A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3 million hits| History of Science, Math & Tech | Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places...
The War Production Board (WPB)--the entity responsible for printing the leaflets below--was instituted 16 January 1942 as a federal effort to direct U.S. wartime production and allocation of essential commodities. And time. The WPB centralized the effort to convert some peacetime industry to wartime production, as well as direct the production of existing wartime industries in the manufacture of critical goods, and rationed or prohibited the manufacture of other material that could possibly hinder the war effort. Thus the WPB rationed things like sugar, heating oil, plastic, gasoline, paper, rubber, nylon and metals of all descriptions; it also controlled large swaths of the workforce, restricting wages and benefits as well as prices. It was an essential element of fighting the war, and brought necessary control to an economy and industrial base that needed organization for what would become a total war.
Instituting a war-production base for American industry allowed production to ratchet way up, producing (for example) multiples more aircraft more in 1943 than in 1941: 1940, 6k aircraft; 1941, 19k; 1942, 47k; 1943 85k; 1944, 56k; 1945, 46k. Also there were enormous production advancements for total shipping tonnage (reaching a wartime production total of 33 million tons), across-the-board huge increases in coal and iron ore (and especially in crude oil), and on and on. The U.S. was able to mobilize itself and take advantage of its enormous natural resources, industrial base and civilian workforce in what was essentially an unreachable island economy, forming what was actually an unbeatable combination of war goods production. (Plus of course there was the atomic bomb, which is another story, but which also only could have been produced in the U.S., given the enormous quantities of energy and material needed to begin its production.)
I found this unusual report in the Library of Congress Pamphlet Collection stash here in the warehouse--surprised that it was printed, and surprised that it was printed in Paris in January 1945. Paris had been liberated by this time, but I wasn't so sure how much of this sort of technical data would have been liberated during the last stage of the war. Of course the Germans were past the V1 with the V2, but, still, I thought it the data was unusual to find reprinted in a technical journal (Genie Civil, 1 Januar 1945).
[Moreau, Henri (1893-1978) and Paul Chovin. "L'arme allemande de represailles V1", offprint from Genie Civil, 1 January 1945. 9x6 inches, 8pp, printed in Paris (newly liberated from the German army 25 August 1944) in early 1945.] And for some reason there are no reprints of this available in libraries worldwide, or so says the OCLC/WorldCat catalog.
I've reprinted the document below in its entirety. Some of the text runs off the side of the scanner, but that is the best I can do in scanning the pamphlet without taking it completely apart.
In the history of blank, empty, and missing things in maps there can be maps with large expanses of nothingness (as in the case seen here with the Bellman's map from Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony in Eight Fits), maps with mostly everything that was to be expected to be expected but intentionally wrong (as with these propaganda maps of the Polish and Czech "threats" to Germany), maps with large expanses of nothing because there was simply so data to be displayed, and so on. And then there are the cases of perfectly good maps that are accurate and secure, but do not display what was thought to be there on the map but wasn't because it really wasn't there.
In the store that I maintained in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, I was often asked about what sort of Civil War action occurred around those parts. It is the sort of question that jumps out from maps showing troop movements during the war that you see on maps--maps without contour lines, or anything else that might show elevation. The answer to that question about Civil War battles here in the southern reaches of the Appalachians is that there was very little official action--and for the most part the reason for that is because there are in fact the Southern Highlands, and in the mid-19th century this very large region was just too bloody difficult to fight in or fight for.
This all becomes cartographically apparent when you look at the region with maps that give you an idea of the terrain.
There is an amazing map that shows you the extent to which this land was inhospitable for combat. The Military map of the marches of the United States forces under command of Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman, U.S.A. during the years 1863, 1864, 18651...., which was originally published in 1865 but more widely known for its inclusion in the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies2 (full text here) in 1895. As the map graphically shows, there are plenty of blu and gray lines depicting troop movements of the armies, though nearly all swarm around our mountainous region.
Apart from the difficult terrain, the mountains, and general inaccessibilty, there wasn't all that much to fight for up here--and so, aside from some regional skirmishes and a lot of political and social conflict, they didn't.
At least not until the very end of the war, in the Battle of Asheville, April 6, 1865, where about 1500 soldiers met each other about 750 feet away from where we used to live, three days before Appomattox. The action there was indecisive, though Asheville was not taken by Union forces.
