Posts tagged ‘Shako 2022’

SHAKO: Happy Birthday U.S. National Guard!

From a Colonial Militia Unit …

The First Muster by Don Troiani (Courtesy U.S. National Guard). Click on photo to enlarge image.

On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, the U.S. National Guard celebrates its 386th birthday. Yes, that’s right. The National Guard is older the Army or the Navy — older even than the United States of America.

How is that even possible? Well, according to the Guard, the selection of December 13, 1636 is based upon the Defense Department practice of adopting the dates of initial authorizing legislation for organized units as their birthdates. For a more detailed explanation from a previous  National Guard press release, click here.

So, on December 13, 1636, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the colony’s militia companies into three regiments: the North, South and East Regiments. The colonists had adopted the English militia system which obligated all males, between the ages of 16 and 60, to possess arms and participate in the defense of the community.

The early colonial militia drilled once a week and provided guard details each evening to sound the alarm in case of attack. Growing friction with Native Americans boiled over into brutal warfare in the 1630s, requiring the Massachusetts militia to be in a high state of readiness. The organization of the North, South and East Regiments increased efficiency and responsiveness. Although the exact date is not known, the first muster of the East Regiment took place in Salem, Massachusetts.

Later in the 17th and 18th centuries militias from Massachusetts and most of the other 13 colonies battled the French and their Indian allies in a series of conflicts known as the French and Indian wars. By 1775 they were fighting British redcoats in the war for independence.

The organizational descendants of those first Massachusetts militia regiments – the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard – share the distinction of being the oldest units in the United States military.
Of course the Air National Guard isn’t quite that old. The official birth date of the Air National Guard as a reserve component of the U.S. Air Force is September 18, 1947. On that date, the first Secretary of the Air Force was sworn in under provisions of the National Security Act of 1947. Soon afterwards, National Guard Army Air Forces units began to be transferred to the Air National Guard as a reserve component of the Air Force.
National Guard troops have served in nearly every U.S. conflict and war since 1636, and have responded to floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, civil disorders and other emergencies both in their home states and elsewhere.

In Katrina’s Wake By Gil Cohen. (Courtesy National Guard). Click on photo to enlarge image.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina wrought devastation upon America’s Gulf Coast. Nearly 80,000 Guard members were already federalized to fight in the Iraq and Afghan wars when Katrina hit. Still, more than 51,000 Guardsmen and women from across the country quickly deployed to Louisiana and Mississippi to save lives and assist in recovery efforts.
Click here to see a brief (less than two minutes) video illustrating the duties and responsibilities of the Army National Guard and the Air Guard.
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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

December 13, 2022 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: How Thanksgiving Started In the Midst of a Terrible War

THANKGIVING: THEN AND NOW.

Thanksgiving Day 1863 as envisioned in Harper’s Weekly.

Maybe you’ve already read or heard some of the annual Thanksgiving Day news pieces about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts or about what they really ate at that first thanksgiving meal — and who was or wasn’t there — or how President Franklin D. Roosevelt was persuaded by the retail industry to move the holiday up a week in 1939 — to extend the Christmas shopping season and bolster the economic recovery from the Great Depression.

But here at the 4GWAR blog, we’re mindful that the first official national day of Thanksgiving came in the midst of a terrible Civil War that had cost thousands of lives and, in 1863, was still far from over. It seems remarkable that President Abraham Lincoln decided what the country needed to do was pause and consider what it did have to be thankful for despite all the carnage.

As we have done on previous Thanksgiving mornings, we present what Mr. Lincoln had to say about all that 159 years ago.

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

“Peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union,” not a bad goal to pray for this Thanksgiving.

U.S. Army drill sergeants serve an early Thanksgiving meal to trainees of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina on November 23, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Robert Timmons.)

By the way, it’s important to note the call for a day of national thanksgiving was first raised by prominent writer and editor, Sarah Josepha Hale.

Happy Thanksgiving — and safe travels — from 4GWAR!

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SHAKOSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

November 24, 2022 at 12:18 am 2 comments


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