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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2020-09-06 22:58:52
Typefacelarge in Small
In 1864, when I was campaigning on the Red River in Louisiana, I noticed with interest a device that had been put into shape for the purpose of lifting river steamers over shoals. This device took the form of stilts which for the smaller vessels (and only the smaller steamers could as a rule be managed in this way) were fastened on pivots from the upper deck on the outside of the hull and were worked from the deck with a force of two or three men at each stilt. The difficulty on the Red River was that the Rebel sharp-shooters from the banks made the management of the stilts irregular.

In March, 1862, Lincoln received the news of the victory won at Pea Ridge, in Arkansas, by Curtis and Sigel, a battle which had lasted three days. The first day was a defeat and our troops were forced back; the fighting of the second resulted in what might be called a drawn battle; but on the third, our army broke its way through the enclosing lines, bringing the heavier loss to the Confederates, and regained its base. This battle was in a sense typical of much of the fighting of the War. It was one of a long series of fights which continued for more than one day. The history of the War presents many instances of battles that lasted two days, three days, four days, and in one case seven days. It was difficult to convince the American soldier, on either side of the line, that he was beaten. The general might lose his head, but the soldiers, in the larger number of cases, went on fighting until, with a new leader or with more intelligent dispositions on the part of the original leader, a first disaster had been repaired. There is no example in modern history of fighting of such stubborn character, or it is fairer to say, there was no example until the Russo-Japanese War in Manchuria. The record shows that European armies, when outgeneralled or outmanoeuvred, had the habit of retiring from the field, sometimes in good order, more frequently in a state of demoralisation. The American soldier fought the thing out because he thought the thing out. The patience and persistence of the soldier in the field was characteristic of, and, it may fairly be claimed, was in part due to, the patience and persistence of the great leader in Washington.

"Well, there were a thousand when they started," said Sherman.

A year or more later, when the Lincoln family had crossed the river to Indiana, there was added to the "library" a copy of the revised Statutes of the State. The Weems's Washington had been borrowed by Lincoln from a neighbouring farmer. The boy kept it at night under his pillow, and on the occasion of a storm, the water blew in through the chinks of the logs that formed the wall of the cabin, drenching the pillow and the head of the boy (a small matter in itself) and wetting and almost spoiling the book. This was a grave misfortune. Lincoln took his damaged volume to the owner and asked how he could make payment for the loss. It was arranged that the boy should put in three days' work shucking corn on the farm. "Will that work pay for the book or only for the damage?" asked the boy. It was agreed that the labour of three days should be considered sufficient for the purchase of the book.


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