Genesis 1:31
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (New International Version-NIV)

Truly Gods vast creation, landscape, wildlife and man is beautiful beyond description.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pea Ridge National Military Park Arkansas, Dec. 2012

The Pea Ridge National Military Park is located at 15930 Highway 62, Garfield, Arkansas 72732, Phone 479-451-8122, The comments and observations have been gleaned from plaques, photographs, printed material in the park and my own photographs and thoughts.
Pea Ridge National Park Visitor Center
Park Visitor Center
Cannon's Ready To Do Battle
A big issue and objective of the Federal government was to keep border states like Missouri in the Union and at least politically neutral throughout the Civil War. There was another battle fought nearby for this reason and that was in 1861 near Springfield. Missouri. The Battle of Wilson's Creek was in August 1861. The Pea Ridge Campaign began on Christmas Day in 1861 when Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis was appointed as commander of the Federal Southwestern District of Missouri. His major task was to drive the Confederate and pro-confederate forces out of Missouri. By mid February 1862 his troops had run the opponent into Arkansas. The opposition troops were commanded by Maj. Gen. Sterling Price and included the pro-confederate Missouri State Guard.

Just south of Fayetteville, Arkansas in the Boston Mountains Gen Price joined forces with Brig. Gen. Ben McCullouch Confederate troops. On March 4 1862, Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn assumed command of the combined 16,000-man army. He intended to push into Missouri and capture St. Louis. This was through some very rough hilly and mountainous terrain. Brig. Gen. Curtis had 10,500 Federal troops dug in on the bluffs of Little Sugar Creek not far from Elk horn Tavern and nearby Elk horn Mountain  which is a part of the greater Pea Ridge plateau. These troops in their dug in positions stood in the path and blocked the route that Gen Van Dorn wanted to go. Realizing that a head on attack against the Federal troops dug in on the bluffs would be suicidal so he swung north to come in behind them. His plan was to get behind them and attack at dawn March 7, 1862. His men were tired, hungry and cold following the three day difficult march. They arrived several hours behind schedule. And in fact the troops under the command of Gen McCulloch were so far behind schedule that Gen Van Dorn decided to temporarily divided his army. He ordered McCulloch to go west to the end of Elk Horn Mountain, then turn east along Ford Road and rejoin Gen Price near Elk horn Tavern. This may have been good military strategy but the timing was terrible. The 3 day delay permitted Gen Curtis to turn his troops around and reposition themselves to face the attack. As Gen McCulloch's troops, including two regiments of Cherokee Indians under the command of Brig. Gen. Albert Pike were caring out this maneuver they ran into heavy fire near Leetown. In this battle Gen McCulloch and Brig Gen James McIntosh were killed. The senior ranking colonel was captured. This left them with no command structure and McCulloch's troops scattered from the battle field.

In the meantime Gen Van Dorn and Gen Price were attacking east of Elk horn Mountain and they slowly pushed the Federal troops back and by nighttime they held Elk horn Tavern and the crucial Telegraph and Huntsville roads. During the night the survivors of McCulloch's Leetown fight joined them.  On the morning of March 8, 1862 Gen Curtis counter-attacked in the Elk horn Tavern area. This attacked opened with a 2 hour cannon barrage that crippled the Confederate lines. This was followed by a intense infantry attack which broke the Confederate defenses. Gen Van Dorn realizing he was running out of ammunition ordered his troops to withdraw. The Battle of Pea Ridge was over. Missouri remained in the Union but did provide men and supplies to both sides.

