Blogs > Cliopatria > Military History Digest #151

Mar 7, 2011 9:03 pm

Military History Digest #151


Early Modern

1. Extra! US Marines in Tripoli by Charles McCain
"Wow. US Marines in Tripoli. Who would have thought? But I don’t mean the Marines are in Tripoli or Libya now. They were there in 1804. Why? An American frigate, USS Philadelphia, had been captured by the Barbary Pirates and brought into Tripoli harbor, which the pirates controlled. In February of 1804, a band of American sailors and US Marines, led by Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, USN, made a daring night raid and set the USS Philadelphia afire which destroyed the ship. Thus the line in the Marine Hymn “…to the shores of Tripoli."

19th Century

1. Black History Month Highlight: Aaron Anderson by (Matthew T. Eng)
"Aaron Anderson served on USS Wyandank during the Civil War. While part of a boat crew clearing Mattox Creek, Virginia on 17 March 1865, Anderson performed his duties in the face of devasting enemy fire. For his courage during this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.According to the 18 March 1865 account included in the Official Records, Anderson recieved special notice of his courage during the boat expedition. According to T.H. Eastman, commanding USS Don,"the crew of th eboat were all black but two," further adding that a white boatswain's mate and Aaron Anderson were specifically"reported..."

2. How Should We as a Nation Mark the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War? by (Lauren Kientz Anderson)

No summary available

3. Lincoln and Colonization Revisited by Brooks D. Simpson
"There has been some buzz lately about a new book that takes yet another look at Abraham Lincoln’s continuing interest in “colonization,” meaning the relocation of African Americans outside the United States. Contrary to what is sometimes asserted, historians have"

4. Debating Dilorenzo: Lincoln, Secession, and Sumter by Brooks D. Simpson
"Here’s what Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo told Brian Lamb in 2008 about Lincoln, secession, and the Sumter crisis: LAMB: … I want to ask you something you said. Was he a great man? DILORENZO: He was – when you consider that …"

5. Debating Dilorenzo: a Lincoln Above Criticism? by Brooks D. Simpson

"To date I’ve discussed several statements made by Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo in a 2008 interview with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN. To me, one of the most interesting characteristics of the interview is that both Lamb and DiLorenzo strayed often from … Continue reading →..."

6. Learning From History … or Not? by Brooks D. Simpson

"Why didn’t South Carolina think of this in 1861? Oh, that’s right … it had agreed to the federal government’s taking the land upon which it built Fort Sumter. Never mind...."

7. Debating Dilorenzo: on Cultism as a Career by Brooks D. Simpson

"In the exchange that follows, Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo explains to Brian Lamb what he believes motivates members of what he defines as a Lincoln “cult”: LAMB: What do you think is driving most of the, and there depending on what … Continue reading →..."

8. Debating Dilorenzo: Three Lincoln Cultists by Brooks D. Simpson

"Returning once more to Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo’s 2008 interview with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN …here’s Dr. DiLorenzo on what he calls the Lincoln “cult”: LAMB: If you could get everybody that you call the Lincoln cultists or people who are … Continue reading →..."

9. Debating Dilorenzo: Court Historians by Brooks D. Simpson

"In 2008 Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo explained to Brian Lamb what he meant by the term “court historian”: LAMB: I want to break down the first sentence a little bit more, what’s a ”museum quality specimen court historian” you write about … Continue reading →..."

10. Debating Dilorenzo: Distortion and Dismissal by Brooks D. Simpson

"In what must rank as one of the more interesting parts of Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo’s interview with Brian Lamb in 2008, we learn of a supposed conspiracy of Lincoln scholars to embarrass him through the History Channel: LAMB: Have you … Continue reading →..."

11. Bands on the Guns: Southern Rifled-Banded 42pdrs by Craig Swain

"Normally I start out discussing the background, manufacture, and history of a particular cannon type, and offer one of my charts to back up the particulars. In this case, let me start out with some photos to establish the presence … Continue reading →..."

12. Slavery in Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address by Donald Shaffer

"On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln at last took the oath as the 16th President of the United States. His first inaugural address has received much analysis over the years. Disunion in the New York Times added to the list yesterday by commissioning essays on the topic by four more scholars. Civil War Emancipation will append a bit more by analyzing Lincoln’s first inaugural as it pertains to slavery. Slavery is the major subject in Lincoln’s inaugural speech because at the heart of his address was the sectional crisis and slavery was at the heart of the sectional crisis. Lincoln..."

