31 January 2020

31 January 2020


 31 January 12020 is the final day of the month. It is National Backwards Day—celebrating doing whatever it amuses you to do in reverse order. It is the birthday of Franz Schubert, Zane Grey, and Philip Glass. The minimalist Middle East Peace Plan put out under the name of Donald Trump proves to be something of a practical joke played on the Palestinian Arabs—they surrender fertile land in return for desert, can have Jerusalem as their capital by renaming some other location “Jerusalem,” can have a state with no real borders and no way of defending them, and—generally speaking—can go fuck themselves. (No member of the various Palestinian factions had anything to do with drafting this plan nor have any of them signed onto it.)
On this day in history the Boston authorities freaked out over illuminated signs promoting the Adult Swim cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The year was 2007, and similar signs (depicting one of the villains of the cartoon) appeared in Los Angeles and right here in Portland as well, but for some reason Boston officials decided that they were bombs, and then used their own misapprehensions as a basis for shaking down Turner Broadcasting Systems for a large sum of money. Talk about backwards—I don’t know whether Boston ever apologized for their public freak-out, but it was definitely a low point in the city’s history.

30 January 2020

30 January 2020


 30 January 12020 is Croissant Day. And it’s Barbara Tuchman’s birthday. Her popular histories—The Zimmermann Telegram, The Guns of August, and The Proud Tower—influenced me greatly when I was young and impressionable, and I read and reread them. It’s a cold wet day here in Portland, and nothing very interesting is going on. The fatal rot that is destroying our nation is on display as never before, as a cowardly Senate appears prepared to abrogate its constitutional duties in favor of exonerating an obviously-guilty man out of fear of the political consequences. Will America survive this debacle? Probably. I mean, we survived the election of 1876, not to mention the Civil War, so this is probably traversable as well. But it looks fatal to me. We’ll just have to see, I suppose.
On this day in history the Beatles put on their last show—if you can call it that—on the rooftop of their recording studio in 1969. The racket caused local businesses to call the police, who put a stop to it, thus providing a suitable ending to the documentary film being made of the whole sorry mess. The ill-fated Get Back project wasn’t actually over yet—recording had to be wrapped up before it could be released as a film, an album, and a lawsuit, as the Rutles’ historian put it. In point of fact Let It Rot would gradually trickle out as a couple of singles, a series of bootlegs, a documentary, two rival official albums, and probably at least one other film and a deluxe edition.

29 January 2020

29 January 2020


 29 January 12020 is apparently Kansas Day—and also Puzzle Day. The saint of the day is Gildas, a sixth-century British monk whose polemic on the ruin of Britain is one of the few close-to-contemporary accounts of Britain at and after the end of Roman rule. I see in the news that the American President has unleashed another peace plan for the Middle East, this one apparently having the approval of Saudi Arabia. And so on and so forth.
I finally got out today and took at least two walks—one with my dog and one with my roommate’s dog. I didn’t feel entirely exhausted, and I mostly didn’t cough violently afterward, so I’m putting that on the plus side of the ledger.

28 January 2020

28 January 2020


 28 January 12020 is Data Privacy Day. It’s also Army Day in Armenia. The saint of the day is Thomas Aquinas. And it’s the anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice (1813). In the news I see that former hedge-fund manager and mental munchkin Steven Mnuchin suggests that Greta Thunberg study economics, as if immersion into a fantasy world is somehow a cure for the ongoing real-world disaster. Now he claims he was only joking, but I doubt that the fire and flood victims find it particularly amusing. (I don’t; there was nothing remotely funny about his deranged comment.) If you confuse the economic world with the real world you need a crash course in sanity.
And speaking of fantasy worlds, I see that Mars, in Sagittarius, is ninety degrees from Neptune, in Pisces (♂□♆), which is a harbinger of lies, suspicion, and indecision—things that sap the will. Not a fun place to be at all. Best to avoid all interactions with the outside world, maybe. Not that the interior world is likely to be much better. Best to avoid things in general—other people, demanding situations, online interactions…. Something like that, anyway.
On this day in history (in 1986) the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff, with supposedly seventeen percent of the American people watching via television. (I was one of them.) A definite setback to the space program, the disaster grounded planned satellite launches and destroyed research projects, as well as killing the seven members of its crew: Michael J. Smith (captain), Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Dick Scobee.

