Friday, August 17, 2012

USS Kidd - WWII Destroyer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

USS Kidd and Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, Louisiana
One of my favorite Southern scenes is the view of the historic World War II warship USS Kidd framed by downtown Baton Rouge from the I-10 bridge over the Mississippi River.

Now a museum and memorial, the destroyer was built and launched in New Jersey in 1943. Named for Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr., who was killed when his flagship - the battleship USS Arizona - was destroyed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

USS Kidd
The crew of the ship, however, always enjoyed their association with another "Captain Kidd," the famed pirate or privateer of the late 17th century. A swashbuckling caricature of the pirate graces the funnel of the ship and the USS Kidd was the only U.S. Navy warship ever authorized to fly the infamous "Jolly Roger" pirate flag.

The Kidd spent most of her World War II career in the Pacific. She was one of the destroyers that escorted the battleship USS Alabama to Pearl Harbor and took part in fighting throughout the island hopping campaign waged by the U.S. across the Pacific. At one point she closed to within 11 miles of the Japanese mainland.

Learn more about this historic warship and find out how she came to become part of the Baton Rouge cityscape:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monster 17'7" Python found in Everglades National Park

Record Python examined at University of Florida
Photo Courtesy: UF News
The news this week that a Burmese Python measuring 17'7" long has been found in the Everglades National Park is stunning.
Please click here to read a full report from the University of Florida.

Not only was the snake the largest of its kind ever found in Florida, it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Another python measuring 16'8" has also been found in Florida in recent years. It will be placed on display soon at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

The National Park Service reports that more than 1,800 pythons have been removed from Everglades National Park since 2002, but concede that the number removed represents only a fraction of the total number present in the vast wetland.

The snakes, park service scientists report, are havinging "devastating consequences to our ecosystem." They are feeding on native wildlife and competing with native wildlife such as alligators. In fact, the Burmese pythons even sometimes eat alligators!

In addition to trying to locate and remove the snakes, the park service is tagging some of them with transmitters so they can follow individual snakes and see where they are going and congregating. It is hoped the process will help researchers locate areas where the snakes accumulate. This will hopefully help in the capture and removal of more of the snakes.

To learn more about Burmese pythons in the Everglades, check out this outstanding site put together by the National Park Service:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Two Forgotten Alabama Battles of the Civil War

Reenactors fire a salute commemorating Battle of Fairview
I've just added new pages to the main site on the Battle of Fairview and the Battle of Newton, two all but forgotten Civil War actions that took place in the Wiregrass region of South Alabama.
These two battles were unique in that both were fought by citizens to defend or avenge their communities against outlaw raider gangs, not by soldiers of the Union and Confederacy lining up to fight each other.

Battle Branch, Site of the Battle of Fairview, Alabama
The Battle of Fairview took place on September 2, 1864, in Coffee County, Alabama. A band of outlaws called Ward's Raiders and led by Jim Ward had burned the courthouse in the county seat of Elba the previous spring, trying to destroy the conscription or draft records there. The records were saved, so on the night of September 1 the raiders came back and set fire to buildings all around the square as well as the bridge over the Pea River. Local citizens took up arms and gave chase, cornering the raiders at Battle Branch in the Fairview Community. To learn more about the Battle of Fairview, please visit

Battle of Newton Monument in Newton, Alabama
The Battle of Newton took place in nearby Dale County, Alabama, on March 14, 1865. Joseph Sanders was a lieutenant in the 1st Florida Cavalry (U.S.) but exceeded his orders and led a mixed band of U.S. cavalrymen and outlaw guerrillas against the Dale County seat of Newton. His target, as had been the case with the Battle of Fairview, was the courthouse and its conscription or draft records. And just as had been the case in Elba, the citizens of Newton took up arms. The battle evolved differently because at Newton, the citizens were waiting when Sanders and his men rode into town. To learn more about the Battle of Newton, please visit

Sketoe's Hole Memorial
If you are interested in the Civil War in the Wiregrass, you might also enjoy reading the story of Ghost of Sketoe's Hole. The legend revolves around the hanging of a man in Dale County, Alabama, during the closing months of the war and the "hole that will not stay filled." To learn more, please visit

You can also read about many other Alabama battles and forts by visiting