. . .and here’s why:
“Army’s striking black and gold uniforms pay tribute to a year when the Black Knights were unstoppable on all fields of battle: 1944, the year the Army troops won a key strategic victory in WWII’s Battle of the Bulge. The football team at home was on its way to a perfect season and the first of three consecutive national championships. In tribute to Army’s historic victory on the battlefield, a historical re-interpreted West Point battle atlas map of the region where the offensive took place can be seen throughout multiple elements of the uniform, from the jersey to base layer to gloves, all the way down to the inside the cleats.
The helmet also takes on the same 1944 look with the deep gold hue and black stripe along with a small black spade on the side in honor of the 101st Airborne division.”
Be sure to scroll down and click the DOCUMENT, PAGES, and NOTES tab.
Napoleon’s secret coded Kremlin letter on sale
By By THOMAS ADAMSON | Associated Press – Fri, Nov 30, 2012
Enlarge PhotoAssociated Press/Christophe Ena – In this photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, a letter dictated and signed by Napoleon in secret code that declares his intentions “to blow up the Kremlin” during his ill-fated …more Russian campaign is displayed for the media in Fontainebleau, outside Paris. The rare letter, written in unusually emotive language, sees Napoleon complain of harsh conditions and the shortcomings of his grand army. The letter goes on auction Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) less
FONTAINEBLEAU, France (AP) — The single line of Napoleon’s secret code told Paris of his desperate, last order against the Russians: “At three o’clock in the morning, on the 22nd I am going to blow up the Kremlin.”
By the time Paris received the letter three days later, the Russian czar’s seat of power was in flames and the diminished French army was in retreat. Its elegantly calligraphic ciphers show history’s famed general at one of his weakest moments.
“My cavalry is in tatters, many horses are dying,” dictated Napoleon, the once-feared leader showing the strain of his calamitous Russian invasion, which halved his army.
The rare document — dated Oct. 20, 1812, signed “Nap” in the emperor’s hand and written in numeric code — is up for auction Sunday at France’s Fontainebleau Auction House.
The Napoleon code, used only for top-secret letters when the French emperor was far from home, aimed to stop enemies from intercepting French army orders. The code was regularly changed to prevent it from being cracked.
Napoleon must have dispatched his strongest horses and riders to carry the news: It only took three days to reach France’s interior ministry — 1,540 miles (2,480 kilometers) across Europe.
“This letter is unique. Not only is it all in code, but it’s the first time we see this different Napoleon. He went into Moscow in 1812 at the height of his power. He returned profoundly weakened. In Moscow, the Russians had fled days before and burnt down the city. There was no victory for Napoleon, nor were there any provisions for his starving, dying army,” says Jean-Christophe Chataignier of the auction house.
The only thing left for the weakened leader was to give the order to burn Russia’s government buildings — coded in the letter as “449, 514, 451, 1365…”
It is evidence of what historians call the beginning of the end of Napoleon’s glorious empire, which started in Russia and ended at Waterloo three years later.
In June 1812, Napoleon’s “Grand Army” — at 600,000 men one of the largest in human history — confidently entered Russia. But they were woefully unprepared for the harsh weather, the strong Russian defense and the Russian scorched-earth tactics, which left nothing behind to sustain the hungry and freezing French troops.
“This letter is an incredible insight, we never see Napoleon emotively speaking in this way before,” says Chataignier. “Only in letters to (his wife) Josephine did he ever express anything near to emotion. Moscow knocked him.”
In the text — which announces that his commanders are evacuating Moscow — Napoleon laments his army’s plight, asking for assistance to replenish his forces and the ravaged cavalry, which saw thousands of horses die.
In September, 200 years after Russia’s victory over Napoleon, the Kremlin held huge celebrations aimed at rousing patriotism among modern Russians. The highlight was a re-enactment of the battle of Borodino — one of the most damaging clashes for Napoleon’s troops — which saw thousands in Russian and French military uniforms perform before several hundred thousand spectators.
The 1812 victory played an important role in Russia’s emergence as a major world power. Until World War I, Napoleon’s Russian campaign and the ensuing wars were the largest European military face-off in history.
The letter, which is accompanied by a second decoded sheet, is estimated to fetch up to €15,000 ($19,500).
