A Rediscovered History That Will Become Essential Reading for Civil War Studies
The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, 1861–65, is a comprehensive overview and analysis of the U.S. Army’s field artillery service in the Civil War’s principal battles, written by John C. Tidball, a distinguished artilleryman of the era. The overview, which appeared in the Journal of the Military Service Institution from 1891 to 1893, and nearly impossible to find today, examines the Army of the Potomac, including the battles of Fair Oaks, Gaines’s Mill, Mechanicsville, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg; the Army of the Tennessee, including the battles of Stones River and Chickamauga, and the Army of the Ohio’s battle of Shiloh. Tidball, a decorated Civil War veteran and superintendent of artillery instruction for the army, expertly presents the war through an artilleryman’s eyes in explaining the organization, equipping, and manning of the artillery service. His analysis highlights how the improper use of artillery, tying batteries down to relatively small infantry commands that diluted their firepower, seriously undermined the army’s effectiveness until reforms produced independent artillery commands that could properly mass artillery fire in battle.
The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, edited by historian Lawrence M. Kaplan and presented here in one volume for the first time, includes additional material from an unpublished paper Tidball wrote in 1905 which contains further insights into the artillery service, as well as a general overview of the Petersburg campaign. A major new discovery in Civil War scholarship, The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion contains essential information that will change earlier historical interpretations of key battles and will be essential reading for all those interested in the war or contemplating writing about it.
The Catapult: A History
Tracey Rihll Westholme Publishing, 2007 Library of Congress U875.R54 2007 | Dewey Decimal 623.441
A Major Contribution to the History of Technology and Ancient Warfare
The most recognized military device of ancient times and the source of continued fascination and popular appeal, the catapult represented a major shift in the conduct of warfare. The catapult which literally means a device to “hurl [an object] across” was originally a sort of crossbow invented at the beginning of the fourth century B.C. in Syrakuse. Bows soon grew to the length of a modern bus, and in due course a completely new and better power source was invented. Instead of compound bows made of stretched sinew and compressed horn, the energy used to launch an object was stored in twisted ropes made of animal sinews: the torsion catapult had arrived. The torsion catapult quickly became the chief weapon of ancient arsenals and gave armies for the first time a weapon that could strike enemies at a distance with devastating effect, including shooting to and from ships, battering fortifications, and sending projectiles over walls. Catapults of all sizes became part of the regular equipment of the Roman army, and were used for centuries across the length and breadth of the empire to seize territory, and to defend it.
In The Catapult: A History, an authority on this device, historian Tracey Rihll, uses ancient literary sources and the latest archaeological findings to tell the story of this first machine of war. Dispelling any notion that the catapult was precision engineered in the modern sense, the author explains how a robust formulaic design allowed a variety of machines and missiles to be used for particular battlefield conditions or military tasks. Also included are details of the author’s intriguing discovery that there were little personal catapults that were used like rifles. Although the catapult was displaced by the introduction of gunpowder and cannon, this device marks the beginning of mechanized warfare, the hallmark of modern fighting. Complete with line drawings and photographs, The Catapult is a major contribution to the history of technology and conflict.
First published in 1853, Cavalry: Its History and Tactics had a major impact on military theorists and officers for decades—it was reprinted as a manual during the American Civil War—and its influence on European cavalry performance can be traced into World War I. It is an intelligent work which discusses the history and development of cavalry over the ages, advocates a program of reform for Britain’s horsed troops, and covers many aspects of equipment, training, drill, organization, formation, and battlefield tactics. The author, an experienced and gifted cavalryman, first served in the Austrian army, then joined the British army’s 15th Hussars in 1839, fought in India, and became the regimental riding master. Captain Nolan’s 1852 tour of European armies, wide reading in many languages, and service in Europe and India makes Cavalry an extraordinary statement on mid-nineteenth-century theory and practice.