27 January 2020

27 January 2020


 27 January 12020 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It honors the seventeen million (or so) who were murdered by the Nazi regime in a program to eliminate certain people from society—Jews, Slavs, Romani, gay men, the disabled—you know, those people. Undesirables. Under color of purifying society German officials systematically arrested people, broke up families, threw them in concentration camps, and then killed them in various ways. One entire branch of the Fake History industry is dedicated to minimizing or expunging this event from the records. It happened. Live with it.
It’s Lewis Carroll’s birthday—an event I’ve apparently been at least observing since I was nine, as I see by the page of an old calendar preserved among my records. Charles Dodgson was a mathematician by trade (apparently a method of evaluating determinants is named after him), but he is remembered for the body of literary work he turned out under the name Lewis Carroll. Possibly my favorite is The Hunting of the Snark, which I reread so often as a child (and since) that great sections of it are engraved on my memory.
I’m feeling a bit better today, though I’m still sleeping way more than usual. And the damn cough isn’t gone—just in abeyance.

26 January 2020

26 January 2020


 26 January 12020 is World Leprosy Day. And it’s a bleak gray Sunday here in Portland, or so I imagine, from the depths of my basement room. I see in the news that Mike Pompeo attaches some importance to knowing that Bangladesh is not the Ukraine—I’m glad he’s finally figured that out. Has he figured out yet that Tarzania is not Ruritania? I’m just asking. And the sun’s in Aquarius, which means that we’re likely to have a lot more gray rainy days here in my part of the world. I suppose it means the opposite for New Zealand. And I’m still coughing and feeling like crap—not in a good way, mind you—but I think I’m getting better. It’s small and incremental if so though.

25 January 2020

25 January 2020


 25 January 12020 is Chinese New Year. It is also Revolution Day in Egypt. And it’s Saturday.
The impeachment appears to be grinding on, with Republican senators declining even to listen to the evidence—lest, I suppose, their resolve to acquit at all costs might waver. It’s a sad spectacle, or it would be, if any of the senators were other than partisan hacks with no morals, no ideology, no goals except to skim as much lucre from the public as they can get away with. When people like Tom Cotton are on the case, it’s impossible to go lower—we’ve hit bottom. Goldwater and Reagan would be proud of their spiritual descendents. For me, this aint the party I signed up for. I mean, I’m staying on board—I’m not going anywhere—but I’m keeping an eye out for an exit if one should offer itself.
I’m still not feeling at all well, but I think I’m getting better. We’ll see, anyway.

24 January 2020

24 January 2020


 24 January 12020 is C. L. Moore’s birthday. Catherine Lucille Moore was a prolific fantasy and science fiction writer from the thirties through the fifties, her work appearing in Weird Tales and Astounding Science Fiction among other less well-known outlets. She frequently collaborated with her husband Henry Kuttner; it was a book of their short stories, A Gnome There Was, that first alerted me to the existence of the genre in the late summer of 1961, just before I started fifth grade.
I’m sorry, but I don’t feel much like writing anything at the moment, which is why I’m posting these prepared shells rather than finished items. All my energy has been leached away, and I feel like—well, I don’t know what I feel like, but it isn’t good. When I’m not coughing and sneezing I’m sleeping, or lying awake in a dark room too tired to move and wondering why I’m still alive. I’ve definitely been sicker than this, but I’m not having a good time of it, and I’ve often felt better.

23 January 2020

23 January 2020


 23 January 12020 may or may not be Handwriting Day. I have no idea where I found that one. I usually check this crap before I post it but with this hideous cough and trouble breathing I can’t be bothered—especially with the blog now flatlined for days and no reason to attempt to entertain anybody.

