John’s Believe It Or Not… November 11th

* 1918 World War I ends. * 1813 – War of 1812 – Americans Beaten Back at Battle of Crysler’s Farm. * 1992 The Church of England approves the ordination of female priests. * 1831 Nat Turner executed in Virginia. * 1921 Dedication of the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Field of poppies with header: REMEMBRANCE DAY 11.11.17

It’s Remembrance Day in Canada! Did You Know…

* 1918 World War I ends.

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle’s imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention.

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia’s ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium’s ally, to declare war against Germany.

For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the “Schlieffen Plan,” which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France.

The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front—the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium—the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition.

In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October 1914, but after heavy bloodshed, the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916. The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses, spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies’ favor. Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies on November 11, 1918.

World War I was known as the “war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict—the Treaty of Versailles of 1919—forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.

Celebrating the end of the First World War, London, November 1918. Artist: Unknown
Celebrating the end of the First World War, London, November 1918. Artist: Unknown

* 1813 – War of 1812 – Americans Beaten Back at Battle of Crysler’s Farm.

This decisive land battle in the War of 1812 was fought on 11 November 1813 on a farmer’s field between Morrisburg and Cornwall, Ont, along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. The Battle of Crysler’s Farm was the Americans’ last attempt at capturing Montréal, and it was considered by many to be a disastrous defeat for their army.

Under the command of American General James Wilkinson, an impressive flotilla of well-armed ships had been making their way down the St. Lawrence to combine forces with General Wade Hampton, who was marching toward Montréal from the south. Suffering illness and incapacitated by the heavy use of the medicine laudanum, Wilkinson remained on board his ship and delegated authority over cavalry, artillery and approximately 2500 infantry to Brigadier-General John Parker Boyd, a senior but thinly respected officer from Massachusetts.

Boyd’s troops were doggedly pursued by a significantly smaller British force led by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison. After constant pressure from Canadian Voltigeurs and Tyendinaga Mohawks under Morrison’s command, Boyd finally turned his army to confront them. On 10 November, he set up headquarters at a local tavern. Meanwhile, Morrison set up camp less than two kilometers east of Boyd’s position, at the home of John Crysler, a wealthy Loyalist and captain in the Dundas militia. Many of Morrison’s men slept outside that night, with little protection from the sleet and rain.

Morrison had the tactical advantage during the skirmish. The Americans were forced to trudge through two large ravines to reach the field, which was itself inconveniently decorated with split-rail fences and wedged between a pine forest marsh and the St. Lawrence. On the river, a small flotilla of gunboats under Captain William Mulcaster backed the British position.
Meanwhile, Boyd’s contradictory and inconsistent leadership exacerbated the confusion and lack of discipline among the American infantry. By the time American artillery and cavalry arrived, most of the soldiers had begun to retreat, their ammunition spent. While the American artillery did have a devastating effect, they were unable to overcome the well-coordinated efforts of British artillery and musketry or their bayonets. Boyd eventually called a retreat, an order Wilkinson later denied issuing, and the American troops moved to French Mills for the winter, ending the year’s campaign on a sour note.

Wilkinson later attempted to claim Crysler’s Farm as an American victory, but his career, already in disrepute, was severely tarnished by what most saw as a bungled, ignominious defeat. Against a combined British force of no more than 2400 men, Boyd recorded approximately 340 killed and wounded and 100 captured. Morrison’s troops also suffered from this bloody encounter, with estimates on casualties ranging from 180 to about 200. Despite these losses, British army surgeon William “Tiger” Dunlop described Morrison’s victory as “a very brilliant little affair.”

These encampments and battlefield sites were flooded to make way for the St. Lawrence Seaway
These encampments and battlefield sites were flooded to make way for the St. Lawrence Seaway. (Canadian Geographic)

* 1992 The Church of England approves the ordination of female priests.

The ordination of women in the Anglican Communion has been increasingly common in certain provinces since the 1970s. Several provinces, however, and certain dioceses within otherwise ordaining provinces, continue to ordain only men. Disputes over the ordination of women have contributed to the establishment and growth of conservative separatist tendencies, such the Anglican realignment, and Continuing Anglican movements.

