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Author Topic: PzLdr History Facts  (Read 12346 times)
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« Reply #165 on: April 14, 2017, 09:08:22 am »

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, is shot in the head with a .41 caliber Derringer pistol by john Wilkes Booth while attending a performance of the play, "Our American cousins", at Ford's Theater. Lincoln will die in the early hours of the morning from his head wound.

The shooting was part of a plot by a group of southern sympathizers led by Booth to decapitate the Federal government. Secretary of State Seward is wounded in huis home in a knife attack. The Secretary of War is sparedwhen the man assigned to attack him chickens out.

Booth escapes by jumping from the Presidential box onto the stage [breaking a leg] and fleeing the city on a horse. He will not be found for over a week, and is mortally wounded by a Union cavalryman when booth is found hiding in a barn. Of the rest of the conspirators, one escapes to Canada and England. the rest, including his mother, are hanged.

Lincoln presided over the nation during the Southern Secession and civil War. He is remembered for winning that war, and soaring oratory such as the Gettysburg Address. He also suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus, exiled U.S. citizens, and destroyed Federalism. when he was done, the states were largely satrapies.

One unforeseen consequence, from Booth's point of view, was the impact of Lincoln's death on Reconstruction. Almost immediately, William T. Sherman was forced to renounce the terms of surrender he had negotiated with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston., which were based on his discussions with Lincoln and Grant prior to the end of the war. Sherman was required to accept the unconditional surrender of Johnston's army. And the Reconstruction became far harsher than Lincoln intended [the Southerners had something to do with that].

And Lincoln was the first U.S. President murdered while in office. He would not be the last.   
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« Reply #166 on: April 18, 2017, 12:36:20 pm »

Truman was right to can MacArthur.

Korea remains a problem today, particularly with flat head running around in North Korea.  For the first time, I heard mentioned today the possible reunification of Korea.  The only way that happens will be with flat head taken out and China realizing it is in their interest to unify Korea.  Frankly, because of proximity, I believe it would be in China's economic interest to unify Korea.  Korea would become a strong market for China, much like the USA today.

But are they prepared to take out flat head to unify Korea?  I think not.

And Trump, if he honestly thinks he can run about using the military to solve problems like North Korea, he is in for a rude awakening.  China will not sit back and let their puppet get attacked by the USA.  Not happening.
I agree with you Jafo. I also think Russia won't sit back either on NK.
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« Reply #167 on: April 18, 2017, 12:40:37 pm »

On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies at Warm Springs, Arkansas, of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Roosevelt, America's only four term President, had been increasingly ill over the preceding year [check photos of him at the Yalta conference], but had kept his medical issues from the public with the aid of the sycophantic press corps. He had been visited by his long time mistress [or former mistress], Lucy Mercer the morning of his death.

Roosevelt's death brought [misplaced] joy in Berlin, and major sadness in America. He was and still is, missed by many. But not by me.
Not missed by me either.
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« Reply #168 on: April 19, 2017, 02:03:47 pm »

1775: the American Revolution starts when British regulars move against Lexington and Concord to seize munitions, weapons, and if possible, several revolutionaries, including John and Samuel Adams.

Forewarned by several riders [including Paul Revere], Colonial militias begin to gather. A skirmish takes place at Lexington, started by a gunshot fired by one side or the other. By the time the British reach the concord Bridge, colonials engage them in a firefight. But the major damage to the British occurs as they retreat toward Boston. Colonists coalesce along the entire route, fighting Indian style [apologies, Sen. Warren from behind trees and stone walls, before falling back and moving to new positions further along the route of march. the British column only escapes further injury when a relief column shows up to aid them.

This opening battle of the Revolution contains a motif that will follow the British through the war. They will never successfully figure out a way to fight the American irregular style of war. Conversely, while the Americans will suffer losses because of their inability, despite their attempts, to successfully engage the British in conventional combat in the early stages of the war, they will have leaned to do so within three years. Within two, a combination of their improved conventional warfare skills, coupled wityh their mastery of irregular warfare, will crush the British at Saratoga, and bring France into the war as an American ally.


1943: The Warsaw Uprising begins:

Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuehrer SS, decided to offer Adolf Hitler the final dissolution of the Warsaw Ghetto, as a birthday present. Columns of SS police troops converged on the Ghetto on April 19th [the day before Hitler's birthday] to carry out the order. But the remnants of the Jewish community in the Ghetto was well aware of their proposed fate by April 19th. The local Jewish government, the Judenrat, had been fulfilling SS evacuation quota lists for months. Railroad cars with indications of passengers [scratchings on the railroad car interiors, etc.] were found returning to the Ghetto for more evacuees far sooner than they should have been, ostensibly carrying evacuees for re-settlement and work in the East [sometimes less than five days]. And at least several escapees from the Auschwitz- Birkenau had returned to warn the Ghetto inhabitants of what really awaited them.