22 January 2020

22 January 2020


 22 January 12020 is possibly Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, though I don’t know where I found this one. It looks like one of those made-up days inserted by various outfits to keep people like me from copying their information wholesale. It looks like there are holidays of some kind in Bolivia and the Ukraine as well, but I can’t get my eyes to focus properly for some goddamn reason and nobody’s reading this crap anyway, so why should I bother to try to achieve some spurious precision?
The one thing I’m sure of is that it’s Robert E. Howard’s birthday. Howard was an obscure pulp writer who achieved posthumous fame for his creation of the character Conan of Cimmeria, who wandered about various mythical kingdoms during a forgotten period of earth’s history that survives only as distorted legends told by various peoples of antiquity. Rescued by John D. Clark and L. Sprague de Camp from literature’s cutting-room floor, Conan achieved phenomenal success post-Tolkien when Lancer books re-issued the stories in a series of paperbacks, with later boosts coming from Marvel Comics and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The stories—with the notable exceptions of The Hour of the Dragon and The People of the Black Circle—don’t really hold up all that well, but Clark and especially de Camp deserve full credit for recognizing the sales potential of the stuff well before the rest of the world. It’s too bad Howard wasn’t alive to enjoy his success; he unfortunately chose to shuffle off this mortal coil with a gunshot to his head at the age of thirty.
I don’t know what’s happening in the news; my head hurts when I try to focus on the screen. I’m going to confidently assert that the impeachment proceedings are going on as expected, and that we’re going to see the Founders’ error of judgment painfully exposed. I suppose a nation that cannot bring itself to do justice to torturers and extortionists deserves to fail—but I’m an American, and you can’t expect me to see it in that light. So as the lights go down on this once-great empire, and the vast production fades to oblivion, I ask posterity to judge us kindly in terms of our aspirations and not our achievements. With our feet mired in genocide, slavery, and oppression, maybe it was too much to expect us to reach new heights. But we tried, damn it—we did try. I hope that counts for something.

21 January 2020

21 January 2020


 21 January 12020 is Squirrel Appreciation Day. In Barbados it is Errol Barrow Day and in the Dominican Republic it is Our Lady of Altagracia. It is also the day John Fitch was born; you’ll probably remember him as the inventor of the steamboat.
And again, this is as much as I had prepared in advance. I am really not feeling well (though I’ve felt worse in my life) and will have to defer pulling things together here in RationalRantLand until things pick up a bit.

20 January 2020

20 January 2020


 20 January 12020 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s also Penguin Awareness Day. This is as much as I had prepared for the day. I am feeling really ill right this moment. I am having trouble breathing and I am not sure what’s going on with my heart. I’m pretty sure I’m all right though and this will pass. I just don’t feel up to writing at the moment. More may follow.

19 January 2020

19 January 2020


 19 January 12020 is World Religion Day. It’s also Tin Can Day and Popcorn Day, as well as a day set aside for honoring the pro-slavery traitors who deserted their allegiance to the United States and joined the Confederacy (Robert E. Lee’s Birthday in Florida and Confederate Heroes’ Day in Texas). And on the positive side it’s Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday as well.
Some dumbass ICE functionary is sounding off about matters well above his pay grade, claiming that sanctuary policies led to an elderly woman’s death in New York. Stick to your job, guy, and leave policy to those capable of thought. And Iran is now claiming to have shiny new submarines in its tinpot arsenal. We’ll see, anyway. And Pakistan’s murderous hooligan party is bitching because some of its more unruly members were jailed over their violent objections to Asia Bibi’s acquittal on ludicrous “blasphemy” charges.
And the planets continue to hold their positions today relative to each other and the earth—not counting the inconstant moon, of course. It’s not good, but it could be worse—and probably will be, what with the sun about to enter Aquarius and all. Enjoy it while you can.
On this day in history—well, I don’t have anything prepared. I see that Lucy Ricardo gave birth on I Love Lucy in 1953—not all that long after I was born, relatively speaking, although with a lot less fanfare than baby Ricky. In 1981 the United States and Iran reached an agreement over the release of the diplomatic personnel Iran had invited in and then treacherously seized and held hostage in violation of both international law and the rules of hospitality. And in 1920 the U. S. Senate voted against joining the League of Nations, and in 1915 German zeppelins bombed civilian targets in the United Kingdom, and so on and so forth, so there’s a lot going on. I’m just not that interested in any of it right now.

