Category: Maps (Page 4 of 4)

Battle of Marston Moor 2 July 1644

Having relieved the siege at York by out manoeuvering the Parliamentary Army, Prince Rupert wanted to engage Parliament’s Allied Army. Rupert believed (controversially) that he had orders from the King to do so. The Parliamentary backed Allied Army of the Eastern Association, local Yorkshire forces along with the Scots under the Earl of Levin accommodated him between York and Knaresborough. Rupert was outnumbered, especially, because he could not get the siege-relieved forces at York to get the lead out until the last minute. The Marquess of Newcastle, who had held York through the siege, was against offering battle at Marston Moor, going so far as to remind Rupert of one of his past failures due to hasty decisions. Rupert prevailed, but even with the mainly infantry forces from York, Rupert mustered only 18,000 to the Allied Army’s 28,000.

The two forces squared off late in the midsummer’s day after having had spent the better part of the afternoon so close to each other that insults were being traded across the lines. Persistent rain showers and the lateness of the day had convinced Rupert that battle would not begin that day. However, for debatable reasons, the allied front surged forward around 7 PM and the fight was on. Rupert could have felt vindicated to choose battle at first as Goring’s cavalry on the Royalist left broke through and routed Sir Thomas Fairfax’s right of cavalry and infantry. Goring’s forces pushed on and took the Allied Army’s baggage train behind the southern ridge. The Allied Scots’ infantry, however, doggedly held the line in the centre. Meanwhile, a wounded Cromwell pushed Rupert’s cavalry back in the vicinity of present day Kendal Lane on Tockwith*s eastern edge. After winning the cavalry engagement, Cromwell’s disciplined forces turned right and flanked the Royalist infantry. This envelopment turned the tide and the Royalist forces were reduced to the last stand by Newcastle’s best infantry, the Whitecoats, who defied Cromwell, until Scottish Dragoons came to finish off the battle near White Sike Close.

Ride Recommendation for the Battle of Marston Moor

This ride runs right through the battle area, which is centred on grid SE 491522 in between Long Marston and Tockwith. (Ordnance Survey Landranger map 105)

Check out the Battle of Towton from the War of the Roses not too far from Marston Moor.

Battle for the Southern Frontier Book Review – Creek War

Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812

On Tuesday this week, I received the Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812, by Mike Bunn and Clay Williams in the mail. It is published by The History Press.

I absolutely devoured this book. This is my kind of popular history. Bunn and Williams have written a book of a great history, but also backed it up with lots of detail on the historical ground where the war was fought. Their bibliographic essay is a dream for those of us who like to dig a little deeper. They even include some of the source documents and illustrations in the book itself. Finally, they include lots of maps, location descriptions and images of historical markers that help us saddled adventurers find the pertinent locations on our travels.

Bunn and Williams break the story up into 5 parts…the origins of the war, war from the south northwards, from Georgia westwards, from Tennessee southwards and finally the Gulf campaign against the British. Each section has the basic history told, but also the key locations described in detail, so you can find them even if they are long lost and/or unmarked. So much of this era is only told when discussing Andrew Jackson. It is refreshing to see a book that gives a little room to the important operations around Mobile and west Georgia/east Alabama.

Timelines and Dramatis Personae of the Creek War

The book also has two things that I love in any history book which is a good timeline to start the book and a list of short biographies of all the main players. In fact, I like to read the timeline and biographies first to give me good mental hooks to hang the story on as I read. These are both tight, stand-alone references for anyone who wants to start a deeper study of the conflict.

I’ve already mentioned the detailed and helpful bibliographic essay, but the selection of original documents are also a great read. Of special note are the accounts of the Canoe fight and Tecumseh’s speech to the Creek, which I have blogged about previously here. There is also a website to support the book that can be found here.

This book, by the author’s own admission, is not meant to add a lot of new scholarship to the history, but in my mind it does what it is meant to do admirably. In some ways, I think the authors do not give themselves enough credit when it comes to their photo documentation of the historical sites as original research. I have read many accounts of this war, but have yet been able to visualize several of the important geographic features. An example is Emuckfau Creek. There are creeks that can be crossed with a leap, or barely getting your feet wet, or wade-able or only swimmable. When imagining the battle, it is hard to determine whether it was hard or easy to cross in the midst of a battle. However, Bunn and Williams answer that for me by giving me a photo on Emuckfau on page 89. No other factual account has done that for me. There are far too few military histories with adequate maps, good directions to the key points for travelers, concise biographies of key players, original images and solid bibliographies written in a way that does not intimidate new readers nor insult those who already come to the subject with some knowledge. This one does all of these things and does them well.