So, with what few firearms , grenades and other weapons they were able to buy from the Poles, the Jewish defenders of the Warsaw Ghetto gave the SS who entered the Ghetto not only a surprise welcome, but a hot one. In fact, they forced the SS to withdraw. And Himmler found himself in a fix of his own making. the result was a full on assault on the Warsaw Ghetto that took weeks. An SS Brigadefuhrer, Jurgen Stroop was brought in to supervise "operations". So were engineers, heavy weapons, and more SS troops. They used gas, flamethrowers and explosives when Jewish freedom fighters took to the sewers. The result, sadly, was a foregone conclusion. The SS shot every prisoner they took, the Ghetto was largely razed, a few souls managed to escape, and Stroop was able to present his Reichsfuhrer with a lavishly illustrated leatherbound report  entitled "The WARSAW GHETTO IS NO MORE [which he may have regretted after the war when they were slipping the rope around his neck].

And Himmler's initial reason backfired in a major way. the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is remembered as a heroic stand for freedom and against tyranny, not as a spectacular birthday present for Adolf Hitler
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« Reply #169 on: April 21, 2017, 07:19:52 am »

753 B.C.:

The city of Rome is founded, purportedly by the brothers Romulus and Remus [Romulus will kill his brother in a fight over who will rule].

Rome will be governed by a series of Etruscan kings over the next three to four centuries, finally expelling the last, Tarquin the Proud and founding the Republic. Rome will grow from a City State to a regional, then peninsular power, the dominant power in the Western Mediterranean, and finally the hyper power of Europe by the 2d century A.D. Along the way, there will be at least three Civil Wars,  the Republic will be subsumed by an Emperor, and Rome will create the greatest and longest lasting land Empire in Europe, finally falling in the 5th century, A.D.

Rome has bequeathed us the framework for our laws, our military, architecture, engineering, and, surprisingly, wedding customs, including the veil [theirs was orange], the wedding cake [they broke it over the bride's head], and carrying the bride over the threshold [a remembrance of the Rape of the Sabine women]. Rome also gave us waterproof concrete, the basis of many European languages, and one of the foundations of English. Not bad for seven hills and a dirty river.



1836:

The Battle of San Jacinto is fought.

After retreating in the face of a blitzkrieg from Mexican President [dictator], and military Supremo, Antonio Lopez y Santa Ana [the self-styled 'Napoleon of the West', Texas General Sam Houston turns on Santa Ana at San Jacinto where the latter, having split his army, is encamped, resting on his 'laurels' after the battle of the Alamo and the massacre of Fanning's Goliad column.

Houston's attack catches the Mexicans totally by surprise, and the battle is over in less than half an hour. Houston's losses are negligible, Santa Ana's heavy. Houston's large haul of prisoners, gathered over the day of battle and those following it, includes Santa Ana himself, who had fled the battle. Santa Ana bargains his life for Texas independence. But the border between Texas and Mexico remains tense, due, in part, to conflicting understanding over WHERE, exactly the border is. A further aggravating factor is the fact that elements in Texas, and the United States want Texas to join the Union,  The issues between Texas, Mexico and the United States will never be settled to any party's full satisfaction, but Texas, along with New Mexico, Arizona, California, and much of the rest of the Southwest will become part of the United States after the latter's victory in the Mexican War.



1918:

Rittmeister [Cavalry Captain] Manfred Freiherr [Baron] Von Richtofen, is killed in combat over the Western Front. Richtofen, the so-called Red Baron [because of the color of his airplane], was World War I's leading fighter pilot, with 80 downed enemy aircraft.

Richtofen started the war as an Uhlan [lancer] officer in the Imperial German Army, but switched to flight training within a year or so. Initially, his piloting skills were not exceptional. what was exceptional was his shooting skill [Richtofen was a formidable hunter].

Richtofen came into his own under the tutelage of Oswald Boelke, a great fighter pilot, and the father of modern fighter tactics. Boelke established teamwork as the basis for his squadron, and drilled his pilots in tactics until they were proficient. And Richtofen was very proficient. When Boelke died, Richtofen assumed command of the squadron, and in no time at all, in part because of the garish paint schemes each of the pilots painted their planes [all had some red in honor of Richtofen], the squadron gained immortality as "Richtofen's Flying Circus" [Richtofen also espoused the doctrine of 'Shoot the pilot and the plane goes with him. And he was famous for doing just that with short bursts of fire].

