Military

Wayback Wednesday: Night Attack at Târgoviște 1462

Posted on

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

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on Updated on

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.

*************
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.

*************
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.

*************
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.

*************
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

Posted on

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

Posted on Updated on

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.

*************
[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.

*************
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).

*************
[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

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on

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.

Snapshots Sunday: Alamance Battleground 2.0

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on

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)

Snapshots Sunday: Alamance Battleground

Posted on Updated on

Battle of Alamance Marker Image One
12-07-2019

Back in May, I did a post on the Battle of Alamance so, I won’t revisit the historical details. Yesterday, I visited the actual battleground with my buddy, Ray. They were having German Heritage Day with authentic German food for visitors. I was so glad we had a beautiful day. It was chilly but, there was a really good turnout. I hadn’t been to this site in nearly 45 years.

All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic

State Archives Monument Image Two
Battle map behind the Visitor Center Museum, facing the battleground.
Map Image Three
3-D Map of NC Militia troops and the Regulators.
Creek & Rock Image Five
The rock in the 3-D battle map and
the small creek/tributary of Beaver Creek/Big Alamance Creek/Lake Mackintosh.
Field Cannon Image Four
Field cannon.
First Monument Image Six
Facing Inscription:
“HERE WAS FOUGHT THE BATTLE OF ALAMANCE
MAY 18, 1771
BETWEEN THE BRITISH AND
THE REGULATORS
First Monument Image Seven
Left Inscription:
Crossed Cannons & LIBERTY
Right Inscription:
FIRST BATTLE OF THE REVOLUTION
Battleground Sun Image Eight
Battleground Sun

More to come…

Throwback Thursday: HMHS Britannic 1916

Posted on Updated on

Britannic Image One
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

One-hundred, three years ago, today, the HMHS Britannic, sister ship to the RMS Titanic, sank in the Aegean Sea. On its way to pick up more wounded soldiers near the Gulf of Athens, a loud explosion shook the ship at 8:12am.

In the wake of the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912, the White Star Line made several modifications in the construction of its already-planned sister ship. First, the name was changed from Gigantic to Britannic and the design of the hull was altered to make it less vulnerable to icebergs. In addition, it was mandated that there be enough lifeboats on board to accommodate all passengers, which had not been the case with the Titanic.

The nearly 50,000-ton luxury vessel was launched in 1914 but, was requisitioned soon afterward by the British government to serve as a hospital ship during World War I. In this capacity, Captain Charlie Bartlett led the Britannic on five successful voyages bringing wounded British troops back to England from various ports around the world.

Britannic Image Two
Postcard of the Britannic showing her intended purpose. Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org & ibiblio.org

[Immediately after the explosion], Captain Bartlett ordered the closure of the watertight doors and sent out a distress signal. However, the blast had already managed to flood six whole compartments, even more extensive damage than that which had sunk the Titanic. Still, the Britannic had been prepared for such a disaster and would have stayed afloat except for two critical matters.

First, Captain Bartlett decided to try to run the Britannic aground on the nearby island of Kea. This might have been successful but, earlier, the ship’s nursing staff had opened the portholes to air out the sick wards. Water poured in through the portholes as the Britannic headed towards Kea. Second, the disaster was compounded when some of the crew attempted to launch lifeboats without orders. Since the ship was still moving as fast as it could, the boats were sucked into the propellers, killing those on board.

Less than 30 minutes later, Bartlett realized that the ship was going to sink and ordered it abandoned. The lifeboats were launched and even though the Britannic sank at 9:07, less than an hour after the explosion, nearly 1,100 people managed to make it off the ship. In fact, most of the 30 people who died were in the prematurely launched lifeboats.

In 1975, famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau found the Britannic lying on its side 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean.

[Source]

Britannic Image Three
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org & titanicstation.blogspot.com

Violet Jessop (who was also one of the survivors of Britannic’s sister-ship Titanic and had even been on the third sister, Olympic, when it collided with HMS Hawke) described the last seconds:

“She dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower. All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child’s toys. Then, she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths, the noise of her going resounding through the water with undreamt-of violence…”

Britannic was the largest ship lost in the First World War.

[Source]

The cause, whether it was a torpedo from an enemy submarine or a mine, was not apparent. It would later be revealed that the mines were planted in the Kea Channel on October 12, 1916, by SM U-73 under the command of Gustav Sieß (German language link).

[Source]

Rescue
The Wreck
Legacy
Britannic TV Film 2000 (fictional account)
BBC2 Documentary 2016

From the TV Film

Throwback Thursday: Naval Aviation First 1910

Posted on Updated on

Eugene Ely Image One
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

One hundred, nine years ago, today, aviator Eugene Ely made naval aviation history, taking off from a wooden platform secured to the bow of the light cruiser USS Birmingham. Captain Washington Chambers, USN, was tasked by the Secretary of the Navy George von Lengerke Meyer to investigate uses for aviation in the Navy. Ely successfully took off in a Curtiss Pusher from the Birmingham, barely. The airplane rolled off the platform, plunged downward, skipping the water, which damaged the propeller but, he managed to stay airborne, landing two and a half miles away on Willoughby Spit. Two months later, on January 18, 1911, Ely landed his Curtiss Pusher airplane on a platform on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania anchored in San Francisco Bay.

