg Campain Map
www.civilwar.org

The Gettysburg Campaign began a month before the battle. On June 3, 1863, Lee's army began to shift northward from Fredericksburg, Virginia. With the death of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson at Chancellorsville, Lee lost a strong leader. No one man could replace Jackson, who had commanded half of Lee’s army. Lee reorganized his troops into three new corps, commanded by Lieutenant General James Longstreet (First Corps), Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell (Second), and Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill (Third). Ewell and Hill had formerly reported to Jackson as division commanders, and therefore were new to this level of responsibility. The Cavalry Division remained under the command of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.

The first major action of the campaign took place on June 9 between cavalry forces at Brandy Station, near Culpeper, Virginia. The 9,500 Confederate cavalrymen under Stuart were surprised by Union Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton's combined arms force of two cavalry divisions (8,000 troopers) and 3,000 infantry, but Stuart eventually held off the Union attack, the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the war. Though this battle was technically inconclusive, the battle struck an emotional blow to the Confederacy. Most thought the rural, agrarian South would provide better horsemen than the industrial North, but it proved that the Union cavalry was equal to its Confederate counterpart.

By mid-June, the Army of Northern Virginia was poised to cross the Potomac River and enter Maryland. After defeating the Federal garrisons at Winchester and Martinsburg, Ewell's Second Corps began crossing the river on June 15. Hill's and Longstreet's corps followed on June 24 and 25. They followed the Blue Mountain ridge and were on track to enter Pennsylvania west of Gettysburg. Hooker's army pursued, transversing the farther-east South and Catoctin mountains, creating a defensive line between Lee’s army and Washington, DC. The Federals crossed the Potomac from June 25 to 27, reaching Gettysburg shortly before the Confederates.

DAY 1 

 

Minor regiments of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. Brig. Gen. John Buford and his Cavalry rode out to the low ridges west of Gettysburg and saw the Confederate army approaching. Their job was to hold them off until the rest of the Union Army was in place. Union Lt. Marcellus Jones rested a carbine rifle on a fence, and fired a single shot. The battle had begun. Two corps of Union infantry came to reinforce Buford’s men, but with two large Confederate corps flanking them from the northwest and north, Union lines began to collapse and the men retreated to their fall-back positions at Cemetery Ridge.

McPherson Barn
McPherson Barn, Oak Ridge
The land around Gettysburg was filled with foothill ridges. General Lee understood the defensive potential to the Union if they held this high ground. Late in the day, he sent orders to Ewell that Cemetery Hill be taken "if practicable." Ewell determined such an assault was not possible and therefore did not attempt it. While many historians consider Ewell’s decision to be a great missed opportunity, Ewell determined that an evening uphill battle with already exhausted soldiers was too risky.



The first day at Gettysburg alone ranks as the twenty-third biggest battle of the Civil War, about one quarter of Meade's army (22,000 men) and one third of Lee's army (27,000) were engaged. More significant than simply a prequel to the bloody second and third days, it showed Lee that his intelligence was mistaken and Gettysburg was not going to be an easy conquest.

DAY 2 

 

In the overnight hours of July 2, most of the remaining infantry of both armies arrived on the field. Five more Union Corps also arrived. Moving that many men was no easy feat. For example, Confederate Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s infantry unit - one that would play a deciding role on Day 3 - began a grueling 23.5 mile march from Chambersburg early in the morning but did not arrive until early evening. In addition, cannon and other larger munitions had to be shifted around. Both sides used the bright moonlight to their advantages.

Overnight, Union line had fixed itself into a defensive “fishhook” formation. It would allow a strong front line, while also protecting the rear and allowing movement between lines. However, due to miscommunication, there was a nearly fatal hole in the Union’s arrangement. Little Round Top, a crucial high point at the hook’s far end, was left unguarded. When Gen. Meade sent technician- q Gouverneur Warren to investigate how Little Round top was fairing, Warren saw that Little Round Top was left completely defenseless with only a few Union signalmen at the peak! Warren sent couriers at top speed to rally spare troops. The couriers found a corps of 13,000 men under the direction of officer Strong Vincent and urged him to heed Warren’s message. Although Vincent had other orders, he understood the significance of Little Round Top’s topography and abandoned the first set of orders. Vincent’s corps hurried to the hill and arrived mere minutes before the Confederates.