Great book. Bunn and Williams get a coveted Battlefield Biker helmet nod.

Mike Bunn and Clay Williams Interview on Creek War

I’m happy to welcome Mike Bunn and Clay Williams to Battlefield Biker to talk about their new book titled, The Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812. It is published by The History Press. You can see my review of the book here.

Battlefield Biker (BB) – Why did you write this book about the Creek War?

Clay Williams (CW) – Mike and I have a love for this time period in Gulf South History. We had previously worked together at the Old Capitol Museum of Mississippi History and had done lots of research on the Mississippi Territorial Period (1798-1817), which included the Creek War and the War of 1812, for a future exhibit. Mike eventually left to take another job in Georgia and the exhibit never took place due to Hurricane Katrina closing the Old Capitol. Mike and I have stayed in touch over the years and wanted to do a large project again together and the Creek War and its related Gulf Coast campaigns of the War of 1812 looked like a perfect fit. We had already done some research, and it is a topic that is basically unknown to many. Mike and I love to visit historic sites and so visiting and documenting these areas where these key events took place would be a key portion of our book and we so we decided to take the project on.

Mike Bunn (MB) – We certainly didn’t set out to write a book at first, though. It’s a project that just grew once we got into it and realized the possibilities and discovered how much info we had to share.

BB – Will you tell us a little about the format of the book ( I love it). i.e. timeline, biographies, geographic points of interest, some original documents and the essay. How did you work out what you wanted to do with the book?

CW – Mike and I initially referred to the book as a sourcebook-a one-stop shop for gathering information on the conflict. We knew it was not going to be a long narrative and didn’t want it to be one. We targeted it for the general public and wanted it to be easily accessible and this was what we came up with. Again, Mike and I have stated this was not to be a new definitive study of the conflict, but a book that hopefully introduced the topic to the many that have no idea about it and that its format would make it easy to peruse and enjoy without getting bogged down with long narratives and too many footnotes. There were components that we wanted in it that we thought be helpful, a time line, a great bibliographical essay, original documents, as well as site locations. Again, I will say the book grew out of the idea to visit these sites, many marked and many unmarked, and document them for the public-the whole historic preservation and interpretation idea.

BB – How did you work as a team? Did you split duties?

CW – Yes, we split duties. By splitting the wars into 4 campaigns, meant we were both responsible for two-that meant doing research, locating historic sites, writing the narrative text as well as the text for the historic sites and the bios for those participants in our respective campaigns, locating graphics, etc. We also split the various other portions as well such as Mike wrote the Origins of War and I wrote the Conclusion. Each of us would write a first draft, then submit to the other for editing and suggestions. Mike and I work very well together in that regard. We don’t have large egos and we can each tell the other that something he wrote was garbage. It was a great pleasure to work with Mike. We both have such a love for the study history and are eager to do projects of this nature.

MB – We started working like that when we worked together at the Old Capitol. We have written so much together that it was easy to critique each other’s writing. Editing can be a touchy process for many, but fortunately not for us. We didn’t edit so much as fine tune what we knew we were each trying to say. We were truly on the same page and as I look back on the work, I don’t think readers will be able to tell which section was written by who; it comes off as one voice.

BB – The bibliographic essay was great. Who inspires you in this field? i.e. clear source display.

MB – Their are a lot of authors we like and we both have ridiculous personal libraries. As far as this topic specifically, though, I’d have to say that Robert Remini, Frank Owsley, Jr., and Henry S. Halbert and T.H. Ball stand as the foremost inspirations. Remini is a master storyteller, Owsley wrote what we consider to be the definitive study of the conflicts we cover and was the only one to rely exclusively on primary sources, while Halbert and Ball produced one of the first serious studies of the wars. The fact that they co-authored their work made them an especially significant inspiration for us.

CW – Not sure I have an answer for that. I know Mike and I both enjoy books that are well documented and have great bibliographies so we can find other books, articles etc. that touch on a topic we like and can search ourselves. I know our wives would agree that we both spend waaaay too much money purchasing books.

Editor’s note… Don’t ever let the Mrs. Bunn, Mrs. Williams and the Battlefield Bikette meet in the same room. The pressure to eBay the libraries may get too strong.

BB – What role did technology play in the writing of the book? i.e. online research, collaboration software, Skype, IM, etc?

