Defending our Christian Heritage ....

To The Last Ditch

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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blackwater: Good or Bad?

CNN recently reported, Iraqis testify in Blackwater grand jury probe.

Blackwater has been abused and perhaps, misunderstood by the general public and the media. They have been labeled mercenaries, and accused of doing the government's dirty work. While this may be true, I have found the ideas fostered by Blackwater to be a fascinating story of entrepreneurship, and an excellent example of a true militia.

Erik Prince, the CEO and founder of Blackwater, has a strong Christian heritage. Although he is now a Catholic, he is a descendant of Dutch protestants. His father, Edgar Prince, raised Erik with a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial mindset. A good friend and supporter of Dr. James Dobson, Erik has proven to be a thorough conservative.

Blackwater began as a small company that manufactured targets. Prince had a long-term vision for expanding it into the security/soldier of fortune company it is today. The company began doing security work for various government officials after 9/11.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Silberberg / AP file

Today, contractors like Blackwater supply one in four of the soldiers on the ground, from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Photo courtesy of Time

Since it is not a government agency, Blackwater is not bound by government contracts with weapons and technology suppliers. Because of this, Blackwater can use the latest/greatest weapons (pretty cool stuff!) and equipment. Also, it appears to me that they do not employ women.

Blackwater's rise to power has raised some interesting discussion recently, especially by people who are afraid that there is a threat that Blackwater can take over the US government, (there's a novel idea!). But when we look at the Constitution, we find that Blackwater should actually be the norm, and not the exception. The Second Ammendment states: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The word "militia" defined as: civilians trained as soldiers but no part of the regular army. Unfortunately, the State Department has promised Blackwater immunity, from Iraqi law, in a recent case where some contractors shot civilians (not very "well regulated").

So my opinion? Blackwater is a great idea gone bad. Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

Author's note: The best book I have read on this subject is Blackwater: the rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army, by Jeremy Scahill. Although Mr. Scahill is not a Christian, it is a very well researched book.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Portrait of a Man: Patrick Henry

Most people don't think of Patrick Henry as having a great impact on our national government. The average person will remember that he said "Give me liberty or give me death", but nothing else. But his effect on our country is enormous.

On this day in 1736,
Patrick Henry was born to John Henry and Sarah Winston Syme Henry, the second of nine children. Early in his life, his mother exposed him to the teachings of the Presbyterian pastor, Samuel Davies. Davie's sermons would have a profound impact on Henry throughout the rest of his life. Patrick married Sarah Shelton when he was 18 years old. Together, they raised six children. After several attempts and failures at farming, he became a politician and lawyer. Patrick was also an accomplished fiddler. At one time he played Chevy Chase, a popular dance tune, one hundred times over. In 1769, he moved his family to Scotchtown. In 1775 Sarah, his wife, died. This loss was devastating to him. It was just after her death, that he gave his famous "Give me Liberty" speech. In 1777, he married Dorthea Dandridge. Together they had eleven more children.

After the war for independence from Britain, the the Constitutional Convention was called, in order to form a permanent bond between the colonies. Patrick Henry, a firm states-rights advocate, argued that it was better to use the Articles of Confederation, which were less binding to a central power. When asked if he would represent Virginia at the convention, he famously replied, "I smell a rat". In spite of his efforts, the Constitution passed. Resigned to the will of the people, he wrote up forty amendments to the constitution. Only ten of these would pass and come to be known as our Bill of Rights. His legacy as a freedom fighter would be carried on by his grandsons, who fought for the principles
Patrick held dear, during the War for Southern Independence.

Where would we be today without the Bill of Rights?

Photo courtesy of

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Thomas Moore!

One of Ireland's most famous songwriters, Thomas Moore was born on this day in 1779. The Dublin native is most well known for composing: Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms, The Minstrel Boy, and The Last Rose Of Summer.

Author's note: Charlie Zahm does the best rendition of The Minstrel Boy!

Photo courtesy of

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Weak Counfounds Mighty: Cultural Similarities Between Israel And Scotland

I read in the news earlier this month that Israel celebrated her 60th anniversary as a nation.

Christians share a common bond with the people of Israel because we have both experienced God's blessing as His chosen people. I have studied the history and culture of Scotland for several years and have found some very interesting similarities between the two cultures.

