How a Hunt for Shoes Started the Battle of Gettysburg

10 September 2013



The battle of Gettysburg is considered one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War. What if I told you that a hunt for shoes started it all? I just had to have an LOL moment when I heard a story, which many think is folklore, of how that battle got started.



Gotta have those shoes!

I love shoes, hey what girl doesn’t? Ha! But this story about a hunt for shoes involves a guy, a rebel commander by the name of Henry Heth. The story goes that Henry may have seen an ad or heard a rumor about  a supply of new boots, which were available in the town of Gettysburg, eight miles from where his brigade was camped in the town of Cashtown. Heth’s troops were in terrible need of new boots after having marched for months.


General Henry Heth

General Henry Heth

The General ….


Around this time in PA, both Union and Confederate forces were scattered throughout the area. General Heth told one of his commanders, General Pettigrew to go into Gettysburg to get those much needed shoes. When Pettigrew’s brigade was near Gettysburg they “made a B Line” and didn’t even enter the town. Pettigrew reported to Heth that the town was occupied by the enemy, and some of his officers reported hearing drums beating in the farther side of the town. And because of that, they dared not enter the town for the shoes.

Ah, I don’t believe you!


Heth wouldn’t hear it; he really doubted what Pettigrew warned. Some people are just born with hard heads! He sought the advice of General Ambrose Hill. After all, no matter what, he just has to get those darn shoes!  Heth explained to Hill what Pettigrew told him. Hill responded that he had solid information from General Lee that the enemy was somewhere in Middleburg, Maryland and really had nothing to fear.  What? Too much whiskey I guess… 🙂  When Heth asked Hill if there were any objections to his going into Gettysburg to get the shoes, Hill said “none in the world.”



So on July 1, 1863 Heth goes into Gettysburg with his brigade and stumbles into a Union cavalry and fighting ensues. Both sides scramble and get reinforcements to converge on the town. And in three days the fate of the war was decided. It is known as the greatest and bloodiest battle of the Civil War—90,000 union soldiers against 75,000 Confederates. A third of the fighters perished. The South suffered 28,000 casualties, and the North 23,000.


The Defeated General…


On July 3, General Robert E. Lee retreated and although the war was far from over, Lee never regained the strategic initiative. A major blow for Lee who had given specific instructions not to engage the enemy in Gettysburg until Confederate forces could be concentrated.




General Robert E. Lee

Somebody blew this big time. A hell-bent General quite possibly hearing the complaints of his soldier’s aching feet just had to get those darn shoes. Heth later writes an article about this incident, but instead of blaming Lee’s defeat on his own stupidity, he blames Major General J.E.B. Stuart and his cavalry “ who were absent from the army during the critical days before the battle.” That article started another firestorm from a staunch Stuart defender. Read more about this here.


So I guess we can say that a desperate hunt for shoes cost the South the war. Ladies, I’d be very careful on that next hunt for shoes, you never know what battle you’ll start 😀

Sources: Napololean’s Hemorrrhoids & other small events that changed History

The Romances of Gettysburg – Get Those Shoes



The Attempted Assassination of Andrew Jackson

21 May 2013


It would’ve been Andrew Jackson….

Lincoln would not have been the first president to have been assassinated if it had not been for the incredible, and inexplicable stroke of luck (or divine intervention :)) in the attempted assassination of President Andrew Jackson in 1835, 30 years before Lincoln.

President Andrew Jackson

President Andrew Jackson




The Crazy man….

Andrew Jackson was the first president to be targeted by a would-be assassin. A mentally unstable, and unemployed house-painter named Richard Lawrence approached Jackson who had been president for 6 years at this point, as he left the House chamber of the Capitol. When he was about 13 feet from the President he shot at him, but the gun misfired. When Jackson tried to tackle him, Lawrence took another shot and again it misfired.


The Attempted Assassination

The Attempted Assassination


Oh yea give me that cane!