Richtofen [and his men] rolled up impressive scores of 'kills' for the next three years. But technological superiority passed back and forth with the Allies, and they began to catch up tactically as well. Plus, the Germans had no relief. As in the second war, German pilots didn't rotate. They stayed at the front.

Richtofen's last sortie occurred shortly after his 80th victory. But the Richtofen of 1918 was a different man than the Richtofen of 1916, or even 1917. He had been shot down the previous year, suffering a head wound, and it may well have affected him. B ut on the day he died, he seemed in top form. He was on the tail of a Commonwealth pilot when Captain Roy Brown of the Royal Air Force [a Canadian] got behind him and opened fire. At the same time some Australian ground troops opened up on him, as he flew lower, with a machine gun. 

Richtofen's blood red Fokker Triplane crash landed. He was found slumped over with one bullet wound in the side. Conventional wisdom credited Brown with his death. But more recently, studies and experiments have seemed to give the credit to the ground troops.

The Allies buried Richtofen with full military honors, dropping reports on the funeral at the Flying Circus' aerodrome. Richtofen's brother Lothar [40 kills] survived the war, as did his cousin Wolfram [who would rise to General's rank as commander of Fliegerkorps VIII in the Luftwaffe]. The Flying Circus fought on until the end of the war. It's last commander was a 26 kill pilot named Hermann Wilhelm Goering.
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« Reply #170 on: April 22, 2017, 12:38:26 pm »

It was immortalized in a John Wayne movie. It was, strategically, possibly the most important and successful cavalry operation of the Civil War. and it was led by a former music teacher who was afraid of horses.

Benjamin Grierson was tasked by Ulysses S. Grant with the task of riding into Mississippi, destroying the railroad junction at Newton Station, and diverting confederate attention from Grant's soon to commence operations against Vicksburg. Leaving La Grange, Tennessee in the second half of April, Grierson set out to carry out his orders.

Grierson rode almost the entire length of the state, avoiding rebel patrols where possible. But when contact occurred, he would "peel off" a diversionary force and have it go back to La Grange drawing the rebels off with it. As a result, Grierson's arrival at Newton Station on April 22, 1863 fell like a thunderbolt. His troops tore up several miles of track, destroyed railroad equipment, military stores, and disappeared as suddenly as they had come. but unlike his diversionary units, Grierson did not return to La Grange. He and his men rode southwest to Union lines at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

It was a spectacular success. By the time the confederate High Command re-focused on Grant, he was on the approaches to Vicksburg. The repairs to the rail lines, etc. at Newton Station took several months. Months during which neither supplies, nor reinforcement could pass through to Vicksburg. and it was all accomplished with minimal loss to the Union troops.

As a result, Grierson was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. After the war, he reverted to the colonelcy of one of the two Black Cavalry regiments, the 10th. He made a major contribution in defeating the Apache uprising led by Victorio. But Grierson, not a West Point graduate, did not do well with Sherman, or more particularly, Sheridan, so his contributions in the Indian Wars did not receive the credit they deserved.
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« Reply #171 on: April 23, 2017, 08:56:24 am »

Ireland during the Viking Age was an unusual place in several respects. First, many of Ireland's now major cities, Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Cork were originally Viking settlements / towns/ cities / power centers. Second, although there were raids by the Danes, Ireland was predominantly a Norwegian enterprise. Third, through various intermarriages, etc., the Viking ruling caste was more closely intertwined with the native Irish nobility. And fourth, the Irish came late to be led by a national ruler [more or less] who was able to confront the Norse.

His name was Brian Boru, and while born a noble, he was not born a prince of a national ruling family. Most of Ireland was a set of minor kingdoms and had no national ruler.Brian and his brother changed all that.

By 1014, Brian was recognized as high king of Ireland, but family ties, with Boru, were complicated. His [soon to be ex] wife, also happened to be the mother of the former Viking king of Dublin, Sithric Silk Beard, who was also married to a sister of Boru's [Brian had already taken Dublin, while allowing Sithric and his followers to remain under his suzerainty]. Thena quarrel erupted between Boru's son and one of the Irish lesser kings. Boru's wife used the opportunity to flee, and urge her son to rebel. He did, and called the Norse from the Norwegian holdings in the islands around Ireland and Britain,as well as in Ireland itself, and Norway to join him. They did. In sizable numbers. They included such stalwarts as Jarl Sigurd of the Orkneys, and Brodir of Man. And several Irish kings joined him. But Ireland being Ireland, numbers of Vikings joined Boru.

