A Very Clever Woman

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Three dozen, fresh-faced young men jockeyed for position behind a row of windows on a train leaving Poughkeepsie, New York, bound for Camp Mills on Long Island. The new Army recruits waved goodbye to those on the railroad platform; they wore happy expressions and cheered as the car lurched forward. The men were excited and blissfully naïve about the journey ahead of them. Family and friends on the platform offered last minute farewells as the train slowly began to move ahead. Some people cried as the vehicle left the station and blew kisses to the courageous souls who had answered the call to serve their country when America announced it would join Britain, France, and Russia to fight in World War I.

The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, and by the end of that same month thousands of men had eagerly flooded recruiting stations, enlisted in the Army and Navy and promised to defend the nation in time of peril.

On July 6, 1917, newspapers and unofficial dispatches from Canadian army headquarters in Europe documented when America went into battle for the first time during the World War. A young Texan who had traveled to Ontario to enlist had the honor of being the first to carry the American flag in the European war. He was carrying the Stars and Stripes on his bayonet when he was wounded and subsequently transported to a medical unit.

According to the July 20, 1917, edition of the Democrat and Chronicle News the Texan’s brave action prompted even more patriotic men to join a branch of the service. Men did not have a moratorium on devotion to country. Women also wanted to do their part. Annie Oakley was among them. From the time the Spanish American War began in 1898, Annie had desired to recruit and train women to be expert shots and fight for the United States. She offered her unique services to President William McKinley.

“Dear Sir,” her letter dated April 5, 1898, began, “I for one feel confident that your good judgment will carry America safely through without war. But in case of such an event I am ready to place a company of fifty lady sharp shooters at your disposal. Every one of them will be an American and as they will furnish their own arms and ammunition will be little if any expense to the government. Very Truly, Annie Oakley.”

President McKinley politely declined her office, but Annie never abandoned the idea. More than nineteen years after the initial proposal, Annie again offered to raise a regiment of women volunteers to fight. She received more than 1,000 letters from women throughout the United States anxious to join the regiment. Three thousand women had participated in Annie’s shooting school in Pinehurst, North Carolina, during the 1916-1917. If necessary she could call on the best students from her classes to take part in the program. Many of the women were willing to serve as well.

 

 

Annie Oakley

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To learn more about the famous sure shot read

The Trials of Annie Oakley.

 

This Day…

1877 Outlaw Wild Bill Longley, who killed at least a dozen men, is hanged, but it takes two tries; on the first try, the rope slips and his knees touch the ground.

The Troubles & Triumphs Of A True American Hero

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The Trials of Annie Oakley.

“There was a time when one’s impressions of performing sharpshooter Annie Oakley were based on the 1950s musical film Annie Get Your Gun – nothing could be further from the truth. Chris Enss uses her sleuthing savvy to uncover myth-busting details of Oakley’s life, revealing a multifaceted woman who was at once a larger-than-life character, a legend, a role model, and, most of all, a strong and selfless human being.”

Henry B. Crawford, Founder, History By Choice

“This is a story about a woman before her time. As a strong, independent female figure in American history, Annie Oakley paved the way for other young women to follow their dreams. This book beautifully tells an amazing story from our country’s history, with the grit and womanly ruggedness that Annie Oakley exuded.”

Carly Twisselman, TV Show Host/Personality for NRATV, GUNTV, and RIDETV,

and 2nd Amendment Advocate

Annie Oakley

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To learn more about the famous sure shot read

The Trials of Annie Oakley.

 

This Day…

1864 – Battle of Tom’s Brook  Union cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley deal a humiliating defeat to their Confederate counterparts at Tom’s Brook, Virginia. Confederate General Jubal Early’s force had been operating in and around the Shenandoah area for four months. Early’s summer campaign caught the attention of Union General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant, who was laying…

America’s Shooting Star

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Long before the name Annie Oakley was on the lips of every man, woman, child, and newspaper editor in America, the sight of the demure woman, whether in a courtroom or on stage, seldom failed to inspire enthusiastic approval.

From the beginning of her career with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show in 1885, audiences were captivated by the petite sure shot. Her entrance into the arena of the western show was always graceful. She never walked. She tripped in, bowing, waving, and wafting kisses. The first few shots she delivered with her twelve gauge shotgun brought forth a few screams of fright from spectators, but they were soon lost in cheers and applause. Annie set audiences at ease and prepared them for the continuous cracks of firearms which followed.

Annie posed with her guns for a variety of advertisements from festivals and circuses to weapons and ammunition. The armed woman had been a fixture of American life for several years prior to Annie Oakley’s image being used in posters promoting firearms for females. The firearms industry directed its first major ad campaign to women in the 1880s and Annie was a living, breathing promotion for shotguns and revolvers. By making shooting appear like something even a lady could comfortably do, Annie helped make the sport of shooting popular with women everywhere.

