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Army Picks New Handgun

It’s the SIG P320. The contract is worth $580MM, and they will be fielding it in 2017. Caliber will be 9mm. I feel like SIG is a good choice. What do you think?

Happy Veterans Day

A happy veterans day to all who have served. I’ve done quite a bit of research into my Grandfather, John J. Milligan Sr.’s service on the Belgian front in December to January 1944, and at this point understand most of what his unit was doing during the time he got on the front until he was wounded about a month later. My great-grandfather, Samuel F. Milligan, served in the First World War, and I have only begun to research his service.

Milligan Generations

On the left is my great-grandfather and World War I veteran Sam holding my oldest first cousin Billy (who also served in our nation’s military). To the right is my grandfather, World War II veteran. The picture was taken about 1966.

I never knew my great-grandfather, since he died a few years before I was born. In piecing together his service, I don’t have the advantage of having heard some stories, like I did from my grandfather.

At age 23, my great-grandfather was drafted into the National Army on 26 May 1918. After training at Camp Meade (now Fort Meade), Maryland, he joined the American Expeditionary Force in France. He fought with Company M, 316th Infantry.  I have in his own handwriting:

I arrived in France July 18th, 1918, took part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive until wounded on Nov 6th, 1918. I was removed to Base 67 on November 11th, 1918. I left Bordeaux on March 12, then arrived in Embarkation Hospital #3, New York City. I was discharged from Camp Dix April 19th, 1919.

Camp Dix is now Fort Dix, in New Jersey. Sam’s record says he was severely wounded in the left leg on the 6th of November. Ninety seven years ago to the day, on the 11th hour, he would have heard the guns fall silent, and would be removed from the front to face a long recovery. A generation later, my grandfather’s story would sound much the same.

As I mentioned, I never knew my great-grandfather, but I also never even heard of his service until I discovered it, and neither did my father. If there was one thing my grandfather talked about less than the war, it was his family. Sam would later serve the Civilian Conservation Corps, but he had a lot of personal problems later in life, and struggled with alcohol. My grandfather did not get along with him. He died 24 July 1970 and is buried in New Jersey, not far from where I live now.


My research is meant to be a tribute to all my ancestors who served. Whatever faults my great-grandfather may have had as a person and as a father, his service deserves to be documented and remembered.

Modern Day Philly Militia

Once upon a time, Sebastian compared the historical concept of a militia to something like that of a modern volunteer fire department. I thought that was a pretty good analogy at the time, but since then I’ve learned that Philadelphia actually has a private military organization. The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry is a purely volunteer, privately organized cavalry troop that has been called into federal military service as needed since 1774.

Our opponents in the gun control movement have often derided the idea of “private militias,” even though they played a significant role in the founding of this country. The history page of the First Troop notes that even though they had been operating in defense of  Philadelphia alongside the Continental Army, it wasn’t until 1811 that “a law was passed authorizing a regimental organization of the cavalry.” They weren’t even incorporated under state law until 1863.

Today First Troop requires prospective members to also be currently serving in the National Guard, but reading the troop’s history page is an interesting look back at volunteers who felt a duty to country and community. As our founders understood it, the concept of a privately organized citizen militia was not about “insurrection,” as our opponents claim, but about service.

NYT Declares New “Weapon of War” – Coffee

The New York Times has a piece talking about what some people consider another “weapon of war,” and it is coffee. Of course, in the context of the Civil War, they are probably right about that designation. From the article on the history of coffee in the War Between the States:

For Union soldiers, and the lucky Confederates who could scrounge some, coffee fueled the war. Soldiers drank it before marches, after marches, on patrol, during combat. In their diaries, “coffee” appears more frequently than the words “rifle,” “cannon” or “bullet.” Ragged veterans and tired nurses agreed with one diarist: “Nobody can ‘soldier’ without coffee.”

The piece even mentions “The Coffee Mill Sharps,” though the author apparently hasn’t kept up with the research on this front since it seems that there’s more consensus now that it was never designed to grind coffee, but likely grain.

Regardless of that minor error on the coffee grinding Sharps, the piece was a really interesting read when it comes to the history and value of coffee in this country.

70th Anniversary of D-Day

There are quite a few neat things that have popped up to honor the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. One that stuck out to Sebastian was this collection of “then and now” photos from the Normandy beaches.

On Twitter, Charles C. W. Cooke has been sharing a fantastic collection of historic photos from the invasion. This is one that stuck out to me.

From NRA, Life of Duty has a piece where 94-year-old paratrooper John Perozzi visit the invasion site. He was shot during the invasion and still carries that bullet in him today, yet he recovered and went on to fight again, including at the Battle of the Bulge.