I was searching for the "Make Me a Map of the Valley" map, the Stonewall-Jackson-directive map, that was made to devastating effect by the Confederacy's leading cartographer, Jedediah Hotchkiss.[More on Hotchkiss here from the Encyclopedia of Virginia.] I saw this on display at the Library of Congress years ago--it is an enormous thing, about 22 square feet and more than 7 feet long (or tall, as it was displayed vertically then), filled with minutiae and just a splendid map of great detail put to extreme use by General Jackson (and Lee, and others). The LC has the Hotchkiss Collection, their "jewel in the crown" of the Civil War maps there, and there is a great amount of it on display on the LC website. The Big One, though, is not there in full. I copied a few of some of the maps most interesting to me, and at the bottom is a link to the other 120 or so maps online by Hotchkiss.
"The Hotchkiss Map Collection contains cartographic items made
by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899), a topographic engineer in the
Confederate Army. Hotchkiss made detailed battle maps primarily of the
Shenandoah Valley, some of which were used by the Generals Robert E. Lee
and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson for their combat planning and
strategy. Several of the maps have annotations of various military
officers, demonstrating their importance in the military campaigns..."--from the LC site. A good, long essay on the collection by Clara LeGear appears elsewhere on the LC site, here.
All maps are expandable after being opened.
Map of the Shenandoah Valley from Harrisonburg to Mt. Jackson, with
topographical detail along the principal roads from Thornton's Gap to
Swift Run Gap and along several valley roads in northwestern Virginia:
Several years ago I purchased part of an archive of David Katcher, who was the founding editor of the journal Physics Today.
Before that, several years before that, in 1945, David Katcher was Lt.
Katcher, serving as a correspondent/writer in the public relations
office of the U.S. Army Headquarters of the Western Pacific (GHQ
USAFPAC). There's a 6-inch stack of paper here with what seems to be his
(and associated) mimeographed offprints of the daily grind of running
the PR department of the Army in the Philippines, which, taken as a
whole, is pretty interesting, showing the concerns and trials of the
Army in reestablishing the government and infrastructure of the
country. Some of the individual reports/publications are stand-alone,
straight-up fabulously interesting things, and so far as I can
determine, have not been published anywhere else. These two examples
are both related to the subduing of the last remnants of the Japanese
Army still fighting in the dense nether lands of northern Luzon, the
Philippines, fighting after the surrender had been made (14 August 1945)
and signed (formally, on the USS Missouri, 2 September) , fighting after the war had ended.
And in all of this comes this unexpected item, dated 1 October 1945, from "Headquarters. United States Army Forces Western Pacific, Public Relations Office, APO 707, General Release 56--Manila" and which--in the midst of the end of the war and the dropping of two atomic weapons--concerns a brave and battle-distinguished and heroic pigeon, "Blackie Halligan".
"Blackie carried a number of messages to this location, one of which was
extremely important because it gave the location of some 300 Japanese
troops. He carried out this message despite being badly wounded. Word of
his accomplishment reached General Patch, Commander of the American
Division, who made a special trip to the loft where he decorated
Blackie. Later, Blackie saw action at other islands in the Pacific."--CECOM Historical Site, U.S. Army, source.
Sometimes, in the midst of great loss in the throes of great victory, in the balance of stories great and true and tried, the small story of sacrifice may be the perfect antidote for large needs.
There is of course a long history to the pigeon in war, and frankly I was surprised to find this story in 1945. Most of the famous pigeons of war come from the First World War:(the image below coming from The Illustrated London News for 2 October 1915):
I'm fairly well certain that I have never seen an image of a camera obscura being used for military purposes--until today. I found "The Camera Obscura in Torpedo Work", in the great scientific journal Nature, for 26 February 1885, pp 389-340. Here's a detail:
the full article follows. It makes sense, kind of a cyber-tool, a steampunk hologram in a way. And there it is.
If you'd like to own the original article you may purchase it via our blog bookstore.
Confectionary connections to interesting bumps in history wind their ways along many unusual paths. One such story is that of physician/scientist/collector Hans Sloane (1660-1753) and his introduction of chocolate into England (as a result of a field expedition he took to Jamaica)--his involvement with chocolate was minor compared to everything else he did in his life, but the introduction of chocolate to coffee houses in London was not. In any event it was his massive and superior collection of natural history samples, archaeological artifacts, and much else, that became the basis for the British Museum--the collections purchased from his estate for 20,000 pounds at the time of his death.
