Battlefield Chronicles

WW2 – Doolittle Raid and the Brutal Japanese Reprisals (1942)

WW2 – Doolittle Raid and the Brutal Japanese Reprisals (1942)

Everyone knows about Pearl Harbor and Japan dragging the USA into World War II. Still, fewer are aware of the American Doolittle raid and the brutal Japanese reprisals to this daring counterpunch. Approximately five months after the Japanese attempt to cripple the American Pacific fleet, an unprecedented strike on the heart of the Japanese Empire was launched by the intrepid pilot Lt. Col. James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Force. While the United States boosted the American people's morale through the Doolittle raiders’ successful air raid on Japanese industrial strength, the Japanese army underwent a sickening rampage of reprisal in the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign that killed 250,000 Chinese civilians. Jimmy Doolittle and the Tokyo Raiders Strike Japan After the sneak attack on America’s main Pacific naval base, President Roosevelt pushed for a response that would underscore the Japanese people's danger of the situation that their leadership had put them in. While...

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The Battle of Hampton Roads

The Battle of Hampton Roads

After the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the Union developed an overall strategy to defeat the Confederates. Later dubbed "the Anaconda Plan," it required the Union to capture control of the Mississippi River, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two while blockading Southern ports to cripple the South's economy and prevent it from acquiring supplies.  This plan was derided at first because the blockade wasn't considered aggressive enough by Union generals, but it turned out to be extremely effective. The rebels felt the Union blockade long before they felt the retribution of the Union Army – and almost immediately began finding ways to beat the blockade. On March 8, 1862, a new kind of ship would be put to the test for the first time, hoping to punch a hole in the Union Navy.  The Battle Was the First Engagement of Ironclad Warships One of the keys to Union seapower during the Civil War was the development of ironclad warships. The development of heavier naval guns and...

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Grant Delivers the First Major Union Victory

Grant Delivers the First Major Union Victory

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, it started very poorly for the Union Army. Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor surrendered to the Confederates on April 13. Skirmishes and fights had broken out all over the country, but the major battles like those at Bull Run and Leesburg saw significant Union defeats.  The Confederate Invasion of Kentucky Throughout 1861, Virginia was pushing the Federal forces out, Missouri's pro-Confederate State Guard was on the warpath, and the Confederate invasion of Kentucky effectively ended the state's neutrality. In doing so, it provided the Union Army there, led by Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had the opportunity to turn its fortune around. The Union cause needed a big win, and Grant delivered it at the February 1862 Battle of Fort Henry, Kentucky.  Grant Delivered Union Victory at the Battle of Fort Henry, Kentucky The Union's strategy for defeating the Confederate Army required it to gain control of the Mississippi River, splitting the Confederacy in...

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WW2 – The Great Raid On Cabanatuan

WW2 – The Great Raid On Cabanatuan

Within weeks of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Army pushed American and Filipino troops out of Manila. They were forced into the jungles of the Bataan Peninsula and the Island of Corregidor where they were cut off from supplies. Hungry and suffering from tropical disease, the troops were promised by the commanding Gen. Douglas MacArthur that "thousands of planes" with food, medicine, and reinforcements were on their way. But no help had arrived by March when MacArthur was ordered to leave and set up a command in Australia.  Over 25000 American Soldiers Surrendered Into Captivity During the Raid On Cabanatuan By April, Allied losses and the lack of supplies in Bataan were so bad that Maj. Gen. Edward King, the local commander, ordered the surrender of 70,000 troops (Filipinos and Americans); the largest American army in history to surrender. Having made plans to accept the surrender of about 25,000 soldiers, the Japanese were overwhelmed with POWs. Food, water, and...

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WW2 – The Battle of Monte Cassino

WW2 – The Battle of Monte Cassino

Allied forces landed in the Italian peninsula in September 1943. The Apennine Mountains divided the peninsula, and Allied troops split and advanced on both sides. They took control of Naples and continued the push towards Rome. Monte Cassino was the gateway to Rome. It towered above the city and provided unobstructed views. German troops occupied lookouts on the hillside but agreed to stay out of the abbey because of its historical importance. The precious manuscripts and antiquities housed in the abbey had been removed to Vatican City for safekeeping (although some works of art were stolen by German troops and transported north). The First Phase of The Battle of Monte Cassino The first phase of the operation began on January 17 with an Allied attack on German positions. Thomas E. McCall, a farm boy from Indiana, found himself in the crosshairs of the battle of Monte Cassino. On January 22, 1944, during heavy fighting, he was accidentally struck by friendly fire. After all his men...