Battle was joined on Good Friday, April 23, 1014. The Irish forces were led by Boru's son [Brian was an old man by then, and since it was Golod Friday, chose to pray in his tent]. By then end of the day, the Irish crushed the Norwegians, inflicting almost twice the casualties they themselves suffered. But their dead included both Boru's son and grandson [Sigurd fell as well]. And while fleeing the battlefield, Brodir of Man and a group of his followers stumbled on to Brian's tent. Brodir and Brian killed each other. It was, for all extents and purposes the true end of the battle.

But Sithric remained ruler of Dublin. And Ireland, with the leaders of the ruling dynasty dead, descended into chaos. But Brian had broken the norse in Ireland. And they would never rise as a significant threat again.
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« Reply #172 on: April 25, 2017, 09:46:08 am »

On 25 April, 1945, units of the U.S. First Army approached the Elbe River near Torgau, in northern Saxony, Germany. As they did so, they observed troop movements on the other side of the river. but the troops were not Germans, but Soviets, units of the first Ukrainian Front. The Third Reich had been cut in half from east to west.

American troops had stormed the Rhine initially at Remagen, when a railroad bridge had failed to detonate when the Germans attempted to blow it. Bradley and Hodges [the first Army commander] had pushed as many troops as they could lay their hands on over the bridge before it finally did partially collapse into the river [the German officers who had been defending the bridge were shot on Hitler's orders]. Bu by then, pontoon bridges had been put across the river under cover of the First Army's bridgehead, and Third Army [Patton], and then 21st Army Group [Montgomery] had also forced crossings and began to drive east [Montgomery toward the North Sea ports and Schleswig - Holstein and Denmark, Patton and Hodges to encircle the Ruhr, and both the latter to drive further east [Patton would wind up in Bavaria and, temporarily, in Czechoslavakia.

The Soviets were driving west from an offensive that had started on January 20th, in response to the increased weakness of the German armies facing them, caused by the stripping of armor and other assets from the Eastern Front for the Battle of the Bulge. Commanded by Marshal Konev, Zhukov's principal rival, First Ukrainian Front was part of the Berlin encirclement, and also tasked with operations in central and southern Germany. Hence their arrival on the Elbe.

Germany now wound up with two national headquarters: Hitler's bunker in Berlin [he had five days to live], and Doenitz' headquarters at Ploen [Goering had been stripped of his offices and titles by Hitler]. German government officials gravitated to Ploen, while many top Nazis and their families went south [including Goering].

It was the nail in the coffin. Filmed by Allied cameramen, the U.S-Soviet meetings were broadcast all over the world. With five days hitler was dead. within two weeks, Doenitz, as the new Fuehrer, surrendered. Te war was over.
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« Reply #173 on: April 26, 2017, 09:15:21 am »

It originated in the sands of Spanish Morocco and western Spain, when the Spanish Army revolted against the newly elected leftish Spanish government [the government overplayed its victory, enacting a series of 'reforms'; anti-clerical, anti-landowner, etc. Violence from both sides soon followed]. Its best units, the Spanish Foreign Legion, commanded by Gen. Francisco Franco, were in Morocco. The Spanish Navy, which overwhelmingly allied with the government, barred passage for the Legionnaires by sea. Enter Adolf Hitler.

Hitler was approached by Franco emissaries in Berlin seeking aid. He gave it. The aid consisted of a fleet of Junkers JU-52 transport planes, and some fighters to escort them. Franco's troops arrived in Spain by air.

As the Civil War intensified, it drew several European powers into it. Mussolini, seeking to increase his stature on the international stage, and seeking a fellow authoritarian, and possibly Fascist regime on the other side of France, sent over 80,000 troops, plus artillery, mechanized units, and air squadrons to the Generals. Hitler, seeing an opportunity to bind Italy to Germany, and to disperse French military strength to its western border, also sent a small contingent of ground troops, including some armor, artillery and anti-aircraft guns [read: 88s]. But his major contribution was air power. Seeing an opportunity to test and train his nascent air force, Goering sent squadrons of his latest fighters, the Me 109, He 111  bombers, Do 17 bombers, Ju 82A 'Stuka' dive bombers, and the Ju 52 transport/bombers, all under General Hugo Sperrle. The German contribution to Franco's war became known as "The Condor Legion". He also sent two of his "pocket battleships", the DEUTSCHLAND and ADMIRAL SCHEER as part of a multi-national naval interdiction patrol [ADMIRAL SCHEER wound up shelling a government held port in retaliation for some Spanish actions against German troops].

And learn the Germans did. It was in Spain that the Germans perfected the "four finger" fighter formation still in use today [Werner Molders]. It was in Spain that it is claimed that the 88 was first used as an ant-tank gun [Ritter von Thoma]. It was in Spain that the Germans began the process of inter-arms cooperation that reached perfection in France, in 1940, as 'Blitzkrieg'. And it was in Spain that the Condor Legion first unleashed mass bombing against an urban center. And that center was Guernica.