CW – Not too much-Some small online research, but mostly through books and articles. E-mail is a wonderful thing-cheap for Mike and I to contact each other as well as for us to contact historians located across our theater of war. Mike and I met many local historians who had done great research on their particular area and we were able to combine alot of their research into this book.

MB – As Clay says, this was not a tech-heavy project. We of course have the website and relied on a digital camera and photoshop, but email was about as advanced as most of it got.

BB – Other than Andrew Jackson, which historical figure(s) jumped out at you and made you wish you had more space for biographical detail?

MB – William Weatherford was a complex individual. He was as white as Creek, yet became one of the foremost Redstick leaders. During the war he was a fearless and intelligent leader. After the war, he returned to life as a planter in south Alabama and was apparently an accepted member of the community. He must have been fascinating.

CW – Agreed. William Weatherford is a great figure-We wish there was more information out there on him.

BB – In your opinion, how much of the Creek Indian war strategy, tactics and supply were informed or provided by the British directly?

CW – Hmmm, another good question…..I will say not much. Of course, the Creek War had basically ended before the British could become directly involved. However, please be aware that many of the Creek leaders, such as Weatherford, had as much European ancestry as they had Creek ancestry, so many had read or were familiar with “white tactics” of war.

MB – Yes, this was a war planned and fought by the Redsticks. Everything might have been different had the British managed to get involved earlier, but that is just conjecture.

BB – What was your favourite map of the book and/or research?

MB – For me, it was learning about Floyd’s campaign with the GA militia. Two of the largest battles of the war were fought by troops under his command, but they remain among the most unknown battles of the war. There are no markers commemorating either of them, sadly. As far as maps, I am proud that we were able to create a series of them that detailed the battles of each campaign fairly accurately. So many of the ones we have seen are wildly inaccurate.

CW – Another tough question…..I enjoyed so much of the research. The War of 1812 sections concerning Mobile, Pensacola and Lake Borgne were so fascinating to me. Many have heard of Jackson’s win at New Orleans, but the events leading up to it are really unknown and I liked delving into it. The contemporary maps created by Latour were awesome and I really liked all the maps we have created to help others understand the conflict. Maps are so essential when reading any type of military history. Nothing is worse than reading a detailed account of a battle or campaign and not having a reference map to chart the movements of armies.

BB – What use was GPS and geo tagging in your research?

CW – Not much, Our favorite map was produced by Delorme. They were awesome and got us out of many fixes.

MB – Yeah, topo maps got us back to civilization a few times when we thought we’d never see another paved road!

Editor’s note; Delorme is a Battlefield Biker favourite as well. See Battlefield Biker’s Ride Recommendations for specific Delorme maps for battlefield touring.

BB – What support did your employer’s give to the book?

CW – I did work on the book independently of my regular job with the Mississippi department of Archives and History.

MB – This was totally independent of our jobs.

BB – Did you have any great road trips together or separately in the research?

CW – Yes, the best part of the book were the trips Mike and I took together. We would meet in a central location in Alabama, drop off one car, and with maps and notes in hand, take off on a circular route to locate various areas. We took several long weekend trips. They were great, but exhausting. We would both leave our respective homes at like 6am, meet up 3 hours later, then drive around til dark, stopping at historic sites, then stay at a some hotel, then get up the next morning and repeat the process. It was always a great thrill to find a historic marker or monument off the beaten path after following some vague directions or such. Plus, those moments at Fort Mims, Horseshoe Bend, and Chalmette, overlooking the battlefield while we take photos still fills me with awe-to be on the actual ground where these momentous events took place. It is this feeling that Mike and I hope we can convey to our readers with our book.

MB – Clay and I have made many trips together, but as a group the ones for this trip were certainly the most rewarding.

BB – What was your favourite driving/riding road in your travels?

MB – Well although they were a little hazardous and difficult, I’d have to say all the unpaved roads we ventured onto were my favorite. When we did find old markers (placed in their location as much as 90 years ago when these dirt paths were thoroughfares) it was very rewarding. It gave us a sense we had truly discovered something people zipping by on the highways are missing.

BB – What’s next for Bunn and Williams as a team or individually?

CW – Well, in the pipeline, Mike and I want to do a similar formatted book on the entire Mississippi Territorial period-early 1800s to 1820-tracing locations where events took place that eventually transformed this frontier area of the Gulf South into the states of Mississippi and Alabama. Again, this is such an unknown part of history that we are eager to inform the public about it and its importance.Not sure when we will be able to get into it. We are both still a little exhausted having completed this one book while both working full-time jobs. We both wish we could win the lottery or something and do this type of work full-time.

