Archive for the 'Wars' Category

May 6

‘The Necessity of the Fight’

Friday, May 6, 2016 12:01 AM


Surrounded in his CBS office with a modest library and an array of memorabilia from a distinguished career in journalism, Cronkite did not take the term "retirement" very seriously. Above his assistant's desk the headline from a clipping read, "Cronkite Cannot Say No." Courtesy L. Furgatch.

We were in an editorial meeting when our secretary, Marcia Owens, walked in and whispered, “There’s a guy on your phone who says he’s Walter Cronkite. Yeah, right! It actually does sound like him, though. What should I say?” It was indeed the man who had become known as “the most trusted man in America.” He was calling to correct an error in memory he had made in an answer to a question I had posed during our interview the previous week. We were putting together our D-Day 50th Anniversary commemoration, and we thought that someone who had had a… Read the rest of this entry »

May 2

On Naval History’s Scope

Monday, May 2, 2016 12:01 AM



  In Naval History, we try to recognize small but significant naval anniversaries as well as large and momentous ones, such as the centennial of the Battle of Jutland. It was expected to be a cataclysmic fight—the upstart German fleet against the traditional ruler of the waves, the British fleet. But the World War I battle didn’t quite live up to its billing. Jeremy Black argues in “Jutland’s Place in History” that although it lacked the decisiveness of the Royal Navy’s great victory at Trafalgar, the battle greatly influenced the war at sea and the Imperial German Navy’s ultimate defeat…. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 29

Q&A with Vince O’Hara, Naval Institute Press Author of the Year

Friday, April 29, 2016 11:48 AM



Vincent P. O’Hara received the 2015 Naval Institute Press Author of the Year Award at the U.S. Naval Institute’s 2016 Annual Meeting. The Press was delighted that Vince accepted our invitation to talk about his books and some of his inspirations. Naval History: What are your books about and why do you write them? Vince O’Hara: I write because I’m passionate about naval history. There’s nothing else I’d rather do. The focus of my first three books, German Fleet at War, The U.S. Navy against the Axis, and Struggle  for the Middle Sea is naval surface combat. Collectively, they describe… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 21

‘Subdue, Seize, and Take . . .’

Thursday, April 21, 2016 2:59 PM


Captain Thomas Truxtun set the precedent for a young U.S. Navy by capturing the French frigate L’INSURGENTE during the Quasi-War with France.

On 9 February 1799, the U.S. frigate CONSTELLATION was cruising in Caribbean waters when a lookout reported an unidentified ship just over the horizon. Captain Thomas Truxtun ordered his ship to come about, then went below to record in his log: “At noon saw a sail standing to westward, gave chase. I take her for a ship of war.” The pursuit continued for about an hour with the CONSTELLATION gradually gaining. Drawing closer, it became apparent that the other ship was a heavily armed frigate. A lesser captain with a lesser crew might have decided to look for an easier… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 11

Out of the Jaws of Victory

Monday, April 11, 2016 12:01 AM


Highly decorated for his role in gaining victory over the Japanese at Midway, Captain Miles Browning was defeated by his most implacable enemy--himself. (National Archives)

Like a character in classical tragedy, blessed by the gods with nearly every advantage, Miles Browning also possessed fatal flaws that ultimately brought him down. Endowed with striking looks, high intelligence, slide-rule brain, useful marital connections, exceptional flying ability and the patronage of America’s favorite admiral, Browning seemed perfectly poised to achieve high command as aviation emerged at the cutting edge of naval warfare. And yet, not until his retirement was it deemed safe to raise Browning to flag rank. Historian Samuel E. Morison, who knew him, called Browning “one of the most irascible officers ever to earn a fourth… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 24

The Russian Intervention of 1918-1919

Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:01 AM


Marines from the USS Brooklyn (ACR-3) are put ashore as part of the Intervention, ca. 1918. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Though the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps have had a long history of interventions in other countries, none perhaps has made such a long-lasting impact on world history as that which followed the Russian Revolution in 1917. In the following excerpts from his 1969 Proceedings article “Our Russian War of 1918-1919,” Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley (1908-2000) discusses the causes and events of the war that “soured U. S.-Soviet relations for almost a generation” and beyond. Fighting and dying in the swamps and forests were Russian patriots, both Red and White, Americans, French, British, Serbians, Italians and Finns. There were many threads… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 17

Remember the MAINE

Thursday, March 17, 2016 3:38 PM


LWF Feb 08

Apprentice First Class Ambrose Ham was signal boy of the watch when the USS MAINE arrived at the Spanish-owned island of Cuba on 25 January 1898. Tensions were high in the battleship as she slowly steamed into Havana Harbor, and though Ham remembered that “every-thing looked peaceful,” he heard another sailor tell two friends, “We’ll never get out of here alive.” Cuban revolutionaries had long been trying to overthrow their Spanish masters, and the MAINE had been sent to protect American citizens then in Havana. Because of the high state of tension, the crew was not allowed to go ashore,… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 14

The Navy’s ‘Smashers’

Monday, March 14, 2016 10:57 AM


One of the 1826-pattern replica carronades on board the USS CONSTITUTION. When fired, the gun and its slide recoiled back along the stationary skid and against the breeching, the heavy rope through the carronade's loop. Side tackles were used to traverse or run out the gun. (USS CONSTITUION, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Introduced in the U.S. Navy at the beginning of the 19th century, the carronade saw extensive service in American warships during the War of 1812. The Carron Company in Scotland had produced a prototype of the weapon, designed for the protection of merchantmen, in 1776. The success of early carronades resulted in the Royal Navy placing large orders for the guns, and other naval powers soon copied the basic design. Henry Foxall, superintendent of the Eagle Foundry on the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, cast the first American versions, but probably not until 1799. Certainly he cast the majority of the… Read the rest of this entry »

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