Ely communicated with the United States Navy requesting employment but, United States naval aviation was not yet organized. Ely continued flying in exhibitions while Captain Chambers promised to “keep him in mind” if Navy flying stations were created.

On October 19, 1911, while flying at an exhibition in Macon, Georgia, his plane was late pulling out of a dive and crashed. Ely jumped clear of the wrecked aircraft but, his neck was broken and he died a few minutes later.

On February 16, 1933, Congress awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously to Ely, “for extraordinary achievement as a pioneer civilian aviator and for his significant contribution to the development of aviation in the United States Navy.”

Naval Aviation Hall of Fame

Eugene Ely Smithsonian Image Two
Eugene Ely
Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Veterans Day 2019

Posted on Updated on

Veterans Day Image One

Last year, I did a post on World War I for Veterans Day as it had been 100 years, exactly, since the end of that war. I also covered how other countries memorialize and/or celebrate and, ended the post with two poems. I’ve written in a previous post about my almost Army brat status and referred to my significant other in this post.

Ken Image One
Hargrave Military Academy Circa 1958

Ken’s first foray into the ‘military’ was the Hargave Military Academy in Virginia. His mother sent him there for summer school to assist with grades after a poor eighth grade year. He stayed for his ninth grade year and did very well. Unfortunately, it was extremely expensive and he returned to regular high school for tenth grade.

At the end of his junior year, he’d had enough of regular high school and made it clear to his mother that he wanted to go into the Navy. The military was all he was interested in. So, at the tender age of 17, his mother signed him into service. He went into the reserves for two years and began to train as a Corpsman. His sea duties were aboard the USS Robinson (DD-562), a Fletcher Class destroyer, the second ship in the Navy to be named after Captain Isaiah Robinson (Continental Navy). The “Robbie” received eight battle stars for World War II service and appeared in the movie Away All Boats.

Robinson Image Two
The Robbie
Circa 1953
Ken Image Three
Circa 1961

After two years of training, he went active duty…and the Navy lost its mind. Orders to report to his new ship in hand, he was sent to Charleston, SC, to be assigned to the USS Canisteo (AO-99), a Cimarron Class fleet oiler, named for the Canisteo River in New York and the only ship to bear that name. It’s crew received nine medals.

Unfortunately, upon his arrival, there was no ship to board. The Charleston Naval Base had no record of it being there and, in the meantime, he was sent to the transit barracks. While waiting, he volunteered to be a lifeguard for a week. The remaining time was spent waiting at the barracks. After three weeks, the Navy adjusted his orders and sent him to Norfolk Naval Base, the home port of the Canisteo. Upon arrival, no ship. He was, again, assigned to the transit barracks…until they could find the ship. After a four-day wait, the Navy adjusted his orders a second time and he was sent to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard. The shipyard had no record of the Canisteo being there so, he was sent…a-gain…to the transit barracks. His ship was finally found at the Todd Shipyards in Red Hook Brooklyn, a civilian shipyard. With his orders in hand (now, a rather large portfolio of paperwork), stamped by the Navy (adjusted a third time), he headed to his ship. He reported to the Officer of the Deck and was told that he had been reported AWOL. The OOD examined the orders, informed him that his Corpsman striker slot had been filled due to his (unintended) absence and, just like that, he was transformed into part of the deck force, wiping out two years of training. He became a Bosun’s Mate striker. *facepalm*

Canisteo Image Three
The Canisteo
Circa 1961
Ken Image Four
Circa 1962
While on board the Canisteo, he participated in the Cuban Blockade

He left active service in 1964 and rolled into the IRR, waiting for the end of his contract to expire. On March 8, 1965, Marines landed near Da Nang, marking the beginning of the ground war in Vietnam. Ken was working a full time job and was watching what was going on. By the summer of 1966, he decided that he was going to go back to the Navy, interested in the River Patrol (and PBRs) and went to see a prior service recruiter. The recruiter told him that the Navy would not give him his rank back. Ken left his office and was stopped by a Marine recruiter in the hallway. He told him to go back in and ask about the Seabees. He did so and the Navy prior service recruiter changed his tune. Off he went to Camp Endicott in Rhode Island for training. He was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 and sent to Gulfport, Home of the Seabees.

He arrived in Vietnam in July of 1967. His base was Camp Haskins on Red Beach in Da Nang. The Marines were on Monkey Mountain across the bay and at Da Nang Air Base in the opposite direction, across the highway. At the beginning of the Tet Offensive, the bombing of the Air Base in January of 1968 nearly knocked Ken out of a guard tower. He was designated a builder and did his share of such but, spent most of his time running patrols with the Marines.

Ken Image Five
Gulfport, MS
Ken on the left.
The puppy had been rescued from a house fire.
Circa 1967
Ken Image Six
Camp Haskins
Notice the guy waving in the background.