R.J. Rushdooney once pointed out that whatever part of the world you travel to, the first person to discover it was either a Jew, or a Scot. The fundamental building-block of these two cultures, is the idea of covenant theology. Several other similarities include: Music, family, theology of the land, and method of conducting war. Music was important. If you listen to Scottish and Jewish music, the similarities are striking. First, the minor tone or key, is notable. Also, a form of the bagpipes were played by Hebrew musicians, known as the Halil.
The family units were much the same, the tribe in Israel, and the clan in Scotland. Both had a reverence and honor for the patriarch or head of the family and a strong devotion to family members.
Theology of the land was also key. This can be seen in the agrarian heritage of both cultures. The two civilizations have made noteworthy contributions to warfare. Capt. Patrick Ferguson created the first breech-loading rifle. Uziel Gal invented the Uzi, which bears his name. I have always appreciated the "no quarter" fighting style of both cultures. The Scots were well known for their fierceness in battle. The Israelis demonstrated their fighting prowess during the Six Days War. It seems that both societies also had an recurring enemy: the Scots vs. the English and the Hebrews vs. the Philistines.

Geography shows us that these are tiny nations. Scotland is about the size of Maine and Israel is about half that size. God could have chosen stronger nations to accomplish His means, but "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty things". - I Cor. 1:27

What do you think? Please comment on any other parallels you observe.

Bible verses taken from the 1599 Geneva Bible
Photos courtesy of

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Curse On The Land

Yesterday, I had another opportunity to witness a property tax sale. This occurs when the owner of a parcel of property is either unable or unwilling to pay the taxes due on his land. The state has a permanent lien, or claim, on your property which must be removed once a year. Basically, this means you never really own your property, you are just renting it from the state. I have observed this event in the past, it occurs every year about this time in Alabama. As the parcels were being auctioned off one at a time, to either individuals or sold to the state, I felt a genuine sadness at the realization of another instance where the state is violating God's law.

Leviticus 25:23 says, "Also, the land shall not be sold to be cut off from the family: for the land is mine, and ye be but strangers and sojourners with me". Property tax is the most unbiblical of all taxes because the state is setting itself up in the place of God, and saying in effect "the land belongs to us and you must pay to use it."

Bible verses used from the 1599 Geneva Bible

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Military Leader Poll, Part II

Thank you, to everyone who participated in my poll!

Now for discussion time.

As y'all may have noticed, I did not choose any leaders beyond the War for Southern Independence. There are two reasons for this: first, in order to keep it less confusing. Secondly, warfare became much more technical after the War for Southern Independence, so my opinion is that military leaders before the war had to make do with a lot less than post-war leaders. What I'm trying to say is, military leaders before and during the war between the states were more talented than leaders after the war, simply because they had fewer resources.

When you look at military leaders, there are basically two kinds, those who revolutionize warfare, and those who put the principles to test. In most cases, both overlap . I would categorize Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee with the warfare revolutionaries. In the other class, those who tested the philosophy, I would place all the leaders.

When you voted, I hope you took into consideration two things. First, what was the moral character of this individual. Now I firmly believe that God looks at the heart, but history shows us that Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Grant, and Sherman, had huge problems in their personal lives, some of which were later evidenced on the battlefield. Secondly, what did this individual do to "glorify God and enjoy him forever", which is man's chief end.

That being said, my personal favorite, out of all the leaders listed, is Oliver Cromwell. Oliver Cromwell, as stated in a previous post, has been maligned for many years, but I would encourage you to read his personal letters, if you need evidence that he was a devout Christian. His formation and leadership of the New Model Army, is further proof. Because of Cromwell's close relationship with God, he never lost a battle! I know of no other general that can boast that record.

So what do you think?

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Monday, May 19, 2008

D'aubigne On the Reformation

I found this interesting comment on the Reformation while reading "The Protector".

