Daily Update: Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

02-16 - Battle of Fort Donelson

Today is another Saintless day. On this date in 1862 the American Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson ended with a victory for the Union forces under Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant.

Fort Donelson, built in 1862 and held by the Confederates, was on the Cumberland River in Tennessee; the battle followed the capture of Fort Henry on February 6th. Grant moved his army twelve miles overland to Fort Donelson on February 12th through February 13th and conducted several small probing attacks. On February 14th U.S. Navy gunboats under Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote attempted to reduce the fort with naval gunfire but were forced to withdraw after sustaining heavy damage from Donelson’s water batteries. On February 15th, with their fort surrounded, the Confederates, commanded by Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, launched a surprise attack against Grant’s army, attempting to open an avenue of escape. Grant, who was away from the battlefield at the start of the attack, arrived to rally his men and counterattack. Despite achieving a partial success, Floyd lost his nerve and recalled his men to their entrenchments. On the morning of February 16th, Floyd and his second-in-command, Brig. Gen. Gideon J. Pillow (who feared Northern reprisal), both turned over their command to Brig. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner (later Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky), and separately escaped from the fort. Disgusted at the show of cowardice, a furious Nathan Bedford Forrest announced, “I did not come here to surrender my command.” He led about seven hundred of his cavalrymen on their escape from the fort. Forrest’s horsemen rode toward Nashville through the shallow, icy waters of Lick Creek, encountering no enemy and confirming that many more could have escaped by the same route, if Buckner had not posted guards to prevent any such attempts. Meanwhile, Buckner sent word to Grant (whom he had known since 1854) asking for surrender terms. To Buckner’s dismay, Grant showed no mercy towards men he considered to be rebelling against the federal government. Grant’s brusque reply became one of the most famous quotes of the war:

Sir: Yours of this date proposing Armistice, and appointment of Commissioners,
to settle terms of Capitulation is just received.
No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.
I propose to move immediately upon your works.
I am Sir: very respectfully
Your obt. sevt.
U.S. Grant
Brig. Gen.

Buckner then agreed to the unconditional surrender terms from Grant. The capture of Forts Henry and Donelson were the first significant Union victories in the war and opened two great rivers as avenues of invasion to the heartland of the South. The success elevated Grant from an obscure and largely unproven leader to the rank of major general, earning him the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” Grant in the process.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. After we clocked in we signed the Early Out list, but with no real expectation of getting out early (and we did not get out early). Richard was first on Let It Ride, closed that table, helped change Blackjack cards, then was on Pai Gow for the rest of the day, while I was on a Blackjack table. On my breaks I did my Book Review for The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell for this weblog (via WordPress for Android) and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts. I then did my Daily Update for yesterday, Monday, February 15th, 2016, via WordPress for Android, which took me through my last break of the shift.

On our way home we got gas for the truck; while waiting on Richard to do that, I checked our bank’s website and found that our checks had hit. (Apparently we, who have a regional bank for our banking, will have our paychecks from the casino not posted until the Tuesday, for any payday that happens on a Holiday Monday. That means we will not be paid until Tuesday because of the July 4th holiday and October 10th (Columbus Day Observance) later this year.) I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad, then brought in the flag I had put out yesterday and took a nap. While I was sleeping Richard paid bills, and Michelle came over. She is going to Connecticut to see Matthew and Callie and the baby next month; also, Matthew’s friend Derek is putting his life back together, and we might be boarding his cat Bobby Brown for a month or two.

When I woke up from my nap, I plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro app, then watched the rest of Jeopardy!. I then left the house and went down to Barnes & Noble in Lafayette, where I continued reading Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf. I then attended the Third Tuesday Book Club meeting to discuss The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I stopped at the drive thru of McDonald’s in Rayne for my supper, and got home a little after 9:00 pm, at which time I got busy on this weblog. When I finish with the computer I will do some reading before I go to sleep.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, Religious (last founder died 1310). It is also the first of three Ember Days for this season of the year. I will do the Weekly Computer Maintenance and my laundry, and in the afternoon I will go get a haircut. Tomorrow evening our LSU Men’s Basketball team will be playing a home game with Alabama.

