Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Word of the Day: Bayonet

I subscribe to a "word of the day" blog; today's entry would not normally be of much interest:

A.Word.A.Day --bayonet (BAY-uh-nit, -net, bay-uh-NET)
noun: A blade attached to the muzzle of a gun, used in close combat.
verb: To fight or kill with bayonet.
After Bayonne, a town in southwest France, where the weapon originated
or was first used in early 17th century. You'd think with modern high-tech
gadgetry, a 17th century weapon would now be now obsolete, but the
bayonet is still taken seriously. 

But it just happens that we're going through some boxes which have been in rented storage, and the kitchen table has Grandpa Myers' WWI bayonet on it. My wife googled the "RIA 1907" on the scabbard and the first match is an auction
 Springfield 16" RIA 1907 Bayonet : Bayonets at
and indeed it's a 16" bayonet. (The "SA 1912" on the metal is presumably ?) Whatever. And there's the June/July 1978 _American Heritage (V.29 #4) with pp 56-61 being 's "The Day the Civil War Ended: Gettysburg, Fifty Years After" (I wonder if that was Catton's last article--he died that August. But of course he'd have submitted this well before.). It's about the Gettysburg commemoration in which
............................................."Several thousand veterans showed up. So did the tourists, who came in swarms, along with the people who make a living by going where tourists are. Among these latter were photographers -- what tourist could fail to buy on the spot pictures of the old-timers, especially when he himself could get into the scene? -- and to our good fortune one of these cameramen hired as an assistant an eighteen-year-old college man-on-vacation named Philip Myers. Not long ago Mr. Myers wrote down his recollections of the great event. ..."

and the rest of it is quotes from, rephrasings of, and miscellaneous comments on Grandpa's "I Remember" article from the Baltimore Sun's Sunday magazine, which I guess had come out not long before and which might or might not turn up any box now. (well, I think it's in one of the boxes that didn't go to storage.)

Union veterans on Cemetery Ridge, Southern veterans on Seminary Ridge to the west. Out of the woods came the Southerners, just as before -- well, in some ways just as before. They came out more slowly this time, and Mr. Myers saw a dramatic difference. "We could see, not rifles and bayonets, but canes and crutches. We soon could distinguish the more agile ones aiding those less able to maintain their places in the ranks." .... So "Pickett's men" came on, getting close at last, throwing that defiant yell up at the stone wall and the clump of trees and the ghosts of the past. "It was then," wrote Mr. Myers, "that the Yankees, unable to restrain themselves longer, burst from behind the stone wall, and flung themselves upon their former enemies... Now they fell upon each other -- not in mortal combat, but re-united in brotherly love and affection." The Civil War was over.

I actually went back and re-read his I Soldiered With Charlie:

Charlie and I first met under the most informal conditions imaginable—we were both stark naked. We were not alone in this, for with hundreds of others we were taking a physical examination for acceptance in the first officers’ training camp at Fort Myer, Virginia. The date was May 16, 1917.

Hey, I shouldn't be doing this. So it's a mistake, so it belongs on the blog, right?

Then again, maybe not.


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