13. Ervin Jordan’s Black Confederates by Kevin Levin

"Spend enough time in the confusion that is the black Confederate debate and you will come across a short list of talking points. One of the most popular references is to Ervin L. Jordan’s Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia (A Nation Divided : New Studies in Civil War History), which was published [...]..."

14. African Americans in the Union Navy: Honor, Courage, Commitment by (Matthew T. Eng)

"Crewmembers cooking on deck, in the James River, Virginia, 9 July 1862. Photographed by James F. Gibson. The contraband sailor in the foreground of the image is Siah Carter. A Call to Arms USS Miami, 1864-1865The enlistment of African Americans changed the makeup of the Union Navy, even if it often split public opinion. Any attempt to block African Americans from entering the service were halted during the war, allowing them to swell the ranks. One estimate placed roughly 16% of the total enlisted force as black. Rather than restrict black enlisted men to special units, historian James Harrod..."

15. Untying the Gordian Knot by The General

"I am in the midst of doing an overhaul of my 2002 book Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863. This is one of my favorite titles of my work, even though it’s a short book. It was the first in Ironclad’s The Discovering Civil War America Series–an idea I came up with–and it also made the most extensive use of The Batchelder Papers of any study of East Cavalry Field yet published. It has also sold steadily over the years, and I am grateful to..."

16. Stephen Mallory - Secretary, Confederate States of America by (Seaman Rob)

"On March 4, 1861, Stephen R. Mallory was appointed Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States of America. To me, he is one of the more interesting persons of the Civil War navies, Union or Confederate. Born circa 1813 in Trinidad, he was raised mostly in Key West, Florida. He began his professional career in the early 1800’s practicing maritime law in the Florida Keys (at the time a hot bed of “wrecking” – the recovery of cargo from ships wrecked on the reefs of the Keys). Eventually he went into politics, representing Florida in the U.S. Senate. There..."

World War I

1. Researching Armies of the Adowa Campaign, Part 1: Ethiopia by n/a

"Guest Author; Sean McLachlan talks about reseraching his new Men-at-Arms in the first of a two part series on Italy's greatest colonial disaster...."

2. World War One Navy Recruiting Posters by Charles McCain

"A constant theme throughout the history of the United States is the need for manpower for the armed services. To this end, there have always been recruiting efforts and the most simple and straight forward of these has been the poster. No matter which era they are from, they repeat a common message - do your duty and serve your country because only through your help can we win. Over the next few weeks, I will be providing some examples of these recruiting posters as they pertain to the Navy. The following posters are all from World War One and carry..."

3. Rudyard Kipling: 'the Changelings' by (Tim Kendall)

"Rudyard Kipling, let it be said again, is the finest short story writer in English. At least, I haven't read a better. Much as I adore the plotted viciousness of The Jungle Books, my favourite collection is Debits and Credits (1926), which comes late enough in Kipling's career to be classified as---in Edmund Wilson's pointed phrase---'the Kipling that nobody read'. Although the book contains several masterpieces which regularly appear in selections from Kipling's work (most notably, 'The Wish House', 'The Bull that Thought', 'The Eye of Allah'), it has fallen out of print for long periods. The neglect..."

World War II

1. Iwo Jima by Steven Terjeson

"On of the bloodiest battles to occur during the entirety of World War II happened on a small desolate island in the vast Pacific (16 Feb 1945 – 26 Mar 1945). American Flag on Iwo Jima overlooking the landing beaches.“Iwo Jima, which means sulfur island, was strategically important as an air base for fighter escorts supporting long-range bombing missions against mainland Japan. Because of the distance between mainland Japan and U.S. bases in the Mariana Islands, the capture of Iwo Jima would provide an emergency landing strip for crippled B-29s returning from bombing runs. The seizure of Iwo..."

2. Gen. Ridgway on Combat, Man, and the Extraordinary Flaws of Gen. Macarthur by Thomas E. Ricks

"I find Gen. Matthew Ridgway, who commanded the 82nd Airborne in World War II and turned around the Korean War in early 1951 after MacArthur screwed it up, endlessly interesting. When I was up at the Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, doing book research last month, I spent a day reading his oral history interviews, some of them corrected in his own hand, and signed by him at the end in the same ink. Here are some of my favorite passages: On the strains of combat: The best of troops will fail if the strain is big enough..."

