From Across The River And Under Shade Trees

"Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave" -Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

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Location: Texas, United States

Rhode Islander by Birth, Texan by the grace of God.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

USS Monitior Had Rensselaer Ties


At the time it was built during the Civil War, the well-known USS Monitor was a new breed of ship that would signal a turning point in modern-day naval warfare. The novel 120-ton, revolving turret that set the ship apart from the rest was recently retrieved from its 140-year-old resting spot in the Atlantic Ocean 20 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.“Monitor Expedition 2002” is the final phase of a multi-year effort to recover the wreck of this famous Civil War ironclad. The operation is being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Naval Sea Systems Command, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two, and The Mariners’ Museum.The Monitor’s history, in part, is owed to iron manufacturer and steel pioneer John F. Winslow, who was Rensselaer’s fifth president. Winslow, one of the nation’s most dynamic industrialists during the Civil War, was one of the first to see merit in the design of ironclad war vessels. Ships at that time were typically built from wood.Winslow built his reputation in the iron industry by going into business as an iron manufacturer in New Jersey before becoming a partner at Corning, Winslow & Co. (more popularly known as the Albany Iron Works).
The company joined forces with the Rensselaer Iron Works, headed by iron industrialist and Institute Trustee John Griswold, to become the prime contractors for the iron plates of the Monitor.Corning, Winslow & Co. built the deck plates, the hull skirt, and the angle iron for the frame. The Rensselaer Iron Works made the rivets and the bar iron for the pilothouse.In September 1861, Winslow and Griswold convinced President Abraham Lincoln of the potential of the Monitor, designed by Swedish-American engineer, inventor and RPI alumnus John Ericsson, who up until then had met resistance for his revolutionary design.The Monitor was launched from Brooklyn in January 1862. Less than two months later, it faced off with its Confederate rival, the CSS Virginia (a modified version of a steam frigate originally called the USS Merrimack). The battle ended in a draw.The Monitor sank during a storm on New Year’s Eve in 1862. Although short-lived, it became a symbol of modern-day warfare mainly because of its revolving turret that carried two 11-inch cannons. Unlike the Virginia, which had to be steered into position for its guns to take accurate aim, the Monitor’s guns could be aimed simply by adjusting the turret.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

60 Years Gone By and the Fallout Continues

August 6, 1945 marked a change in warfare. It is one of those points in history where everything that came before, what every military had in use became obsolete in one moment. The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hisroshima, Japan. There is no need to go into the details of what happened, it is something that is well documented and abundant at the local librbary, History Channel, and Discovery Channel.

What I want to take a moment to discuss is my view of the fallout that continues to this day. As a native of Lil'Rhody, the only state to still mark V-J Day as a state holiday, I have grown up listening to both sides of the aisle and have been fortunate enough to read my fare share about the Second World War. Today a good number historians, influenced by feel good pshchology and a general America is evil worldview, would have us feel guilty due to the destruction and death the atomic bomb. It was cruel, Japan would have surrendered, we would have invaded the islands of Japan and won out, so why needlessly kill civilians, wasn't Pearl Harbor a military target?? Unfortunately, as the generation that lived and fought through World War II lessens, this "progressive" thinking becomes more pervasive with a weakening defense from the "Greatest Generation." So it must fall to those who understand history and logistics to step up and defend President Truman's decision to drop the bomb.

What needs to be realized is that as horrible as the bomb was in it's death and destruction, there is no disputing that, is that it brought a quick end to the war and probably saved more lives than it took. From a pure military point of view it brought victory with the fewest casualties to U.S. servicemen. From a military point of view, it saved Japanese lives. It brough an unconditional surrender from Japan that also left in place the Emperorship. The United States was gearing up to invade the home islands of the Japanese Empire by beginning to shift forces out of Europe to the Pacific, battle tested veteran units that would need to travel around the globe, be refitted, and brought up to speed on the strengths and weaknesses of a new enemy which was not above comitting suicide if it took more of the enemy to the grave. An invasion of the home islands would result in fighting a well dug in and well supplied enemy on their ground, in towns they grew up in, and that they were willing to defend to the last, not last man, but last man, woman, or child. The ferocity of such fighting would have resulted in casuality projections far greater than the atomic bombs. Logistically, it was the most efficient usage of military power to achieve the desired ends. A few planes and a bomb, cheaper than the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force trying to jointly run an invasion (remember to get all of them to work together is nearly impossible in times of peace, never mind when general's have ego and victory on the line).

The atomic bomb, as destructive and deadly as it was, was the right weapon available at that moment in history to accomplish the ends desired. Whether you think it was needed or not is irrevelant because you have hindsight, in that moment, men made the best descision based on the information they had available at the time they needed to act. For that, I can find no fault.

It was the correct decision at that moment in history. Unfortunately, some would like us to believe otherwise. I pitty them and wonder if they would even be here had some of their ancestors been asked to storm the home islands.