Thanks Gentlemen for a little insight to your work. It has been a pleasure reading the book and interviewing you. Please support practical scholarship like this by buying their book at the link below.

Roman Battlefield Archaeology & The Battle of Harzhorn

Roman battle site in northern Germany dated to 200-250 AD

Interesting new battlefield find of Roman artifacts in northern Germany that indicates that the Romans were still active in the area two and a half centuries later than conventional wisdom had posited.

“We thought that with the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, the Romans gave up on this region and pulled back behind the limes,” – says Henning Hassmann, the Lower Saxony Conservation Department’s lead archaeologist.

Roman battlefield archaeology

Because of the advanced nature of Roman battlefield archaeology, the finds could be placed fairly precisely in the chronological record. Also, the tools and weapons found had enough organic matter still attached for carbon dating to place the items at 200-250 AD. More than six-hundred artifacts were found from sandal nails to wagon hardware to spear and arrow heads. The site was originally found by metal detector enthusiasts who reported the find to local archaeologists.

Kalefeld is in northern Germany, approximately 100 KM south of Hanover

The battle is now being referred to as The Battle of the Harzhorn. It is sited on a heavily forested hillside northeast of the town of Kalefeld, Germany.

The Battle of the Harzhorn is historically significant, because it took place two centuries after historians thought the Romans had abandoned major operations in the north of Germany. The  Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (~ September, 9 AD) was thought to be the last of the major Roman excursions in this area of Germania. It was previously believed that the Romans had given up on trying to conquer the lands between the Rhine and the Elbe after Teutoburg. Even more intriguing is the fact that archaeologists believe that the Romans were coming from the north when the Battle of the Harzhorn took place which could indicate that they had been ranging even further north prior to the battle.

Photo attribution:
Description
Deutsch: Grabungsschnitt am Harzhorn
Date August 2012
Source Own work
Author Axel Hindemith
Attribution
(required by the license) Foto: Axel Hindemith / Lizenz: Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

Sounds like the opening of Gladiator was near spot on!

The items found and the battle site, including the hillside, cold weather, and tall pines make the opening scene of Gladiator look very accurate. Enjoy the clip below to remind you of how awesome the Roman military machine could be.

Operation Cobra, the American Breakout of the Normandy Beachhead

On the 24th of July 1944, the German forces around St Lo, in Normandy, did not have a clue about the hell that was about to be unleashed upon them. Their dispositions looked like this:
German positions prior to Operation Cobra
To the west of St Lo, you can see the area that the Americans chose to breakout from the close hedgerow fighting that had so favoured the Germans for the months of June and July 1944.
Operation Cobra Map

The Allies delivered a devastating aerial bombardment on the German front lines in the area on 25 July 1944. The line did not immediately give way. This was due to the American infantry not pushing quickly at first. Who could blame them? They had just spent 2 months fighting in the hedgerows and had learned to be cautious. Additionally, the lingering shock of the bombardment, which also killed and wounded several hundred Americans was still wearing off.
However, the American Commander on the ground, General J. Lawton Collins, saw no need to delay and committed his exploitation forces on the morning of the 26th. This was risky, because if the Germans had managed to slow down the attack further, it would have meant an American traffic jam right on the front lines. Luckily, they couldn’t and the Americans pushed right through and found the German line disintegrating like it had not done for the Americans before in Normandy.
Thus began the great race from the beachheads to the German frontier that occurred over the next 2 months, including the liberation of Paris and most of the rest of France.

I rode through the breakout zone in 2008. The ride from Gavray to Avranches is an especially nice twisty rode

Ride Recommendation

Check out the Terre Liberte’ route of Cobra- La Percee (the Breakout). Here’s a Google map of part of the D7 route that I rode.

The Battle of Rapido River / Bloody River 20-22 January 1944

The Battle of of the Rapido River

 In mid January 1944, the slow, hard slog up the Italian peninsula was into its fourth month already and the Allies were looking for innovative ways to break the formidable German defenses. With the plan for an amphibious operation at Anzio, US Fifth Army Commander Mark Clark feared the landing force being forced back into the sea by the German reserve forces around Rome. In an attempt to draw the Germans away from the Rome and Anzio area and further south, he ordered an attack by the 36th Infantry Division from Texas across the Rapido River to the south of Cassino. Secondarily, there was even some hope that the attack might succeed with an armored follow up by the 1st Armored Division that would storm up the Liri River valley and beyond. Clark met his first objective, but failed miserably with the secondary objective.

