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the work of history

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    thelovelylovestory replied to your post: Are you going to college to study history?

    Where are you applying?

    Haha honestly, my list is way too long and unrealistic and optimistic, but - most of the UCs (hooray for in-state tuition), plus a handful of schools in the D.C. area, UVa, UNC - Chapel Hill, JHU, UMich, Colgate, Brandeis, and CMU. 

    I should probably be working on the supplements now… anyone want to make this easy for me and just give me a scholarship?

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    December 16, 1775: Jane Austen is born.

    The celebrated British novelist was born to a large family consisting of six brothers (one of whom became her literary agent) and a sister (to whom Jane was close all her life). One of Austen’s earliest works was the epistolary novel Love and Freindship [sic], which shares similarities with many of her later works, especially with regard to its witty, satirical nature, and its lampooning of other literary genres. Austen’s first published work was her 1811 novel Sense and Sensibility, which was followed by the 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice; both were relatively well-received, but because Austen published all her works anonymously, like many female authors at the time, they brought her no personal fame. Neither Austen nor her books were as popular in the author’s own time as they are today. 

    Austen went on to write Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1818), and Persuasion (1818); the last two were published anonymously. In her own time, reviewers and critics often misinterpted Austen’s novels and her highly ironic, satirical style, and the average 19th-century reader preferred mainstream Romantic or Victorian literature to any of her novels (Austen adhered to the literary conventions of neither period). By the late 1800s the Encyclopædia Britannica was describing Austen as “one of the most distinguished modern British novelists”, and her works saw a rapid increase in popularity in the early 1900s; this popularity gave rise to the term “Janeites”, which was used by the “cultured few” who considered themselves a literary elite, as opposed to those they believed did not properly understand Austen’s works. Interpretation of Austen’s works changed significantly after her death and through the 20th century, especially after the 1940s, during which scholarly interest in Austen’s writings boomed. After this boom she came to be regarded as a much more subversive writer than previously thought. To this day she remains one of Britain’s most beloved authors.

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  • 12/16/12--13:30: The Pietà.

  • Bronzino


    el Greco





    van Gogh


    The Pietà.

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    December 17, 1903: The Wright Brothers fly the Wright Flyer near Kitty Hawk.

    Orville and Wilbur Wright’s simple but memorable aircraft was the first heavier-than-air powered machine to achieve successful controlled and sustained flight with a pilot aboard. It is said that the brothers actually flipped a coin to see who would be granted the honor of piloting the plane first - Orville won, and it is he who is pictured flying the aircraft in the famous Surfman John T. Daniels photograph. The brothers achieved this feat only after years of designing and testing different kite and glider models in order to acquire the expertise and knowledge necessary to build a fully-functional powered craft. The end result was the Wright Flyer, which was powered by a simple four-cylinder engine. It flew four times that day in an open area south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; the first flight lasted twelve seconds and the last just under a minute, after which the brothers discovered that the plane’s frame had broken. The crafts used in the Wrights Brothers’ later flights in 1904 and 1905 vastly improved upon the original (one flew for nearly forty minutes), but all these were overshadowed by the Kitty Hawk flight that is so well-remembered by history.

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    RIP Daniel Inouye(September 7, 1924 – December 17, 2012), representative and Senator for the state of Hawaii since it acquired statehood in 1959; President pro tempore; highest-ranking Asian-American politician in American history; Medal of Honor recipient:

    Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

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    John William Waterhouse →Greek Mythology

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    December 19, 1946: The First Indochina War begins.

    The “dirty war” was fought between France, its colonies and allies (most significantly the United States), and the State of Vietnam versus the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam, which was supported by the Soviet Union and China, and led byHồ Chí Minh. It began as a rebellion against French occupying forces, which sought to retake its pre-World War II Southeast Asian colonies, including Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. What began as a small insurgency movement became full-blown war, which was stalemated and also highly unpopular in France, which was suffering from its own domestic problems. 

