Lost Battalion Publishing Dispatch #25

A Curated Weekly Review of Interesting Historical Occurrences

This Week in History

Halsey faces a typhoon, Richard gets locked up, and the Earth rises.

The Lost Battalion Dispatch #25 for the Week of December 18, 2022
Aboard USS Cowpens during Typhoon Cobra
Three US Navy destroyers were sunk, and nine other warships were damaged by Typhoon Cobra on December 18, 1944. Dozens of aircraft were swept off the deck of Task Force 38’s aircraft carriers and the battleship USS Iowa suffered a bent propellor shaft when 160 mph winds battered the fleet.

Aboard USS Monterey, a light carrier, aircraft stowed below deck broke loose, collided, and burst into flame. One of the sailors who fought the fire was Lt. Gerald Ford, who later became President of the United States.

Many of the “little boys,” destroyers and destroyer escorts, were low on fuel and thus had little ballast. Some flooded their fuel tanks with seawater in order to ride out the storm, but USS Hull, USS Monaghan, and USS Spence all rolled so heavily that seawater flooded down their stacks, knocking out their engines. All three destroyers subsequently capsized and sank. Only 93 men were rescued from those three ships. In total, 790 sailors were killed by the storm.

The storm is sometimes called “Halsey’s Typhoon” because Admiral William “Bull” Halsey ordered Third Fleet to remain on station rather than scattering and seeking shelter when the US Army Air Force forecast center detected the storm on December 17th. A Court of Inquiry determined that Halsey had committed an “error in judgment” but did not recommend sanctioning him. In the aftermath of the storm, the US Navy developed an official weather forecasting infrastructure which would later become the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Facebook Share This Email
Twitter Share This Email
LinkedIn Share This Email
Spread the Knowledge!

Do you have a friend you think would be interested in reading the Dispatch? If so, send them here to sign up.

Washington at Valley Forge by Mort Künstler
On December 19, 1777, George Washington sent the Continental Army into winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Contrary to the popular myth of starvation and hardship, the Valley Forge encampment was actually a well-organized endeavor due to the leadership of Washington and his officers and the resourcefulness of the men.

Immediately upon arrival, the men were organized into crews to construct log cabins. The 14×16 foot structures were built with a door facing south to allow the sun to heat the cabin in the day and clay-lined wooden fireplaces for heating by night. About 1500 cabins were built, aligned in neat rows. Each one housed 12 enlisted men. Junior officers were six to a cabin. Senior officers had two roommates and generals had a cabin to themselves. The men also constructed two miles of defensive trenches, five redoubts, and a Roman-style bridge over the Schuylkill River.

Food shortages were not as bad as commonly assumed. Throughout January the men had half a pound of beef daily on average. Only during the month of February was there a serious food shortage where the men went without meat for several days at a time. Clothing and shoes posed more of a problem. At the worst point, in early March, around 3000 of the 12,000 men were listed unfit for duty due to lack of clothing or shoes. Those men were allowed to stay in their cabins while the men with proper clothing worked and guarded the camp.

Concentrating the army in a single location over the winter was crucial to its cohesion and allowed Washington to protect the surrounding countryside and resist any attacks. The downside was disease. Typhoid and influenza killed about 2000.

While returning from the Third Crusade on December 20, 1192, Richard the Lionheart was taken prisoner by Leopold of Austria. Because Richard had been at odds with Phillip II of France, he was returning home through the Adriatic Sea and overland via Vienna. Richard had insulted Leopold by encouraging his men to toss Leopold’s banner into the moat after the capture of Acre, so he went into Vienna in disguise. He was discovered and imprisoned at Durnstein Castle. Leopold then turned Richard over to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI who demanded 100,000 pounds of silver as ransom.

While Richard was held captive, his brother John attempted to usurp the throne. He went to Paris and forged an alliance with Phillip II. Fighting broke out in England between forces loyal to Richard and those assembled by John while Richard’s ransom was being raised. Phillip and John offered Henry VI a large sum to keep Richard detained but were refused. When Richard was released, Phillip threw his ally overboard sending John the message, “Look to yourself; the devil is loose.” John fled to Normandy where Richard hunted him down and forgave him, calling him “a child who has had evil councilors.”

This incident formed the backdrop for one of the world’s best-loved and most influential historical novels: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. You can read it for free courtesy of Project Gutenberg by clicking this link.