18 January 2020

18 January 2020


 18 January 12020 is Thesaurus Day (at last), and we can all spend our time substituting slightly less appropriate words for the more familiar but overused workhorses of our lexical library. The saint of the day is Cyril of Alexandria (died 444), best remembered for the part he is alleged to have played in the death of the philosopher Hypatia.
In the news we read of the untimely death of Christopher Tolkein (born 1924), who served as his father’s posthumous editor and the custodian of his legacy. And Virginia has ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution—likely an empty gesture, as the time-limit set for passage has expired. (Several states have also rescinded their approval, but I doubt the legality of the move, as there is no provision for it in the Constitution.) And it appears that Hank Azaria will no longer provide the voice of Apu on The Simpsons, and that Disney is dropping the Fox from Twentieth Century Fox.
Well, the crescent moon is in Scorpio today, which means we should all be abnormally aware of our genitalia, I guess. Otherwise things continue much as they are, though we should all be mindful of the sun’s impending entry into Aquarius, as it does this time of year. I intend to spend the time huddled under the blankets pretending that the sun’s in Leo and all is well.

17 January 2020

The Modoc Victory [guest post by Edward Fox, 8 February 1873]


[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox]
T
he battle of the lava beds has attracted so much general attention, both from the fact of the United States troops receiving such a severe check and from the varied descriptions of the scene of the contest, that I have prepared a pretty full report of that memorable engagement, feeling convinced that the details will be read with interest by the public in general.
After Captain Jack was driven from his camp on Lost River and took refuge in the lava beds, it was thought at first that he would come to terms and the war would be ended without further bloodshed.  The addition, however, of fourteen warriors to his forces, that were really driven to the lava beds by the threats of the Linkville citizens, heated by Linkville whiskey, resulted in Captain Jack wishing to make his own terms.
But Major General Frank Wheaton, who, as the commanding officer of the [District of the] lakes, had come down in person to attend to this affair, soon arrived at the conclusion that if fighting was to be done the sooner this lava bed was inspected the better.  Arrangements were then made for an attack, and as soon as the available troops had arrived in the neighborhood General Wheaton had several councils with Colonel Green, Colonel Mason and others as to the best means of getting at Jack in his lair.  The lava beds were inspected and all the old settlers interrogated as to the geography, with reference to the moving of troops in that direction.  There appeared to be a good many opinions as to the nature of the ground within the lava beds section, and, although all agreed in saying it was a very rough country, no one was competent to describe the extraordinary volcanic formations that were afterwards discovered by the troops when they made the assault.  After mature consideration of the various plans of attack that were suggested General Wheaton decided to make a movement in force, which, should it prove successful, would at least enable him to obtain a satisfactory reconnaissance of the ground upon which to base his plans for any future aggressive movement.  Everything being arranged, the following orders were issued to the officers in command:—
General Field Orders—No. 3.
1.  The troops will move from their present camp east and west of the lava beds on Thursday, 16th of January, and take positions for the attack on the Modoc camp at sunrise on the following morning.
2.  At four A.M. on Thursday next Major John Green will detach Captain D. Perry’s Troop, F, First cavalry, and order it to clear the bluff southwest of Tule of Indian pickets and scouts, and cover the movement of the main force to a camp some three miles west of the Modoc position.
