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Describe battlefields you walked

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by twofifty, Dec 1, 2010.

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  1. twofifty

    twofifty Well-Known Member

    Tell us about battlefields you've walked...

    The idea for this thread came from reading the Sgt. York thread, where Al Thompson describes walking through the WW1 Meuse Argonne battlefield where Sgt. York outmanoevered, out-thought and out-shot German machinegunners.

    Here is Al's description of this battlefield:
    "I walked that battlefield in 1987 and by moving a short distance, SGT York could have indeed flanked the bad guys. It's a series of low, close and steep small hills on the edge of a valley. I thought the movie was pretty accurate about the terrain he faced."

    Please describe the terrain of battlefields you walked that brought home to you the grit that is needed to prevail in battle.

    Here's one that made such a powerful impression that I returned a second time:

    At Gettysburg, on the second day of battle, the Greys advanced through a huge open field with but a few slight creases in the land, up a slight but constant incline toward the Blue's high ground lines. These men had camped the night before under protection of a deep forest which bordered the battlefield.

    It was a hot dry July day. Reportedly many from the South were not well provisioned with water, some hadn't had breakfast. They advanced under withering fire, hot hungry and thirsty. A very few got within bayonet range of the Union line (the Angle). Most died.

    This battlefield brought home that it is not enough to arm soldiers with rifles, ammo, etc.. At Gettysburg, if the Confederate generals has provisioned their men properly, the victory might have been theirs. That day, at a high point in the South's advance beyond the Mason-Dixon line, a quart of water per soldier might well have reshaped America.
  2. Fish Miner

    Fish Miner Well-Known Member

    I didnt walk, but I sat as the train weaved its way from Brussels to Paris. As I passed the fields of sheep, I kept wondering why there were so many small perfectly round ponds that the sheep were all around. When I passed an old concrete pill box I knew what I was seeing. The ponds were old craters from massive bombs. I was surprised how many pill boxes were still there. I think about it every time I see footage of our B-52's dropping ord in WWII.
  3. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

    Twofifty, one thing battlefields can teach us is effective weapons employment and ranges. I've been to quite a few and will share more impressions later. :)
  4. yeti

    yeti Well-Known Member

    The B-52 is old, but not quite THAT old.:rolleyes:
  5. BlackSky

    BlackSky Well-Known Member

    In that area they were likely B17's or B24's. Possibly British Lancaster's. I suppose some could be from B29's but those were almost entirely deployed in the Pacific campaign. B52's didn't enter the picture until post-war.
  6. Sky

    Sky Well-Known Member

    yep B-17s and B24s along with some other vintage stuff for WWll

    B52 dropping 750 pounders will make you feel God is near....or the devil....depends on whose side you are on.

    A stupid battle field with horrendous loss of life was LZ David in Cambodia. N Vietnamese army decided to attack the LZ which sat in the middle of what looked like a perfect large golf course green of 300+ acres. They attacked at night. 105s and 155s lowered their barrels and with Beehive rounds shot for effect. Flare bird and Night Hawk did their part as well.
    33 Bad guys made it to the wire but everyone else was pretty much history. American casualties were few. As usual the battle was won and the war was declared over by the politicians; history says America lost.
  7. 2ndAmFan

    2ndAmFan Well-Known Member

    I checked out Omaha Beach in Normandy back in the 1970s, along with some of the high ground overlooking it. It's a miracle American troops ever got off that beach. If it weren't for deception by the Allies, naval guns and bungling by the German High Command I doubt anyone landing there would have survived unless they were withdrawn back to the ships offshore at once.

    As for Gettysburg, that battle broke the back of Lee's army. The Confederate assault was poorly planned and never should have taken place, especially where it went in. Longstreet opposed the whole thing but Lee was adamant the attack would take place. Turned out Longstreet was right, though some blamed him for the fiasco. It was Lee's show and it was a disaster.
  8. woerm

    woerm Well-Known Member

    Petersburg battlefield

    in the early 70's I lived in Petersburg and later Fort Lee.

