Author Topic: History Gone By the Board  (Read 10727 times)

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2015, 12:53:15 pm »
Thank you for this, I was not aware of how pivotal this was to the Gallipoli conflict.

On your side comment, Decoration Day (remembering the US Civil War dead by decorating the graves with flowers) was spontaneously started on various dates in at least two dozen places North and South, and happened at many battle cemeteries as they were created, probably beginning at battlegrounds in the South.  4% of our male population died in that war, and decorating the graves of the war dead is a very ancient practice.  The first community-wide publicized Decoration Day that included a community picnic after decorating the graves was, I believe, by the black community of Charleston, SC, honoring the Union soldiers who died there while prisoners of war, May Day 1865. 

We do know that WW1 was the event that extended our awareness to have that day cover all our war dead, and had North and South willing to celebrate it on the same date.

There's some debate over whether or not the Charleston community can actually be connected to the spread of the holiday nationwide (although it was clearly the first large commemoration), which is why I mentioned Johnson's presidential declaration, as that is the "official" (although undoubtedly wholly inaccurate) recognition. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania has a pretty strong claim on being the original site of Memorial Day, as they decorated both Union and Confederate graves, although the dedication for the graveyard at Gettysburg did the same thing a year earlier, so there's some controversy about whether which of the two has greater legitimacy.  The Gettysburg National Cemetery was really only decorated because Lincoln was to deliver a two minute address as a followup to Edward Everett's two hour Oration (both of which are *amazing* speeches, even if Lincoln's ended up more famous - if for no other reason than its brevity making it easier to remember). The problem with *all* of these is that they predate the order by Major General John A. Logan in 1868 that is considered to be the first demand for graves of the fallen to be decorated, and therefor it's virtually impossible to determine which of the events (if any of these - or none - ).


SOURCES:

Charleston Memorial Day disclaimer: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/us/many-claim-to-be-memorial-day-birthplace.html?_r=0

General Order No. 11: 5 May, 1868 and a brief biography of Major General Logan: http://www.hampton.lib.nh.us/hampton/history/military/legionpost35/genlogan.htm

Boalsburg, Gettysburg, and a couple dozen other sites claims of origin: http://www.amazon.com/The-Genesis-Memorial-Day-Holiday/dp/069229225X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413657293&sr=8-1&keywords=genesis+of+memorial+day

Gettysburg Oration by Edward Everett: http://www.worldcat.org/title/orations-and-speeches-on-various-occasions/oclc/7755659 (oddly Everett apparently had forgotten the date of the Gettysburg commencement and wrote it down as 23 September, but the Douglass archives confirm that the correct date of the Oration was 19 November)

Gettysburg Address (Nicolay Copy): Page 1: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page%3ANicolaycopy.jpg Page 2: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page%3ANicolaycopy-2.jpg

Lyndon B Johnson's first Federal Memorial Day speech (WARNING, RACIAL TERMINOLOGY IN 1963 WAS DIFFERENT THAN IT IS TODAY, AND THE TERM COMMONLY USED AT THIS TIME IS CONSIDERED OFFENSIVE IN THE MODERN AGE: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/speeches.hom/630530.asp

Note: I did flub the date on the original post, citing Johnson's speech for 1966, without being aware that he was *repeating* a speech he gave on the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg on its 100 year anniversary (2 months before the actual 100th anniversary date)

Randi

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2015, 01:45:55 pm »
The article: A New View of the Battle of Gallipoli, One of the Bloodiest Conflicts of World War I
The Turks are now rethinking their historic victory in the terrible battle

in the Feb. 2015 Smithsonian magazine echos many of HatterJack's comments and adds a modern perspective.

Quote from: Smithsonian
...
The military historian Peter Hart faults the British leadership for ?a lack of realistic goals, no coherent plan, the use of inexperienced troops...negligible artillery support, totally inadequate logistical and medical arrangements [and] a gross underestimation of the enemy.? Gallipoli, he concludes, ?was damned before it started.? Carlyon excoriates Kitchener for his failure to provide troops and weaponry in a timely manner, and sharply criticizes Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the campaign, who acquiesced to Kitchener?s indecisiveness and rarely stuck up for his men.