As historian Jon Coulston explains in his introduction, Nolan was writing at the cusp of technological change, drawing upon the experiences of the Napoleonic Wars, continental suppression of the 1848 Revolutions, and Britain’s wars in India, but with an eye to firepower developments on the eve of the Crimean War. In 1854, at the Battle of Balaklava, Nolan rode with the written order which unleashed the Charge of the Light Brigade, an action in which he lost his life. Presented here as the first modern reprint, complete with a new introduction and further reading, Nolan’s Cavalry remains a hallmark of military history.
"Spendidly enthusiastic. . . . Soar's book is indispensable."—Bernard Cornwell
"A fascinating study of a forgotten weapon. . . . For centuries the longbow dominated battle, affecting the fates of nations"—Wall Street Journal
"Bowyers, bowhunters, target archers and students of archery history should all find cause for celebration with Hugh Soar's concise but authoritative text." —Traditional Bowhunter
On a clear July morning in 1346, a small force approached the walls of Caen for battle. The attackers rode to the field on horseback, banners and pennants fluttering in the light breeze. Behind them marched bowmen in tightly ranked units. At the sound of a crisp battle horn, they halted. A twinge of apprehension rippled through the thousands of Norman defenders as they looked down at the opposing army, for precision archery formation had long since disappeared as a military concept in medieval France. Here was not the expected rabble of unrated bucolics cowed by the might of France; confronting them was a quietly determined group of trained soldiers armed not with the familiar arbalest but with a new and strange weapon of great length. The defenders of Caen were about to meet the English war bow and its deadly battle shaft. For the next 100 years, this weapon, the "crooked stick," would command continental battlefields, etching its fearsome reputation at Crécy, Poitiers, Agincourt, and Verneuil, while establishing England as an international power for the first time.
Although the longbow is best known for its deployment during the Hundred Years' War, its origins lie with ancient Saxon seafighters and Welsh craftsmen, while today the bow is a vibrant part of the traditional archery scene. In The Crooked Stick: A History of the Longbow, historian Hugh D. H. Soar pulls together all of these strings, presenting the engaging story of this most charismatic standoff weapon. After a careful consideration of Neolithic bows and arrows, the author describes the bow's use in the medieval hunt and its associated customs. The longbow made its deepest mark in warfare, however, and the author follows the weapon's development and tactical deployment from the hand-bow of William the Conqueror's campaigns to the continental set-piece battles between England and France. Although soldiers reluctantly gave up the longbow for firearms, its recreational use became immensely popular, particularly during the Regency and Victorian periods. In the twentieth century it appeared as if the longbow would disappear into the fog of legend, but a new interest in traditional craft and expertise gained hold, and the pleasure of using this ancient instrument is now firmly part of archery around the world.
Through a remarkable command of manuscript and printed sources and a judicious use of material evidence, including his own important collection of rare longbows, Hugh Soar establishes the deep connections of this bow to England, Scotland, and Wales. Figures in the past like William Wallace, Edward III, and Henry V appear alongside detailed descriptions of bows, strings, arrows, and arrowheads, while the rise of institutions and craftsmen devoted to the longbow are presented to show how knowledge of this weapon was carried forward across the centuries. Today, those in the sport of archery and military historians will find that The Crooked Stick will enhance their own interests in a weapon of legendary status.
In addition to the illustrated text, the book contains appendices detailing the history and design of bracers, tabs and tips, quivers, and arrowheads associated with the longbow.
Engineering the Revolution documents the forging of a new relationship between technology and politics in Revolutionary France, and the inauguration of a distinctively modern form of the “technological life.” Here, Ken Alder rewrites the history of the eighteenth century as the total history of one particular artifact—the gun—by offering a novel and historical account of how material artifacts emerge as the outcome of political struggle. By expanding the “political” to include conflict over material objects, this volume rethinks the nature of engineering rationality, the origins of mass production, the rise of meritocracy, and our interpretation of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
The authors assess alternatives for a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) across a broad set of potential characteristics and situations. They use the current Minuteman III as a baseline to develop a framework to characterize alternative classes of ICBMs, assess the survivability and effectiveness of possible alternatives, and weigh those alternatives against their cost.