Guernica was in the Basque region of Spain, and had been the historic seat of the Basque legislature [the executive was in nearby Bilbao]. The Basques, ever seeking independence or autonomy , sided with the government. On April 26, 1937, the Germans came calling.

Guernica was bombed for over three hours. He 111s struck from high altitude, as did Do17s. Stukas dive bombed. Incendiaries were shoveled out the doors of Ju 52s. By the time the Germans left, Guernica was a flaming ruin. and although it may have been a militarily justifiable target [arms factory], the German bombing showed there was no intent to pinpoint a military target. It was simply a terror raid on a large scale.


Guiernic became a symbol of Fascist bestiality to the world. It was commemorated in a mural by Pablo Picasso. But in reality, it accomplished its goal. The Germans learned how to carry out a multi-layered sustained, bombing attack on an urban center. Goering got to learn the strengths and weaknesses of his equipment.And within a little over a year, Franco took Spain.
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« Reply #174 on: April 27, 2017, 03:19:14 pm »

I watched a special a few years ago about the  Colosseum in Rome. It was fascinating. They took you around the Colosseum present day..then showed what it might of looked like in its day.
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« Reply #175 on: April 27, 2017, 03:21:17 pm »

It was immortalized in a John Wayne movie. It was, strategically, possibly the most important and successful cavalry operation of the Civil War. and it was led by a former music teacher who was afraid of horses.

Benjamin Grierson was tasked by Ulysses S. Grant with the task of riding into Mississippi, destroying the railroad junction at Newton Station, and diverting confederate attention from Grant's soon to commence operations against Vicksburg. Leaving La Grange, Tennessee in the second half of April, Grierson set out to carry out his orders.

Grierson rode almost the entire length of the state, avoiding rebel patrols where possible. But when contact occurred, he would "peel off" a diversionary force and have it go back to La Grange drawing the rebels off with it. As a result, Grierson's arrival at Newton Station on April 22, 1863 fell like a thunderbolt. His troops tore up several miles of track, destroyed railroad equipment, military stores, and disappeared as suddenly as they had come. but unlike his diversionary units, Grierson did not return to La Grange. He and his men rode southwest to Union lines at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

It was a spectacular success. By the time the confederate High Command re-focused on Grant, he was on the approaches to Vicksburg. The repairs to the rail lines, etc. at Newton Station took several months. Months during which neither supplies, nor reinforcement could pass through to Vicksburg. and it was all accomplished with minimal loss to the Union troops.

As a result, Grierson was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. After the war, he reverted to the colonelcy of one of the two Black Cavalry regiments, the 10th. He made a major contribution in defeating the Apache uprising led by Victorio. But Grierson, not a West Point graduate, did not do well with Sherman, or more particularly, Sheridan, so his contributions in the Indian Wars did not receive the credit they deserved.

I enjoy these so much. How the heck did you know he was a fomer music teacher who was afraid of horses?
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« Reply #176 on: April 27, 2017, 03:34:17 pm »

I enjoy these so much. How the heck did you know he was a fomer music teacher who was afraid of horses?

Read it in a book about the raid. Grierson was bitten by a horse as a child, and developed a fear of them. Pre-Civil War, he earned his living teaching music, but, like many, when the war came, he volunteered to fight for the Union. Did so well, he stayed in the Army.

Unlike others, say Custer, Grierson did not refuse the command of a Black regiment after the war, and he led the 10th well.
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« Reply #177 on: April 28, 2017, 09:49:36 am »

His father was a fanatical Socialist. He himself was named after the revolutionary President of Mexico, Benito Juarez. He grew up as a Socialist, was a leading member of the Socialist movement in Europe and Italy,edited the European Socialist newspaper, and knew and exchanged ideas with Vladimir Lenin. His name was Benito Mussolini.

Mussolini, a former school teacher, broke with the Left over World War I. He supported Italy's entry into the war, and, indeed, served in the Italian Army on the Isonzo front. By the War's end, he had been discharged, and had left Socialism behind. Relying on embittered veterans, he formed his own political movement, the Fascist Party [taking their name from the Fasces Lictors carried during the roman Republic and Empire], complete with its own paramilitary, the Squadristi Fascisti - the Blasckshirts.

Based primarily in the industrialized north of Italy, Mussolini grew his party based on a m?lange of socialist and nationalist ideas. And in 1922, Mussolini and his Blackshirts marched on Rome, where he seized power in a bloodless coup, being named Prime Minister by the king, Victor Emmanuel [Mussolini would go on to be the longest reigning Fascist dictator in Europe, but for one, Salazar of Portugal].

