Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River that claimed the lives of more than 1,800 recently-freed Union POWs packed on her decks for the voyage home — more than the number killed when the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. An excerpt from Noah Andre Trudeau’s 2009 Naval History article about the disaster is reprinted below. The full article may be viewed here.
Archive for the 'History' Category
Date: 7 April 1967 Squadron: VA-35 Black Panthers, USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), Yankee Station Aircraft: A-6A Intruder Target: Night attack on the sprawling Thainguyen, North Vietnam, steel complex Pilot: LCDR Everett “Hoot” Foote; Bombardier/Navigator: LT John Griffith The flight proceeded as briefed to the coastal entry. LCDR Foote utilized the A-6 Intruder’s terrain-avoidance radar augmented by LT Griffith’s search-radar observations to establish their minimum terrain avoidance altitude under night instrument flight conditions. The low altitude at which they flew over the mountainous terrain greatly complicated the radar navigation challenge. LT Griffith never-the-less hit each checkpoint on time, inserting updated position data into his navigation and weapons system… Read the rest of this entry »
The Battle of Jutland—where my grandfather, Sir John Jellicoe, commanded the British Grand Fleet on 31 May, 1916—was, and has remained, one of the most controversial battles of all time. Britain’s expectations of a second Trafalgar were hopelessly unrealistic but fed by a very active press. Britain’s navy had basked in its glory for more than one hundred years, thought and acted as if it were invincible and received a rude shock on the day. When an easy-to-understand victory, ready packaged for the national media to exploit was not achieved, the search for scapegoats began. My grandfather became the scapegoat…. Read the rest of this entry »
On the night of 11 November 1940, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked Italian battleships at anchor in the port of Taranto, Italy. On the morning of 7 December 1941, aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s carrier strike force attacked the battleships and other assets of the U.S. Navy at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Is there a connection between the two attacks?
As the first attack wave of Japanese bombers and fighters passed over northern Oahu, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida faced a critical decision. Should he fire one signal flare, indicating his aircraft would use the “surprise” attack plan, or two, signaling the “no surprise” plan? To armchair admirals, the answer is obvious; however, the first-wave commander fired two flares. Why he did so and the consequences of his actions are the subject of the lead article in Naval History magazine’s 75th anniversary commemoration of the Pearl Harbor attack. The author of “Commander Fuchida’s Decision,” retired Navy Commander Alan Zimm, won the U.S…. Read the rest of this entry »
When the United States entered World War I, the Allies viewed America as the world’s leading industrial power and a vast source of fresh manpower. Much of the U.S. contribution to the naval side of the conflict would be in line with the first view, of the United States as the home of mass production. The best-known examples are the floods of merchant ships, intended to make up for losses to U-boats, and of destroyers and subchasers. Less well known was an imaginative U.S. naval initiative to produce and lay a mine barrier to close off U-boat routes out of… Read the rest of this entry »
In 1916 the U.S. Navy had visions of commanding the world’s greatest fleet—and a big naval appropriations bill that promised the construction of ten battleships armed with 16-inch guns. But the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty ended those dreams for the foreseeable future; only three of the battlewagons were completed. After a building hiatus of more than a dozen years, the keels were laid for a pair of modern 16-inch battleships, the North Carolina (BB-55), namesake of the two-ship class, and the Washington (BB-56). The ships were commissioned within five weeks of each other in the spring of 1941 and went… Read the rest of this entry »
A century ago President Woodrow Wilson signed into law what at the time was the largest expansion of the U.S. Navy. In previous years, Congress had generally appropriated, say, two battleships and a destroyer flotilla, which left the Navy lobbying in vain for the cruisers that the battleships needed to scout for them. Now, at one stroke, Capitol Hill and President Wilson promised the service 10 battleships, 6 battleship-sized battle cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 50 destroyers, and 30 submarines, plus lesser ships. The origins of the act are traced to pressures generated by World War I. As a major… Read the rest of this entry »