Some provinces within the Anglican Communion ordain women to the three traditional holy orders of bishop, priest, and deacon. Other provinces ordain women as deacons and priests but not as bishops; others still as deacons only, and seven provinces do not approve the ordination of women to any order of ministry.

Within provinces which permit the ordination of women, approval of enabling legislation is largely a diocesan responsibility. There may, however, be individual dioceses which do not endorse the legislation, or do so only in a modified form, as in those dioceses which ordain women only to the diaconate (such as the Diocese of Sydney in the Anglican Church of Australia), regardless of the fact that the ordination of women to all three orders of ministry is canonically possible.

The ordination of women has been a controversial issue throughout the Anglican Communion. While the majority of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion ordain women as priests, and many have removed all barriers to women becoming bishops, some have taken formal or informal steps to provide pastoral care and support for those who cannot in conscience accept the ministry of women as priests and bishops. The Church of England, for example, has created the office of provincial episcopal visitor (colloquially known as “flying bishops”) to minister to clergy, laity and parishes who do not in conscience accept the ministry of women priests. These are suffragan bishops, appointed by the metropolitans, whose main purpose is to be available for this ministry.

There have been a number of protest groups established by conservative Anglicans who see the ordination of women as representative of a trend away from traditional or orthodox doctrine. A network for opponents of women’s ordination called the Evangelical and Catholic Mission was established in 1976, and following the consecration of Barbara Harris, the first woman to become an Anglican bishop, in 1989, a group of 22 active and retired bishops established the Episcopal Synod of America,[141] subsequently Forward in Faith North America. A sister organization, Forward in Faith UK, was established in 1992.

Angela Berners-Wilson: I was the first female priest in England | Life and style | The Guardian
Angela Berners-Wilson: I was the first female priest in England | Life and style | The Guardian

* 1831 Nat Turner executed in Virginia.

Nat Turner, the leader of a bloody slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia, is hanged in Jerusalem, the county seat.

Turner, a slave, and educated minister believed that he was chosen by God to lead his people out of slavery. On August 21, 1831, he initiated his slave uprising by slaughtering Joseph Travis, his slave owner, and Travis’ family. With seven followers, Turner set off across the countryside, hoping to rally hundreds of slaves to join his insurrection. Turner planned to capture the county armory at Jerusalem, Virginia, and then march 30 miles to Dismal Swamp, where his rebels would be able to elude their pursuers.

During the next two days and nights, Turner and 75 followers rampaged through Southampton County, killing about 60 whites. Local whites resisted the rebels, and then the state militia–consisting of some 3,000 men–crushed the rebellion. Only a few miles from Jerusalem, Turner and all his followers were dispersed, captured, or killed. In the aftermath of the rebellion, scores of African Americans were lynched, though many of them had not participated in the revolt. Turner himself was not captured until the end of October, and after confessing without regret to his role in the bloodshed, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. On November 11, he was hanged in Jerusalem.

Turner’s rebellion was the largest slave revolt in U.S. history and led to a new wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting the movement, assembly, and education of slaves.

Nat Turner is discovered in a wooded area of Virginia by a white man
Nat Turner is discovered in a wooded area of Virginia by a white man (Demetria Lucas)

* 1921 Dedication of the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Exactly three years after the end of World War I, the Tomb of the Unknowns is dedicated at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia during an Armistice Day ceremony presided over by President Warren G. Harding.

Two days before, an unknown American soldier, who had fallen somewhere on a World War I battlefield, arrived at the nation’s capital from a military cemetery in France. On Armistice Day, in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries, the unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

In 1998, a Vietnam War unknown, who was buried at the tomb for 14 years, was disinterred from the Tomb after DNA testing indicated his identity. Air Force Lieutenant Michael Blassie was returned to his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and was buried with military honors, including an F-15 jet “missing man” flyover and a lone bugler sounding taps.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visiting the tomb of an unknown soldier on Armistice Day
President Franklin D. Roosevelt visiting the tomb of an unknown soldier on Armistice Day (

Today’s Sources: 

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* The Canadian Encyclopedia                                      

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport               

* This Day In History – What Happened Today              

* Wikipedia                                                                        

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

17 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… November 11th”

    1. I agree it was a game changer in other ways too. The colonies of the Empire pushed for a more autonomous international British community that produced the 1926 Balfour Report (in tomorrow’s Believe It Or Not report) and the establishment of the modern Commonwealth by way of The Statute of Westminster in 1931. The war led to the creation of the League of Nations that eventually spawned the United Nations. Thanks, Opher!


