Daily Update: Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

01-11 - Battle of Ford Hindman, Arkansas Post

We note, with no Saints to honor until tomorrow, that on this date in in 1863 ended the Battle of Fort Hindman, near the mouth of the Arkansas River at Arkansas Post, Arkansas, which was part of the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War.

Fort Hindman was manned by approximately 5,000 Confederate troops, primarily Texas cavalry dismounted and redeployed as infantry, and Arkansas infantry, in three brigades under Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill, to protect the Arkansas River and prevent Union Army passage to Little Rock. By the winter of 1862–1863, disease and their life at the end of a tenuous supply chain had left the garrison at Fort Hindman in a poor state. Union Major General John A. McClernand was an ambitious politician and had permission from President Abraham Lincoln to launch a corps-sized offensive against Vicksburg from Memphis, Tennessee, hoping for military glory (and subsequent political gain). This plan was at odds with those of the Army of the Tennessee commander, Major General Ulysses S. Grant. McClernand ordered Grant’s subordinate, Major General William T. Sherman, to join the troops of his corps with McClernand’s, calling the two corps the Army of the Mississippi, approximately 33,000 men. McClernand on January 4th, 1863 then launched a combined army-navy movement on Arkansas Post (with the cooperation of Naval Flag Officer David D. Porter), rather than on Vicksburg as he had told President Lincoln he would do; he also did not bother to inform Grant or the general in chief, Major General Henry W. Halleck, of his change of announced plans. Union boats began landing troops near Arkansas Post in the evening of January 9th and the troops started up river towards Fort Hindman. Sherman’s corps overran the Confederate trenches and the enemy retreated to the protection of the fort and adjacent rifle-pits. Porter, on January 10th, moved his fleet towards Fort Hindman and bombarded it, withdrawing at dusk. Union artillery fired on the fort from positions across the river on January 11th, effectively silencing most of the Confederate guns in the fort, and the infantry moved into position for an attack. Union ironclads commenced shelling the fort and Porter’s fleet passed it to cut off any retreat. As a result of this envelopment and the attack by McClernand’s troops, the Confederate command surrendered in the afternoon, despite Confederate orders to Churchill to defend the fort at all costs. The defeat at Arkansas Post cost the Confederacy fully one-fourth of its deployed force in Arkansas and was the largest surrender of Rebel troops west of the Mississippi River prior to the final capitulation of the Confederates in 1865. Grant was furious at McClernand’s diversion from his overall campaign strategy, ordered him back to the Mississippi, disbanded the Army of the Mississippi, and assumed personal command of the Vicksburg Campaign. Today Arkansas Post is a sleepy little National Park, far away from just about everything.

Julie and I woke up in our room at the Bourbon Orleans in New Orleans at 9:00 am. At 10:00 am we headed down to Café du Monde, where we each had an order of beignets and of café au lait, and where I read the New Orleans Advocate. When we returned to our room, we got the car and drove up Canal Street. At Cypress Grove Cemetery we visited Katie McIlheny Smith’s grave, and then at Metairie Cemetery we found something we had never seen before, the section for beloved pets. We then drove through the cemetery, finding most of our favorites (alas, we could not find the Aldige monument, with the angels above the ship).