The Gustav Line

The Allied plan was for a forceful movement against the Gustav Line, of which the Rapido River area around Sant’ Angelo was a central part of, to tie down the German defenses. Additionally, Clark wanted to inflict enough damage to bring out German Field Marshal Kesselring’s reserve forces away from Anzio. Clark instructed the British 10th Corps, led by Lieutenant General Richard McCreery, to attack the Gustav Line on 18 January at three places. The British 5th Divison would attack across the Liri River near Minturno on the west coast of Italy. The British 56th Divison would attack over the Liri near Castelforte. Finally, the British 46th Divison would attack over the Liri near Sant’ Ambrogia and most importantly continue to the area of Sant’ Apollinare and secure the high ground that overlooked the US 2nd Corps’ 36th Division’s assault area near Sant’ Angelo. The 36th’s Commander General Fred Walker had real reservations about his part of the operation and claimed (with some support) that Clark promised the 36th would not have to proceed if the southern high ground around Sant’ Apollinare had not been secured by the British 46th. This issue would prove disastrous.

Anglo-American Bickering

A little background is in order about the relations between the British and the Americans in Italy. British General Harold Alexander was in overall command of the Allied forces in Italy in the form of the 15th Army Group, which consisted of Mark Clark’ Fifth Army and Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese’s UK 8th Army. Fifth Army consisted, in part, of the US 2nd Corps under General Geoffrey Keyes and the British 10th Corps under McCreery. The British and the American military leadership often saw the same battlefield in two different ways. According to Carlo D’Este in Fatal Decision, the British were all about concentration of force, but the Americans liked to probe on a broad front, then exploit weak spots. More importantly, the key Generals in this fight exhibited their countrys’ worst stereotypical traits. Whereas Eisenhower was known first and foremost as a humble diplomat and a great smoother of Allied tensions, Clark seemed pathologically ambitious, vane and held contempt for anyone who might have the gall to cross him. Likewise, where Churchill’s manner was leavened by his American mother, Alexander showed the British aristocracy’s patronizing view of all things American. These traits combined with Clark’s coming of age in the Salerno campaign and finding that the Alexander controlled publicity machine made it out to be a British victory made the ground fertile for bad decisions. Clark held a deep distrust of the British and could not stomach the Brits getting any more glory in the Fifth Army sector. Therefore, Clark had made up his mind that the breaking of the Gustav Line, if it happened at all, would be led and exploited by the Americans.

The Liri Valley

In the Liri Valley plan, McCreery felt his 10th Corps had been spread too wide and did not want to force any particular area too hard for fear of getting in a fight with too few troops and taking heavy losses. This led to the tragically predictable consequence of McCreery’s Corps delaying their start by 24 hours, knowing full well it would enrage Clark, then, despite early success, not pushing to take the high ground near Sant’ Apollinare without having secured a bridge over the Liri behind them. Clark was livid, if not surprised, but was now presented with two decisions. First, Clark could, but not realistically, delay the 36th’s Rapido River assault, because he was already butting up against the 22nd of January which was the planned date for Operation Shingle, the Anzio landings. The Battle of the Rapido River assault was needed to ensure that Kesselring would have to deploy his reserves away from Rome and Anzio. Second, and ironically, Clark had a good choice and refused to take it. Clark could have followed American doctrine and re-enforced the British 10th Corps’s definite, but limited success, but just could not accept the idea of the British getting the credit for the break through. Clark declared the operation was to proceed as planned. The 36th Infantry’s Texans and General Walker would bear the brunt of this All-American bravado.

The Effects  on the 36th Infantry

All of this high level bickering and positioning did not mean that the 36th were inevitably doomed to fail, but it surely seems that they were. The 36th had fought hard and painfully in the area around San Pietro in the bloody slog up to the Rapido. They were battle weary and filled with too many green replacements. However, most importantly, the 36th seemed to be filled with the belief that they drew all of the hard missions and the ones no one else wanted. In this case, they may have been right, but that belief in a combat unit is contagious and almost always self defeating. This included their General and at least one of their Colonels, who made their doubts about the operation public, without any notable objections up the chain. The 36th entered the battle looking for failure and they found it in spades.