By contrast the German general who commanded the Turks, Otto Liman von Sanders, brilliantly deployed the Ottoman 5th Army, 84,000 well-equipped soldiers in six divisions. And the Turkish division commander Mustafa Kemal, who saw the dangers posed by the Australian and New Zealand landings at Anzac Cove, moved his troops into position and held the ridge?line for five months. Unlike the Allied generals, who commanded troops from the safety of the beach or from ships anchored in the Aegean, Kemal often stood with his men on the front lines, lifting their morale. ?There were complaints to Istanbul about him, that he was always risking his life. And in fact he was hit by shrapnel,? says Sabahattin Sakman, a former Turkish military officer and a columnist for a popular secular newspaper in Istanbul.
...
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 01:52:03 pm by Randi »

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2015, 02:49:12 pm »
On a somewhat lighter note, the trenches of the campaign were sometimes close enough that the Allied soldiers would lob cans of beef and cigarettes into the Ottoman trenches, and the Ottoman soldiers would return fire (so to speak) with dates and other assorted Mediterranean sweets. If you ignore the conditions in the trenches, health wise, there was still time for humorous exchanges in the midst of that hell. Alan Moorehead recorded an account of an Ottoman batman (essentially an officer's personal servant) who was allowed to hang his platoon's laundry on the barbed wire, while both sides would hold their fire while the old man went about his washing.

Anyone with an interest in the battle, should really consider picking up Moorehead's book "Gallopoli". It's a powerful read.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 03:42:17 pm by Randi »

Bob

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2015, 12:45:08 am »
USS Jamestown
April 22, 1851
Norfolk Navy Yard


From 4 to 8   Sent the Marines on shore to attend the burial of the late Commodore Barron.

From Mer to 4   At 1.30 fired in company with the Adams & Pennsylvania 13. minute guns as a mark of respect to the late "Commodore Barron".


http://oldweather.s3.amazonaws.com/ow3/final/USS%20Jamestown/vol006of067/vol006of067_004_1.jpg


Commodore James Barron, who died in Norfolk the day before the ceremonies mentioned here in the log, seems an unlikely recipient of such honors. He was court-martialed in 1807 for surrendering the frigate USS Chesapeake to a British warship practically without a fight, and killed Commodore Stephen Decatur in a duel in 1820.

The so-called Chesapeake-Leopard Affair occurred in June of 1807, when the USS Chesapeake, under the command of Commodore Barron, was intercepted by the HMS Leopard soon after it had departed Norfolk, bound for the Mediterranean. Officers from the Leopard demanded the Chesapeake surrender some alleged deserters from the Royal Navy. The Chesapeake refused to cooperate, and the Leopard then fired broadsides into the Chesapeake, killing and wounding several crew. The Chesapeake only managed to fire a single gun before Barron struck his colors and surrendered. Four Royal Navy deserters, three of them actually American citizens, were removed to the Leopard, and the damaged Chesapeake was released to return to port.

Barron was subsequently tried on several counts of negligence, primarily for not having the ship completely ready for duty before departure (there were problems with the gun carriages and other equipment) and surrendering the ship too readily. He was found guilty of some of the charges and suspended from duty for five years. He soon left the country and traveled overseas for several years.

Barron returned to America after the start of the War of 1812 and petitioned the Navy for reinstatement to command. Decatur, who had been one of the court-martial presiding officers, was outspokenly critical of Barron's performance with the Chesapeake, and opposed Barron's reinstatement. Barron challenged Decatur to a duel over the matter, in which both men were shot. Decatur died of his wound the next day, Barron eventually recovered from his.

Despite the Chesapeake embarrassment and the killing of a national hero, Barron remained in the Navy on shore duty, eventually becoming its senior officer, and retained the privilege of a formal salute from the fleet after his death.


James Barron:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Barron

Chesapeake-Leopard Affair:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesapeake%E2%80%93Leopard_Affair

Court Martial Proceedings:
https://books.google.com/books?id=NeY-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=james+barron+court+martial+proceedings&source=bl&ots=y-RU24wfQK&sig=ExyIMcvoHcIKeFdeeBJLUnDNd50&hl=en&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAGoVChMI4Mr2w5vKxwIVi1YeCh1oWAaU#v=onepage&q=james%20barron%20court%20martial%20proceedings&f=false

Stephen Decatur:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Decatur
« Last Edit: August 28, 2015, 12:53:50 am by kimma001 »

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2015, 01:02:56 am »
What a very odd history.  I must say, someone needs to stay on shore and do all the paperwork, I'm hoping he was better at organizing office work than armaments.  Just the same, he did serve.

Rest in peace, James Barron.

