Typically, I reserve my more serious and far less fun stuff for my other blog. Today, I am making an exception for which I hope you will forgive me. Tomorrow, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Tomorrow, HBO will air “Night Will Fall” which will largely feature footage from Hitchcock’s documentary documenting what was learned when the Allies liberated some of the Nazi death camps. It is unfortunate that for political reasons Hitchcock’s documentary, and the shocking images it contained, was shelved. Man’s inhumanity to man should not, must not, be glossed over, ignored or treated as “that’s just the way things are.” Some things, I submit, are too evil to be ignored, tolerated or forgotten.
You can read a much more insightful and far better written post about the documentary at Bayou Renaissance Man’s blog, here.
Sometimes, in our eagerness to explore the far off and exotic, we miss what is close by. While the U.S. doesn’t have a history nearly as long as most european countries (there’s a brewery in Germany that has been brewing beer non-stop since 1040 AD!) our country, like most others, was shaped by events that occurred long before anyone now living was born. Shortly before Thanksgiving my wife and I decided to do some local exploring…
What is now called “Fort Phantom Hill” was a U.S. Army post established in Texas in 1851. While relations with the Comanches were pretty good at the time of its establishment, by 1854 things had changed significantly and the decision was made to replace the infantry with cavalry. As a result, the post “on the clear fork of the Brazos River at a place known as Phantom Hill” was abandoned. Its remnants stand today as a record of how quickly things can change in a country expanding into the frontier.
One should always honor traditions, so here’s my nod to the “include a picture of the sign that tells you the name of the site” tradition.
Fort Phantom Hill
Phantom Hill Guard House
Unlike the majority of the post, the Guard House, which also functioned as the jail or stockade, remains relatively intact. I was impressed with just how solidly built it was. Notice the thickness of the walls in the doorway.
Wooden door and thick stone walls!
Many of the chimneys remain intact. These are from the officer’s housing area.
There’s a lot of debate as to what would have happened had the Comanche and other tribes had access to the same technology, especially the weapons, of the Army. Would the eventual outcome have been different? One can argue that there’s evidence to suggest it would have. The Army’s rather disastrous pursuit of the Nez Perce in the northwestern United States is an example of technology and industry not always translating into immediate combat superiority. Still, a friend of mine noted that it wasn’t weapons that led to the eventual defeat of the various tribes. It was that the Indians didn’t think of war in terms of long campaigns. Still, they were able to adapt somewhat to that view. My friend said that it was the sheer number of settlers that brought about the downfall of the tribes.As one author noted, “we could defeat the man with a rifle but we couldn’t defeat the man with the plow.”
the most powerful weapon on the frontier?