Total Eclipse Visible in Connecticut

A solar eclipse is not an especially rare astronomical event.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun and this happens a couple of times each year.  During a total eclipse, the sun is totally hidden behind the moon cutting off its light and turning day to night.  The rays of the sun are visible around the dark disk of the moon as a halo or “corona.” During a partial eclipse, the sun is only partly obscured and darkness is incomplete. The next solar eclipse will take place on April 29, 2014 and will be visible in parts of India, Australia, and Antarctica.  Unless you’re willing to travel to such far flung corners of the globe, you’re unlikely to see a total eclipse of the sun. Few people ever see one in their lifetimes.  Even a partial eclipse of the sun can be impressive.  I still remember the eclipse of March 7, 1970, which took place while I was a college student.  It didn’t get as dark as night, but it got dark enough so that the effect was noticeable and decidedly eerie.  If your parents or grandparents were living in Connecticut in 1925, they would have had a chance to see a total eclipse which took place on January 24th of that year and was visible throughout much of the state.  Photographs of this eclipse in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society were taken in Rockville and Willimantic.

“The Rough Riders and the 10th Cavarly was into the game”

First hand accounts of the Spanish American War are hard to come by. So imagine our excitement when we were able to acquire a diary written by a soldier from Connecticut! William E. Jackson of Willimantic, Connecticut, entered the army late, traveling to Philadelphia to enlist in May 1898. He was sent to Cuba andtook part of the siege of Santiago. After a long illness, he was ready to come home in August.

Some of Jackson’s observations are interesting, and some are disturbing. He commented on how Southern and Western men did not swear as much as Northern and Eastern men. As his company was marching toward Santiago, they heard some yelling, and that is when they encountered the Rough Riders, who had been caught in an ambush. Cubans, he observed, often gave soldiers coconuts. He witnessed some Cubans cutting off the head of a wounded Spanish soldier instead of helping him. He also described taking a block house, and digging trenches around Santiago. His most common complaint was about the wet weather–it rained too much. As a result, he and many other men became ill. He was particularly concerned when his tent-mate was hospitalized.

One of the things I found most interesting in the diary was the reference to the Knight of Pythias. Jackson was a member of that organization and made quick friends with other men who identified themselves as Knights. There is something significant there, but I have not been able to put my finger on it. Any insights would be welcome.

This diary brings to ten the number of manuscript items we have about the Spanish American War, and the only first hand account. To read the diary, request Ms 101672.

On July 1, Jackson’s company takes a heavily defended block house, where they had to “more than fight”. Ms 101672

Spaniards ambush the Rough Riders on Friday, June 24, 1898. Ms 101672