  1. This was quite a day in war history, from the end of WWII to the Vietnam soldier removed from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Very appropriate today! And then my church (Episcopalian) ordaining a female priest. That was a big deal! Thank you for remembering veterans today, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Let’s hear it for the Church of England for recognizing the importance of women working at top levels of the church structure, even though it took until 1992 for them to do it!

    NOW we need to find some way to WAKE UP all of the other religious organizations. After all, women are ideally equipped for the compassion that these roles of leadership require.

    Remembrance Day – Veterans Day — Armistice Day. While its wonderful that we dedicate those days to honor those who pay high prices to keep the rest of us free, it is also bittersweet. Why just a few DAYS? Why not more actual, pragmatic support for returning Vets – and EVERY day.

    Really — as a REAL question.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Madelyn – our government needs to learn a few lessons about treating Vets too! Why do so many governments need to be shamed by the media before they do something?

      Personally, I think the best thing to do with all religions is to ignore them – maybe they’ll go away and stop wreaking havoc in the world. If I choose to believe in God, I don’t need a religion to tell me how to develop a relationship with Him/Her. That’s me – Joe Heretic!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I was raised a Roman Catholic by two devout parents. I even studied briefly for the priesthood and got a brief glimpse of the inner workings of the hierarchy. But it was my ongoing study of history that soured me on Catholicism, Christianity, and all religions. As it turns out I am the only heretic among my siblings. My final break from the Catholic Church came in July of 2005 when the Canadian Government made equal marriage law by passing the Civil Marriage Act. The Pope immediately excommunicated our Catholic Prime Minister, Paul Martin, and forbade his local Bishop to allow Martin to receive the sacraments. That was it! If it wasn’t bad enough that the Church had discriminated against women for centuries, now it was stepping up its anti-gay activity. Of course, there were many other issues where I could not agree with church teachings – but that was the straw that broke this camel’s back – and I haven’t looked back.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I have to admit that I have similar reactions, John. How can any religion that espouses love and a loving God be so hateful and expect anyone to take them seriously? VERY Old Testament!

            I do recall reading somewhere that you had studied for the priesthood, now that you mention it. How did your parents take it when you did not follow through with ordination?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s easy to understand those religions when you keep in mind that they’re not interested in members who think – just the ones who obey. The “sheep” analogy is quite telling.

              The path to the RC priesthood takes 7 years – I quit after 1.5 years. My parents didn’t want me to go in the first place, so when I left it was a case of “I told you so.” Needless to say, we didn’t get along well.


  3. My grandfather is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and when I visit I am always awed by the tomb of the unknowns. The sad thing is he was laid to rest in 1932 and right next to him is a young man laid to rest in 1969. (Viet Nam) It is a graphic depiction of the waste of war.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Of all the stories in your blog today, the one of the Tomb of the Unknowns is the most powerful for me. Too often forgotten, these unknowns faced their demise on a battlefield doing what they were trained to do, for the ideals they were taught to uphold. For this reason, as you’ve written, it is the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery. Bless them all…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always find Remembrance/Veterans/Armistice Day difficult realizing how many young lives were snuffed out prematurely. At the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa, a soldier on duty guarding it was shot and killed by a crazed homegrown terrorist in 2014. He went on to shoot up the inside of our Parliament Building and was finally brought down and killed by the security officers. Here’s a link:,_Ottawa

      I have had the privilege of visiting Arlington National Cemetery and I can attest to the reverence shown by the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there. Thanks for your comments, Gwen.

      Liked by 2 people

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