Tag Archives: Memorial Day

AMERICAN FORCES FIGHTING IN RUSSIA: SEPTEMBER 1918 TO JANUARY 1920

memorial day rememberHAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! As usual, Balladeer’s Blog marks the occasion with a look at a neglected aspect of American military history. Spare some thoughts today for the men who perished in this action.

AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES IN RUSSIA – The battles fought by these Americans carried over from the end of World War One into the early stages of the Russian Civil War. The Allied Nations of the First World War were fighting alongside the White (anti-Bolshevik) Russian Forces for a time.

Like any of my fellow World War One geeks I could drone on about it for hours, but I’ll try to keep this brief and on-point. The Red (Communist) Russians had taken Russia out of the war by signing a treaty with Germany. This had left German forces free to reinforce their armies on the Western Front, had jeopardized a large amount of Allied supplies which were already in the Russian port city of Archangel (Arkangelsk in Russian) on the White Sea AND jeopardized the safety of the Czech Legion along the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

memorial day pictureWith the World War still raging, the other Allied Nations prevailed on President Woodrow Wilson to divert some American forces intended for the Western Front to Archangel and beyond, joining a combined army of Brits, Poles and White Russians. The fighting in North Russia dragged on past the end of the global conflict in November of 1918 into June of 1919. The fighting in Eastern Russia dragged on until January of 1920. In other words, if the Americans sent to Russia had instead gone to their original destination of France, their combat operations would have ended on November 11th, rather than continuing for more than a year of further bloodshed and loss of limbs from frostbite. All the more reason to remember the often-neglected troops who served there. 

On July 17th, 1918, American General John J “Black Jack” Pershing ordered 5,000 soldiers drawn from the 339th Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 310th Engineers and assorted other units from the 85th Division to re-train for new battle conditions and head for Archangel. Those Americans became known as the Polar Bear Expedition. Meanwhile, 8,000 American soldiers were sent to Vladivostok, Russia as the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia. Continue reading

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11 MEMORIAL DAY ARTICLES ABOUT NEGLECTED CONFLICTS AND UNITS

mascot sword and gun pic

BALLADEER’S BLOG

With Memorial Day Weekend fast upon us, Balladeer’s Blog has been getting requests for readers’ favorite holiday-themed blog posts from the past. I want to post some new ones, too, so let me first post this item synopsizing items from the past complete with links if you want to read the entire article.

THE TOP FOUR FORGOTTEN CONFLICTS IN U.S. HISTORY – A brief look at 1781-1782, the neglected final year of fighting in the Revolutionary War, plus takes on the Mexican War (1846-1848), the Nicaragua Conflict (1926-1928) and the Philippine War (1899-1902). Click HERE.

AMERICA’S NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE (1798-1801) – Often called a “Quasi-War” because of how few land battles there were and because no formal declaration of war was made, this conflict featured a lot of fascinating action on the high seas. The men who died fighting in it deserve to be remembered just as much as those who died in more high-profile wars. PART ONEPART TWO.

TWENTY COLD WAR ATTACKS ON AIRCRAFT – Throughout the Cold War, soldiers, sailors and pilots faced danger and even death in multiple clashes which were downplayed at the time to avoid an escalation of hostilities. Click HERE.

Oneida Nation flag

Oneida Nation’s First Allies Unit

TOP FOUR FORGOTTEN UNITS IN AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY – A look at Doniphan’s Thousand from the Mexican War, the Oneida Nation’s First Allies Unit from the Revolutionary War, the Yankee Samurai Unit from World War Two and the country’s very first racially integrated army unit, the First Rhode Island Regiment in the Revolutionary War. Click HERE.

THE TEXAS NAVY – A very neglected aspect of the Texas War of Independence from Mexico. Click HERE. Continue reading

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MEDALS OF HONOR FOR THE 1871 KOREAN EXPEDITION

Medal of HonorHAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! As always Balladeer’s Blog marks the event with a few looks at neglected conflicts from America’s past. The servicemen who fought in those actions are just as deserving of being memorialized as those who fought in more familiar wars.  

