Author Topic: Military History  (Read 1450 times)

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Re: Military History
« Reply #90 on: January 01, 2019, 11:15:32 PM »
Nathan Bedford Forest was arguably the best combat leader and tactician on either side.  He was a "natural" with no formal military training and as best I can recall he never lost a battle.  Shelby Foote gave him a lot of ink in his Civil War Trilogy.

Forrest participated in the Confederate defeat at the Second Battle of Franklin before suffering another loss at the Third Battle of Murfreesboro in December. After Hood's beleaguered Army of Tennessee was routed at the Battle of Nashville, Forrest led rearguard operations during the retreat into Mississippi.

He participated in losing battles but it was never because of his actions.

Re: Military History
« Reply #91 on: January 08, 2019, 04:03:19 AM »
From Hallowed Grounds

John Singleton Mosby

John Singleton Mosby was an unlikely hero. Born in 1833 in Powhatan County, Virginia, he was a sickly child and was often picked on at school. Being bullied did not seem to bother Mosby, however, as he had exceptional self-confidence, and he learned to fight back at an early age.

In 1849, he attended the University of Virginia, excelling in Classical Studies, but once again he ran up against bullies. During a confrontation with a fellow student, Mosby pulled a pistol and shot his adversary in the neck. He was promptly arrested, sentenced to one year in jail, and issued a $500 fine. He was also expelled from the university.

After receiving a pardon from the Governor of Virginia due to ill health, Mosby was released from jail in early 1854. During his time in jail, he had befriended the prosecuting attorney, William Robertson, who allowed Mosby the use of his law library. Mosby continued to study law after his release, and was admitted to the bar that same year.

In 1857, after establishing his law practice in Howardsville, Virginia, Mosby met and married Pauline Clarke. They would eventually have three children.

When the Civil War began, Mosby spoke out against secession, but joined the Confederate army as a private, serving in the "Virginia Volunteers," a company of mounted infantry, that fought at the battle of First Manassas (Bull Run). During this time Mosby's exceptional skill at gathering intelligence came to the attention of J.E.B. Stuart. In early 1862, Mosby was promoted to First Lieutenant and assigned to Stuart's cavalry scouts. He was captured by Union cavalry and briefly imprisoned in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, DC before being paroled.


In January of 1863, Stuart placed Mosby in command of the 43rd Virginia Cavalry, which operated as a partisan unit. By this time, Mosby had been promoted to the rank of Major. "Mosby's Rangers" began to conduct a campaign of lightning raids on Union supply lines and harassment of Union couriers. The fame of the unit grew with each success and because of his ability to seemingly appear and disappear at will, Mosby became known as "The Gray Ghost."

Mosby's most famous raid occurred in March of 1863, inside Union lines at Fairfax County Courthouse, when he captured Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton. Mosby found Stoughton asleep in bed. Awakening the General with a slap to the rear, Mosby asked "Do you know Mosby, General?" The General replied "Yes! Have you got the rascal?" "No," said Mosby. "He's got you!"

In 1864, General Phil Sheridan's troops in a desperate campaign to stop Mosby, committed acts of retribution, including the execution of prisoners. Eventually this began to take place on both sides. Mosby finally wrote General Sheridan in November requesting a mutual end to the brutality and Sheridan agreed.

Mosby's Rangers continued their operations several weeks after General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Refusing to formally surrender, Mosby (by now a colonel) disbanded his men and all went their separate ways.  Because of the large price on his head, Mosby was forced to hide in Lynchburg until General Ulysses S. Grant personally intervened on his behalf and paroled him.

After the war, Mosby became the target of ridicule and even received death threats from some Southerners, as he became not only a Republican, but also a campaign manager for President Grant. The two men became great friends.  In 1878, Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Mosby as the U.S. Consul to Hong Kong. Later he worked for the Department of the Interior and as assistant Attorney General.