Little Round Top
Little Round Top

In the morning, Lee’s troops attempted to break through the ends of the hook. An estimated 20,000 men were killed or captured that day. Fierce fighting raged around Gettysburg all day. On the Union right, Confederate demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. In the late afternoon, Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union’s left flank. A nearby wheat field changed hands eleven times in two hours. By the end of day 2, the Confederates had taken the town of Gettysburg. Terrified residents took cover in their homes. Only one civilian, Jenny Wade, was killed; a stray bullet went through her kitchen door and killed her as she stood at the counter kneading bread dough. However, the Confederates couldn’t declare the battle a success; while they had taken the city, the Union still held the high ground.

DAY 3 

 

General Lee decided to renew the attack on Friday, July 3, using the same basic plan as the previous day: Longstreet would attack the Federal left, while Ewell attacked Culp's Hill. However, before Longstreet was ready, Union Corps troops began a dawn bombardment on Culp's Hill in an effort to regain a portion of the ground lost the day before. The second fight for Culp's Hill ended by late morning with a Union victory. Harry Pfanz judged, "the Union line was intact and held more strongly than before." Slowly, the Confederates were pushed out of Gettysburg.

While fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, the main highlight of the day’s fighting was a dramatic, last-hope infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Known as Pickett's Charge, it is perhaps the most well-known assault of the battle. After failing to break through the northern and southern Union lines, the only place left to fight was in the middle. However, it was a huge gamble, with only two possible outcomes. Either the Union line would buckle from the onslaught, split in two, and the Confederate army would take over the divided holding, or the uphill charge across nearly a mile of open field would be forever known as a suicide mission. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, it was the latter. Left with little ammunition and a decimated army, Lee ordered retreat as night fell.

Picket's Charge
Pickett's Charge

 

Aftermath


At the close of the battle, 51,000 lay dead, wounded, captured or missing, making Gettysburg the bloodiest battle in American history. After the fighting ceased, an estimated 22,000 wounded remained on the battlefield; they were hastily transported to field hospitals, houses, and churches in the countryside. Dead soldiers still on the battlefield totalled nearly 9,000. Contractors were hired to bury dead men and animals as quickly as possible; the July heat was causing rapid decomposition and increased the risk of disease. Most were buried in mass graves where they fell. The first excursion train arrived with battlefield visitors on July 5. Filled with journalists and photographers, they arrived in time to see the carnage left in the battle’s wake. Images were printed in newspapers everywhere, bringing to light not the glory of war, but its price.

These images also motivated the public to try to preserve the bloodstained land as a memorial. On July 10, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin visited Gettysburg and expressed the state's interest in finding its veterans, and attorney David Wills arranged for the purchase of 17 acres of Cemetery Hill battlefield land for a National Cemetery. On August 14, 1863, attorney David McConaughy recommended a preservation association raise operating funds by selling memberships, and within a month’s time battlefield protection had begun. Through McConaughy, the group purchased 600 acres of land for preservation, including the peak of Cemetery Hill, Little Round Top, and parts of Culp’s Hill. On November 19, 1863, the Gettysburg National Cemetery was dedicated. President Abraham Lincoln was invited, and he gave a short, two-minute speech that is now known as the iconic Gettysburg Address.

Gettysburg National Cemetery

The Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War. Lee’s second attempt to conquer Union territory had failed; unlike Antietam, it was a decisive victory for the North. The war would continue for nearly two years more, but the South would always be fighting on its own nearly decimated land, with emancipated slaves adding themselves to the Union’s ranks. Often referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion”, the end of the failed invasion of Gettysburg signaled not only in Lee's post-battle retreat to Virginia, but a retreat of the Confederacy’s hopes for success.
 
 




  
©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Monday, November 17, 2014

Abraham Lincoln Speaks: Liberty for All?

Abraham Lincoln Speaks: Liberty for All?

 “I think the time has come now,” declared President Abraham Lincoln to his cabinet on September 22, 1863, just five days after the Battle of Antietam. For two months, Lincoln’s order proclaiming the freedom of slaves in rebel territories had festered in a desk drawer, awaiting good news from the battlefield. He continued:

The action of the army against the rebels has not been quite what I should have best liked. But they have been driven out of Maryland, and Pennsylvania is no longer in danger of invasion.