A Leading Expert on Traditional Archery Offers Insight Into How the Longbow Was Drawn from Medieval Sources to Modern Recreations
“Soar’s book [The Crooked Stick] is indispensible.”—Bernard Cornwell, New York Times bestselling author
Relying on more than fifty years’ experience in archery, historian Hugh D. H. Soar reflects on how the longbow was drawn and shot across the centuries through examining the design of the bow and early literature about the bow, combined with his and his colleagues’ applied knowledge using replica bows. No complete medieval longbow has survived, but those found aboard the Tudor warship Mary Rose provide the best archaeological evidence to the possible construction of the medieval bow. Contemporary treatises written about the proper manner of shooting the bow, together with the resurgence in interest and construction of replica bows beginning in the late sixteenth century that form part of the author’s collection provide the basis for this work. How to Shoot the Longbow: A Guide from Historical and Applied Sources is a fascinating and practical look at the use of a legendary invention.
This report examines the implications of the proliferation of hypersonic missiles and possible measures to hinder it. This report first explores some of the potential strategic implications of the proliferation of hypersonic missile technology beyond the three major powers, the United States, Russia, and China. It then examines the process of such proliferation. And finally, it discusses possible means for hindering such proliferation.
The Untold Story of the Industrial Revolution and the American Victory in the War for Independence
Benjamin Franklin was serious when he suggested the colonists arm themselves with the longbow. The American colonies were not logistically prepared for the revolution and this became painfully obvious in war’s first years. Trade networks were destroyed, inflation undermined the economy, and American artisans could not produce or repair enough weapons to keep the Continental Army in the field. The Continental Congress responded to this crisis by mobilizing the nation’s manufacturing sector for war. With information obtained from Europe through both commercial exchange and French military networks, Congress became familiar with the latest manufacturing techniques and processes of the nascent European industrial revolution. They therefore initiated an innovative program of munitions manufacturing under the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores. The department gathered craftsmen and workers into three national arsenals where they were trained for the large-scale production of weapons. The department also engaged private manufacturers, providing them with materials and worker training, and instituting a program of inspecting their finished products.
As historian Robert F. Smith relates in Manufacturing Independence: Industrial Innovation in the American Revolution, the colonies were able to provide their military with the arms it needed to fight, survive, and outlast the enemy—supplying weapons for the victory at Saratoga, rearming their armies in the South on three different occasions, and providing munitions to sustain the siege at Yorktown. But this manufacturing system not only successfully supported the Continental Army, it also demonstrated new production ideas to the nation. Through this system, the government went on to promote domestic manufacturing after the war, becoming a model for how the nation could produce goods for its own needs. The War for Independence was not just a political revolution, it was an integral part of the Industrial Revolution in America.
A General History of China’s Four Thousand Years of Military Innovation and Expansion
The twenty-first century has been labeled the “Pacific Century,” both in terms of economics as well as military affairs. While South Korea and Japan have stagnated in these aspects, the growth of China since 1980 is unprecedented in modern history. While its economic achievements are both well known and studied, the rapid development of its military is not. In A Military History of China: From the First Recorded Battle to the Twenty-First Century, historian David Richard Petriello provides the first English language account of China’s martial history. China’s military prowess extends across the centuries, and includes the invention or first use of gunpowder, landmines, rocket launchers, armored cavalry, repeating crossbows, multistage rockets, and chemical weapons—in many cases, long before the West.
Illustrated with more than one hundred maps and figures, the book traces the general military history of China from the Neolithic Age to the present day. Particular attention is paid to specific battles, military thinkers, the impact of geography on warfare in China, and the role played by technology. Likewise, the work examines the underlying philosophy of why China goes to war. Because China’s military weakness over the past two centuries compared to the West has given a false sense of China’s potential, a thorough knowledge of the men, battles, tactics, geography, strategies, philosophy, and experiences of war throughout Chinese history are vital to prepare students, scholars, soldiers, and politicians for the return of China as a major innovative and global military power.