The Battle of of the Rapido River

The plan was for 2 line regiments of the 36th, the 141st and the 143rd to attack across the Rapido on the night of the 20th and in the early morning hours of the 21st of January. The lead elements would cross in boats, then be followed by the engineers who would build foot bridges for the remainder of the regiments’ troops to cross. It was a clear and simple plan, but the execution was under-equipped and ill practiced to the point of negligence. The fact that so much coordination was needed was obvious to many, but 36th officers were too busy feeling hard-done-to. Some basic exercises were practiced on the Volturno River, but nothing to the scale that was required of such a tough operation. It was as if the 36th felt the result was not in question, so no real effort should be spent in preparation. The engineers were woefully short on the proper equipment and got little support from Fifth Army. Rather than amphibious DUKWs and specially made foot bridges, the troops got rubber dingys, wooden scows and catwalks laid over pontoons. Adding to the mess was the fact that no roads led to crossing sites and the area was open to German observation all throughout the day. The engineers cleared the mines during the night as best they could, but the infantry had to drag all of the boats and equipment forward themselves.

The movement started as it was to follow, chaotically. Many of the boats had been damaged by German artillery and the infantry had not been trained how to handle them or even how many or what kind of oars were needed. The infantry stumbled through mine lanes in the dark, rattling boats and equipment all the way with at least one group straying into a minefield. The Germans were alerted by the sounds and started to bring fire down on the hapless Texans. When some did make it to the Rapido River, they found that it was narrow, but deep and fast. Many of the boats foundered or were hit by German fire. Shamefully for the 36th, a small number, but too many refused to go or fell in the river on purpose to avoid going. Many of those that did get to the western side of the river were drenched and exhausted. Each regiment got significant numbers across, but could not follow up with supporting battalions and the engineers could not keep their footbridges in tact for more than few hours. The tenuous positions on the western side of the river were quickly becoming untenable and the disaster was setting in by mid morning of the 21st. The lead battalion of the 143rd fell back across the river to their start point. This certainly helped them, but it allowed the Germans to concentrate all of their fire on the northern crossing and the 1st Battalion of the 141st. This battalion was stuck and would never be rescued.

By midday on the 21st, Clark and Keyes were demanding a renewed offensive. Walker wanted a new offensive too, but only to retrieve the lost 1/141st and Walker wanted it under the cover of darkness. Keyes demanded that the new offensive should take place in the mid afternoon, but various other foul-ups meant it did not happen for the 143rd until 15:00 and the 141st until 21:00 on the 21st. Both crossings established a perimeter on the German side, but not large enough to get armor across for fire support. These assaults worked no better than the earlier ones. In fact, the new was exactly like the old, only worse. By midday on the 22nd, the situation was dire and all units were looking to pull back, but had their bridges and boats destroyed. In Cassino: The Hollow Victory, John Ellis says Keyes was not having it and demanded that the Division reserve, the 142nd Regiment, be committed. Walker balked, but complied. Soon, however, the losses became too great and the attack was cancelled in the mid afternoon of the 22nd. What was left of the 2 regiments retreated as best they could, but the 1st of the 141st, as a unit, was never heard from again.

Battle of the Bloody River

The numbers tell the soldiers’ story. 143 killed, 663 wounded an 875 missing ( approximately 500 were confirmed later to have been taken prisoner by the German 15th Panzer Grenadier Division ). The 36th Texas Infantry Division ceased to exist as a combat capable unit. The German 15th Panzer Grenadier Division had 64 killed and 179 wounded. Clark achieved his goals of tying up the Germans prior to the Anzio landings and even managed to get the Germans to send their reserves south. However, embarrassingly for Clark, they were sent in response to McCreery’s 10th Corps assaults, not the 36th’s.

Churchill had pushed for the Italian campaign, calling it the “soft underbelly” of the German monster, but nothing could have been further than the truth. The German military machine was probably the best defensive army ever assembled and the succession of mountains on the Italian peninsula gave them a natural advantage. The Italian theatre was as grueling a campaign as anything in World War II and worst than most. The Battle of the Bloody River was its saddest moment for the Americans.

Map: Maps courtesy of the USMA, Department of History

Books

Ride Suggestion

Check out this ride that starts in Naples, then winds through the mountains south of the Liri River and finally follows the Liri up to the Rapido River around Sant’ Angelo in Theocides.

Hells Canyon Byway Route

On my recent trip to follow the Nez Perce Trail, I rode the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. The route from Oxbow Dam to Joseph, Oregon along National Forest Road 39 (USNF-39) was especially cool. Don’t miss the short turn off to go up to the Hells Canyon Overlook for a panoramic view over the canyon. If you ever find yourself in the area, take a day and ride / drive the whole thing. You will not be disappointed.

The image above is one I took from a high point overlooking Hells Canyon National Recreation Area not far from the Hells Canyon Dam.

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