Monday, June 30, 2014

Civil War Era Gatling Gun Fires

The Gatling Gun pictured here is an 1874 version with short barrels to make it lighter and more mobile. While the original Gatling Gun was patented in 1861 with six barrels, they were never fully accepted by the Union Army. They saw only limited use in the Civil War. John J. Gatling wanted to sell his gun to the Union Army because he thought that it would bring the war to a swift conclusion being too horrible a weapon to face in battle. Gatling was a member of a Southern secret society. He had mixed feelings about the Civil War.

The first prominent use of Gatling Guns by the U.S. Army was during the 1898 Spanish-American war at the Battle of San Juan and Kettle Hills. First Lt. John Henry "Gatling Gun" Parker commanded a detachment of three guns used in an offensive campaign on San Juan Hill. This was the first ever use of these guns in offense. He opened fire on Spanish troops dug into trenches on the top of the hill. Within the first eight minutes his three guns had discharged 6,000-7,000 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition. The result was devastation for the Spanish troops defending these hills. Theodore Roosevelt's charge up the hill met little opposition from the dead and dying defenders. Lt. Parker's guns were then moved into a defensive position on Kettle Hill where he repelled a counter-attack of 600 Spanish soldiers. Of the Spanish attackers only 40 survived. Theodore Roosevelt gave credit to Lt. Parker for contributing to his victory. Lt. "Gatling Gun" Parker went on to a heroic career in the Army retiring as a Brigadier General. He won four Distinguished Service Crosses (DSC) for gallantry in battle leading his troops in WW I. Although wounded in battle, he continued to command his troops for an additional five hours until relieved by a superior officer. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

Military Camp Ladies

Historically armies have relied on civilian men and women to provide services not normally provides by the army itself. Some of these services included, but were not limited to wagoner, black smith, wheel wright, laundress, sew, cook, nurse, sexual service, and selling sundries and liquor. Armies had an uneasy relationship with these camp followers as they made movement and logistics more difficult and needed protection, but they also provided necessary services for the army. Many had official paid positions. Camp followers often out numbered the army itself, especially during the Revolutionary War. General Washington allowed large numbers of camp followers who were wives and family of his soldiers. Had he not allowed them to camp and travel with the army, he would have lost many of his best soldiers to desertion as loyalty to wives was stronger than their loyalty to the revolution. During the Civil War both Union and Confederate Armies had camp followers, but their numbers were fewer than during the Revolutionary War. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Iron Lung With Mirror

Most Americans have forgotten the polio epidemics of the post World War II years. In the early 1950s as many as 20,000 Americans, mostly children, came down with polio every year. In many places this caused panics. Public swimming pools were closed, events canceled, and children segregated to avoid possible exposure. For some of those who contracted the disease, chest muscle paralysis occurred. Their only chance to survive was in a negative pressure ventilator, or as it was commonly called, an iron lung. The vaccinations invented by Dr. Jonas Salk and later by Dr. Albert Sabin in the late 1950s brought polio to an end in the U.S. Unfortunately there are those who oppose vaccinations creating large numbers of children who are no longer protected, so this epidemic may once again sweep across parts of the world. The exodus of unvaccinated refugees from Syria is but one example. Polio numbers are on the rise once again. For those who survive polio with access to modern medicine, they may received positive pressure ventilation providing patients more mobility. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Habitat For Humanity Blitz Build, Day One

 Sign thanking sponsors for their help

 New home owners, Matt and Rachel, working on their new house.

Construction managers, Dave and Steve, on first day of construction of this blitz build. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Habitat For Humanity Blitz Build

Dave, Steve, and Lynn set garage roof trusses on the second day of a Habitat For Humanity blitz build.  This house should be completed by the end of the week.

Ken and another volunteer nail the roof trusses to the top plate.

Lynn nails metal truss spacers onto roof trusses while standing on trusses. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Schwinn Varsity Single Speed Conversion

The Schwinn Varsity bicycle gets no respect from serious bicycle riders. It is derided as being too heavy at about 40 pounds compared to a modern road bike at around 25 pounds give or take a few. All the parts were heavy, but provided near bullet proof reliability. They were produced in the millions from 1960 to 1986 at a very affordable price for young adults. In the 1960s they sold new for $69.95. This was the bicycle which began the bicycle revolution in the 1970s as the entry level ride for millions of high school and college students. If riders became more involved in the sport, they moved on to more sophisticated bikes. As Americans became interested in world bike racing and touring, as adults had more money to spend on quality bikes, other brands prospered, but it was the Schwinn Varsity that started it all.  This bike should be respected for its roll in introducing bike riding to this country. Like the Model T and the VW Beatle, the Schwinn Varsity became obsolete long before production ended. No wonder the Schwinn company has gone bankrupt and changed hands many times in recent decades. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014