US Military Veterans

The Battle of Monmouth ~ June 28th 1778

300px-BattleofMonmouthOn June 28, 1778, approximately 11,000 troops of the Continental Army (which included members of the New Jersey & Pennsylvania Militias) led by General George Washington & Major General Charles Lee, faced off against 14,500 British regulars led by Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, Major General Earl Cornwallis and Major General Knyphausen at Monmouth Courthouse in New Jersey.

Although the Americans held the field and claimed victory, it is generally regarded as a draw, since the British were successful at defending their baggage train. This would be the last battle fought between the two MAIN armies as well as the longest. The remaining battles of the Revolutionary War would be fought by secondary forces in the southern states (colonies).

The Americans loved harassing the British by burning bridges, cutting down trees across roads & muddying wells & streams thus slowing down the march of the Redcoats and especially the Hessian troops who were carrying heavy backpacks & sweating profusely in the sweltering 98 degree June heat. Many of them fell from heat exhaustion and many more deserted. Indeed, the British only advanced about 40 miles a week!

As was his habit to dither & complain, General Lee continued advising Washington that he shouldn’t commit the American Army against British Regulars. However; in spite of Lee & his other generals, Washington ignored Lee’s advice because he knew that his troops are now trained and better equipped than they had been before and that he could not afford losing a major engagement at that point in the war. Yet; Washington also knew that the British would be vulnerable to attack since their army was now spread out widely across the state as he pursued them into New Jersey once leaving Valley Forge.

*Note: Washington & his army had spent the previous winter (1777/1778) in considerably deplorable conditions at Valley Forge, PA. Early on there was a lack of food and supplies. The Americans were suffering from starvation as well as influenza, dysentery, typhoid and typhus which killed two-thirds of the nearly 2,000 soldiers who died but the situation eventually improved with the proper issue of equipment and food rations. Once Washington put Prussian, Baron von Steuben in charge of training the American Regiments, morale improved and the Americans became eager to engage the British in the Spring.

The British left Philadelphia on 18th June 1778 and began the laborious march to the North-East into New Jersey. General Washington marched east from Valley Forge into New Jersey, determined to intercept the British. The two armies came face to face at Monmouth Courthouse, NJ.

General Washington moved his army forward with advanced force of some 4,000 troops which was designated to attack the marching British Army and cut it in half. He offered the command of this assault to Major General Charles Lee who eventually agreed to take charge once the troop force was increased to 5,000 men.  Lee had the task of attacking the British column in the flank and delaying it so that the main American army could come up and join the battle.NJ map Battle

The New Jersey militia warned that the British army was on the move so Washington ordered Lee to attack and bring the British withdrawal to a halt until he could bring up the main strength of the American army along the Monmouth Road. Lee lay to the west of the Middletown road and should have delivered a coordinated attack on the slow moving column. Properly executed, Lee could have halted the British withdrawal to the north east and enabled the main American army under Washington to attack from the rear.

However; history records that Lee gave no proper orders to his commanders and permitted them to commit their troops as they saw fit. Various skirmishes with small parties of British troops took place as Lee’s force moved tentatively forward towards the Middletown Road. Confused fighting broke out with Clinton’s rearguard, largely composed of British regiments. Finally, Lee ordered his troops to into a cowardly retreat on the main American army. As he withdrew down the road, Clinton launched his troops in pursuit.

General Washington, bringing the main American army along the Monmouth road, encountered, not the rear of the British column, but Lee’s regiments, retreating in considerable disorder with the British advancing behind them.

*Memorably this is the one occasion Washington is said to have sworn. He deployed a consignment of oaths directed at Lee, to the admiration of those listening, before ordering Lee to the rear. Washington then galloped forward and began the task of rallying Lee’s disordered troops.

Washington ordered General Wayne, with the last of Lee’s regiments, Stewart’s 13th Pennsylvania and Ramsay’s 3rd Maryland, to form to the North of the road and hold the British advance. These regiments resisted strongly but were driven back by the British 16th Light Dragoons. Their stand gave Washington the time to form the rest of the American army, with artillery on Comb’s Hill to the South of the road. Ferocious fighting took place as the British attempted to drive back the American line. This was the first test of Steuben’s re-trained American Continental Foot regiments and they withstood the trial well. As the evening wore on, the British troops fell back, and returned to their journey north, leaving the Americans on the field. ~ Dorian F. Howard© 2016

Illustration depicting American widow Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley (1754 - 1832), nicknamed 'Molly Pitcher,' stoking a cannon for the US Pennsylvania artillery in the Battle of Monmouth, during the American Revolutionary War, Freehold, New Jersey, June 1778. She replaced her fallen husband John Hays as a cannon loader. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)

The Battle of Monmouth is often remembered for the legend of “Molly Pitcher.” While many of the details regarding “Molly Pitcher” have been embellished or are in dispute, the story refers to a woman who brought water to American artillery during the battle. This water was intended for swabbing the guns during the reloading process as well as cooling the hot gun crew. In one version of the story she replaced her husband on a gun crew when he fell wounded or from heat stroke. The Molly Pitcher of Monmouth, New Jersey is generally identified Mary Ludwig Hayes. 