Lincoln did not have a decisive success from Antietam. At best, it was a victory for Union morale. They didn’t gain any territory (an indecisive McClellan didn’t pursue the Rebels as they retreated from Sharpsburg), but neither did Lee’s plan for invasion succeed. However, the idea that the Union could defend itself from attack gave Lincoln the opening he needed to appear in control of the war rather than desperate for public approval.

Emancipation Proclamation

After that meeting, Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation that he would order the emancipation of all slaves in any state (or part of a state) that did not end their rebellion against the Union by January 1, 1863. None of the Confederate states restored themselves to the Union, and on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation took full effect. The abolition of slavery was not a law passed by Congress; the Emancipation Proclamation was based on the president's constitutional authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and his ability to liberate Union-military controlled lands. It also invoked his Constitutionally-granted powers to make foreign agreements without Congressional approval. While it declared "that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free”, it did not truly apply to all slaves.

As a newspaper headline, this sounded like an abolitionist’s dream come true - “All persons held as slaves shall be free!” However, despite it’s expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. First, it only emancipated slaves in the ten states that were still in rebellion; it didn’t free slaves in the “border” states of Maryland or Delaware. (Lincoln did not want to risk triggering a secession in these states.) It also excluded areas controlled by the Union prior to issue, so slaves in the Union-held areas of northern Virginia were still enslaved. In addition, the Proclamation did not compensate the owners, did not actually outlaw slavery, and did not grant citizenship to any already-free men. Finally, though the United States never officially recognized the Confederate States of America as its own nation, the Emancipation Proclamation could not be enforced in areas still under rebellion. As the Union army took control of Confederate regions, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for freeing more than three million slaves in those regions, but many areas were still under Confederate control for months after the effective date.

However, although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately end slavery in the nation, it did capture the hearts of millions of Americans, and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. It also invited the slaves to join in a fight for freedom.

54th Massachussetts
The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground
(54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Fort Wagner, SC, July 18, 1863)
Rick Reeves, 1999, U.S. Public Domain
Many former slaves enlisted in the army, creating all-black regiments. The most well known group was the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Massachusetts did not have many African-American residents to volunteer, but by the time 54th Infantry regiment headed off to training camp two weeks after abolitionist Governor John A. Andrew of Massachusetts issued the Civil War’s first call for black soldiers, more than 1,000 men had volunteered. Many came from other states, such as New York, Indiana and Ohio; some even made a risky return from Canada. Harriet Tubman unofficially enlisted as a spy for the 2nd South Carolina volunteers, and two sons of Frederick Douglas (the renowned abolitionist that Lincoln called friend) joined the Army. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had worn Union uniforms. They weren’t just fighting to preserve the Union -- they were fighting for their own freedom.

Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S., there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship. Fredrick Douglass, Should the Negro Enlist in the Union Army?, July 1863


The Emancipation Proclamation changed the way the American Civil War would be raged. While slavery had been a major issue that led to the war, Lincoln's only mission at the start of the war was to keep the Union together. He reiterated time and again that while his heart was opposed to slavery, his role as President was to uphold the Constitution as it was written, not amend it to his preferences. The Emancipation Proclamation was a political risk, but showed his great intelligence as a rural-Kentucky-born lawyer sworn to uphold the Constitution. It did not amend any laws, but this Executive Order made freeing the slaves an explicit goal of the Union war effort. As Commander-in-Chief, it was a shrewd military move -- it provided the Union military with a whole new pool of recruits while decimating the south’s economy and infantry potential. As President, he affirmed the Union’s control over the law of the land. As a man, it was Lincoln’s best way to take a giant step toward abolishing slavery and conferring full citizenship upon ex-slaves. A milestone along the road to reinforcing the Declaration of Independence’s statement that all men had an inalienable right to life and liberty, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom.


Abraham Lincoln Speaks:
Part 1:  A House Divided 
Part 2: The President's Job Description
Part 3: Liberty for All?
Part 4: A New Birth of Freedom
Part 5: With Malice Toward None
Part 6: Now He Belongs to the Ages













©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Snake Oil Party Potion (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)


Growing up, we played tons of board games, especially during the winter.  We always thought it was a fun way to pass an evening.  We might have a Monopoly game set up for several days until someone finally won.  In hindsight, I see what my mother was doing -- Yahtzee is multiplication and adding, Sorry teaches strategy slills -- "Will this get me ahead...or just annoy my sibling so he picks me off in the next round?" Hey! Wait just a gosh darned minute there, Mother!  You tricked us into believing learning was fun!  You're slick...almost as slick as...well, a snake oil salesman!

