About MSW

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“

Breaking into the South II


General Sherman in Atlanta Georgia.

General John Bell Hood’s first battle as commander of the Army of Tennessee was at Peach Tree Creek, north of Atlanta, where he intended to carry out Johnston’s plan to drive the Army of the Cumberland farther west so that Sherman could not concentrate his forces on Atlanta. Hood first came forward from the Peach Tree Creek position on July 20, and attacked the corps opposite, commanded by Hooker, which had crossed the creek on pontoon bridges. A bitter battle ensued, lasting five hours. The Confederates were driven back, leaving in the fields their dead and wounded, 4,796 altogether, to the Union loss of 1,710. Throughout the Atlanta campaign Confederate losses were to be much heavier than the Union’s, a grievous disadvantage for the Confederacy, which could afford the losses much less. Hood fell back into his lines around Atlanta. Sherman closed up, and Hood, leaving half his force to defend the city, led the other half, under the cover of darkness, in a long, circuitous march through woodland, round Sherman’s left flank. This led to what Sherman called “the hardest battle of the campaign.”

The outer line of Atlanta’s defences had now been reached. As Grant recalled:

We feigned to the right, but crossed the Chattahoochee by the left, and soon confronted our enemy behind his first line of entrenchments at Peach Tree Creek, prepared in advance for this very occasion. At this critical moment, the Confederate Government rendered us most valuable service. Being dissatisfied with the Fabian policy of General Johnston, it relieved him and General Hood was substituted to command the Confederate army (near Atlanta), July 18. Hood was known to us to be a “fighter,” a graduate of West Point of the class of 1853, No. 44 (in the order of merit), of which class two of my army commanders, McPherson and Schofield were No. 1 and No. 7. The character of a leader is a large factor in the game of war, and I confess, I was pleased at this change, of which I had early notice. I know that I had an army superior in numbers and morale to that of my antagonist; but being so far from my base and operating in a country devoid of food and forage, I was dependent on a poorly constructed railroad, back to Louisville, five hundred miles. I was willing to meet the enemy in open country, but not behind weak constructed parapets.

Grant may have been exaggerating the value of the change of command. Johnston was not as averse to fighting as he made out, while Hood was a doughtier and cleverer opponent. He would not allow Atlanta to fall easily into Sherman’s hands.

The battle of Atlanta began on July 22, when, believing that Hood had abandoned the city, the Army of the Tennessee advanced to the lines of earthworks the Confederate defenders had dug. At first they settled down, intending to harass the earthworks, to use them for their purposes, when in early afternoon Confederates appeared in large numbers and began to attack them. Hood had planned a complex offensive, sending part of his force to make a long flank march to take the enemy in the rear. The fighting soon became intense, as some of the Union troops found themselves attacked on three sides. Casualties quickly rose high, but the Union forces held their ground, greatly assisted by the presence in their ranks of two regiments of Illinois sharpshooters who had purchased, at their own expense, the Henry sixteen-shot breech-loading rifle. These two regiments inflicted terrible casualties on the Confederates they encountered, at a much smaller cost to themselves. The Confederates lost control of three of the four railroads leading into the city and suffered 8,499 casualties, to 3,641 on the Union side. Among the Union dead was General McPherson, who rode into Confederate lines whilst on reconnaissance, was called upon to surrender, but, tipping his hat to the enemy, turned his horse and was shot and killed as he rode away. His loss was deeply regretted by Sherman, who valued him highly. He was replaced temporarily by General John A. Logan, an Illinois congressman much valued by Lincoln as a political ally. He made an unforgettable impression on the battlefield, where he was temperamentally at home. Black-haired, with fiery eyes, he led by example, waving his sword overhead and shouting encouragement to his soldiers from the back of his warhorse. Unlike other notable mounts which had unmilitary names, such as Lee’s Traveller and Jackson’s Little Sorrell, Logan’s was appropriately called Slasher. Command of the Army of the Tennessee was later given to General Oliver Howard.

In the later afternoon, Hood’s men renewed their attack on the Union’s advance lines in great force and with high ferocity. The fighting became very confused, with the Union jumping from one side to the other of the entrenchments that crisscrossed the battlefield, some Confederate, some Union. Hood’s attack shook the Union lines, opening a wide gap which threatened to collapse Sherman’s army. In this crisis, Logan, who had observed the disaster from a vantage point, turned his horse and galloped to intervene, leading a large reinforcement. As he approached the Union lines a cry of “Black Jack! Black Jack!” sped through the ranks. Inspired by Logan’s arrival, and strengthened by the reinforcements he brought, the Union troops recaptured several guns the enemy had taken and turned them round against the attackers, who were quickly driven into retreat. During the fighting the Union forces were able to retrieve McPherson’s body, sending a special detachment to do so. They also, at one stage of the fighting for the trenches, retrieved McPherson’s hat, binoculars, and documents from Confederate prisoners who had taken them. At about six o’clock, with darkness drawing in, the battle of Atlanta reached its climax, leaving the field, littered with the dead and wounded, in Union hands. Sherman had scored a victory, though one of the most costly and hard-fought of his career as a general.

Sherman’s troops now surrounded Atlanta, though they just failed to cut it off from contact with the outside world. A battle fought at Ezra Church on July 28 was again disproportionately costly to the Confederates, who lost 4,632 to the Union’s 700, but it left them still protecting Atlanta from capture. Thereafter Hood contented himself with holding Atlanta’s earthworks, and accepting siege, which was to last the whole of August.

Sherman spent August manoeuvring around the Atlanta defences with the object of severing the city’s last railroad communications with Alabama. He also sent a large cavalry force, under General George Stoneman, on a raid to liberate the Andersonville prison camp. The raid was badly conducted, however, with the result that it not only failed but that Stoneman and 700 of his men themselves were taken prisoner and interned at Andersonville. Andersonville, a principal Confederate prisoner-of-war camp, had already become notorious in the North because of the very high death rate among its inmates. The prison camps of both sides had high death rates because they were vectors of disease. Disease at Andersonville was enhanced by malnutrition, though perhaps also by mismanagement. The commandant of Andersonville, Captain Heinrich Hartmann Wirtz, a native of Switzerland, was tried and executed on criminal charges after the war. He may have been overwhelmed by circumstances, but not even the most dedicated Confederates have ever tried to argue that he was unfairly treated.

Hood was so encouraged by the Union failure that he sent his 4,000 cavalry under General Joseph Wheeler on a raid of his own against Sherman’s principal supply link, the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Its apparent success led him wrongly to conclude that Sherman was giving up the siege of Atlanta. In fact the Union, which had gone off Hood’s map, had placed themselves astride the railroad to Macon and thus cut off Atlanta from the outside world. During September 1-2, Hood therefore withdrew from Atlanta, correctly recognising that it could no longer be defended. Sherman telegraphed Lincoln on September 3: “Atlanta is ours and fairly won.”

