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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

One of Ol’ Robbo’s little delights in life is noticing links and gunnegshuns among things that, at first sight, don’t appear to have that much in common.  This came to me today regarding several books I have just finished or am currently reading.

To wit:

First, I may have mentioned it already but a week or two ago I finished The Horse Soldiers by Harold Sinclair.  It’s a fictional dramatization of Grierson’s Raid, a Union cavalry expedition through the heart of Mississippi in 1863 during Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign, and is the basis of the John Wayne movie of the same name (which I re-watch frequently).

Second, at my brother’s behest, I read Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, which tells the story of the great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, largely through the eyes of Isaac Cline, the resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau who lived through the thing.  (Pretty good book. The science was fascinating and the depictions of carnage horrifying.  I was less impressed with the author’s attempts to get into the head of the man Cline himself.)




Third, as should not be any surprise to regular friends of the decanter who know that recently Ol’ Robbo has been reading novelisations of the French and Indian War, I’ve started off on my latest re-reading of Volume One of Francis Parkman’s great France and England in North America and am currently in the midst of the third book of that set, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West.

Now, anyone want to know what the Three Degrees of Separation are here?  Well, I’ll tell you:

First, the fictional hero of The Horse Soldiers is one Colonel Marlowe.  Marlowe is (very) loosely based on the real life Col. Benjamin Grierson.  Grierson, who had been a professional musician and band-master before the War, took the unusual step of staying in the Regular Army afterwards, much to the distain of the West Point crowd.  Among his other post-War assignments, Grierson served for a while as commander of Fort Concho in what was then the frontier town of San Angelo, Texas (where he was a great proponent of the so-called “Buffalo Soldiers”, again, much to the distain of his fellow officers).

This Fort Concho becomes the second literary link, because it just so happens that Isaac Cline was posted there in the early days of his meteorological training program with the Army Signal Corp (albeit not when Grierson was in command, but a few years later).

The third link comes in to play because, although Isaacs’ Storm is primarily about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, it also touches on Indianola, Texas, an up-and-coming 19th Century port farther southwest along the Texas Gulf Coast that got hammered by a pair of hurricanes in 1875 and 1886 and, as a result, was pretty much abandoned.  Now Indianola is (there are still a few houses there) located on Matagorda Bay, which is the same bay in which the great René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s attempt to sail up the Mississippi eventually foundered in 1685, and on the shores of which he established his ill-fated French colony before meeting his untimely death at the hands of mutineers in East Texas while going for help on foot.  Matagorda Bay also happens to be the water in which Ol’ Robbo did all of his salt-water fishing in his misspent yoot (at Pass Cavallo, largely, at which point La Salle came ashore and not very far from the resting place of his expedition’s sunken supply ship La Belle, as it turns out), so that makes it all the more personal for me.

So there you have it, you see?  Grierson to Cline to La Salle.

(This, by the bye, is an example of why Ol’ Robbo doesn’t get invited to many parties.  Seems pretty exclusive and hurtful, now that I think about it.  Aren’t we bores people too?  Why do you have to be so borephobic, you haters?)



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