Military

Military Monday: USS Harmon DE-678 1943

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USS Harmon DE-678 Image One
Destroyer Escort USS Harmon
Circa August 1943
Image was censored and retouched.
Radar antennas removed.
Pennant added in its place.
Released for publication March 1944
Photo Credit: Naval History & Heritage Command
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

The USS Harmon was a U.S. Navy Buckley class destroyer escort named after Leonard Roy Harmon, a Mess Attendant (Messman) First Class that served aboard the USS San Francisco. It was the first U.S. warship to be named after a Black American. It was launched July 25, 1943, by Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, MA, sponsored by Harmon’s mother and, seventy-seven years ago, today, it was commissioned. She spent nearly a year serving as an escort ship near New Caledonia. After a short period at Pearl Harbor, she joined the Luzon Reinforcement Group. By March 1945, she was an escort and an anti-submarine screen off Iwo Jima. She returned to Pearl Harbor for training, then to Mare Island for a weapons upgrade and, when the war was over, she conducted training operations with submarines.

Leonard Roy Harmon Image Two
Commemoration Poster
Source: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Photo Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Decommissioned March 25, 1947, she joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was stricken August 1, 1965 and sold for scrap January 30, 1967. She received three battle stars for her World War II service.

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Leonard Roy Harmon, born in Cuero, Texas, on January 21, 1917, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 10, 1939, as a Mess Attendant Third Class. He trained at the Naval Training Station, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia and reported to [the] San Francisco (CA-38) on October 28, 1939. On November 12, 1942, [the] San Francisco was covering a force of transports disembarking reinforcements off Guadalcanal when Japanese land attack planes, carrying torpedoes, attacked. [The] enemy aircraft crashed into the ship causing “considerable damage and intense fires” that put the after anti-aircraft director and radar out of commission. One officer and 15 men were either killed outright or died of their injuries. Harmon rushed in to evacuate the wounded. He was then assigned to assist Pharmacist’s Mate Lynford Bondsteel in evacuating and caring for the wounded. While the ship was being raked by enemy gunfire, Harmon deliberately shielded Bondsteel in order to protect his wounded shipmate. Although Bondsteel managed to get his courageous shipmate below, Harmon died of his wounds soon afterward.

Democracy In Action Poster Image Three
Artist: Charles Henry Alston
Collection: National Archives at College Park
Office of War Information poster from 1943
Photo Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Harmon was awarded a Purple Heart and, in March 1943, the Navy Cross.

Citation Excerpt:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon (NSN: 3600418), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty in action against the enemy while serving on board the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. San Francisco (CA-38) […]. With persistent disregard of his own personal safety, […] Harmon rendered invaluable assistance in caring for the wounded and assisting them to a dressing station. In addition to displaying unusual loyalty [on] behalf of the injured Executive Officer, he deliberately exposed himself to hostile gunfire in order to protect a shipmate and, as a result of this courageous deed, was killed in action. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Addition Reading & Sources:
First US Ship Named For An African-American (History & Headlines August 31, 2016)
USN Ships: USS Harmon (DE-678) (Ibiblio Database)
Citation: Leonard Roy Harmon (Military Times)
Modern Ships: USS Harmon DE-678 (Naval History & Heritage Command)
Ship Histories: Harmon (DE-678) (Naval History & Heritage Command)
USS Harmon (DE-678) (Naval Warfare Blogspot)
World War Two: Told In A Museum (New Caledonia Site)
Leonard Harmon (Smithsonian)
Leonard Harmon, USN (USS San Francisco Site)
Leonard Roy Harmon (Wikipedia)
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (Wikipedia)
USS San Francisco (Wikipedia)

Movie Monday: To Hell and Back 1955

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To Hell and Back Image One
Image Credit: IMDB & Amazon

Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.

IMDB Summary:

Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.

Rotten Tomatoes Summary:

The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.

Audie Murphy Image Two
Date: 1948
Photo Author: Fort Detrick
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Trivia Bits:
Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].

Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.

Additional Reading:
To Hell and Back (American Film Institute)
To Hell and Back (Turner Classic Movies)
Alvin York (Wikipedia)
Audie Murphy (Wikipedia)

Throwback Thursday: Duigan Biplane 1910

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Duigan Biplane Image One
Photo Credit: monash.edu CTIE
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

One-hundred, ten years ago, today…

The Duigan […] biplane was an early aircraft which made the first powered flight by an Australian-designed and built machine when it flew in Victoria in 1910. The aircraft was constructed by John Duigan, with help from his brother Reginald, on their family farm at Mia Mia. The effort was especially significant in that the brothers built the aircraft almost entirely by themselves and without input from the pioneering aviation community. [A] photo-postcard of the Wright Flyer inspired the design and Sir Hiram Maxim‘s book Artificial and Natural Flight provided the theoretical basis. The only components not built by the Duigans themselves were the engine, made by the J. E. Tilley Engineering Company of Melbourne and the propeller. However, both of these components were extensively modified by John before they could be used.