The sensation aroused in both North and South by the fall of Atlanta reinforced the equal sensation caused by the Union victory at Mobile Bay on August 5. Both Grant and Sherman had long sought to capture Mobile, as a means of opening up a local campaign in Alabama. When Mobile’s fall came, it was as a result of a naval, not a land, battle. Mobile in August 1864 was one of the last active naval bases and blockade-running centres still open to the South, and home to some of the Confederate navy’s most powerful ships, including the ironclad Tennessee. Admiral David Farragut commanded a sizable fleet in the Gulf, and in early August led it into Mobile Bay with the aim of destroying the forts and the Confederate fleet they protected. The anchorage was defended by belts of what were then called torpedoes and today would be called mines, barrels filled with gunpowder to be detonated by fulminate of mercury contact fuses. The Union’s eighteen vessels, some ironclad, most wooden, advanced in pairs, lashed together, starting out early in the morning of August 6. They were brought under fire both by Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, and by the Confederate fleet. Farragut had climbed the mainmast of his flagship, the USS Hartford, where the quartermaster had lashed him to the rigging. When the danger of the mines became apparent, Farragut uttered what were to become immortal words: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” A lively gun duel then opened up, causing heavy casualties on the Union ships. One Union seaman lost both legs to a conical shot, then throwing up his arms in agony, lost both arms to another. The Tennessee, which boldly took on the entire Union fleet single-handed, attempting to sink her enemies by ramming, made herself the target of its combined gunnery and had her rudder chains shot away as a result. Not answering her helm, she was surrendered under a white flag by her captain, and with her capitulation the rest of the Confederate ships gave up the fight. The Union troops in the vicinity then came up and secured the surrender of the forts, though the city of Mobile remained in Confederate hands until April 12, 1865.

The victories of Atlanta and Mobile had a crucial effect on the impending presidential election campaign of 1864. Both parties had already chosen their candidates; the Republicans, known for purposes of the election as the Union Party, had nominated Abraham Lincoln at Baltimore in June; the Democrats were running George McClellan. Frémont, the “Pathfinder,” offered himself as a third-party candidate, tepidly opposed to the war, but made no showing and soon withdrew. McClellan, who had fought to preserve the Union without crushing the South, was identified as an anti-war candidate, though he wisely restored his pro-war position, saying that the sacrifices his comrades in arms had made could not be set aside for electoral purposes. During the Democratic Convention, held in Chicago, proceedings had been disturbed by the intervention of the long-term anti-war campaigner and troublemaker Clement Vallandigham, whose position was dramatised, though he did not deliberately encourage it, by an anti-war conspiracy based in Canada; arms were collected, and there were even some minor attempts at arson in New York and elsewhere, but the conspiracy failed to take fire. It was too blatantly pro-rebellion to win support among the partisans of peace. Nevertheless, at Niagara Falls, emissaries from Richmond hoped to manoeuvre the president into discussing familiar conditions for peace, including recognition, independence, and the continuation of slavery, but Lincoln issued a letter restating his inflexible commitment to restoration of the Union and abolition. At the same time the Republican Party weakly agreed to send its own peace mission to Richmond, with a letter from Lincoln offering peace upon the basis of the Constitution; Lincoln, however, recognised the pitfall, since the Constitution accepted slavery, and at the last moment declined to be caught. Nevertheless, he was, on the eve of the election, wholly uncertain of re-election, apparently believing that McClellan would win and that his last public duty would be to negotiate a way out of the war which would not compromise the Union.

Soviet Tank Production WWII




Unlike the United States, the Soviet Union came into World War II with an extensive tank industry-one the Soviets had unashamedly based on American-style mass production. This made sense, since many Soviet factories had been designed and built by Americans during the 1920s and 30s, when the Communists, working to improve the Soviet industrial base, aspired to the American production model. Indeed, Albert Kahn himself had designed the tractor factory at Stalingrad. And the Soviets weren’t just hiring American architects, but also American production engineers and tool manufacturers.

But by mid-1941, the German invasion had badly disrupted Soviet industry. During that disastrous summer, the invaders had captured, besieged, or threatened the Soviet Union’s western industrial cities. In six months, the U. S. S. R. effectively lost 40 percent of its gross domestic product and population, and 60 percent of its coal and steel production. In the face of this disaster, Russia hurriedly rushed equipment and skilled workers from hundreds of factories onto trains and sent machines and men east to the Ural Mountains.

The Soviets relocated the salvaged equipment to four towns: Nizhny Tagil, Omsk, Sverdlovsk, and Chelyabinsk. Each possessed an existing railroad equipment or tractor factory; the arriving equipment expanded those facilities. As workers set up the machine tools again, sometimes in the naked elements until buildings could be constructed, existing plants at Gorky and Stalingrad “kept the lights on” through 1942, producing enough vehicles for the Red Army to continue fighting. By the time the Stalingrad factory finally fell to the Nazis in October 1942, the new Ural plants were going full tilt.

This massive industrial exodus left the Russian railroad system on the brink of collapse by 1942. Overtaxed track had gone without proper maintenance; rolling stock and engines needed repair or replacement. This led to an effort to minimize railway freight tonnage, which in turn powered an emphasis in Russian factories on centralization and vertical integration- meaning that the Russians concentrated more of the entire process, from manufacture of subcomponents to final assembly, at individual factories. Doing so reduced efficiency, as even the largest factories couldn’t achieve the economies of scale that, say, an engine provider like Germany’s Maybach or the United States’ Ford could. But it helped keep the Soviet Union’s transportation network functioning.

The Ural facilities were huge: the largest in the world, in terms of manpower committed. The Chelyabinsk tractor works, for instance, was known simply as Tankograd: “Tank City.” Tankograd could fabricate nearly everything needed to make an AFV except the gun. It cast steel and armor; produced the engine, transmission, and other components; and assembled the vehicle. It even produced ammunition. The number of workers at the new facility skyrocketed: from 21,000 in 1937 to 40,000 in 1942. By 1944, while Chrysler had 19,500 workers engaged in tank production at the Arsenal and subsidiary plants, Tankograd had 60,000 people under its roof, most of them women, teenagers, and old men. Working conditions were primitive: hot, smoky, cramped, and dimly lit. But Tankograd and the other Ural facilities poured out vehicles.

One principle the Russians adopted with a vengeance from the Americans was planned obsolescence. In a manufactured product, it makes no sense to have subcomponents that last longer than the product itself. The Soviets weren’t dummies. They had carefully studied battlefield data and realized that the average lifespan of a tank on the Eastern Front was less than six months. In combat, tank lifespan was about 14 hours. These were disposable vehicles, with disposable human beings inside. This brutal insight clarified everything about vehicle design, leading the Soviets to embrace a methodology that might be called “The Zen of Shoddiness.”

Viewed this way, there was no sense in building a tank engine or transmission good for more than 1,500 kilometers (932 miles); the tank would be dead by then. The Soviets realized they could machine those components to looser tolerances, using lower-quality metals. And they replaced machined parts with stamped metal components whenever possible. Paint jobs were lamentably bad; welds often crude-although the Soviets did experiment with innovative technologies. At Nizhny Tagil, welding tank hulls underwater hastened cooling and sped up the manufacturing process.