Lost military jacket found on post-Sandy NJ beach
By By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM | Associated Press – Fri, Nov 30, 2012
Enlarge PhotoAssociated Press – In this photo taken Wednesday Nov. 28 2012 in Onacock, Va., Donna Gugger, left, and Teresa deGavre, pose with the West Point uniform jacket Gugger found on a beach in New Jersey after Superstorm …more Sandy. The jacket belonged to deGavre’s late husband Chester B. deGavre, a U.S. Army Brig. General. Gugger returned the jacket to deGavre’s widow, who now lives in Virginia. (AP Photo/Eastern Shore News, Malissa Watterson) less
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Donna Gugger’s heart was heavy as she sifted through the scattered debris and devastation left by Superstorm Sandy along the Jersey Shore. Pieces of broken furniture. Shards of metal. Chairs ripped off patios. Blue jeans tossed out of bureaus.
But there was something different about that swath of gray cloth with shiny brass buttons. She stopped to take a second look, leaning down to tug on an edge of the fabric that peeked out from under the sand. At first glance, she thought it was an elaborate Halloween costume — a jacket that reminded her of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper.
It was no costume. Gugger had stumbled across an 80-year-old tunic owned by a 1933 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a World War II hero described in his West Point yearbook as a soldier with a “heart like a stormy sea.”
The jacket’s journey is as mysterious as its history. No one knows how it ended up on the Jersey Shore, hundreds of miles north of the late warrior Chester B. deGavre’s home on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. His 98-year-old widow, Tita deGavre, didn’t even know it existed.
But now that it has been found, the jacket is more than just a recovered forgotten relic.
For deGavre, it is another part of her late husband to cherish. She plans to hang it on the wall along with some of his other military garb and awards at the Deep Creek Plantation, a sprawling Virginia landscape along the shore where she also found her husband’s missing West Point ring years ago.
“I found it most impossible to believe,” deGavre said after Gugger drove five hours earlier this week to deliver the ornate jacket. “Where could it have been all this time?”
Chester deGavre’s parents used to live in Red Bank, less than 10 miles southwest of where the jacket was found. But that was years ago and the house has been sold many times over.
“Somebody must have had (the jacket) under great care, and whether their house blew away with Sandy, I don’t know,” said deGavre, who met her husband while he was overseas in her native England. They married in 1948.
“It’s all a big mystery, but I’m happy about it.”
To Gugger, the jacket is nothing less than a symbol of resurrection and renewal in a landscape scarred by sorrow and loss.
The 48-year-old pharmaceutical consultant from Holland, Pa., found the military clothing while she and other members of the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club helped clean up damage from Sandy, which struck in late October.
“I saw blue jeans, I had seen jackets, chairs, backpacks — all kinds of things,” she said. “And to go from a point of looking at devastation and the sadness that was associated with that, to find that something so good could potentially come out of the findings in all of that debris, I was just overjoyed.”
Gugger took the jacket home, shook out the sand, and washed it off. It was in extraordinary condition, and upon closer examination, she noticed the words “West Point” and “issued to deGavre” on the inside. Determined to get the jacket back to its rightful owner, she contacted West Point’s Association of Graduates, which cleaned and preserved it and tracked down deGavre’s family.
The heavy coat, studded with brass buttons down the front and sleeves, hasn’t changed much since it was first adopted at the academy around 1816, said retired Army Col. Chris Needels, a 1965 graduate of West Point and family friend of the deGavres. With its tails, intricate stitching, and diagonal gold braids on the shoulders, the jacket is still worn by cadets for formal occasions and in parades.
Before his death in 1993 at age 85, Chester deGavre was a Retired Army brigadier general, a pioneering paratrooper and chief of staff for the 1944 airborne invasion of southern France. He was one of the first Army officers to take parachute training at the start of World War II, joining the Airborne Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. The Newark, N.J., native improved techniques and standardized equipment for the airborne forces as a parachute-training officer and chief of test and development. His decorations included a Silver Star from the Korean War and the Legion of Merit with three oak-leaf clusters.
“This was a soldier, this was a war hero, somebody who risked his life for our country, and I was determined to get it back to the family,” Gugger said of the jacket.
“It’s a miracle because it’s still a mystery how it made it to that beach and for me to have even had the opportunity to pick it up. It’s not really about the jacket, it’s about the journey.”
Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum .