Blogs > Cliopatria > Military History Digest #152

Mar 15, 2011 11:41 am

Military History Digest #152

The 152nd edition of the Military History Digest. Suggestions for military history weblogs to follow are always welcome.


Long 19th Century

1. Post-Blogging the Chinese Revolution of 1911 by Brett Holman

"At Frog in a Well China, Alan Baumler is post-blogging the Chinese Revolution of 1911, beginning with a premature mutiny in Canton. It should make a nice companion series to David Silbey's earlier effort on the Boxer Uprising. ..."

2. The Question of Inevitability I: the Coming of the War by Brooks D. Simpson

"Folks disagree over whether the Civil War was inevitable. I think there are questions that need to be answered when asking about Civil War causation, because I think we need to prove what is often assumed. So I want to …"

3. The Question of Inevitability II: the Civil War by Brooks D. Simpson

"Historians who try to explain Union victory and Confederate defeat during the Civil War approach that question by asking several questions (or at least implicitly offering their answers). The first question is whether Union victory and Confederate defeat were, in … Continue reading →..."

4. The Question of Inevitability III: Reconstruction by Brooks D. Simpson

"For many years Reconstruction historiography was the story of lost opportunity. Yes, there was the rather predictable retelling of scholarly and semischolarly understandings of the conflict from the beginning of the twentieth century, usually starting with a recapitulation of the … Continue reading →..."

5. Eric Foner on Reconstruction by Brooks D. Simpson

"Given this morning’s post on Reconstruction, I’m hoping that these three videos featuring Eric Foner’s views on Reconstruction will help spark reflection and discussion. Once again, thet come from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. In the first video … Continue reading →..."

6. Disunion – a Jewish View of American Slavery by Donald Shaffer

"Yesterday’s Disunion in the New York Times has a noteworthy essay by Adam Goodheart on Morris J. Raphall, rabbi of New York City’s B’nai Jeshurun synagogue during the Civil War era. In January 1861, Raphall had delivered and published an address entitled, “The Bible View of Slavery.” In it, Raphall reluctantly concluded the Torah justified slavery. Goodheart writes: The learned sage delved deep into the Hebrew Bible – citing the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Job and even Exodus – before concluding that “slaveholding is not only recognized and sanctioned as an integral part of the social structure … [but] the property in slaves..."

7. An Account of the First Day of the Battle of Hampton Roads by (Gordon Calhoun)

"On this anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads, we presented a slightly different account of the battle. Below is a partial account as told by Henry Reaney, a volunteer U.S. Naval officer. At the time of the battle, Reaney was serving as the commanding officer of the armed tug USS Zouave. His ship was one of several armed tugs assigned to U.S. Naval blockading forces in Hampton Roads. The U.S. Navy's mishandling of the tugs was one of the reasons for the loss of both Cumberland and Congress, as the they were suppose to help the large warships manuever..."

8. Day 1 (Ctd.) and Day 2 of the Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend by (Matthew T. Eng)

"NEWS FROM THE FRONT! (Continued Day 1)March 5, 2011 1:00 pm: Attended the second lecture of the day focusing on the efforts of the Blockade during the Civil War. The 1:00 lecture centered on the role of the Grey Ghost, CSS Alabama, and its operations throughout its storied history. Dr. William S. Dudley, former director of the Naval Historical Center (now the Naval History and Heritage Command), was the speaker for the event. After discussing the elements that surround the theories of Union and Confederate strategy and sea power at the start of the war, Dr. Dudley..."

9. "The First of Iron-Clads," John Taylor Wood by (Matthew T. Eng)

"Currier & Ives IllustrationToday marks the 149th anniversary of the storied engagement between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. The following is an excerpt from an account of the Monitor and Virginia (Titled The First of Iron-Clads) from John Taylor Wood, CSA. No changes have been made to the original text to keep with the historical integrity of the document. Excerpt from"The First of Iron-Clads" But at daybreak we discovered, lying between us and the Minnesota, a strange-looking craft, which we knew at once to be Ericson's Monitor, which had long been expected in Hampton Roads, and..."

10. William Waldie by Steve Soper

"William Waldie was born in 1836 in Scotland or Canada, the son of James (b. 1814) and Isabelle (b. 1817).Scottish-born James married English-born Isabelle sometime before the late 1830s when they were living in Canada where they resided for many years. They were probably living in Canada in 1848 when their son Adam was born and in 1856 when their son george was born. The family reportedly came to Michigan, settling first at Otter Lake near Flint in Genesee County, before moving on to the western side of the state. Nevertheless, it does appear that they did..."

11. The Predictable Press by Brooks D. Simpson

"In December 2005 I was sitting in my office at ASU, minding my own business, tying up loose ends from the fall semester, when the phone rang. It was a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor. He wanted to discuss … Continue reading →..."

12. Slavery in the Permanent Confederate Constitution by Donald Shaffer

"On March 11, 1861, the Confederate Congress, meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, adopted a permanent constitution for their new nation to supersede the provisional constitutional they had hastily adopted a little over a month before. Civil War Emancipation has already dealt with the latter document as it pertained to slavery. Today, it will deal with the permanent constitution on the same issue. Like the provisional constitution, it was largely based on the U.S. Constitution, but with significant differences. As Stephanie McCurry writes in yesterday’s Disunion in the New York Times, “They purged the text of all of the ambivalences, compromises and..."

13. Professor Edward C. Smith’s Black Confederates by Kevin Levin

"Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from one of Professor Edward C. Smith’s current students. Professor Smith teaches at American University and on occasion has been a vocal advocate of the black Confederate narrative. He was featured not too long ago in a post that included an excerpt of a speech he [...]..."

14. Rodney Wampole by Steve Soper

"Rodney Wampole was born on July 30, 1843, in Livingston County, New York, the son of John (b. 1804) and Elizabeth (b. 1814). (The 1920 census lists his birth place as Canada and the online burial record for Washington State veterans’ homes lists his birthplace as Ontario, Canada.)Pennsylvania native John married New York-born Elizabeth sometime before 1833 probably in New York where their daughter Matilda was born. The family resided in New York for many years and by 1850 Rodney was living on the family farm in West Sparta, Livingston County, New York.Rodney was possibly the same Rodney..."

15. The Cavalry Commander by The General

"From General August V. Kautz’s war-time manual, Customs of Service for Officers of the Army, we have Kautz’s list of the qualifications required for a good cavalry commander. As Kautz himself was a cavalryman, this makes for an interesting list. 687. CAVALRY.—A Cavalry Commander requires peculiar qualifications, that are far more rare than for any other arm of the service. He should, first of all, be young, and of fine physical qualities, capable of enduring great fatigue. He should be quick of thought and decision, without being rash; he should be able to form his plans rapidly and..."

16. Digging Up the Truth by Jay Jaffe

"Abner Doubleday had nothin' to do with it. A few weeks ago, Major League Baseball did something right by naming John Thorn its Official Historian. Best known as the author and editor of the Total Baseball encyclopedia series and the senior creative consultant on Ken Burns’ Baseball series (where he got plenty of face time), Thorn is the sport’s preeminent scholar, a methodical researcher who talks a good game as well. Nowhere has his work been more important than in unraveling — and subsequently reconstructing — its official history. Suffice it to say that everything you thought you knew about Abner Doubleday..."

17. Roger Taney Does a Good Deed by Donald Shaffer

"Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1861, is probably best remembered for writing the majority opinion in the infamous Dred Scott decision and its atrocious statement that black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Yet on March 14, 1861, he delivered the majority opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court in Kentucky v. Dennison considerably friendlier to African Americans, by implication if not by design. The case involved extradition law and whether federal courts could compel state governors to honor warrants of extradition from other states. The case had begun..."

World War I

1. World War One Navy Recruiting Posters by Charles McCain

"A constant theme throughout the history of the United States is the need for manpower for the armed services. To this end, there have always been recruiting efforts and the most simple and straight forward of these has been the poster. No matter which era they are from, they repeat a common message - do your duty and serve your country because only through your help can we win. Over the next few weeks, I will be providing some examples of these recruiting posters as they pertain to the Navy. The following posters are from World War One and feature images..."

