Battlefield Chronicles

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 Mobile Bay...

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Gulf War – The Lightning in Desert Storm (1991)

Gulf War – The Lightning in Desert Storm (1991)

The Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne were among the first soldiers deployed to Saudi Arabia following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August of 1990. Before Operation Desert Storm Roughly six months later, the storied division would launch an unprecedented airborne assault taking them over 150 miles (241 kilometers) behind enemy lines and within 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. In 1990, a coalition of forces from around the world, headed by the United States, gathered in Saudi Arabia. The task was to remove the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and protect against an expansion of Saddam Hussein's aggressiveness. Within 12 hours of the invasion of its southern neighbor, Kuwait, the Iraqi army was without any significant opposition. The world's 4th largest army at the time now had solid control of Middle East oil production and was moving troops to the border with Saudi Arabia. The coalition of forces sought a peaceful solution to the conflict and insisted that the...

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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 – The Battle of Atlanta

Civil War – The Battle of Atlanta

In the summer of 1864, the Confederate States of America was reeling from a series of defeats that would ultimately lead to its demise. Despite the Union victory at Gettysburg in 1863 that turned the Army of Northern Virginia back and the capture of Vicksburg that gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, the outcome of the Civil War was anything but assured.  After leading the Union Army at the Siege of Vicksburg and his subsequent win at Chattanooga, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General and given overall command of the Union Armies. With the Confederacy now split in two, Grant took over command of the Army of the Potomac while command of the Western Theater fell to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.  In the spring of 1864, Grant decided to launch simultaneous offensives all along the Confederate lines in an effort to exhaust the Confederacy's resources and its ability to prolong the war. For Sherman, this meant engaging Confederate Gen. Joseph E....

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Korean War – the Battle Of Heartbreak Ridge

Korean War – the Battle Of Heartbreak Ridge

By the summer of 1951, the Korean War had reached a stalemate as peace negotiations began at Kaesong. The opposing armies faced each other across a line which ran with many twists and turns along the way from east to west, through the middle of the Korean peninsula, a few miles north of the 38th parallel. UN and communist forces jockeyed for position along this line, clashing in several relatively small but intense and bloody battles.  The First Bloody Ground Battle One bloody ground battle took place from August 18 to September 5, 1951. It began as an attempt by UN forces to seize a ridge of hills which they believed were being used as observation posts to call in artillery fire on a UN supply road. It was a joint operation conducted by South Korean and the U.S. Army's 2nd Division. Their mission was to seize a ridge of hills used by the North Koreans as observation posts to call in artillery fire on a UN supply road. Leading the initial attacks was the 36th ROK Regiment. It...

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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. Even...

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Operation Ivory Coast – The Son Tay Raid

Operation Ivory Coast – The Son Tay Raid

It has been called the most daring raid of the Vietnam War; Operation Ivory Coast was an effort to rescue prisoners of war who had been held by North Vietnam for years. It did not rescue any of the prisoners, but it did change the way U.S. Special Operations planned and executed its missions.  By 1970, the United States not only knew that hundreds of American POWs were being held by the communist North Vietnamese, but they also knew those prisoners were being subjected to torture and mistreatment - and many had been suffering for years on end.  Special operations planners knew the location of where at least 61 of them were being held, a camp near the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi known as Son Tay. The United States designed a plan to rescue them right out from under the communists' noses.  The mission would not be an easy one. At least six of the prisoners were believed to be near death, and the Son Tay prison was in an area where intelligence planners believed...

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The Revolutionary War – The Penobscot Expedition

The Revolutionary War – The Penobscot Expedition

The U.S. Navy has had its wins and losses since its birthday on Oct. 13, 1775. Its victories are too numerous to count. While its losses are few and far between, two devastating losses stand out among all the others.  Its most memorable significant loss is, of course, a day that continues to live in infamy. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor devastated the Navy's Pacific Fleet but did not cripple it. The Navy's first-ever significant is on par with Pearl Harbor but is often forgotten: The ill-fated Penobscot Expedition.  The Ill-fated Penobscot Expedition In 1779, the Revolutionary War was in full swing. An American victory over British forces at Saratoga in 1777 brought recognition of the 13 American colonies from European powers like France and Spain. France allied itself with the new country, and the British Empire was forced to alter its strategy for dealing with the rebels.  A British force under Gen. Francis McLean captured a large portion of Maine, then part of...