If you know anything about Andrew Jackson, you know he was known for his bad temper. And at age 67 that temper was alive and well, Jackson repeatedly clubbed Lawrence with his walking cane. Can’t you just envision that?  It’s almost funny if it weren’t so serious. 😛


Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett



 You are on your own…

Soon bystanders helped Jackson wrestle the crazed painter to the ground and disarmed him, one of which was Rep. Davy Crockett of Tennessee. Back in the day there was no Secret Service. Secret Service came around in 1901.  Politicians were on their own with these types of incidences.


The Verdict

Historians have concluded that Lawrence was a crazy man who believed the government owed him money, money, which he believed would allow him to take his rightful place as King Richard III of England. Oookay…. A jury later found Lawrence not guilty by reason of insanity. He died in 1861 in a mental institution.



Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren

Make my day…

The Vice President, Martin Van Buren wasn’t going to take any chances after this happened; he started to carry two pistols when visiting the Senate.



Luck? Divine Intervention?

The guns were later examined and tested in the 1930’s at the Smithsonian Institute, and they both discharged perfectly on the first try.  Hmm… Divine intervention? Luck? What do you think?

History of The Holiday Inn: How a Bad Vacation Made it all Happen!

16 April 2013
Holiday Inn Circa 1960s

Holiday Inn Circa 1960s


Vacation with Five Kids!


Imagine this, you want to go on vacation with your family, which includes 5 kids, (oh Lord why even call his a vacation! :P) and when you call to book the room, they tell you, you have to pay extra for the kids. Look money is tight, and when you have kids, well that dollar can go but so far. That is what happened to Kemmons Wilson back in 1951, what he thought was going to cost him $6 ended up costing him $16 per night! Sixteen bucks sounds like peanuts to us today but, let me put in perspective for ya; $16 bucks in 1951 is equal to $144 today! A lot for a middle class family with kids. He sees a need and decides to fill it! He wanted to develop a hotel experience where the kids could stay for free in their parent’s room. Have you ever done this? I have….Oh Lord, let’s just leave it at that 😛
Mr. Wilson has the plans prepared and the guy who prepared them happened to be watching the Christmas classic movie with Bing Crosby, ” Holiday Inn.” He drew the name on top of the plans and Wilson loved it!
Classic Movie "Holiday Inn."

Classic Movie “Holiday Inn.”

The 2.2 Billion Dollar Idea!

The first Holiday Inn opened in Memphis in 1952. Within 15 years it had become the largest hotel chain in the world with more than 300,000 rooms across nearly 2000 hotels. The chain later sold in 1989 for 2.2 billion!

Wilson is considered the father of modern day inn keeping, and all it started because his vacation with his five kids was just too costly. Remember this great story of an entrepreneur who saw a need, came up with an idea, and took the leap. It’s a great story!


History of “Don’t Throw the Baby out with the Bath Water.”

18 January 2013


Bath Time!

Ever wonder where we get the saying, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” from? Back in the day bathing was a luxury and labor intense, read more about that here. The bath consisted of one large tub or something like a tub. Large buckets of water were fetched and heated then poured into the tub. This in itself was hard work, which is why many took baths once or so a year! Baths were so labor intense that bath times were established for each member of the family. The men bathed first, women next, then children and finally the baby. By the time the baby was put in the tub, which had been used by everybody in the family before, the water was so dirty you could actually lose the baby in it! So that’s how we got, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!” And we worry about a little mud getting underneath the baby’s fingernails today! 🙂

Africans Sailed with Christopher Columbus

8 January 2013


We think of Africans as having first touched ground in the New World during the Slave Trade, but it turns out they may have been here way before that. According to DNA testing by a Danish molecular anthropologist, Hannes Schroeder of the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for GeoGenetics. He studied samples of thigh bones and teeth from 10 remains at La Isabela in the Dominican Republic, where Columbus landed in 1494. On two of the remains Schroeder detected mitochondrial-DNA segments which are frequently found in sub-Saharan Africa. Whether these Africans were slaves of the Spanish or free is not known. However, since the slave trade was well on its way, it’s a great possibility they were in fact slaves.

Reference: American History Magazine Feb 2011 issue

Did Africans Come to Americas With Columbus?