John Mosby died in 1916 at the age of 82. Of his exploits in the war, he wrote "It is a classical maxim that it is sweet and becoming to die for one's country; but whoever has seen the horrors of a battlefield feels that it is far sweeter to live for it."

Re: Military History
« Reply #92 on: January 08, 2019, 04:20:17 AM »
From WWII Colorized Photos

T/Sgt. Lawrence J. Gettings from Ottumwa, Iowa, (E Co., 2nd Bn., 320th Inf. Reg., 35th Division) heats a can of rations and takes time out for a rest during the fighting southeast of Bastogne, Belgium. 7 January 1945.

On 17 April 1945, Lawrence's company set outpost positions in the vicinity of Trabitz, Germany. The enemy attacked the positions which his squad was occupying and he was hit and instantly killed as a result of devastating small arms and mortar fire.

He was buried in the US Military Cemetery at Margraten in Holland. (Plot I, Row 10, Grave 17)

Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

(Colourised today by Doug)

Re: Military History
« Reply #93 on: January 12, 2019, 03:44:46 PM »

155th Anniversary of The Battle of Loudoun Heights, VIrginia - January 10, 1864

(This story is especially important to me as I grew up in Loudoun Valley on Rt. 671- the "Old Harpers Ferry Road" not far from the battle site.  I visited it frequently, despite the arduous hike up steep rocky trails).-  Gunner65

Today is the 155th Anniversary of the unusual Civil War battle on Loudoun Heights, when a Union camp of Frederick County cavalryman narrowly escaped being wiped out by guerrillas commanded by the famous Confederate officer, John Singleton Mosby. The Frederick soldiers were asleep between 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning January 10, 1864, when Mosby and his men rode up Loudoun Heights to make a surprise attack.

On top of the mountain across the Shenandoah from Harper’s Ferry, were encamped several hundred men under Major Henry A. Cole, commander of Cole’s Cavalry. Mosby, learning from a scout that the Frederick County horsemen were encamped on Loudoun Heights left Upperville, January 9th, to surprise the Marylanders by night.

John S. Mosby (A Maj. at time of the battle)             Major Henry A. Cole

Loudoun Heights

If the reader could stand upon the great iron bridge which spans the Potomac River at Harper’s Ferry, and look upon Maryland Heights towering from the river’s brink, two thousand feet into the air, and crowned with a great stone fort useful in the days of which I wrote, and then turn the eye toward the great pile of rocks on the Virginia side, known as Loudon Heights, rising abruptly from the Shenandoah River to the height of more than a thousand feet, and then upon Bolivar Heights, standing as a bold background to the desolate village of Harper’s Ferry, he could better appreciate the situation on which this little band was placed at the time I will introduce them. He could better realize it’s perils and understand the thrilling episode of which I am to write.

In the winter of 1864 Cole’s Cavalry was encamped on the east face of Loudon Heights, a little more than two miles by road from Harper’s Ferry, but, "as the crow flies," not more than half that distance.

They were the only troops on that side of the river, and their position, as the sequel will show, was a very dangerous one.

The single road leading past the camp toward the point, where at the beginning of my story we found this command engaged with Mosby, lead up the mountain side and at times was almost impassible. Loudon County was the home of many of Mosby’s officers and men. Every path and ravine in the neighborhood of this isolated camp was, therefore, as familiar to Mosby and his men as the high road. The camp was not established here without reluctance, for both officers and men recognized the perils which would surround it all through the weary winter. For a time the men were cautions and never undressed at night. Then arms were kept always within reach and ready for use, but the sense of danger, which all felt at first, wore off as the weeks went by and there was no attack, nor even an alarm. Both officers and men relapsed into a feeling of security, which made them more mindful of their own comfort than of the dangers with which they were surrounded. About the 1st of January there was a heavy snow fall, and the weather became intensely cold, inclining the men to stow themselves snugly away at night as though going to bed at home. I fear also that they were not very careful about their arms and ammunition.