Mussolini sought to resurrect, in some form, the Roman Empire, and he sought to expand his influence in Greece, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean littoral. He referred to the Med as "Mare Nostrum", or 'Our Sea', which was a bit much, considering the presence of both the royal and French navies. And although he was a militarist who vastly expanded the Italian military [in quantity, and except for the Navy, and to a degree, the Air force, not in quality], he was, initially, popular in both Italy and the world [the original version of Cole Poter's "You're the Top" had a line, "You're the Mussolini"]. He drained the Pontine marshes, he 'made the trains run on time', and the Fascist experiment attracted observers from all over the world, and followers from all over Europe. Indeed, most Fascist movements, governments and leaders in the early days patterned themselves on Mussolini, not his soon to be compatriot Adolf Hitler.

Hitler himself was a groupie. He sent Mussolini a 'fan letter' early on. He had a bust of Mussolini in his office. The Beer Hall Putsch was inspired by, and sought to emulate, the March on Rome. His NSDAP adopted the Italian Fascist salute, which was, in turn, adopted from the Roman Empire [in return, after his visit in 1937, Mussolini had the Italian Army adopt the 'goose step', which Mussolini named the 'Passo Romano'].

At first, Mussolini was counted on one of the 'respectable' heads of Europe. He acted as a brake on the Austrian Nazi coup of 1934. He joined in several collective pacts. But it didn't last. The first crack was Italy's war on Ethiopia. It should also have been Mussolini's first warning. For although the Italian military under Marshal Pietro Badoglio won, they had to use poison gas to do so. And then there was Spain. Mussolini aided the Franco forces to the tune of some 80,000 troops, plus aircraft, tankettes, trucks, etc. The action caused further distance from France and Britain, and drove 'Il Duce' further into the embrace of Adolf Hitler.

Mussolini offered no objection, as opposed to 1934, when the Nazis seized Austria in 1938. He 'acted' as mediator at the Munich conference when Czechoslavakia was carved up, giving the Sudetenland to the Germans. He had no objection to Germany's seizure of the rest of the country in early 1939. In fact, he joined Italy to Germany first in the Pact of Steel, then in the Tripartite Pact [with Japan]

Mussolini blinked, however, when Germany invaded Poland, and triggered WW II in Europe. Claiming severe shortages in natural resources and military equipment, Mussolini passed on joining the war effort in 1939. But as the Germans rolled over France, Mussolini worried about not having a seat at the table without the spilling of Italian blood. So on June 10th, 'the hand that held the dagger", to paraphrase FDR, struck. By the time of the French surrender, Italy had gained several hundred yards of southern French soil - and nothing else, except enemies in the form of Britain, the Commonwealth and the Free French, and an ally who would eventually be an overlord - Nazi Germany.

Mussolini went from one disaster to the next. In 1940, the invasion of Egypt petered out, was counterattacked by the British, and Italy came within a whisker of losing Libya [the Germans were required to send help - Erwin Rommel and friends]. Italy lost both Ethiopia and Somalia. An Italian invasion of Greece was stopped and driven back, requiring German intervention once again. the result was that the Balkans, which Mussolini regarded as an Italian sphere of influence, came under largely German dominance.

It got worse at sea. From Cape Matapan to Taranto, the Royal Navy basically swept the Regia Marina from the seas. And then, in 1943, the Allies invaded Sicily [Operation HUSKY], It was then that one of the weaknesses in Italian Fascism came to the fore. While Mussolini was 'Il Duce", he did not rule, as Hitler did, by himself. There was the King, and there was the Fascist Grand Council. And that council stripped Mussolini of his premiership, and that King had him arrested. It appeared he was done.

But there were Germans swarming all over Italy. Lots of them. And they quickly disarmed the Italian Army when Italy switched sides, and occupied most of the country. They also located the place where Mussolini was being held [a hotel on the Gran Sasso mountain], and quickly rescued him.

But there was a price. Mussolini, now a sick man, wanted out. But Hitler insisted he rule a rump state in northern Italy, the "Salo Republic". He also insisted Mussolini execute those members of the Grand Council the Germans had grabbed, including Mussolini's son-in-law, and former foreign minister, Count Ciano. Mussolini's daughter never forgave him.

The Salo Republic was a Potempkin village, but a vicious one. There were Fascists from the old days, German troops, Italian troops, German SS, Italian SS; all embroiled in a bitter war with Italian partisans of various stripes. Atrocities on both sides were common, and massacre was the word of the day.

But by April, 1945, the handwriting was on the wall. Allied columns were probing the shores of Lake Como, and it was time to leave. Mussolini hoped to reach Switzerland, where his family had re-located earlier. Disguised as a German soldier, as was his mistress, Clara Patacci, who accompanied him, Mussolini fled in a German military column headed north. He never made Switzerland. the column was stopped at a partisan roadblock. Mussolini, Pattacci and several other Fascists were recognized. they became the price the Germans paid to proceed on their way.