"None perhaps compromise true Protestantism so much as those who, forgetful of the spiritual nature of the movement of the sixteenth century, reduce it to a mere political system. The Protestantism of the reformers is the evangelism of the apostles, neither more nor less. Let us beware of making it into a mongrel existence, half-spiritual and half-secular.....The ancient religious life of the Reformation was lost: it had been replaced by an attachment to forms. Men carefully inquired whether there was or was not apostolical succession; they examined whether the prayers, the sacraments, and the worship were in conformity with the canons and with the liturgy; they placed their hands everywhere to try all things- everywhere except on their own heart- to feel if it still beat. They were earnestly occupied with conformities; but they forgot one,- that which renders man conformable to Jesus Christ."

photo courtesy of The J. Merle D'aubigne Resource

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About The Name

The year was 1672.

The protestant Netherlands had been invaded by the vastly superior army of the Catholic king of France, Louis XIV. After many calamitous defeats, the Holland turned to Prince William of Orange for help. On July 11, the French camp raised a flag of truce. After agreeing to the truce, Prince William rode to meet the envoy. In charge of negotiations on the French side was the Stuart crony, the Duke of Buckingham. After promising the protestant prince wealth if he capitulated, he said wonderingly ,"Don't you see that your country is lost?" William replied: "It is indeed in great danger, but there is a sure way never to see my country lost, and that is to die in the last ditch!"
The last ditch refers to the ditches that run along the base of the dikes in the
Netherlands. William of Orange was saying that he would break the dikes and die, drowning the country with water rather than submit to the tyrannical rule of the Roman Catholic King of France. Through the providence of God, "the tide turned" and William of Orange defeated the French in two campaigns, preserving Calvinism in the Netherlands for all time. He would continue on to bring religious liberty to England during the Glorious Revolution.

photo courtesy of

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Standard of Truth

Relating to my post on the 26th Cameronians, here is a picture of the "battle flag" of William Cleland, the first commander of the Cameronians.

*William Cleland
was just 17 years old during the Covenanters battles of 1679 at Drumclog (where the Covenanters defeated "Bluidy Clavers" - Graham of Claverhouse), where Cleland was an Officer of Foot and was instrumental in the victory. He also fought as a Captain at the Battle of Bothwell Brig where he was a Captain, but where the Covenanters were defeated.

Cleland carried a beautiful banner, made of blue silk. it had three messages:

1. At the top in gold Hebrew script it reads "Jehovah Nissi" which translates as "The Lord is My Banner" - a quote from Exodus 17 v 15, where during a great battle that the Israelites were fighting against the Amalekites, they were assured of the victory as long as Moses held his arms aloft. As he grew tired, his brother Aaron and Caleb's son Hur held his arms up for him. After the victory, Moses built an altar and called it "Jehovah Nissi"

2. In the middle it says "For Christ and His Truths" in large white letters

3. At the bottom in red type it says "No Quarters for Ye Active Enemies of Ye Covenant"

Cleland gave the banner and his sword to his friend Henry Hall of Haughhead at an unknown date, to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy. The items were passed down the generations to several zealous Covenanters until they reached the hands of the Raeburn Family from East Lothian, and were discovered by a Mr James Drummond around 1850. The banner eventually came into the possession of the regiment at a later date.

The banner can today be seen on display at the Cameronians Regimental Museum in Hamilton, Scotland.

Postscript:William Cleland later joined a Covenanter regiment fighting for King William III, but was killed at the Battle of Dunkeld in August 1689. A book of his poetry was published in 1697, including one entitled "On the clergie when they met to consult about taking the Test in the year 1681" - I've not read it, but must be a comment on the "Test Oath" which was forced upon the clergy in July 1681, to place the King in supremacy over the Church.

*- text in italics taken from post written by Mark Thomson

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Battle of New Market

Excellent article by Mr. Potter here.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Band of Brothers: The 26th Cameronians

Castle Dangerous, Douglas, Scotland

The wind whistled through the moor and around the castle, as a group of men, in military array, spread out and took up lookout positions. Gazing over the heather, every man erect, as though looking for a terrible enemy. A cluster of people, including women and children, soon arrived, bundled warmly against the wind. The sound of the bagpipes was faintly heard, as the minister arrived. The date was May 14, 1968. Although Covenanters had been allowed the right to freedom of worship almost three hundred years before, these stalwart folk were gathered today to remember and say goodbye…