Bob

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2015, 01:37:42 am »
Indeed. There's a book out there called The Tragic Career of Commodore James Barron, published in 1942, so I'm sure there's a more sympathetic side to his story that doesn't come through very strongly in the immediately available versions.

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2015, 12:14:49 pm »
http://forum.oldweather.org/index.php?topic=3903.msg114932#msg114932

This is a link to the original find, where USFC Albatross hauled anchor to make ready to get under way. The crew found the anchor had been fouled by something hidden beneath the teal waters of the San Francisco Bay. What it was, exactly, is a rather complicated mystery that is unlikely to ever be truly solved. There are, however, some suspects that stand out a bit more than others.

Prior to California's incorporation into the United States in September 1850, it was part of Mexico, and a huge port of call for the Pacific whaling fleets. Due to some less than impeccable record keeping, the exact number of ships lost in the area isn't precisely known, but it's estimated to be somewhere near 150 (or 350, depending on the source). Of these, only 9 are recorded as having been lost in the bay itself, with only a small portion of those remaining on the seabed.

One of these ships was an old Danish transport barque, called Caroline Amelia. On the morning of March 19th, 1850, she was attempting to sail out of San Francisco Bay, beginning a trip to Costa Rica. She was running for the Needles (a colloquialism for the two rocks furthest offshore of Point Lobos, officially known as Mile Rocks) when she lost the wind, and was caught in a current propelling the ship and her crew directly toward the rocks.

Attempting to save her, the crew dropped both anchors, which caught well, and began to veer to the full length of her anchor cables. It was all for naught, however, as the cables snapped, and Caroline Amelia and crew were caught by the current, and smashed against the rocks, cracking her hull like a well chilled eggshell. Her old timbers gave out rather quickly, and as the ebb tide current pulled her off the rocks and toward the sea, she went under in roughly 10 fathoms of water.

As unlucky as she was, the attempt to anchor and the few minutes it took for her to succumb to the Pacific gave the captain and crew enough time to retrieve the ship's chronometers, instruments, money, and dunnage from the ship before she was lost.

Mile Rocks are near the mouth of the Bay proper, as a feature of Point Lobos, on the northwestern side of the San Francisco peninsula facing the Golden Gate. They have the distinction of having claimed many (if not the majority) of the ships that now rest at the bottom of the Bay. Caroline Amelia was just one ship out of many to find herself at the mercy of the dramatic tidal currents that to this day make sailing into and out of the southern Golden Gate incredibly dangerous.

Despite the danger, it wasn't until nearly 40 years after the wreck of Caroline Amelia that anything was really done to make it safer. In 1889 (a year after Albatross lost one of her anchors to the Bay) a buoy was moored at Mile Rocks, but the powerful tidal current began to pull it underwater when the winter came. Engineers tried for months to keep the buoy afloat, but eventually gave up the fight, reporting that Mile Rocks "must always be a menace to navigation as long as they exist".

There remained no clear safety measures in place at Mile Rocks, and ships were forced to rely on a fog bell at the old Fort Point lighthouse when entering the southern Golden Gate, but the lay of the land made hearing the bell from Mile Rocks largely impossible. This all changed in 1901.

On 22 February, 1901, the passenger steamer City of Rio de Janeiro attempted to pass through the Golden Gate in heavy fog. Having failed to hear the fog bell at Fort Point light, her crew was unable to determine where they were at until it was too late to avoid the Fort Point Ledge in the southern stretch of the strait. She ran aground at the rocks, essentially tearing a hole along her keel from bow to stern. Flooding fast, the ship was abandoned, but sank too quickly to save the lives of the passengers aboard. The Fort Point Lifesaving Station was only a few hundred yards away, but (being San Francisco) the fog was so dense that they were unaware of the crisis until lifeboats began to emerge from the fog bank. Less than ten minutes after striking the ledge, City of Rio de Janeiro disappeared under the waves, and the bay claimed another ship as well as 130 of her 212 passengers and crew (including the US Consul General to Hong Kong, his wife and children, en route to Washington DC for the inauguration of President William McKinley). It was the worst shipwreck in the city's history, and bodies washed ashore for several years following her sinking.

It was this disaster that finally led to the installation of a fog signal and lighthouse - and a beautiful sea-swept rock light at that - at Mile Rocks. This, in and of itself, is a story worthy of its own telling, but that is for another day. Five years after City of Rio de Janeiro sank, the once iconic Mile Rocks lighthouse was completed, and wrecks against the rocks were significantly reduced. I say once iconic because in 1969, the US Coast Guard decided that the lighthouse was too expensive to maintain, and it was replaced by an ugly, squat, automated pillbox. It does the job admirably, but what was once called one of the most beautiful lighthouses in North America was lost forever in the trade. All that remains is the base of the original lighthouse, serving as the squat remains of a once proud landmark.