Robert M. Neer Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress UG447.65.N44 2013 | Dewey Decimal 355.8245
Napalm was invented on Valentine’s Day 1942 at a secret Harvard war research laboratory. It created an inferno that killed over 87,500 people in Tokyo—more than died in the atomic explosions at Hiroshima or Nagasaki—and went on to incinerate 64 Japanese cities. The Bomb got the press, but napalm did the work. Robert Neer offers the first history.
Operation Valhalla collects eighteen texts by German media theorist Friedrich Kittler on the close connections between war and media technology. In these essays, public lectures, interviews, literary analyses, and autobiographical musings, Kittler outlines how war has been a central driver of media's evolution, from Prussia's wars against Napoleon to the so-called War on Terror. Covering an eclectic array of topics, he charts the intertwined military and theatrical histories of the searchlight and the stage lamp, traces the microprocessor's genealogy back to the tank, shows how rapid-fire guns brought about new standards for optics and acoustics, and reads Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow to upset established claims about the relationship between war, technology, and history in the twentieth century. Throughout, Operation Valhalla foregrounds the outsized role of war in media history as well as Kittler's importance as a daring and original thinker.
From Scouts to Balloon-busters, the Emergence of Air-to-Air Combat in World War I
When World War I began in August 1914, the airplane had already proven its worth as an intelligence gathering “eye-in-the-sky.” These scouting aircraft soon became indispensable to armies on both sides, and the attempt to drive enemy planes away began in earnest. Local air superiority was incorporated into battlefield strategy, and the use of aircraft to conduct offensive operations would change warfare as dramatically as the first firearms 300 years before. By the end of 1915, the basic formula of the armed scout settled on a single-seater with a machine gun synchronized to fire through its propeller blades. This heavily armed aircraft became the first true fighter plane whose primary function was to destroy enemy aircraft, whether scouts, balloons, bombers, or other fighters. A new glamorized “knight of the air” was born: the ace, a fighter pilot who brought down five or more opponents. From 1916 on, as the combatants relied on airplanes more, flying tactics and strategy—including mass formations—were developed for what would become a deadly struggle for complete air superiority. By 1918, the final year of the war, air battles could be as sprawling as those on the ground.
In The Origin of the Fighter Aircraft, historian Jon Guttman tells the engrossing story of how one of the most amazing inventions became a integral component of warfare. Balancing technical description, personalities, and battle accounts, the author demonstrates that by the end of World War I most of the fundamentals for modern aerial combat had been established.
An attacker's missile-borne countermeasures to ballistic missile defenses are known as penetration aids, or penaids. To support efforts to prevent the proliferation of penaid-related items, this research recommends controls on potential exports according to the structure of the international Missile Technology Control Regime.
At the height of the race to build an atomic bomb, an indoor tennis court in one of the Midwest’s most affluent residential neighborhoods became a secret Manhattan Project laboratory. Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project's Secret Chemistry Work in Dayton, Ohio presents the intriguing story of how this most unlikely site in Dayton, Ohio, became one of the most classified portions of the Manhattan Project.
Seized by the War Department in 1944 for the bomb project, the Runnymede Playhouse was transformed into a polonium processing facility, providing a critical radioactive ingredient for the bomb initiator—the mechanism that triggered a chain reaction. With the help of a Soviet spy working undercover at the site, it was also key to the Soviet Union’s atomic bomb program.
The work was directed by industrial chemist Charles Allen Thomas who had been chosen by J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves to coordinate Manhattan Project chemistry and metallurgy. As one of the nation’s first science administrators, Thomas was responsible for choreographing the plutonium work at Los Alamos and the Project’s key laboratories. The elegant glass-roofed building belonged to his wife’s family.
Weaving Manhattan Project history with the life and work of the scientist, industrial leader and singing-showman Thomas, Polonium in the Playhouse offers a fascinating look at the vast and complicated program that changed world history and introduces the men and women who raced against time to build the initiator for the bomb.
