08/12/14

Robin Olds – September 18, 1944

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Maj. (now Brig.Gen.) Robin Olds. 434th Fighter Squadron. P-51D 44-##### L2-W “Scat VI”. Original artwork by Fred Hayner. Profile by Nick King

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Shuddering violently, the P-51 bit into the thin air and continued to climb. The pilot winced; he knew that the vibration was from his supercharger, but he still didn’t like the sound. The results were hard to beat, though, and he leaned forward a bit as the fighter passed 21,000 feet. As he bunted over a few seconds later, his butt came off the chute pack and mist spat out of the air-conditioning vents.

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08/9/14

Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus

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Hannibal at the Gates Campaign Pack

(235–183 BC) Roman General

The art of generalship does not age, and it is because Scipio’s battles are richer in stratagems and ruses—many still feasible today—than those of any other commander in history that they are an unfailing object-lesson to soldiers.

—B. H. Liddell Hart

As with Hannibal, details of Scipio’s early years are extremely sketchy. He was born into Rome’s upper crust, descended on both his father’s and mother’s side from the Cornellii, a family from whom consuls had been elected for 150 years. Other than that, little can be confirmed. Even Polybius, who wrote at length on Scipio’s military career, glossed over his youth. He was well educated and admired Greek culture, which in his day was not a respectable characteristic, as the Greeks were viewed as a declining and somewhat profligate society; he must, however, have absorbed some of the Greek rationality in thinking, given the innovations he brought to the battlefield.

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08/4/14

Charles-Michael d’Irumberry de Salaberry

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(November 19, 1775–February 27, 1829) Canadian Militia Officer

Salaberry raised and commanded the famous Voltigeurs Canadiens, a light infantry battalion recruited entirely from the Frenchspeaking inhabitants of Quebec. With them he fought and won the Battle of Chateauguay against impossible odds and staved off an invasion of Lower Canada.

Charles-Michael d’Irumberry de Salaberry was born in Beauport, Quebec, on November 19, 1775, into a Frenchspeaking family proud of its long tradition of military service. Having been dominated by England since 1763, many young Canadians had no reservations about offering their services to the English monarch. Salaberry did so in 1792 at the age of 14 by joining the 44th Regiment of Foot as a volunteer. Shortly after, he received an ensign’s commission in the 60th Regiment (the Royal Americans) through the influence of a family friend, Prince Edward Augustus (the future Duke of Kent). In 1794, he accompanied his regiment to the West Indies and fought with distinction during the captures of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Salaberry rose to captain in 1803 and, three years later, transferred to the regiment’s fifth battalion under Col. Francis de Rottenburg. Rottenburg was the British army’s foremost authority on light infantry tactics, and he made an indelible impression upon all his young officers. In contrast to the rigid tactics- and thinking-of regular soldiers, light infantry officers were expected to be flexible and imaginative in their tactics. The experience of learning from such an expert would hold Salaberry in good stead during the War of 1812. He also apparently made a good impression upon his superior, for in 1808 Rottenburg appointed him his brigade major. The following year Salaberry campaigned with Rottenburg during the disastrous Walcheren Expedition and, like most of the troops, contracted a dehabilitating fever. In 1810, he next accompanied Rottenburg to Canada as his aide-de-camp, receiving a commission as lieutenant colonel of militia. While acting in this capacity Salaberry emerged as one of Canada’s greatest military heroes.

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07/28/14

Cecil Bisshopp

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(June 25, 1783–July 16, 1813) English Army Officer

A dashing leader, Bisshopp served as an infantry officer as well as inspector general of the Upper Canada militia during the War of 1812. He conducted numerous successful raids along the Niagara frontier before losing his life in a protracted skirmish.

Cecil Bisshopp was born in Parham House, West Sussex, on June 25, 1783, the son of a baronet and former member of Parliament. He belonged to an ancient, landed family and, as the only surviving son, stood to inherent an impressive fortune. However, Bisshopp was drawn quite early to the military profession, and in September 1799 he obtained an ensign’s commission in the prestigious First Foot Guards. Over the next 10 years he functioned capably, serving as private secretary to Adm. Sir John Borlase Warren at St. Petersburg and accompanying expeditions to Spain and the Netherlands. By dint of good service, Bisshopp rose to brevet major in January 1812, and the following month he transferred to Canada as inspecting field officer of the Upper Canada militia. That distant region was considered a backwater compared to military theaters in Europe, and assignment there was most unwelcome to ambitious young officers. But Bisshopp muted his disappointment and shouldered his responsibilities dutifully, declaring, “Were it not for the extensive command I have and the quantity of business I have to do, I should hang myself.” When the War of 1812 against the United States commenced on June 18, 1812, the young soldier suddenly found himself with more than enough work to keep him occupied.

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07/26/14

George Collier

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Britain defending New Ireland from the Penobscot Expedition by Dominic Serres

(May 11, 1738-April 6, 1795) English Admiral

George Collier was easily the most effective Royal Navy commander of the American Revolution. He rendered brilliant service on several occasions but, lacking patronage and political connections, never rose far in the stodgy, aristocrat-dominated officer corps. Following this near-complete lack of recognition, Collier tendered his resignation in disgust.

George Collier was born in London on May 11, 1738, of common origin. He joined the Royal Navy in 1751 and three years later, by dint of good service, received a lieutenant’s commission. Following several cruises in the West Indies and elsewhere, he advanced to captain in 1762. A succession of warship commands followed, and in 1775 Collier was dispatched on a secret mission to North America just prior to the Revolutionary War. The exact nature of this errand has never been discovered, but he was knighted by King George III as a consequence. Furthermore, in May 1776 he took command of the 42- gun frigate HMS Rainbow and was dispatched under Adm. Richard Howe for service in American waters.

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