This all seems largely unrelated to our project, but the original find reminded me of my youth, sailing with my father into and out of San Francisco Bay on trips up and down the Pacific coastline. As it was pointed out, the Bay that I'm familiar with is vastly different than the Bay of 1888. I had nearly forgotten that a large portion of the coastline as it is today is landfill from the bulldozing of the sand dunes during construction of the Great Highway (now the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, Cabrillo Highway, Coast Highway, Shorline Highway, or PCH, depending on who you ask).

The San Francisco Bay of 1888 was much larger, with more rocks, stronger tidal currents, and the ships afloat were driven by steam or sail. Albatross, for example, was a 234 foot, twin steam engine schooner with a top speed of 10 knots from her twin screw propellers. The *average* flood tide current in the modern Bay is roughly 3 knots, with right around 2.5 knots for ebb tide. Fighting against either of those would use quite a bit of engine from a steamer, and would be one heck of a fight for a ship that size. Contrasting against my own boat, which is only a third the size of Albatross (92 foot, twin diesel engine driving twin screw props at 12 knots) it's still a fight against the currents, but it's hardly the same beast.

I have always held the captains of yesteryear in high regard, but I've been humbled by just how much I've underestimated their skill. The technology of today makes sailing and navigating easy, and the ever-changing coastlines of the world are much safer than they were when San Francisco was home to one of the largest Pacific whaling fleets. I can now reflect on the feats of Albatross, even her near misses, and marvel at the skill it once took to simply keep her afloat.

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2015, 07:22:49 pm »
For those of us that haven't seen the Bay,  "bay" tends to mean "roundish safe harbor".  It's good to see just how very far from the San Francisco Bay has always been.

« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 07:24:35 pm by Janet Jaguar »

AvastMH

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2015, 12:14:56 am »
Great story Hatterjack. When you think of an organized city it's easy to forget that the margins, especially when it's the sea, are as wild and unforgiving as off more distant shores. It amazes me how ships did manage as well as they did 'back in the day'... I'll certainly doff my cap to them all!!  :D

Nice postcard Janet :) Great to put an image to the place :)

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2015, 07:13:02 am »
Oh wow, that postcard makes me wish I could go back in time and see the lighthouse as it was before the Coast Guard decided it was too expensive. The black bit at the bottom is all that's left of it now... and is just exposed concrete.


HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2015, 05:53:28 am »
Earlier today, I was sniffing around through the forums, when this post caught my eye.

http://forum.oldweather.org/index.php?topic=3965.msg115376#msg115376

While I was unable to find out much of interest regarding this particular Ben Butler, I was reminded (through hundreds of websites) of one of the most breathtaking dive sites I've ever had the great fortune of exploring, and the impressive, yet tragic history of the place. This post will be about Chuuk Lagoon, specifically on the days of 16-17 February, 1944, and its legendary "ghost fleet".

Chuuk Lagoon (more famously, although erroneously known as Truk), is a part of the Caroline Islands group in the Federated States of Micronesia, near the equator, roughly 1800 km northeast of New Guinea. The lagoon is a massive sheltered body of water enclosed by a protective reef, making it easily defensible, in a key strategic position in the central Pacific. For this reason, the Imperial Japanese Navy began building a heavily fortified anchorage to use as a forward staging area for its Combined Fleet, despite an agreement not to use the site for military purposes after being granted dominion over the area at the end of World War I.

In order to ensure naval and air superiority in the upcoming invasion of Eniwetok, Allied forces, under Admiral Raymond Spruance, staged an attack on the lagoon, dubbed Operation Hailstone. In total, 12 carrier groups consisting of 74 ships, embarking more than 500 planes of various roles, including the USS Yorktown (the granddaughter to our very own Yorktown) carried out two days of airstrikes, surface ship artillery bombardment, and submarine torpedo attacks, decimating the Imperial Combined Fleet and completely shutting down Japan's only airbase capable of striking the Marshall Islands.

