Monday, June 24, 2013

Plantation of the Atlantic, XX: Making Homes With Bones

The Worthingtons may well have thought they deserved a monument to themselves. Owning 18,000 acres will do that to a family. If so, they got their wish. The mansion is gone, but before it vanished,  the Adena Estate lent its name to the burial mound excavated there in 1903 that gave its name to the  archaeological complex of the Adena Culture.

History can be tricky. Here's another monument founded on bones.

This obelisk commemorates the mass grave of 1200 Northwest War veterans at Fort Recovery, Ohio. Well, it commemorates St. Clair's Defeat, but it is not clear to me that a mass grave excavation actually took place in 1891. It goes unnoticed by Google, and the monument is actually pretty typical of its genre. Here's the one at (if I have the spelling right) Fort Amanadou, Ohio.

President McKinley seems to have enjoyed erecting obelisks in Ohio. It is not even clear where the remains are. William Henry Smith says that they were collected on the battlefield by General James Wilkinson in 1793 and removed. As industrious as General Wilkinson was in everything he did (war, treason, corruption, farming, other related hobbies), it is not likely that he managed to collect the bones that would have been left by 1200 bodies. So there might have been more to be interred --perhaps at this mass grave. There's something a little fishy about St. Clair's Defeat. Not terribly surprising, given how hard people have been working to lose the history of these times.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Old Europe: Heathen Rush

Some people go the long game and build up their skills. Others scrape. We'll see how that goes.

I want a graphic, and a semi-relevant thumbnail for this blog post to be semi-relevant, so because I don't mess around at, much less, there is an excellent chance that you'll be staring at some kind of "no image available" graphic when this goes live.)

So this post has a triple motivation. First, using the Google to find out if anyone was doing the "history of buckwheat" eventually turned up the work of K. A. H. W. Leenders.* Second, in a highly sleep deprived state, I attended a barbecue thrown by an  old college buddy this Saturday and zoned out listening to his son talk about anti-Zerg rush tactics. (Such explanation as might be required. I do not, by the way, agree that Stalin practiced the Zerg rush. That would be more the Axis style.**) Third, I became aware of the Titan HD game app released by Valley Games. It is entirely a coincidence that I sat down to begin writing at 4:20 this afternoon.

The rush is famous from Starcraft, but it is a strategy every gamer knows. Do you build towards the end game, or pre-empt it by attacking early? It's not just that you will play games where someone groups the gargoyles in the Titan stack and goes for a fast win. It's that the possibility of the rush conditions just how far you can push the long term. Knowing that someone can come at you early means that you cannot invest as much as you like towards the end game payoff.

But, okay, buckwheat: once again, I am talking about an alternate field crop. We understand the grain-and-gold nexus of the cameralist state. Gold will be dear (will buy a great deal of grain) in a bountiful harvest, and cheap when the harvest is bad (a small amount of grain will buy a lot of gold), so that farmers will hoard buy gold when the harvest is bad and hoard it when it is good, and it is the task of the state to intervene in the market to even out grain prices and tax away gold to even out a process that is constantly at risk of tipping out of equilibrium. In the 1960s, when the United States launched into its benighted effort to stop communist dominoes in Southeast Asia, anthropologists were unleashed on the "primitive rebels" of what James Scott calls the Zomia, upland South Asia, and the result, as we all know by now, is the discovery of the "art of not being governed," the flight of peasants up the contour grid away from the rice paddy state when it fails them, and down towards the basins when it offers them prosperity: an ongoing process long masked by primitive romantic myths of migration and autochthonicity. The question then to be asked: how does this story play out in the Atlantic Basin?