 

 

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OPERATION OVERLORD and OPERATION NEPTUNE D-DAY JUNE 6, 1944

This year, June 6, 2017 marks the 73rd Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. WWII’s D-Day.Operation Overlord 1944 Joint Forces Pic

Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the Allies created the “Combined Chiefs of Staff” (CCS) comprising of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff and the British Chiefs of Staff. Their function was to assist and advise U.S. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill on the direction and conduct of the war. The CCS confirmed a previous policy of “Germany First” and, from March 1942, their planning group began work on an outline plan for a full-scale invasion of Europe. They initially hoped to invade Europe in 1943 but the realities of insufficient materials and manpower, and the demands of other operations agreed upon, delayed this effort until 1944 – this despite persistent agitation from Russian Dictator, Stalin to open a second front to relieve pressure in the East.

When America joined the war on the side of Britain in 1941, the two made plans to retake France from the Germans. The situation looked bleak. Britain was running out of food, Western Europe was under the Nazi heel, and the Soviet Union was near collapse. The Russians were begging for an immediate second front to stop the Germans. It was clear that an U.S. invasion of Germany itself was necessary to overthrow Hitler.

Operation Overlord, also known as the Normandy Invasion or simply D-Day, was the code name for the Allied invasion of northern Europe in World War II. It began with the landings on the beaches of Normandy in northwestern France on June 6, 1944, and accomplished the largest amphibious invasion in the history of mankind, using 200,000 men, 9,000 planes, and over 5,000 ships.

Operation Neptune was the name given to the Naval Armada of allied ships & the allied Air Corps involved. On the 450px-Into_the_Jaws_of_Death_23-0455M_editwhole, the naval fleet was composed of five forces, one for each beach. (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno & Sword) Utah & Omaha beaches were invaded by American Forces. The other three by British, Canadian & a free French Battalion. Eight to sixteen distinct convoys composed the five principal convoys. These forces represented more than 5300 ships of all types plus the 4000 relay boats between the shore and the ships. During the landing, 3460 heavy bombers and 1650 light bombers dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on the Normandy coast, targeting the batteries and the fortifications of the German’s Atlantic Wall. The 82nd and 101st American airborne divisions had been parachuted in hours preceding the amphibian offensive, in the western sector of the allied invasion, West and South-west of Utah Beach, located in the Cotentin peninsula. Once on the ground, the Americans of the 82nd and 101st got under way immediately towards their objectives. Despite an extremely high number of losses (50% in the only night of June 6, 1944), the American parachutists of the 82nd and 101st Airborne achieved a great number of their missions.

Years in the planning~ the Battle of Normandy was fought during World War II in the summer of 1944, between the Allied nations and German forces occupying Western Europe. Seventy years later, the Normandy Invasion, or D-Day, remains dday_mapthe largest seaborne invasion in history, involving nearly three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in occupied France. Twelve Allied nations provided fighting units that participated in the invasion, including Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  The American, British, and Canadian troops were under the command of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and crossed the English Channel on June 6, 1944, landing on six beaches along sixty miles of the Normandy coast. Their intention was to drive German forces east and out of France while Russian forces in Eastern Europe slowly pushed west. The heaviest fighting occurred at Omaha Beach, where perhaps as many as 3,000 American men were killed or wounded. By contrast, fewer than 200 casualties (out of 23,000 soldiers engaged) were suffered at Utah, the next beach over.

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The assault phase, or the establishment of a secure foothold, was known as Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune began on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and ended on June 30, when the Allies had finally established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine on August 19, 1944.

The battle began months before the invasion, when Allied bombers began to pound the Normandy coast and farther south, to destroy transportation links, and disrupt the German army’s build-up of their military strength. More than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over Normandy in advance of the invasion. Six parachute regiments, with more than 13,000 men, also went ahead to cut railroad lines, blow up bridges, and seize landing fields. Gliders also brought in men, light artillery, jeeps, and small tanks. ~ D. F. Howard© June 1, 2014

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Portion of the American Cemetery in Normandy, France.

Death Tolls: Germany had 320,000 deaths, followed by the United States with 135,000, then the United Kingdom, Canada, and France where the last three all with less than 65,000.

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The OVERLORD ARCH located at the National D-DAY Memorial in Bedford, Virginia USA.

 Courtesy of Wikipedia. The National D-Day Memorial is a war memorial located in Bedford, Virginia. It serves as the national memorial for American D-Day veterans. However, its scope is international in that it states, “In Tribute to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of Allied Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944” and commends all Allied Armed Forces during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 during World War II.[1]   The memorial, bordering the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia, is an area comprising 88 acres (360,000 m2) that overlooks the town of Bedford. It officially opened on June 6, 2001 with 15,000 people present, one of whom was then-President George W. Bush.[2] About 70,000 people have visited the memorial each year. Of those, more than half are from outside of Virginia. Bedford was selected for the National D-Day memorial because the town suffered the greatest per capita loss of life during the invasion of any town in the country.[3]