An interesting bit of history surrounds the original Telegraph Road ( also known as the Trail of Tears ) because it was the road traveled by thousands of Cherokee and other American Indians in the winter of 1838 to 1839 in the forced relocation from their homelands. It got the name of Wire Road because the telegraph lines ran alongside of it to link the nation. It was also the road the Butterfield Overland stage used from 1857 to 1861. and of course both armies used it in the Battle of Pea Ridge.
Trail Of Tears
Change Of Plans And Strategy
Nerve Center Of Union Forces. The Fate Of the Battle Lay Across The Field From This Camp.
Wounded Men Being Cared For In Leetown, Arkansas. It Was Said That Every House In The Town Flew A Yellow Hospital Flag Where Surgeons Carried Out Their Duties.
Close Up View Of Wounded Heading Into Leetown For Treatment
General McCulloch had his troops in the woods beyond the split rail fence He wanted to personally make a scouting trip to look at the enemy. Some troops asked that go but he insisted on doing it himself. He rode his horse along the edge of the woods dressed in his shiny velveteen uniform and a Union sniper shot and killed him. Gen. McIntosh was also killed here. 
Stand Your Ground. The Battle Hinges At this Critical Point Of The Battle Of Pea Ridge
" Dutch " Regiments
Cannons Lined Up For Action
Fierce Fighting At Close Hand. Save The Cannons/Capture The Cannons
Hand To Hand Fighting
Unexpected Battle Near Elk horn Tavern. Federal Troops Retreat In face Of Superior Numbers
Long, Cold Hungry March
The Plaque Tells The Story
Fierce Fighting Caused Federal Troops To Pull Back
This Is Highest Point Overlooking The Battle Fields Below
View Of Battle Field From Highest Point On The Mountain
This Would Have Been The Battle You see In The Photo Above. Park Visitor Center Is In Top Left
Confederate Troops Took Refuge In These Rocks Only To Find The Next Day They
Were Trapped And Were Slaughtered When Federal Cannons Opened Fire On Them
Highest Point On The Mountain. These are The Rocks Some 30 Feet Tall Were Where
Confederate Troops Took Refuge
Elk horn Tavern As It Looks Rebuilt. Original Was One Story Sits By The Road With Many Names
Wire Road, Telegraph Road, Trail Of Tears. You See The Telegraph Poles And The Butterfield
Overland Stage Coach As It May Have Stopped Here
Deer In The Woods
Seven Deers Crossed The Road In Front Of Me

The deers crossed the road in front of me about a quarter of a mile from the exit of the park. My final thoughts about the conflict here. It is interesting that this was only a two day battle just like Gettysburg. It was won by the Federal forces. It was one of the major battles to settle the dispute. It was also the place where the Confederate command structure made some significant mistakes. Major General Van Dorn who was overall commander did not like some of the commanders under him and for what ever reason he did not share the overall battle plans with them. When his armies were divided and two of his general officers were killed the lower level commanders did not know what to do or where to go and they were out of contact with Van Dorn. As a result many of these troops just stopped where they were after retreating, sat down and waited. Also, at one point in an effort to move faster the Confederate general left his supply and ammunition wagons behind only to desperately need them in a later battle. I will not attempt to lay blame or say the outcome would have been different. Like Gettysburg some of these battle were fought with one army on high ground shooting down on the advancing enemy. This is a deadly situation to be in if you are the enemy trying to advance.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Pea Ridge National Military Park. It is clean, well maintained and the visitor center has excellent displays and knowledgeable staff as well as volunteers dressed in period appropriate attire at some points in the park.  As I have traveled extensively overseas and lived in many places in the United States I have never failed to be amazed by the fact that so many people are not knowledgeable about the history of the area where they live and have never visited the historical areas. I myself grew up a few miles from this battle field and had never visited it to my shame. Well this closes out this portion of my Christmas trip so I leave you with the following thought.

Remember God loves you so much that He gave His one and only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins if we will only accept the free gift of salvation. You know we receive Christmas gifts but they have to be opened to know what is inside. God's gift of salvation has to be accepted ( opened if you will ) to actually receive the gift.

I love you.
Grandpa Bill

Thursday, December 27, 2012

California Christmas, December 25, 2012

I had a wonderful Christmas in California at the home of my oldest daughter, Janice and her husband, Bami in Pleasanton, California. Jan was with us in spirit and in our memories. Their oldest daughter, Nicku and finance Corey Bruce and youngest daughter Parisa Howard were present to celebrate with us. Parisa's husband who is an surgical intern had to work back home in New York City. The morning started with me up as usual around 5 to 5:30 A. M. having my coffee and cereal breakfast. Eventually, everyone got up and had a special breakfast prepared by Janice. This was enjoyed by all. Finally, we looked in our stocking and then opened gifts. Wonderful gift bought with each individual in mind as to what they needed, wanted and would appreciate and use. The giving for me is what makes Christmas so special. It is nice to receive but it seems to me to be such a blessing to give gifts. I won't list what everyone got or even what gifts I received but will address that in individual thank you correspondence.The following are a few photographs of this Christmas in California. Sounds like that could be the name of a book.
Christmas Eve - Santa Just Left But I Was to Slow To Catch A 
Photograph Of At Least His Back

Breakfast Table Awaits
Official Photo Before Gift Opening
Left To Right - Bami, Parisa, Corey, Nicku, Grandpa Bill And Janice 
Nicku & Corey ( Newly Engaged Love Birds )
Nicku Opens Gift As Corey Looks On
Parisa Reads A Card
Janice Shows Us A Gift
Christmas Meal Awaits Hungry Family
They Are Starting To Gather At The Table

Typical Christmas meal is turkey, stuffing/dressing. mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, a Brussels sprout dish, hot rolls and salad. Ice tea, water and sparkling juice to drink. Chocolate cake that Jan use to make that now Janice has mastered and a wide assortment of Christmas cookies. Now after that everyone was in need of some serious nap time and or watching TV and napping while doing so.