Birth of a Doll: History of Barbie

13 August 2012


Barbie Doll


I had a lot of Barbie dolls growing up and had a lot of fun playing with them. The Barbie Doll was born when a mother (Ruth Handler) noticed her daughter playing with paper dolls and giving the dolls adult roles. At that time most children played with baby dolls, that was the only doll for them. Handler naturally had a knack for business, how could she not being married to co-founder of Mattel Toys! She suggested the idea of an adult bodied doll to her hesitant husband. He wasn’t too keen on the idea nor were the big wigs of Mattel. On a trip to Europe Ruth Handler took notice of a popular German toy doll called “Bild Lilli.” The doll was a full figured, blonde bomb shell, based on a very popular comic strip character. The character “Bild” was a spirited, independent, modern girl, who knew what she wanted, and didn’t care who she used to get her way. The doll was sold mainly to adults in Germany, but children began to play with them. They liked dressing them up with all the different outfits and accessories. Mrs. Handler was right to think there was a gap that needed to be filled.

3 Barbies are sold every second!

Ruth Handler bought three of the dolls and brought them back to the US. She gave one to her daughter and took the rest to Mattel. With some help, Mrs. Handler reworked the German design and gave her a new name, “Barbie,” named after her daughter “Barbara.” Barbie made her debut in March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair, and the world fell in love with her! After acquiring the rights to the German doll “Bild…” Mattel started mass producing the Barbie. It was first manufactured in Japan, and the clothes were handmade by Japanese homeworkers. In the first year Mattel sold over 350, 000 dolls. Today Mattel sells clothes and all kinds of accessories for Barbie, and according to Mattel they sell 3 Barbies every second!

Controversial Barbie….

Throughout the years Barbie has undergone some tweaking due to some controversies such as the doll being for some too sexy, skinny (anorexic), unrealistic looking Black Barbies (doll dark, but White features), a talking doll who hated math, a tattooed Barbie, and on and on. But Barbie is still here after all these years. She may conform to the times, but she sticks around, and continues to be a toy little girls enjoy. Hey and she doesn’t age either!

All it took was a mom with some business savvy, and an idea to birth a cultural icon, which has made for some fun times and a boredom filler for many children for years to come. Who would’ve guessed?



The Story of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes

7 February 2012


I’ve been on a Corn Flakes kick lately,  and of course it must be, the best, the one and only Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. One morning as I crunched on a few flakes, I thought, “Gee I wonder who came up with this?”

It all started back in the day….

It’s the 1890’s and a new health guru, Harvey Kellogg has set up a Sanitarium in Michigan where he taught others how to eat healthy and live longer. Many flocked to hear this charismatic man’s wisdom. Kellogg was a medical doctor who believed that the then American diet was bad. He called the modern cooking, “the greatest bane of civilization.” He felt that the way to happiness and health is having a healthy “digestive tract.” He believed that most illnesses and deaths were due to indigestion and bad eating habits. He must be turning in his grave.  He served healthy low-calorie diets in the Sanitarium, but worried what would happen to his patient’s eating habits once they returned home.

Kellogg experiments at home with a low calorie, ready to eat, breakfast food he would sell by mail order. Thanks to his wife and brother he came up with a product which most of us are familiar with, Kellogg Corn Flakes! Later, Kellogg’s brother, Will Keith took over the business. Will had flair when it came to marketing. One of his first ads, urged customers not to buy the new product, because there wasn’t enough available; needless to say, the cereal flew off the shelves.

A little on the weird  side but…..

Kellogg had a passion for digestion and came up with this product; however, I have to say he was a little too zealous. It is said that he gave himself an enema every day. Whatever… He also said that he was celibate through more than 40 years of marriage. Okay it  sounds extreme, but the man lived to see 90, but so have others who have not done as he. Just saying. 😀

So the next time, you are chewing on a crunchy corn flake, remember how a pioneering health guru came up with this brilliant idea.



Pioneering Fighting Politicians

13 November 2011

Senators Brooks' & Sumner having at it.....

