Category Archives: Random Enjoyment

Chickamauga 150 Countdown: Grant on Bragg

By Ron Fritze

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During the Civil War and for years after, Grant was known for keeping his opinions about the war to himself. After he left the presidency that changed and Grant started to reminisce. In 1877 he went on a world tour with John Russell Young as the reporter who accompanied him. Over the course of months, Grant started to provide recollections of the Civil War which Young eagerly included in his newspaper columns and a later book. Then toward the end of his life, Grant was financially ruined by dishonest “friends” and needed to leave his family some money. So he wrote his famous memoirs that were completed shortly before his death. They sold well and are a classic of American writing. In Young’s book and his own memoirs, Grant revealed some telling anecdotes about Braxton Bragg as a man and a soldier. Here they are for your enjoyment. Are there any Bragg fans left out there?

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: Ambrose Bierce

By Ron Fritze

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Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913?) was a journalist, satirist, and short story writer (mostly horror and thrillers) who is best known for his Devil’s Dictionary and the short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” “Owl Creek” is set in northern Alabama and may have been based on the abandoned railroad bridge a mile or two south of Elkmont. Born in Ohio, Bierce had the good fortune, like me and Abraham Lincoln, to grow up in Indiana. In 1913 he is supposed to have disappeared into Mexico during the great Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920. A fictional depiction of his last days forms the plot of the film Old Gringo (1989).

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Freedom Recaptured

By Guy McClure

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What does it take to be truly carefree? For me it is simply two wheels and starry summer nights.

While home in Athens after my freshman year at college, I first experienced this freedom and it has stuck with me ever since. You see in the early summer of 1980, my grandfather’s driveway became the depository for a stolen bike. A white 10-speed Raleigh that he subsequently gave to me after it was not claimed. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I had been issued a driver’s license, but I took the gift thinking it may bring back a sort of nostalgia. It did bring nostalgia, but it wasn’t about the action of riding the bike but the environment in which the bike was ridden.

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Tools of the Trade: Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus

By Ron Fritze

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In this blog, I want to share with you what has become my favorite tool for putting some variety and spice into my writing. Check out the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (2004) or OAWT for short. It is a great alternative to Roget’s Thesaurus because it is easier to use and works just as well if not a bit better. It is organized in a dictionary style and provides many synonyms listed in logical order. When appropriate, distinctions are made between formal and informal usages. Some entries also provide a few suggestions for antonyms. Examples of sentences that demonstrate usage of a word are also provided. Take the word “bad.” The OAWT gives twelve different general ways that “bad” can be used. Well over 150 synonyms and antonyms for “bad” are supplied. So if you mean “bad” in the sense of “the bad guys”, it gives alternatives like “corrupt,” “reprobate,” or “crooked” among others. If you mean “bad” in the sense of a “bad child,” it suggests “naughty,” “wayward,” or “undisciplined” among others. Remember, there are often subtle differences in meaning and connotation between some of the alternative suggestions. They are not necessarily inter-changeable parts. Keep your dictionary handy so that you can pick out the word that works best for your situation.

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The Elementary Reasons Why a University President Should Strive to Be Like Sherlock Holmes:

By Bob Glenn

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Ever since I first read the Adventure of the Red Headed League in my eighth grade literature book I have been a serious fan of Sherlock Holmes. During college I read and reread the fifty-six short stories and four short novels that comprise The Canon. After college I became acquainted with the The Baker Street Irregulars, that society of Sherlockian enthusiasts formed in the late 1940’s by author Christopher Morley that now boasts over 300 chapters in the United States as well as chapters across the world. My wife, Laurie, and I have had the good fortune to be a part of two such groups over the years. Recently while reading a marvelous little book called Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, by Maria Konnikova, it occurred to me that many of the things I strive to do as President of Athens State University are very similar to the traits and habits of the famed detective. So, with apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. John H. Watson, I will in the next few Athens State Blog posts attempt to list all those reasons why a university president should strive to be like my favorite detective.

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: The Winner, Part III

By Ron Fritze

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This is excerpt three from a three-part article for the Chickamauga 150 Countdown:

On 23 June 1863, William Rosecrans and his Union Army of the Cumberland took the offensive against Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee encamped at Tullahoma, Tennessee.  Bragg commanded an army riven by dissent.  He did not communicate his plans with his subordinate generals and they were generally uncooperative with his orders.  Meanwhile Rosecrans conducted a series of flanking maneuvers that kept Bragg off-balance.  By 8 September, he had forced Bragg to abandon the strategically crucial city of Chattanooga and to retreat into Georgia.

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: The Winner, Part II

By Ron Fritze

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This is excerpt two from a three-part article for the Chickamauga 150 Countdown:

In August 1862, Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith launched an invasion of Kentucky. Their plan was to help Secessionists bring Kentucky into the Confederacy and make the Ohio River the northern border of the new nation. On 8 October 1862, units of the Union and Confederate armies fought a battle at Perryville. Bragg was under the misapprehension that he was fighting an isolated segment of the Union forces. Confederate forces attacked and drove back the Union troops. By the end of the day, however, Bragg realized that the entire numerically superior Northern Army of Don Carlos Buell was nearby and rapidly reinforcing their comrades at Perryville. So Bragg broke off the engagement and retreated, or as he put it, withdrew into Tennessee. His action dismayed Kirby Smith along with the other Confederate generals Leonidas Polk and William J. Hardee and they wrote to Jefferson Davis asking him to remove Bragg from command. Davis refused but Bragg’s relationship with his subordinate generals was in tatters.

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: The Winner, Part I

By Ron Fritze

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This is excerpt one from a three-part article for the Chickamauga 150 Countdown:

When it comes to Confederate military prowess, Braxton Bragg was nobody to brag about. Yes, he commanded the Army of Tennessee at the great victory at Chickamauga but the fact is, the Confederates won because of Rosecrans’ mistake and despite Braxton Bragg’s leadership.
Bragg was born in North Carolina into lower class family. His father, however, developed into a successful business man. This provided the resources for Bragg to get a good education and eventually an appointment to West Point. At West Point, Bragg graduated fifth in his class and also earned a below average number of demerits.

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Greek Tragedy in Athens, AL: Euripides’ Trojan Women

By Travis Sharp

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Everyone knows the stories of the Trojan War: Paris (in many minds seen as Orlando Bloom) and his fateful trip to Sparta; Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships; the deaths of Achilles and Hector; the Trojan horse being brought into the impregnable city; the destruction of Troy and those within its walls. A (very) rough interpretation of this ancient Greek lore was presented in the 2004 film Troy. But in all of the retellings, there is something missing—where are the women of Troy, the survivors not killed by the invading Greeks? We know that King Priam was murdered, but what of Queen Hecuba? What of Andromache, Hector’s wife? What fate took Helen of Troy? What destruction fell upon the cursed Cassandra? These are the stories which ancient Greek playwright Euripides explored in Trojan Women, a play which, according to translator Dr. Francis Blessington, “explores, with rare depth, human suffering.”

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: The Mistake

By Ron Fritze

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They call it the “fog of war.” It’s when unforeseen circumstances cause a battle plan to fall apart. It’s when an army’s communication breaks down during the heat of battle. It’s when generals lose track of where their troops are located. Every battle sees mistakes on both sides. Sometimes the mistakes cancel each other out. Other times, a mistake will lose a battle decisively. Chickamauga was one of those battles.

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