Unfortunately for him, Mussolini wound up a prisoner of Communist partisans. The result was foregone. He was taken, with Pattacci, outside, placed near a wall, and shot. Their bodies, and those of other Fascists, were then taken to Milan, and dumped in a square, where Italians urinated on, spit on, and mutilated the bodies. They were then hanged by their feet from a steel beam parallel to the ground [Someone had the 'decency' to pin up Patacci's skirt], and remained there until American troops cut them down and protected them.

Mussolini, in the long run, was a disaster for Italy. He wrote checks his people couldn't cash. He went to war with an Army that was inferior to both its Ally and its enemies. Every military adventure he undertook turned to dust. He left his country open to bombing, invasion, and occupation by the Germans. He was a failure on an epic scale. And, oh yeah, Cole Porter changed that lyric.
 
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« Reply #178 on: April 30, 2017, 08:59:41 am »

With the withdrawal of the last American troops some two years before, the Republic of Viet Nam [South Viet Nam] was left to handle its own defense against the North Vietnamese Army, and what was left of the South's own [theoretically] Viet Cong, supported by promises of American military aid and air power [if necessary].

But those promises were made by Richard Nixon, and by 1975 he was gone, replaced by his Vice President,Gerald Ford, after Nixon's resignation. And Ford was no Nixon. He faced a hostile, Senate and House, and a war weary populace. And that Congress continually whittled down the appropriations for the south Vietnamese military. And in 1975, the North Vietnamese struck, not with intensified guerilla war, but with a series of conventional attacks, spearheaded by armor and mechanized infantry [brought down the Ho chi Minh Trail]. The South Vietnamese, initially, fought well [see the battle of An Loc]. But they ran out of artillery  ammunition, small arms ammunition, air ordnance, etc., courtesy of Sen. Frank church and his allies.

And then the South Vietnamese made moves to placate the North. President Thieu and Vice President Ky left the country. Gen. 'Big' Mihn, long in favor of accommodation took over. But the North smelled blood. No accommodation was countenanced. And we were left with the pictures of people climbing to the roof of the U.S. embassy compound to board the helicopters outbound to waiting U.S. ships, and of T-54 tanks crashing through the gates of the Presidential palace. It was over. 58,000 American dead, and god knows how many South Vietnamese, Aussies, South Koreans and others, made meaningless by a pusillanomous American Congress.
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« Reply #179 on: May 01, 2017, 10:09:20 am »

After its monumental defeat at Fredericksburg, and the humiliation of the 'Mud March', the Army of the Potomac retreated north of the Rappahannock, licked its wounds, and reorganized under yet another new commander, MG Joseph 'Fighting Joe' Hooker.

Hooker had been a Corps commander under McClellan and Burnside, and had an enviable reputation as a 'fighting general. Yet he was not thought of as a deep thinker, nor as necessarily a good choice as an Army commander, nor as a strategist. Turns out he wasn't bad.

Hooker realized the first issue he faced in the winter of 1862-1863 was the morale of his Army. Aside from Antietam, Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia had been beating them like a drum. So Hooker began doing what he could to enhance morale. He did the expected things, making sure the troops had enough food, good clothing, sufficient transport, munitions, etc. But he also introduced the Corps badges Union troops began to wear on their hats, a move VERY popular with the troops, and a move that sharpened the elan of his various units. Hooker also ordered a reorganization of the Union cavalry, from a variety of independent regiments normally assigned to picket, escort, and messenger duties, into a single Corps [much like Stuart's Cavalry in Lee's Army]. It was his most significant, and far reaching reform. Within six months, the Union Cavalry would go from equaling the Rebels [Brandy Station] to beating them on the battlefield [Runnel's Farm]. within two years, they would be able to defeat whatever the South threw at them, Cavalry or Infantry. They would kill JEB Stuart and defeat him soundly [at Yellow Tavern], and turn the Shenandoah into a wasteland. Within three they would drive Lee from Petersburg, capture a third of his Army at Sailor's Creek, and cut off his escape route at Appomattox. And it was Hooker that started the ball rolling.

With morale improved, Hooker turned to strategy, and what he came up with was brilliant. Lee was still dug in behind Fredericksburg. But two divisions of his First Corps under Longstreet were on detached duty further south, leaving Lee with some 60,000 effectives and an army almost twice that size. So leaving Sedgewick's Corps [plus one division] to screen Lee, and lead him to think the Union was again going to attack Fredericksburg, Hooker sideslipped to his left, moved north and west, and crossed the Rappahannock behind Lee, and to his north. Lee was now faced  [although he initially din't know it, with being attacked from two sides.