Our Parting Quote this Tuesday evening comes to us from Grigory Pomerants, Russian philosopher and cultural theorist. Born in 1918 into a Jewish family in Vilnius, Lithuania, his family moved to Moscow in 1925. Pomerants graduated in Russian language and literature from the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and Art (IFLI). His thesis on Fyodor Dostoyevsky was condemned as “anti-Marxist” and as a result he was barred from admission to post-graduate studies in 1939. He went on to lecture at the Tula Pedagogical Institute in 1940. During the Second World War Pomerants volunteered to the front, where he fought as a Red Army infantryman. He was wounded in the leg, as a result of which he was assigned as a writer to the editorial office of the divisional newspaper. He was awarded the Order of the Red Star. In 1946 he was expelled from the Communist Party for “anti-Party statements”. Three years later he was arrested and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for anti-Soviet agitation. After Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953 he was released due to a general amnesty. He did not rejoin the Party, which prohibited him from teaching at tertiary level. From 1953 to 1956, Pomerants worked as a village school teacher in the Donets Basin and later, on his return to Moscow, as a bibliographer in the Library of Public Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Under the impression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the persecution of Boris Pasternak, Pomerants became active as a dissident. In 1959–1960, he led semi-secret seminars on philosophical, historical, political and economic issues. During this time he established contact with dissidents such as Vladimir Osipov and the editors and contributors of the dissident magazine Sintaksis, who were Alexander Ginzburg, Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Yuri Galanskov. He also became close to the painters of the underground Lianozovo group. On December 3rd, 1965, Pomeranz gave a lecture at the Institute of Philosophy in Moscow publicly denouncing Stalinism. It caused a sensation and became one of the early pieces of samizdat literature. In 1968 he co-signed a petition in support of the participants of the 1968 Red Square demonstration against the introduction of Soviet troops into Czechoslovakia. He also put his signature to Larisa Bogoraz and Pavel Litvinov’s “Appeal to the World Public Opinion” in protest of Trial of the Four. As a result he was deprived of any opportunity to defend his thesis on Zen Buddhism at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies. In addition to official articles, which focused on the spiritual traditions of India and China, Pomerants began to write essays on historical and social topics. While his works were soon stopped from being printed in the Soviet Union, they were widely published in samizdat. They were also reprinted in the western émigré magazines Kontinent, Sintaksis and Strana i Mir, and a collection of essays under the title Neopublikovannoe (Unpublished Works) was published in 1972 in Frankfurt. For many years, Pomerants was involved in polemics with Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Pomerants strongly criticized what he saw as Solzhenitsyn’s dogmatic Christian nationalism and positioned himself closer to the liberal, internationalist wing of the intelligentsia. He countered Solzhenitsyn’s notion of “evil” as an unavoidably global, well-established phenomenon, associated with Communism, by citing Eastern traditions which reject the notion of an inherently permanent, ontological evil. Pomerants’ political and social articles as well as his public conduct attracted the attention of the KGB. On November 14th, 1984, Pomerants was officially warned in connection with his publications abroad. On May 26th, 1985, KGB agents searched his flat and confiscated his literary archive. His major works include Открытость бездне (Openness to the Abyss, 1990),Выход из транса (Exit from Trance, 1995), Великие религии мира (The Major World Religions, written with his wife, Russian poet Zinaida Mirkina, 1995), Записки гадкого утенка (Notes of an Ugly Duckling, 1995), and The Spiritual Movement from the West: An Essay and Two Talks (2004). In 2009 the Bjørnson Prize of the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression was awarded to Pomerants and Mirkina “for their extensive contribution to strengthening the freedom of expression in Russia” (died 2013): “Over the course of centuries, scientific progress has challenged the religions’ understanding of the world. Nowadays, the growth of general knowledge means that almost everyone doubts the truth and validity of those messages. But the messages remain valid as metaphoric descriptions of the world as a transcendent oneness. Despite the fact that they are not literally true, they hold as metaphors.”

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