Mia Mia Memorial Image Two
Photo Credit: Memorial near Mia Mia
Dolphin 51
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

The aircraft flew for the first time on July 16, 1910, taking off under its own power and flying [24 feet] (7 meters). Within two months, this had been extended to [300 feet] (90 meters) and, soon thereafter, to [590 feet with an altitude of 12 feet] (180 meters [with] an altitude of 3.5 meters). By the end of the year, Duigan had made a flight of [nearly a mile] (1 km) at an altitude of [100 feet] (30 meters).

Duigan informed the Department of Defence of his achievements, hoping to claim a £5,000 prize that had been offered in September 1909 for the construction of an aircraft suitable for military purposes. Duigan was ineligible for the prize, which had expired at the end of March 1910 but, was asked to demonstrate his aircraft for the military anyway. He also flew it in a public demonstration in front of a crowd of 1,000 spectators at Bendigo Racecourse in January 1911. In 1920, Duigan donated the aircraft to the Industrial and Technological Museum of Victoria, which was later absorbed into Museum Victoria.

Museum Victoria also preserves a flying replica of the Duigan biplane built by Ronald Lewis and flown in 1990. It was donated to the museum in 2000.

Additional Reading & Sources:
John Duigan Truths Uncovered (Australian Flying)
A Flying Life (Museums Victoria)
Australian Aviator (Trove: National Library of Australia)
Duigan Biplane (Web Archive)
Duigan Centenary Of Flight (Web Archive)
Flight Global Archive (Web Archive)
Genesis of Military Aviation (Web Archive)
Duigan Pusher Biplane (Wikipedia)

Military Monday: National Interstate & Defense Highways Act 1956

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Interstate Highway Project Image One
Photo Credit: Timetoast

Sixty-four years ago, today…

Also known as the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 (Public Law 84-627), [it] was enacted on June 29, 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law. With an original authorization of $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles (66,000 km) of the Interstate Highway System, supposedly over a 10-year period, it was the largest public works project in American history [at] that time.

The addition of the term defense in the act’s title was for two reasons. First, some of the original cost was diverted from defense funds. Secondly, most U.S. Air Force bases have a direct link to the system. One of the stated purposes was to provide access in order to defend the United States during a conventional or nuclear war with the Soviet Union and its communist allies. All of these links were in the original plans, [though] some, such as Wright Patterson AFB, were not connected […] in the 1950s but, [were] later.

Interstate Highway Project Image Two
Photo Credit: Timetoast

The money for the Interstate […] and Defense Highways was [drawn from] a Highway Trust Fund that paid for 90% of highway construction costs, with the states required to pay the remaining [10%]. It was expected that the money would be generated through new taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks and tires. As a matter of practice, the federal portion of the cost of the Interstate Highway System has been paid for by taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Eisenhower‘s support of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 can be directly attributed to his experiences in 1919 as a participant in the U.S. Army’s first Transcontinental Motor Convoy across the United States on the historic Lincoln Highway, which was the first road across America. The convoy was memorable enough for a young Army officer, 28-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Dwight David Eisenhower, to include a chapter about the trip, titled Through Darkest America With Truck and Tank in his book At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends (Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1967).

Following completion of the highways, the cross-country journey that took the convoy two months in 1919 was cut down to five days.

Additional Reading & Sources:
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating The Interstate System (Federal Highway Administration)
Federal Highway Act of 1956 (Web Archive of the Class Brain Site)
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 (Wikipedia)

Flick Friday: Captain Eddie 1945

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Captain Eddie IMDB Image One
Image Credit: IMDB & Amazon

Seventy-five years ago, today, the drama film Captain Eddie was released. Directed by Lloyd Bacon and produced by Winfield Sheehan, it starred Fred MacMurray, Lynn Bari, Charles Bickford, Thomas Mitchell and Lloyd Nolan. Based on Seven Came Through (by Eddie Rickenbacker) and We Thought We Heard The Angels Sing (by James Whittaker), John Tucker Battle wrote/adapted the screenplay. A biopic of Rickenbacker, it reflects his experiences as a flying ace during World War I to his later involvement as a pioneering figure in civil aviation.

