Baltimore's "Sailabration" Honors the War of 1812

Tall ships and U.S. Navy vessels sailed into Baltimore Harbor past Fort McHenry to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812

Square-riggers, schooners, and sleek gray warships from around the world converged on Baltimore the second week of June for the “Star Spangled Sailabration” commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812’s start.

“It’s finally here,” said Jeffrey Buchheit, director of the Baltimore Heritage Area and one of many who helped plan the week of festivities. “We’ve worked four years on this, and all of a sudden it’s here.” Read more »

The Blockade That Failed

Not until the Civil War was about over did the U.S. Navy manage to put a halt to the South’s imports

 

The two outstanding facts concerning the blockade of the southern states by the United States Navy during the Civil War are, one, that it was, lor the first three and a half years, almost totally ineffective, insofar as preventing supplies from reaching the rebels was concerned, and, two, that by the end of 1864, when it did become effective, the war was already over, for all practical purposes.

 
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Anatomy Of A Crisis

Forty years ago the USS Maddox fought the first battle of America’s longest war. How it happened—and even if it happened—are still fiercely debated.

From the combat information center (CIC) of the Destroyer USS Maddox, Commodore John Herrick radioed: “Am being approached by high speed craft with apparent intention of torpedo attack. Intend open fire if necessary.” America claimed the Tonkin Gulf was international water; the North Vietnamese thought otherwise. Read more »

Airpower’s Century

Powered flight was born exactly one hundred years ago. It changed everything, of course—but most of all, it changed how we wage war.

Walter Boyne’s résumé makes for unusual reading. He is the author of 42 books and one of the few people to have had bestsellers on both the fiction and the nonfiction lists of The New York Times. A career Air Force officer who won his wings in 1951, he has flown over 5,000 hours in a score of different aircraft, from a Piper Cub to a B-IB bomber, and he is a command pilot. Boyne retired as a colonel in 1974 after 23 years of service (in 1989 he returned for a brief tour of duty to fly the B-IB).Read more »

Hampton Roads

It is a place of noble harbors, a convergence of strong rivers and a promontory commanding a wind-raked bay; a shoreline enfolding towns older than the Republic and the most modern and formidable naval base on earth; a spot where a four-hour standoff between two very peculiar ships changed the course of warfare forever—and the breeding ground of crabs that people travel across the country to eat. Fred Schultz explains why the fifth annual American Heritage Great American Place Award goes to

Twice wholly destroyed and twice rebuilt, Norfolk is again redefined and in the midst of an ambitious rehabilitation. Read more »

Return To Midway

THE ATOLL WHERE THE TIDE OF THE PACIFIC WAR TURNED IS NOW BOTH A STIRRING
HISTORICAL LANDMARK AND A STUNNING WILD LIFE REFUGE.

As we approached, the pilot came on the 737’s PA systern to announce that he would be swinging around the coral atoll before landing so everyone would get a good first look at our destination, one of the most remote in the Pacific Ocean. A murmur lifted and echoed through the cabin as those on one side and then the other strained to glimpse the wide lagoon, a luminescent aquamarine circle surrounded by the deep blue of the encompassing sea.

 
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The Man Who Won The War For Us

THE NEGLECTED EPIC OF ANDREW JACKSON HIGGINS

Until the National D-day Museum got under way in New Orleans, the name of Andrew Jackson Higgins had largely faded in American memory. Long ago this master boatbuilder and industrialist had been dismissed by his city’s social elite as a crude, hard-drinking outsider lacking Old South manners and French Quarter charm. In the Crescent City there are no schools or streets named for the Nebraska-born Irishman.

 
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Farthest Forward

Tough, nimble, and pound for pound the most heavily
armed ships in the U.S. Navy, PT boats fought in the very
front line of the greatest sea war in history. But even
today hardly anyone understands what they did.

One night in August 1943 PT-105 was drifting on station in the Solomon Islands—specifically, two miles southeast of Vella Lavella, three miles north of Gizo, and fifteen miles west of Kolombangara, all of which were enemy-occupied. As a matter of fact, other than the PT boat lying close on my port quarter and a couple of coastwatchers hiding out in the hills, there was not a friendly of any sort within fifty miles. My legs ached from hours of standing on a hard, constantly moving, sometimes bouncing deck.

 
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The Last Powder Monkey

A TALE OF PERIL, COURAGE, and gross ingratitude on the old China station

 

In the age of sail every fighting ship had its complement of powder monkeys, boys in their early teens or even younger whose duty was to carry bags of gunpowder from the ship’s magazines to her cannon in time of battle. The Navy used powder monkeys for decades, but they disappeared long before the war with Spain, displaced by advances in ordnance and humanitarian objections to exposing children to combat. Read more »

The Forgotten Triumph Of The Paw Paw

Unloved and unlovely, the fragile boats of the “Tinclad Navy” ventured, Lincoln said, “wherever the ground was a little damp,” and made a contribution to the Western war that has never been sufficiently appreciated

In the late summer and autumn of 1864 two brothers, Norman and George Carr, aged twenty-two and twenty-four respectively, left their upstate New York home of Union Springs to join the United States Navy. The motives that sent them may have been complex. Their father, who operated sail- and steamboats on Lake Cayuga, had previously kept them out of military service by paying for substitutes.Read more »