Smith’s Post 9/25/16 History still Matters


History, as an important subject in our elementary schools, has been on such a decline, it is facing extinction. At the same time, reading books, particularly by the young, is steadily declining.

Ironically, because of the ease of self-publishing, new titles and re-editions are on the upswing, exceeding 300,000 in 2013. With so large a supply, a new book can easily get lost. Therefore, the name of the author is more important than the content of the book.

In order for his staff to grasp the disasters of leadership, President Kennedy insisted they read Barbara Tuchman’s historical classic on WWI, The Guns of August. Is history, as a major subject, still relevant?

Not only were there 10 million (that’s million) WWI battlefield deaths and 20 million wounded, an additional 20 million, mostly civilians, died from Influenza. In the United States alone, the Spanish Flu Pandemic afflicted 1 out of 4 in the population, resulting in 675,000 deaths.

Have we learned anything from those statistics about ‘Putting boots on the ground?’

Smith’s historical novel, The Last of the Fenians, covering the major battles of WWI, and much more, is available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.

It has been 15 years since America put ‘boots on the ground’ in Afgathan.

Any ads on this site are NOT supported by the blog’s author.



How many of you learned, in your History lessons, about the time, during WWII?

  1. When, the Japanese Navy ruled supreme in the Pacific?

  2. When, to preserve what remained of our depleted fleet, our Navy sailed away, leaving a Marine Division stranded on Guadalcanal?

  3. When, the island natives gave Chaplin Father Gerhing a 5 or 6 year old chinese girl to protect?

  4. When, during air raids, battle-hardened Marines covered the terrified child with their bodies?

  5. When, with Father Gerhing on the guitar, and Buddy Brenan, Guy Lombardo’s pianist, entertained the frightened Patsy Li?

  6. When, the Seabees made dolls for her from scraps of parachures?

  7. When, the former lightweight champion of the world, Barney Ross, was Father Gerhing driver?

    Do you really know as much about your country’s history as you think you do?

    The above is only a sample from Smith’s book The O’Donnell’s of Philadelphia, available on Kindle, Nook, and in paperback from Amazon and Createspace.

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You’ll find them and much more on my blog –

Day 3, Gettysburg Cemetery Ridge– Post 8/28/63


O’Kane – Pennsylvania 69th, The Philadelphia Brigade

No sooner had his men been organized than artillery opened on both sides. All hunched down, each with his own thoughts, some lost in prayer, when suddenly General Hancock with Webb in tow arrived. Facing O’Kane, Hancock said, “I came to congratulate your steadiness, which prevented Johnny Reb from capturing those guns.”

O’Kane’s obvious brogue seemed to intrigue the General. Who asked. “I don’t suppose you know the words to “Kathleen Mavoureen?”

Unfortunately, I can’t carry a tune. But I’m certain some of my lads can. If you don’t mind my asking, why that particular song?”

I believe that tomorrow, Johnny Reb is going to test our resolve to hold this ridge. One of those leading the charge will most likely be my very best friend, Lew Armistead. The last time we were together, we sang Kathleen Mavoureen.”

O’Kane looked around, “Meehan, front and center.”

This lad’s from Sligo and can shatter glass with the power of his voice.”

The men of the 69th grew quiet as Meehan erupted in song. The voice of the tenor floated across the vale. Union gunners halted their deadly fire to listen, swiftly followed by those of their opponents.

When Meehan came to the verse;

Oh, has thou forgotten how soon we must sever? Oh, hast thou forgotten how soon we must part? It may be for years, and it may be forever, Oh, why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart? It may be for years, and it may be forever, then why art thou silent, Kathleen Mavoureen?”

O’Kane could have sworn he saw tears running down Hancock’s face. When the song ended, the general and his cluster turned on their heel and departed without as much as a thank you. Looking at their backs, Duffy asked, “Do you t’ink Johnny Reb heard Meehan?”

This make O’Kane consider just how far the Sligo man’s voice carried. But then he shrugged off the thought, “The Butternuts must have wondered why we stopped firing and waited for our next move.”

A Draft for the upcoming JFK Assassination Encyclopedia

Kennedy profileThe JFK Assassination Encyclopedia, Post 8/14/2016

Author James Francis Smith

I apologize for not replying to questions. I’m buried in my efforts to sort out data for the encyclopedia regarding Kennedy’s Assassination.

I’m not adept at imagination. To understand what others are portraying, I need to visualize the image. Hence the drawing on the left, depicting JFK’s exit wound.

The kill-shot exit-wound was described in Humes’s autopsy report as measuring approximately 5 inches in diameter, which is about the size of one’s fist. Now I would think with a hole that size, its location would be readily agreed upon—such is not the case.

Some doctors in the Parkland Hospital placed the exit wound at the back of the President’s head extending from the approximate center to just behind the right ear.

Humes’s autopsy report has it consisting of mostly parietal bone, with some temporal and some occipital bone. Which by my reckoning means it’s in the lower portion of Kennedy’s skull. Nicking the temporal bone extends the wound passed the ear.