At the same time, the Soviets did everything possible to reduce cost. They standardized Soviet tanks and self-propelled guns on just three chassis: the KV-1 heavy, T-34 medium, and T-70 light. And they kept production runs long and design changes to a minimum, implementing a change only if it made a vehicle simpler or cheaper to manufacture. With the T-34 medium tank, for example, manufacturers simplified 770 parts and eliminated more than 5,600 from 1941 to 1943. During that period the tank’s cost fell by half, from 269,000 rubles to 135,000. While everyone knows that time is money, the inverse is also true: less money meant less time on the line. Components were machined more quickly. And as workers learned the intricacies of assembling the same vehicle over and over, assembly time went down, too. Taken together, the overall labor cost of the vehicle plummeted.

None of this should imply that Soviet tanks were poorly designed. Quite the opposite: the T-34 was a great tank. Its firepower, protection, and mobility surpassed any AFV the Germans fielded until the end of 1942. Cosmetics and comfort simply didn’t concern the Soviets; natty paintjobs and ruler-straight welds didn’t kill Germans; the T-34’s 76mm gun did. That component of the vehicle worked very much as advertised. True, the tank’s loader had to scramble around inside the hull, because the T-34 had no turret basket in which he could sit. In Russian tanks, the things that mattered worked well enough; the things that didn’t were afterthoughts.

While it’s easy to ridicule the simple, sometimes shoddy, weapons the Soviets cranked out, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the philosophy underlying the Russian manufacturing approach was nothing less than brilliant. From an emasculated industrial base that left the Soviets under-producing Germans in coal and steel by a ratio of one to four, Soviet factories turned the tables, out-producing Germany nearly three to one in tanks during the vital 1942-1943 period. This monumental achievement was crucial to the war’s outcome.

Lockheed P-49



Bearing a close resemblance to the P-38, the P-49 was a high-performance warplane with good fighting qualities. The requirement for this long-range aircraft never materialised as the P-51D proved a superior escort fighter when fitted with drop tanks.

The Lockheed XP-49, its designation seemingly out of sequence in that it was a conception of pre-war years, was designed in 1939 with the ambitious goal of attaining 473mph (761.2km/h) in level flight at 15,000ft 14572m). The XP-49 would have been a veritable flying arsenal in its day as it was to be armed with two 20-mm cannon and four 0.5-in (12.7-mm) machine-guns. It was rigorously and exhaustively tested at Burbank, California, and Wright Field, Ohio, and the XP-49 was denied production status because of an engine substitution and the appearance of the Thunderbolt and Mustang.

The XP-49 was an outgrowth of the P-38 Lightning but in most respects was an entirely new design by the Lockheed-Burbank fighter team under H. L. Hibbard and Clarence (Kelly) Johnson. Ordered by the US Army on 3 August 1939 to meet a twin-engine fighter requirement (which also produced the Grumman XP-50) the sole XP-49 140-3055) was expected to attain unprecedented performance by mating the Lightning’s familiar twin-boom layout with two 2,300-hp (1715.1-kW) Pratt & Whitney X-1800 24-cylinder inline engines.

When plans to develop the powerplant proved too ambitious, twin 1,350-hp (1006.7-kW) Continental XIV-1430-1 engines had to be substituted, reducing speed to a still impressive 458mph (737.1km/h), although this was reached because the test ship lacked the added weight of protective armour which would have been fitted on a production variant. “We still felt we had a winner, says a Lockheed engineer. ”We had a roomy, pressurised cabin, good handling characteristics and, eventually, good maneuverability.” US Army planners saw the XP-49 as a possible ‘convoy fighter’ able to escort bombers on deep penetration raids. It might have been accorded higher priority had England been lost as a base from which to mount the air assault on the Third Reich.

The XP-49 first flew 11 November 1942 at Burbank, apparently with Milo Burcham at the controls. When it became necessary to increase the vertical fin area to improve yaw characteristics, the result was an unusual set of markings: Army directives called for 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes on the rudder, symbolic of the original 13 American colonies. When the tail was heightened, painters simply added non-regulation extra stripes.

At Burbank, the XP-49 survived a crash-landing caused by hydraulic failure, was repaired, and was ferried to Wright Field, Ohio, on 25 June 1943. Though it was a clear improvement over the P-38, able to “fly rings around the Lightning” in the words of one pilot, minor but troublesome fuel leakage problems led to XP-49 tests being discontinued and the airframe being scrapped, just when Mustangs with long-range drop tanks were appearing over Berlin. The ‘convoy fighter’ concept was studied later with the Lockheed XP-58 but never produced an operational aircraft.

Specifications (XP-49)

General characteristics

Crew: One

Length: 40 ft 1 in (12.2 m)

Wingspan: 52 ft (15.8 m)

Height: 9 ft 10 in (3.0 m)

Wing area: 327.5 ft² (30 m²)

Empty weight: 15,410 lb (6990 kg)

Loaded weight: 18,750 lb (8505 kg)

Powerplant: 2 × Continental XI-1430-1 inverted V-12s, 1,600 hp (1,193 kW) each


Maximum speed: 406 mph (653 km/h) 15,000 ft (4,570 m)

Range: 679 mi (1,093 km)

Rate of climb: 3,300 ft/min (16.8 m/s)


2 × 20 mm (.79 in) cannons

4 × 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine guns

Tosti’s (Tostig) rule I


Tostig Godwinsonby LTF86

The first interruption to Tosti’s rule apparently came from outside when a Norse fleet, which had allied itself with Earl Aelfgar, raided England in 1058. This raid probably struck at the Irish Sea coasts of Tosti’s earldom, and Domesday Book records of wasted land in Amounderness may be confirmation of this. However, Earl Tosti appears not to have been blamed for failing to counter this ‘unexpected’ raid. Again in 1061, when Earl Tosti was on a pilgrimage to Rome, Malcolm of Scotland took advantage of his absence to raid the north of England, including Lindisfarne. This incident has been seen as a sign of weakness on Tosti’s part because no susequent retaliation is recorded. This may, of course, be a result of the paucity of our sources at this time, but it is also possible that Tosti was able to keep Malcolm in check with diplomacy. The author of the Vita Eadwardi hints at this when he speaks of Tosti wearing down the Scots ‘as much by cunning as by . . . military campaigns’ and indeed no further Scottish attacks are recorded until after the Conquest. It is possible that Tosti’s links with Gospatric, son of Maldred, Malcolm’s cousin, may have helped him to secure the latter’s quiescence.

William Kapelle claims that this Scottish invasion resulted in the loss of Cumbria, and in Earl Tosti’s position being undermined by his failure to recover it. However, there is no clear evidence for the loss of Cumbria at this date, and the arguments Kapelle advances in support of this claim are unconvincing. The existence of wasted land in Amounderness proves nothing as it could have been caused by the Norse raids of 1058, or by William’s later harrying of the north in 1069. The fact that King Malcolm held Cumbria in 1070 does not necessarily mean that he gained it in 1061, and it seems much more likely that this occurred in the immediate post-Conquest period when Northumbria was in a state of chaos. The suggestion that Earl Tosti was unable to retaliate militarily against Malcolm because of the insecurity of his position in Northumbria, where a force of 200 huscarls was needed to hold down the earldom itself, is absurd. In 1063 Earl Tosti’s position was sufficiently secure that he was able to lead a major force into North Wales, to participate in his brother’s great campaign, with no ill effects in Northumbria. This would have been impossible if he had faced widespread discontent in his own earldom. Indeed, the booty gained on the expedition may have reinforced his popularity there.