A Terrible Night

The 9th of January was very cold and the night which followed intensely dark. The snow carpet which covered the camp was the only relief to the great black veil which seemed to be drawn over the face of all nature. It was upon this night that Mosby had determined to attack and if possible capture this battalion of cavalry, which, oftener than any other, had met him in battle and dealt him hard blows. He selected about 400 of the best of his command and left camp, crossing the snow clad mountains to the right of Major Cole’s camp. They came by paths and through ravines, avoiding the pickets on the Hillsborough Road and finally capturing them from the rear before they had a chance to fire a shot or alarm the camp. It was between 2 and 3 o’clock on the morning of the 10th of January, that Mosby captured the pickets and prepared his plan of attack upon the slumbering camp. His command was quietly posted along the lines of tents where the Union cavalrymen were sleeping in fancied security, without even suspicion than an enemy was near.

Shooting the Sleepers

At a given signal a deadly fire was opened upon them. Naturally, all was confusion. The volley, which killed some of the men in their tents and wounded others, was the first warning of danger. There had been no call to arms. Boots and saddles had not been sounded to prepare the men for duty. The crack of the enemy’s guns was the stern call to arms made upon these sleeping men with no time to reach their clothing and almost less to grope for their arms in the dark. To be sure, they had been used to hardships, and had never failed to respond to the call of duty. Then pluck and endurance were now subjected to the severest test known in modern war, and yet they did not falter. Almost without waiting for the orders of the officers the men turned out into the bitter cold and snow, ankle deep, in their night clothes, and in most instances without shoes. They responded to the attack with a determination which astonished their assailants, who had expected to have an easy capture.

"Fire at every man on horseback!" Was almost the first order of the commanding officer. "Men, do not take to your horses!" The men obeyed both orders, and directed their fire upon every man on horseback, and this judicious action won them the day.

When the Confederates found that they were to be resisted to the death, Captain Smith, one of the principal officers in command of the attacking force, shouted to his men, "Fire the tents and shoot ‘em by the light!" He was sitting on his horse near the head of the row of tents occupied by Company A. A Sergeant of that company who had been groping for his carbine, had found it and was just pushing his head through the tent when this order was given. He dropped on his knees, raised his piece to his shoulder and fired at the officer giving the command. The ball struck him near the eye and crashed through his brain, and he fell dead into the mouth of the tent, almost upon the man whose bullet had killed him.

A Desperate Struggle

For three-quarters of an hour this fight in the snow continued, with varying chances of success. With the brave men who were doing battle in the bitter cold, without clothing, suffered no man can tell, and yet they never wavered. The scene during the fight was simply indescribable. The men on both sides fought like tigers, and volley after volley was exchanged, the flash of the guns as each was discharged being the only relief to the somber darkness of the night. The shouts of the men engaged could be heard above the din of battle, and the groans of the wounded mingled strangely with the confusion of the strife. As each fresh volley would for a moment light up the camp with it’s sickening, death-like glare, some comrade would fall and a fresh stream of blood crimson the snow. How the men fought and how they stood out during that hour was a marvel even to themselves, and the history war within all the tide of time cannot produce a more striking evidence of bravery and devotion.

Hardly had the flash form the first volley died and the fight actually begun before they heard the long-roll beat in the camps at Harper’s Ferry, and the struggling men knew that if they could hold out for a little while relief would come. The troops at Harper’s Ferry could see the flash of every gun and hear the crack of every death-dealing carbine. There was no relief there except infantry, and it was two miles, so there was a whole hour and more the conflicting emotions of hope and fear as to the fate of the courageous little band of veterans on the mountain. The 34th Massachusetts was ordered to the rescue on a "double-quick" as soon as it could be ordered into line. But before it could reach the summit of Loudon Heights the Confederates had been repulsed and Cole’s Cavalry had won the fight upon the snow-clad mountain-top that added much to the name and fame it had already gained.