3. Casual Fridays by Jason Sigger

"Apologies as to the lateness of today's Casual Fridays post. It's been one of those weeks. I had finished this book last week, and really wanted to say a few words about it. Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers is about a particularly interesting and pivotal periods of the US Army's growth, 1917-1945 (as it says on the cover). General John Black Jack Pershing is famous for saying that the three big innovations of World War I was the tank, the airplane, and poison gas. It's unfortunate that the authors had left off the growth of the US Army Chemical..."

4. The National Government and the Air by Brett Holman

"A while back, The National Archives made all Cabinet papers from 1915 to 1980 freely available for download. Now TNA Labs have created a visualisation tool for said papers, allowing you to see clouds of the 25 most frequent words and contributors for any year (month in wartime) or, using the 'flexible querying' mode, any period you specify (up to ten years). Mouse-overing each result gives the actual count and links to the relevant DocumentsOnline entries. It's something of a toy at the moment (though they encourage you to download the XML dataset it is based upon and play..."

5. Researching Armies of the Adowa Campaign, Part 1: Ethiopia by n/a

"Guest Author; Sean McLachlan talks about reseraching his new Men-at-Arms in the first of a two part series on Italy's greatest colonial disaster...."

6. The Most Experienced U-Boat Builders in the World: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft and the German Type 212A U-Boat (1 of 4) by Charles McCain

"The Type 212A U-Boat is the latest submarine built by Germany and is the most advanced non-nuclear type in the world. It was designed and built by a long time supplier of U-Boats to the German Navy, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in Kiel. On their company website, HDW proclaims:"Virtually no shipyard the world over has more experience in the design and construction of non-nuclear submarines." I guess not. During World War Two, the Deutsche Werft shipyard in Kiel built 69 U-Boats for the Kriegsmarine while Howaldtswerke yard in Kiel built 31 U-Boats. (Both shipbuilders..."

7. German Light Cruiser Königsberg by Charles McCain

"I have written about the German light cruisers previously including the Königsberg. The Königsberg was the first of the three 'K' class light cruisers built and so they are also referred to as Königsberg class according to naval tradition. The K class light cruisers suffered from many design problems since they were designed and built in the late 1920's and had to adhere to the strict limit's imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. As the design problems became increasingly apparent, the duties of the ships were limited to compensate and they increasingly failed to serve in the..."

8. Incompetence, Stupidity, and Cowardice: the Royal House of Savoy and the Governance of Italy, 1861-1946 by Charles McCain

"When last we left the evil twins, Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel III, World War Two had broken out. The Germans attacked Poland and the Italians, well, they hesitated, saying their alliance with Germany was"defensive." Hitler was furious. At least this showed some thinking going on at the top of the Italian Government. Or maybe just inertia since the King himself didn't seem to do much thinking."

9. A Profile in Courage—Petty Officer George E. Whalen by NHHC

"On the island of Iwo Jima on 26 February 1945, Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Whalen, USNR, attached to a rifle company in the Second Battalion, 26th Marines, retrieves a wounded Marine from in front of his company’s lines and carries him to safety. He is wounded in the left eye before he accomplishes [...]..."

10. Hospital Ship “Op Ten Noort” by thomaslsnyder

"by Thomas L Snyder This past weekend (27 Feb-1Mar) marked the 69th anniversary of the Battle of the Java Sea, in which a combined American-British-Dutch-Australian fleet was completely destroyed by an equal-sized Japanese fleet which enjoyed the advantages of superior gunnery, air superiority and a new, long-range torpedo. Only one hospital ship was present in the area, Op ten Noort.(1) Launched in Amsterdam in 1927, she was originally commissioned to passenger service in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. With the onset of World War II, the Dutch Royal Navy took her up..."

Cold War

1. Algeria, the Assassination of Charles De Gaulle, and the Day of the Jackal (Part 1 of 2) by Charles McCain

"Algiers. Algeria. Bombing. Mayhem. Riot. Protest. If you have wondered, like me, what exactly the phrase, “the past is prologue” means, then look no further than Algeria now, for violence and mayhem have a long history in that country. Though long forgotten, France had a large colonial empire which included modern day Algeria. French settlement began in the 1830s after France seized Algeria from the Ottoman Empire. Over the decades, tens of thousands of French settlers along with impoverished Italians, Spaniards, Maltese, as well as French criminals sentenced to transportation (that is deportation to the colonies), made up the European..."