The Civil War-Era Invention That Changed How Wars Are Fought
Historians often call the American Civil War the first modern war, pointing to the use of observation balloons, the telegraph, trains, mines, ironclad ships, and other innovations. Although recent scholarship has challenged some of these “firsts,” the war did witness the introduction of the first repeating rifles. No other innovation of the turbulent 1860s would have a greater effect on the future of warfare. In A Revolution in Arms: A History of the First Repeating Rifles, historian Joseph G. Bilby unfolds the fascinating story of how two New England inventors, Benjamin Henry and Christopher Spencer, each combined generations of cartridge and rifle technology to develop reliable repeating rifles. In a stroke, the Henry rifle and Spencer rifle and carbine changed warfare forever, accelerating the abandonment of the formal battle line tactics of previous generations and when properly applied, repeating arms could alter the course of a battle. Although slow to enter service, the repeating rifle soon became a sought after weapon by both Union and Confederate troops. Oliver Winchester purchased the rights to the Henry and transformed it into “the gun that won the West.” The Spencer, the most famous of all Civil War small arms, was the weapon of choice for Federal cavalrymen. The revolutionary technology represented by repeating arms used in the American Civil War, including self-contained metallic cartridges, large capacity magazines, and innovative cartridge feeding systems, was copied or adapted by arms manufacturers around the world, and these features remain with us today.
Scientists at War
Sarah Bridger Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress Q125.B728 2015 | Dewey Decimal 174.96234
Sarah Bridger examines the ethical debates that tested the U.S. scientific community during the Cold War, and scientists’ contributions to military technologies and strategic policymaking, from the dawning atomic age through the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) in the 1980s, which sparked cross-generational opposition among scientists.
A Complete Recreation of the Deadliest Medieval Arm
Dominating medieval battlefields for more than two centuries but requiring long and arduous practice to command, the English war bow and its battle shaft are the symbols of the rise of British power in Europe. Despite being crafted for hundreds of years and wielded by generations of archers, no example of the war bow—the military version of the longbow—exists, outside of a single broken limb. Now for the first time, expert craftsmen use all available evidence including applied archaeology to unlock the secrets of the English war bow. Historian Hugh D. H. Soar is joined by Mark Stretton, master blacksmith, and Joseph Gibbs, bowyer, in order to demonstrate how a war bow and its associated arrow heads and shafts may have been constructed and used. In addition to showing the complete manufacture of a bow from tree selection to stringing and how specialized arrowheads were forged and attached to shafts, Secrets of the English War Bow provides information on the actual performance of the war bow, including the bow's effectiveness against various materials and, for the first time, its use against moving targets, since bows were often drawn against mounted soldiers. Armed with this new information, Soar provides an analysis of both successes and failures of the war bow in several important battles. Illustrated in color and black and white, Secrets of the English War Bow provides an invaluable service for those interested in medieval military history, archery, and technology.
This is the first attempt to understand the full scope of the USSR’s offensive biological weapons research, from inception in the 1920s. Gorbachev tried to end the program, but the U.S. and U.K. never obtained clear evidence that he succeeded, raising the question whether the means for waging biological warfare could be present in Russia today.
From Spears and Blowpipe Darts to the Ultimate Human-Powered Projectile
The arrow, essentially a specialized spear, is among the most ancient human inventions and can be found in cultures throughout the world. The need to launch a projectile farther and with greater accuracy than is possible with the human arm gave rise to a variety of solutions. Spearthrowers which extend the length of the user’s arm and therefore transfer greater power to the projectile were developed far back in prehistory, and both the American Indian atlatl and the Australian woomera are examples of this technology. Blowpipes, too, are recorded in various cultures and represent another ancient technology. It was soon discovered that a stringed bow could launch a small spearlike projectile we now know as the arrow, and this combination became the dominant method for shooting projectiles for tens of thousands of years. A wonderfully simple device, the arrow and bow revolutionized both hunting and warfare, not only because of the speed, force, and accuracy that could be achieved, but by the fact that the arrow makes almost no sound as it flies toward its target, providing an essential element of surprise.