World War II

1. Incompetence, Stupidity, and Cowardice: the Royal House of Savoy and the Governance of Italy, 1861-1946 by Charles McCain

Fast forward to 7 December 1941,"a date which will live in infamy," when the Japanese made their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. On 8 December 1941, at the request of President Roosevelt, the Congress declared war on Japan. And only Japan. Here's the really interesting part of which many are not aware: on 11 December 1941, in a coordinated announcement, Italy and then Germany, declared war on..."

2. Incompetence, Stupidity, and Cowardice: the Royal House of Savoy and the Governance of Italy, 1861-1946 by Charles McCain

Intellectuals whom the Fascist government of Italy thought would undermine them, or had spoken against them, were sent into internal exile in distant mountain villages, mainly in Southern Italy. Once brought to the village by the police, the intellectual offender could not leave or communicate with the outside world, at least not formally. The suicidal boredom of such a situation, the pettiness of the quarrels..."

3. Profile 46 -"Satan's Chillen" by (JSM)

"The study sketch above is of a B-17G that flew with the 401st Bomb Group based at Deenethorpe, Northhamptonshire, England. Specifically, the bomber belonged to the 613th Squadron. But, if you're really, really into the details, her serial number was 43-37706 and was accepted into the U.S. Army Air Force inventory on May 13, 1944.Today, all that's left of this bomber resides in the minds of her two surviving air crew, pilot Lt. William Mannix and bombardier,"Dick" Rostrom.The closest I've gotten to the bomber's pilot was a scratchy phone call to Mannix's wife - her husband was..."

4. Profile 46 -"Satan's Chillen" by (JSM)

"I couldn't bear the previous paltry sketch, so I fleshed out the study a bit tonight. These little pencil sketches are important to me because they help train my mind for the airplane's proportions.Bombers have never been my 'thing.' Temperament-wise, I can't imagine the idea of riding along in what is essentially a military bus, stuck to my office. Sitting or standing for a 3, 4, 5, 6 hour mission is hard to fathom, don't you think?There's an interesting analog between a WW2 bomber and many people's work environment - their cubicle, their office, is their position. Pilot, bombardier..."

5. Wednesday, 12 March 1941 by Brett Holman

"The Glasgow Herald, like many early-twentieth-century 'provincial' newspapers, made a serious effort to cover war and other international news, as well as reporting on national and local issues. (In fact, it almost seems more interested in what's happening overseas than it is in London or even Edinburgh.) Its highmindedness is also evident in its lack of interest in trivialities (no sports section today!) and in its rather staid appearance, with the outside pages taken up with classified ads, and the news and editorials at the centre of its twelve page. The Herald might be excused for its old..."

6. Thursday, 13 March 1941 by Brett Holman

"The Glasgow Herald today again leads with Lease-and-Lend, specifically the massive appropriation request made by Roosevelt to Congress -- over half a billion pounds' worth of 'aircraft and aeronautical material, including engines, spares, and accessories' alone (5). The Bill will be ready for debate early next week: the Speak of the House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn, promised 'We are going to put everything else aside'. Of course, the passing of Lease-and-Lend was welcomed here in Britain. Churchill, with a degree of historical inexactitude, likened it to the Magna Carta. His speech was 'spoken with that artistic perfection..."

7. Friday, 14 March 1941 by Brett Holman

"The big news today is that the latest Italian offensive against Greek forces in the Tepelini sector has been a disaster. War correspondents estimate 10,000 Italian casualties, including 2000 dead; yet 'it was stated in authoritative circles in London yesterday that the Italians do not appear to have made any perceptible progress' (5). This is despite (perhaps there's a hint of because of) Mussolini's presence at the front lines over the last few days, 'leading or encouraging the Italian troops'. Greek spirits are understandably high. Looking at the bigger picture in the Mediterranean, the Herald's military correspondent suggests that the..."

8. Saturday, 15 March 1941 by Brett Holman

"The war news today is much closer to home for the Glasgow Herald than usual. A big air raid last night on 'a Central district of Scotland' (5) is vividly described, as though the reporter had witnessed it: readers would know for themselves just how far away it was. One Nazi 'plane which appeared to be heading for home was spotted by searchlights, and immediately there was a road of gunfire as battery after battery opened up and poured shells into the apex of the searchlights. The crackle of bursting shells followed a maze of flashes. When the gunfire stopped..."