Lee was in the dark, initially, because the Union cavalry under George Stoneman, moved out to raid Lee's supplies, and initially prevented Stuart from reconnoitering the Union movement, and reporting the move to Lee. That soon changed, and Lee reacted by dividing his Army, leaving Jubal Early to confront Sedgewick, and taking the rest of his troops to confront Hooker.

Hooker had crossed the river at a tangle of heavy brush and woods known as the Wilderness. Yet, the move had paid off. His troops [three Corps] were about to break out into open ground, when Lee made contact. And it was at that point that Hooker, usually known for his aggressiveness, made the mistake that would eventually cost him the battle. He froze, and ordered his army into defensive positions, in the Wilderness. And he handed the initiative to Lee.

That night, Lee conferred with his II Corps commander, LTG Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and the commander of his Cavalry Corps, MG JEB Stuart. Stuart reported two facts of interest. First, the Union XIth Corps, on Hooker's right and Lee's left had their flank 'in the air', and unanchored. Second, there was a set of roads through the woods that debauched to the right of the XIth Corps. The plan was discussed, and set. Early on 2 MAY, Jackson, guided by Stuart, took his entire Corps on a forced march up those roads to get to the right of XIth Corps.

Jackson's progress across the front of the Army of the Potomac was noted by various pickets and units [30,000 men can raise a lot of dust, and a fair amount of noise], but despite messages 'up the line', nothing was done. And late on the afternoon of May 2d, Jackson fell on the open flank of a totally unaware XIth Corps. The rout was on. As Jackson drove generally east, Lee attacked from the other end. Hooker was now under attack from two sides. What saved the Army of the Potomac was the lateness of the attack, and the exhaustion of the southern troops. As the Union forces fell back, they began to coalesce around small units that stood and fought. The Confederate momentum slowed. And as it got darker, the attacking units got dispersed, and, occasionally, intermingled with their northern counterparts. And it was at that point that Jackson, riding ahead to reconnoiter, was shot and mortally wounded by his own men, bringing the attack to a confused halt for the night.

Lee resumed the attack the next day, with Stuart leading the flank attack in command of not only his cavalry, but Jackson's Corps as well. For Hooker, it was all over [part of his problem may have stemmed from being hit in the head with a falling porch roof after it was struck by a cannonball]. Hooker retreated over the Rappahannock. Lee then turned, marched back the way he had come, and attacked Sedgewick, who had forced Marye's Heights and was driving to join hooker. Lee handily defeated Sedgewick, forcing him to withdraw. Chancellorsville was over.

For Lee, it was a stupendous victory. Dividing his Army not once, but twice, in the face of a superior enemy, Lee utilized first interior lines, then exterior lines in a flank attack that devastated the Union Army. Once he surrendered the initiative, Hooker never got it back.

But, in a way, Chancellorsville may have contained the seeds of Lee's downfall. Lee became convinced his Army could do anything. That hubris would soon be shot to hell on the third day of Gettysburg. With the loss of Jackson, Lee chose not merely to replace him, but to reorganize his own Army into three Infantry Corps, instead of the two he had used since assuming command. He chose Richard Ewell to command Jackson's Corps, and A.P. Hill to command the new Third Corps. Thus he would go into his next campaign with two thirds of his infantry commanded by men who had never commanded a Corps, and one Corps that was completely new. And to top it off, Lee angered his cavalry commander by choosing Ewell and Hill to command the Corps. Stuart wanted to be promoted to LTG [the normative rank for a Corps commander]. He had creditably handled Jackson's Corps after Jackson fell. He thought he should have gotten the command. Additionally, Stuart already commanded a Corps, the Cavalry Corps, but was still a MG [Stuart would never rise to LTG, although his successor as commander of the Cavalry Corps, Wade Hampton, would]. So Stuart went into the Gettysburg campaign with a chip on his shoulder, and with something to prove [especially after Brandy Station]. We all know how that turned out.

And Hooker? It was Hooker who ordered the Union Cavalry raid on Brandy Station, and Hooker who put the Army of the Potomac north toward, eventually, Gettysburg. But Hooker was relieved of command while the Army marched, and replaced by MG George Gordon Meade, who would be the last commander of the Army of the Potomac.

Hooker was transferred west, to serve under Grant. He won the Battle Above the Clouds, but the antipathy with Grant and Sherman, led to his resignation from the service. And Chancellorsville? As 'Fighting Joe' said, he lost his nerve.
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You can get more with a smile, a handshake and a gun than you can with a smile and a handshake - Al Capone
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