By 1904, women were being featured in ads with weapons less and less as regulations against guns were being drafted. The 1911 Sullivan Law, a band to prohibit the act of carrying and concealing firearms prompted antigun activists to request further ordinances to be placed upon weapons. Soon, licenses were required to possess firearms. Possession of certain weapons without a license was a misdemeanor and carrying them was a felony. Those opposed to such regulations, Annie Oakley being one of them, maintained that disarming good citizens put them at the mercy of thugs and crooks. Suffragists such as Alice Paul were outraged by what was perceived to be an impediment that would keep women from being able to protect themselves. “Not only did women not have the right to vote, but if they weren’t free to defend themselves they weren’t free at all,” Paul announced.

Annie Oakley weighed in on the subject in an interview with a Cincinnati newspaper in November 1904. “It’s reasonable that women should prepare to defend themselves when they are out alone at night,” she told an Ohio reporter. “Miss Oakley’s scheme is to have every lady provided with a .32-caliber revolver,” the reporter noted in his article, “which she is to wear in a pocket so large as to enable her to keep a proper grip on the weapon all the time. She advises that unless the person attacked is able to shoot first and hit the mark, the best thing is not to shoot at all.”

Annie Oakley

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To learn more about the famous sure shot read

The Trials of Annie Oakley.

 

This Day…

1866 – The Reno gang carries out the first robbery of a moving train in the U.S., making off with over $10,000 from an Ohio & Mississippi train in Jackson County, Indiana. Prior to this innovation in crime, holdups had taken place only on trains sitting at stations or freight yards.

More From Annie Oakley

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Aim for the high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.

Even in the best and most peacefully civilized countries many occasions arise when a woman versed in the knowledge and use of firearms may find that information and skill of great importance.

God intended women to be outside as well as men, and they do not know what they are missing when they stay cooped up in the house.

After traveling through fourteen foreign countries and appearing before all the royalty and nobility I have only one wish today. That is that when my eyes are closed in death that they will bury me back in that quiet little farm land where I was born.

[On Sitting Bull:] “The contents of his pockets were often emptied into the hands of small, ragged little boys, nor could he understand how so much wealth should go brushing by, unmindful of the poor.

 

To learn more about the famous sure shot read

The Trials of Annie Oakley.

 

This Day…

1856 – The outlaw Tom Bell was captured by vigilantes on the Merced River in California.  They patiently allowed him to write letters to his mother and to his mistress and then strung him up.

Queen of the Rifle

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The Trials of Annie Oakley.

It was three o’clock in the morning when Southern Railway Engine 75 collided with western legend and showman Buffalo Bill Cody’s train outside Lexington, North Carolina, on October 29, 1901. The rumble of the trains hurrying toward one another sounded like the gathering of a cyclone. Whistles blew and brakes scrapped hard against the rails in a desperate attempt to prevent the crash, but the impact was unavoidable.

The force of the engines smacking into one another caused the derailment of the cars in tow, and all at once the air was filled with flying missiles of iron and wood. Smoke poured in great black streaks from the steam funnels, and the popping of steam rose high in the air. A veritable hell of fire erupted. Members of the cast and crew of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show fought madly in their attempt to crawl out the doors and windows of the overturned cars. Horses trapped in the twisted, mangled debris whinnied and brayed frantically.

People rushed to the scene from nearby farmhouses and stood helplessly around the wreckage holding their hands to their ears in order to shut out the frightful screams of the injured passengers and animals. Gathering their composure, they fought to rescue the hurt from the coaches scattered about the landscape. Slowly the suffering were lifted from the destruction and carried to a grassy field. Many cried and groaned in pain, their heads and hands cut and blood streaming from their wounds.

Annie Oakley, world famous exhibition sharpshooter was one of the unfortunate victims of the train wreck. She was lying unconscious somewhere among the rubble. The car where Annie and her husband Frank had been sleeping was turned upside down. When the engines slammed into one another and their car tumbled over, the petite entertainer was thrown from her berth onto a trunk. Before hitting the trunk with her back, she tried to break the fall by putting her hand out. Both her hand and back were injured. Frank suffered only minor cuts and bruises. He carried his wife out of the wreckage to the spot where the other hurt passengers had been taken. Annie’s eyes fluttered open long enough to see the severely damaged vehicle. What once had been a speeding marvel was now a broken scrap heap.

 

 

Annie Oakley

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To learn more about the famous sure shot read

The Trials of Annie Oakley.