    My brother and I walked all over that place.

    The Crater is still visible.

    Walking the Union left (Confederate right) where the Union finally turned Lee's flank and on to Appomattox, Union troops had to climb a 12 ft parapet, down into a trench (now about 4 feet deep was over 6 during the battle) move around chevro de frise (think christmas tress with 6' wood spikes driven through this was way before barbed wire/concertina wire) through a corn field (that was wild a farmer's crop in the middle of a battle field) where the pickets would harvest ears of corn while on duty, down into another trench with more cheval de frise up another dirt embankment to the parapet now and only now can they get to shoot at the folks that had been firing at them for most of a mile or so. Some dipstick general got troops there and took literally all day to re-enforce them (almost losing the position in the process), thankfully Lee had seen the handwriting on the wall (parapet actually) and had begun withdrawing already.

    note wool uniforms, leather soled shoes, 9lb rifle 30 or so pounds of gear. It is March IIRC.

    For a real horror story the Confederate attack on Fort Stedman is a classic case in how not to break a siege, particularly against a seriously numerically superior force, at one point there were something like 4 Union Regiments arrayed against about 1000 Confederate troops. And that's not counting the artillery once the Union figured out who was actually in Fort Stedman. The term is infladed position eg they were getting hit from all sides literally.

    I stood on the parapets at Fort Stedman and it was a looong way back to the Confederate lines again open ground zilch cover.

    while thinking about the I remember seeing the Union positions at Vicksburg.
    It was even worse about a mile to the Confederate lines (all up hill, zilch cover).

    Civil war battle fields always leave me really somber. It's not the casualties it is how did anyone survive?

  9. mstrat

    mstrat Well-Known Member

    I saw a lot of battlefields in Normandy, and elsewhere in Europe.... But the one that stuck with me most was Pointe du Hoc. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointe_du_Hoc )

    I already knew the story of the battle there, but it wasn't until I was actually walking around it that I could begin to appreciate what those Rangers were up against.

    Getting up those cliffs with germans shooting down at them is impressive enough, but then to secure and hold the ledges to get enough troops up, then push inland against heavily fortified concrete MG nests, bunkers, and a crapton of german troops....

    I can barely imagine what a tough battle that must have been. And seeing it first-hand makes it even more astonishing that they were able to carry out their mission despite the battlefield being 100% in favor of the enemy.

    It's just mind-blowing. Seeing it and walking around there really puts their story into perspective.
  10. longdayjake

    longdayjake Well-Known Member

    I climbed little round top at Gettysburg. I was not carrying anything but myself and I didn't have anyone shooting at me. It took me a good 2-4 minutes to get from the bottom to the top. That wasn't including the farmers field that you had to cross just to get to the bottom of the hill. Then I tried climbing through the trees on the other side and found that to be even more difficult. There never should have been an assault on that hill. It would have been a turkey shoot up until the union ran out of ammo. No wonder so many confederates died.
  11. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Well-Known Member

    Little Bighorn (Custer's Last Stand)

    Been there at least twice. Pretty neat. Well developed, but not Disney Land-ish yet. The Native American Park Service/Tour Guide/Host Person made a lot of racial jokes about white people. Worth stopping for a walk through.

    The Alamo

    Inexplicably wonderful. Everyone should visit that site.
  12. ball3006

    ball3006 Well-Known Member

    I went to Gettysburg and Bull Run back in the 60s but I don't recall much now. I walked the Custer battlefield. Custer didn't have a prayer but was too much into himself to realize it. I toured the Alamo but that was a long time ago. I toured Vicksburg. What a place. Needed more than a few hours to do that tour. I flew over Da Nang. The surface of the ground looked like a golf ball.

