By 1812, Jakob Walter, although only 24 years of age, had already served in two campaigns as a foot soldier for the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Jakob and many other conscripts in the Grande Armée were ordered to undertake the famously ill-fated march on Moscow, after which the devastated remnants of Napoleon's fighting force were left to return to their homes on their own power. Jakob's meticulous diary tells a tale of survival and perseverance during this nightmarish march against staggering odds.
By the early 1860s, the British and Russian Empires simultaneously attempted to spread their influence into Tibet, a region which was at the time still tenuously under the control of the fading Qing Empire in China. Tibetan leadership, in an attempt to forestall culture erosion and retain its connections with the Chinese, closed its borders to Europeans of all sorts on penalty of death. Captain Thomas G. Montgomerie of the Royal Engineers, tasked with the exploration and mapping of Tibet, developed a plan to use trained natives to surreptitiously take the measurements for which British agents, regardless of their talent or preparation, would be much more vulnerable to discovery. After being asked for recommendations of loyal and talented locals who could be taught techniques in infiltration and surveying, British Education Officer Edmund Smyth suggested to Montgomerie a 33-year-old local schoolteacher named Nain Singh.
Aware that they were essentially invading and poaching on enemy land, Corps of Discovery veterans John Colter and John Potts remained hidden during the day in order to escape detection, setting their traps at night and gathering up their proceeds as the following dawn broke. One morning, as the two men canoes up the Jefferson River, they heard a commotion above the elevated riverbank to the east. Colter claimed that the noise was caused by Indians, but Potts insisted it was just buffalo, so they persisted up the river, whereupon they came face-to-face with a party of approximately 800 Blackfoot.
In the years before the transcontinental railroad spanned the nation, the quickest and safest method of travel between the west and east coast occurred by sea, with a short land connection across the Isthmus of Panama. On August 20, 1857, newlyweds Ansel and Addie Easton boarded the SS Sonora in San Francisco, bound for Panama; between his burgeoning furniture business and her family inheritance, Ansel and Addie could afford an expensive whirlwind tour to Panama, New York, and eventually Europe. After the Sonora landed, the couple embarked on a short train ride to the Panamanian city of Colon, and then boarded the SS Central America, whose itinerary included a short stop in Havana before heading to its ultimate destination of New York City.
In the mid-1860's, Sonoran mercenaries raided a small Apache town near the US-Mexican border, near what are now the cities of Esqueda, Mexico and neighboring Douglas, Arizona. After slaughtering the captured males, they force-marched many of the surviving women southwest to the Gulf of California. Many of the women died en route, and the raiders sold the rest into slavery where they worked in the fields of a local hacienda.
On the Salita Santa Anna in Naples, not far from the Palazzo Reale, a modest restaurant called the Pizzeria Brandi has been serving various types of pizza in the same building for over 200 years. It first opened in 1780 as the Pizzeria Pietro e Basta Cosi (meaning "the pizzeria of Peter, and that's enough"), but eventually its childless owner, called simply Peter the Pizzamaker, transferred its ownership to Enrico Brandi. Enrico's son-in-law, a pizzaiuolo (pizza-maker) named Raffaele Esposito, managed the restaurant in June of 1889 when the shop got a visit from royalty. King Umberto I of Italy had assumed the throne upon the death of his father a little over ten years earlier; he and Queen Margherita had once lived in Naples and, as they were planning a trip back to the city, they decided to indulge themselves in the local cuisine.
Frederick Burnham was born in 1861 on an Indian reservation in what is now Minnesota, the son of a Kentucky-born missionary and outdoorsman and his English wife, and a true product of the American west.. When Indians attacked their village during the Dakota War of 1862, Fred’s mother, knowing she couldn’t move quickly enough while carrying him, hid Fred in a corn shock while she fled to another homestead; Fred spent the night there under the stacked corn even as the Indians ran by, and upon his mother's return the following day, she found him unharmed and sleeping. Over the years, he inherited his father’s love and skill for outdoorsmanship, and became proficient in the use of a rifle by the time he was eight. Around 1870, Fred’s father slipped on some ice while carrying an armload of wood; the falling wood left him with serious injuries and a case of consumption from which he could not recover; the family moved to California, where Fred’s father died in 1873. The following year, Fred's mother decided to return the family to Iowa, but Fred, then 13 years old, considered himself responsible for the family, so he decided to stay in California, where he would call upon his frontiersman skills to earn money for their support.