Loria Trades Marlins’ No Hitter-Securing Baseball To Boston For Newer, Younger Baseballs

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Pour One Out For: Lord Cochrane

On this date in 1820, Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, completed the daring capture of Valdivia during the Chilean War of Independence.  Using subterfuge and audacity, Lord Cochrane led 250 men and two ships in a nighttime assault on seven forts bristling with 110 guns, 700 soldiers, and 800 nearby reinforcements.  Cochrane and his men routed the forts on the southern shore of the bay in the night, and the troops guarding the northern shore fled in the morning.

The Chilean capture of Valdivia

Lord Cochrane was invited to the Chilean cause by the (terrifically-named) Bernardo O’Higgins, and became instrumental in securing Chile’s independence from Spain.  Yet the capture of Valdivia on February 3-4, 1820 was only one of Lord Cochrane’s many exploits on or near the High Seas.

Lord Cochrane with his second-favorite spyglass

Nicknamed “The Sea Wolf” by his French adversaries, Cochrane served the British Navy with great flair and distinction.  Cochrane commanded the HMS Speedy’s14 guns and 54 men in the audacious capturing of the Spanish frigate El Gamo (32 guns and 319 men) on May 6th, 1801.  He was captured during the French Revolutionary Wars by a French admiral who sought the advice of his prisoner.  Lord Cochrane got into a duel at a Maltese fancy dress party because a fellow officer mistook Cochrane’s common-sailor-costume for the real thing.  He was kicked out of British politics and the navy after being found (dubiously) guilty in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814.  Not one to sit on his hands, Cochrane aided the Chilean, Brazilian, and Greek wars of independence until he was reinstated into the British Navy in 1832.  Considered a brilliant practitioner of coastal warfare, Lord Cochrane planned his missions meticulously and frequently bluffed or disguised his way into victories over numerically superior opponents.  Lord Cochrane is buried in Westminster Abbey, and has served as inspiration for C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey.

So if you find yourself drinking gin in a coastal port, watching the sun set beyond an old harbor fortress and imagining leading an assault on that position, pour one out for Lord Thomas Cochrane.  He would know how to capture that fort, and with fewer troops than you would think were required.

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Pour One Out For: Stonewall Jackson

Thomas Jonathan Jackson was born on this date, January 21st, in 1824.  A devout Presbyterian, he attended West Point Military Academy and was the most-promoted American officer in the Mexican-American War.  He was an instructor at the Virginia Military Institute when the Civil War broke out.  Brigadier General Jackson found himself in command of a Virginian brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run.  Under heavy Union pressure, Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr. made an exclamation which would forever alter Brig. Gen. Jackson’s life.  While several accounts of the quote exist, one of them is as follows: “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.  Rally around the Virginians!”

Stonewall at his sharpest

It is the rare man who can acquire a nickname in the heat of battle from a soldier who dies very soon after (as did Bee).  Stonewall Jackson was a rare man indeed.  An aggressive and tactically brilliant commander, his troops were known for their discipline and courage under fire.  He was the Confederacy’s most celebrated soldier (apart from Gen. Lee), a darling of Confederate women who took the buttons off his worn uniform as souvenirs.  A devout Presbyterian, he disliked fighting on Sundays and was not a vocal proponent of slavery.  He was known before the war for organizing Sunday School education classes for slaves in Lexington.

At the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, Jackson led a surprise assault on an unguarded flank of a Union army, sending them into retreat.  Returning to the Confederate lines after dark on May 2nd, Jackson and his officers were mistaken for Union cavalry and fired upon.  Jackson was hit three times, and his injuries were severe enough to require the amputation of his left arm.  General Lee, upon hearing of Jackson’s amputation, said that Jackson had lost his left arm but Lee had lost his right (awwwwww).

Jackson developed pneumonia after the surgery, and died on May 10th.  His last words, said in delirium, were battle orders to the air.  But the last part of his orders, delivered calmly and quietly, were thus: “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”

So if you find yourself drinking in Virginia (or his birth place, West Virginia, where lord knows one should drink), resting under the shade of the trees, pour one out for General Stonewall Jackson.


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