It was a glorious Christmas in California with family while enjoying each others company, fellowship and gifts to many to mention. But, most of all to remember and celebrate the greatest gift of all. The gift of God's Son Jesus the sinless lamb who came into this dark cruel world and gave his life so that all who believe in him may have eternal life. What a glorious gift that none are worthy to receive but is given freely to all who will receive the gift. Thank you Lord.

I love you.
Grandpa Bill

Janice Preparing Christmas Meal

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

George Washington Carver, December 14, 2012, #2

There are many things I would like to say about George Washington Carver so it is possible rather more quite likely I will repeat something I reported earlier if so it just says to me that they are important. Dr. Carver was a serious student of the Bible and lived his life in constant prayer. He was a man of vision. Typically his day started at 4 A. M. in prayer in his small room. His religion was his life. You recall as a child he loved to explore the field and woods of his home to study all aspects of nature. He talked about exploring God's handiwork in nature. He did not worship nature but did worship God and he saw God's handiwork in nature. His religious founding was based on his early childhood in the home of Moses and Susan Carver and especially the things Mrs. Carver taught him. You recall he had a burning desire for learning and education and this was a constant uphill battle for him simply because he was a negro. Time after time he applied for admission to a school and when they learned he was a negro they rejected him. One school in particular apparently changed his out look on life in a significant way. He applied for admission to Highland College which was run by the Presbyterian Church the denomination he grew up in. He applied for admission and was accepted. When he arrived he was rejected because he was a negro. This hurt him deeply and he never returned to his childhood denomination again. He could not accept the fact that the college was church operated yet harbored such racial policies. This rejection though pointed him to colleges that accepted him and really set him on his life mission to help mankind. Many people have so many varied views of prayer and a life of prayer. Great importance is placed on the place of prayer, the time of prayer, the position for praying, kneeling, lying prostrate and all may have meaning for a particular person. But, for Carver he indicated he was constantly in prayer and more often than not he referred to God as Creator rather than God. I know people don't understand being in constantly in prayer but I do. It is a matter of seeing something beautiful and saying thank you God, saying your creation is wonderful, asking for help on a problem no matter how minor it may be. The best example of this is when he said in effect he never set out to develop or invent anything. He simply ask God what do you want me to do today. He said the idea would come to him and exactly how to do the particular thing. He spoke and wrote about his methods and was soundly criticized by the media especially some in New York. They said in effect that no scientist would talk about prayer and God the way he did and objected to him spending so much time talking about God. After he went to Tuskegee University in Alabama he conducted Bible study. At first 50 or so people came and that number grew to 150 or more with more standing outside because there was not room enough inside. He talked about helping your neighbor and was asked " who is your neighbor? " He replied " anyone who need help is your neighbor." He worked through the YMCA to ease racial tension an was speaking to a mainly white audience. There was considerable concern about how he would be accepted. In his presentation he talked about nature, science and how people should get along with each other without ever mentioning race at all. Reportedly he received a standing ovation. To me this speaks of the great knowledge George Carver had.

Most people when they think of George Washington Carver if they know him at all they think of his work with the peanut. That is where he gained the most fame but it really started because of the Bole Weevil which came into the United States 1862 from Mexico crossing the Rio Grande River at Brownsville, Texas and over the next several years was destroying thousands of acres of cotton with devastating impact on the economy of the south. He wanted to find a way to stop the bole weevil. I find it interesting that not much is said about his efforts to stop the bole weevil. The other driving force was the farming method used and the repeated planting of the same crop on the same land resulting in depletion of the nutrients in the soil and great erosion of the top soil. His studies led him to encourage the planting of peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes and black eyed peas. All which returned nutrients to the soil and helped control erosion. In an earlier posting I discussed his work to educate farmers on new methods of tiling the soil, crop rotation and many other ideas. He worked with clay to develop different colors harking back to his love of painting. I think it is said he developed 500 different colors. The most notable was a rare kind of blue that was believed to be like the blue used by the ancient Egyptians