When we got back to the hotel, we walked to Central Grocery and split a half muffaletta and a large bag of chips for lunch. (Central Grocery has the best muffulettas in town, and we were there at 2:00 pm, so there was not a line.) Walking back, I purchased a great looking New Orleans T-shirt with a cat on the front, and we stopped at Vieux Carre Wine and Spirits to get a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white wine (the red for Julie, the white for me). When we got back to the motel we both took naps; alas, my nap lasted for the duration, so I did not do my Daily Update. Our LSU Tigers lost their College Basketball game with Texas A&M by the score of 62 to 92; our LSU Tigers (9-6, 1-3) will next play a Home College Basketball game with the Alabama Crimson Wave (9-6, 2-1) on Saturday, January 14th.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, Religious (died 1700). It is also the birthday of our Casino coworker Christine (1960). The Full Moon will arrive at 5:35 am. At some point I will do my Daily Update for Wednesday, January 11th, 2016, and once we check out of our motel I will take Julie back to Slidell, kick her out of the car, and head home. Our New Orleans Pelicans (15-24, 1-6) will play an Away NBA game with the Brooklyn Nets (8-28, 0-6), and our LSU Lady Tigers (13-3, 2-1) will play a Home College Basketball game with the Missouri Lady Tigers (11-6, 1-2); I will record the scores of both games in Friday’s Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote this Wednesday evening comes to us from Anita Ekberg, Swedish-born actress. Born as Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg in 1931 in Malmö, Sweden, as a teenager she worked as a fashion model. Ekberg entered the Miss Malmö competition in 1950 at her mother’s urging, leading to the Miss Sweden contest which she won. She consequently went to the United States to compete for the Miss Universe 1951 title (an unofficial pageant at that time, the pageant became official in 1952) despite speaking little English. Although Ekberg did not win the Miss Universe pageant, as one of six finalists she did earn a starlet’s contract with Universal Studios, as was the practice at the time, and never returned to live in Sweden. As a starlet at Universal, she received lessons in drama, elocution, dancing, horse riding and fencing. She appeared briefly in the 1953 Universal films Abbott and Costello Go to Mars and The Golden Blade. Ekberg skipped many of her lessons, restricting herself to riding horses in the Hollywood Hills. Ekberg later admitted she was spoiled by the studio system and enjoyed herself instead of pursuing bigger film roles. The combination of Ekberg’s voluptuous physique and colorful private life (such as her well-publicized romances with Hollywood’s leading men, such as Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, Yul Brynner, Rod Taylor and Errol Flynn) appealed to the gossip magazines, and she soon became a major 1950s pin-up, appearing in Playboy. Additionally, she participated in publicity stunts; she once admitted that an incident in which her dress burst open in the lobby of London’s Berkeley Hotel was prearranged with a photographer. She guest-starred in the short-lived TV series Casablanca (1955) and Private Secretary. She had a small part in the film Blood Alley (1955) starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall. She appeared alongside the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy act in Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956), both for Paramount Pictures. For a time, she was even publicized as “Paramount’s Marilyn Monroe.” Paramount cast her in War and Peace (1956) which was shot in Rome, alongside Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn. Meanwhile, RKO Pictures gave the actress her first leading role in an early disaster film Back from Eternity (1956). She married actor Anthony Steel in 1956. Ekberg starred in the British drama Interpol with Victor Mature and in Valerie (both 1957) with Sterling Hayden. She then co-starred with Bob Hope in Paris Holiday, and with Philip Carey and Gypsy Rose Lee in Screaming Mimi (both 1958). She was then in a European film, Sheba and the Gladiator (which had no gladiators in it) (1959), and divorced from her husband. Director Federico Fellini gave Ekberg her best known role in La Dolce Vita (1960), performing as Sylvia Rank, the unattainable “dream woman” of the character played by Marcello Mastroianni. The film features a scene of her cavorting in Rome’s Trevi Fountain alongside Mastroianni, which has been called “one of cinema’s most iconic scenes”. She then accepted a role in The Dam on the Yellow River in 1960. She then appeared in Boccaccio ’70 (1962), a film that also featured Sophia Loren and Romy Schneider. Soon thereafter, Ekberg was being considered to play the first Bond girl, Honey Ryder in Dr. No, but the role went to the then-unknown Ursula Andress. She married actor Rik Van Nutter in 1963. Ekberg co-starred with Andress, Sinatra and Martin in the western-comedy 4 for Texas (1963). Fellini would call her back for two more films: The Clowns (1972) and Intervista (1987), in the latter of which she appeared as herself, in a reunion scene with Mastroianni. In 1975 she divorced her second husband, and never remarried. Her last work was in 1996’s Bambola, a French-Spanish-Italian erotic melodrama film written and directed by Bigas Luna. She welcomed Swedish journalists into her house outside Rome and in 2005 appeared on the popular radio program Sommar, and talked about her life. She stated in an interview that she would not move back to Sweden before her death since she would be buried there. In July 2009 she was admitted to the San Giovanni Hospital in Rome after falling ill in her home in Genzano according to a medical official in the hospital’s neurosurgery department. Despite her condition not being serious, Ekberg was put under observation in the facility. In December of 2011 it was reported that the 80-year-old Ekberg was “destitute” following three months in a Rimini hospital with a broken hip, during which her home was robbed of jewelry and furniture, and her villa was badly damaged in a fire. Ekberg applied for help from the Fellini Foundation, which also found itself in difficult financial straits. Her funeral service was held at the Lutheran-Evangelical Christuskirche in Rome, after which her body was cremated and her remains were buried at the cemetery of Skanör Church in Sweden (died 2015): “If you want la dolce vita, it is how you look at life. When I go back to Rome, my roses will be in bloom again.”

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