The 26th Cameronian Regiment of Foot had a glorious heritage. Originally, they were a collection of small militias, formed to protect the Presbyterian congregations from the wrath of the Stuart kings. The regiment gained its name from the Lion of the Covenant, Richard Cameron. It was during this time that the Cameronians would begin traditions that were peculiar to them. A new recruit was always given a bible, in memory of Richard Cameron. They were a direct copy of the New Model Army, under Cromwell, being Presbyterian in doctrine. After the Glorious Revolution, they officially entered the army, and though they adamantly disagreed with the union of England and Scotland, they fought vigorously against the Stuart risings. Because of their Presbyterian heritage, the Cameronians became the only British regiment that was allowed to carry their weapons into church. During the Thirty Years war, the Cameronians fought under the command of Gustavus Adolphus. This godly group of men, recruited mainly from the Lanarkshire and Glasgow areas, participated in every war Britain was involved in, until 1968. After World War II, the British army reduced its size drastically and the Cameronians were given the option of either disbanding or amalgamating with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. They chose to disband, rather than compromise their legacy. Today they gathered, on the same ground where they had been mustered into service, to stack arms for the last time.

More information on the Cameronians is available at the regimental website.

Below is some video footage of the disbandment. It is rather lengthy, but the narrator explains some interesting traditions at the ceremony.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Ceilidh in th' Glen

Last Saturday, the Ferrill Clan, a family from our church, gave us and several other families, a few lessons in Scottish country dancing.

It was a blast!

Afterwards, we heard a message from Gen. Stonewall Jackson, and his wife Anna.

Mr. and Mrs. Hendry, of His Image Ministries, did a fantastic drama about the Jacksons.

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Portrait of a Man: C.C. Pinckney

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney is probably best known for his role as statesman and soldier during the War for American Independence. He was born on February 25, 1746, in Charleston, South Carolina. Although educated at Westminster and Oxford, he became intensely proud of his southern heritage. After his return to the colonies in 1769, he opened a law office in Charleston. His involvement in political matters began in 1775, when he became a member of the first South Carolina Provincial Congress. When the war began, he became a colonel in the South Carolina Militia. One of the men who fought under his command was my Gr-gr-gr-gr-grandfather, John Boyd, a Scotch-Irish immigrant to South Carolina.

On this date in 1780, Col. Pinckney was captured, along with his entire command, when the British took Charleston. He was exchanged in 1782. After the war, he stoutly defended states rights and southern interest, a role which won him a place at the constitutional convention, which he attended. He died on August 16, 1825, after two unsuccessful bids for president on the Federalist ticket.

photo courtesy of

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The 145th Anniversary of the Death of Stonewall Jackson

Stonewall’s Requiem

The muffled drum is beating,
There's a sad and solemn tread.
Our Banner's draped in mourning,
As it shrouds the illustrious dead.
Proud forms are bent with sorrow
And all Southern hearts are sore,
The Hero now is sleeping,
Noble Stonewall is no more.
'Mid the rattling of the muskets
And the cannon's thund'rous roar,
He stain'd the field of glory
With his brave life's precious gore.
And tho' our flag waved proudly,
We were victors ere sunset,
The gallant deeds of
Will mingle with regret.

They've borne him to an honor'd grave
The Laurel crown his brow,
By hallow'd James' silent wave
He's sweetly sleeping now
Virginia to the South is dear
She holds a sacred trust
Our fallen braves from far and near
Are cover'd with her dust
She shrines the spot where now is laid
The bravest of them all
The Martyr of our country's cause
Our Idoliz'd Stonewall.
But tho' his spirit's wafted
To the happy realms above
His name shall live forever link'd
With reverence and love.

-M. Deeves

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Military Leader Poll

Who do you think was the best general? This poll gives you a chance to voice your opinion. If you have a favorite that was not listed, let me know who it is by commenting on this post.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Busy, that is my only excuse for not blogging. Over the weekend, we traveled back to the Circa History Guild for a lesson in Contra dancing. Contra dancing is a relative of old English country dancing, and was very common in the American colonies during the 1770’s. Unfortunately, our camera was not working, so I have no pictures. We had a great time and learned a lot. There was a live band, Crosstown Traffic, that played the music, and they did a fantastic job.

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