Richard I Coeur de Lion Monument outside the House of Lords
1937 Snow White Movie Poster
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered on December 21, 1937. The world’s first full-length aminated movie earned Walt Disney an honorary Oscar with a unique statue of one full-sized figure and seven miniature ones. It also earned $4.2 million in its initial release, making it the most successful “talkie” of all time until Gone with the Wind eclipsed that mark two years later. In 1987 Snow White joined Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny as the third fictional character with a star on the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame. She has since been joined by many others but remains the only “Disney Princess” so honored.
Sherman Marches to the Sea by Mort Künstler
On December 22, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman sent a telegraph message to President Abraham Lincoln stating, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition and about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”

Sherman’s “March to the Sea” after his capture of Atlanta is credited by many historians as the final straw that broke the back of the Confederacy. By cutting his army loose from traditional supply lines and “living off the land” he was able to march quickly across Georgia, destroying railroads, supply sources, and manufacturing facilities as he went. His march was an early example of “total war” where the civilian property of a belligerent is considered a legitimate military target.

James II of England fled to France on December 23, 1688, after being deposed in the Glorius Revolution. His reign began in 1685 and he was immediately faced with rebellions in Scotland and southern England. These were put down, but James feared potential future trouble and expanded his standing army. This led to real trouble with Parliament because he allowed some of the new regiments to be commanded by Roman Catholic officers whom he did not require to take the Test Act oath. He also named Roman Catholics as the highest officers in the government and circumvented anti-Catholic legislation. When Parliament enacted new laws to counter him, James responded by ending the legislative session.

James began a purge of all Crown officers who opposed him and planned to hold new elections in order to pack Parliament with his supporters. He ordered a Declaration of Indulgence, negating the Test Act and other laws aimed at punishing Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, to be read in all Anglican churches. The Archbishop of Canterbury and seven other bishops protested, and he had them arrested for seditious libel. When his wife gave birth to a Roman Catholic son, removing James’ two Protestant daughters from the line of succession, public alarm prompted Protestant nobles to invite William, Prince of Orange, to come to England with an army.

William was the son of Mary, daughter of English King Charles I. A staunch Protestant, he ruled a principality in what is now southern France but was then part of the Dutch Republic. He had fought in several wars against French Catholic King Louis XIV. On November 5, 1688, he landed in England with 40,000 men. Many Protestant officers and their English regiments defected to his cause. James, though still in command of a larger army than William, decided that resistance was futile. He threw the Great Seal of England into the River Thames and fled for France on December 11th. He was captured by a group of fishermen and brought back to London. On the 23rd, William allowed a second escape attempt to succeed.

James II of England
Apollo 8 entered lunar orbit on December 24, 1968. The crew, Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were the first humans to leave low earth orbit and reach the Moon. As the capsule was approaching lunar sunrise, the crew read the first verses from the book of Genesis including, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

On December 27th, the mission ended successfully with a splash-down in the Pacific Ocean. 1968 had been a tumultuous year for America. It was marred by the Tet Offensive in Vietnam and riots in the wake of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination. After the mission, Borman received a telegram from a stranger that said, “Thank you Apollo 8. You saved 1968.”

Of the three astronauts, only Lovell would return to the Moon. He did so very briefly, making only one orbit as commander of the Apollo 13 mission before the stricken spacecraft limped back to earth after a fire caused one of the oxygen tanks to blow out.

Earthrise Photographed by Apollo 8
Mort Künstler at the Easel in 1994
A Great American Artist

Mort Künstler is renowned as “the premier historical artist in America.” From portraits of prehistoric American life to the odyssey of the space shuttle, he has painted America’s story. Check out his work here: Mort Künstler America’s Artist

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.

You can keep up with the latest from Lost Battalion Publishing on our social media channels by clicking the icons below.
Facebook Pinterest
Lost Battalion Publishing | 5430 Arcadia Ave, Upperco, MD 21155

Related Articles

[td_block_social_counter facebook="tagdiv" twitter="tagdivofficial" youtube="tagdiv" style="style8 td-social-boxed td-social-font-icons" tdc_css="eyJhbGwiOnsibWFyZ2luLWJvdHRvbSI6IjM4IiwiZGlzcGxheSI6IiJ9LCJwb3J0cmFpdCI6eyJtYXJnaW4tYm90dG9tIjoiMzAiLCJkaXNwbGF5IjoiIn0sInBvcnRyYWl0X21heF93aWR0aCI6MTAxOCwicG9ydHJhaXRfbWluX3dpZHRoIjo3Njh9" custom_title="Stay Connected" block_template_id="td_block_template_8" f_header_font_family="712" f_header_font_transform="uppercase" f_header_font_weight="500" f_header_font_size="17" border_color="#dd3333"]
- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles

error: Content is protected !!