On November 3, 1967, a fellow Seabee had an accident with a saw while cutting some wood. A sawhorse shifted and the man injured himself, accidentally. The blade cut an artery in his thigh and Ken’s Corpsman training kicked in. He, literally, stuck his hand into the guy’s thigh to clamp the artery with his thumb and forefinger. When the rescue helicopter arrived, the coagulated blood on Ken’s arm prevented him from being able to remove his hand from the guy’s thigh. Ken got a free ride in the helicopter to the hospital with his charge. A life was saved (the actual details are pretty gruesome).

Ken Image Seven
A life saved…

And, this concludes my long-ass tribute to my Fleet Navy/Vietnam Seabee veteran. If you have a veteran in your life…hug them. ~Vic

[Addendum: When I moved in with Ken some years ago, I was looking at his DD-214. He swore he only had one and I saw from the data that he had two. We sent off for his records and, sure enough, there were two. I discovered that, when he went to the prior service recruiter, the guy didn’t bother to check to see if Ken was still on contract. He was and, had he checked, Ken could have returned to the Navy, with rank intact, and left for Vietnam as part of the Brown Water Navy…and most likely died. The life span of PBR guys was fairly short.]

Throwback Thursday: Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse 1940

Posted on Updated on

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Image One
Image Credit: www.tacomanarrowsbridge.org

The caption above reads:

On July 1, 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was opened to traffic. This picture, taken from the air during dedication ceremonies, plainly shows three unusual characteristics of design: (1) Extremely narrow deck – 39′; (2) extreme length of suspension span – 2800′; (3) the solid stiffening girders used in the place of orthodox truss girders. Use of the solid girders is commonly blamed for the collapse.

Seventy-nine years ago, today, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed at approximately 11:00am PST due to a wind-induced aeroelastic flutter.

[A] suspension bridge in [Washington State] that spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound, between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula, [it] opened to traffic on July 1, 1940. The bridge’s collapse has been described as “spectacular” and in subsequent decades “has attracted the attention of engineers, physicists and mathematicians”. Throughout its short existence, it was the world’s third-longest suspension bridge by main span, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Image Two
Image Credit: tacomanarrowsbridge.org
Notice the view of the car in the center of the twist.

Construction began in September 1938. From the time the deck was built, it began to move vertically in windy conditions, so, construction workers nicknamed the bridge Galloping Gertie. The motion continued after the bridge opened to the public, despite several damping measures. The bridge’s main span finally collapsed in 40-mile-per-hour (64 km/h) winds on the morning of November 7, 1940. Efforts to replace the bridge were delayed by the United States’ entry into World War II […]. The portion of the bridge that fell into the water now serves as an artificial reef.

The bridge’s collapse had a lasting effect on science and engineering. In many physics textbooks, the event is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance. [The] bridge collapsed because normal speed winds produced aeroelastic flutter that matched the bridge’s natural frequency. The collapse boosted research into bridge aerodynamics-aeroelastics, which has influenced the designs of all later long-span bridges.

[Source]

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Image Three
Photo Credit: tacomanarrowsbridge.org

I saw the Narrows bridge die today and only by the grace of God, escaped dying with it…

I drove on the bridge and started across. Just as I drove past the towers, the bridge began to sway violently from side to side. Before I realized it, the tilt became so violent that I lost control of the car…I jammed on the brakes and got out, only to be thrown onto my face against the curb. Around me I could hear concrete cracking. The car, itself, began to slide from side to side on the roadway. I decided the bridge was breaking up and my only hope was to get back to shore. On hands and knees most of the time, I crawled 500 yards or more to the towers. My breath was coming in gasps…my knees were raw and bleeding, my hands bruised and swollen from gripping the concrete curb. Toward the last, I risked rising to my feet and running a few yards at a time. Safely back at the toll plaza, I saw the bridge in its final collapse and saw my car plunge into the Narrows.

[Leonard Coatsworth, Tacoma News Tribune Editor]

[See also Tubby The Dog]

Some Bridge Facts:
♦ [The] entire 1940 bridge did not collapse into the water, though most of the center span did fall. The side spans were badly damaged and the 2 big towers got bent beyond repair […]. It would be 10 years before the bridge was replaced.
♦ [Due] to the undulating motions up and down […], you could be driving across it and, the car ahead of you might dip out of view. Sometimes the roadway would rise above the height of a car […].
♦ The 1940 bridge remains at the bottom of the water have provided a place for sealife [sic] that was not there, before and much of the life includes the giant Pacific octopus as well as lingcod, wolf eels and black seabass [sic].
♦ (Referencing the image at the very top…) Did a ship go under the bridge for opening day in 1940? Yes, it is true…the ship Atlanta was a Coast Guard Cutter. Ironically, not only was it the first ship to go under the bridge on opening day July 1, 1940, it was also the last ship to travel under the bridge before it collapsed […]. When the concrete started to crumble and fall off, the ship was underneath and pieces fell on her deck. Luckily, no pieces were big enough to cause any damage to the ship and the ship’s Commander was one of the first to report the collapse.

Link to the Armistice Day Blizzard
Harbor History Museum