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War in Afghanistan – The Battle of Kunduz

War in Afghanistan – The Battle of Kunduz

The Battle of Kunduz took place from April to October 2015 for control of the city of Kunduz, located in northern Afghanistan, with Taliban fighters attempting to displace Afghan security forces. On September 28, 2015, the Taliban forces suddenly overran the city, with government forces retreating outside the city. The capture marked the first time since 2001 that the Taliban had taken control of a major city in Afghanistan. The Afghan government claimed to have largely recaptured Kunduz by October 1, 2015, in a counterattack, although local sources in the city disputed the claim made by government officials. Twelve hospital staff of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) and ten patients, including three children, were killed on October 3rd by a prolonged series of U.S. airstrikes on Kunduz Trauma Centre, an emergency trauma hospital run by the agency. Thirty-seven people were injured including nineteen staff members The Initial Attack of the Battle of Kunduz The Taliban...

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War in Afghanistan – The Fall Of Kandahar

War in Afghanistan – The Fall Of Kandahar

After the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul, and Herat, Kandahar was the last major city under Taliban control. Kandahar was where the Taliban movement had originated and where its power base was located, so it was assumed that capturing Kandahar would be difficult. The city fell after several weeks of fighting to a force of local militia under Pashtun military commanders and their American advisers.  First Wave Of Aerial Attacks Against The Taliban In preparation for the attack of Kandahar, the first wave of aerial attacks against the Taliban was launched on October 7, 2001, at 6:30 pm local time. A group of United States Air Force (USAF) bombers consisting of five B-1s and ten B-52s took off from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. They were complemented by twenty-five United States Navy (USN) F-14s and F/A-18s strike aircraft from the aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Enterprise in the North Arabian Sea. The Royal Air Force (RAF) and USAF provided L-1011s, KC-135, and KC-10s to...

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Civil War – The Battle of Fort Donelson

Civil War – The Battle of Fort Donelson

After the successful siege of Fort Henry by Federal troops on February 6th, 1862, the Confederate forces hurried back to the neighboring Fort Donelson, which was located a few miles away. The Federals sought control over the waterways of Cumberland and Tennessee, knowing full well the advantage that it would afford them in the Western Theater of the Civil War. The chief agitator of the move to conquer the forts was Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who had sent several telegrams to his superior officer, Maj. Gen. Henry Wager Halleck. In his messages, he urged Halleck to deliver his consent to besiege the forts along the Cumberland and Tennessee waterways, all without favorable response. Despite being a very successful commander in the Civil War, Halleck had little faith in Grant, fearing him to be very irrational in his thinking. Once Grant's requests were backed up by Flag Officer, A.H. Foote, the petitions made by Grant were accepted.  Nonetheless, Grant wasted no time in producing...

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The Men Who Fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood

The Men Who Fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood

In June of 1918, a fierce battle was waged at Belleau Wood, an ancient hunting-reserve of old-growth oaks, surrounded by wheat fields, located about 60 miles outside of Paris. The Germans were launching their spring offensive to overwhelm the Allies before they were fortified by fresh American troops. The Americans were arriving at a rate of about 250,000 per month. The Battle of Belleau Wood has since achieved near-mythic status in U.S. military history, particularly for the U.S. Marines. Founded in 1775 during the American Revolution, the U.S. Marines Corps had a reputation for discipline, excellent marksmanship, and, as the Germans would find out at Belleau Woods, tenacity. During the Great War, they were also very young. A The New York Times article from July 1918 cites a report stating that "nearly one-third of the recruits obtained by the Marine Corps since the United States entered the war were under twenty-one years of age." The article goes on to quote Secretary of the Navy...

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