Plot/Summary:

In World War II, while serving as a United States Army Air Forces officer, famed World War I pilot Eddie Rickenbacker (Fred MacMurray) is assigned to tour South Pacific bases. On October 21, 1942, his Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress has to ditch at sea, forcing Rickenbacker, pilot Lt. James Whittaker (Lloyd Nolan), co-pilot Capt. Bill Cherry (Richard Crane) and other crew members to survive for 19 days on a tiny rubber raft. While awaiting their rescue, Rickenbacker recalls his other adventures that have highlighted a remarkable life.

Full Synopsis (TCM)

Captain Eddie IMDB Image Two
Image Credit: IMDB & Amazon

Review:

It seems as though someone is kidding…kidding in more ways than one. For Captain Eddie, which came yesterday to the Roxy, is not the story it promises to be of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, ace of World War I and commercial airline executive who holds some rather rigid social views. Nor is it precisely the saga of the middle-aged flier who was lost at sea two years ago in the South Pacific and spent three harrowing weeks on a raft. It is just another sentimental comedy about a kid who jumped off the barn in his youthful passion for flying and courted his girl in a merry Oldsmobile. [This] is not the story of Rickenbacker…not the significant story, anyhow.

Bosley Crowther
The New York Times
August 9, 1945

Trivia Bits:
♦ Crash survivor Lt. James Whittaker was […] temporarily assigned to the production to serve as a technical advisor.
♦ The film’s premiere was held in Rickenbacker’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio. In attendance were politicians and celebrities, including Carole Landis, as well as family members.

Nomination:
Best Special Effects (Academy Awards 1946)

I can’t find a trailer to the movie on YouTube but, the entire movie appears to be uploaded in pieces. I did find this. ~Vic

Wayback Wednesday: Night Attack at Târgoviște 1462

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The Night Attack Targoviste Image One
Artist: Theodor Aman
The Battle With Torches
Image Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Five hundred, fifty-eight years ago, today…

The Night Attack at Târgoviște (Romanian: Atacul de noapte de la Târgoviște, Turkish: Tirgovişte Baskını) was a battle fought between forces of Vlad III Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula), Prince of Wallachia and Sultan Mehmed II (Mehmed the Conqueror) of the Ottoman Empire on […] June 17, 1462.

Vlad the Impaler Image Two
Anonymous Artist
Vlad III
Image Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

The conflict initially started with Vlad‘s refusal to pay the jizya (tax on non-Muslims subjects charged at 2.5%) to the sultan and [it] intensified when Vlad invaded Bulgaria. In response, Mehmed raised a great army with the objective to conquer Wallachia and annex it to his empire. The two leaders fought a series of skirmishes, the most notable one being the Night Attack where Vlad attacked the Turkish camp in the night in an attempt to kill Mehmed. The assassination attempt failed and Mehmed marched to the Wallachian capital of Târgoviște, where he found a few men with cannons. After leaving the capital, Mehmed discovered 23,844 impaled Turks whom Vlad had killed during his invasion of Bulgaria. The number is mentioned by Vlad himself in a letter to Matthias Corvinus (Matthias I). The sultan, and his troops, then sailed to Brăila and burned it to the ground before retreating to Adrianople. Both sides claimed victory in the campaign and Mehmed’s forces returned home with many captured slaves, horses and cattle.

Additional Reading & Sources:
The Night Attack on Targoviste (Burn Pit Website)
The Night Attack on Targoviste (Weapons and Warfare Website)
Night Attack at Târgoviște (Wikipedia)
Ottoman War (Wikipedia)
Submission of Wallachia (Wikipedia)

Battle of Targoviste Part I

Battle of Targoviste Part II

Military Monday: Siege of Malta 1565

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Siege of Malta Image One
Image Credit: The Museum of the Order of St. John

There is a LOT of data on this siege and I’m not re-writing history. This will serve as a highlight, only. I will provide links to more information, below. ~Vic

Four hundred, fifty-five years ago, today, the island of Malta was attacked and nearly invaded by the Ottoman Empire, it’s second attempt.

If it had not taken place, the Great Siege would no doubt have been dreamt up for the screenplay of an epic film. Few other historic episodes rival it for sheer heroism, the bloodshed of war and military strategy. The story of the siege is interwoven with the tale of two adversaries, the ageing Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, and his contemporary, the Barbary Corsair Dragut Reis who commanded the fleet of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It is also the story of thousands of lives of Maltese Islanders, men at arms to the Knights of St. John.

The years leading up to the siege saw the Islands under constant threat from the Ottoman Turks […]. The Knights knew they were vulnerable in Malta despite the harbours and their two forts […]. Grand Master La Valette had done his best to build defences and had requested extra forces from the Emperor Charles V, the Pope and the Viceroy of Sicily. But, no help came. In May, 1565, a vast Ottoman fleet, some 40,000 men, lay siege to the Islands.