9. German Type 212A U-Boat by Charles McCain

The technological prowess of the Type 212A U-Boat can be directly traced back to research made in the latter half of World War Two with the development of the Type XXI U-Boat. Designed as a true submarine rather than as a surface ship that could submerge for short periods of time, the Type XXI was technically and technologically more sophisticated than the Type VII U-Boat. Many of the advances incorporated into its design included: a substantial increase in battery capacity and recharging ability; a more streamlined and hydro-dynamically clean..."

Cold War

1. Best Defense Bookshelf: 'Fragging,' the Vietnam War's Characteristic Crime by Thomas E. Ricks

"Just when you think there is not much new to say about a subject, along comes a book that overhauls your understanding of that subject. I say this because I just finished Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted Their Officers in Vietnam, by George Lepre. I've been reading about Vietnam full-time now since early last summer, and so wasn't surprised to see how the Army fell apart in Vietnam, for example going from 47 drug apprehensions of soldiers there in 1965 to 11,058 in 1970. (P. 113) Or that one U.S. Army division, the ill-fated Americal, in 1970 had..."

2. Diary Entry 41: Saigon, Saturday Morning, 7 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Saturday Morning, 7 August 1965Just been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger and plain tired out. Activity is stepping up here so fast it takes 18-20 hours a day to keep things under control. So many things happen that it is hard to remember what I have done. Guess that must be a sign of getting old! Either that or so many things happen that you just get lost in the maze of events. So let’s see if I can tax my brain and recall what has happened since I last wrote.Wednesday morning took a flight..."

3. Diary Entry 42: Saigon, Sunday Night, 8 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Sunday Night, 8 August 1965Yesterday, Saturday, spent the morning working over staff papers and had a quick sandwich at the desk for lunch. After lunch had to go over to MACV I to see General [William B.] Rosson, [MACV] Chief of Staff, about USOM rice shipments. Interesting discussion but mostly one-way---chief did most of the talking and I did the listening.   Major General William B. Rosson, U.S. Army, MACV Chief of Staff [pictured here as a general]. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)  Later on had a meeting at our office with a bunch of people about ammo discharge..."

4. From the Editor: Letter, General William C. Westmoreland, to Lieutenant Colonel Richard P. Clark, Jr., 5 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"This letter was typed on onionskin typing paper and deteriorated between 1965 and the present day. The editor scanned the fragments of the letter, converted the image from color to black-and-white, and digitally repaired the image so it resembles, as best as possible, the original document. Note that the letter was addressed to J-2 (Intelligence), rather than J-4 (Logistics). (Document courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)..."

5. Diary Entry 43: Saigon, Wednesday Night, 11 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Wednesday Night, 11 August 1965This may not be a very long entry tonight as I get interrupted by frequent phone calls every 15 or 20 minutes. We’ve had a rough tactical emergency going since early yesterday at Pleiku and Duc Co. As usual, everybody wants airplanes and we don’t have enough to go around. Our scheduled operations were shut down completely and I have had only a few hours sleep in the last 48 hours. Spent most of my time over in the J-3 Combat Operations Center trying to keep up with the situation. Had good company. [Lieutenant..."

6. From the Editor: the Siege of Duc Co, 10-17 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"In early August 1965, the Viet Cong encircled a U.S. Army Special Forces camp at Duc Co, west of Pleiku, and attacked a South Vietnamese military relief convoy on Highway 19 between Pleiku and Duc Co. [See map.] Movements Branch programmed U.S. Air Force C-123 flights that made airdrops along the highway, resupplied the blocked convoy, and made paradrops of supplies and medical equipment to the besieged camp. As Clark noted in his diary on 7 August, one C-123 aircraft received mortar damage and more than twenty small-arms hits during a medical evacuation at Duc Co. The..."

7. Are Lpd-17s Modern-Day Mitschers? by Craig Hooper

"It is always easy to point at the latest shipbuilding “disaster” and claim that it is the “greatest” fiasco ever. It’s true that smaller-scale shipbuilding SNAFUS are a fact of life. But these days, to some observers, mistakes are a distinguishing characteristic of naval shipbuilding. The big “disaster” of my era is the LPD-17. But the LPD-17 saga, according to Navy Institute Uber-Scribe and author of the Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, Eric Wertheim, is not unique. Wertheim was quoted in the LPD-17 article I was quoted in and discussed earlier..."

