Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DC Trip - Oddments, part 3 . . . Human Hairball and the NMHM

A trichobezoar from a 12-year-old girl on display. Thankfully, she survived the surgery to remove it. Go to the NMHM website for hairballs to learn everything you need to know about bezoars.

Dudeboy's obsession with the assassination of Lincoln is what brought us to the NMHM. In a past entry we described some the other Lincoln artifacts housed here, but among the more disturbing are fragments from Lincoln's skull.

Union General Dan Sickles was somewhat of a controversial figure in both public and military life. However, he must have had somewhat of a sense of humor, as he would bring friends to visit his mangled limb (Gettysburg) on the anniversary of the amputation.

Two casualties from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Elephantiasis of the scrotum and leg.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Indiana Natural/History

Vic, Dudeboy and I met up near Taswell, Indiana to look for an arch lead that proved elusive. However, we did get to visit the large Yellow Birch Arch that is also in the area.

Yellow Birch Arch . . . for scale, Dudeboy is in the lower right corner. This arch is close to 40' wide.

After parting from Vic, we then proceeded on to Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Dr. J and Dudeboy had visited here several years ago when he was only four or so, but he didn't really remember it. So, since we were in the area, we decided to give it another go.

The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial features five sculptured panels by E. H. Daniels. Each represents an important facet in the life of Lincoln. For a description of the Kentucky panel, the national park website states:
KENTUCKY PANEL: 1809-1816.

The Childhood Years of Lincoln.

The Kentucky panel illustrates the years of Lincoln's life spent on the Sinking Spring and Knob Creek farms. On the far left dressed in the style of the frontier is Jesse LaFollette, grandfather of Wisconsin Senator Robert M. LaFollette and neighbor of the Lincolns at Knob Creek. Beside him stands Thomas Lincoln, father of the President.

Seated is Dr. Christopher Columbus Graham, doctor, scientist, and visitor at the Lincoln home. His stories fascinated Abe, who is pictured here at the age of seven. Behind the boy is his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Sarah, his only sister, stands at the chum. On the far right is Caleb Hazel, Lincoln's second schoolteacher.

The grave-marker for Lincoln's mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln. The exact location of her burial is unknown, but she was buried somewhere on this hill just south of the family's farm.

The bronze casting of the Lincoln family cabin at a place where old timers marked the location.

I doubt that smile would be on his face if those hooks were really attached to buckets filled with water.

Friday, July 9, 2010

DC Trip - Oddments, part 2 . . . The Spotsylvania Stump

The website for the national park service states that "the longest sustained intense fight of the Civil War occurred at the Bloody Angle . . . For up to 20 hours men were engaged in a hand-to-hand and close-in fight that not even darkness put an end to." And testament to that is the Spotsylvania Stump. Even knowing what took place here I still find it incomprehensible that a 22-inch oak tree could be whittled down to a stump just by miniƩ balls! Robert E. Lee was incredulous as well . . . until he was shown the severed tree after the battle. Apparently, about a year later, relics hunters claimed the stump and hid it away until Union soldiers "liberated" it. The stump was brought to the Smithsonian in 1888, and can still be seen in the Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit in the National Museum of American History.

The remains of the stump still riddled with miniƩ balls at the Smithsonian.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

DC Trip - Oddments, part 1 . . . Cher Ami

One can not see everything at the Smithsonian museum complex. The scope is just too vast. So, you have to plan ahead to make sure important exhibits are not missed. For the Fife clan, this amazing pigeon was near the top of the list of things to see. Located in the Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Cher Ami was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre" for heroic service. This is an award that was given to other notables such as Pa's hero Alvin York and fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker! Cher Ami, which means "Dear Friend," carried vital messages for American forces in the Argonne Forest. However, his last mission is why Cher Ami is one of the most notable birds in history. Remnants of the "Lost Battalion" were not only cut off and surrounded by Germans, but were also enduring "friendly fire." A note stating "WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALELL 276.4. OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVENS SAKE STOP IT" was attached to Cher Ami's leg. He was their last hope as all other runners and pigeons dispatched did not make it. As Cher Ami rose to the sky the Germans opened a barrage to bring him down. And they were successful, for Cher Ami was shot and plunged toward the ground. But miraculously, the pigeon rose again to fly 25 miles in 25 minutes. When he arrived, the message dangled from a leg that was only connected by ligaments. He had been shot through the breast and he was missing an eye! Medics worked to save his life, but they could not save the leg. He was fitted with a wooden leg, but Cher Ami died from his wounds about nine months later. Out of some 550 men in the "Lost Battalion," only 194 walked out. The rest were captured, wounded or killed.

In the background is another animal hero from WWI . . . Sergeant Stubby.