Thursday, October 19, 2017

AMERICAN REVOLUTION | Oct. 19 – Washington Defeats Cornwallis

Redcoats Surrender to George Washington.
October 19, 2017 – At 2 a.m. on this day in 1781, 8,000 British troops and Hessian mercenaries under Charles (Lord) Cornwallis started filtering out of their Yorktown base to surrender to George Washington.

He had scored, with French allies, a decisive victory over the British, who two days before surrendered and sued for peace. Besides giving up troops and seamen, Cornwallis abandoned 144 cannons and nearly 50 naval vessels. 

It had not been going so well before that. Washington’s troops were wearing rags and food was short. Desertions were frequent. During the summer, only a few thousand troops were left at their camp at West Point, New York. 

The British had a large force in New York City under General Henry Clinton, well entrenched and prepared for an attack. But Washington learned that the British forces under the control of Lord Cornwallis were building a naval base at Yorktown in Virginia. He decided on a faking an attack on New York City, then marching his army past toward Virginia, to trap Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown. 

Washington’s 2,500 troops crossed the Hudson River on August 21, united with a French army of 4,000 men under Count de Rochambeau, and headed south to join up with the Marquis de Lafayette in Virginia, who was leading an American army of about 5,000 men. The combined force of 11,500 would attack Cornwallis. 

Washington's army and their French allies covered 200 miles in 15 days, marching every day from 2 a.m. until the troops were too exhausted by the heat to continue. They reached the head of Chesapeake Bay in early September. Few armies in history had ever moved with this speed so far.

Cornwallis got word of Washington's approach, but foolishly decided  that his troops could hold out till the British Navy arrived. To his dismay, he discovered that the large French fleet under Count de Grasse routed the British fleet under Admiral Thomas Graves at the Battle of Virginia Capes on September 5, denying Cornwallis his rescue and exit.

Meanwhile, de Grasse sailed many of Washington and Rochambeau’s men down the Chesapeake to Virginia. They joined Lafayette on September 28 and cut off Cornwallis. De Grasse landed another 3,000 French troops on his ships. During the first two weeks of October, the 14,000 French and American troops overcame the fortified British positions with the aid of de Grasse’s warships... a British fleet carrying 7,000 men was on its way but was too slow in getting there to be of any help.

In the early weeks of October, Washington's troops began their siege, bombarding Corwallis with gun and cannon fire. He sent word of his surrender. Washington required the British to march out of the city, giving up their arms. But Cornwallis didn't show up for the surrender ceremony, pleading illness. He gave his sword to his second-in-command, to be offered to the French general, letting everyone know that Cornwallis considered himself beaten not by the American rebels but by the French. There was truth to that, surely, since half the troops and all the naval force was French. 

Whatever the mix of credit for Washington's victory, England took the defeat of Cornwallis with despair and lost the taste for teaching the colonials a lesson. The government decided not to invest in another army and appealed to Washington for peace. The eight-year Revolutionary War was officially over two years later, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

BIRTH | Oct. 18 – A. J. Liebling (Personal Comment)

A. J. Liebling. He died at 59, the
same year I met him briefly.
October 18, 2017 – This day was born in 1904 in New York City A(bbot) J(oseph) Liebling. As a boy, he loved reading the newspapers:
[M]any of my early impressions of the world, correct and the opposite, came to me through newspapers. Homicide, adultery, no-hit pitching, and Balkanism... 
So he became a newspaper reporter and loved it. He would:
pound up tenement stairs and burst in on families disarranged by sudden misfortune. ... I learned almost immediately what every reporter knows, that most people are eager to talk about their troubles.
To get a job at the New York World, he hired a man to pace back and forth for three days outside the Pulitzer building with a sign: "Hire Joe Liebling." Although nobody at the World ever admitted to seeing the sign, he was hired. 

From The World in 1935 he moved up to a job with the The New Yorker that lasted till he died nearly 30 years later. He wrote about World War II, boxing and food. You might not figure out the first two topics, but you might guess the third by looking at his photo.


I met A. J. Liebling in the spring of 1963 when we were both at the Bircher-Benner Clinic on Keltenstrasse 9 in Zürich. Dr Bircher had an international clientèle, including my mother's Dutch relatives who claimed he cured several of them (including my grandmother) of cancer. His son Ralph Bircher carried on some of his work, and Dr Bircher's Estonian-born niece, Dr Dagmar Liechti-von Brasch, took over the Clinic in the 1940s after the death of Dr Bircher, who raised her as one of his own during and after World War I when the von Brasch family was at risk in Estonia. My mother made sure I was checked out several times at the Bircher-Benner-Privatklinik and I was given many earnest individual and group lectures on the value of exercise and minimally processed food. Modern medicine is catching up with Dr Bircher's régime. When I was there in 1963, I was told that a fellow American from New York I had met, Mr. Liebling, had left early because he didn't like the unprocessed food. Liebling was a gourmet and it showed (see photo above). It's too bad that he didn't learn to appreciate the gourmet qualities of Bircher Muesli. He died before the end of the year I met him, at a young 59 years of age.😕 

As Dr Bircher's son and daughter-in-law aged, the Bircher-Benner-Privatklinik lost some of its energy and it closed in 1994, becoming a government health facility. But as new research confirmed many of Dr Bircher's claims, and as the taste for Bircher Muesli spread throughout the world, the demand grew for the Clinic's return. It reopened in another location (Braunwald) in 2011.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

WED | Eckholm & Fensterer

Bob and Victoria in a magical sea of lights.
Photos by JT Marlin.
October 8, 2017 – Alice and I yesterday went to the wedding party of Bob Eckholm and Victoria Fensterer.

It was at their home on the bay near Maidstone Park in East Hampton Town, off one of those roads with names from towns in the south of England. 
Victoria and Bob cut the
ceremonial cake.

They live in a lovely house overlooking a bay and Long Island Sound, near Folkstone [sic], named after Folkestone on the English Channel.

Bob Eckholm many years ago met Victoria through David Tyson. 
L to R: David Tyson and a cousin.
Photos by JT Marlin.

David's mother had a regular square dance at her home on Tyson Lane off Further Lane (we went to a few of these dances in the 1980s). The one-time family business was Kentile, a product still in use that is a tile bonded with a cork base. One of the guests from the family told me about the feast-and-famine cycles of the company.

I got to know David well during the decade when Alice and I sailed regularly on small boats. David was the Fleet Captain for an impressive array of 26 Sunfish that would race on weekends. He also sailed a 32-foot racing boat that won races regularly in light winds. Since then, heavier boats have become more popular.
The bride's brother, who officiated, looks on
with benevolence. At right is the bride and
Alice Tepper Marlin.

Bob visited and went with David to a party for David's grandmSpother and grandfather.

There he met Victoria and it was love at first sight.

This was a full event. Lots a good food, attentively served by the Springs General Store; a bottomless bar with a super-responsive bartender who was a friend of the couple; lots of toasts, and many, many stories.
Victoria gets a hug from a

It was good to see so many long-time and new friends, and to meet new ones.

I first met Janet Fensterer, the bride's sister, when she was an organist at the Springs Community Presbyterian Church and I was in the choir. 

Alice knew Bob Eckholm through an event where she was on the program with Bill Moyers. Bob was working with on a United Nations project and was interested in her work.
Bob's sister and spouse.

Besides members of the Eckholm, Fensterer and Tyson families, we talked with Joe McDonald, Scott Chwasky and Nina Gilman.