Another example of a weirder candyland adventure is that of Charles Gunther (1837-1920), who was the driving force of moving the infamous Confederate Libby Prison to Chicago in 1893 to house his own collections of Civil War memorabilia and other interesting and Mondo Bizarro things. (He claimed to have--on exhibition--the original skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden, complete in some sort of original frame decked out in Egyptian gibberishglyphics.) Here's an ad that appeared in the Confederate Veteran's first year of publication in 1893:
I wouldn't use the term "great" here--and I'm pretty sure that the word is being misused here in 1893 as well.
The prison was actually a converted tobacco factory, the buildings of which were constructed from 1845-1852, and located in central Richmond at Main and 25th Streets. Poor Luther Libby--a Mainer--came into possessions of the buildings for his business, which was subsequently seized by the Confederate government at the beginning of the war and converted into a hospital/officer's prison before it became the symbol of mistreatment and deprivation and harshness. (Mr. Libby had nothing to do with the prison per se--he was just the last person with his name on the buildings. He outlived the prison-with-his-name-on-it by 15 years--12 years if you count the use of the building to house Confederate leadership after the end of the war.)
Gunther collected big stuff, the biggest being the prison. He purchased it and had it dismantled, shipped up to Chicago, and then reassembled (with the help and advice of the prestigious architecture/design firm of Burnham and Root) where it operated as a museum from 1889-1895. Sensing a brighter future for the property, Gunther dismantled the building selling off chunks of it as souvenirs, and built a convention center on the site, filling the need for meeting space from the burning of the Chicago Coliseum in 1897.
This post could have gone another way very easily, winding up in the Things Out of Place Department--Libby in Chicago, the Statue of Liberty in Paris, London Bridge in Arizona, a duplicate Earth in the sky above the Earth,and so on--perhaps this on another day.
I don't often see graphical displays of quantitative data utilizing quite so many images of shells, even when the image is comparing ammunition production. This striking example is found in The Illustrated London News for July 15, 1917.
[My thanks to Rebecca Onion at Slate Vault for finding and surfacing this incredible document]
"One of the most remarkable productions of Fort Delaware was the
Prison Times, a newspaper published in April, 1865, by Capt. Geo. S.
Thomas, 64th Georgia Regiment, and Lieut. A. Harris, 32d Florida. It was
written in a small but very clear handwriting by Capt. J. W. Hibbs, of the
13th Virginia Cavalry [sic], who proved himself a most expert
penman." --from Edward R. Rich, Comrades! page 120, a small but dense 167-page book printed in Easton, Maryland, and published by S.E. Whitman, in1898, containing his recollections of his experiences in the Union prison.
The Prison Times was a hand-written, four-page newspaper produced by Confederate prisoners in April 1865 in the Union prison at Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. It was a short lived effort, the war ending just weeks after the paper appeared1. As a matter of fact the editors hoped that the newspaper effort would not have to last very much longer, longing for the end of the war and to return home:
"Trusting that the difficulties of conducting an enterprise of
this kind under the circumstances are duly appreciated by an intelligent
public, we send forth this our first number hoping that ere we can have
time to issue many numbers our prison times will be discontinued forever
and our patrons and ourselves be far away in our
loved Sunny South."
It is a remarkable document, enlisting the hope for normalcy of the 33,000 (or so) prisoners2. The newspaper made a statement of intent (and to avoid political
discussion), and displayed useful information like barracks directors
and a short piece on "our prison world". There were also interesting
short advertisements which were apparently real: folks placed their
services into play in the newspaper for engraving, jewelry (rings,
chains, gutta percha), tailoring, washing & ironing, barbers,
dental, music instructions, and shoe-making. There were also a few
short notices for debating and chess clubs, as well as a few pieces of
poetry. Overall, there was a lot of information packed into four 12x8" pages, an effort that showed that in this town-sized prison that there were definitely some forms of society and commerce taking place.
In the efficacies of categories for this blog I wonder about the placement of holes in the history of digging. Most acts of digging results in making a hole, and some digging results in holes that are far longer or wider than they are deep, as in the case of trenches, and especially in the case of trenches dug during WWI, when many thousands of miles of them were dug and filled with millions and millions of men, perhaps as many as a million of them dying right there in the trench.
Digging though is not a necessary condition for making a hole, or supporting a trench for that matter. There were many millions of shells fired during WWI, and many of the craters produced by their explosions were converted for use in conjunctions with trenches.