    Initially the United States sought to remain neutral because of its proclaimed opposition to imperialism, but as the Cold War congealed and fears of a communist takeover of the region grew, the U.S. found itself increasingly involved in the conflict. The communist People’s Republic of China, established partway through the war, could now provide more substantial aid through resources and weapons to rebel forces - although the United States provided more aid to France than China ever did to Vietnam. By the end of the war the United States was paying for 80% of the war’s costs. But whatever advantages in firepower and artillery the French possessed over their enemy, the Vietnamese made up for with an overwhelming superiority in manpower. At the end of the war, President Eisenhower introduced the idea of the domino theory in reference to communism in Indochina, the principle that would be used to justify the Second Indochina War (the Vietnam War):

    …you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the “falling domino” principleYou have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.

    (April 1954)

    The war came to an end after the climactic battle at Dien Bien Phu, which culminated in a decisive victory for the Viet Minh over French forces. Soon after, the Geneva Conference began. The agreements of the conference temporarily split Vietnam into northern and southern regions, divided along the 17th parallel, to be unified in the future based on free and democratic elections, which were never held.

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    December 20, 1941: The 1st American Volunteer group engages enemy forces for the first time.

    Famously called the “Flying Tigers”, this group of volunteer pilots flew their famous shark-mouth-painted fighters over China between December 1941 and July 1942, helping the Chinese Air Force defend the country against the Japanese. They first saw action shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when fighters from two squadrons intercepted Japanese bombers performing air raids over Kunming, a strategically important city in South China that became the group’s base. Pilots of the 1st AVG were picked from the Navy, Marines, and Army Air Forces, and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault (pictured), an American colonel who also trained Chinese aviators (and later married a Chinese journalist). The name “Flying Tigers” was derived from the group’s signature nose paint, which Chennault admitted had been copied from an Indian news magazine depicting RAF fighters. It has been theorized that the local people mistook the sharks for tigers, hence “flying tigers”. Members of the group wore patches (pictured above) so that, in the event that their plane was shot down, locals would be able to identify and help them. 

    Active for a mere seven months, the group gained great public fame for striking early blows against Japanese forces when morale in the United States was low and successful efforts against the enemy were rare. Despite lacking resources and basic medical supplies, the Flying Tigers were credited with destroying nearly 300 enemy aircraft, and a contemporary Life article called them a “shining hope” who “conclusively proved what was once only a Yankee belief: that one American flier is equal to two or three Japs”. In 1942 the group was replaced by the 23rd Fighter Group of the USAAF, and the Burma Road, a supply line that linked Burma and Kunming, was overrun by the Japanese that year. Although often described as a “mercenary group”, the Flying Tigers were nevertheless closely associated with the United States military, and in 1996 all its pilots were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Many of the pilots were also decorated by the Chinese government.

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    December 21, 1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is released.

    Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length cel-animated feature film in history and a major landmark in animation history. Prior this film’s release, the Walt Disney Company had seen much success with its short films, which launched its character Mickey Mouse to popularity. In 1934 Disney began work on its most ambitious project yet - a feature length animated film. At the time of its production, Hollywood derisively referred to it as “Disney’s Folly” - the world’s first full color animated feature film cost $1.5 million to produce. But by the end of its run, the movie had grossed nearly $8 million internationally, making it the highest-grossing sound movie ever produced until Gone With the Wind. It also won its creator an Academy Honorary Award, which described the film as “a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field”. This award was presented to Walt Disney by Shirley Temple in the form of one full-sized statuette and seven miniatures. 

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    December 22, 1864: William Tecumseh Sherman’s “March to the Sea” ends.

    Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Savannah Campaign, which famously employed scorched earth and total war tactics to devastating effect, began as the general’s forces left Atlanta on November 15, 1864 and made its way south-east to the strategically-important port city of Savannah. Sherman later recalled how his men, suddenly and almost accidentally, began to sing “John Brown’s Body” in unison as the troops left Atlanta. As they traveled the 480-km route, Sherman’s men burned crops, killed livestock, destroyed or stole supplies, and reduced cotton gins and railroads to rubble. Sherman issued the details on what practices should be employed during the march in his Special Field Orders, No. 120, which ordered, among other things, that commanding officers” “order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility” if met with opposition. Sherman even ordered his 62,000-strong force to heat up railway rails until they were malleable, and then twist them until they were nearly irreparable. These misshapen metal railways came to be known as “Sherman’s Neckties” because they were often twisted around trees to resemble neckties. 

