They were so upset with working conditions in their shirtwaste trade that they walked off the job. A few thousand soon became 20,000 on strike in a trade only employing about 32,000. A few days picketing would become 14 weeks on the streets of NY.
Conditions would soon improve, and one of the results was the creation of what was originally called the Women's Workers Day. For several years it would be celebrated on the last day of February.
Word would soon travel to Europe, and at Copenhagen a conference of working women saw attendance from representatives form several countries. One of the outcomes of this was the settling of a day international that would be set aside to recognize the very valid causes they were championing.
Then in 1917 a four day strike in Europe was held to recognize some 2 million Russian soldiers who lost their lives during WWl. That event started on 23 February. A resolution soon came forth to set aside that day annually, for celebration. But the 23rd soon had morphed into March 8th, with the switching of the old Julian to the Gregorian Calendar.
Many years ago women decided that a day was not enough time to properly remember the incredible accomplishments of the fairer sex, and so they created a week around the 8th and it became known as Womens History Week in the US. In the early 1980's President Carter made the week official Thirty years ago this month, the week was turned into Womens History Month in the US. (Canada celebrates it in October.)
Moving on to the less fair sex, Mike, a longtime friend and great supporter of my research work sent me a most interesting picture a few weeks back. Investigating the image further, led me by complete fluke... right back to March 8th... but this time is was in the year 1862.
My interest is not so much in the ship or its history but in its construction. Note that the portion above water line consists almost entirely by the tapered top that looks like a barn or other structure, with exception of those deadly cannons sticking their dangerous ends out the windows. During the war this vessel was scuttled (sunk) by the south, because they were afraid the north would capture it and use it against them.
The story that Mike found and sent along, is that recently parts of the ship have been located and brought to the surface. And this is what got me excited. And this shows why...
The ships of the day were wooded hulled, and of course above the water line as well.
A ship like the CSS Georgia, with this metal protection is almost impenetrable by the wooden decked enemy warships, who in turn, become sitting ducks.
No mater what the older designed vessel threw at the newer IRONCLADS, as they became known, the shells usually could not penetrate the rail line protection. And because of the angles of the housing for the weaponry, most shells simply bounced away doing no harm whatsoever. (Not including the eardrums of those inside.)
With this construction in mind, let's turn to the other March 8 of interest to this blog. Again the year was 1862. One of the most famous naval battles during the CW is recognized as having occurred on the 9th. But deeds of the day before are as important.
The Union forces knew that the South were building a ironclad and were in a race to see who would first float one. The south won and on the 8th created real havoc in the waterway near Chesapeake Bay in what is known as Hampton Roads.
Many Union ships were grounded, by this Confederate Ironclad named CSS Virginia, (but often called the Merrimack in error.) Some received major damage and the USS Cumberland, a state of the art top of the line WOODEN HULLED union warship was sunk in less than 10 minutes with a loss of over 100 men, some 1/3rd of her crew.
Then from around the bend, on her first mission ever... came the Union's answer to the Virginia. And it was called the USS Monitor. That story has been told often in this space. The gist being that the two ironclads chased each about for hours, huffed and puffed and then getting bored of each other went back into their own corners. They returned the next day, but the gist of that was more of the same, some minor damages and both going off, and for a variety of reasons, never facing each other again.
Over the past several years I have found several Canadian connections to these 2 days of conflict.
After one of the two cannons at above left, probably the front one, was fired the officer called for a sponging of the barrel. The fellow had to jump over some materials and ended up sticking his head out of the port to get the job done. At the same time a marine sniper on-board the Cumberland was waiting for just such an event, fired of one round and hit the Southerner in the head, instantly killing him.
He was the first of only 2 southerners that died on the Virginia during the first day of battle. And he was from New Brunswick Canada. Another sailor on board was from Ontario. Two Americans on board would later become prominent citizens in Nova Scotia.
And there is a third. In another event after this battle, a Monitor crew member probably from Quebec, was aboard when the Monitor was sunk. He was saved from drowning by an American sailor from yet another vessel. That sailor was later awarded a MOH.
During the battle at Hampton Roads there was at least one other Canadian I found who was serving in one of the shore batteries and firing into the fray on the 8th and 9th.
And the Montreal fellow is the subject of my blog next week.
Hope to see you then,