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Short Rounds

"Prove You Command Great Medicine!"

Although not so famous as his elder brother the great Shawnee war chief Tecumseh (1768-1813), Tenskwatawa (17751836) was actually the spiritual leader of the Ohio Indians during their long resistance to "pacification" by the United States.

A rather misspent and dissipated youth led the young man to be named Lalawethika ("The Noisy One"), but in May of 1805, while overindulging in whiskey, he had vision and became a great spiritual leader. Soon renamed Tenskwatawa (one interpretation of which is "The Open Door"), and soon known among the whites as "The Prophet," the young man preached that the whites were the children of the Great Serpent, the source of evil in the world, and urged his people to return to the ways of their ancestors, abandoning all European customs and goods, including alcohol (though, like other retro-religious movements in some corners of the world, not firearms), while initiating the persecution of Christian Indians.

In 1806, William Henry Harrison, then governor of the Indiana Territory, challenged Tenskwatawa to offer proof that he had supernatural powers.

Now it happened that a government-sponsored expedition had been sent into the Ohio country in order to observe a total solar eclipse that was to occur on June 16th. Tenskwatawa was aware of this, though Harrison apparently was not.

So, responding to Harrison's challenge, Tenskwatawa prophesied that he would darken the sun and then restore it on June 16. Naturally, this came to pass.

And so Harrison's attempt to discredit Tenskwatawa backfired, helping to confirm his spiritual power among the Shawnee.

BookNote: Robert M. Owens' recent Mr. Jefferson's Hammer: Mr. Jefferson's Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy has a good account of the Ohio country wars

 

The D-Day Air Armada

Material preparations for the Normandy invasion included the concentration of what was probably the largest number of aircraft ever committed to a single mission. The Allied air forces managed to bring together over 6,000 combat aircraft.

Combat Aircraft Bombers Fighters Total
Royal Air Force 624 2,172 2,796
U.S. Army Air Forces 1,922 1,311 3,233
Allies 2,546 3,483 6,029
Germans c. 400 420 c. 820
Allies: Germans 6.4:1 8.3:1 7.4:1

These figures represent total numbers of combat aircraft available in the general theater of operations in the opening days of the campaign. On D-Day proper, June 6, 1944, the Allies generated 10,000 combat sorties, since many aircraft went on more than one mission, while the Germans were only able to commit a handful of aircraft. In the days following the landings the Allied sortie rate fell to about 5,000 a day, while the Germans were able to build theirs up to about 250. In addition to combat aircraft, the Allies committed 1,628 transport aircraft (1,166 American) and 2,591 gliders (1,619 American) to the airborne operations, and there were also available about 2,000 additional fighters and 1,000 bombers committed to other operations at the time. Note that British figures include Allied contingents -- French, Polish, Czech, Dutch, and Norwegian -- as well as Canadian and other Commonwealth squadrons.

BookNotes: For a good account of American air operations during the Normandy Campaign, see John J. Sullivan's Overlord's Eagles: Operations of the United States Army Air Forces in the Invasion of Normandy in World War II For an overview of the Normandy operation, the RAF Historical Society's Overlord 1944: Symposium on the Normandy Landings embodies the proceedings of a 1995 conference on the subject.

 


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