    After their month-long march, the Union soldiers captured Savannah, leaving a trail of destruction and devastation behind them. Shortly afterward Sherman telegrammed President Lincoln:

    I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.

    Sherman estimated that his campaign had caused around $100 million in damage, and his feat was made even more incredible (and terrible) by the fact that his forces had entered and traveled deep through enemy territory with no supply lines or reliable means of communication, forcing them to live off the land. Slaves received Sherman and his men differently according to their individual loyalties to the South and to their masters. Still, around 10,000 dropped their work and attempted to follow Union forces to Savannah. 

    Sherman himself was criticized for his harsh strategies (his armies were even harsher on South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union), but he was also dubbed by B.H. Liddell Hart “the first modern general”, and he was also the man who ironically (or appropriately?) once said “I am tired and sick of war… It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.

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    December 23, 1948: Seven defendants at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East are executed.

    The IMFTE, sometimes called the Tokyo Trials or the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, found all of its defendants guilty (except for two who died during the trial and one deemed mentally unfit) and sentenced seven to death. Of these seven, six were sentenced to death for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace; the seventh, Iwane Matsui, who commanded Japanese forces in China and was held responsible by the tribunal for the “Rape of Nanking”, was hanged for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prime Minister and general Hideki Tōjō was among the seven executed, as was Kenji Doihara, a key figure in Japan’s invasion of Manchuria. Others, including Akira Mutō and Heitarō Kimura, were also accused of committing atrocities against military and civilian prisoners. The Emperor and the imperial family were exonerated and made to be completely blameless (blame shifted instead to Tōjō and other military and political leaders) of waging wars of aggression or committing war crimes; for example, Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, son-in-law of Emperor Meiji, commanded Japanese forces at Nanjing but was granted immunity by occupying American forces and was never brought before the tribunal. 

    The seven were executed by hanging at Sugamo Prison on December 23, 1948. Unlike the Nuremberg executions, photography was not permitted at the hangings. 

    Other links: the accused and their judges

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    December 24, 1914: The “Christmas truce” on the Western front begins.

    The first Christmas of World War I took place four months after war broke out, before the bloody battles at Somme and Verdun and elsewhere, before the introduction of the tank, and before the use of chemical weapons became widespread on either front. Two years and hundreds of thousands of casualties later, the idea of a ceasefire to the scale that occurred on the Christmas Eve and Christmas of that year was inconceivable. 

    But it did happen in 1914, when British and German troops near Ypres began singing Christmas carols to each other from their trenches. Soldiers across the front crossed into “No Man’s Land” to greet each other and exchange food, tobacco, alcohol, newspapers, chocolate, handshakes, and Christmas greetings. The soldiers may have even played football with each other; such activities were detailed in letters that have surfaced over the years. One describes how British and German troops buried their dead and conducted services beside each other;  soldiers elsewhere sang the other side’s national anthem to each other or took photographs together.

    Attempts were made the following Easter and Christmases by both sides to initiate ceasefires, but neither could match the original, which had involved at least 100,000 troops along the Western Front and was described a year later by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the “one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of the war”.

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    Happy Holidays!

    Other historical events that took place on December 25:

    496 - Clovis I, first king of a united Francia, is baptized as a Catholic.

    800 - Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Leo III.

    1066 - William the Conqueror is crowned England’s first Norman king after victories at the Battle of Hastings and elsewhere.

    1137 - Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria and hero of the Crusades, is born. 

    1642 - Sir Isaac Newton is born.

    1745 - Chevalier de Saint-George, the “black Mozart”, is born.

    1776 - George Washington and Continental Army troops cross the Delaware to launch a surprise attack against Hessian forces. 

    1868 - President Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all former Confederate soldiers. 

    1899 - Humphrey Bogart is born.

    1926 - Hirohito ascends the throne as Emperor of Japan following the death of his father, Emperor Taishō.

    1941 - the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong begins.

    1989 - Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romanian Communist dictator, is executed.

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    December 26, 1991: The Soviet Union is dissolved.