Taking a page from my mother's playbook, I tried out my own version of "snake oil" --  Snake Oil Party Potion from Out of the Box Games.  This educational yet fun game is for kids ages 8 and up, but with a little help, younger players (6 to 7 years old) can get in on the game.  (There is also a version of the game, Snake Oil, for older players.)  The goal of the game is to become a "respected" and successful snake oil salesman.

So what exactly is a "Snake Oil Salesman"?  In the mid 1800s, Chinese railroad workers would share a liniment for sore muscles with the European workers.  Until 1909, there were no real laws about medicines and their contents, and many salesmen and their shills would travel the country, tricking people into purchasing their "cure-all."  In 1917, the government tested Stanley's Snake Oil (produced and sold by Clark Stanley) and found...surprise, surprise...that there was no actual snake oil in the bottle!  Since then, "Snake Oil Salesman" has become the term for a slick, smooth huckster who tries to sell you false goods. 

But there's no false goods here! Just old-fashioned fun.  At just $14.99, it's a bargain for this much fun!  In the box are Word Cards and Customer Cards. (A tray for holding the decks of cards is also included, as well as directions.) One player is chosen to be the customer, while the other players are the salesmen.  The "customer" chooses a card to determine their profession.  Some cards to potentially pull include: 


I love how the snakes are dressed as customers. (Though some might argue that the President - or any politician, really - is the snake oil salesman!)

The salesman's goal: convince the customer that he needs the product.  Each salesman takes two word cards, and uses them to create a hypothetical product that the customer can't live without, and then has 30 seconds or less to pitch it and convince the customer to buy it.  Some of the potential combinations are easy sales.



Others are a bit harder... 



While some are downright silly!


If your customer likes your product best, he will give you his card and "buy" your product.  Whoever sells the most products (a new product to each customer) wins!  Each game lasts about 30 minutes, depending on how long you allow each salesman to pitch their product.  It's a perfect filler for that time between dinner and bed!


It's also a great item for using in a regular school.  It's a great way to encourage creative thinking, and because it is short, it can be used as a small group activity or the class divided into teams.  Since it's not an official curriculum, it isn't "Common Core Aligned," but it does provide opportunities to match Common Core Standards and make teaching them fun!

We had a great time playing Snake Oil Party Potion. At first I thought I should feel guilty about tricking the kids into honing "school" skills, but then decided...Nah.  I'm my mother's daughter, after all. 

Check out other reviews of Snake Oil Party Potion and the bigger kid (ages 10+) Snake Oil games by clicking the banner below.


Click to read Crew Reviews





©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Word Up! The Vocab Show (A Review)



Over 60 percent of all English words have Greek or Latin roots.  Talking tech-speak or science? 90% of those words come from Greek and Latin.  Knowing Greek and Latin root words provides a student with a huge advantage in building and decoding vocabulary,  but -- vocabulary drills are usually boring, and often don't stick.  However, Word Up! The Vocab Show from Compass Classroom makes learning Greek and Latin roots exciting. 

 Word Up! The Vocab Show stars Dwane Thomas from Compass Classroom's Visual Latin curriculum.  We fell in love with Dwane's enthusiasm when we worked on Visual Latin, so when offered the chance to learn with Word Up! we were absolutely excited.  Dwane takes the lessons seriously, with each episode teaching 10-12 English vocabulary words that center around a common root.  However, he doesn't take himself seriously and is not above a good gag to make the viewer laugh and remember the lesson.

Each lesson shows the "Latin side" and the "Greek side" of a common English theme. For example,  Episode 3 - "Earth" - shows the use of the Latin terra and Greek geo.  Words like terrain (the surface of the land) and terrier (a small dog that burrows through holes to push game out from underground) come from the Latin root.  Greek based words include geology - the study of the earth and geometry - the mathematic study that deals with the shapes and surfaces of Earth.  He points that geometry is actually two Greek roots - geo, earth and metra, to measure - and jokes that the ancient Greeks figured out all the principles and formulas, "stuffed them into a math book, and sent them thousands of years in the future to torture you."  Sounds about right to this language-loving person who just can't understand more than first or second grade geometry!