8. Diary Entry 44: Saigon, Friday Night, 13 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Friday Night, 13 August 1965This has certainly been a good day. Had a successful promotion party at the Hong Kong BOQ and everybody seemed to have a good time. Two brigadier generals, Crowley and Reichel, came early.Well, it was a good day up to the time of the above half-paragraph. Then I got a call from BG DePuy, the J-3 (Assistant Chief of Staff for Military Operations) to come over to his office right away and discuss airlift with him. Did just as he requested and now it is just a little past 1 a.m. and am..."

9. Frequently Mentioned Persons: Brigadier General John D. Crowley, Jr., U.S. Army Transportation Corps, Macv J-4, 1965-1966 by (J.R. Clark)

"Brigadier General John Denis Crowley, Jr., U.S. Army Transportation Corps, was the MACV assistant chief of staff for logistics (J-4), from February 1965 to August 1966. He was the principal staff logistical officer responsible for all ammunition, construction, supply, maintenance, medical services, fuel, and transportation in South Vietnam. [1] In 1965, Jack Crowley reached a high point in a career in which his fortunes rose and fell with the suddenness of a roller coaster. Born in Boston in 1916, Crowley enlisted in the Army in 1934 and served in the 5th Infantry in 1934. In 1938, Crowley won appointment..."

10. Diary Entry 45: Saigon, Tuesday Night, 17 August 1965 by (J.R. Clark)

"Saigon Tuesday Night, 17 August 1965 Since last Saturday, we’ve just been real busy almost up to midnight thrashing out some plans. Have even been a very bad host as I had company visit with me Sunday and Monday and the host just didn’t treat them the way he should have. [Major] Jim Greenquist and [Major] Harry the Horse [Brockman] were my guests Sunday and Monday. I had told each of them to come by and see me whenever in Saigon and they both showed up the same day. Commercial hotel rooms in Saigon are either too expensive ($20..."

11. From the Editor:"Discipline Is in Order": Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Macv, 1965. by (J.R. Clark)

"On 17 August 1965, Clark wrote:"Sergeant Heizman, who is newly assigned to the Sealift Center, has been reported from the hospital as having been treated for VD, so tomorrow he will probably be PFC Drake’s replacement as discipline is in order. This is a fascinating statement if we look back at a diary entry on 14 June 1965 in which Clark described the different branches that comprised the Transportation Division of MACV J-4:"The office:Brigadier General Crowley (TC) J-4Colonel Smith (Inf) Deputy J-4Colonel Plate (USAF) Trans OffMajor Clark (TC) Chief Movements BranchMajor Beaver (USAF) Air Force..."


1. New Owner Sought for Historic Warship Olympia by The Associated Press

"PHILADELPHIA — A historic warship in Philadelphia is looking for a new owner...."

2. Transatlantic Flight Record by Naval Institute Archives

"March, 15th 1957 Goodyear N-class ZPG-2 airship, commanded by Commander J. R. Hunt, landed at NAS Key West, Florida after a flight that began on March, 4th at South Weymouth, Massachusetts. The flight continued over the Atlantic toward Portugal, then south toward the African coast and back across the Atlantic covering 9,448 miles and remaining [...]..."

3. Million-Man Training by NHHC

"On 14 March 1943 the Fleet Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet was formally established, with Rear Admiral Donald B. Beary in command. Beary, known as “Red” to his fellow Naval Academy graduates of the Class of 1910, came to the new assignment from a seventh-month stint as Commandant of the Naval Operating Base in Iceland. [...]..."

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More Comments:

Jeff Vanke - 3/17/2011

The Civil War was inevitable in 1865. Also 1863. Also mid-1861.

The questions are, first when did the scales of any war tip to pure inevitability of happening, and second, prior to the first shot, when were the moments of sharp rises in probability (e.g., the election of Lincoln, the Sarajevo assassination) ?

Similar approaches for something like the Russian and French Revolutions.

Kiss Pista - 3/17/2011

I really like this writing, but I find a bit incomplete. Now you can buy a lot of books about military history. Exert great detail in these things. Here it is, for example.