If we consider the evidence objectively it is apparent that the discontent against Tosti’s rule first arose not in 1055 or 1061 but after the successful Welsh campaign of 1063. This was probably when Tosti began to be drawn into the confused local politics of the Northumbrian nobility. Either late in 1063, after the Welsh campaign, or early in 1064, Tosti had Gamal, son of Orm, and Ulf, son of Dolfin, assassinated in his own chamber at York while they visited him under safe conduct. (The fathers of these men were probably the Orm who commissioned the Kirkdale sundial, and the Dolfin who fell in Siward’s battle with Macbeth in 1054.) The date is not clear from John of Worcester, who speaks of these killings taking place ‘the year before’ the death of Gospatric on 28 December 1064. This Gospatric, the son of Uhtred, was slain by order of Queen Edith while attending King Edward’s Christmas court. His murder was reportedly the result of the queen’s intervention in a dispute between Gospatric and her brother, Tosti. He was probably the same man who issued the famous writ concerning lands in Allerdale in Cumbria. What were the reasons behind these savage actions carried out by Earl Tosti, or on his behalf? It has been suggested that it was an attempt to stifle opposition by removing its potential leaders and this is certainly possible. Earl Tosti’s predecessor, Siward, had acted in a similar manner, killing Earl Eadwulf, who controlled the region beyond the Tees in 1041, in order to seize control of all Northumbria.

However, there is another possibility which could explain these actions by Tosti. When Tosti visited Rome in 1061, among his following was a young man named Gospatric, a kinsman of King Edward. This was almost certainly Gospatric, son of Maldred, a grandson of King Aethelred and cousin of King Malcolm, who was later to become Earl of Northumbria under William. This Gospatric, according to the Vita Eadwardi, which was written for Tosti’s sister, Queen Edith, showed considerable valour and loyalty in aiding the earl’s escape when their party was attacked by robbers on the return journey. The fact that Gospatric accompanied Tosti on this journey indicates that he had probably entered the service of the earl, and the prominence he is given shows that he had become an important member of his entourage. If this was the case, it would not be surprising if Tosti reciprocated by promoting Gospatric’s interests in Northumbria.

This would probably involve Tosti in acting against the rival lines of the descendants of Ealdorman Waltheof and the murders of Gamal, Ulf and Gospatric would fit such a pattern. Gospatric, son of Uhtred, Lord of Allerdale, was the senior representative of the elder line of Waltheof’s descendants. The other two murdered men were closely linked to this Gospatric. Ulf, son of Dolfin, was probably the grandson of the Thorfinn MacThore to whom Gospatric had granted lands in Allerdale in his famous writ, during Earl Siward’s rule. Gamal was probably the grandson of his namesake who also appeared in Gospatric’s Allerdale writ, and son of the Orm who commissioned the Kirkdale sundial and who married Gospatric’s niece, Aethelthryth. All of these killings may therefore have been arranged to further the career of Tosti’s protégé Gospatric, son of Maldred, who came from the junior line of Waltheof’s descendants. Whatever the reason behind Earl Tosti’s actions, these deaths undoubtedly aroused opposition to his rule among those linked to Gospatric of Allerdale, north of the Tees.

This unrest was not the main cause of the rebellion of 1065, although the rebels did use these slayings as justification for their actions. The identified leaders of the rebellion, Gamelbearn, Dunstan, son of Aethelnoth, and Gluniarn, son of Heardwulf, were thegns of Yorkshire with no apparent links to Gospatric. They were unlikely to be interested in the rivalries of Waltheof’s descendants. Instead, the interests of the leading rebels were centred on the extensive lands they held in Yorkshire. Domesday Book records these lands, including one estate at Temple Newsham held jointly by Dunstan and Gluniarn, which lay mainly in the West Riding but also included houses in York itself.

It is John of Worcester who indicates the probable reason for the involvement of these men in the rebellion when he speaks of a huge tribute Tosti had ‘unjustly levied on the whole of Northumbria’. In addition, the Vita Eadwardi, although otherwise sympathetic to Tosti, admits that he had ‘repressed [the Northumbrians] with the heavy yolk of his rule’, possibly another reference to this tax. It appears that the northern shires may have had a much more favourable tax assessment than the rest of England. Earl Tosti seems to have made the mistake of attempting to redress this anomaly and impose on the northern shires a level of tax closer to that found in the rest of England. The exact change made is unfortunately unknown, but that it may have caused the rebellion is suggested by the widespread participation of minor thegns in the revolt, all of whom, naturally, would be affected by such a change. Thus Chronicle C speaks of the participation of ‘all the thegns of Yorkshire’ and notes that ‘all Tosti’s earldom unanimously deserted him’, while Chronicle D adds ‘all the thegns of . . . Northumberland’ as well. The rebellion was also led by fairly minor figures in contrast to the leaders of other revolts, such as Earls Godwine and Aelfgar.

The purpose of such an increase in the tax level was clear. It would result in a substantial increase in revenue for the king, and since the earl took a third of all such revenue, it would enhance his own wealth too. This may have been particularly important since Tosti’s participation in Harold’s Welsh campaign and his vigorous enforcement of justice must have been draining his coffers. Although he should have realized that such a move would be widely unpopular, he may have considered his position sufficiently secure by 1065 for him to take this chance. He had already secured his government of the Northumbrians through increased enforcement of law and order, which possibly involved intervention in local blood feuds and had probably reduced general unrest in the earldom. This and the elimination of possible threats from Wales and Scotland and from the local nobility may have contributed to what was to prove a false sense of security on Tosti’s part.

Whatever the reasons behind it, Tosti’s action was to prove a major error of judgement. A proposed increase in taxation naturally aroused a great deal of opposition, far more than his participation in northern feuds or enforcement of royal justice could have done. The reason for this opposition is not difficult to appreciate if we examine the landholdings of the three named leaders of the rebellion, Gamelbearn, Dunstan and Gluniarn, as recorded in Domesday Book. Consider, for example, the effect of an increase in the Northumbrian tax assessment from 2s on every 6 carucates to say 2s on every 4. This assessment still represented only a quarter of that of the rest of England, but would in effect increase the annual tax payments of these Yorkshire thegns by 50 per cent. Thus Gamelbearn, who held approximately 60 carucates of land and paid 20s at the original tax rates, would pay 30s at the new rate. Similarly, Dunstan, who held 48 carucates and originally paid 16s, would find this rising to 24s, and Gluniarn, with 39 carucates and paying 13s, would find himself liable for 19½s. Such proposed increases would indeed provoke a great deal of opposition, affecting as they did every thegn in the earldom. The sources also hint that Tosti was dispensing arbitrary justice, including killings and forfeitures, at this time, which may have been attempts to enforce collection of taxes at the new rate.