Allied casualties were minimal, losing only about 40 men, 25 aircraft (numbers aren't clear, but it's estimated that 16 of the 25 aircrews were rescued), and receiving damage to only 2 ships with none sunk. The Japanese fared much worse, losing a staggering 47 ships in total (15 warships and 32 armed merchant ships) and 270 of it's 350 planes (the majority of which never made it off the ground). The total number of lost Japanese lives in that single attack are unknown, but estimates hover near to 10,000, nearly a third of the garrison stationed there. Despite the scale of the attack, and the losses to the Imperial Navy, all of the warships Japan considered vital to the war effort (including the famous Yamato, Musashi, Kongo, Hyuga, and Shokaku) escaped the attack, having been moved to Palau only a week earlier in anticipation of the raid. The strategic value of the victory can scarcely be measured, as it cut off virtually all of the remaining Pacific theater from resupply and reinforcement, leaving Japanese soldiers desperate and on the verge of starvation by the time Allied forces accepted Japan's unconditional surrender.

Due to Chuuk's lack of currents thanks to the enclosing reefs, the site has become a wreck diver's paradise. Crystal clear waters, combined with the shallow sea floor (less than 10 fathoms of water in most places) allow divers to explore the decks of ships essentially frozen in time; rusting, yet largely as they were the moment they went under.











While the site is incredibly fascinating, and absolutely beautiful, there is some concern that there may inevitably be a devastating oil spill, as the diesel fuel and oil in the holds and bunkers begin to seep out as the hulks corrode and decay. Only time will tell what the future holds for Chuuk Lagoon, but it stands today as a reminder of both the horrors of war and the efficiency with which nature reclaims everything over time.

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2015, 07:38:18 pm »
I'm assuming doing something about the oil leaks is hampered by the respect owed a large war grave?  Thank you.

Randi

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2015, 07:52:18 pm »
Perhaps they are afraid that anything they do will make the situation worse - especially if it is not currently leaking.

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #28 on: September 12, 2015, 07:01:54 am »
It's a bit of both. The Japanese have tried to downplay the risk, citing how little fuel and oil would have been in the bunkers and tankers, given the state of logistics at that point in the war. The longstanding respect for the dead that has been a staple of Japanese culture is almost certainly an additional factor at play. However, until the site is either cleaned up (at Japan's expense) or one of the tanks corrodes to the point of a breach, we really don't know with certainty how much of a threat the oil that *is* in the tanks actually poses to the environment.

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2015, 06:46:49 am »
As I often spend a few hours between bouts of transcribing our logs, I frequently find myself here on our forum, reading all of the fascinating things that we've come across with regard to our ships and crews. One longstanding topic of discussion has revolved around deserters, and how some ships (we all know I'm referring to Concord and her crew of gallivanting miscreants) seem to have more difficulty keeping their crews aboard, and behaving well when they manage to.

I was especially intrigued when I read this message and the few before it regarding typical desertion rates for the time.

To answer Janet's question simply, the crew for that particular commission was bored. Concord had, prior to the 1903-1904 commission, earned a reputation for being a ship where sailing men could see the world, meet interesting people, and then send them to the depths with Concord's guns. The 1903-1904 commission's crew never saw combat, nor did they ever leave the North Pacific. These sailors were romanced by the sea and the history of a ship that had sailed round the world, put down an insurrection, prevented seal poachers from obliterating the entirety of the fur trade, and taken part in the Battle of Manila Bay. These sorts of things were what the crew were expecting. What they actually got was far short of their expectations.

The commission of 1903-1904 saw Concord sailing up and down the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska to Panama, and a trip to Hawaii, stopping every few miles to take a sounding, but otherwise doing very little else. The men, as I said, were bored; and boredom, bound together with isolation and the inability to do anything at all to change that when underway, is absolutely guaranteed to crush morale, to the point that inevitably many begin to weigh the potential consequences of desertion against their own sanity.

Samuel Johnson once wrote, "No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company." This statement, while a bit extreme, is rather more correct than not, when it comes down to the psychological toll that being aboard a ship at sea for any length of time.

To this day, desertion is a huge problem for all branches of the military (except for the Air Force). The Army sees more deserters by volume than any other branch, while the Navy has the highest per capita rate of desertion. There are some notable exceptions when the Army's desertion rates come close to the total number of aircraft used by the Air Force, but this is typically during times of war, while the Navy's desertion rates seem to stay generally steady with a sharp decline during war time (and a dramatic increase in the early stages of peace).