He was a friend of Henry Ford and Edison. Edison reportedly offered him $100,000 to  $175,000 to work in his labs. Ford reportedly offered him unlimited funding for him to come and work for him. The Russian Premier reportedly offered him unlimited resources to come to Russia and improve the Russian agriculture. Of course he turned down all such offers. He had hundreds of people writing and asking him questions. His standard reply was in effect if I know the answer you can have it for the price of a postage stamp. He refused to sell for a profit. He encourage the planting of community gardens to help feed the poor and help in the war effort.

At the George Washington Carver National Monument there is a mile long walking trail that loops into woods, along streams and the tall grass prairie
that Carver as a boy enjoyed so much. Throughout the property and along he walking trail are plaques which tell us so much about the man.
Wonderful Thought For The Right Road
Great Advise On Wisdom
A Very Accomplished Man
Needle Work Done By Carver
Artist Rendering Of Moses And Susan Carver's Slave Home
Statue Of Boy Carver
Attitude Of Prayer
His First Prayer
Home Of Moses And Susan Carver Built In 1881. 
George Never Lived Here But Visited Often
Daily Devotional Walk
Moses And Susan Carver Are Buried Here
Cemetery On The Farm
Tall Grass Prairie

George Washington Carver slipped on ice when trying to open a door and he never fully recovered. He went to sleep and died January 5, 1943. I find him to be an extra ordinary man and when I get to heaven he is a person that is fairly high on my list of people I want to talk to. Of course that wont be a problem since I will have all of eternity to do it. If you get a chance it is worth your while to visit the George Washington Carver National Memorial

This National Monument was the first in many respects:

    First birthplace monument dedicated to anyone other than a U. S.        President.
    First national monument dedicated to an American for services in agriculture.
    First national monument established for an African-American.
    First national monument for an American educator.
    First national monument established for an American scientist.
    First national monument in the four-state area of Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas.

George Washington Carver was a deeply religious man who always seemed to express his faith in God and in an attempt offer encouragement to students and everyone he came in contact with. In a letter of thanks for a Christmas gift he listed the following eight cardinal virtues which constitutes a lady or a gentlemen:

   1st. Be clean inside and outside.
   2nd. Who neither looks up to the rich or down on the poor.
   3rd. Who loses, if need be, without squealing.
   4th. Who wins without bragging.
   5th. Who is always considerate of  women children and old people.
   6th. Who is too brave to lie.
   7th. Who is too generous to cheat.
   8th. Who takes his share of the world and lets other people have theirs.
He closed this letter with the following, " May God help you carry out these eight cardinal virtues and peace and prosperity be yours through life. "

I  must finish this posting now. Again, I say I truly enjoyed reading about George Washington Carver and going through his memorial. So in closing remember that God loves you so much that He gave His son, Jesus for us and I love you.

Grandpa Bill

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve, Pleasanton, CA.

Hello everyone and Merry Christmas Eve, Today was another busy day. We awoke to find that the rain had moved on and the day was bright with sunshine and little wind. Janice and I decorated cookies and of course sampled a few along the way. At three P. M. Janice & Bami, Parisa and I went to the Christmas Eve services at Nicku and Corey's church, Blue Oaks Church. This church is a new one which broke off from a mega church about 5 months ago. They have a young pastor and are growing and meet in a local Jr. High school. The pastor gave a sermon about light and wove that thought around darkness and light and that Jesus is the light of the world. Very good sermon.
School Where Blue Oaks Church Meets
Blue Oaks Church Music Group On Stage
Following church we went to Nicku's home where we were joined by Corey's mom and dad. Nicku served several snack items then a meal of salad, squash soup, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and prime rib. This was topped with coffee, tea and our choice of two cakes. Outstanding meal and beautifully presented.
Nicku's Christmas Tree
Christmas Decorations
Dining Room Table Ready For The Meal
Dining Room Decorations
After the dessert gifts were exchanged with everyone receiving  gifts. Nicku and Corey I thank you for a wonderful meal and special fellowship with family and friends. You help make this a very special and meaningful Christmas eve for me.

Following the theme of the Christmas Eve Service please remember that God loves you so much that He gave His Son Jesus for us and I love you also. I hope each of you have a happy and joyous Christmas.

Grandpa Bill