The Bird of Paradise

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I have two kinds of flowers that I really love: tulips and the bird-of-paradise. Unfortunately, I don’t see many of either around where we live.

So, it was an extra special treat for me to go to San Diego recently and see some bird-of-paradise flowers at a hotel we went to see (more about that in another post). This one just happened to beg me to take its picture!  I didn’t have my Canon with me, so I just had to shoot with my Galaxy Note 5 (those don’t burn up and catch fire – it’s a great phone, by the way!)

I can see, based on the way this particular flower looks, why they call it a bird-of-paradise. Doesn’t it look like a bird (almost like a hummingbird) with its wings swept back and its red, feathery head toward the bottom right of the picture?  Unfortunately, we were in a hurry so I couldn’t really stop and frame this properly, but I still love the flower.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, Confederate General James Longstreet assumed command of his corps in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia in May of that year, Longstreet missed the campaign for Richmond, Virginia,and spent five months recovering before retuning to his command.

Longstreet was one of the most effective corps commanders in the war. He became a brigadier general before the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia,in 1861, and quickly rose through the ranks of the Army of Northern Virginia. He became a divisional commander, and his leadership during the Seven Days Battles and the Second Battle of Bull Run earned him the respect of the Confederate army’s commander, General Robert E. Lee, who gave him command of a corps just before the Battle of Antietam in Maryland in September 1862.

His leadership at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg sealed his reputation as a brilliant corps leader, but Longstreet was less successful when given an independent command. In spring 1863, he led a force in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia, and he made an expedition to relieve Confederate forces in Tennessee in fall 1863. He enjoyed little success in either situation.

The Union Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in early May 1864 for another attempt at capturing the Confederate capital at Richmond. On May 6, during the Battle of the Wilderness, Longstreet was shot by his own troops while scouting the lines during the battle. Ironically, it was just a few miles from the spot where Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson had been mortally wounded by his men one year earlier. Longstreet was hit in the neck and shoulder, and nearly died. He was incapacitated for the rest of the campaign and did not rejoin his corps until it was mired in the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, in October 1864.

After the war, Longstreet worked at a variety of government posts, including U.S. minister to Turkey. He broke with his fellow Confederates by joining the Republican Party, and dared to criticize some of Lee’s tactical decisions. Though he was reviled by many of his fellow generals for this later behavior, he outlived most of his detractors.Longstreet died in Gainesville, Georgia, at the age of 82 in 1904.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Christmas stockings allegedly evolved from three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry and were, therefore, doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved, however, when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (the precursor to Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.

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