Thursday, December 2, 2010

This Day in History- December 2

I have to say that I am sorry about the low output recently, I'm back in school and am doing that
during the time of day when I used to bored enough to blog. Well, I am going to try and do a little more, starting with an easy one.

December 2, 1804

A Corsican-born General in the Revolutionary Army of France named Napoleon Bonaparte becomes Emperor Napoleon I. It is said that at his ascension ceremony in Notre Dame, he took the crown from the hands of Pope Pius VII and placed it on his own head. It is said he did this to show that he was the author of his destiny and rose to his position solely on his merit. If so, this would also seem in violation of custom in place from Charlemagne's time of the Emperors being crowned by the Pope.

Of course Napoleon is held to be one of the most gifted and driven military commanders and strategists in history. He also is mostly responsible for the creation of a new system of laws and courts known today as the Napoleonic Code. He also was a gifted military theorist and he made vast changes to the way that armies fought and were organized both in France and around the world. It took losing hundreds of thousands of troops in Russia and a crushing defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and a long term arsenic poisoning to keep him down. It is strange that his reputation in modern American culture is just that of a short, petty Frenchman. While he was certainly a "great" man, he was responsible for some social progress, had some nice buildings built and so on, he was also a voracious and cruel conqueror and is personally responsible for hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths at the very least. The very least. There are many who view Napoleon as belonging in the same class as people like Hitler and Stalin. While that may be taking it too far, as Napoleon is not generally thought of to be genocidal and bloodthirsty, just incredibly greedy, apathetic and cruel. But he most certainly deserves at least partial blame for the 17 YEARS of war that Europe experienced during his time and the estimated 6 million deaths those wars caused.

and on December 2, 1777

During the occupation of Philadelphia by forces under British General William Howe, the British command had commandeered a large room across from his headquarters to serve as a meeting room. Unknown to them, the home's owner, Lydia Darragh, an Irish immigrant, would discreetly listen to these meetings and pass the information to American revolutionary leaders. She did this by sewing notes into her coat and crossing the lines to meet American officers in secret.

America's first Bond girl villain?

On the night in question, she learned of a surprise attack on Washington's army in Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania. She devised a cover story that she needed to buy flour from a mill just beyond the British lines, she was able to get the vital plans to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Craig. When the British marched on Whitemarsh on December 4 they found an army ready and waiting for them. Three days of skirmishing followed, and General Howe returned to Philadelphia, having failed to destroy or dislodge Washington's force. Timely knowledge of the impending attack, much less any information on troop strength, route and cannon, would have been absolutely essential to the survival of Washington and his army. That being the case, Mrs. Darragh's actions, which were quite audacious and daring in my opinion, and were extremely dangerous to her well being if she were caught, were one of the most important forgotten events of the Revolution.

I see her as kinda like Princess Leia myself.

It is said (on Wikipedia) that the CIA remember Lydia Darrah as one of the first American spies.

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