In summary, the rigorous imposition of justice by Tosti had probably interfered with traditional jurisdictions and with a local preference for the blood feud, and so aroused resentment from some local nobles. The promotion of the interests of Gospatric, son of Maldred, in preference to those of the senior line of the descendants of Ealdorman Waltheof had led to opposition from and the murder of men of this line. However, it was surely the attempted imposition of unaccustomed financial burdens in autumn 1065 which raised the temperature of the whole earldom to boiling point. Taxes may have been collected in the autumn after harvest and this would certainly fit the time-scale of the Northumbrian revolt. It has been suggested that the clerks of Durham had sought to incite the earldom to revolt by translating the relics of St Oswine to Durham and displaying them there in March 1065. However, a later life of St Oswine records Bishop Aethelwine presenting Countess Judith, Tosti’s wife, with some hair of St Oswine as a result of this same event. It would therefore seem unlikely that this translation was directed against the earl, but rather was part of Durham’s efforts to expand its collection of relics. In fact, it was in the autumn of 1065 that opposition began to form, its objective being the overthrow of Earl Tosti, his representatives and his new taxation. The absence of the earl, who had been called to the south on business at the royal court and had stayed on to hunt with King Edward at Britford in Wiltshire, provided the rebels with their opportunity.

On 3 October 1065 the thegns of Yorkshire and the rest of Northumbria descended on York and occupied the city. This accomplished, they proceeded to slaughter Tosti’s officials and supporters, including his huscarls Amund and Ravenswart, and to sack his treasury. These actions appear to confirm that the primary cause behind the revolt was the new taxes. They emptied the earl’s treasury in order to recover those unlawful taxes taken from them earlier, and took revenge on the officials who had sought to enforce that taxation through ruthless measures including forfeiture and killing. They seem to have missed Copsi, Tosti’s deputy, indicating perhaps that he too was absent from York, leaving the field clear for the rebels.

Once they had vented their initial anger on the symbols of Tosti’s rule, the northern thegns met to consider how to seek legitimacy for their rebellion. They did this by declaring Tosti outlawed for his unlawful actions and sending for Morcar, younger brother of Earl Edwin of Mercia, to be their earl. These brothers probably had sufficient reason to participate in Tosti’s discomfiture. Despite its sympathetic view of Tosti, the Vita Eadwardi admits ‘a long-standing rivalry’ between him and Aelfgar’s sons. This may have originated from Tosti’s elevation to the earldom in 1055, which had been considered by their father, Aelfgar, as a usurpation of his seniority. They probably believed that Tosti had deprived their father of a major earldom and probably contributed to his banishment later that year. What made the Northumbrians choose Morcar as Tosti’s successor?

The fact that Morcar was, in effect, an intruder has already been discussed, and indicates that he was not chosen for his connections with Northumbria. Neither was he chosen because of a lack of local candidates. There were at least three such men: Oswulf, son of the Eadwulf slain by Siward in 1041; Waltheof, the young son of Earl Siward; and Gospatric, son of Maldred, Tosti’s protégé. The last of these was probably unacceptable because of his close links with Tosti, and certainly so to the supporters of his murdered rival, Gospatric of Allerdale. Waltheof may still have been considered too young or was perhaps unacceptable as a son of Earl Siward, who was also remembered for his severe rule. This left Oswulf, a nephew of Gospatric of Allerdale, who would later be appointed to rule part of Northumbria under Earl Morcar and who became Earl of Northumbria soon after the Conquest. However, he was overlooked on this occasion, possibly because backing him would have aligned the partisans of his rival, Gospatric, son of Maldred, against the rebels. The latter Gospatric may have retained sufficient local support, even without his patron Tosti, to effectively bar Oswulf’s appointment. The fact that he had not been completely eclipsed by Tosti’s fall seems proven by his ability to take control of Northumbria in 1068. In a sense, therefore, the northern thegns had to look beyond their own region, and chose Morcar as the most senior nobleman currently available who lacked an earldom.

Tosti’s (Tostig) rule II


There were other, more positive reasons for the choice of Morcar. The rebels were fully aware that the deposition of Tosti was bound to arouse strong opposition, for not only was he a favourite of King Edward but his brothers ruled much of England and the eldest, Harold, was second only to the king. In these circumstances, the wise course for the rebels was to ally themselves with the other major family in England, in the person of Morcar. This alliance would bring them the assistance of his brother, Earl Edwin of Mercia. Such major outside support, which could be vital to the success of their revolt, would not be forthcoming for any local Northumbrian leader. The Vita Eadwardi confirms this point when it says that they chose Morcar ‘to give them authority’ for their actions. This was a rebellion against Earl Tosti, rather than a rebellion against southern government in general.

The northern rebels, accompanied by their new ‘Earl’ Morcar, marched south to press their case with King Edward. They were joined at Northampton by Earl Edwin with the forces of his earldom and some Welsh allies. They had ravaged the countryside on the way south, targeting Tosti’s lands and followers in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, all of which were part of his earldom. They were met at Northampton by Earl Harold, who it should be noted clearly came to negotiate as he was without an armed following. He had been sent by King Edward, possibly at the suggestion of Earl Tosti, to open negotiations with the rebels. The intention was that he should restore peace to the kingdom and his brother to his earldom.

Harold was now faced with the most difficult negotiations of his entire career, between two sides equally determined not to give an inch. These negotiations were undoubtedly made more difficult because of the passions aroused on both sides and because they reached into the heart of the kingdom and the heart of Harold’s own family. In comparison, Harold’s earlier negotiations with Earl Aelfgar and Gruffydd of Wales, must have seemed relatively straightforward. On the one hand, Earl Tosti, his own brother, was determined to recover his earldom, even if that meant civil war and the crushing of the rebellion by force. Initially, it appears Tosti was supported in this by King Edward and his sister, Queen Edith. On the other hand, the rebels, consisting of the northern thegns from Yorkshire and the rest of the earldom and led by Morcar, wanted Tosti removed. They were supported by Morcar’s brother, Earl Edwin of Mercia, and the men of his earldom. The initial positions adopted by Earl Harold himself, and by his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine, are unknown, but were presumably supportive of their brother Tosti. Harold’s attitude may be hinted at in Chronicle C, which states that he ‘wanted to bring about an agreement between them if he could’, including presumably Tosti’s restoration. The fact that Tosti may have requested his brother’s mediation and the latter’s later reaction to Harold’s failure to support his restoration may indicate the same.

However, after Harold had spoken with the rebels at Northampton towards the end of October, he realized that it would be impossible for Tosti to retain Northumbria. The latter had completely lost the consensus of support which an earl required to rule. He had succeeded in alienating the majority of the local thegns rather than simply one faction or another. As a result, the feelings of hatred and distrust now stirred up against him were too deep to be assuaged, and the opposition was now too well organized and supported to be overcome without a civil war. The spectre of civil war was something which Earl Harold drew back from, just as his father and King Edward had done during the earlier crisis of 1051–2. Therefore, by the time he returned to Oxford where the royal council was to meet on 28 October to consider the crisis, he had probably already made an important decision.