After the Battle

When night lifted and day dawned upon that battlefield there was a scene which can never be described. The dead lay upon the ground frozen stiff by the terrible cold. The severely wounded complained bitterly of the frost, and the bullet-pierced tents of the men that did the fighting were full of weary, powder stained veterans suffering sorely form the effects of frozen feet, of which they were unmindful until the battle was won. Seven Confederates, four of them commissioned officers, were killed in this night attack upon Major Cole’s camp, and a great many more were wounded, some of whom were carried off by their comrades. In deed, those that were able to follow the retreat decided that their path was literally marked by a track of blood. Major Cole lost two killed, thirteen wounded. Captain Vernon, now Surveyor at Customs at Baltimore, lost an eye, and Lieutenant Rivers was wounded. A large number of the command was sent to the hospital with frozen feet, and two amputations were necessary.

Re: Military History
« Reply #94 on: January 12, 2019, 11:29:51 PM »
Good read. Here's one for you, Gunner. Hoorah!

From WWII Colourised Photos

Demolition men of the US 3rd Marine Raider Battalion, gathered in front of a Japanese dugout they had helped to take at Cape Torokina on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands in January 1944.

After moving over to the main island at Cape Torokina on the 3rd. of November 1943, the Marines slowly extended their perimeter. There were occasional engagements with small enemy patrols, but the greatest resistance during this period came from the terrain itself. The island consisted largely of swampland and dense jungle beyond the beachhead. The thing most Marines remember about Bougainville was be the deep, sucking mud that seemed to cover everything not already underwater.
On the morning of November 5th, while Companies 'I' and 'M' were busy covering a vital roadblock along the main causeway that led to the American beachhead, an attack was underway to clear a major enemy strongpoint further down the line. Japanese resistance was stubborn and Company 'I' joined in the battle. Shortly after noon the enemy retired from the scene.
The Raider Regiment celebrated the Marine Corps' birthday on November 10th by moving off the front lines and into reserve. Other than occasional patrols and short stints on the line, the next two weeks were relatively quiet for the Raiders.
For the next month the Raider Regiment served as Corps Reserve. With the Army assuming the bulk of the combat duties, these highly trained assault troops spent most of their time on working parties at the beachhead airstrip or carrying supplies to the front lines.

On December 21st the Raiders moved back to the front, but by now the operation had progressed to the mopping-up phase. The Regiment remained on the island of Bougainville until January 12th, 1944, when they boarded transports and sailed to Guadalcanal.

It was after the Solomon Island campaign that the short life of the Marine Raiders came to an end. Third Raider Battalion was disbanded and renamed the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines of the 1st Provisional Brigade.

(Photo source - Department of Defence Photo (USMC) 63165)

(Colorized by Craig Kelsay)

Re: Military History
« Reply #95 on: January 15, 2019, 12:34:06 PM »
From Hallowed Grounds

The Winds of Winter
Stonewall Jackson's Romney Campaign, January, 1862
Artwork by Mort Kunstler

It was nothing like their early dreams of war. Federal forces had invaded the Shenandoah Valley, and an army of Southern soldiers had been dispatched to protect their homeland. Their objective was the Shenandoah Valley hamlet of Romney, where the Northern army was encamped - but the Valley weather, not the Yankees, proved to be the fiercest enemy. Less than a year earlier, these sons of the South had rushed to arms, filled with romantic notions of gallantry and glory. Now they faced the reality of life in the field.

 Deep snow and bitterly cold temperatures had transformed their march into a grueling ordeal. Reported a Confederate officer: "The road was almost an uninterrupted sheet of ice, rendering it almost impossible for man or beast to travel, while by moonlight the beards of the men, matted with ice, glistened like crystals…" Recalled another: "If a man had told me 12 months ago that men could stand such hardships, I would have called him a fool."

