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Steven L. Ossad's Blogs
... Fallen Stars: American Generals & Admirals Killed in Action (1646-2001)
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... Antietam, Saratoga, Padua & the 15th Air Force, Maurice Rose, Kadesh, Omar Bradley, usw
"Out of the Shadow and into the Light: Col. David "Mickey" Marcus and US Civil Affairs in WWII, Army History, Winter 2016
From the Editor: Steven L. Ossad, Independent historian Steven L. Ossad examines the life of West Point and World War II civil affairs icon Col. David Daniel "Mickey" Marcus. Known to our readers as the author of the excellent article "The Terrills of Virginia: Impossible Loyalties, Irreconcilable Differences," which appeared in the Spring 2014 issue (No. 91) of Army History, Ossad highlights the career of a man who would gain fame not only as an athlete at the U.S. Military Academy, but also as one of the primary architects of U.S. military civil affairs policy during World War II. Marcus would also go on to become the first Israeli Aluf (general) following the partition of Palestine and the only officer to be buried at West Point having died while fighting under the flag of a foreign nation. Immortalized in the 1966 movie Cast a Giant Shadow, Marcus' exploits gave rise to a large number of fictionalizations. Ossad sets the record straight, which in no way diminishes the legend of this extraordinary individual.
Awarded a 2014 General and Mrs Matthew Ridgway Military History Research Award
Finalist, 2011 ARMY HISTORICAL FOUNDATION DISTINGUISHED ACADEMIC WRITING AWARD
Recipients must be scholars at the graduate, postgraduate, or instructor/professor level, or be a professional scholars or author with comparable qualifications based on experience
Major General John P. Lucas at Anzio: Prudence or Boldness?, Global War Studies, Fall 2011
Late in 1943 the British and Americans, desperate to break the stalemate in Italy and capture Rome, conceived a daring but dangerous amphibious landing at Anzio to outflank the German Cassino line defenses. The Allied high command selected MG John Lucas, hero of Salerno, to command the US VI Corps which would make the landing. Once he had been selected for a command he never should have held, in an operation that should never have been mounted, Lucas had no choice but to carry out his orders as he understood them, even though he regarded the whole endeavor as completely misguided - and he was fully prepared to die doing his duty. The Anzio operation resulted in bloody, futile disaster, and forced a pathetic ending to the career of a noble warrior. The whole affair remains a blemish on the Allied high command, which first extolled him and then cast him aside without honor.
Henry Ware Lawton: Flawed Giant and Hero of Four Wars, Army History, Winter 2007
A century ago, Henry Lawton was the most acclaimed soldier of his generation. A "Boy Colonel" and regimental commander during the Civil War, by the age of 23 he had survived 22 major battles unscathed and had been awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery during Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. After a year at Harvard Law School, his former colleagues - Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan - persuaded him to rejoin the army. He served first with the Buffalo Soldiers and then as Quartermaster of the 4th Cavalry under the legendary Colonel Ranald MacKenzie. Leader of the epic 2,000 mile trek that finally tracked down Geronimo in 1886, he was the victor at the Battle of El Caney, Cuba on 1 July 1898, the greatest land battle fought by Americans since the Civil War. Protected by President McKinley when his alcoholism threatened scandal, Lawton was assigned to the Philippines where he was killed in action. He died in America's first major counterinsurgency operation on foreign soil, trying to bring democracy to an Asian people.
BG Joseph Mansfield, Military Heritage Magazine, February 2007
BG Joseph K.F. Mansfield (1803-1862) prepared his whole life for the ultimate test of a soldier - command of troops on the battlefield. After a long and distinguished career, that moment finally came at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862 - the bloodiest day in our history. In command of XII Corps, Union Army of the Potomac, his moment of glory lasted less than a half hour. When Joseph K.F. Mansfield fell at the Battle of Antietam, he was the ranking casualty on either side, the oldest general and West Point graduate to die in battle.
Major General Maurice Rose: World War II's Greatest Forgotten Commander, 2006
"Rose was a brave man, single-minded, whose only mission was to defeat the Nazis as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Whether that was due to his Jewish background (which he seemed to shun) or not is problematical. He demanded absolute loyalty from his men. He would not accept any excuse from any of his subordinate commanders -- accomplish your mission or move on! This book sheds a lot of light on the man whom General J. Lawton Collins regarded "as the top notch division commander in the business at the time of his death." Robert K. Pacios, WWII Veteran, 3rd Armored Division
Command Failures: Lessons Learned from Lloyd R. Fredendall, Army Magazine, March 2003
Winner, 2003 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award
A hero of the early days of World War II, Lloyd Fredendall presided over the debacle at Kasserine Pass, one of the worst defeats of American arms during World War II. Kicked upstairs and given a training job, he receded into obscurity, re-entering the American consciousness briefly during the 1970 hit movie, Patton. The lessons we can learn from him, however, are a case study for the dynamics that lead to Command Failure.
