Jean Baptiste Charbonneau – Our Decisions Affect Our Children…

Today in History, December 23, 1829:

Prince Paul Wilhelm of Wurttemberg leaves St. Louis and heads up the Missouri River. This was actually the second exploration of the American wilderness by the scientifically inclined German prince.

But a side note is what I find fascinating… Several years earlier, in 1822, the Prince had undertaken his first expedition into the west. To do so he needed the permission of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis, William Clark of “Lewis and Clark” fame, who had originally explored┬áthe West.

Clark had a foster son, the son of an Indian girl who had greatly assisted the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Sacagawea. Her son, Clark’s foster son, was Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.

Clark was so impressed with the Prince that when the Prince completed his first expedition in 1822, he allowed Jean (age 16) to accompany the Prince to Europe.

The young Jean was the Prince’s constant companion as they toured Europe and North Africa. Jean learned French, German and Spanish and became quite cosmopolitan. The trip back to the wild of America in 1829 was taken in order to bring Jean back to his home with Clark.

An interesting story, and what I take from it is the impact of decisions we make on our fate and the fate of those around us. Sacagawea could have led out her life quietly; but she made a decision that led her son on an odyssey she likely could never have imagined.

NUTS!!

Today in History, December 22, 1944:

The 101st Airborne Division was surrounded by the Nazis at Bastogne, Belgium, after the Germans had broken through Allied lines in their last major assault of WWII. The “Battle of the Bulge” had caught the Allied command (well..not all, but thats another story) by surprise. The weather had Allied air support grounded and the German mechanized units (tanks) helped them quickly overrun the Americans. Freezing temperatures contributed to their woes.

Low on supplies and ammo, no air support due to the weather, three days before Christmas, their commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe received a demand from the German commander to surrender.

It took the Germans a bit to comprehend the one word, typically American vernacular,

“NUTS!”

The 101st would not surrender and fought on in desperate conditions until finally relieved by General Patton’s Army Corps and Allied Air Support when the weather broke.

A Christmas Gift

Today in History, December 22: 1864 – “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”. General William Tecumseh Sherman wired this message to President Lincoln after his army siezed one of the few remaining port cities in the South.

The message was not merely well received. It ended a six week cliff hanger for the President and the people of the North. That was when Gen. Sherman had taken the daring move of leaving the conquered city of Atlanta, thus cutting his army off from it’s supply lines. The large army would be solely dependent upon the supplies it could obtain from the land. Everything that was not needed to feed or provision the Union Army in a huge swath between the two cities was destroyed to prevent it’s use by the South.

Sherman had several objectives: Take Savannah to prevent supplies reaching the Confederacy from overseas, join up with the Navy, and bring the horrors of war to the Southern populace in an effort to demoralize them and shorten the war.