    On Christmas Day in 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the Soviet Union. The next day, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union dissolved the USSR after sixty-nine years of existence, following the introductions of the reformative policies of perestroika and glasnost, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, and the Revolutions of 1989 that swept through Eastern and Central Europe and swept communist regimes out of power. In August of 1989, Poland nominated its first non-Communist prime minister since the 1940s. In March of 1990, Hungary conducted multi-party parliamentary elections and a direct presidential election; in October of 1990, East and West Germany reunified, after over forty years of separation, to become one Federal Republic of Germany. Czechoslovakia’s famous “Velvet Revolution” achieved, in late 1989, the dismantling of the single-party system. In mid-1990 Bulgaria held its first free elections in over fifty years after the Communist Party relinquished power, and a violent revolution in Romania ousted Nicolae Ceauşescu from power. 

    On December 12, 1991, the Belavezha Accords went into effect; this agreement by Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, established the Commonwealth of Independent States, which gained eight new members after the signing of the Alma-Ata Protocol. The Soviet Union was completely and officially dissolved by the Supreme Soviet on December 26, 1991, and Russia, as the largest and most powerful Soviet state, inherited the USSR’s debt, properties, and role on the international stage; Boris Yeltsin inherited Gorbachev’s office building and many of his powers. The sixty-nine-year-old Soviet Union dissolved into fifteen independent states: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia. 

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    December 27, 1831: The HMS Beagle embarks on its second voyage, with Charles Darwin aboard.

    Twenty-two-year-old Charles Darwin boarded the Beagle, a sloop captained by one Robert Fitzroy, an amateur naturalist and a prospective parson. The expedition was to last two years, though it ended up lasting five, taking the Beagle and its crew across the Atlantic, around the coasts of South America, and eventually around the Earth. The main objective of the voyage was to conduct hydrographic surveys, but it was the ship’s young “gentleman naturalist”, hired almost as an afterthought, who cemented the trip’s place in history. 

    The Beagle set sail from Plymouth on December 27, 1831. Darwin was ill-suited for life at sea, commenting that “the misery I endured from seasickness is far beyond what I ever guessed”; luckily, he spent much of his time exploring and theorizing on land rather than sailing at sea. In Punta Alta, Argentina, Darwin discovered giant fossils of extinct mammals. On an island near Chile, he witnessed a volcano and earthquake that levelled cities and altered the coastline. In 1835 he arrived at the Galápagos Islands where he briefly observed his famous finches without bothering to label and categorize them properly. On the islands he noted that“by far the most remarkable feature in the natural history of this archipelago” was “that the different islands to a considerable extent are inhabited by a different set of beings”. 

    By the time he returned to England, Darwin had established his reputation as a respected up-and-coming geologist among the country’s elite scientific circles. In the years following his return, Darwin wrote extensively on his five-year journey. Between 1838 and 1843 The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, a book Darwin edited, was published in five different parts, and in 1839 he published The Voyage of the Beagle. Neither work directly addressed evolution or natural selection, although Darwin was most certainly formulating his theories by that time, and in fact he may have been pondering the idea during the voyage. Although it would take years of further research, when he finally published his 1859 work On the Origin of Specieswhich presented his theory of evolution by natural selection, Darwin conceded in the introduction that his travels with the Beagle played a key role in formulating the theory:

    WHEN on board H.M.S. ‘Beagle,’ as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.

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    December 28, 1065: Westminster Abbey is consecrated.

    Construction on Westminster Abbey (or properly, the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster) began during the reign of Edward the Confessor, so called because of his apparent piety. It was built in the Romanesque style, and it was completed twenty-five years after its consecration, although Edward himself was buried there in 1066, and the coronation of his successor William the Conqueror was the first to take place there. In 1245 Henry III sought to expand the building and rebuild it in the Gothic style to rival the great churches at Canterbury, Amiens, and Reims. Work continued until the early-16th century, and a great shrine to (now Saint) Edward was also built during this renovation.

    Since 1065 sixteen royal weddings took place at Westminster Abbey. Until 1760 most of England’s kings and queens were also buried at the abbey, along with such luminaries and national icons as Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Rudyard Kipling, and others. Lord Byron’s remains were sent to Westminster Abbey for burial, but he was refused (and the Abbey refused to enact a memorial to him until 1969). Coronations of English and British monarchs are traditionally held in the Abbey as well. 