The Knights were heavily outnumbered with a mere 700 or so men and around 8000 Maltese regular troops. The Islanders took refuge in the fortified towns [..] destroying crops and poisoning wells as they fled.

The Siege of Malta Image Two
Image Credit: medievalists.net

The Ottomans first decided to attack isolated Fort St. Elmo […]. Repeated assaults were launched over 36 days but, the small garrison of Knights held on to the fort for far longer than Suleiman‘s men anticipated. After four weeks, they finally overran St. Elmo but, at a heavy price […]. The Turkish commander Dragut was fatally injured during the taking […].

It is the battle for [Fort] St. Angelo which saw some of the bloodiest episodes of this Holy War. It was to [be] the basis of legends for centuries to come. [Some] 10 attacks [were launched] on [its] walls [and], when a huge part of the defences were breached, the Ottomans failed to take the Fort.

At one point in the battle, the Ottomans floated the headless corpses of captured Knights across Grand Harbour. The act was returned in kind [as] Valette ordered all Ottoman prisoners to be executed and their heads used as ‘cannon balls’ to fire back toward their compatriots in St. Elmo.

[Valette]’s long-awaited relief forces [finally] appeared […] and took control of high ground inland. [The] Ottoman troops retreated […].

The Turks fled to their ships, and from the islands, on September 13 (almost four months had passed). Malta had survived the Turkish assault, and throughout Europe, people celebrated what would turn out to be the last epic battle involving Crusader Knights.

Malta’s magnificent capital, Valletta, was founded by and named after Grand Master Jean de la Valette. Valette, himself, was buried in the city some three years later.

Additional Reading & Sources
Siege of Malta (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Siege of Malta 1565 (Military Wiki)
The Whole World Was About to Explode (PJ Media)
The Great Siege 1565 (Visit Malta Site)
Great Siege of Malta (Wikipedia)

Flashback Friday: Spain Declares War 1898

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Spanish-American War Collage Wikipedia Image One
Top Left: Signal Corps extending telegraph lines.
Top Right: USS Iowa
Middle Left: Spanish flag replaced at Fort Malate
Middle Right: Filipino soldiers in Spanish uniforms outside Manila.
Bottom Left: Roosevelt & The Rough Riders @ San Juan Hill
Bottom Right: The signing of the Treaty of Paris (1898)
Collage Credit: Barbudo
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

I posted about Hillsborough’s Old Courthouse this past Tuesday. The first picture was a marker about the Kentucky Expedition, led by Daniel Boone in 1775. The information was fashioned out of metal from the USS Maine, the very ship sunk in Havana Harbor that touched off the Spanish-American War. Spain declared war on the U.S. one-hundred, twenty-two years, ago, today and, the U.S. declared war the following day. Historically, the day of declaration is retroactively moved to April 21 as that was the day Spain severed diplomatic relations and the U.S. Navy began a Cuban blockade (the first of two). At the time of my Town Tuesday post, I didn’t realize that I actually posted it on the same day as the corrected date.

After first landing on an island then called Guanahani, Bahamas (San Salvador), on [October 12], Christopher Columbus commanded his three ships […] to land on Cuba’s northeastern coast on [October 28], 1492. Columbus claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named it Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias.

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The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish rule. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence.

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The growing popular demand for U.S. intervention became an insistent chorus after the (still) unexplained sinking [of the Battleship Maine], which had been sent to protect U.S. citizens and property after anti-Spanish rioting in Havana. [P]olitical pressures from the Democratic Party pushed [President] McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid. McKinley signed a joint Congressional resolution demanding Spanish withdrawal and authorizing the President to use military force to help Cuba gain independence […].

Remember The Maine Wikipedia Image Two
Remember The Maine!
Image Credit: Artist Victor Gillam
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
May 7, 1898

The ensuing, ten-week war, fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, was pathetically one-sided, since Spain had readied neither its army, nor its navy, for a distant war with the formidable power of the United States.

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An army of regular troops, and volunteers, under General William Shafter, with Theodore Roosevelt (then, Assistant Secretary of the Navy) and his 1st Volunteer Cavalry, (The Rough Riders), landed on the coast, east of Santiago and, slowly advanced on the city […]. Madrid sued for peace after two Spanish squadrons were sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay and a third, more modern, fleet was recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.

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The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris. In it, Spain renounced all claim to Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States and, transferred sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States for $20 million.

♦ In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover commissioned a private investigation into the [USS Maine] explosion and, the National Geographic Society did an investigation in 1999, using computer simulations. All investigations agreed that an explosion of the forward magazines caused the destruction of the ship but, different conclusions were reached as to how the magazines could have exploded.

