TDISH: A Forgotten Massacre

April 30, 2016 is the 145th anniversary of an oft-forgotten assault on members of the Apache and Yavapi tribes of modern Arizona.  These individuals, taking up the offers of peace made by President Ulysses Grant’s administration, had surrendered to the U.S. Army garrison stationed at Camp Grant – near Tucson.  By 1871, about 500 people had surrendered to Lieutenant Royal Whitman, the commanding officer of the camp.  Among these were a few important Apache, including Chief Eskiminzin, a prominent proponent of peace in the tribe.  Lieutenant Whitman has been generous with the surrendering people; he provided rations and put the Apache and Yavapi into a camp along the Aravaipa Creek.  The creek gave them access to fresh water and allowed them to grow some of their own food.  Everything seemed to be going well.800px-Aravaipa

However, many people were unhappy about President Grant’s policy and wanted to wipe the Apache and their allies off the land.  On the morning of April 30, a group of 54 men from Tucson decided to take matters into their own hands.  They rode to the camp on the Aravaipa where they met 92 Tohono O’odham allies.  The Tohono rode into the sleeping camp and, using knives, clubs, and machete, started to attack the people there.  Anyone who escaped was shot at by the men from Tucson, led by a man named William Oury.

By the time Whitman arrived with his troops, the raiding party had run off, but not before killing between 125 and 144 people, all but eight of them women and children. On top of this, the raiders kidnapped 29 children who were brought to Mexico by the Tohono where they were forced into slavery.  When he heard of the massacre, President Grant was furious and declared that if the perpetrators were not brought to trail that he would declare martial law over all of Arizona Territory.  In response, Oury, Sideny DeLong, and several others were indicted for murder and, after a six day trial, were found not guilty by a jury after just 19 minutes of deliberation.  The feelings of the residence of Tucson were made clear by local newspaper publisher, John Wasson, when he called the Apache “untameable brutes; fit for nothing but slaughter.”  This point was made even further when DeLong was elected mayor and Oury, sheriff, shortly after the assault.  This attack put an end to peaceful cooperation between American settlers and the Apache which would eventually lead to a long series of wars between the two sides.

Featured Image. Flag of the Yavapi Apache Nation. By Xasartha – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Beal, Tom. “Curing ‘Amnesia’ about State’s Most Blood-soaked Day.” Arizona Daily Star. 3 May 2009.
Image 1. Aravaipa Creek. Public Domain.



TDISH – If a ballgame is played and no one is there to see it, does it count?

On April 29, 2015, something truly strange occurred – for the only time in the history of Major League Baseball was played in front of a crowd of zero.  In response to city-wide tensions following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25 year-old man who died in policy custody, the Baltimore Orioles – Chicago White Sox game was played in front of record-setting tiny crowd.  While Gray’s death was certainly unnecessary and tragic, the baseball game came to demonstrate just how widespread the results of the resulting violence were – impacting every aspect of life in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Orioles won the game 8 – 2.  For you Orioles fans out there (like me!), yes, they played “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during the seventh-inning stretch.

Featured Image: Oriole Park at Camden Yards (on a normal game day). By Keith Allison –, CC BY-SA 2.0.
Sherman, Roger. “This is what the Orioles-White Sox game with zero attendance looked like.” 29 April 2015.

TDISH: The Korean “Horatio Nelson”

On April 28, 1545, a boy was born in a town that is now within the South Korean capital, Seoul.  This boy, named Yi Sun-sin, was destined to become one of the most important heroes of Korean history and the Joseon Dynasty in particular.  Despite having a roller coaster of a career that saw him go from war hero to torture-victim and back to war hero, Yi was able to save his homeland from repeated conquest attempts from the Koreans longtime rivals, the Japanese.