 Despite the almost unbearable conditions, they persevered - led by a relentless warrior: General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Determined to do his duty and rid the Shenandoah Valley of invaders, Jackson drove his troops forward day and night through the snow, wind and ice. Soon, as if awed by Jackson's sheer willpower as much as the savage weather, Federal forces retreated without doing battle. Left behind was a horde of supplies and weapons to be confiscated by the jubilant Confederates. Months ahead, in the spring and summer to come, awaited greater glory: Jackson's brilliant, victorious Valley Campaign. It too would be won by the same determination and endurance that had enabled Stonewall Jackson and his "foot cavalry" to win the winter war.

Re: Military History
« Reply #96 on: January 15, 2019, 12:36:03 PM »
From Hallowed Grounds


General Thomas J. Jackson & Lt. Colonel Turner Ashby
South Branch Potomac River - Western Virginia – January 1862
Artwork by John Paul Strain

Major General "Stonewall" Jackson had achieved his goals in his first operation as commander of the Valley District of the Department of Northern Virginia: the capture of Romney.The Federals were reinforcing their strategically placed garrisons and making plans to move on the Confederate Army in Northern Virginia. But General Jackson had struck first, planning to take out Federal garrisons one at a time. The weather had been balmy when Jackson's army of 8500 men had broke camp on New Year's Day, heading out on the Northwestern Turnpike from Winchester. But the weather began to change, and soon there were snow flurries in the air. In just days the region would be blanketed by a major snow storm. Undeterred by the weather Jackson pushed forward, attacking Bath (present-day Berkeley Springs) and driving out Federal forces stationed there. His troops overran the B & O stations at Alpine, Sir John's Run, and Great Cacapon, burning down the bridge located there. Word quickly spread to the Federals that General Jackson was on the move and was now at Unger's Store. General Lander in charge of the Federal garrison at Romney decided to evacuate the town rather than face Stonewall's advance.

Romney was now in Jackson's hands as he placed his four brigades in defensive positions around Romney. The Stonewall Brigade was sent to Mechanicsburg Gap and other routes along the South Branch including the strategic bridge at Romney.

Re: Military History
« Reply #97 on: January 15, 2019, 12:37:14 PM »
The present Romney encampment:


(sorry to interrupt, great thread!)

Re: Military History
« Reply #98 on: January 15, 2019, 12:38:48 PM »
From WW2 Colourised Photos

January 14, 1945

1st Platoon, Company B, 101st Combat Engineer Battalion, 26th Infantry Division, after being relieved from their position in the woods before Wiltz, Luxembourg.

From left to right; Pfc. Leo Ludwikowski of Brooklyn NY, S/Sgt. Joe Kiser of Valiant, Oklahoma and Pfc. Rubin Maran of Waterbury, Connecticut.
(All three survived the war)

During the week 13 - 20 January 1945, the situation in the 26th Infantry Division zone remained stable with periodic relieves of front line battalions. Some limited attacks were made to eliminate enemy forces south of the Wiltz River, and patrol activity was constant. In the remainder of the III Corps sector, the 90th Infantry Division and the 6th Armored Division continued to make small gains, which still were resisted vigorously by the enemy. By January 20, 1945, however, the overall picture of Von Runstedt's offensive showed the "Bulge" to be no longer such. First Army Troops had pushed down from the North and joined Third Army forces in a squeeze that completely destroyed the German penetration, enabling both Armies to wheel to the east and drive the enemy back into the Siegfried Line.

In this final stage of the campaign, the mission of the 26th Infantry Division was to cross the Wiltz River, secure Wiltz, and continue to drive the enemy eastward. In preparation for the attack, the 101st Infantry relieved elements of the 328th Infantry in the right portion of the zone. During the night of January 20, 1945, the 3d Battalion, 328th Infantry crossed the Wiltz River and secured a bridgehead while engineers constructed a bridge, northwest of Grumelscheid.

(Photo source - NARA FILE #: 111-SC-324556)

(Colourised by Royston Leonard)

Re: Military History
« Reply #99 on: January 15, 2019, 12:44:46 PM »
The present Romney encampment:


(sorry to interrupt, great thread!)