♦ [T]heodore Roosevelt, who eventually became Vice President and, later, President of the United States […] was, posthumously, awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba and, became the only U.S. President to win the award.

♦ The defeat and loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche […]. [There was a] philosophical and artistic re-evaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of ’98.

Sources:
Cuba: Population, History and Resources 1907 (Google Books)
Destruction of the Maine (PDF Library of Congress)
Spain Declares War Against The United States (On This Day Website)
Spanish-American War (The History Channel)
What Destroyed The USS Maine (The Spanish-American War Centennial Site)
Cuba: A New History (Web Archive)
Battle of San Juan Hill (Wikipedia)
Cuban War of Independence (Wikipedia)
Generation of ’89 (Wikipedia)
Spanish-American War (Wikipedia)
Treaty of Paris (1898) (Wikipedia)

The Story of the USS Maine

Smithsonian Channel Explosion of the USS Maine

History Channel Spanish-American War Documentary

Town Tuesday: Old Courthouse

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Yep…another new post heading. I will be doing a series of shots from my town. Hillsborough is one of the oldest towns in North Carolina and was the Capitol for a short time. It’s a very interesting, eclectic place. All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic

Previous Post: The Town.

Boone Expedition Image One
HendersonBoone to Kentucky Expedition Marker
March 17, 1775
Tablet metal from the USS Maine
Richard Henderson was the presiding judge when the Regulators attacked the Courthouse.
They burned his home in Williamsborough.
Taken 05-20-2019
Boone Trail Highway Image Two
Back of the Marker
Boone Trace or Boone Trail Highway &
The Trading Path 1700
Old Courthouse Image Three
Looking Northeast from the corner of Churton Street & Margaret Lane
Taken 04-04-2020
Old Courthouse Image Four
Looking Northwest from the corner of Margaret Lane & Court Street.
Back door.
Old Courthouse Image Five
Looking WNW from Court Street
Old Courthouse Image Six
Looking due South.
Front door.
The marker, above, is to the right.

Military Monday: The Burning of Gosport Navy Yard 1861

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Gosport Navy Yard Image One
Destruction of the Gosport Navy Yard by Union forces.
Image Credit: M. W. Robbins Collection &
The Virginian-Pilot
pilotonline.com

I haven’t done a Military Monday since 2018. One-hundred, fifty-nine years ago, today…~Vic

In 1861, Virginia joined the Confederate States of America. Fearing that the Confederacy would take control of the [Navy yard] facility, the shipyard commander Charles Stewart McCauley ordered the burning of the shipyard.

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[The USS Pawnee was] dispatched to Norfolk to secure the ships and stores of the Gosport Navy Yard. Arriving at Norfolk the night of [April 20], she found that all ships, save [the] USS Cumberland, had been scuttled […]. [So], an attempt was made to destroy the Naval stores and the dry dock. Their efforts were largely unsuccessful but, she took Cumberland in tow and saved the frigate.

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On Saturday evening, at 9 o’clock, the Pawnee arrived from Washington with 200 volunteers, and 100 marines, besides her own crew […]. [At] once, the officers and crew of the Pawnee and Cumberland went to the Navy yard and, spiked and disabled the guns, [plus], threw the shot and small arms into the river. At 10 o’clock, the marines, who had been quartered in the barracks, fired them and came on board the Pawnee. A party of officers, [in the] meantime, were going through the different buildings and ships, distributing waste and turpentine, and laying a train, so as to blow up the dry dock. At this time, the scene was indescribably magnificent, all the buildings being in a blaze, and explosions, here and there, scattering the cinders in all directions.

The Government vessels had been scuttled in the afternoon before the Pawnee arrived, to prevent their being seized by the Secessionists, who had been in arms in both Norfolk and Portsmouth.

The Merrimack/Virgina Image Two
The Merrimack Conversion
Image Credit: M. W. Robbins Collection &
The Virginian-Pilot
pilotonline.com

The Confederate forces did, in fact, take over the shipyard and did so without armed conflict through an elaborate ruse orchestrated by civilian railroad builder William Mahone (then President of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and soon to become a famous Confederate officer). He bluffed the Federal troops into abandoning the shipyard in Portsmouth by running a single passenger train into Norfolk with great noise and whistle-blowing […]. [T]hen, much more quietly, [he sent] it back west […]. [He returned] the same train, again, creating the illusion of large numbers of arriving troops [with] the Federals listening in Portsmouth across the Elizabeth River (and just barely out of sight).

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[In] July, Confederate shipyard workers begin converting the unburned underbelly of the USS Merrimack into the ironclad CSS Virginia in Drydock 1.