2. Algeria, the Assassination of Charles De Gaulle, and the Day of the Jackal (Part 2 of 2) by Charles McCain

"+ A young Harki in uniform in the summer of 1961. While this is going on, Algeria started to come apart. Many of the French, especially those in Algeria itself, thought the colony would be content to remain part of France. This turned out to be incorrect. In 1954, Algerian rebels began an armed insurrection against the French which went on until 1962. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed with some estimates as high as 1,500,000, the majority of whom were Algerians. Part of this number includes an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 native Algerians who were murdered by their..."

3. Diary Entry 32: Saigon, Thursday Night, 22 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Thursday Night, 22 July 1965Did not write last night as we had a conference with a JCS study team here from Washington until 10:30 p.m. By the time I got back to the BOQ about 11, I was pooped out and went right to bed. Today has been a long one, too, but not quite as bad as yesterday. Got home at 8 p.m. and am going to fix some supper just as soon as I finish this. The way things are happening so fast around here, it is hard to keep important events sorted out in my..."

4. Photo: Clark and Brigadier General John D. Crowley, Macv J-4, at Macv I Headquarters, 22 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"I had just said: 'Now that I've got promoted [to lieutenant colonel], I'll now give you all the bad news about how bad off we really are. . .then you can court-martial me!' Then General Crowley said: 'Bad news is all I ever get around here!' And we were all laughing, Clark, right, wrote on the back of this photograph of himself and Brigadier General John D. Crowley, the MACV Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics (J-4), left, at MACV I Headquarters, 22 July 1965. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)..."

5. Diary Entry 33: Saigon, Friday Night, 23 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Friday Night, 23 July 1965 This has been a busy but very productive day. Feel like I accomplished a good bit. Did my part in the paperwork and ceremony battle! Regarding the landings of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division: Was at Vung Tau where the main force arrived. We put them ashore by LSTs and then flew them to Bien Hoa Air Base, north of Saigon. This was an expensive way to do it, but it was the safest way. I feel pretty good about planning this move and not getting a single person hurt during my part..."

6. Diary Entry 34: Saigon, Saturday Night, 24 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Saturday Night, 24 July 1965 This has been the nicest Saturday that I’ve known since arriving in Vietnam! I finished up all my work by 6 p.m., had something to eat at the Hong Kong BOQ mess, and am now at my BOQ. We didn’t have a single flap today and it was just plain pleasant at the office for a change. Sure hope it stays that way. Things are going so good that I am planning to take the day off tomorrow and do some shopping. Major [Raymond] Kostner, the chief of my Sealift Coordination Center, has offered..."

7. Frequently Mentioned Persons: Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd L. Burke, U.S. Army by (J.R. Clark)

"On 24 July 1965, Clark wrote:"Scooter Burke was wounded today [Burke was wounded on 22 July]. He’s a Medal of Honor winner from Korea, in 1951. I’ve known him for a long time, and he’s just crazy enough to get himself killed. It’s a real good thing he got wounded and is being evacuated, because he takes such needless risks that sooner or later he would have been killed. He had no business being where he was and doing what he was doing when he got wounded. That's lieutenant's work. Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd L. Burke, U.S. Army [pictured as..."

8. Diary Entry 35: Saigon, Sunday Night, 25 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Sunday Night, 25 July 1965Lots of difference between Korea in 1950 and Vietnam 1965. In 1950 I could march 25 miles a day with a full pack and stay up most of the night listening for trouble. In 1965 as a lieutenant colonel, get to feeling washed out by 10 p.m. and haven’t even done any fighting! I believe that I feel better and look better in the field because I’m out in the field walking and looking and being a soldier. There are few pressures on you out in the boondocks other than staying alert. Clark as a..."

9. Diary Entry 36: Saigon, Wednesday Night, 28 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Wednesday Night, 28 July 1965This has been a pretty pleasant day for Vietnam. And on reflection tonight, it is kinda hard to say whether the pleasant aspects are due to: 1) General Crowley’s being away in Hawaii; 2) The VC being quiet; or, 3) my very outstanding managerial talent. On careful consideration of all aspects, I’m inclined to believe that it is due to me. Maybe I have a few things under control now.This has been a light work day. This morning was spent on paperwork such as preparing a staff study, writing some messages to the JCS and..."