I have been interested in the BBC’s posting of current British celebrities reading BBC News scripts from June 6, 7, & 8th.

I know there are many other tributes online today, and I’d love to see any favorites from readers today in the comments.

Military History Bleg

Because I know how wise you readers are in your varied studies and hobbies, I hope that you can help me out with something. I’d like to know if the abbreviation for the rank of ensign in a Revolutionary War militia is the same as what we use now in the Navy.

One of my ancestors was an ensign in the Henry County, Virginia militia, and I’d like do properly document that with an abbreviation. However, given that the rank was abolished in the Army in 1815, and the fact that I don’t know if things would be quite the same in the militia, I thought I would try to find out what the proper format is in this case before I have it engraved on something.

So, military & history buffs, what do you say?

Shot Heard Round the World

I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to resist watching this video on today’s anniversary if you’re of a certain age range:

“50 Lady Sharpshooters at Your Disposal”

This is kind of awesome. It’s a letter from Annie Oakley to President William McKinley in 1898 offering the services of American women sharpshooters who could provide their own arms and ammunition to assist the US should war break out.

Letter from Annie Oakley to President McKinley, 1898

I saw this on the National Archives Tumbler which does a pretty good job of not only digitizing these holdings, but trying to share some of the interesting finds that Americans might enjoy seeing.

Peace in Our Time

Off topic, but it’s generally a good idea when confronting a guy like Putin not to broadcast your intent to the world. You don’t say something like that even if it’s true, because you kind of want Tsar Vladimir to wonder if you just might be crazy enough to pull the trigger. I mean, we always joke about anti-gun folks needing to stick a sign on their lawn saying “No Guns Inside,” but Obama just planted that in big bold lettering right on Ukraine’s front lawn.

How bad have things gotten when you trust the Chancellor of Germany to keep a lid on the situation more than your own President, because she’s got a bigger set of balls than he does?

Family War Service

Our little adventure out to find Revolutionary War graves over the Memorial Day weekend got me started on a fishing expedition for family information. I feel spurred to share a few of my discoveries regarding service in many of the wars this country has fought because of John Richardson’s Memorial Day post featuring the draft registration cards for his father and grandfathers.

I knew my great grandmother was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution, so I thought I would see what I could do to join since there are multiple active chapters around this part of Pennsylvania. After a few emails back and forth with my grandmother, we discovered that my great grandmother’s membership was no longer valid, not because she passed 11 years ago, but because the only family member she documented to DAR (her 3rd great grandfather) was found to have been turned down for a pension in further record reviews. However, she told my grandmother that she had documented multiple family members who had proven service in the Revolution. My grandmother, happily enough, pulled out a book from her father’s side that gives a direct and handy list of all the relatives back to my 6th great grandfather who is documented to have served in the war.

However, in my little trial of, I started clicking on random branches with their little leaf hints attached. I am no where near done since most branches of my family have been in this country for a long, long time. However, I did just hit a someone who appears to be a documented veteran of the War of 1812. There’s totally a lineage group for that–National Society United States Daughters of 1812. I don’t really know much about them, but they don’t have a presence in the Philly area.

I also found a documented veteran of the Confederacy on a side of the family I really didn’t expect to see it on. Yup, there’s a group for that, too. (United Daughters of the Confederacy) My grandmother thinks that we also have documentation to prove lineage from a Union soldier as well. That would cover me for Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861 – 1865. I’m seriously thinking that if I can document both connections, I may actually join both. Maybe I’m just silly, but I would find amusement in that.

I haven’t gone digging deep yet, but the family that is reportedly connected to Jefferson Davis, eh, not looking so good. As Sebastian noted, there are probably lots of Southern families with people named Davis who claim a relation. However, that side of the family is really into genealogy, so my mom is going to see what she can gather from those folks and we’ll see if there really is a connection. (Interestingly, if this connection is proven and documented, it could also be a different path for me to DAR, and the only likely path for my niece.)

I set up a tree on my account for Sebastian, and if he has followed the census records properly, he may have found a 3rd great grandfather who served for the Union in the Civil War whose service was previously unknown to his family. (Yes, there’s a Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.) Considering his family on both sides has been presumed to be fairly recently off the boat, this is actually an exciting possible find for him.

Another little tidbit I’ve discovered (though am waiting on family records to verify), is that by moving to be with Sebastian here in Southeast Pennsylvania, I’m apparently simply returning to the family lands of my 5th great grandfather. It turns out he owned 99 acres in Upper Bucks County as far back as at least 1789. I find that very, very odd.

To bring this rambling family war service post back to guns, we have learned that between the two of us, family names include John, Moses, and Browning.

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