We may think that all this mean talk today in politics is all new, but it isn’t. It has been around for quite a long, long time. There are so many stories much like what we hear today, and even worse, and others were downright creative. Let’s begin with a creative story. In 1950 George Smathers was running against Claude Pepper for the US Senate. In Smather’s campaign speeches he’d say strange things about Pepper, like Pepper is “known extrovert,” he’d say things like this with such contempt, that the audience thought this Pepper guy must be bad for them. Another time he said that Pepper’s brother was a “practicing homo sapiens.” Another time he said, that Pepper “practiced celibacy before marriage.” Huh? Again he’d say silly stuff like this emphatically and with scorn that he convinced the audiences that Pepper sucked, and he was the man. Well it worked because Smathers won. People…who can figure us out?

Then there was the Long brothers back in the 30’s.  Sibling rivalry is bad enough at home; it gets worse when brothers are running against each other in the political world. Earl Long called a political opponent, “a big-bellied, lily-livered liar and the crookedest man who ever lived,” he was referring to his brother Huey Long. One time Earl got so pissed off at his brother he called him a “son of a bitch,” not thinking twice of the implications. Earl, that isn’t a nice name to call your momma. Earl also had a tactic on getting his message out when he ran for office. He’d follow his opponent around and plant himself in the audience where the opponent was speaking. He’d yell out from the audience to inspire spontaneous debate. This allowed Earl to control the agenda for discussion, and got his message out on his opponent’s dime. This really backfired one day for Earl though. His brother Huey Long was running for senate and was speaking at a rally where his sneaky brother was part of the audience. Huey was proudly telling the people of his state what he had done for the state of Louisiana, when out of the crowd someone yelled out, “I know one person you ain’t done nothin’ for—your brother!” Earl replies, “I done something for you, Earl. He continues, “I built a big mental hospital down at Jackson and I had them reserve a room for you.” LOL! These two brothers eventually worked things out, and sadly one, Huey who became a presidential contender, was assassinated in 1935. Ah no, not by his brother. 🙂

The Longs were not the only brothers to have it out in the political world. Jimmy Carter’s worse nightmare was his beer guzzling brother, Billy. Billy was a drunk and was constantly embarrassing the peanut farmer, turned president.  One incident of the many led Jimmy to finally put his brother on a plane to Georgia for good. Billy decides to relieve himself on an airport runway in front of the Washington press corps! Now that’s telling Washington he’d didn’t give a sh*t huh? LOL 😀

In 1856 during the height of the slavery debate, Representative Preston Brooks, of South Carolina didn’t like some remarks made about his family by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. Brooks got so pissed off that he walked into the Senate Chamber and started to beat Sumner with his walking cane! I think Herman Cain would get a laugh out of this one! Brooks later regretted his actions, but not so much for beating Sumner, more about breaking his cane. But was comforted that he at least saved the gold-plated handle!

One of my favorite stories is the one of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt didn’t need a cane; in 1883 he simply decked a Democratic opponent with one punch. When the guy gets up, he punches him again. Talk about how to handle a Democrat! LOL Just kidding guys, just kidding. 🙂

There are many more stories like these, I can go on forever. So the next time you hear our politicians duking it out, just remember it’s not new. If anything they are a lot more tamed today, and probably wishing they could turn back the clock. 🙂

History: Bathing in Early America

29 August 2011

Bath Time...

My visit this past weekend to Patrick Henry’s home in Beaverdam, VA sparked an interest in investigating the history of bathing in America.  We see in a lot of period pieces on TV, the beautiful damsels in their petticoats, and matching parasol, and think she must smell like fresh Lavender. We see the handsome genteel men in their elegant silk, velvet coats and frock and can’t imagine how good he must smell. Well, they didn’t, they really didn’t. Everybody and I mean everybody stank in early America.  Some people in that day would carry a scented handkerchief in their sleeve and quickly bring it up to their nose to mask another’s BO, blissfully unaware that they themselves stank!  Let’s just say that the whole of the 13 colonies was afflicted with BO.