Above all, because it weighs on us still, the process whereby the grainfield state abruptly metastatised in the Old Northwest in the 1790s and expanded to span the Great Lakes-Ohio-Mississippi basin. I have previously laid out my understanding of how this happened, but I'll do it again here.

in the first act, Josiah Harmar out 1453 men from Fort Washington on the Ohio River on 7 October, 1790 in a classic fall burn-the-granaries campaign. Per Wikipedia, not far from the modern Fort Wayne, Indiana, on 22 October, Harmar committed 400 men under Colonel John Hardin to a fight in which they took 223 casualties, including 114 dead. This signal defeat led to a redoubled effort in the spring. This time, General Arthur St. Clair was in command of another force of approximately 2000 men, directed Kekionga. Instead, he suffered St. Clair's defeat at Fort Recovery, Ohio, where apparently Little Turtle leading a thousand Indians through the teeth of American American musketry and artillery to expel them from high ground and a stream line defence. Wikipedia asserts a 90% casualty rate, at which point I kind of throw my hands up in despair at the death of all critical history and turn to Project Gutenberg, where William Henry Smith, the more sympathetic biographer/annotator of the St. Clair papers allows many extenuating factors before boiling it down to this: "the killed and missing numbered thirty-seven officers and two hundred and fifty-two privates; the wounded thirty-one officers and two hundred and fifty-five privates.Wikipedia additionally accounts for 200 camp followers "slaughtered." 

Bereft of a better explanation, Mr. Smith offers conspiracy, weather, and craven militia, but on a per head basis, we need to account for a great deal of attrition. Up to the moment of battle, this is allowed under desertion, but once bayonets are crossed, the narrative of race war takes over. Smith allows killed and missing, but a moment later, we have it "being said" that execution fires burned for days afterwards."  Little Turtle: honoured American and genocidaire. 

Yeah, no, I don't think so. This looks like what happens armies are defeated politico-economically They dissolve, and counting heads is futile, at best. Move ahead now just three years to Anthony Wayne's victory of Fallen Timbers on 20 August 1790. The same combatants, the same base of operation, the same tactics. But this time, only three years later, Wayne is able to bring 4600 men to Toledo, Ohio, complete with Indian scouts. The Indian army dissolves: Alexander McKee reports a total of 19 dead. The Treaty of Greenville is signed. Wayne receives 150,000 acres along the Ohio for "his warriors."

What else happened, militarily speaking, in 1794? How about this: a glorious victory that does not prevent 117 (or 350) sail loaded with American grain embarked in Chesapeake Bay, "enough grain to feed France for a year." That's a lot of grain, and much that came out of the old Northwest would have funneled through the Hudson-Susquehanna portage that I suspect remained under the private control of Joseph Brant and the extended Croghan family.  Not that the private interest of a single family matters anywhere near as much as the inauguration of a new era, in which cheap American grain is going to fuel an eighteen year war, at the end of which America will be changed far more than even old Europe. 

The basic reason for starting this discussion of the "Heathen Rush," apart from laying markers down against the future (here's my thesis, stated again, a little evidence added incrementally), is that it makes a natural departure for talking about buckwheat, an alternate field crop with  a much stronger American purchase than European. But enough of that: Old Europe, buckwheat, and the Rush.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Postblogging 1939: May: Full Employment, Rolling Ressies, Rebirth and Debutantes

Flight, understandably, wants to preserve its patrimony. So I ended up taking a picture of the screen.  These were supposedly being built, to the patent of a Mr. Gazda, at the Oerlikon works at Staus, "near Lake Lucerne." Mr. Gazda gets Patent Troll of the Week honours.

My Dear Reggie:

Another month has passed, and as I pause to recapitulate the month, it is conscription and naval building that capture my attention at the expense of the soon-to-be-happy-couple, and golden memories of school days, soon to be entered into by your boy.

Now having said that, I do find my mind cast back to better days. It is the peril of old age, I am told. Or perhaps it is because war so signally interrupted of our first term,to Tokyo's beating drums, not unheard today. Remember two boy volunteers realising the truth behind the romance of naval battles, of shells bursting round one and nowhere to run, even if we could desert our admiral when he needed us? I think that if more people had experienced the flash of the QFs, they would be more reluctant in their rush to war, and certainly moderate their enthusiasm for sending men and boys out in ships that have no business at sea.  Instead they should meditate on the boys who will not live to see weddings or their Grandfather's hundredth birthday. 

Speaking of which, at the rate things are going, expect to put your chop to the deed when I see you in San Francisco next year.

Now here is the press. (As usual, my actual stock purchases are appended. Mostly makers of radio-related contraptions, not to get ahead of myself.)