Battlefield Chronicles

WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

The amphibious landings of D-Day were hours away when the first combat missions by the US Army started in France. The Normandy invasion, also called Operation Overlord or D-Day, began with a large-scale parachute drop that included 13,100 Soldiers of the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions. During the night in the early hours of June 6th, 1944, the attack occurred and was the vanguard of the Allied operations in Normandy. What Was the Mission of the US 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions on D-Day? The troops were all part of the United States VII Corps assigned to capture Cherbourg, the coastal city in Normandy, and thus project power across the strategically essential Cotentin Peninsula. With Cherbourg secure, it could serve as a supply port for the Allied troops after the landing. They were also tasked with a specific mission: to block approaches into the vicinity of the amphibious landing at Utah Beach, to capture causeway exits off the beaches, and to establish...

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The Revolutionary War – The Battle of Saratoga

The Revolutionary War – The Battle of Saratoga

The road to the American Revolutionary War - or War of Independence - began in the wake of the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763) when the government of King George III of Great Britain decided that the American colonies should share in the costs associated with the War by adding taxes to common goods, such as sugar, molasses and tea. These attempts were met with increasingly stiff resistance. American colonists claimed they were unconstitutional, suggesting that they deserved to have representation in the British Parliament if they were to shoulder some of the war costs. Taking a harsh response, the British instead used their military to allow their representatives to safely perform their tax collection and other duties. At the time, the loyalties among the colonists were divided. Historians estimate that one-third of colonists supported the American Revolution, one-third sided with the British, and one-third remained neutral about breaking away from British rule. Background of the...

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The Revolutionary War – Washington Crossing the Delaware

The Revolutionary War – Washington Crossing the Delaware

The American Revolution did not start off the way the Americans had hoped. By Christmas night, 1776, morale was lower than it had ever been. The British Army had captured New York the previous summer, and men were beginning to desert as Washington's Army camped across the Delaware River from occupied Trenton (Washington Crossing the Delaware), New Jersey.  What men Washington had left were largely inexperienced, as most of the veterans from the Battle of Long Island went home when their enlistments were up. Even Washington himself was unsure of the near future. All was not lost, however. He did have a few factors in his favor. For starters, his forces outnumbered those of the Hessian mercenaries who occupied Trenton. He also had a solid intelligence source inside Trenton, providing information on the numbers, movements, and dispositions of the enemy. Washington decided to craft a perfectly-detailed attack that would surprise the Hessians and give the Americans a badly-needed...

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Civil War – The Battle of Shiloh

Civil War – The Battle of Shiloh

The first year of the American Civil War wasn’t a great one for the Union Army. Losses at places like Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff overshadowed a string of smaller but equally important battles across the country. President Abraham Lincoln’s general-in-chief, George B. McClellan, was highly regarded by his men but was difficult to deal with, increasingly insubordinate, and failed to follow up on his victories.  However, a shining star was beginning to emerge in the Western Theater of the war. Ulysses S. Grant began the war in 1861 as a Colonel but was elevated to command a campaign along the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers by Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont. Grant, it would turn out, had the aggression necessary to take the fight to the rebels. He bloodied the Confederates at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the two most significant Union victories at the time, forcing the rebels out of Kentucky.  The Battle of Shiloh: The Bloody Turning Point President Lincoln promoted Grant, now...

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Korean War – The Battle of Chipyong-Ni

Korean War – The Battle of Chipyong-Ni

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 Soldiers from the North Korean People's Army (NPKA) poured across the 38th parallel and, within days, captured Seoul, the South Korean capital. For two months, the outnumbered South Korean army and the small American force fought numerous battles with NPKA as they withdrew down the Korean peninsula to the Pusan area at the southeast tip of Korea. It was here that they set up a final defensive perimeter where they were able to impede the enemy's advancement. To take the pressure off the continuous attacks by the NKPA, a counteroffensive began on Sept. 15th, when United Nations forces made a daring landing at Incheon on the west coast. The unexpected attack crushed the meager NPKA defenses within a few days, cutting off North Korean supply lines to the south.  U.N. casualties during the Incheon landing and subsequent battles resulted in 566 killed and 2,713 wounded. In the fighting, the NKPA lost more than 35,000 killed and...

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Civil War – The Civil War Within the Confederacy

Civil War – The Civil War Within the Confederacy

The civil war within the Confederacy is often overshadowed by the actual Civil War. The American Civil War was a titanic struggle between the overwhelming numeric and material advantages of the Union, and the tactical and leadership advantages of the states that would form the  Confederate States of America. In such a large conflict many stories, unfortunately, go untold and it becomes easy to oversimplify each side. The war did not become inevitable simply because of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln to the executive branch of the federal government.  Even describing the conflict as "North vs. South" is inaccurate to a degree, as support for the war was far from unanimous on either side. On occasions when dissent within each side is discussed today, the focus is almost always on the Union's Copperheads. However, it should be remembered that there was a vigorous pro-Union movement in the South, particularly in areas where not many people owned slaves....

