Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009
Quiet day at home. Reflection and introspection: what works and what doesn't? As I reread my daytimer notes from 1999 and 2008 I am struck with how much effort was wasted on "Important Tasks," that ended up going nowhere.

Working in my studio on late afternoon light, Remington on patrol with Powhatan Clarke. Riding through the Salt River Canyon on the way to Fort Apache. Have excellent reference photos shot two years ago with the Top Secret Writer.

Speaking of Paul, I'm reading Frederic Remington: Selected Letters which he recently gifted me, and I learn something on every page. For example, we almost went to war with Chile in 1891. In a letter to Powhatan Clarke, Remington looks forward to the conflict: "this little Uncle Sam's tract of land is just spoiling for a fight; look at [President] Harrison's chili [yes, the Western artist spells the country like the dish] & Behering's Seal deal—we'll have it inside of three years and you'll be a Maj. General or a corpse. . ."

Evidently, a civil war in Chile led to an incident in San Diego harbor, where the crew of a detained Chilean steamer overpowered the American guard and set sail for home. The ship and crew were captured and brought back. Later, in October of 1891 a Chilean spit in the face of an unarmed American sailor on shore leave, which caused a riot. Two U.S. sailors died in the fighting and feeling in both Chile and the U.S. ran high for war. The Chilean foreign minister submitted an apology and, after much saber rattling, it all blew over.

Unfortunately, Remington was prescient on another front: Powhattan Clarke would be a corpse within two years. The promising young soldier drowned while swimming in the Bighorn River near Fort Custer, Montana on July 21, 1893.

Remington had predicted great things for Clarke and Hutton believes Powhatan would have had a promising career with the Rough Riders and beyond, had he lived. And so, today, we salute your memory Powhatan Clarke. The Top Secret Writer and myself intend to bring your story back to the people you served. And a humble thank you to all who have served.

"They could take a Cossack and milk his damn mare on the run."
—Frederic Remington praising Native American cavalry

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