Lost Battalion Publishing Dispatch #4

Weekly Occurrences in Military History and News from the LBP Frontline

The Lost Battalion Dispatch

Lost Battalion Dispatch #4 for the Week of July 25, 2022
This Week in Military Historty

Damn the Torpedoes!

Farragut above, USS Tecumseh sinking below.
David Glasgow Farragut became the first full four-star admiral in the history of the United States Navy on July 25, 1866, nearly two years after his famous exploits at the Battle of Mobile Bay. After the capture of New Orleans, Mobile was the only port on the Gulf of Mexico suitable for Confederate blockade runners. These fast steamers were vital in suppling the Confederate war effort. In early August of 1864, a combined land/sea operation was initiated to cut off and capture the forts defending Mobile Bay. The naval effort was led by Farragut who had at his disposal a fleet of 18 ships, including four new ironclad monitors. The bay was defended not only by the forts but a fleet of Confederate ships including the ironclad CSS Tennessee.

In the ensuing engagement, Farragut was famously lashed to the mast of his flagship. He had ascended in order to view the disposition of the various ships which were otherwise obscured by the smoke of battle. Out of concern for his safety, the captain of the ship ordered a seaman to climb up and tie Farragut to the rigging. His famous orders that were later paraphrased as, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” came in response to certain ships in his fleet slowing to avoid submerged mines that were referred to as torpedoes at the time. One of his ironclads, USS Tecumseh subsequently struck one of those torpedoes and was sunk with considerable loss of life.

Although the forts were taken, and CSS Tennessee was forced to surrender, Mobile was not captured. However, the presence of a Union force near Mobile constrained Confederate tactics, most significantly forcing troops and guns which could otherwise been used in the defense of Atlanta to remain in Mobile.

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The death of Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham
British General James Wolfe captured the French fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia on July 26, 1758. This was a major blow to French control of Canada and a prelude to the decisive campaign of 1759 in which Wolfe defeated French general Montcalm at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec. effectively winning Canada for the British. Both generals were mortally wounded during the battle.
The First Battle of El Alamein ground to a halt on July 27, 1942, effectively ending Axis plans to drive the Allies out of Egypt and seize control of the Suez canal. In the aftermath, British General Auckenlick, who had directed the successful defense against German General Erwin Rommel’s famed Afrika Korps. was replaced by Lt. General Bernard Montgomery. “Monty’s” meticulously over-planned Second Battle of El Alamein, drove the over-extended and exhausted Axis troops back to their bases in Libya three months later.
A Russian Political Commissar awaits execution after being captured.
Joseph Stalin issued Order # 227, on July 28, 1942. This “Not one step back!” order eventually resulted in over 400,000 Russian soldiers and officers being assigned to “penal battalions” which were sent to the most dangerous areas of the front lines. Another 400,000 were imprisoned in penal work camps. Blocking formations commanded by political commissars were initially established behind the front lines to shoot “panic-mongers and cowards,” but this practice was dropped after a few months.
The Greek text above the image reads “Seizing and Blinding”
Basil II, Emperor of Eastern Rome (Byzantium) defeated a Bulgarian army on July 29, 1014, earning the sobriquet, Bulgar-basher. At least 8000 Bulgarian prisoners were taken in the aftermath. Basil divided them into groups of 100, blinding 99 men in each group and leaving the other with one eye so he could guide his comrades home.

The magnitude of this tragedy reportedly caused Emperor Samuel of Bulgaria to die of a heart attack. His heirs proved to be ineffective and by 1018 the borders of the Byzantine empire were extended to the Danube River for the first time since the 7th Century AD.

USS Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk on July 30, 1945, by the Japanese submarine I-58. The survivors, soldiers returning home from Gaum, were not discovered for three and a half days. Many died due to exposure, dehydration, and shark attack during their ordeal. Only 314 of the 900 men aboard survived. Two days earlier, Indianapolis had delivered crucial components for the “Little Boy” atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima a few weeks later.
USS Essex, the first of 24 “Fast Attack Carriers” built for the US Navy in World War II was launched on July 31, 1942. She became home to the “Fabled Fifteen” carrier Air Group commanded by the Navy’s top WWII ace, David McCampbell. Essex provided air support for a number of “island hopping” invasions, most notably at Okinawa, shaking off a kamikaze attack on November 25, 1944, near the Philippines.
Battlegroup is a fun game of World War II Naval Action for two to four players. Pit your Carriers, Battleships, and supporting vessels against those of your opponent today 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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