KOREAN EXPEDITION OF 1871 – A Diplomatic Mission was sent to Korea that year, with the time period’s usual military escort of war ships on such ventures. The U.S. expedition was snubbed on the diplomatic side and then Korean shore batteries opened fire upon the military escort. The Americans launched reprisal raids for a few days then departed, leaving U.S. – Korean relations somewhat cold for years afterward. Medal of Honor Winners:

William F LukesWILLIAM F LUKES

Navy Rank: Landsman 

Citation: June 9th – 10th, 1871 – During the assault on the Han River Forts on Ganghwa Island, Lukes came to the assistance of injured Lieutenant Hugh McKee. The Landsman fought his way through heavy resistance to the fallen McKee’s location and refused to abandon his comrade.

Through swordplay, bayonet charges and hand-to-hand combat William received a severe sword cut to the head, a wound which would cause him to suffer convulsions for the rest of his life from the brain damage. When American reinforcements arrived they found the unconscious Lukes had suffered 18 bayonet wounds in the fighting.   

JOHN ANDREWS Continue reading

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CONCLUSION: AMERICA’S QUASI-NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE (1798-1801)

It’s Memorial Day Weekend! Continuing this holiday weekend’s dose of seasonal posts is this concluding part of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at America’s undeclared naval war with France from 1798 to 1801. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE  . 

Enterprise

MAY ?, 1800: (Some sources place this action in late April) The USS Boston, commanded by “the American Horatio Nelson” himself, Captain George Little, was in the Bight of Leogane, where it fought and sank a force of six French-allied ships in the navy of Hyacinth Rigaud. (Rigaud’s infamy was covered in Part One)

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams recaptured an unidentified vessel which had previously been taken by the French and converted for its navy’s use.

MAY ??, 1800: The Insurgent and the Adams teamed up to liberate an unidentified British privateer ship from the French craft which had captured it.

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams recaptured the Nancy (one of many vessels with that name), a ship previously seized by the French for their own navy.

Mascot sword and pistolMAY ??, 1800: The Adams defeated and captured the French ship Grinder

MAY ??, 1800: A very busy month for the Adams came to an end as the feisty vessel overcame three to one odds to defeat and capture the French ships the Dove, the Renommee and a third ship whose name has not come down to us.   

MAY 31st, 1800: The John Adams (separate vessel from the Adams) recaptured the American brig Olive from the French.  

JUNE 6th, 1800: The Merrimack battled the French vessel L’Hazard in order to free the French ship’s latest capture – the American Ceres.  The Merrimack succeeded in liberating the Ceres. Continue reading

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AMERICA’S QUASI- NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE: 1798-1801

USS ConstellationMemorial Day Weekend is fast upon us with this topical post from Balladeer’s Blog. This one covers some naval actions from America’s undeclared, neither fish nor fowl, quasi-Naval War with France. Often called Stoddert’s War in reference to Benjamin Stoddert, America’s first Secretary of the Navy, this conflict was waged largely in the West Indies.

John Adams

John Adams

President John Adams wanted the infant United States Navy to protect American shipping in the West Indies from French vessels seizing our ships and sailors. The French Revolutionary government had adopted this policy to (in their view) “punish” the U.S. for not declaring war on France’s side in the Wars of the French Revolution.

Thus far America had remained neutral due to divided public opinion on the matter. Some voters felt the U.S. should join the war on the side of France but others felt that the current French Revolutionary government had overthrown, imprisoned and slain virtually all of the French figures who had aided America during our war against England, therefore negating any obligation on our part. (The paranoid French government had even jailed Thomas Paine when he visited the country.)

President John Adams later took great pride in keeping America out of an all-out land war. (Sentiment against France grew so strong that 80,000 men volunteered to serve against her. And don’t forget the rallying cry of “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute!” following the X, Y and Z Affair.) Adams chose instead to act largely on defense by protecting our coastline, safeguarding U.S. shipping and expanding our Navy from three whole vessels (WOW!) to FIFTEEN.

Here are a few of the battles from this virtually unclassifiable conflict:

Stephen Decatur

U.S. Naval hero Stephen Decatur

JULY 7th, 1798: Off the New Jersey Coast, Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr led his 20-cannon Delaware against the 10-cannon French privateer craft La Croyable. The French vessel had just plundered the American merchant ship Alexander Hamilton. After a long chase and running fight La Croyable was seized by the Delaware. The French ship was renamed Retaliation and joined the growing U.S. Navy.