At the Oxford council, Harold announced that the rebels could not be persuaded to withdraw or reduce their demands for Tosti’s removal and that they could only be compelled to do so by the use of military force. He advised against this and instead suggested their demands should be met. The Vita Eadwardi recounts the arguments raised against military action including the fear of civil war and the imminent onset of winter weather. The fear of civil war, as in the crisis of 1051–2, certainly loomed large in men’s minds. Harold himself was also now aware of William’s ambition to invade, an ambition which would more easily have become a reality if there had been civil war in England. Nevertheless, Harold’s statement must have caused shock and consternation for the king, for Earl Tosti, and for the rest of the Godwine family. The king demanded that troops be called out to restore Earl Tosti by force. It seems that Tosti was so stunned and furious that he actually accused his brother of inciting the whole rebellion, with the aim of expelling him from the kingdom. Indeed, so emphatic was Tosti with this accusation that Harold had to purge himself of this charge by swearing an oath.

Is it possible that any truth lay behind Tosti’s accusation? As we have seen, the rebellion had resulted from local causes in the north which Harold could not have created. It is possible that Harold took advantage of the fact of the rebellion to rid himself of a rival or potential rival, but there are no contemporary indications that the brothers were considered as rivals. On the contrary, the brothers had always worked very closely together, particularly during their recent Welsh campaign. In addition, the Vita Eadwardi, written for Queen Edith, is clearly confused by this sudden rift between the brothers, and the whole scheme of the work, based on the brothers working together with a common aim, is disrupted and transformed by it. Similarly, Queen Edith herself is stated to have been confounded by the quarrel between her brothers and there is no reason to doubt this. Therefore, there appear to be no grounds for suspecting any important rivalry between the brothers before 1065.

It has been suggested that Harold now saw Tosti as a potential threat to his designs on the English throne and used the rebellion to achieve his replacement with Morcar. This assumes that Harold already intended to take the throne and forestall the rightful claims of Atheling Edgar, which is by no means certain. It also requires that Tosti would be opposed to such an action by Harold, and that the latter had already prepared an alliance with Edwin and Morcar to secure a possible future move for the throne. In such circumstances he might have sought to win the support of the brothers Edwin and Morcar by supporting Morcar in his claim to Northumbria. However, there are problems with such a scenario. Firstly, there is no evidence one way or the other to indicate when Harold forged his alliance with Edwin and Morcar, and second, it seems unlikely that Tosti would in fact have opposed any move by Harold to take the throne. There is little evidence, for example, that he was a supporter of the rightful heir, Atheling Edgar. The latter is never linked to the earl, although they must have had regular contact at court. The possibility of Tosti himself as a rival candidate for the throne also seems unlikely since as the younger brother, less powerful than Harold and more isolated in the north from the centres of power, his claim could only be weaker than Harold’s. All the evidence seems to point to Tosti as Harold’s potential supporter in such a venture, as in all previous actions.

The timing of the Northumbrian rebellion itself also causes difficulties. In the autumn of 1065 King Edward was around sixty-three years old but had as yet shown no signs of imminent demise. If Harold was making arrangements to occupy the throne already, his actions could have been premature. He might have had to wait for several years for King Edward’s death, by which time Atheling Edgar would have reached maturity and perhaps been in a more secure position to succeed in opposition to Harold. In such an interval, any alliance between Harold and the brothers Edwin and Morcar might decay and the latter be tempted to support Edgar instead. This would also appear to make the suggestion that Harold took advantage of the Northumbrian rebellion to remove Tosti seem unlikely, although it cannot be entirely ruled out. It is impossible to establish the truth of this unless we consider the reactions of the rest of the Godwine family and of King Edward to the rebellion against Tosti.

The sympathy of King Edward and Queen Edith for Tosti is clearly recorded. The positions of Gyrth and Leofwine are unknown but it is possible that Gyrth was close to his brother Tosti as he is frequently associated with him in the sources. Thus he was in Tosti’s company during the family’s exile in 1051–2, and again on the visit to Rome in 1061. In an obscure reference in the Vita Eadwardi, Tosti’s mother, Gytha, would be described as sorrowing over his exile. In spite of this sympathy for Tosti from the king and members of his family, all these individuals were eventually persuaded, probably in part by Harold but largely by the stark facts of the situation, that Tosti could not remain as Earl of Northumbria. Indeed, they were also persuaded that since he refused to accept his deposition he should be exiled. Gyrth and Leofwine appear to have accepted Tosti’s downfall without a murmur, and thereafter supported Harold with complete loyalty until they fell together at Hastings. There are no indications in any sources that either brother considered supporting Tosti instead of Harold and this strongly suggests there existed no suspicion concerning Harold’s actions on their part. King Edward is recorded in Chronicle D as finally agreeing to the terms of the northern rebels. Although the Vita Eadwardi shows that both he and Queen Edith were deeply upset by Tosti’s fall, it nevertheless makes clear that they accepted it, however reluctantly. All of this would seem to indicate that Harold was not purposefully using the rebellion to rid himself of Tosti, but was forced to act as he did as a result of it.

Eventually, King Edward had to accept the northern rebels’ terms. The alternative was civil war, which no one was prepared to countenance. Tosti was deposed and replaced by Morcar, the rebels were pardoned and the laws of Cnut renewed, the latter point no doubt signifying the withdrawal of the additional tax demands. Harold returned to Northampton soon after the council of 28 October to give the rebels surety for this settlement, and the immediate crisis was resolved. Tosti appears to have been outlawed a short time later, possibly early in November, apparently because he refused to accept his deposition as commanded by Edward. This seems clear from his accusations against his brother and his subsequent attempts to restore his fortunes by any means possible. Domesday Book preserves notices of land forfeited by Tosti at this time at Bayford in Hertfordshire and Chalton in Bedfordshire. Thereafter, Tosti took ship with his wife and family and some loyal thegns and sailed for Flanders and refuge with his brother-in-law, Count Baldwin V.

Czar Nicholas and his Navy


Imperial Russian battleship Borodino at Kronshtadt, Augst 1904. Borodino was the lead ship of her class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Russian Navy although she was the second ship of her class to be completed. Named after the 1812 Battle of Borodino, the ship was completed after the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. Borodino was assigned to the Second Pacific Squadron sent to the Far East a few months after her completion to break the Japanese blockade of Port Arthur. The Japanese captured the port while the squadron was in transit and their destination was changed to Vladivostok. The ship was sunk during the Battle of Tsushima on 27 May 1905 due to explosions set off by a Japanese shell hitting a 6-inch (152 mm) magazine. There was only one survivor from her crew of 855 officers and enlisted men.

The Industrial Revolution and the age of steam heralded a period of comparative decline in the Russian navy which was destined to last more than a century. They were slow to adopt steam-powered ships, this in itself reflecting the innate conservatism of Russian society, their lack of natural resources in coal and iron, and the paucity of labour and skilled craftsmen. In the Crimean War the Russian Navy was hopelessly out-matched both in the Black Sea and the Baltic so that the sailors were used on land as infantry while the warships were laid up in their home ports. Only on rare occasions did the ships venture out and even then scuttled back behind the shelter of their garrison artillery at the first sign of the Royal Navy. In the final quarter of the century there was some revival of interest in the fleets, the Czar Alexander II appointed his brother as Minister of Marine. This resulted in a prototype ironclad being imported from England and the eventual appearance of a small squadron of screw-driven warships in the Baltic, but the standard of maintenance was such that the ships had only an indifferent performance, while their design lagged far behind the more progressive navies.