Often, Dwane uses common pop-culture references to help provide a familiar visual.  For example:

-An extra-terrestrial is something that comes from outside earth.  It could be the moon, it could be a comet...or it could be this guy.



-Ever been to the "Magic Golf Ball" at Epcot.  It's not really a golf ball.  It's a geodesic sphere.



 About 10 percent of the Latin vocabulary has found its way directly into English without an intermediary (usually French). Some of these common words are acknowledged in Episode 7 - "Good - Bonus & Eu."  There are some easy-to-spot words - like the word "bonus" itself, meaning "a reward for a job well done."  However, Dwane shows how these intermediary words have infiltrated English. 

Words like "bon bon" - bon is the Latin-derived French word for good, and these little chocolate candy tidbits are definitely "good-good"! 



Bon homie is another term that is tossed around in English.  Derived from bonus (good) and homo (man), it describes a good-natured, easy personality or feeling.



Finally, is there anybody more debonair than the gentlemen in this iconic image?


I also like the cross-curricular approach - from the debonair Rat Pack to a Wanted Poster of American History's most infamous criminals.


Dwane points out here that while words rooted in the Latin bonus usually is used to mean "exciting good" in English, Greek-derived eu words aren't necessarily used for "happy good things."  Eugenics (literally "good genes") isn't a very good practice.

Other English words from the Greek include euphemism - a "good" way of saying something - and euthanasia - a "good" (ie, less painful or prolonged) death, usually for an animal.  He also points out that there is an eu root in a common Biblical word, even if it doesn't use the same letters.  The word evangelist - one who bears good news - has the same root.  And again, another "awwww" moment to help you remember that eucalyptus is "good covering" (eu - good, calyptas - covering), though to this little guy, it really means "good eats".


 This ten episode program is available in both DVD and downloadable formats ($15 each), with two sample units available to view for free.   Suggested ages are 10+, but Jude (age 7) loved watching this high-energy show, and is ready to point out the "Magic Geodesic Sphere" when we next visit Disney World.  Though Dwane also hosts the Visual Latin program, this program is completely independent of that one, and you don't need any Latin experience to learn from this series.  This download/DVD is supposed to be the first installment of many, and I hope it is -- we're looking forward to future Word Up! The Vocab Show episodes!





©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Battle of Antietam


Fought on September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg by the Confederacy), was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing reaching over 22,000.

Why would the bloodiest battle be recorded in history as both Battle of Antietam and as the Battle of Sharpsburg? The name of a Civil War battle is dependent on which side you’re on. Northern soldiers, far more likely to hail from cities or urbanized areas, were believed to have been impressed with the geography of the south, including its mountains, valleys and abundant rivers and streams. In unfamiliar territory, they named many of their battles after these natural landmarks. For Confederate troops, familiar with the rural terrain, towns and buildings were more memorable, so in the south many of the same battles were referred to after the towns nearby. Union soldiers named the battle “Antietam” because of the nearby Antietam Creek, while the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland was the more easily identified landmark for Confederate soldiers.

The path between Clara Barton and the Cornfield
 Until September of 1862, the Confederacy had been fighting a defensive war. This strategy was not perfect, as there had been some western defeats by the Union army, but it was working overall - the Army of Northern Virginia’s important victories were in the familiar terrain of Virginia. As often is the case - the home team wins. After so many victories, Confederate General Robert E. Lee felt the time was right to go on the offensive and invade the North. The stakes were high, though. Should Lee miscalculate and lose, his army might be destroyed and Confederacy along with it. An invasion of the north was also necessary for logistical reasons, as northern Virginia's farms had been stripped bare of food. Some Confederate politicians, including Confederate President Jefferson Davis, also believed that the prospect of foreign recognition would increase if the Confederacy won a military victory on Union soil. After a second victory at Bull Run on August 30, 1862, Lee decided to take his chances, and marched his 55,000-man army north into Maryland on September 3, 1862. Lee's plan was to divide the Union’s focus by invading Maryland while Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith led Confederate armies into Kentucky.