Re: Military History
« Reply #100 on: January 15, 2019, 01:06:23 PM »


Re: Military History
« Reply #101 on: January 17, 2019, 04:11:04 PM »
From Hallowed Grounds

The Gray Ghost
Mosby in Warrenton, January 18, 1863
Artwork by Mort Kunstler

Following the Confederate Congress’s Partisan Ranger Act of 1862, Major General J.E.B. Stuart appointed one of his most gifted scouts, First Lieutenant John Singleton Mosby, to lead the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry. “Mosby’s Rangers,” as they would be called, were formed that following January as the winter of 1863 blanketed the Virginia countryside.

 On the 18th of that month, while en route from Fredericksburg to Upper Fauquier, Mosby and fifteen men detached from the 1st Virginia Cavalry stopped off in the town of Warrenton to dine at the renowned Warren-Green Hotel. In November of 1862, Union General George B. McClellan had bid his troops farewell on the steps of this tavern after being relieved of his command by President Abraham Lincoln. This evening however, the Warren-Green witnessed the birth of a new command whose reputation would grow to epic proportions.

 This unique group represented twelve native Virginians and three Marylanders who had been handpicked by Mosby himself. They formed the original nucleus of “Mosby’s Rangers,” and together they would provide intelligence for the Army of Northern Virginia, while also causing disruptions along the Union army supply lines. Their unique ability to evade Federal pursuers earned their commander the nickname of “The Gray Ghost,” as he and his troops appeared to vanish whenever they ventured into harm’s way.

 Mosby himself recalled their unique mission when he wrote, “My purpose was to weaken the armies invading Virginia, by harassing their rear... to destroy supply trains, to break up the means of conveying intelligence, and thus isolating an army from its base, as well as its different corps from each other, to confuse their plans by capturing their dispatches, are the objects of partisan war. It is just as legitimate to fight an enemy in the rear as in the front. The only difference is in the danger.”

After the South’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865, Mosby begrudgingly disbanded his rangers, vowing to never surrender formally. He later returned to the town of Warrenton to conduct his law practice and often dined at the Warren-Green Hotel.

Re: Military History
« Reply #102 on: January 17, 2019, 04:54:43 PM »
I collect, as well as provided historical and technical research for, aviation art.  I never realized Civil War art was this popular.

Re: Military History
« Reply #103 on: January 19, 2019, 07:21:11 AM »
I collect, as well as provided historical and technical research for, aviation art.  I never realized Civil War art was this popular.

There is a fringe element that has interest in the French and Indian Wars. That is my favorite era.

Re: Military History
« Reply #104 on: January 19, 2019, 07:23:24 AM »
From Mort Kunstler

This Day in History: Robert E. Lee Born, 1807

Robert E. Lee was the son of an American Revolution hero, a high-ranking graduate of West Point, and a soldier with thirty years' experience when civil war began. Lee cast his lot with the Confederacy because his country – Virginia – had taken that course.

Re: Military History
« Reply #105 on: January 19, 2019, 10:52:52 AM »
There is a fringe element that has interest in the French and Indian Wars. That is my favorite era.
It is funny how we consider this an American event whereas Europeans and British consider it just a theater of the much wider 7 Years War. Which really was a "World War," but, again interestingly, isn't labeled as such usually.

Re: Military History
« Reply #106 on: January 20, 2019, 12:15:58 PM »

Re: Military History
« Reply #107 on: January 20, 2019, 03:54:05 PM »
It is funny how we consider this an American event whereas Europeans and British consider it just a theater of the much wider 7 Years War. Which really was a "World War," but, again interestingly, isn't labeled as such usually.

Eh, my books are about a 50/50 split on the naming of the war but yes, I see your point in positions and title.
I'm also a fan of the Ohio Indian Wars and the only correct thing in that title is Wars - Ohio only being about 1/7 of the states involved!

Re: Military History
« Reply #108 on: January 24, 2019, 03:26:46 AM »
Operation Cobra: The untold story of how a CIA officer trained a network of agents who found the Soviet missiles in Cuba