In Straight and True: A Select History of the Arrow, Hugh D. H. Soar describes the transition from hand-thrown spear to bow-launched arrow and then follows the arrow’s developments in cultures around the world and across time. The book describes arrows found in Neolithic sites; those used by North and South American Indians—including a detailed discussion of poison-tipped arrows; arrows used in China, Japan, and Mongolia; and finally the arrow in Europe, where it was successfully paired with the longbow during the Middle Ages. After discussing the development of the arrow for sport and recreation, the author completes his survey with the changes in technology introduced during the twentieth century though the use of the alloy of aluminum with other lightweight metals as well as synthetic materials to construct parts of the arrow. Relying on his considerable knowledge accumulated through decades of research, the author provides the reader with an appreciation for a humble device that, coupled with the bow, changed the history of the world.
Now that it has become so commonplace, we rarely blink an eye at camera footage framed by the crosshairs of a sniper’s gun or from the perspective of a descending smart bomb. But how did this weaponized gaze become the norm for depicting war, and how has it influenced public perceptions?
Through the Crosshairs traces the genealogy of this weapon’s-eye view across a wide range of genres, including news reports, military public relations images, action movies, video games, and social media posts. As he tracks how gun-camera footage has spilled from the battlefield onto the screens of everyday civilian life, Roger Stahl exposes how this raw video is carefully curated and edited to promote identification with military weaponry, rather than with the targeted victims. He reveals how the weaponized gaze is not only a powerful propagandistic frame, but also a prime site of struggle over the representation of state violence.
David J. Silverman Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress E98.W2S55 2016 | Dewey Decimal 970.00497
David Silverman argues against the notion that Indians prized flintlock muskets more for their pyrotechnics than for their efficiency as tools of war. Native peoples fully recognized the potential of firearms to assist them in their struggles against colonial forces, and mostly against one another, as arms races erupted across North America.
The Titan II ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) program was developed by the United States military to bolster the size, strength, and speed of the nation's strategic weapons arsenal in the 1950s and 1960s. Each missile carried a single warhead—the largest in U.S. inventory—used liquid fuel propellants, and was stored and launched from hardened underground silos. The missiles were deployed at basing facilities in Arkansas, Arizona, and Kansas and remained in active service for over twenty years. Since military deactivation in the early 1980s, the Titan II has served as a reliable satellite launch vehicle. This is the richly detailed story of the Titan II missile and the men and women who developed and operated the system. David K. Stumpf uses a wide range of sources, drawing upon interviews with and memoirs by engineers and airmen as well as recently declassified government documents and other public materials. Over 170 drawings and photographs, most of which have never been published, enhance the narrative. The three major accidents of the program are described in detail for the first time using authoritative sources. Titan II will be welcomed by librarians for its prodigious reference detail, by technology history professionals and laymen, and by the many civilian and Air Force personnel who were involved in the program—a deterrent weapons system that proved to be successful in defending America from nuclear attack.
Katherine C. Epstein Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress V850.E67 2014 | Dewey Decimal 338.476234517
When President Eisenhower referred to the "military-industrial complex" in his 1961 Farewell Address, he summed up in a phrase the merger of government and industry that dominated the Cold War United States. In this bold reappraisal, Katherine Epstein uncovers the origins of the military-industrial complex in the decades preceding World War I, as the United States and Great Britain struggled to perfect a crucial new weapon: the self-propelled torpedo.
Torpedoes threatened to upend the delicate balance among the world's naval powers, they were bought and sold in a global marketplace, and they were cutting-edge industrial technologies. But building them required substantial capital investments and close collaboration among scientists, engineers, businessmen, and naval officers. To address these formidable challenges, the U.S. and British navies created a new procurement paradigm: instead of buying finished armaments from the private sector or developing them from scratch at public expense, they began to invest in private-sector research and development. The inventions emerging from torpedo R&D sparked legal battles over intellectual property rights that reshaped national security law.
Torpedo blends military, legal, and business history with the history of science and technology to recast our understanding of defense contracting and the demands of modern warfare.