The HSCA medical panel’s report, however, placed it much higher in the parietal bone, and has it extending forward into the frontal bone. Furthermore in their final report, the HSCA forensic pathologists shifted the location of the Harper fragment from the position shown on a drawing by their own expert, Doctor J. Lawrence Angel, curator of Physical Anthropology for the Smithsonian Institution. Joseph N Riley, in his article “Anatomy of the Harper Fragment,” supports Angel’s placement of the Harper Fragment. Angel’s placement contradicts both the autopsy report and the Parkland doctor’s opinions.

About the only thing these experts agree on is that the exit wound occurred on Kennedy’s right side.

Have I missed something?

Vietnam – “A Prayer for Pierre” – post 8/7/2016

Vietnam – “A Prayer for Pierre” – post 8/7/2016

Excerpt from Rory O’Donnell and the Kennedys

A Different Outlook, by Rory O’Donnell, July, 1954, Evening Bulletin

For the remainder of my life, I’ll wonder about my brother Liam’s last thoughts when in 1945 his plane plunged into the Sea of Japan.  So too, will I wonder about the last thoughts of those valiant defenders of Dien Bien Phu.  To understand their frustration, we need to put ourselves in their place.  Imagine yourself as Pierre, a fictional officer—veteran paratrooper, small of frame, as Frenchmen tend to be.

The light fog lifted and the Dakota readied in position over the drop zone, deep in communist-held territory.  Pierre faced his squad of foreign legionnaires, repeating the dream of General Navarre, “We secure the borders of Laos, engaging the Vietminh on our terms, cutting their supply and communication lines, defeating them in a battle that’ll be remembered by Frenchmen for generations.”  Taking his place at the front of the line, gazing downward at the dense jungle whizzing past, Pierre swallowed to calm his anxiety.  With a silent prayer on his lips, he jumped into the void.

Author’s Comments:

In my historical novels, I’m apt to include a newspaper reporter as a fictional character. The above post is from of a Philadelphia newspaper column by Rory O’Donnell. Pierre’s adventures are the beginning of America replacing France in Vietnam.

A reader noticed that my book, Rory O’Donnell and the Kennedys included Vietnam, and asked me to be more specific. The book, covering the decades from 1946 to 1968, describes not only how America became involved in Vietnam but unlike most books on the topic, it goes far beyond just the politics. Fictional character BJ sailed on the USS Gordon in June 1965. BJ’s happenings in Nam are based on the actual experiences of my friend Doug Keil, who served there from 1965 until 1967. Those of the medical examiner Stanley Bloustine M.D. are also based on his actual experience.

James Francis Smith – Author


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Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862

Smith’s Post July 30, 2016

From: The Civil War’s Valiant Irish

James Francis Smith, Author

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Fredericksburg – Saturday, December 13, 1862


Approaching in the form of dark shadows, death squads stripped clothing, shoes, and blankets from the dead before bayoneting those still breathing. Deciding to die swiftly, Brian rolled on his back to be in position to kill one more rebel. But it was the brogue that stopped him.

“Jasus, be careful where you step. These are Meagher’s boys see the boxwoods. Treat ‘em with respect.”

He lay perfectly still, hoping Jerry would do the same to avoid being killed by a bayonet. “Me name’s Brian, I’m from Cavan and you?”

“I’m a Cork man meself. Mallow. Name’s Michael Sullivan.”

Brian laid his rifle down and sat up to converse properly with his fellow Irishman. “Jeremiah here is from Skibbereen. I swore to his sisters that I wouldn’t let him die alone. So get it over with. If I’m to die, I’d rather it be from an Irishman’s bullet.”

The rebel lowered his gun. “You say you’re from Cavan. Do you fellows all look alike? You resemble The Tinker more than he does himself.”

“I’ve a twin on your side. Matthew Smith.”

Jasus! You there! Go find The Tinker, and be quick about it. I have his brother.”

Author’s Comments:

When the 28th Massachusetts unfurled their green flag, Cobb’s Georgia Irishmen broke into a spontaneous cheer before settling down to fire point-blank, slaughtering Meagher’s men of the Irish Brigade.

Left to survive the frigid elements and the preying scavengers, the wounded and dead remained on the field for two full days while General Burnside kept the defeated Union Army in battle-order.

The Kennedy Assassination Encyclopedia – 7/26/2016 Post


I’ve been asked, “Why write another book on Kennedy’s Assassination?”

In earlier research, I learned the Oswald missed when he attempted to assassinate retired General Edwin Walker. Based on this sparse information, the author of that article and I both concluded: Oswald lost the edge he had in the Marine Corps.

Recently while researching Larry Sneed’s excellent, No More Silence, I came across Walker’s description of the incident from testimony by Dallas Police Officer John Toney:

“I was also assigned to investigate the attempted assassination of General Walker.

“…the reason he wasn’t killed is that he dropped a pencil while filling out his income taxes, and as he bent over to get it, the bullet hit right where his head had been….”

Puts an entirely different spin on it, doesn’t it?

That’s why I believe it’s important to display both sides and allow the reader to choose which she or he believes to be the more likely.

That technique describes what I mean by: ‘To arrive at the truth, one must gather all the liars in the same room.’

You’ll hear from me occasionally on my progress. I still have a long way to go before my encyclopedia will be complete, so bear with me. For those who offered to assist, I may be calling on you to read the manuscript before final publication.

Author James Francis Smith