Sources:
Burning of Gosport Navy Yard (The New York Times)
The History of Norfolk Naval Shipyard (The Virginian-Pilot Online)
This Day in Naval History (US Navy Website)
How Fear, Deception and Indecision Nearly Destroyed Norfolk Naval Shipyard (USN History)
Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Wikipedia)

Clip from Hearts in Bondage (1936)

Throwback Thursday: The Battle of Culloden 1746

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The Battle of Culloden Image One
Image Credit: britatheart.wordpress.com

Two-hundred, seventy-four years ago, today, the Battle of Culloden (east of Inverness), also referred to as the Battle Of Drummossie was the last confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising (Forty-Five Rebellion).

The battle […] is significant as the last pitched battle fought on the British mainland. It was also the last battle of the final Jacobite Rising that commenced in 1745 when Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), grandson of the exiled King James VII & II, arrived in Scotland from France in July and raised his standard at Glenfinnan [in August]. His aim was to put his father on the throne in place of the Hanoverian George II.

The battle was a total and bloody defeat for the Jacobites which effectively marked the end of almost sixty years of the Jacobite struggle, as never again would an armed uprising be used in the attempt to return the Stuarts to the throne. The government victory also paved the way for a sustained programme to destroy the power base of the rebel clans.

Culloden (pronounced culawden, with the emphasis on ‘oden‘) is one of the most important battles in the history of the British Isles and has international significance. It is the final battle fought on the British mainland and brings to an end more than half a century […] of Jacobite conflict, itself played out against a background of wider international wars. Its aftermath transforms the Highlands, bringing to an end the traditional way of life of the area and contributing to the subsequent clearances. The battle also holds a prominent place within the Scottish cultural legacy, frequently depicted, and commemorated, in art, music, literature and film. The battlefield, itself, is one of the most visited tourist sites in the Highlands […]. [T]he site holds a particularly high significance, and emotional connection, to many within Scotland and to the ancestors of the Scottish Diaspora.

The official return for British Army casualties (government troops) was 50 officers, and men, killed and 259 wounded [with] one missing (a proportion of the wounded later died of their wounds). Jacobite fatalities have been estimated at between 1,200-1,500 with between 400 and 500 prisoners taken in the immediate aftermath and many more in the days which followed. Only the Irish and Scottish troops in French service were treated as bona fide prisoners of war, the rest as rebels.

The Battle of Culloden Image Two
Image Credit: britishbattles.com

The battle, which lasted only 40 minutes, resulted in bitter defeat for the heavily outnumbered Jacobites. Led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II, [the] devastating slaughter of the Jacobites was the result of the opening British cannonade and, subsequent tactics of the Redcoats during the attack […] when each British soldier, instead of attacking the Highlander directly in front of him, bayoneted the exposed side of the man to his right. The Highlanders finally broke and fled […].

Hunted by troops and spies, Prince Charles wandered over Scotland for five months before escaping to France and final exile. The [battle] […] marked the end of any serious attempt by the Jacobites to restore the Stuart dynasty to the British throne.

A generation before, a previous Jacobite rebellion had been thwarted by the king’s officer, George Wade, who had “pacified” and “disarmed” the highland clans. So concerned was the English establishment, and relieved by Wade’s actions, that an additional verse to the National Anthem was penned:
God grant the Marshal Wade
May be thy Mighty aid,
Victory bring;
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the king

Fallout (Late Add):
The high ranking “rebel lords” were executed on Tower Hill in London. Britain enacted punitive laws to prevent the clans rising, again:
(1) Episcopal clergy were required to swear allegiance to the House of Hanover.
(2) The Heritable Jurisdictions Act 1749 abolished judicial rights of heritors, stripping estates from lords and clan chiefs.
(3) The Act of Proscription 1746 was enacted to destroy the clan system.
(4) The Dress Act 1746 made wearing the Highland Dress illegal in Scotland, except for the military-based kilt wearing of the Black Watch

Addendum: “Culloden is viewed by the Scottish people as a war grave. To my fellow Americans, stepping onto the Culloden battlefield would be like visiting Gettysburg or Normandy. And, since Scotland views it as a grave, you could also liken it to Arlington Cemetery. You don’t simply walk onto any of these places with a light spirit.” ~Brit At Heart

Sources:
Ascanius (Web Archive)
Battle of Culloden (Britannica)
Battle of Culloden (British Battles)
Battle of Culloden (Historic Environment Scotland)
Battle of Culloden (Wikipedia)
Battle of Culloden Moor (Web Archive)
Culloden (National Trust for Scotland)
Culloden 1745 Culloden 2010 (Bluestocking)
Culloden Ghosts (About Aberdeen)
Culloden Moor (Web Archive)
The Battle of Culloden (Historic UK)

2020 Anniversary Lament

Documentary From 1964

Wayback Wednesday: King’s Chicago Anti-War March 1967

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Chicago Vietnam War March Image One
Dr. Martin Luther King talks to Al Raby of Chicago’s Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) as they lead the march down State Street. To King’s right is Jack Spiegel of the United Shoeworkers and, to Raby’s left, is King assistant Bernard Lee.
Photo Credit: Jo Freeman

Fifty-three years ago, today, Martin Luther King, Jr. led, approximately, 5,000 demonstrators down State Street in Chicago…his first anti-war march.