3.  Major E. C. Mason’s battalion Twenty-first infantry, two companies—C, Captain G. H. Burton, and B, commanded by Second Lieutenant H. D. W. Moore—and a detachment of twenty men of F company, Twenty-first infantry, under First Sergeant John McNamara; General J. E. Ross, Oregon volunteer militia, two companies—A, Captain Hugh Kelly, and B, Captain O. E. Applegate—and Lieutenant W. H. Miller’s battery—a section of mountain howitzers—will march from Van Brimmer’s Ranch to camp on bluff west of Tule Lake, in time to reach the designated camp not later than three P.M. on the 16th inst.  The camp will be so located and arranged as to be secure from observation by the Modocs, and every precaution taken to prevent the Indians from discovering our numbers and precise location.
4.  District Headquarters will accompany the troops.
5.  Early on the 17th of January the troops above named will move into the lava beds to attack the Modoc camp, and in the following order:—Major E. C. Mason’s battalion, Twenty-first infantry, leading, followed by General J. E. Ross’ Oregon volunteer militia and the section of mountain howitzers packed.  Captain D. Perry, Troop F, First cavalry, will follow the howitzer battery.
6.  When the troops have reached a position near the Modoc camp the main force will be deployed on the right of the infantry battalion, in close skirmish order, and a left half-wheel of the whole line will be executed in order to enclose the southern side of the Modoc position and connect the right of the main force with the left of Captain Bernard’s troop, who are simultaneously to attack on the east.
7.  Also the troops operating against the Modocs are to move from this camp, with three days’ cooked rations in haversacks, two blankets, one hundred rounds of ammunition on the person, and fifty rounds in close reserve.  Canteens will be filled at Little Klamath Lake by the troops moving from Van Brimmer’s Ranch, and care taken to water every horse and pack mule at that point, as there is no water on the bluff where the main force will encamp on the night of the 16th inst.
8.  Major John Green, First cavalry, is charged with the execution of these movements and the details of the attack.
9.  Lieutenant W. H. Miller, First cavalry, commanding the howitzer battery, will report to Major Green for orders and instructions as to when and where to prepare his guns for action in the proposed attack.
10.  The troops on the east side of the lava beds at Land’s ranch, Troops “G,” Captain R. F. Bernard, and “B,” Captain James Jackson, First cavalry, and the Klamath Indian scouts under Dave Hill, will move from camp on the 16th inst. to a point not more than two miles from the Modoc position.  At sunrise on the 17th this force will attack the Modoc camp, with their right resting on or near Tule Lake, and when sufficiently near to render the movement advisable a right half wheel will be executed, in order to connect the left of this force with the troops attacking from the west.  In his advance Captain Bernard will take steps to capture any canoes the Modocs may have near their camp, or at least use every effort to prevent Indians escaping by water.  Captain R. F. Bernard, First cavalry, will execute these movements under such detailed instructions as he may receive from Major John Green, First cavalry.
11.  After the first three shots have been fired by the howitzer battery as the signal for the troops attacking on the east side of the Modoc camp firing will cease for fifteen minutes, and an Indian scout directed to notify the nearest Modocs that ten minutes’ time will be allowed them to permit their women and children to come into our lines.  Any propositions by the Modocs to surrender will be referred at once to the District Commander, who will be present.
12.  Lieutenant W. H. Boyle, Twenty-first infantry, Acting Field Quartermaster and Commissary of Subsistence, and a guard of ten men, will remain at this camp in charge of the temporary field depot until further orders.
13.  Lieutenant John Adams, First cavalry, Acting Assistant Adjutant General, District of the Lakes, and commanding detachment, H troop, First cavalry, will furnish from his command such details as may be required for the howitzer battery, and accompany the District Commander.  Lieutenant Adams will be prepared to communicate by signals with the Signal Sergeant, who has been detailed for duty with the troops operating on the east side of the Modoc position.
14.  Assistant Surgeon Henry McElderry, United States Army, will give the necessary directions and instructions to the medical officers with the different commands and detachments in the field.
By order of
Brevet Major General Frank Wheaton, U.S.A.,
Lieutenant Colonel Twenty-first infantry,
Commanding District of the Lakes.
John Q. Adams, First Lieutenant First cavalry,
Acting Assistant Adjutant General.