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The Last Stand Of The Glorious Glosters

The Last Stand Of The Glorious Glosters

By April 1951, the Korean War had raged for nearly a year. The initial assault by North Korea into separate South Korea had been driven back to the 38th parallel - the border between the two nations. The North, aided by Chinese soldiers and Soviet resources, was still intent on conquering the South. United Nations troops, predominantly American but including forces from elsewhere in the world, were protecting the South. The Glorious Glosters: Holding the Line The Communist Army had been weakened by supply problems over the winter, but by March they had recovered and been reinforced. As UN troops under General Ridgway pushed north in the center, the Communists massed to attack in the west, where UN troops were deployed in defensive positions along the Imjin River. This stretch of the UN line was held primarily by the British 29th Brigade, led by Brigadier Brodie. Belgian forces guarded their right flank. With the majority of UN troops concentrated for Ridgway's advance, Brodie's...

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Vietnam War – The Battle of Hue

Vietnam War – The Battle of Hue

Another Leatherneck, a black-bearded machine gunner, led a charge up a mountain of rubble that had once been a stately tower, shouting: "We're Marines, let's go!". These episodes illustrate the battle of the Hue Citadel - a grim, struggle through the courtyards and battlements of the old imperial fort. The fight pits U.S. and Vietnamese Marines, determined to take the Citadel, against North Vietnamese soldiers equally determined to hold it. John Olson, a photographer with the Pacific edition of "Stars and Stripes" spent three days with the 3rd Platoon of Delta Company, 1st Bn, 5th Marines. Attack of The Hue Tower Over the East Gate Thursday morning, Olson said, the platoon moved forward through the narrow alleys and tree-lined streets of a housing area to attack the tower over the east gate. They dashed at a half-crouch into a courtyard but didn't make it across. Three Communist rockets crashed into the yard. The radio operator was blown nearly in half. Several other Marines were...

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Civil War – Sherman’s March to The Sea (1861-1865)

Civil War – Sherman’s March to The Sea (1861-1865)

The March to the Sea, the most destructive campaign against a civilian population during the Civil War (1861-65), began in Atlanta on November 15, 1864, and ended in Savannah on December 21, 1864. Union General William T. Sherman abandoned his supply line and marched across Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean to prove to the Confederate population that its government could not protect the people from invaders. He practiced psychological warfare; he believed that by marching an Army across the state he would demonstrate to the world that the Union had a power the Confederacy could not resist. "This may not be war," he said, “but rather statesmanship.”  General William T. Sherman Prepares For March to The Sea After Sherman's forces captured Atlanta on September 2, 1864, Sherman spent several weeks concerned with preparations for a change of base to the coast. He rejected the Union plan to move through Alabama to Mobile, pointing out that after Rear Admiral David G. Farragut closed...

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WW2 – Battle of Guadalcanal

WW2 – Battle of Guadalcanal

Though it probably didn't feel like it at the time, the Allies in the Pacific Theater of World War II were able to respond to the Japanese advances relatively quickly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor wasn't the only surprise target that day. The Imperial Japanese Navy also struck targets held by the Dutch and British and the American-held Philippines.  The Naval Campaign at Guadalcanal By August of 1942, just nine months after its coordinated surprise attacks across the Pacific Ocean, a combined Allied force landed on Guadalcanal in the first land offensive against the Japanese since the start of the Pacific War.  Things looked pretty bleak for the Americans (and the Allies in general) after the Japanese surprise attacks. Soon after, Japan's Axis partner Nazi Germany also declared war on the U.S. With much of the Pacific fleet knocked out; no one would blame the Americans for being a little depressed about their chances. In fact, the Japanese were hoping they...

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WW2 – The Battle of the Bismarck Sea

WW2 – The Battle of the Bismarck Sea

As 1942 turned to 1943, a victorious end to World War II in the Pacific Theater was still far from assured for either side of the conflict. The Allies were celebrating a string of strategic victories over the course of the previous year. After the devastation of Pearl Harbor, the Americans scored a major victory against the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. A few months later, U.S. forces launched the Solomon Islands campaign, invading Guadalcanal and its strategic airfield.  The Crucial Moments of the Battle of the Bismarck Sea The Japanese, of course, suffered a string of setbacks. A joint Australian and American force pushed back Japan’s offensive on the Kokoda Trail on New Guinea, the losses it suffered at Midway were not replaceable and by February 1943, the Japanese Army would be forced to abandon Guadalcanal. The Japanese Imperial Staff knew it needed to reinforce its positions in New Guinea, which was fighting in some of the most grueling swamp,...

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The Battle of Buena Vista

The Battle of Buena Vista

The Mexican War was one of the United States' shortest wars, and it's a conflict that often goes overlooked in American history books. But it was one that literally shaped the country and its future in so many ways. It added more than half a million square miles to the United States, from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean, establishing a southern border and creating a territory that truly spread from sea to shining sea.  It was also where many future commanders of the American Civil War would cut their teeth in the art of war, applying what they learned from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. These notables included Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, George G. Meade, George McClellan, George Pickett, Joseph E. Johnston, Braxton Bragg, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.  The Battle of Buena Vista: General Taylor's Stand At the start of the war, the Mexican claimed its border with Texas was the Nueces River, while the U.S. upheld the Texas claim that the border was the...

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