10. From the Editor: the President's News Conference, East Room, the White House, 28 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"On 28 July 1965, Clark wrote, The President is going to speak here at midnight tonight, so will stay up to hear him. Bet he’ll say that the situation in South Vietnam causes him 'concern,' that more US troops will be committed, and that some Reserves and National Guard will be called up. So will take a shower and turn the radio on. This is what Clark heard when President Lyndon B. Johnson held his forty-seventh news conference in the East Room of the White House at 12:34 p.m. (12:34 a.m. on 29 July, Saigon time):My..."

11. Diary Entry 37: Saigon, Thursday Night, 29 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Thursday Night, 29 July 1965Today has been what I call “plans and problems day.” What time wasn’t spent on planning was spent with problems. And plans took the biggest part. Morning was spent planning on 3 operations. [The first operation was the arrival and throughput of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, which arrived at Cam Ranh Bay today---29 July. The second operation was Operation HIGHLAND, in which the 1st Brigade was to secure a base at An Khe for the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), which was en route from Fort Benning, Georgia. Three areas required the paratroopers..."

12. Diary Entry 38: Saigon, Friday Night, 30 July 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Friday Night, 30 July 1965 Working late tonight at the office, but got tired of the work and decided to take a few minutes off to write. At 10 p.m. I am to go over to MACV I headquarters to brief General DePuy (J-3) and Lieutenant General [John] Throckmorton (Deputy Commander MACV) on some items we have going on. [Clark briefed the generals on the progress of the debark and throughput of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, logistic support for Operation HIGHLAND, and plans for the arrival of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).] Probably be a long..."

13. Diary Entry 39: en Route to Da Nang, Sunday Afternoon, 1 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"En Route to Da Nang Sunday Afternoon, 1 August 1965This trip came up rather suddenly yesterday afternoon, so here I am in a very nice plane just a few minutes off the ground at Tan Son Nhut. Destination is Da Nang where will have some discussions tomorrow with Major General [Lewis] Walt and Brigadier General [Frederick] Karch, US Marine Corps. Expect to arrive Da Nang about 5 p.m. Will return to Saigon Monday night. Colonel [Arthur] Hurow is going up with me. Brought my camera along, but so far no opportunity to take any pictures. We were in kind of..."

14. Diary Entry 40: Saigon, Tuesday Night, 3 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Tuesday Night, 3 August 1965Back from Da Nang all in one piece! Got back to Saigon last night about 10 p.m. but was just too worn out to write when I got in. Went to sleep right in my dirty old fatigues. We programmed the flight back at night on purpose because it is a long way and mostly over VC jungle territory. They can’t see too well way up in the sky at night. Seemed the best time to travel.  Brigadier General Frederick Karch, U.S. Marine Corps (Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps). The purpose of the trip was..."


1. Gates on Coin: What Was Really Said? by David Ucko

"There has been ample coverage of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ final speech to the West Point cadets last Friday, with much of the attention focusing on an apparently growing disenchantment with counterinsurgency, a theme previously touched upon on this blog. For obvious reasons, the quotation that got the most play in the press was Gates’ quip that any future sec-def who advises the sending of ‘a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should “have his head examined”’. This sentence has been picked up upon as a candid admission by a straight..."


1. Are Lpd-17s Modern-Day Mitschers? by Craig Hooper

"It is always easy to point at the latest shipbuilding “disaster” and claim that it is the “greatest” fiasco ever. It’s true that smaller-scale shipbuilding SNAFUS are a fact of life. But these days, to some observers, mistakes are a distinguishing characteristic of naval shipbuilding. The big “disaster” of my era is the LPD-17. But the LPD-17 saga, according to Navy Institute Uber-Scribe and author of the Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, Eric Wertheim, is not unique. Wertheim was quoted in the LPD-17 article I was quoted in and discussed earlier..."

2. Cdr Paul Milius and Observation Squadron 67 by NHHC

"During the Vietnam War, how to interdict the men and material North Vietnam sent south through neutral Laos and Cambodia proved to be one of the most vexing challenges faced by the United States military. In the Fall of 1966, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara requested that Army Lieutenant General Alfred Starbird, Director, Defense Communications [...]..."

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