By the turn of the century the navy had begun to show some improvements under Czar Alexander III and his son Nicholas II: the navy was encouraged to learn from others and new methods were copied from the naval powers, especially the Germans. However all this was dissipated in a ruinous war with Japan; the Russo- Japanese war is probably chiefly remembered for the almost total defeat of the Imperial Navy at the Battle of Tsushima. Czar Nicholas introduced an acquisitive foreign policy in the Far East which meant that the Pacific Fleet should operate out of the secure base of a warm water port. Such a policy was bound to result in a collision with the rapidly emerging naval power of Japan. The Russians found their base in Port Arthur which the Japanese had been forced to return to China in 1895; the Chinese with a little pressure allowed the Russians to garrison this base under the cynical guise of protecting them from the further ravages of Japan. For the first time in their history the Russians possessed two viable bases for their Pacific Fleet, in Vladivostok and Port Arthur, and this represented a direct challenge to Japanese ambitions for the naval hegemony of the North Pacific.

The Japanese war aim was clear and explicit. They needed to bottle up the Russian squadrons in their respective bases and then destroy each in turn with an overwhelming show of force. To this end the Japanese prepared secretly for war and then, in a style reminiscent of a later occasion, struck swiftly and without warning early in 1904. Japanese mine-laying proved almost immediately successful for when the Russians sailed out from Port Arthur in April to meet the Japanese challenge their flagship the Fetropavlousk was enticed onto a minefield and sank, taking almost the full complement and their Admiral, Makharoff to the bottom. By August of that year the Russian naval presence was practically destroyed. While the Imperial Japanese Army laid siege to Port Arthur from the landward side, their naval squadron defeated the Russian fleet twenty miles out, the few vessels that survived struggled back into the harbour. In the meanwhile the squadron at Vladivostok was defeated by the Japanese fleet under Admiral Kamimura as it tried to reach Port Arthur. In five short months the Japanese had thus secured control over the Northern Pacific and had completely destroyed the Russian squadrons as a viable naval force. It is ironic that the architect of this brilliant episode in Japanese history. Admiral Togo, was an officer who had studied the art of naval warfare in England and whose major victory over the Russians, which was still to come, was to earn him the immortal title of the ‘Nelson of the East’.

Czar Nicholas II prided himself on being a European and thus this defeat of his navy by an oriental power represented a double humiliation as well as thwarting his ambitions in the Pacific. He therefore decided to restore the balance and regain his tarnished reputation by transferring his only remaining fleet from the Baltic to the Northern Pacific, and so began what must be regarded as one of the most bizarre episodes in naval history. Nicholas appointed Admiral Rozhestvenski to command this expedition, at fifty-six a relatively young officer who owed his rapid promotion to his dashing exploits as a torpedo boat commander when fighting against the Turks. The spearhead of the Baltic fleet was built around four new battleships, which were not really operational, manned by novice crews. The rest of the fighting ships (together with the fleet support and colliers) were vessels that already belonged to a bygone age, old ships armed with obsolescent guns and poor crews.

Rozhestvenski intended to work up his fleet during the voyage to the Pacific, but even as he sailed from the Baltic alarmist (and totally unfounded) reports warned him that Japanese torpedo boats, which had been shipped to England, were already lying in wait in the North Sea. This jittery Russian fleet fired on a Swedish merchant ship and the occasional German fishing vessel in the Baltic; it was hardly surprising therefore, that when it came upon British trawlers operating in the fishing grounds off the Dogger Bank, in the dead of night, that ‘all hell should break loose’. At point-blank range, as mass hysteria gripped the Russian ships, broadsides poured into the trawlers, although British loss of life would have been much greater if the Russian gunnery had been even half-way efficient. Nevertheless by the time the Russians had realised their mistake the damage had been done; although only one trawler actually sank, a number of lives were lost and the resultant indignation and sense of outrage in England pushed the two countries to the brink of war. Royal Naval units shadowed the Russian fleet through the English Channel and out into the open seas as far as Tangier, with their main armament trained on this hapless Russian Force. At the Mediterranean the Russian fleet divided, the older units proceeded to the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal while Rozhestvenski took his main squadron the additional 10,000 miles around the Cape of Good Hope. In the New Year of 1905 the units rendezvoused at Madagascar where the fleet waited for two months for the reinforcements of the Black Sea fleet and for colliers and auxiliaries to replenish the much depleted bunkers. This period of enforced delay and inactivity in an unhealthy and disease-ridden anchorage played havoc with Russian morale and efficiency.

It was while they were off Madagascar that news was received of the Fall of Port Arthur. Rozhestvenski dared not turn back and so the nearest haven was Vladivostok, a voyage in itself of many thousands of miles through waters unknown to the navigators, and between them and safety was the Japanese fleet under Togo. In March new units joined up with the fleet at Madagascar, including the battleship Nikokai I and the force set out across the Indian Ocean. In early April the Royal Navy shadowed the Russian fleet as it passed within sight of Singapore on the way to Kamranh Bay in Cochin China where Rozhestvenski intended to make his final landfall and complete his preparations before undertaking the last leg of this remarkable voyage to Vladivostok. At Kamranh Bay a reinforcement reached the Russian Admiral in the form of a second squadron of new fast battleships from the Baltic fleet, which had not even been completed when the original force first sailed. On the 14th May 1905 this enormous armada set sail for its rendezvous with destiny and the waiting Japanese. The Russians had already completed an incredible voyage, but the ships were now badly in need of a major refit, the crews were stale and tired and the strain of command was already beginning to exert a fatal influence over Admiral Rozhestvenski. The Japanese, on the other hand, had been able to follow the Russian movement from the telegraph of the press agencies, while the precise details were passed on by the friendly British. The Japanese ships had been refitted and replenished, their crews were well trained, rested and, above all, under the inspired leadership of their dynamic commander.

Rozhestvenski’s force made sedate passage northwards passing through the Bashi Channel between the Philippines and Formosa, his more modern and faster warships fatally inhibited by the pace of the older and slower brethren. Although lacking any precise information of the Japanese deployment, location or strength, Rozhestvenski was sanguine enough to appreciate that he must now fight his way through to Vladivostok. Accordingly he detached his auxiliaries from the main force at Shanghai where they were to await events. From Shanghai northwards there were a number of routes the Russians could take to reach Vladivostok, but Admiral Togo was convinced that the Russians must come through the Tsushima passage, for it represented the most direct course, and he deployed his force accordingly. Rozhestvenski was indeed heading for the passage and was timing his run to clear this stretch of water in daylight for he knew that he could not trust the competence of his ships’ navigators to make the passage at night.

On the 27th May 1905 thirty-seven Russian warships steamed through the Tsushima passage at their best speed of eleven knots; the battle force was deployed in two parallel lines, cruisers scouted ahead while the few essential auxiliaries brought up the rear escorted by the older vessels. The Japanese received word of the Russian movements from their scouting cruisers and Togo deployed his force from its anchorage at Masampo Bay in Korea in good time to contest the Russian passage. The Japanese were, on paper, heavily out-numbered but had the advantage of superior fire-power and speed; this allowed Togo to complete the classic maneuver of naval warfare by crossing the ‘T’ with his battleships while his armoured cruisers harried the Russian flanks.