Why would Lee risk marching his army through Maryland, which was still a Union state? Based on events such as the Baltimore riots in the spring of 1861, and the fact that President Lincoln had to pass through the city in disguise en route to his inauguration, Confederate leaders assumed that Maryland would welcome the Confederate forces. The Confederate army sang the tune "Maryland, My Maryland!" as they marched, but by the fall of 1862 pro-Union sentiment was winning out, especially in the western parts of the state. Lee was wrong about Maryland joining the Confederate cause. Civilians generally hid inside their houses as Lee's army passed through their towns, or greeted the Confederate army with cold silence, while the Army of the Potomac was cheered and encouraged as it came through the state.

While Lee was marching the Army of Northern Virginia north, Union General George B. McClellan's 75,500-man Army of the Potomac was moving to intercept Lee. Unfortunately for Lee, two Union soldiers, Corporal Barton W. Mitchell and First Sergeant John M. Bloss of the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, discovered a mislaid copy of Lee's detailed battle plans—Special Order 191—wrapped around three left-behind cigars. The order indicated that Lee had divided his army and dispersed portions geographically (to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Hagerstown, Maryland), thus making each subject to isolation and defeat if McClellan could move quickly enough. Fortunately for Lee, the notoriously indecisive McClellan waited about 18 hours before deciding to take advantage of this intelligence, thus squandering an opportunity to defeat Lee decisively.

Dunker Church
Confederate Headquarters
Though the actual battle lasted only one day, it took three days to get everyone into position. The armies first clashed on South Mountain, where on September 14, the Confederates tried unsuccessfully to block the Federals at three mountain passes – Turner’s, Fox’s and Crampton’s Gaps. Following the Confederate retreat from South Mountain, Lee considered returning to Virginia. However, with word of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s capture of Harpers Ferry on September 15, Lee decided to make a stand at Sharpsburg. The Confederate commander gathered his forces on the high ground west of Antietam Creek with General James Longstreet’s command holding the center and the right while Stonewall Jackson’s men filled in on the left. The Hagerstown Turnpike ran north and south along Lee’s line adding to his mobility, but it was still a risky position because the Potomac River behind them held only one crossing back to Virginia. Lee and his men watched the Union army gather on the east side of the Antietam Creek on September 15 and 16. The twelve hour battle began at dawn on the 17th.

McClellan’s plan was, in his words, to “attack the enemy’s left,” and when “matters looked favorably,” attack the Confederate right, and “whenever either of those flank movements should be successful to advance our center.” Over the first seven hours there were three major Union attacks on the Confederate left, but then McClellan’s plan broke down into a series of uncoordinated Union advances. Savage, incomparable combat raged across the Cornfield, East Woods, West Woods and the Sunken Road as Lee shifted his men to withstand each of the Union attacks. After eight hours, the Confederates were held in check and dealt over 15,000 deaths and casualties, but Lee refused to retreat.

Sunken Road
("Bloody Lane")
While the Union assaults were being made on the Sunken Road, Union General Ambrose Burnside amassed his men a mile and a half south and opened an attack on the Confederate right. His first task would be to capture a bridge over Antietam Creek. At first, his men were not particularly motivated, having been punished for insubordination by having their whiskey rations reduced. He negotiated that they would have not only their rations reinstated but they could have all the whiskey they desired if they would just take the bridge! A small Confederate force, positioned on higher ground, was able to delay Burnside and his men for three hours, but eventually they were successful. However, this success was tempered by a two-hour delay in progress as Burnside reorganized his troops. Burnside’s second advance started, only to be turned back by Confederate General A.P. Hill’s reinforcements that arrived in the late afternoon from Harpers Ferry.

Neither flank of the Confederate army collapsed far enough for McClellan to advance his center attack, leaving a sizable Union force that never entered the battle. Despite a combined 22,217 deaths and casualties - nearly four times the number of casualties that would later occur on D-Day in World War II, both armies stubbornly held their ground as the sun set on the blood-soaked landscape.

Upturned Cannon where a CSA General was killed
 The next day, the opposing armies gathered their wounded and buried their dead, and that night Lee’s army withdrew uncontested back across the Potomac to Virginia, ending Lee’s first invasion into the North. Again, McClellan’s indecision hurt the Union; many felt that had McClellan pursued him the war could have either been over shortly after Antietam or kept on Confederate soil. However, Lee’s failure provided President Lincoln something else he had been waiting for: an opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Keeping the Confederacy from advancing north gave the Union an even stronger position in the world. Now, the war was no longer just about preserving the Union but committing the Union to the abolition of slavery.