NOVEMBER 20th, 1798: Off Guadeloupe, the Retaliation (commanded now by William Bainbridge) ran afoul of two French vessels: the 40-cannon L’Insurgente and the 44-cannon Volontaire. The French opened fire and soon captured Retaliation, then imprisoned the crew in the hellish Basseterre Prison on St Kitts.   

FEBRUARY 9th, 1799: Nearly fifteen miles off the coast of the island of Nevis, American Captain Thomas “Terrible Tom” Truxton took his kickass nickname and his 36-cannon ship the Constellation into battle with the 40-cannon French vessel L’Insurgente. The battle began shortly after Noon and roughly two and a half hours later the French surrendered.     Continue reading

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TWENTY COLD WAR ATTACKS ON AIRCRAFT

Mascot new lookBalladeer’s Blog’s theme of Top Twenty lists for 2020 continues. With Memorial Day coming up in a few weeks let’s take a look at some servicemembers who died in assorted neglected Cold War hostilities.

APRIL 8th, 1950 – A U.S. Navy Privateer Electronic Intelligence aircraft was shot down by Soviet Union fighter planes over the Baltic Sea. All 10 crew members were either killed or captured by the Soviets with no further information ever becoming available.

NOVEMBER 6th, 1951 – A U.S. Navy Neptune patrol aircraft was fired upon by Soviet fighters off the coast of Siberia. The plane disappeared along with all 10 crew members.

JUNE 13th, 1952 – A U.S. Air Force Superfortress on a reconnaissance mission was reportedly attacked by Soviet fighters over the Sea of Japan and disappeared without a trace along with all 12 crew members.

SuperfortressOCTOBER 7th, 1952 – Another U.S. Air Force Superfortress encountered Soviet fighters off the coast of Japan and was presumed to have been shot down with 8 crewmen losing their lives.

NOVEMBER 29th, 1952 – A U.S. cargo plane was shot down over northeast China. Two crewmen died in the crash and were buried near the craft. The surviving pair – John Downey and Richard Fectau – were captured and imprisoned. Fectau was not returned to the U.S. until 1971 and Downey in 1973.

JANUARY 18th, 1953 – A U.S. Navy Neptune plane was shot down by Chinese anti-aircraft guns over the Formosa Strait off Swatow, China. It ditched, with 2 crew members presumed captured by the Chinese and 5 presumed dead. A U.S. Coast Guard “flying boat” crashed during the search for the downed crew, leaving 4 more men dead.    Continue reading

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CONCLUSION: AMERICA’S QUASI-NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE (1798-1801)

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! Ending this holiday weekend’s dose of seasonal posts is this concluding part of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at America’s undeclared naval war with France from 1798 to 1801. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE  . 

Enterprise

MAY ?, 1800: (Some sources place this action in late April) The USS Boston, commanded by “the American Horatio Nelson” himself, Captain George Little, was in the Bight of Leogane, where it fought and sank a force of six French-allied ships in the navy of Hyacinth Rigaud. (Rigaud’s infamy was covered in Part One)

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams recaptured an unidentified vessel which had previously been taken by the French and converted for its navy’s use.

MAY ??, 1800: The Insurgent and the Adams teamed up to liberate an unidentified British privateer ship from the French craft which had captured it.

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams recaptured the Nancy (one of many vessels with that name), a ship previously seized by the French for their own navy.

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams defeated and captured the French ship Grinder

MAY ??, 1800: A very busy month for the Adams came to an end as the feisty vessel overcame three to one odds to defeat and capture the French ships the Dove, the Renommee and a third ship whose name has not come down to us.   

MAY 31st, 1800: The John Adams (separate vessel from the Adams) recaptured the American brig Olive from the French.  

JUNE 6th, 1800: The Merrimack battled the French vessel L’Hazard in order to free the French ship’s latest capture – the American Ceres.  The Merrimack succeeded in liberating the Ceres. Continue reading

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AMERICA’S QUASI- NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE: 1798-1801

USS ConstellationMemorial Day Weekend rolls along with another topical post from Balladeer’s Blog. This one covers some naval actions from America’s undeclared, neither fish nor fowl, quasi-Naval War with France. Often called Stoddert’s War in reference to Benjamin Stoddert, America’s first Secretary of the Navy, this conflict was waged largely in the West Indies.

John Adams

John Adams

President John Adams wanted the infant United States Navy to protect American shipping in the West Indies from French vessels seizing our ships and sailors. The French Revolutionary government had adopted this policy to (in their view) “punish” the U.S. for not declaring war on France’s side in the Wars of the French Revolution.