In an address to the demonstrators, King declared that the Vietnam War was “a blasphemy against all that America stands for.” He also stated that “we must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement.” King first began speaking out against American involvement in Vietnam in the summer of 1965.

In addition to his moral objections to the war, he argued that the war diverted money and attention from domestic programs to aid the black poor. He was strongly criticized by other prominent civil rights leaders for attempting to link civil rights and the antiwar movement.

King & Spock Image Two
Dr. Benjamin Spock joins Dr. King
and Bernard Lee in the front line.
Photo Credit: jofreeman.com

Dr. King had never been neutral on the war in Vietnam but, he had been silent. He felt, as did the leaders of most other civil rights organizations, that the movement should concentrate on the domestic struggle. They were concerned that opposition to President Johnson’s foreign policy would result in loss of support for passing and enforcing civil rights laws at home. On July 5 1965, Dr. King told a college audience in Virginia that “the war in Vietnam must be stopped.” His friends and contacts in the Johnson Administration told him he was treading in dangerous waters and should back off.

By 1967, Dr. King was ready to speak his mind publicly. His first statement was made on February 25 at an anti-war conference in California, along with several Senators who also opposed the war. He said it was immoral and, also, took money and attention from the anti-poverty program. After the walk down State Street on March 25, Dr. King addressed a rally.

Veterans For Peace Image Three
Veterans for Peace get ready to march.
Photo Credit: jofreeman.com

There are videos of March 25, 1965 and videos of April 1, 1967 but, nothing for this date. ~Vic

Sources & Additional Reading:
MLK Leads Chicago Antiwar March (The History Channel)
Vietnam War (Stanford University King Institute)
Jack D. Speigel (Chicago Tribune)
Saturday, March 25, 1967 (Wikipedia)
King At Chicago (Jo Freeman’s Website)

Flashback Friday: USS Princeton Peacemaker Accident 1844

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USS Princeton Image One
USS Princeton 1843-1849
Image Credits: Lithograph by N. Currier, New York, 1844
U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command
history.navy.mil
wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

Launched on September 5, 1843, the very first USS Princeton was a steam-driven propeller warship of the U.S. Navy, commanded by Captain Robert Stockton. It was the first screw-sloop in the fleet. During a cruise down the Potomac River with President John Tyler, federal officials, politicians, attorneys, a former First Lady and several hundred guests, there was a terrible long gun explosion, due, possibly to old forging technology.

The Accident

President Tyler hosted a public reception for Stockton in the White House on February 27, 1844. On February 28, [the] USS Princeton departed Alexandria, Virginia, on a demonstration cruise down the Potomac with Tyler, members of his cabinet, former First Lady Dolley Madison, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and about 400 guests. Captain Stockton decided to fire the larger of her two long guns, Peacemaker, to impress his guests. Peacemaker was fired three times on the trip downriver and was loaded to fire a salute to George Washington as the ship passed Mount Vernon on the return trip. The guests aboard viewed the first set of firings, [then] retired below decks for lunch and refreshments.

Peacemaker Explodes Image Two
Awful Explosion of the Peacemaker on board the
U.S. steam frigate Princeton on Wednesday, 28 Feb. 1844
Image Credits: Lithograph by N. Currier/Currier & Ives
Gale Research
Library of Congress
wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

Secretary [of the Navy] [Thomas Walker] Gilmer urged those aboard to view a final shot with the Peacemaker. When Captain Stockton pulled the firing lanyard, the gun burst. Its left side had failed, spraying hot metal across the deck and shrapnel into the crowd. Instantly killed were Gilmer, Secretary of State [Abel P.] Upshur, Captain Beverley Kennon, who was Chief of the Bureau of Construction [Equipment] and Repairs, Virgil Maxcy (a Maryland attorney with decades of experience as a state and federal officeholder), David Gardiner (a New York lawyer and politician) and the President’s valet, a black slave named Armistead. Another 16 to 20 people were injured, including several members of the ship’s crew, Senator Benton and Captain Stockton. The president was below decks and not injured.