Unmanning studies the conditions that create unmanned platforms in the United States through a genealogy of experimental, pilotless planes flown between 1936 and 1992. Characteristics often attributed to the drone—including machine-like control, enmity and remoteness—are achieved by displacements between humans and machines that shape a mediated theater of war. Rather than primarily treating the drone as a result of the war on terror, this book examines contemporary targeted killing through a series of failed experiments to develop unmanned flight in the twentieth century. The human, machine and media parts of drone aircraft are organized to make an ostensibly not human framework for war that disavows its political underpinnings as technological advance. These experiments are tied to histories of global control, cybernetics, racism and colonialism. Drone crashes and failures call attention to the significance of human action in making technopolitics that comes to be opposed to “man” and the paradoxes at their basis.
Battleships were instrumental in America’s rise to world dominance at the end of the 19th century. Two battleships in particular, the U.S.S. Wisconsin BB-9 and BB-64, participated in wars and conflicts around the globe, demonstrating America’s strength and technological power. The keel of the BB-9 was laid down on the eve of the Spanish-American War, and she sailed with the Great White Fleet on its famous world voyage of 1907-1909. Representing a major advance in American naval technology, the Wisconsin both demonstrated American strength in the Pacific and served as the setting for peace talks between Panama and Colombia when the former gained independence in 1903. Recommissioned during World War I as a training ship, the BB-9 was then decommissioned in 1920. More than twenty years later, on December 7, 1943, the fast battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) was launched in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The BB-64 served in the Pacific to the end of World War II and again in the Korean War. One of the Iowa- class battleships, the BB-64 was one of the fastest and sleekest on the ocean. In 1988, she was refitted and recommissioned for yet another tour of duty. This is the story of two proud vessels and their role in American naval and diplomatic history.
A History of One of World War II's Most Advanced and Terrifying Technologies
In August 1944, Londoners thought the war might be over by Christmas. But on September 8, 1944, in the London suburb of Chiswick, a thunderous double-boom was heard followed by a huge plume of black smoke rising high into the air. Several minutes later another explosion rocked the earth near Epping. There had been no warnings, no drone of aircraft above, just sudden devastation. "Operation Penguin," the V-2 offensive, had begun. The A-4 rocket, better known as the V-2, Vergeltungswaffen Zwei, or "Vengeance Weapon 2," was the first ballistic missile to be used in combat. Soaring over 50 miles high at supersonic speeds, the V-2 would strike its target within 5 minutes of launching. Once in the air its deadly warhead was unstoppable. The ancestor of all Cold War and modern day ballistic missiles, as well as the rockets used for space exploration, the V-2 could not win the war for Germany—it was too expensive, too complicated, too inaccurate, and its warhead was too small—but its unprecedented invulnerability and influence on Allied planning made the V-2 and the advancements it represented the ultimate war prize, and British, American, and Soviet forces scrambled to seize German rocket technology along with its scientists and engineers. In V-2: A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile, T. D. Dungan relies on an unparalleled collection of original documents, unpublished photographs, and accounts from those who were there to provide a complete description of the V-2 program, the missile's use in combat, and the race to capture its secrets.
A History of the Arms, Armor, and Individual Fighting Strategies of Medieval Europe’s Most Feared Warriors
A source of enduring fascination, the Vikings are the most famous raiders of medieval Europe. Despite the exciting and compelling descriptions in the Icelandic sagas and other contemporary accounts that have fueled this interest, we know comparatively little about Viking age arms and armor as compared to weapons from other historical periods. We know even less about how the weapons were used. While the sagas provide few specific combat details, the stories are invaluable. They were written by authors familiar with the use of weapons for an audience that, likewise, knew how to use them. Critically, the sagas describe how these weapons were wielded not by kings or gods, but by ordinary men, as part of their everyday lives. Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques provides an introduction to the arms and armor of the people who lived in Northern Europe during the Viking age, roughly the years 793–1066. Using a variety of available sources, including medieval martial arts treatises, and copiously illustrated with images of historical artifacts, battle sites, and demonstrations of modern replicas of Viking weapons, the author and his colleagues at Hurstwic (a Viking-age living history organization) and at the Higgins Armory Sword Guild have reconstructed the combat techniques of the Viking age and what is known about the defensive and offensive weapons of the time in general. Throughout, the author corrects some popular misconceptions about Viking warriors and warfare, such as the belief that their combat techniques were crude and blunt rather than sophisticated. In addition, the book provides an overview of Viking history and culture, focusing on the importance of weapons to the society as well as the Vikings’ lasting impact on Europe through their expeditions of trade and exploration.