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    Maybe, yeah! Although I don’t really use Facebook all that much, and I don’t know how to run a page… one of the many things I don’t know how to do. I’ll figure it out I guess, if I see any significant advantage in having a Facebook page.

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  • 12/28/12--22:28: have you watched Lincoln?
  • Yes!! The acting was fantastic (DDL fan for life) although I haven’t actually read that much about Lincoln, so I don’t know how accurate his portrayal was? But I personally thought it was very human and touching and Lincoln-like, anyway. Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones were also great, and I really enjoyed watching all the politicking and lobbying and the debating in Congress. The scene where all of the reps vote on the amendment was one of my favorites of any film this year.

    I can’t really say anything about the historical accuracy or anything, but nothing really jumped out save for the random Union soldiers being able to recite the exact same version of the Gettysburg Address together and some terminology/technical errors. It was also fun times pointing out the historical figures, so if you have basic knowledge of the Civil War-era government I think that really enhances viewing. 

    Haha, this old couple sitting behind me left the theater thinking Thaddeus Stevens was Lincoln’s VP, though, so the film doesn’t stop to explain who everyone is, and also there are some cameos that are just blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type moments.

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    From what I’ve read about production it seems like the filmmakers had trouble deciding what part of Lincoln’s life/term to focus on, like apparently one of the script’s drafts focused on his entire term/Presidency, and another actually focused on Douglass’ and Lincoln’s relationship, which would have been interesting and refreshing to watch. Maybe the filmmakers thought that if they had Douglass make a random cameo but not have a significant role in the film otherwise, he would have felt wasted and the audience would have been reminded of what could have been? Hmm… Now I want a Lincoln-Douglass movie. Or, you know, just a Douglass movie.

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    December 29, 1890: A massacre by U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment takes place near Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota.

    The massacre at Wounded Knee was one of the last major conflicts of the American Indian Wars, taking place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota. Just two weeks earlier, Lakota Sioux chief Sitting Bull was killed in a struggle against a group of policemen and volunteers (including his own brother-in-law) who had been ordered to arrest him to prevent him from using his influence to support the “Ghost Dance” movement, which was described by agents of the U.S. Indian Service as the “Messiah Craze”. Spotted Elk, another Lakota Sioux leader, was an enthusiastic devotee of this new movement that the American government tried desperately to suppress and outlaw. Spotted Elk and hundreds of his followers were intercepted and relocated by the 7th Cavalry Regiment on December 28, 1890 to Wounded Knee Creek, where the Lakota made camp. 

    By the next morning, around 500 troops had surrounded Spotted Elk’s camp, made up of 350 Native Americans, around two-thirds of which were women and children.  As the 7th Cavalry searched the camp to confiscate any weapons, a scuffle broke out between one of the Lakota and the soldiers, which escalated into a “battle” that ended in around 300 Native American casualties, including 200 women and children killed. 31 soldiers ultimately died as well, although it is speculated that many had been killed by friendly fire, shot by the mounted Hotchkiss guns that had been placed around the camp. Fighting lasted less than an hour, but it was brutal, bloody, and cruel. According to the commanding general, Nelson Miles, “a large number of women and children who tried to escape by running and scattering over the prairie were hunted down and killed”. The 1891 report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs contained descriptions by surviving Lakota of the events of the massacre:

    All the men who were in a bunch were killed right there, and those who escaped that first fire got into the ravine, and as they went along up the ravine for a long distance they were pursued on both sides by the soldiers and shot down, as the dead bodies showed afterwards….

    There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce, and the women and children of course were strewn all along the circular village until they were dispatched. Right near the flag of truce a mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing, and that especially was a very sad sight. 

    Spotted Elk himself (pictured above) was killed during the fight. Medals of Honor were awarded to twenty of the troopers who fought at Wounded Knee (listed here), some of them for, ironically, “extraordinary gallantry”, “distinguished conduct”, and “conspicuous bravery”. Like most of the conflicts of the Indian Wars, the Wounded Knee Massacre was often brushed over in popular history until the 1970s during a period of Native American activism, and after the release of the popular book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

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