Chickamauga was the site of a large Civil War battle fought in September 1863. In fact, it was the second bloodiest of all Civil War battles after the battle of Gettysburg which was fought in July, 1863. General Rosecrans led the Union Army of 70,000 men against Braxton Bragg’s Confederate troops numbering a bit under 50,000. There were over 16,000 Union casualties and 18,000 Confederate killed and wounded.
I was on my way back from a speaking engagement this past Saturday near Chattanooga, TN, and stopped at the battlefield briefly on the drive home. The visitor center has numerous big guns that greet visitors and I made sure to get some pictures.
It was an overcast day, but the sun was breaking through in places, so I thought it might be good to treat this as an HDR photo opportunity and today’s photo is the result. As I looked down the barrel of this 6-pounder gun that was manufactured in 1841, 23 years before the battle took place. It featured an effective range of 1,520 yards at a 5 degree elevation and weighted 881 pounds.
The end of the barrel has been dented, which would be a pretty good trick, though the gun was made of bronze.
As I looked down the barrel and thought of how the Civil War soldiers would charge straight into the face of such batteries of guns, I couldn’t help but think of the line from the Maltese Falcon: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1915, Lorne Greene, the actor who played Ben Cartwright on the immensely popular television Western Bonanza, was born in Ontario, Canada. An only child, Greene later said he based his portrayal of Ben Cartwright on his own father, Daniel Greene.
Greene’s rise to national stardom in Bonanza came late in his career. He began acting as a student at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, abandoning his major in chemical engineering to follow the exciting lure of the stage. For several years he worked in the theater but he won his first major position in 1939 as an announcer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His deep, warm voice soon earned Greene the title, “The Voice of Canada.” During WW2 he served as a flying officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. When he returned to Canada, Greene began to win more acting roles in the fledgling Canadian television industry. In 1954, he made his big screen debut as the Apostle Peter in The Silver Chalice.
Greene’s big break came in 1959. The American TV producer David Dortot spotted Greene playing a small role in the Western Wagon Train. Dortot was in the midst of creating a new TV Western based on the adventures of a rancher father and his three sons. He thought Greene would be perfect for the role of “Pa”-Ben Cartwright. Greene agreed to take the role. His three TV sons (each by a different wife) were the thoughtful and mature Adam (Pernell Roberts), the gentle giant Hoss (Dan Blocker), and the hot-blooded young romantic Little Joe (Michael Landon).
Bonanza debuted on NBC in 1959 and remained on the air until 1973, making it one of the longest running TV Westerns ever. Somewhat unique among the many other TV Westerns of the time that emphasized solitary cowboys and gunmen, Bonanza focused on the strong bonds between Ben Cartwright and his sons. Greene created a Ben Cartwright who was an ideal father. Strong, compassionate, and understanding, he shepherded his sons through tough times with a grace and wisdom that won him the affection of millions of viewers. Besides offering appealing characters and interesting story lines, Bonanza was also popular because it was the first network Western to be televised in color.
After Bonanza was canceled in 1973, Greene acted in several other short-lived TV shows, including Battlestar Galactica. He died in 1987 at the age of 72, still best remembered by millions as “Pa” Cartwright.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: An elephant can urinate more than 13 gallons per day. It’s easier to measure this on a male elephant, as female elephants often poop and urinate at the same time.