Monthly Archives: November 2012

OT… a little: Long buried Spitfires may fly someday

From the Telegraph (UK):

Squadron of ‘lost’ spitfires could be flying again in three years
A lost squadron of Spitfires buried in Burma after the Second World War could be flying again within three years, experts said today.

Archaeologists will begin digging for the historic hoard of at least 36 British fighter planes in January.

A proportion of the aircraft will then be carefully packaged and brought back to the UK next spring, where they will be restored.

David Cundall, a farmer and aviation enthusiast from Scunthorpe, Lincs, has spent 16 years researching the project after being told about the burial by a group of US veterans.
It was his tenacity and perseverance and his “obsession to find and restore an incredible piece of British history” that will finally see a team begin digging in the New Year.

The extraordinary treasure hunt was described as a “story of British determination against all odds”.

Surveys undertaken at one of three sites in Burma have shown that large areas of electrically conductive material are present underground at a depth of around 10 metres.

The location and depth is consistent with eight eye witness reports given to Mr Cundall that the rare Mark XIV Spitfires were buried there in August 1945.

“We put a camera down a boorhole and went into a box and through two inches of Canadian pine,” Mr Cundall disclosed.

“Yes, we did see what we thought was an aeroplane.”

Mr Cundall was first told about the fighters in 1996 and spent two years researching the claims. He found eight people who “told the same story” about the crates being buried and at what depth, all pointing to the same spot.

He has since been to Burma 16 times conducting surveys and negotiating with the authorities.

When sanctions forbidding the movement of military materials in and out of the country were lifted earlier this year, he knew his dream could be realised.

“Hopefully, they will be brought back to the UK and will be flying at air shows,” he said.

(Full story here)

This would be cool to the power of 10.

Not uncommon in any war for equipment to be buried or otherwise discarded in caches like this.  Who knows what Civil War equipment was just packed away in the corners of garrisons and forts.  There was some question about just such artifacts in regard to Fort Monroe.   And there was some question recently about buried cannons at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia.   But, in my opinion, we should turn to the archeologists to explore these possibilities.  Often the “treasure” isn’t just the physical artifact but the story it can tell.

150 years ago: Making West Tennessee safe for Union men

Far from the front lines, the Civil War was still very active in northwestern Tennessee 150 years ago:

UNION CITY, November 28, 1862.
 Brigadier-General SULLIVAN:

I have reliable information that three of the most prominent Union citizens of this county were last night captured at or near Troy, in this county, a town noted for the treason of its inhabitants. They were captured by guerrillas, who infest the Obion Bottom, near that town, and are daily carrying off Union citizens and robbing them of their property, especially their horses.

Troy is a hot-bed of traitors; not a Union man living in the town. The 3 men captured have been our main stand-by for five months past, one of whom is Colonel Bradford. I propose, if it meets with your approval, to give the authorities of the town notice that if the 3 men captured are not returned in five days that I will burn up the town. General, as unwell as I am, if you will give me the command at Trenton, which is a central point, I will have this country from the Memphis and Ohio Railroad to the Hatchie cleared of the last guerrilla in it before the return of my papers, as I know every district of the country. This will be a pleasure to me, as I have done so once before.

 THOS. W. HARRIS,
 Colonel Fifty-fourth Illinois.

Unionism was strong across Tennessee, not just in the eastern Appalachia.  While perhaps not as well-known, and perhaps motivated by different social and political concerns, the unionists in the west part of the state indeed made their presence felt.  Testament to this are the “duplicate” regimental numbers among those units recruited for the Federal army from the state.

Colonel Harris’ report serves as a reminder that destruction of private property was not just some despised action taken by the dreaded “Yankee devils”.  The southern citizenry had to fear equally of both sides.  Hard war or not.

The other part of Harris’ response I find interesting is how it resonates within the modern context of counter-insurgency operations.  I’ve seen dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan which carry similar warnings and recommended solutions.

Georgia’s 150th not drawing the tourists

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Civil War anniversary tourists aren’t invading Georgia

ATLANTA — State officials had hoped the 150th anniversary of the Civil War would find visitors marching to Georgia.

So far, however, any tourist boom has been about as silent as the spiked cannon on the Ken­nesaw Mountain Battlefield.

Georgia, the site of more Civil War battles than any state except Virginia, had an opportunity to capitalize on its assets, officials said, but for various reasons the opportunity isn’t being fully exploited.

“The state, I think, had larger plans at one point before the cuts came,” said Rebecca Rogers of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, referring to a lingering budget shortfall.

Augusta offers canal tours to the site of the Confederate Powder Works, where only the chimney remains. A plaza with interpretive signs is planned around the chimney, and the community has occasional lectures there.

“Augusta isn’t one that springs immediately to mind for the average person,” Rogers said.

Other state sites are better known. Georgia is the birthplace and resting place of generals and other Confederate leaders, including its vice president, Alexander Stephens. Its president, Jefferson Davis, was captured here. Even fictional works – most famously Gone With the Wind – celebrate Georgia’s role.

The state has made modest efforts to raise awareness. For example, the Georgia Department of Economic Development highlighted the Great Locomotive Chase of April 12, 1862, in which Union soldiers in civilian clothes made off with a Confederate train engine, leading to a dramatic railroad chase.

Promotions yielded some results. Quick-response codes in ads and posters led 133 smartphone users to scan for more information, including a special advertising section in Trains magazine.

A video was played 537 times and an audio file 158 times, helping to swell the crowd at events commemorating the raid.

But aside from specialized publications, Georgia hasn’t really launched a major campaign focused on the Civil War.

It doesn’t do any television advertising, other than sponsoring Georgia Traveler on Georgia Public Broadcasting. The print, online and billboard advertising it does focuses on working mothers seeking vacations that offer family activities such as fishing, stargazing, hiking and kayaking, which are not unique to Georgia.

However, the department does feature Civil War commemorations in a newsletter e-mailed to about 2,000 subscribers, and it is scripting driving tours. Plans also call for an online video, welcome-center brochures, and familiarization trips for tour operators and travel writers next year, all related to the war, but no mass marketing, according to Stefanie Paupeck, a specialist on the department’s marketing and communications staff.

“We’ve been very limited with the budget we have,” she said. “We’re trying to do things that would benefit all travelers, not just the history buffs.”

Attracting travelers is important. Tourism is a potent economic engine because it doesn’t require the lead time of factory construction, doesn’t have spewing smokestacks and is more labor-intensive than manufacturing. As a source of foreign revenue, it is growing this year at double the rate of average U.S. exports.

“America’s economic recovery is being driven largely by the travel industry,” said Roger Dow, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Each international visitor we welcome to the U.S. helps to support local communities and small businesses across our country. This is a tremendous opportunity.”

(Original article)

I would offer a few more reasons for the lack of sesquicentennial tourism in Georgia.  Aside from Fort Pulaski, the big cannon blasts in Georgia took place from September 1863 through December 1864. And once those dates roll up, there are far too many “lost sites” around Atlanta and across Georgia – making “anchoring” observances cumbersome.  Add to that a negative connotation left from the long running “flag” debate in the state.

At the same time, there is some inflated expectation that sesquicentenial events directly translate to money falling from the sky.  Not saying that is the case here.  Just that I’ve seen a lot of seemingly contradictory reports – well attended events, but not a lot of dollars thrown about.  Maybe we sesqui-types are just penny-pinchers.