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Iraq War – The Siege of Sadr City

Iraq War – The Siege of Sadr City

On Mar. 28, 2004, Paul Bremer, administrator of the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, ordered the closure of al-Hawza, an Arabic-language newspaper that was a sounding board for the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.  Bremer shut down the weekly paper because he believed it encouraged violence against U.S. troops in Iraq. It was only supposed to last 60 days, but the action would spark a series of events that led to a four-year siege and a series of battles between Coalition forces and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. On April 3, 2004, Bremer ordered the arrest of Mustafa Yaqoubi, one of al-Sadr's senior advisors. An estimated 15,000 Iraqis took to the streets to demand his release. Demonstrators claimed that Spanish and El Salvadoran troops opened fire on them as they gathered, and the protest took a violent turn.  In response, al-Sadr ordered his Shia militia, the Mahdi Army, to take control of the Iraqi police stations in Najaf, Kufa, and Karbala but especially in...

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Facts on the Spanish-American War (1898)

Facts on the Spanish-American War (1898)

On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain following the Battleship Maine's sinking in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. As a result, Spain lost its control over the remains of its overseas empire - Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines Islands, Guam, and other islands. Background of the Spanish-American War Beginning in 1492, Spain was the first European nation to sail westward across the Atlantic Ocean, explore, and colonize the Amerindian nations of the Western Hemisphere. At its greatest extent, the empire that resulted from this exploration extended from Virginia on the eastern coast of the United States south to Tierra del Fuego at South America's tip, excluding Brazil and westward to California and Alaska. Across the Pacific, it included the Philippines and other island groups. By 1825 much of this empire had fallen into other hands. In that year, Spain acknowledged the independence...

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WW2 – The Battle of Iwo Jima

WW2 – The Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima was an epic military campaign between U.S. Marines and the Imperial Army of Japan in early 1945. Located 750 miles off the coast of Japan, the island of Iwo Jima had three airfields that could serve as a staging facility for a potential invasion of mainland Japan. American forces invaded the island on February 19, 1945, and the ensuing Battle of Iwo Jima lasted for five weeks.  In some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II, it's believed that all but 200 or so of the 21,000 Japanese forces on the island were killed, as were almost 7,000 Marines. But once the fighting was over, the strategic value of Iwo Jima was called into question.  According to postwar analyses, the Imperial Japanese Navy had been so crippled by earlier World War II clashes in the Pacific that it was already unable to defend the empire's island holdings, including the Marshall archipelago. In addition, Japan's air force had lost many of its warplanes, and those it had were unable to...

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The American Indian Wars – The Battle of Bear Valley

The American Indian Wars – The Battle of Bear Valley

When we think of the Indian Wars that pitted the American Indian tribes against the United States Army, we tend to think of U.S. Army Cavalry, wearing their trademark stetson hats, sabers gleaming, riding into battle. They're usually fighting Native tribesmen who are shooting rifles while riding bareback across the Great Plains. That may have been how some of those battles looked, but after the closing of the frontier in 1890, it looked a lot different. The last great battle (The Battle of Bear Valley) waged between the Indian tribes and the U.S. Army came in 1918 after the Army was shaped by its experience in World War I. Its opponent was the Yaqui tribe, who was looking to establish an independent state inside Mexico.  The Battle of Bear Valley Was the Last Official Battle of the American Indian Wars The Battle of Bear Valley looked a lot different than the battles of our popular imagination and was the last official battle of the American Indian Wars.  American Indian tribes...

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WW2 – The Battle of Saipan

WW2 – The Battle of Saipan

War inevitably equals mass casualties, whether numbering in the dozens or the hundreds, or the hundreds of thousands - this truth that has accompanied war for thousands of years. A generally accepted fact is that these casualties, whether civilian or military, are usually the direct result of enemy soldiers attacking, disease, and famine in the wake of an invasion. Sometimes, however, other means account for mass deaths in war. Such was the case of the Battle of Saipan in the Second World War when it became apparent that Americans would take the island. Around one thousand Japanese civilians - men, women, and children, old and young - tragically chose to take their own lives rather than surrender. The Beginning of The Battle of Saipan The Battle of Saipan began on June 15, 1944, when around 8,000 US Marines landed on Saipan's island on the first day of the invasion. Naval bombardment of the island had started two days earlier on the 13th and had some effect in weakening Japanese...

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The Philippine-American War

The Philippine-American War

After its defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Treaty of Paris (1898) transferred Philippine sovereignty from Spain to the United States, ending centuries of Spanish control over the politics and economy of its longstanding former colony. Filipino leaders, however, did not recognize America's authority and had no intention of ceding their homeland to a new colonial power. The decision by U.S. policymakers to annex the Philippines was not without domestic controversy, either. Americans who advocated annexation evinced a variety of motivations: the desire for commercial opportunities in Asia, a concern that Filipinos were incapable of self-rule, and fear that if the United States did not take control of the islands, another power (such as Germany or Japan) might do so. Meanwhile, American opposition to U.S. colonial rule of the Philippines came in many forms, ranging from those who thought it morally wrong for the United States to be engaged in colonialism, to those who...

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