Most studies of modern chemical warfare begin with World War I and the widespread use of poison gas by both sides in the conflict. However, as Guy R. Hasegawa reveals in this fascinating study, numerous chemical agents were proposed during the Civil War era. As combat commenced, Hasegawa shows, a few forward-thinking chemists recognized the advantages of weaponizing the noxious, sometimes deadly aspects of certain chemical concoctions. They and numerous ordinary citizens proposed a host of chemical weapons, from liquid chlorine in artillery shells to cayenne pepper solution sprayed from fire engines. In chilling detail, Hasegawa describes the potential weapons, the people behind the concepts, and the evolution of some chemical weapon concepts into armaments employed in future wars. As he explains, bureaucrats in the war departments of both armies either delayed or rejected outright most of these unusual weapons, viewing them as unneeded or unworkable. Nevertheless, many of the proposed armaments presaged the widespread use of chemical weapons in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Especially timely with today’s increased chemical threats from terrorists and the alleged use of chemical agents in the Syrian Civil War, Villainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War expands the history of chemical warfare and exposes a disturbing new facet of the Civil War.
In chilling detail, Hasegawa describes the weapons proposed and prepared for use during the war and introduces the people behind the concepts. Although many of the ideas for chemical weapons had a historical precedent, most of the suggested agents were used in industry or medicine, and their toxicity was common knowledge. Proponents, including a surprisingly high number of civilian physicians, suggested a wide variety of potential chemical weapons—from liquid chlorine in artillery shells to cayenne pepper solution sprayed from fire engines. Some weapons advocates expressed ethical qualms, while others were silent on the matter or justified their suggestions as necessary under current circumstances.
As Hasegawa explains, bureaucrats in the war departments of both armies either delayed or rejected outright most of these unusual weapons, viewing them as unneeded or unworkable. Nevertheless, many of the proposed armaments presaged the widespread use of chemical weapons in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For example, while Civil War munitions technology was not advanced enough to deliver poison gas in artillery shells as some advocates suggested, the same idea saw extensive use during World War I. Similarly, forms of an ancient incendiary weapon, Greek fire, were used sparingly during the Civil War and appeared in later conflicts as napalm bombs and flamethrowers.
Especially timely with today’s increased chemical threats from terrorists and the alleged use of chemical agents in the Syrian Civil War, Villainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War reveals the seldom-explored chemical side of Civil War armaments and illuminates an underappreciated stage in the origins of modern chemical warfare.
In the United States, efforts to develop precision guided munitions—PGMs—began during the First World War and resulted in an 'aerial torpedo' by the 1920s. While World War II was dominated by large-scale strategic bombing—essentially throwing out tons of free-falling munitions in the hope they hit something important—both sides in the war worked to develop airborne munitions that could be steered toward a target. However after that war, U.S. national security policy focused on the atomic bomb, hardly a weapon that needed to be directed with accuracy.
The cost of emphasis on atomic weapons was revealed in the general unsuitability of American tactics and weapons deployment systems during the Vietnam War. Lessons learned in that conflict, coupled with rapid technological developments in aerodynamics, lasers, and solid-state electronics, brought air power dramatically closer to the "surgical strike" now seen as crucial to modern warfare. New technology created attractive choices and options for American policymakers as well as field commanders, and events in the Arab-Israeli wars, the U.S. raid on Libya, and most dramatically in the first Gulf War created an ever-increasing demand for the precision weapons.
The prospect of pinpoint delivery of weapons right to the enemy's door by speeding aircraft seems to presage war in which the messy and politically risky deployment of ground troops is unnecessary. The potential of such weapons, and their strategic limitations, made the Gulf War and Iraqi War living theater for assessing what such weapons can and cannot do and have important implications for planning for future warfare.