Battle opened at a range of 9,500 yards in the early afternoon and the Japanese broadsides wrought havoc on the Russian battleships in the van of the line who could offer only poor response with their forward firing guns. Most of the many excellent accounts of this engagement are all based on the report of a British naval officer who with the sang-froid typical of his breed, observed events from a deck chair on the Japanese flagship’s quarterdeck! By the late afternoon the Japanese victory was assured. The Russian battleships were either sunk or disabled, their squadron commanders had lost all control, and indeed the wounded Admiral Rozhestvenski was captured as he tried to run for Vladivostok in a fast destroyer after his own flagship had been sunk. As night fell those Russian vessels that had somehow survived the holocaust of fire were harried and pursued by the lighter units of the Japanese navy while the disabled battleships were finished off by Togo’s cruisers. Only one small cruiser, the Almaz, reached Vladivostok with two attendant destroyers while three other cruisers sought sanctuary in Manila.

The maritime powers hastened to digest the lessons of Tsushima and almost all learned the wrong ones. For Russia, humiliation and defeat was even further endorsed as the Japanese revived the old custom of incorporating the spoils into their own fleet. Eastern power had displayed its ability to master Western technology, but few nations seemed to take cognizance of that fact.

Balloons to Bombers



SPAD XIII Jacques Michael Swaab, by Iain Wyllie.

The birth of Army aviation coincides with the beginning of all military aviation in America. Following the record-setting flight of Wright and Foulois, during which the Flyer soared to 400 feet and flew at 42.583 mph, thereby satisfying the Signal Corps’ specification for a “flying machine,” the Army accepted the airplane on Aug. 2, 1909. It is this date that properly proscribes the service’s century of aviation activities.

But other starting points are variously cited, even by the Army itself. Professor Thaddeus Lowe’s seven hydrogen-filled balloons won President Abraham Lincoln’s instant approval after a demonstration flight in 1861, and were subsequently employed by the Union Army during the battle for Fair Oaks and the siege of Richmond in 1862.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, the Army put its only balloon into service. Sgt. Ivy Baldwin was sent aloft on June 30 to confirm the presence of Adm. Pascual Cervera y Topete’s fleet in Santiago de Cuba harbor. The next day, the balloon and Baldwin were in action above Kettle and San Juan hills, messaging target information to Army artillery and Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders.”

Though the potential of airborne platforms for the military had already been recognized, it would be nine more years until the Army would give further consideration to aeronautics. Army officers who took an interest in ballooning were labeled “balloonatics” – followers of a phenomenon that was nothing more than a new sport. In the meantime, European aviators were forging ahead.

Washington finally began to take notice in 1907 and created the Aeronautical Division of the U. S. Army Signal Corps. It took the foresight of President Theodore Roosevelt to get the ball rolling with regard to powered flight. Aware that the United States was behind, Roosevelt dipped into a special carte blanche “presidential fund,” which had been granted by Congress a decade before for use at the chief executive’s discretion. The money was set aside for the development of the country’s first military aircraft, with specifications laid down by the Signal Corps.

More than 40 bidders sent proposals to the Signal Corps, but the Wright brothers were the only candidates whose application seemed realistic, and their bid was accepted in 1908. The result was a series of acceptance trials held at Fort Myer, Va., beginning in September 1908. Tragedy struck on the last of the initial trials when the Flyer crashed after one of its two propellers cracked. Orville Wright, piloting the airplane, survived with a broken left thigh, cracked ribs, and a gash in his cheek. His passenger, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, a cavalry officer, became the first casualty of powered flight and Army aviation.

Fortunately, the crash did not kill the Army’s desire for an airplane, and the aforementioned 1909 flight sealed the deal. But progress from 1909 until America’s entry into World War I in April 1917 was poor. In 1913, a bill that would have established military aeronautics as a separate corps distinct from the Signal Corps reached the House Military Affairs Committee, but died there. Spending on Army aviation since 1908 amounted to only $435,000. Meanwhile, Germany had invested more than $28 million.

On the brighter side, the Army’s first successful standard training plane, the Curtiss JN-1/2/3/4 Jenny debuted in 1915. It would go on to be produced in the thousands, with sales to the Army, Navy, and the Royal Air Force. Still, the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps numbered just 29 officers, 155 enlisted men, and eight airplanes by the summer of the same year.

The war in Europe had been under way for almost two years in March 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson ordered the Army to pursue Mexican bandit Pancho Villa and his forces in the wake of an incursion in New Mexico, which led to a battle with the 13th U. S. Cavalry. The Punitive Expedition’s leader, Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing, requested that the 1st Aero Squadron and its eight JN-3s and 11 pilots (including Foulois) be assigned to him for the campaign to help track Villa.

What followed was a fiasco. The eight underpowered Jennies were no match for the 94,000 square miles of the Mexican state of Chihuahua into which Pershing pushed with infantry and cavalry units. The aircraft were damaged in crashes, suffered engine failures, and had difficulty finding any sign of Pancho Villa. Foulois requested replacements, but the Army had none. Less than a month after its deployment to Mexico, the 1st Aero Squadron was recalled to Columbus, N. M., to serve as couriers.

In the wake of the campaign came the realization that the United States was woefully behind in all aspects of military aviation. Just three weeks before America’s entry into World War I, Dr. Charles D. Walcott, head of the aeronautic committee of the Council of National Defense summed up the situation: “No amount of money will buy time,” he remarked. “Even the most generous preparations would not open up the years we have passed and enable us to lay carefully the foundations of a great industry and a great aero army. We have hardly made a beginning.”

On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Army aviation had on strength just 52 officers and 1,300 enlisted. Only 26 of the personnel were fully qualified pilots and the total aircraft inventory numbered 55. Pershing complained bitterly, “Fifty-one were obsolete and the other four obsolescent.”

Over the summer, Congress and Wilson approved a massive funding increase ($640 million) for the Aviation Section. One of the first efforts mounted was to build an American engine capable of powering the British-made De Havilland DH-4 day bomber, which Pershing had decided would be put into production for the Army’s aviators. Thus, the Liberty engine was born. But the first American-built DH-4 did not reach Europe until March 1918.

After delays, the 1st Aero Squadron sailed for France in August 1917. All the while, Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), had been laying the groundwork for Army aviation’s role on the Western Front. His top lieutenants in organizing the force were Lt. Col. William Mitchell and newly promoted Brig. Gen. Foulois.

Volunteers for pilot training abounded (more than 40,000 applied), but few facilities existed to train them stateside. Accordingly, many were trained by the British, French, and Italians. Attrition was huge, and by the war’s end, less than 10,000 Americans were rated military aviators. Final numbers show that only a fraction – 767 pilots, 481 observers, and 23 aerial gunners – actually made it to the front with AEF’s paltry 45 squadrons. Among them were top aces including Capt. Edward Rickenbacker and Lt. Frank Luke Jr. By the war’s end in November 1918, operational U. S. aircraft comprised just 10 percent of the Allied total. Americans had carried out 150 bombing missions, downed 781 enemy aircraft – and lost 289 of their own, including 237 airmen.