In 1592, Japanese forces under the Imperial Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi attempted to launch an invasion of Korea as a precursor to a planned excursion against the Ming Chinese.  Despite having YiSunsin_personno naval experience, Yi was put in charge of Korea’s naval defenses.  In so doing, he revived a unique Korean ship, the Geobukseon: the Turtle Ship.  These ships are known for being, perhaps, the first armored war ships in history were armed with a large number of cannon which made them nearly invisible in late 16th century naval warfare.  By bringing these ships into action, Yi successfully repulsed the Japanese invasion.  They would not try to invade Korea again for nearly six years.

In an attempt to neutralize this surprisingly capable naval leader, the Japanese hired a spy to act as a double agent whose maneuverings were intended back Yi into a corner and to have him removed from a position of authority.  This plot worked incredibly well, as the spy was able to convince several influential generals that Yi was working with the Japanese.  The admiral was arrested and imprisoned in Seoul where he was subjected to torture for much of 1597.

In August 1597, the Korean fleet,  under its new command, was soundly defeated by their Japanese enemy.  In response to this, the powers-that-were in Korea reinstated Yi since he had routinely shown how capable he was.  After the terrible defeat in August, Yi only had 13 ships at his command, none of which were Turtle Ships.  His adversary, however, had 300 ships.  Yi’s tiny fleet met the Japanese armada in the Myeongnyang Strait.  Through his ingenious naval command, Yi successfully held the strait against seemingly insurmountable odds and issued the Japanese fleet a decisive defeat.800px-TurtleShip1795

A year later, in December 1598, Yi again met the Japanese at the Battle of Noryang.  This time, he did not stand alone, but the Joseon fleet was reinforced by a Ming one.  However, Yi was not to survive this encounter.  Struck by a stray bullet after leading his forces to defeat, Yi died with honor on his flagship.  He was buried with full honors alongside his father in his hometown.  History has remembered Yi as one of the greatest naval combat leaders in history and is often remembered in the same breath as the British hero from the Napoleonic Wars, Admiral Nelson.

Featured Image. “Statue of Yi Sun-sin in Seoul.” by Brücke-Osteuropa – Own work, CC0.
“The Man Who Transformed Korea.” VANK.
“Admiral Yi and his turtle ship resurrect in late April.” KOIS. April 12, 2008.
Tucker, Spencer. A Global Chronology of Conflict. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2010.
Figure 1. “Yi Sun-sin.” By Unknown –, Public Domain.
Figure 2. “Turtle Ship.” By I, PHGCOM, CC BY-SA 3.0.


TDISH: The Barbarian Queen

On April 27, 395, the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, Arcadius married Aelia Eudoxia, the beautiful daughter of a Frankish general.  Despite having a “civilized” Roman mother, Eudoxia’s father, Bauto, was known as little better than a barbarian and his daughter inherited some of these barbarous characteristics.  Despite these traits, Arcadius married the young beauty and brought her to the capital, Constantinople.

As Empress Consort, Eudoxia grew into one of the most powerful women in the history of the Eastern Empire, especially in the realm of religion.  She supported the faction of the Christian Church that adopted the Nicene Creed, but she soon came into conflict with the patriarch of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom.  John eschewed the traditional expectations of the patriarch and refused to show obeisance to the elites of the city.  His brand of Christianity played very well to the common people, but not so well to the halls of power.

As is so often the case, those closest to power came out on top.  Eudoxia had much more of her husband’s ear than John ever could.  In the end, she and her powerful friends succeeded in arranging to have the patriarch exiled from the city.  Not too bad for a barbarian.

Featured Image: “John Chrysostom Confronts the Empress.” by Jean-Paul Laurens – [1], Public Domain.
Bury, J.B. History of the Later Roman Empire. MacMillan & Co, 1923.
Schraf, Philip. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Hendrickson Publishing, 1996.

TDISH: When Bankers Kill

When we think of bankers today, we usually think of stodgy men in business suits and carrying briefcases.  In Renaissance Florence, however, banking could be a much more dangerous profession.  On April 26, 1478, the Pazzi family, a prominent banking and political family in Florence, arranged for a brutal and fatal assault on their most powerful rivals in business and politics – the brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano de’Medici.