My father once told me (I won't quote him, as his choice of vocabulary isn't really appropriate for our forum) that it takes a special kind of crazy to be a career sailor. The traits necessary to thrive at sea - regardless of whether it be in peace time or during war - are fairly straightforward, and each is common enough in its own right; yet the combination of each, in the correct measure, are rarer than astatine. To thrive at sea, one must love the sea more than themselves (and respect its power in equal measure), be fearless, be generally antisocial (fellow crewmen are family, and thus exempt, once they've earned their place aboard), be physically capable of doing the work necessary to keep the ship afloat, and be capable of entertaining oneself without being self-destructive for weeks or months at a time. It's a short list, but the absence of any one of these will eventually drive a person to leave.

I recently told my daughters, when they asked what it's like to be at sea for a long period of time, that the best way to explain life aboard a ship is like this. Find yourself a big barrel, climb inside of it, then roll it off the side of a cliff. That nauseous feeling never really goes away. After doing that, get a couple dozen clones of yourself, and stand inside the boundary markings of a football pitch for two months. If anyone crosses the boundary lines, they're set on fire. During that two months, everyone has to lift 100 pound weights for 16 hours a day, every day, while doing trigonometry without the help of calculators, and each correct answer per day gets you a harder problem the next, eating basically nothing but breakfast food and hot pockets the entire time (biscuits and gravy, eggs, sausage, and pancakes are a staple on my boat). At the end of the two months, the people who manage to survive that get to take a break, the length of which is determined entirely by how much trig they got done (with credit given for showing work if they got a wrong answer). You're told as your leaving the pitch when you'll be expected back, and that for every hour you are late to return, you will be punished. When your leave is over, you repeat the entire process all over again.

My daughters, unsurprisingly, asked me why I would keep going back, again and again, to submit to the torture that I just described. I responded by showing them this picture (random google search, I wish my boat looked this good): .

My oldest scoffed, saying she didn't see anything special about it. So I showed her what the sky looks like without the ship's lights on. She was taken aback, having never seen the sky without a city's worth of light pollution. Then we sat down and watched Master and Commander and a Perfect Storm, then binge watched a season of Deadliest Catch on Netflix. After that she asked me to take her with me on a trip out.

My story is hardly unique; every sailor with a family has a similar tale. We've been a seafaring race for thousands of years, throughout virtually all of human history. For every career sailor, there's likely a dozen or so who sign up, work until they realize that it's nothing like what they expected, and abandon ship at the first opportunity.

There is one other key reason why we see so much desertion (or crewmen going AWOL for prolonged periods, which is similar, but not really the same offense). Fleets are incredibly expensive to maintain, so much so, that the Navy simply doesn't have the resources to track down and apprehend deserters. There are no bounty hunters searching for these guys (although the bounties do still exist) and so long as they don't do anything to attract attention to themselves, they can lead relatively ordinary lives. This, of course, makes desertion far more tempting. While the potential consequences can be dire if they're caught, they feel the risk is outweighed by the fact that there's nobody actively looking for them once they do abandon their duty.

Mind you that this is a modern perspective, and at the time of Concord's mass desertions, local police were regularly on the hunt for deserters, because they could collect the bounty offered by the Navy. Bounty hunting was a fairly lucrative career choice, albeit a dangerous one, until several states began to restrict or outright prohibit bounty hunters from carrying out their operations. Even while dodging bounty hunters and police, crew would still jump ship, because a dishonorable discharge and a few years in prison were preferable to another day of backbreaking work for little pay in a confined space with no way out.

I realize I'm rambling, so I'll try to summarize to tie all of this together.

Successful career sailors are a rare breed. A mix of obsessive love of the sea, near infinite patience, and limitless determination. When faced with weeks or months of terrible pay, incredibly labor intensive and dangerous work, disdain from the more experienced crew, and no avenue to escape when underway, it's hardly any wonder that there would be those who simply don't have the will to return to the ship when liberty is over. It's almost more surprising that anyone would be able to drag themselves back aboard over and over again.

Lifelong sailors wouldn't have it any other way, but then, we *are* a little bit crazy. I have children now, and I cherish each and every day I spend with them, but my heart aches to be back out there on the open ocean, on a good ship, with a seasoned crew, the wind at my back, and the horizon before me. It's a hard life, to be sure, and I don't hold a grudge against any who can't hack it; it's almost better to be a man down than have someone aboard who doesn't want to be there. Despite the title "deserter" placed on the men who abandon ship with no intention of coming back, I find it hard to believe that the crew of Concord, or any other ship, really felt any different.