In pursuance of the above and according to instructions, the troops moved from their quarters on the 16th inst. and camped in the respective locations to which they were assigned.  Colonel Bernard, with two troops of the First cavalry, had a little skirmish on the evening of the 16th, as in the fog, which is very prevalent in that section of the country, he advanced rather nearer to Jack’s stronghold than he intended, and when he found out his mistake and made a move to retire, the Indians opened fire from a position they had taken in the rocks.  They were finally driven from their shelter and forced to retreat to their stronghold, but not before they had wounded three of the cavalry.
On the following morning the troops had all arrived at their assigned positions, and at daybreak Lieutenant Adams, Acting Assistant Adjutant General, reported to General Wheaton, the District Commander, the following force in the field:—
Corps.
Commanding Officer                                          Muster
First cavalry
Captain Perry, F troop
 46
First cavalry
Captain Jackson, B troop
 42
First cavalry
Captain Bernard, G troop
 47
First cavalry
Lieut. Adams, H troop
 16
Twenty-first infantry
Lieut. Ross, B company
 33
Twenty-first infantry
Capt. Burton, C company
 57
Oregon field officers

  7
Oregon volunteers
Captain O. Applegate, A company
 56
Oregon volunteers
Captain Kelly, B company
 46
California volunteers
Captain Fairchild
 25
Indian scouts
Dave Hill
 20