Bath stations, bathtubs, & toilets were skimpy back in the day.  Most took what I call cat baths, a little dab here and there, and mostly on hands and face. Huh?   A few of the better homes had washbasins, and pitchers. The servants would bring in the water which was heated in the kitchen or laundry then lay out fresh dress shirts for the men. The shirts would conceal the sweat flowing on the inside, and keep the gentlemen’s outer wear nice and dry & stain free.  If you were a woman, clean shifts were provided. But simply having clean underwear wasn’t going to keep that BO from escaping. But at least your hands were cleaned, and your face didn’t have the nasty stuff we wake up with.

What about those who insisted on bathing? Some had wooden tubs and it’d work fine, but it took work, which brings us up to one reason bathing was a luxury back in the day. The tub had to be lugged from the laundry or wherever it was kept.  Water had to be hoisted from the well, and then heated up, and the tub filled. And they were lucky to find some homemade soap around the house to cleanse with. The colonials didn’t have towels like we have to today, so they had to find something to use to dry up after the bath. Now, another issue was to find a private area to do take the bath. As you can see, there was much ado which discouraged many. It was considered a luxury really.  A few did manage to lavish in this luxury a couple times a year.

We must understand how bathing was seen back in the day to understand as well. For instance, many thought that bathing would destroy your natural oils and leave you wide open to all kinds of diseases. Of course, we know better today. Some colonials bucked the system though, some would take swims in rivers, or lakes, some even in winter. William Bryd II was known to do that in the James River in Virginia, much to his neighbors’ chagrin.  One man in Williamsburg, VA, St. George Tucker installed the first copper bath.  He put the tub in his dairy; the hot water came from the laundry, and the cold water from his well. No lugging the tub in some part of the house, and no hauling water. No sir, Tucker was not going to stink for anything. 🙂

In the New England states bathing was not even a thought. Temperatures dropped low in these states, no one was going to freeze their dirty butts 😛 Colonial America was dirty, but so was the whole of the British Empire at the time. You cannot compare these empires to that of the Roman Empire in terms of cleanliness.  Romans lived to bathe. And who wouldn’t, their baths were built over hot springs, and spectacularly designed! They had pools which were cool, warm, and had hot water which was fed by wooden or earthenware pipes. Socializing was a big part of bathing in the Roman Empire. Deals were made in these bath houses, politicians made deals with special interest groups, and more. It sounds pretty much like what we have going on in Washington today, only in water.

So the next time you are reading a story that took place around this time, or see a period piece on TV, they may sound and look as if they smelled like roses, but in fact they stank like….fill in the blanks. 🙂

Dead Man Walking: The Strange Story of Jeremy Bentham

10 April 2011

The Embalmed body of Jeremy Bentham

I thought I heard it all, but this is by far, the most bizarre story I’ve heard in a long time.  In the University College London in the main building of the college is a polished wood-paneled cabinet holding the embalmed body of its founder, Jeremy Bentham.  Jeremy was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. Born to a wealthy family in 1748 and educated at Westminster School, and Queens College, and Oxford. Because he was wealthy he had nothing but time to dedicate to study and writing. According to a contemporary, William Hazlitt, Jeremy became a hermit for forty years…”reducing law to a system, and the mind of a man to a machine.” In 1789 he publishes his first book, “Introduction to the Principles of Morals,” and establishes the principles of utilitarianism.

Bentham died on June 6, 1832 and he left his entire estate to the University College London under one condition, that his body be wheeled into the college’s board meetings! Wow, ok…. His body is embalmed and sits in a cabinet at the college, and yes it attends the board meetings.  Bentham is listed on the minutes as “present but not voting.”  So if you ever walk into this college, you will see Bentham’s embalmed body on a chair and dressed in a black jacket, fawn breeches, and straw-colored hat, and holding a stick. His real head was damaged when they tried to embalm it, so they used a wax head instead.  The real head was kept in a case for many years but students kept stealing it for pranks. It is now locked away in a vault; although I’ve read about, and seen pictures of his head in a jar, which is placed at his feet. Ewww!

Why did this man wish to be kept out like this? Board meetings, hmmm, guess he wanted to be sure his money was being used for the right thing.   It’s a sure way to be immortalized.  Well let’s just say the dude was eccentric. The college did what it had to do to get the money, but still I can’t help but think this story to be…. well, gross, macabre,  and bizarre.

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