By the date of the assault, Lorenzo had been Lord of Florence for just shy of a decade and held the city-state in the iron grip of his family.  A very controversial figure, Lorenzo had helped to Verrocchio_Lorenzo_de_Medicibuild Florence from a relatively provincial power to a world leader in banking and the arts.  The Medici family was renowned for its patronage of famous artists such as Michelangelo and Botticelli.  However, they were also thoroughly despised by many Florentines.  A once proud republic, Florence had been reduced to a de facto dictatorship under Lorenzo’s rule.

The Pazzi family, though still quite prosperous in banking, had seen better days by the Spring of 1478.  They had given up their noble titles long ago to be able to participate in Florence’s republican experiment.  Instead of holding political sway, they found themselves under the thumbs of their business rivals – the Medici.  This was an unbearable situation.

On that fateful Sunday morning, in the Duomo, the Cathedral of Florence, the Pazzi assailants attacked the brothers as they sat at High Mass.  Giuliano was stabbed numerous times and lay dying in a pool of blood on the cathedral floor.  A seriously wounded Lorenzo was able to escape with the aid of his men and was hidden in the sacristy of the church.


Most of the conspirators were immediately caught and, instead of being exiled, as was the traditional punishment for such a crime, especially when committed by influential families, were summarily executed.  Five of the murderers were hanged from the windows of the Palazzo della Signora, now known as the Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the main square of Florence.  As a result of this attack and the death of his brother, Lorenzo was able to consolidate his power even more and Florence was to be under Medici domination for the rest of the great man’s life.

A few years ago, the podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class, did an outstanding episode on the Pazzi Conspiracy. Check it out on their site!

Featured Image – “View of Florence” By Luca Aless – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Baker, Nicholas Scott. 2009. For reasons of state: Political executions, republicanism, and the Medici in Florence, 1480-1560. Renaissance Quarterly 62 (2): 444.
Figure 1 – “Lorenzo the Magnificent.” By Andrea del Verrocchio – National Gallery of Art., Public Domain.
Figure 2 – “Giuliano de Medici.” By Sandro Botticelli – National Gallery of Art, Public Domain.

TDISH: The Forgotten Dynasty of One

On April 25, 1644, a former shepherd and blacksmith, Li Hongji, defeated the armies of the Chongzhen Emperor of the once mighty Ming Dynasty in the Battle of Beijing.  In response, the emperor cMing_Chongzhenommitted suicide by hanging himself in a tree in an imperial garden in the city after killing much of his family – effectively marking the end of the Ming Dynasty.

The shepherd, turned rebel general was named the new emperor and took the name Li Zicheng, “The Dashing King.” In so doing, he established a brand new dynasty, the Shun.  “But wait,” you say, “I’m not a specialist, but I know a good amount about China.  I’ve never heard of the Shun.”  This is because this dynasty was particularly short-lived.

Just over one year after the suicide of the Chongzgen Emperor, Li Zicheng and his Shun armies were defeated at the Battle of Shanhai Pass by a former Ming general and a Manchu army.  This effectively led to the end of the Shun Dynasty as the ethnic-Manchu Shunzhi Emperor became the first Qing Emperor of China, a dynasty that would that would last until 1912.

Shea, Merilyn. Forbidden City – History.
The Chongzhen Emperor by Unknown – He Li: Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty, Asian Art Museum San Francisco, 2008, Public Domain.

TDISH: Easter Rising – 100 Years Later

April 24, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the Easter Rising which marked the first armed uprising of the Irish against British rule in more than a century.  While unsuccessful, the Easter Rising was the beginning of the Irish Revolutionary Period which marked a shift away from Home Rule as the dominant political stance among the Irish to the republican Sinn Fein movement.

To learn more about this key event in Irish History, take a listen to these two outstanding podcasts.

Featured Image – “Birth of the Irish Republic” by Walter Paget – Photo of original, Public Domain.