Lost Battalion Publishing Dispatch 11

Important Historical Occurrences for this Week

The Lost Battalion Dispatch

Lost Battalion Dispatch #11 for the Week of September 11, 2022
This Week in History

Perhaps the worst weeks in American history

Aerial view of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero
On September 11, 2001, an unprecedented asymmetrical warfare attack against civilian and government targets in New York City and Washington, D.C. was conducted by Islamic extremist terrorists under orders from Osama bin Laden. Almost 3000 Americans died. Let us never forget.
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Inscription on the modern memorial to the Battle of Marathon
After an invasion force from Persia (modern Iran) made an ill-advised landing on the plains of Marathon, Athenian and Plataean troops sealed off its only two routes of advance and, upon discovering their Spartan allies would not arrive in time to help, attacked on September 12, 490 BC. Unable to fully deploy their large army or to maneuver with their superior cavalry, the Persians were defeated. They fell back to their boats and set sail. This caused a moment of consternation for the victors. They were concerned that the enemy ships might reach the city of Athens before the hoplites, exhausted from the battle, could march there. They also suspected a treacherous plot might have been hatched to lure them away. Most of the defenders rushed back to the city and arrived before the Persian fleet. Seeing their opportunity lost, the Persians sailed for home. The modern memorial monument is inscribed with the same words as its ancient predecessor: Fighting in the forefront of the Hellenes, Athenians at Marathon laid low the might of the gilded Medes.
On September 13, 1847, the men of the Regiment of Voltigeur and Foot Riflemen along with 40 Marines climbed scaling ladders to storm the ramparts of Chapultepec Castle, a fortress just outside Mexico City. Mexican artillery took a terrible toll during the assault. Upon seeing the Stars and Stripes flying from the ramparts, Santa Ana, the Mexican commander, is said to have remarked, “I believe if we were to plant our batteries in Hell the damned Yankees would take them from us.” One of his subordinates allegedly replied, “God is a Yankee.” The Marines’ involvement is commemorated by the words “From the Halls of Montezuma” in the Marine Hymn. The victory at Chapultepec was the decisive action of the Mexican-American War.
The storming of Chapultepec Castle
Merritt “Red Mike” Edson
On September 14, 1942, Japanese troops gave up on attempts to dislodge the United States Marines from their positions on and around what would come to be called Edson’s Ridge by the men of the 1st Marine Raiders in honor of their commander Merritt “Red Mike” Edson. For three nights, the Marines held off a series of furious attacks. After the Japanese withdrew, they counted 500 dead attackers, 200 of them on the slopes of the ridge. They lost 80 of their own. This battle was the first significant defeat of an Imperial Japanese Army force. It focused attention on the fighting at Guadalcanal, causing the Imperial Command staff to declare, “Guadalcanal might develop into the decisive battle of the war.” As a result, they doubled down on efforts to drive the Americans off the island.
USS Wasp burning after torpedo attack.
On September 15, 1942, three torpedoes from Japanese submarine I-19 sank the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. Wasp was part of a task force escorting Marine reinforcements to Guadalcanal. The torpedoes struck in the vicinity of the gasoline tanks and ammunition magazines and disabled water mains in the forward portion of the ship, making fire-fighting efforts ineffectual. An hour after the attack, Captain Forrest Sherman was forced to order “abandon ship.” Forty minutes later, he was the last man to leave the burning carrier.
B-67, a Zulu-class Soviet sub made the first successful launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine on September 16, 1955. The crude launching system for the Scud missile that had been retrofitted onto the sub required the ship to surface in order to launch. It was impractical as a serious weapon, but it presaged a whole new era of Cold War nuclear brinksmanship as both the US and Soviet Union went on to develop a fleet of nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
Former Soviet Zulu-class sub now serving as a “party boat” in Amsterdam harbor
More Americans died in battle on September 17, 1862 than on any other day in history when 7,650 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed at the Battle of Antietam. The battle was the culmination of Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North.

Lee had been concentrating his Army of Northern Virginia behind Antietam Creek on a low ridge near Sharpsburg, MD for two days when George McClellan ordered the Army of the Potomac to attack shortly after dawn. Joseph Hooker’s I Corps, on the Union right flank, opened the assault, but, despite being reinforced by Joseph Mansfield’s XII Corps, his attack was turned back in the Cornfield near Dunker Church.

Ordered to divert Confederate attention from the battle on the right, Edwin Sumner’s II Corps, led by the brigade under William French, pressed the attack on a sunken road in the center that would come to be known as “Bloody Lane.” Here, the Union met with success, driving the Confederates back. McClellan failed to reinforce this effort, allowing the Confederates to reform their lines.

The final Union thrust, led by Ambrose Burnside’s IX Corps, was launched against a bridge on the left flank. McClellan had initially avoided attacking this bridge because it was easily defended by troops on bluffs overlooking it. Burnside succeeded in taking the bridge on the third assault. Once on the other side, his advance was stalled; first by the failure to order ammunition wagons forward and then by counterattacking Confederate reinforcement. Although Burnside’s men outnumber the Confederates facing them two to one, he ordered his Corps to fall back to the other side of Antietam Creek, giving up the hard-won ground.

By 5:30 PM, the fighting had ground to a halt with both sides bloodied and exhausted. Lee expected a renewed Union assault the next morning, but it never came. A truce was improvised, allowing both sides to recover the 20,000 wounded men who still lay on the battlefield. That evening, Lee withdrew to Virginia. McClellan declined to pursue him despite repeated orders from the War Department and President Lincoln. He claimed that he lacked equipment and ammunition and that he feared overextending his force.

Although the battle was no more than a bloody draw, it was victory enough to allow President Lincoln to issue a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from a position of strength. He had been advised to avoid doing it previously because it would seem like an act of desperation. Confederate states were thus enjoined to return to the Union before January 1, 1863, or their slaves would be forfeited. This action was aimed not so much at the secessionist states as at an international audience that might be sympathetic to their cause. The leverage it provided against the French and British governments was crucial in preventing them from recognizing the legitimacy of the Confederacy.

Confederate dead in “Bloody Lane” after the Battle of Antietam
Find out if you could have saved USS Wasp

Battlegroup lets you refight the naval actions of World War II.  You make the decisions that make the difference between a burning aircraft carrier and an impressive victory. Check it out by clicking here: Battlegroup.

About the Lost Battalion Dispatch

This weekly newsletter is brought to you by Cher Ami, the homing pigeon whose heroic flight helped bring relief from a barrage of friendly fire to the First Battalion, 308th Infantry of 77th New York Infantry Division and alerted high command that over 500 American troops were holding out against all odds while surrounded in the Argonne forest during World War One.

At Lost Battalion Publishing we take inspiration from the historical Lost Battalion that never gave up, never lost hope, and persevered despite a series of devastating setbacks.

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