            Total

400

There was also a section of mountain howitzers under the charge of Lieutenant Miller, of the First cavalry.
                                                                     Table 2.1
The troops on the west side moved down the precipitous bluff from their camping ground in the direction of the lava beds, Colonel Mason’s battalion of the Twenty-first infantry leading, followed by Captain Fairchild’s California riflemen, General Ross’ two companies of Oregon volunteers, the howitzer section, packed on mules, under the command of Lieutenant W. H. Miller, of the First cavalry, and Brevet Colonel D. Perry’s troop of the First cavalry bringing up the rear.  The morning was damp and cold, and the lava beds were nearly obscured from sight by a dense fog, which, however, only hung over that section and did not rise to the bluff which the troops had just left.  The troops on the east side, commanded by Brevet Colonel R. B. Bernard, of the First cavalry, comprising his Troop G, and Brevet Major James Jackson’s Troop B, First cavalry, with twenty Klamath Indian scouts, commanded by Dave Hill, simultaneously advanced from the position they had taken the previous evening, two miles from Captain Jack’s stronghold.  On account of the deep chasm and gorge in his front Colonel Bernard was unable to advance further than the position he had reached by severe skirmishing on the evening of the 16th.
The advance, attack and management of the troops were conducted by Major John Green, First cavalry, Brevet Colonel United States Army, and the district commander, Brevet Major General Frank Wheaton, Lieutenant Colonel of Twenty-first infantry, accompanied the troops, operating on the west side.  This force had moved forward from the base of the bluffs, with Captain Burton’s company of the Twenty-first infantry ahead in skirmishing order.  Upon the arrival of the troops at the lake a rush was made for water, as the men were naturally thirsty, having passed the night at a dry camp.  The advance was then resumed across this rugged country, and it was with the greatest difficulty the men were kept in line, as the unnatural irregularities of the volcanic rock formed nearly insurmountable obstacles to their progress.  The line was now being deployed to the right, with Colonel Perry on the extreme right, stretching into the heart of this fastness about a mile and a half, while Captain Burton moved with his company on the extreme left, supported by Lieutenant Moore and his command on his right.  The Oregon and California volunteers spread out the line between the extreme points and kept a steady advance, although the nature of the ground kept an irregularity in the face of the line.
The plan of the attack was to keep deploying in a half wheel to the right until Colonel Perry should connect with Colonel Bernard, who was adopting similar tactics, but moving from the left.  The fog still hung low and shrouded the mysteries of this craggy fastness from these daring explorers, though the frequent crack of a rifle, followed by an unearthly war whoop, denoted some fresh victim to the unerring marksmanship of these dusky warriors.  It was impossible for men to do more than both the soldiers and the volunteers did on this occasion, and although every now and then there would be a vacancy in the muster roll, and some gallant soul would fall by the bullet of an unseen foe, another brave heart would fill up the gap and press on with the steadiness of a disciplined soldier.  In vain the troops looked high and low for some Indian sign, and although the fog would rise every now and then, not an Indian showed as much as the top of his head feathers.
About noon Captain Perry, on the extreme right, arrived at an impassable chasm, at least it was impassable without a fearful sacrifice of life.  Captain Perry sent back to the district commander that it would be impossible for him to connect with Colonel Bernard by the right except by an immense loss of life, and added that if necessary he would carry the chasm, but he did not expect to take ten men across.  General Wheaton then came to the conclusion that if the proposed connection could not be made they might as well retire and wait for a few days, and consequently issued orders to that effect, but gave Major Green a discretionary power to push forward and connect by the left if he deemed it feasible.  Major Green then ordered a flank movement by the left, and, skirting along the lake under the shadow of some craggy strata of volcanic rock, in the possession of the enemy, they finally made the desired connection, but not before the galling fire to which they had been subjected had thinned their ranks considerably.
It would fill columns to detail the incidents of this fight, which proved such a trial to the officers, soldiers and volunteers that formed the attacking party.  General Wheaton told me the other day that he had been through all the principal battles during the rebellion and he had never seen officers and men appear so utterly indifferent to danger or so cool and steady under such a harrassing fire.  The Indians did not waste much powder and shot, as they were excellent marksmen, and, having the advantage of a rest for the rifle and perfect safety from a return fire, were unerring in their aim.
Often a man would fall badly wounded, and, looking eagerly around for his enemy, would only see the smoke of a rifle curling up from a small hole on some inaccessible crag overhanging his position.  On one occasion a man was shot dead at a certain spot, and another man was sent with a stretcher to carry away his body.  The second met the fate of the first, and a third, who went on the same errand, fell badly wounded.  These three men all fell without knowing the position of the Indians who had shot them.
Every little narrow passage between the rocks that was likely to be of importance was guarded by two or three rifles peeping out from loopholes that the Indians had formed for that purpose.  On the move along the lake to the left the men had to move with the greatest caution, as the Indians had lined the overhanging bluffs with their men, and to show yourself in full view was nearly certain death.  They crawled on their hands and feet, making a dart every now and then from one rock to another, but still pushing forward in the direction of Colonel Bernard.  Captain Perry, who was with his troops on the left, while stretched behind a rock accidentally turned on his side and exposed a portion of his shoulder and arm, receiving a severe flesh wound, which compelled him to retire.  Colonel Green and Colonel Mason were perpetually in the hottest of the fire, and appear to have charmed lives, as although their uniforms were, in many instances, cut by a passing ball, neither received a scratch during the fight.  There was not an officer that went into the lava beds that did not come out with some portion of his clothing marked or torn by a bullet.  When the troops on the west side finally connected with Colonel Bernard they found him stopped from further advance by an immense chasm that appeared impassable, and which was strongly defended by Indians.
Shortly before dark the fog lifted slightly and showed the Oregon volunteers, a portion of Captain Perry’s troop and the infantry reserve still on the west side, and, at a signal from the District Commander, Major Green fell back to Land’s Ranch to camp for the night with Bernard’s command and the infantry battalion.  The Oregon and California volunteers retired by the west side and fell back in Van Bremer’s Ranch.  I cannot conclude without saying something of the difficulties experienced in the retreat to Land’s ranch, and of the bravery and heroism exhibited by the officers and men on that occasion.  They had been up since four A.M. and fighting since half-past six A.M. up to dark.  The retreat commenced at half-past ten P.M. and continued all night and up to one A.M. next day.  Thirty-three hours without rest or food are enough to try the patience and endurance of most men, but these gallant fellows never uttered a word, and were always ready to relieve one another at the end of a blanket, carrying the sick and wounded.  Surgeon McElderry worked unceasingly, and through the day was exposed on several occasions to a dangerous fire, but never flinched from his duty, and rushed from place to place to the assistance of the wounded.
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