Tag Archives: civil war

Ken Berry Dead: ‘F Troop,’ ‘Mama’s Family’ Star Was 85 [Hollywood Reporter]

RIP Ken Berry, who played Captain Parmenter on “F Troop” and also starred on “Mama’s Family.” He was 85.

He was an “agile song-and-dance man who was encouraged in show business by his U.S. Army sergeant … Leonard Nimoy.” He also starred on “Mayberry RFD,” a short-lived spin-off of “The Andy Griffith Show” that I remember quite enjoying, although I remember nothing about it.

Berry came to fame for portraying the greenhorn Captain Parmenter on ABC’s F Troop, which aired for only two seasons (65 episodes from September 1965 through April 1967) but lived on in syndication for decades.

A private, Parmenter was promoted to take command of Fort Courage in Kansas after his sneeze (which sounded like “Charge!”) propelled Union troops to an inspirational victory over the Confederates.

Berry’s goofball antics, which he dispensed with the dexterity of a trained dancer, supplied many of the show’s highlights. In a 2012 interview with the Archive of American Television, he said he came up with many of the pratfalls himself.

“It was something that I could bring to the show,” he said. “I would choreograph stuff. I would find things in the set or outside that I could use. [It got so that the F Troop scripts would say,] ‘Business to be worked out with Ken on the set.'”

Berry’s legions of fans included the great silent film star Buster Keaton, a master of physical comedy. “He once called me after the show had been on the night before and said, ‘That was a good gag you did last night,'” he recalled. “Wow, that was high praise!”

Here’s the opening “F-Troop” theme. I believe I can sing every word by heart.

Reevaluating Lee

Gen. Stanley McChrystal: “At 63, I Threw Away My Prized Portrait of Robert E. Lee.” “Lee was a willing and active participant in a society and economy that rested on slavery, and he fought ferociously to defend it. Lee was a Southerner, and efforts to depict him in opposition to slavery run contrary to his actions.” (The Atlantic)

How a US civil war could start in the fall. Blame direct marketing.

Disruptive Robocalling

John Robb says attackers would just need to use robodialers to phone in terrorism threats to heavily partisan electoral districts. The candidate for the other side wins the White House in a landslide. The losing candidate’s supporters take to the streets. Rioting, bloodshed, dogs and cats living together.

Possible because the direct marketing and debt collections industry has made sure the phone system is easy to hack.

Link

The tragic, failed Presidency of Franklin Pierce

President Franklin Pierce moved into the White House in the years running up to the Civil War. The nation needed a strong leader. Instead, it got a President who would have been weak in the best of circumstances, but was broken after he and his wife witnessed the death of their young son in a train accident a few months prior to the inauguration.

The Presidential podcast:

James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, guides our exploration of Pierce’s tenure in the White House, between 1853 and 1857; along with Edna Greene Medford, who chairs Howard University’s department of history. They discuss not only the policies that happen on the 14th president’s watch, but also the personal tragedy that unfolds right before he takes office.

Like his predecessors, Pierce supported the alleged rights of slaveowners to own other people.

I’ve been reading a bit about slavery in the past year or two, and it’s giving me fresh appreciation for what a monstrous institution it was.

How Coffee Fueled the Civil War

It was the greatest coffee run in American history. The Ohio boys had been fighting since morning, trapped in the raging battle of Antietam, in September 1862. Suddenly, a 19-year-old William McKinley appeared, under heavy fire, hauling vats of hot coffee. The men held out tin cups, gulped the brew and started firing again. “It was like putting a new regiment in the fight,” their officer recalled. Three decades later, McKinley ran for president in part on this singular act of caffeinated heroism.

At the time, no one found McKinley’s act all that strange. For Union soldiers, and the lucky Confederates who could scrounge some, coffee fueled the war. Soldiers drank it before marches, after marches, on patrol, during combat. In their diaries, “coffee” appears more frequently than the words “rifle,” “cannon” or “bullet.” Ragged veterans and tired nurses agreed with one diarist: “Nobody can ‘soldier’ without coffee.”

Union troops made their coffee everywhere, and with everything: with water from canteens and puddles, brackish bays and Mississippi mud, liquid their horses would not drink. They cooked it over fires of plundered fence rails, or heated mugs in scalding steam-vents on naval gunboats. When times were good, coffee accompanied beefsteaks and oysters; when they were bad it washed down raw salt-pork and maggoty hardtack. Coffee was often the last comfort troops enjoyed before entering battle, and the first sign of safety for those who survived.

How Coffee Fueled the Civil War

Via the 5 Intriguing Things newsletter, by Alexis Madrigal, who writes: “This little essay is, ostensibly, about how much Union soldiers loved coffee, but it’s really about closing the distance between their time and ours.”