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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

If He Had Not Come (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)


I've got a storage box of holiday-themed books going, and each year I try to add a few to my mini-library as each holiday of the year rolls around.  It's been interesting watching the titles change as our homeschool grows.  When we first started, they were all cute picture books; this year, Matthew added On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery to our "Memorial/Veteran's Days" section.   As much as I love colorful picture books, it's been interesting to age into ones that start leading to deep discussions.  The upcoming Christmas holiday is no exception to the add-a-book tradition, and this year, one of the ones we've added is If He Had Not Come. Part picture book, part discussion, it's a good book for the multiple ages here.

If He Had Not Come is a classic story, originally written by Nan F. Weeks in 1938.  It has been retold by David Nicholson and contains new illustrations from Charles Jaskiewicz.  The story begins with the protagonist, Bobby, and his father reading from the Bible at bedtime, and a quote from the Gospel of John preying on Bobby's mind as he slept --  "If He had not come..." (Jn. 15:22) In his dreams, Bobby encounters people who have no concept of Christmas.  It explores how different life would be if Jesus had never been born.  Bobby goes from place to place, and finds a different world -- factories and stores open on Christmas, no hospitals, no homeless shelters.  He returns home and finds the New Testament missing from his Bible.  When he awakes and realizes it all was a dream, he is even more thankful for the gift of the Christ Child.

The illustrations in the book highlight the story well.  During Bobby's dream, there is a hazy, dark quality to the drawings, almost like a smoky miasma.  When he awakens from his dream, the colors are crisp and bright.  The white snow gleams and the depth of color in Bobby's blue sweater rivals the Caribbean Sea in tone.  The visual contrast is stunning.


This book is intended for children ages 6 and up.  I found that most of it went right over Jude's head - he just doesn't have the ability for such philosophic/abstract thinking.  In the back of the book are several interactive questions that were good discussion questions for a younger child, but I think were better suited to an older elementary student (grades 4-5) and up.  Most of the discussion questions requires some pretty significant abstract thought, but make the book very friendly for use both as a family or in a religious education setting.
 
The book really was better appreciated by the older boys (ages 13 and 16), once they got past the "little kid storybook" format.  We actually had two different types of discussions. The first was a hypothetical "If He hadn't come...then what?" that explored the role of Christianity in many of the scenarios presented.   Many modern institutions from hospitals to homeless shelters now have secular incarnations, but are rooted in earlier Christian life.We discussed the role of the Benedictine monasteries and their "Welcome all" philosophy that much of the modern hospitality industry emerges from, and how medical hospitals and hospices are also descendents of the monastery system. I'd like to hope that we'd still have hospitals and shelters - Christian or not, it's the right thing for ANY person to care for a fellow human being -- but the monks and nuns certainly got them going.

The second was discussing religion in the United States and how Bobby found a factory and stores open and running on Christmas day.  I know there are many people who feel that because it is Christmas, everything should be shut down -- but I grew up on the edge of a Jewish section of Philadelphia, PA.  While some places were closed in recognition of Christmas, not all were -- because a large portion of the local population didn't celebrate Christmas.  I purposely led the boys into a discussion of American practices; I think it would be very easy to read this book and conclude "But it's Christmas, everything should be closed!" One of our debates was, "Even though the US separates government from religious practices, the majority of the country is Christian so should things be closed on Christmas? Or should it be up to the individual business owner, according to his beliefs?"  Cliché as it sounds, yes, most of my Jewish friends in high school went to the movies and got Chinese take-out on Christmas day. Is it right to force them to stay home to "celebrate" a holiday they have no part of? At first Luke thought that "majority rule" should apply, but then realized that it wasn't a far-fetched thought that should Jews attain "majority" status, he could be forced to sit at home on Saturdays because Kashrut forbids driving on the Sabbath.  It was definitely an interesting conversation.

If He Had Not Come is available as both a hardcover ($18.99) or an eBook ($3.99).  Our hardcover copy will join the rest of our Christmas classic books to be pulled out year after year.  Click the banner to read other reviews, or connect with the author on Facebook.


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©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com
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