The disaster on board the Princeton killed more top U.S. government officials in a single day than any other tragedy in American history.

Additional Reading & Sources
The Aftermath
The Legacy
Fatal Cruise of the Princeton (Naval History/military.com/Wayback Machine)
USS Princeton (ibiblio.org)
Princeton I (Naval History and Heritage Command site)
Accident on a Steam Ship (Google Books)
Tyler Narrowly Escapes Death (The History Channel site)

How the USS Princeton explosion changed U.S. history.

Shutterbug Sunday: Alamance Battleground 2.0

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Two months ago, on December 7, 2019, I visited Alamance Battleground with my buddy Ray. I posted the first batch of pictures on December 8, intending to post the rest on December 14. For obvious reasons, that didn’t happen so, here are the rest.

All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic

James Hunter Monument Image One
The Colonial Column Monument
Originally located at Guilford Courthouse Military Park
Moved in 1962, “on indefinite loan.”
Colonial Column Marker Image Two
Colonial Column Marker
Monument Plaque Image Three
Front Plaque
It is claimed that the battle was the first of the Revolutionary War.
It was actually the last battle of the War of Regulation,
which lead to the Revolutionary War.
James Hunter Plaque Image Four
Right Side
James Hunter
General of the Regulators
North Carolina Timeline Image Five
Back Side
North Carolina Timeline
1774 North Carolina Provincial Congress
The Mecklenburg Declaration 1775
Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge 1776
North Carolina is the first to call for independence
with the Halifax Resolves 1776
Regulators Hanged Image Six
Twelve Regulators Condemned At Hillsboro
Six were executed.
“Our blood will be as good seed in good ground,
that will soon produce one hundred fold.”
James Pugh June 19, 1771
Bridge Image Seven
Bridge over the creek.
Highway View Image Eight
View across the highway.
Flag of North Carolina Image Nine
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Dates reflect the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (disputed but,
possibly Mecklenburg Resolves) and
the Halifax Resolves.

Wayback Wednesday: Tybee Island Bomb Accident 1958

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Tybee Bomb Image One
Image Credit: cafepress.com
Silkscreen Image For T-shirts

America lost a bomb. I’m not kidding. Sixty-two years ago, today, the United States Air Force dropped a nuclear bomb in the water off the coast of Tybee Island, very close to Savannah, Georgia. A North American Aviation F-86 Sabrejet fighter plane and a Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber collided during practicing exercises and, in fear of a detonation in the event of a crash, the crew jettisoned the bomb. They still haven’t found it and it is assumed to be somewhere at the bottom of Wassaw Sound.

Midair Collision:

The B-47 bomber was on a simulated combat mission from Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. It was carrying a single 7,600-pound bomb. At about 2:00am EST, an F-86 fighter collided with the B-47. The F-86 crashed after the pilot ejected from the plane. The damaged B-47 remained airborne, plummeting 18,000 feet from 38,000 feet when [the pilot] regained flight control. The crew requested permission to [drop] the bomb in order to reduce weight and prevent the bomb from exploding during an emergency landing. Permission was granted and the bomb was jettisoned at 7,200 feet […]. The crew did not see an explosion when the bomb struck the sea. They managed to land the B-47 safely at […] Hunter Air Force Base. The pilot, a Colonel Howard Richardson, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after this incident.

Tybee Bomb Image Two
Image Credit: npr.org

The Bomb:

Some sources describe the bomb as a functional nuclear weapon but, others describe it as disabled. If it had a plutonium nuclear core installed, it was a fully functional weapon. If it had a dummy core installed, it was incapable of producing a nuclear explosion but, could still produce a conventional explosion. […] The Air Force maintains that its nuclear capsule, used to initiate the nuclear reaction, was removed before its flight aboard B-47. […] the bomb contained a simulated 150-pound cap made of lead. However, according to 1966 Congressional testimony by Assistant Secretary of Defense W.J. Howard, the Tybee Island bomb was a “complete weapon, a bomb with a nuclear capsule” and one of two weapons lost that contained a plutonium trigger. Nevertheless, a study of the Strategic Air Command documents indicates that Alert Force test flights in February 1958 with the older Mark 15 payloads were not authorized to fly with nuclear capsules on board.

The collision, and its aftermath, also drives the plot of the novel Three Chords & The Truth by Craig McDonald, published in November 2016.

Missing For 50 Years (BBC News)
This Day In Aviation (This site claims the bomber was from MacDill Air Force Base)
Lost H-Bomb: RIP (Savannah Now Archive)
The Case of the Missing H-Bomb (Counterpunch Archive)
The Colonel and the Bomb (The Atlantic)