Thus far America had remained neutral due to divided public opinion on the matter. Some voters felt the U.S. should join the war on the side of France but others felt that the current French Revolutionary government had overthrown, imprisoned and slain virtually all of the French figures who had aided America during our war against England, therefore negating any obligation on our part. (The paranoid French government had even jailed Thomas Paine when he visited the country.)

President John Adams later took great pride in keeping America out of an all-out land war. (Sentiment against France grew so strong that 80,000 men volunteered to serve against her. And don’t forget the rallying cry of “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute!” following the X, Y and Z Affair.) Adams chose instead to act largely on defense by protecting our coastline, safeguarding U.S. shipping and expanding our Navy from three whole vessels (WOW!) to FIFTEEN.

Here are a few of the battles from this virtually unclassifiable conflict:

Stephen Decatur

U.S. Naval hero Stephen Decatur

JULY 7th, 1798: Off the New Jersey Coast, Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr led his 20-cannon Delaware against the 10-cannon French privateer craft La Croyable. The French vessel had just plundered the American merchant ship Alexander Hamilton. After a long chase and running fight La Croyable was seized by the Delaware. The French ship was renamed Retaliation and joined the growing U.S. Navy.

NOVEMBER 20th, 1798: Off Guadeloupe, the Retaliation (commanded now by William Bainbridge) ran afoul of two French vessels: the 40-cannon L’Insurgente and the 44-cannon Volontaire. The French opened fire and soon captured Retaliation, then imprisoned the crew in the hellish Basseterre Prison on St Kitts.   

FEBRUARY 9th, 1799: Nearly fifteen miles off the coast of the island of Nevis, American Captain Thomas “Terrible Tom” Truxton took his kickass nickname and his 36-cannon ship the Constellation into battle with the 40-cannon French vessel L’Insurgente. The battle began shortly after Noon and roughly two and a half hours later the French surrendered.     Continue reading

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FOUR NEGLECTED MILITARY UNITS FROM AMERICAN WARS

As part of this Memorial Day weekend Balladeer’s Blog offers an examination of neglected areas of United States military history.

Oneida Nation's First Allies Unit

Oneida Nation’s First Allies Unit

4. THE ONEIDA NATION’S FIRST ALLIES UNIT 

Conflict: Revolutionary War

Comment: The Oneida Nation of Native Americans were America’s first allies. During the Revolutionary War most Native American tribes sided with the British but the Oneida Nation’s Chief Shenendoah (sic), led his people to ally themselves with the emerging United States instead. The Oneida alliance with the U.S. therefore PREDATED France’s recognition of an independent America.

The Oneida warriors fought alongside American forces throughout upstate New York, most notably at the Battles of Oriskany and Saratoga. They also provided desperately needed food and medical supplies for the Continental Army during the terrible winter at Valley Forge. Two treaties were signed and honored to this very day regarding Oneida sovereignty, retention of their land and a yearly ceremonial delivery of bolts of cloth to the Oneida leaders. That ceremony continues once a  year.    Continue reading

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EVEN MORE MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS FROM THE PHILIPPINE WAR (1899-1902)

With the Memorial Day Weekend coming up, here’s another seasonal post looking at Medal of Honor Winners in the overlooked Philippine War from 1899-1902.

Medal of Honor picFRANK C HIGH

Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Private First Class 

Citation: May 16th, 1899. Near San Ysidro in the Philippines. PFC High was yet another member of the legendary unit Young’s Scouts to receive a Medal of Honor during the Philippine War.

Along with 21 other members of Young’s Scouts, Frank charged across a bridge that the Filipino forces had set fire to. The 22 men rushed under heavy fire to cross the burning bridge before it collapsed. In one of those “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” moments the soldiers routed roughly 600 Filipinos from their entrenched position.

George W MathewsGEORGE W MATHEWS

Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Captain

Citation: October 29th, 1899. Near Labo, Luzon. Captain Mathews, an Assistant Surgeon, was tending to officers and wounded of his unit when he came under severe fire from the enemy. Grabbing a carbine he returned fire and drove off the enemy soldiers attacking the patients under his care.

I like to think he shouted “Say hello to my little friend Hippocrates,” but I’m kind of weird.

WILLIAM REMSBURG GROVE

Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel Continue reading

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