There is a lengthy section of the relatively short (104pp) book Notes on the Construction and Equipment of Trenches--published by the Army War College in April 1917-- dedicated to the employment of bomb craters in trench warfare. (This was 2.5 years into a war that Woodrow Wilson and most Americans south to avoid--not only to not fight, but to not necessarily take sides, to stay neutral, and it lasted about 900 very bloody days.) And as it turns out, of course, there are many ways to use a big area of scooped-out/blown-away earth in a complex geometry of narrow and interconnected diggings. The hole could be used as a hole filled with barbed wire as a front line of defense--and here we are told (reminded?) about the scope of the so-called "wiring entanglements", which should be 20 yards out from the lip of a crater which should also be 30' deep (!), the bowl of the hole lined with 3' high runs of barbed wire that should be irregularly posted . At the rear for anyone who thought of trying to make it through such a hellhole would be a machine or Lewis gun. (The wooden posts should be strong--"light posts are useless".) Great numbers of these craters would be used like star points in a complicated astrological sign of want and destruction, and this book would aid in the education of how to bring these changes about. (Of particular interest is the advisory that entanglement construction should be undertaken in 40/50-yeard chunks, and that the installation of these defensive measures at the very front of a line "should take place at night". Ineed.
This single-sheet infographic sheet was published seven months after the end of the war, in June 1919, in the Illustrated London News. "Great Britain's High Place in the Allied Roll of Honor: the Testimony of Figures" is exactly that, a very significant, visual testimony. The images speak for themselves.
In all that I have seen relating to the mammoth planning and logistical operations concerning teh invasion of Europe by the Allied Forces on 6 June 1944 I don't think I'ev ever seen such incredibly detailed relief map models such as the one below. The original image resides at the Library of Congress and its catalog information describes it on a scale of 1:5,000 and a vertical scale of 1:2,500, with the model being two sections of 120cm squared (so 120x240cm (or about 3x6 feet). THE map "shows the tide lines, slope of the beach, buildings beyond the beach, and the location of hedgehogs" and the placement of anti-aircreaft weapons. The image is very expandable.
For some reason this particular defensive utility of the binocular/rangefinder/"scherenfernohr" hadn't occurred to me before seeing this photograph (in the September 1915 issue of Himmel und Erde). Of course with the many billions of rounds of ammo that flew across open fields during the war, if it was your job to sight for artillery or what have you it would be better to do that from a trench (as this instrument was also known as a "trench periscope", as varieties of the binoculars could have vertical tubes) and behind cover, or if in the field to be able to find a defensive position for your work. I hadn't thought about standing behind a tree with the scope's optics wide enough to operate beyond the diameter of the trunk--seeing the picture made me think, "of course". On the other hand, this posture assumes that there's very little flank to that field...
I've unearthed another rare and exceptional document from the "collection" (read "heap") here, a 38-page mimeographed document that is a logical and reasonable response of the Japanese-American community in Seattle to their impending removal and impundment of via Executive Order 9066 (1942):
Report submitted to Tolan Congressional Committee on National Defense Migration Emergency Defense Council Seattle Chapter Japanese American Citizens League.
“....there must be a point beyond which there may be no abridgement of civil liberties and we feel that whatever the emergency, that persons must be judged, so long as we have a Bill of Rights, because of what they do as persons We feel that treating persons, because they are members of a race, constitutes illegal discrimination, which is forbidden by the fourteenth amendment whether we are at war or peace.”-- A. L. Wirin, Counsel for the Southern California Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, speaking on the internment of Japanese-Americans, 1942
"We make these statements, not because we fear evacuation, but because we believe, to the bottom of our hearts, that the best interests of the United States, our nation are to be served by being permitted to stay, work, fight, and die for our country if necessary here where we belong."--Response by the Japanese American Citizens League to Internment Camps, 1942
This excruciating, heart-rending 1942 document was submitted by the Japanese American Citizens League (of Seattle, Washington) to the Tolan Congressional Committee with recommendations, proposals and requests in the event of the removal of Japanese citizens from “sensitive” areas in western America. It is an exceptional report, a well-reasoned response to the developing and calamitous American fear of Japanese fellow-citizens; a fear which was swiftly leading itself to xenophobic actions the result of which was the internment of 120,000 American citizens in non-lethal concentration camps.
I wanted to take a moment and post something from the bookselling section of this blog, something that's pretty interesting and scarce in its own right. It is a work produced at the Harvard University Department of Psychology by Henry A. Murray (1893-1988), the Worksheets on Morale. Seminar in Psychological Problems of Morale which was published in 1942 and contains a section which turns out to be the first psychological profile of Adolf Hitler--this copy was formerly in the library of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor and incubator of the CIA.