As horrible as the great American Civil War was (it was by far the deadliest war in which Americans have ever fought), the combatants took their part in it very seriously. People had convictions then – convictions that they held deeply. They were more than willing to die for them if need be.
It makes me wonder somewhat about the level of conviction that we have today. What sorts of things are we willing to bleed and die for?
This photo was taken at the Atlanta History Center in the Civil War section. You can hear and practically feel the pride in this man’s words as he declares his conviction…and his pride, for having taken a stand based on his convictions and having lived with integrity.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1869, convinced they had a better chance of surviving the desert than the raging rapids that lay ahead, three men left John Wesley Powell’s expedition through the Grand Canyon and scaled the cliffs to the plateau above.
Though it turned out the men had made a serious mistake, they could hardly be faulted for believing that Powell’s plan to float the brutal rapids was suicidal. Powell, a one-armedCivil War veteran and self-trained naturalist, had embarked on his daring descent of the mighty Colorado River three months earlier. Accompanied by 11 men in four wooden boats, he led the expedition through the Grand Canyon and over punishing rapids that many would hesitate to run even with modern rafts.
The worst was yet to come. Near the lower end of the canyon, the party heard the roar of giant rapids. Moving to shore, they explored on foot and saw, in the words of one man, “the worst rapids yet.” Powell agreed, writing that, “The billows are huge and I fear our boats could not ride them…There is discontent in the camp tonight and I fear some of the party will take to the mountains but hope not.”
The next day, three of Powell’s men did leave. Convinced that the rapids were impassable, they decided to take their chances crossing the harsh desert lands above the canyon rims. Seneca Howland, O.G. Howland, and William H. Dunn said goodbye to Powell and the other men and began the long climb up out of the Grand Canyon. The remaining members of the party steeled themselves, climbed into boats, and pushed off into the wild rapids.
Amazingly, all of them survived and the expedition emerged from the canyon the next day. When he reached the nearest settlement, Powell learned that the three men who left had been less fortunate–they encountered a war party of Shivwit Indians and were killed. Ironically, the three murders were initially seen as more newsworthy than Powell’s feat and the expedition gained valuable publicity. When Powell embarked on his second trip through the Grand Canyon in 1871, the publicity from the first trip had insured that the second voyage was far better financed than the first.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A transplanted heart beats about 100-110 beats per minute (70 beats is about normal). A transplanted heart also doesn’t increase its rate as quickly in response to exercise.