The Frustrations of Leonard Wood, Army Magazine, September 2003
Graduate of Harvard Medical School, Medal of Honor winner, pursuer of Geronimo, friend and confidant of presidents, Commander of the Rough Riders, Governor of Cuba and the Philippines, sponsor of Walter Reed, Army Chief of Staff, spokesman for Preparedness, and Provost of Univ. of Pennsylvania, Leonard Wood's greatest aspirations fell victim to his unrestrained ambition.
The Last Battle of Gen. William Orlando Darby, Army Magazine, January 2003
Killed in action just days before the end of World War II, Bill Darby was a legendary warrior who inspired his men to extraordinary acts. One of the youngest generals in our history, he was the only American officer posthumously promoted to general officer rank during World War II.
Martin Blumenson (1918-2005)
For more than fifty years, Martin Blumenson served our nation as a military historian, first as a citizen soldier during World War II, then as a professional Army historian, and finally as an independant scholar and teacher. Chronicler of the Normandy and Italian Campaigns, biographer of George S. Patton and Mark Clark, and author of dozens of books and articles, he was one of the team assembled by S.L.A. "Slam" Marshall to write the Army's Official History of World War II.
This web page is in honor of his memory and in gratitude for his service and his friendship.
Xenophon's "Hipparchicus, Commander of Cavalry"
Xenophon's Hipparchicus, (ιππαρχικος)
is a "how to" book for those aspiring to command cavalry. Specifically addressed to the leaders of the Athenian standing cavalry force, it should be read with reference to Xenophon's Memorabilia
, III, 3, 1-3, where Socrates raises questions about the duties of the Hipparch
. The perspective and outlook, as well as some of the issues discussed - like readiness, logistics, maintenance, and esprit de corps - will certainly be familiar to a modern armored cavalry regiment commander and staff. Even more important, the lessons of leadership buried in the brief text are as relevant today as they were in the cavalry clashes during the 4th Century BC wars of the Greek city states.
The Battle of Kadesh: Public Relations Trumps Performance
Kadesh is the first battle in recorded history about which we have comprehensive contemporary documentation describing specific events, leadership, organization of forces, overall operations, field tactics, logistics, weapons, and general outcome. The modern fascination with the clash, however, is rooted in the question of how a near disaster came to be remembered as a tremendous victory; the answer lies in the character, will, and strategic vision of a world-historical figure, Pharaoh Rameses II, known as "Rameses The Great", colorfully portrayed by Yul Brynner in Cecille B. DeMille's spectacular epic The Ten Commandments
(1956). Rameses was a man of immense abilities, vigor, and longevity - he ruled for more than 70 years fathering dozens of children. Egypt's greatest builder, he was among the most skillful and cunning diplomats and peacemakers of all time. A copy of his peace treaty with the Hittites which resulted in a period of peace that lasted almost a century today greets visitors to the Security Council of the United Nations in NYC.
Charles Sanders Peirce: America's Greatest Genius
Called America's greatest philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) remains to all but specialists a footnote to the school of Pragmatism a distinctly American contribution - whose very name was the result of Peirce's imagination. The subject of intense interest among a broad range of scholars here and abroad, Peirce's life is a fascinating tale of sexual scandal, drug addiction, terrible sickness, venomous academic politics, disappointed career hopes, great friendships and notorious betrayals - as well as stunning achievements in mathematics, science, epistemology, logic, linguistics, and a dozen other disciplines. Many questions about his life remain and to this day the Philosophy Department of Harvard University keeps several boxes of his most personal papers under lock and key. The subject of just one academic biography, Peirce remains totally unknown to his fellow citizens - and his story has universal elements of human drama and suspense that one rarely finds in the life of a thinker.
Reading the Bible as Military History
In the early reign of Hammurabi, about 1800 B.C., the great conqueror and law-giver set out with his allies to reassert authority over a small confederation of Canaanite city-states which lay along a plain now covered by the Dead Sea. Along the way, a minor tribal leader - Abram the Hebrew (under the protection of the Amorites, a minor ally of the Canaanites) - soon got caught up in the aftermath of the battle. He had left Ur of the Chaldees decades before abandoning clan and gods to strike out on his own. Lot, his kinsmen, was captured in Hammurabi's invasion. What unfolds next is a thrilling tale of daring, boldness, and courage that dwarfs the seemingly greater struggle for imperial dominance among the great empires of the Ancient Near East. The Torah
describes in brief, but dramatic and specific detail, the first organized military action of the Jewish people - a daring, long-range, night time commando raid to rescue hostages more than 3,500 years ago.
The Philosophy of War: A General Inquiry
When they happen, discussions of the "philosophy of war" are part of ethics or political philosophy, or one part of the greater issue of whether and how one can speak of a "just war". Similarly, except for the 19th century thinker and soldier, Carl von Clausewitz, and perhaps Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini, as well as the ancient Chinese thinker Sun Tzu, there is no general agreement on whose works might be considered part of the canon of a "philosophy of war". Surely, in a time when at any moment dozens of wars rage over the globe, this cannot be adequate. This page begins a broad exploration by asking a simple question: "what would be included if there was such a thing as the "philosophy of war?"
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