Monday, February 06, 2012

Civil War Rewind, Part Nine: The Circus Comes to Town?

This Would've Bought New Meaning to 'CHARGE !!!!!' ...

     Welcome to the latest installment of our Civil War rewind series, where we note important and not-so-important events during the war.... in chronological order , 150 years after they happened.  But you know that already. Honestly, there wasn't much to note during this time. Why? Mainly it was winter... Armies don't like to wage war in cold weather - ask Adolf Hitler how Stalingrad went. Oh yeah, he's in Hell...

    The main reason there was little to mark at this point was after Bull Run (Manassas), both armies realized two things: First, this war would not be a few weeks. Secondly, they both found out how badly trained and prepared they were.  So, they kind of spent the winter training , drilling and getting ready for Spring, when the fighting would truly come...

   Like most wars, other countries tended to take sides, although many remained neutral, like Great Britain... One country that sided with the Union was Siam, which became Burma, which is now Myanmar, which in 25 years will become....... Kidding. King Rama IV, aka Mongut, made a strange offer to the US - an entire division of War Elephants.  Yes, elephants.  We're not sure if he was willing to supply all the peanuts needed to power the big boys, but that wouldn't have been a problem - after all, the North was invading Virginia, the peanut capital of the US!

   This is a well-known fact that King Rama made the offer. What is lesser known is that he accidentally wrote the letter to James Buchanan, the outgoing President.  It is a pretty funny reply from Lincoln, who was very polite. It's almost like he had to make stuff up to keep it from just being "Excuse me, King - but are you F**king serious ???".... Here is his reply:

Great and Good Friend: I have received Your Majesty's two letters of the date of February 14th., 1861.

I have also received in good condition the royal gifts which accompanied those letters,---namely, a sword of costly materials and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your Majesty and of Your Majesty's beloved daughter; and also two elephants' tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native of Siam.

Your Majesty's letters show an understanding that our laws forbid the President from receiving these rich presents as personal treasures. They are therefore accepted in accordance with Your Majesty's desire as tokens of your good will and friendship for the American People. Congress being now in session at this capital, I have had great pleasure in making known to them this manifestation of Your Majesty's munificence and kind consideration.

Under their directions the gifts will be placed among the archives of the Government, where they will remain perpetually as tokens of mutual esteem and pacific dispositions more honorable to both nations than any trophies of conquest could be.

I appreciate most highly Your Majesty's tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States.

Our political jurisdiction, however, does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant, and steam on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient agent of transportation in internal commerce.

I shall have occasion at no distant day to transmit to Your Majesty some token of indication of the high sense which this Government entertains of Your Majesty's friendship.

Meantime, wishing for Your Majesty a long and happy life, and for the generous and emulous People of Siam the highest possible prosperity, I commend both to the blessing of Almighty God.

Your Good Friend, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

    Yeah, it's pretty funny when you have to explain the concept of steam engines and efficient methods of battle to a nation's ruler. Then again, kings are generally not the brightest of leaders.  Lincoln was nice to Rama, and it reminds me of the reply letters Bobby gets from political leaders all the time, when he complains about EVERYTHING to them!  Yeah, it would have been a pretty interesting sight to view a thousand elephants charging the Confederate lines.... until they all get shredded by canister fire.  Anyway, that's how it happened, 150 years ago this week!



June Brailsford said...

Mike, This is really interesting. I have not heard this story before. Thanks for printing it.

Mike Reino said...

FINALLY!!! I found something that you didn't know!! Glad I could at long last teach you a thing or two..