    Those ponds that were seen in France were most likely artillery craters from WW1....There are still alot of evidence of WW1 battlefields in France and Belgium....chris3
  13. woerm

    woerm Well-Known Member

    Pea Ridge some notes

    If you get a chance to see Pea Ridge battlefield it is a lesson in maneuver warfare. Van Dorn tires to 'zip' around the Union position (he's in a carriage the troops are on foot)

    Part of the Union infantry literally stumbles across Van Dorn's troops and alert Curtis all is not well on his flank

    Van Dorn's left no hits the now alerted Union forces and McCulloch and McIntosh were killed in action soon after the clash began, and Colonel H├ębert was captured, he's down to zero senior officers on his left, Van Dorn spends the rest of the day not noticing his battalion is getting fire from about a company or so of infantry. Confederates finally 'take' Elkhorn Tavern, but don't advance on what's left of the Union center.

    Sunrise, Confederates get a dose of the largest artillery zoo seen west of the Mississippi, Van Dorn departs in his carriage leaving the troops to face a, well zoo of artillery supported massed infantry.

    Confederates are Done in the west, Van Dorn goes on to screw up things else where and Join Hooker in the General Hall of Shame for leaving a battlefield command, well , in the middle of the battle.

    Pea Ridge is dominated by a knobby hill, which breaks the Leesville, Elk Horn Tavern battle space up some. At Leesville you can see what did in McCulloch he had been fighting Indians and Mexicans in Texas the general weapons in use were smoothbore. He rode out of the woods to reconnoiter the force in front of him. The Union was armed with rifles and every one in sight must have fired. Why his second in command did the same thing? no idea.
    the Terrain is open field with little deflades all over the place it looks level but it is not. the Union cannon were parked in the deflades and were firing blind into the trees. They did some real morale damage to the Confederate troops. Because the Confederates were concentrating on Elkhorn Tavern the Union was able to bring up their artillery and concentrate on the Confederate center.

    This is a battlefield with a lot of unusual circumstances. The union commander at Leesville had his troops on their bellys firing from cover. and his cannons hidden too. He knew he was outnumbered (a weird development for a Union officer) and was making what he thought to be a covered retirement. In fact he retired most of the Confederate Left. With the left rolled up the Union artillery was able to concentrate on the Elkhorn Tavern battle generating the largest artillery battle west of Mississippi during the Civil War. Oh final point Union won the battle.

    artillery zoo here, from what I have read the Union artillery park , was a mixture of 12lb mountain howitzers, Revolutionary war 3 pounders, Mexician War 6 pounders some Napoleon 12 pounders and what ever else was rounded up by Missouri's State Militia.


    I really enjoyed walking this battlefield it is probably better to walk it in March, July was a tad warm.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  14. Erik M

    Erik M Well-Known Member

    There are few Civil War related sites around the area where I live. No major battles, just skirmishes over supply routes. The sites are fortified lookouts connected to long mountain trails. Some have replica cannon emplacements. Its always so silent that you can hear the wind blow through the trees. I visited Ft. Sumter when i was much younger. I would reccomend it to any history buff. My real desire is to visit the Arizona memorial in Hawaii.
  15. Maturin

    Maturin Member

    I've walked Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and a few other "small" engagement sites (Grand Gulf in Missisippi, Horseshoe Bend, Ala (Andy Jackson v. N.A.), etc.) I was a big Civil War buff growing up, and it was fascinating to see these places in person, but the most eye-opening experience for me was at Anteitam (or Sharpsburg, depending where you grew up ;)) -- most notably Burnside's Bridge. I couldn't believe how close it was from the ridge where the Confederates took cover to the far side of the creek; how narrow the bridge actually was; and how far is was from the cover of the woods to the bridge on the Yankee side. I just couldn't imagine what it took to get across that bridge.

    Also at Chalmette (Battle of New Orleans) -- the actual field of battle seems so small....

    Side note about Antietam -- when I was there (about 15 years ago), alongside the bridge there was a really big tree right about where the contemporary photos showed a little tree -- does anyone know if it's the same one?
  16. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Well-Known Member

    Chickamauga. I went to the iron bridge where the battle began - where bodies (mostly Union) dammed up the river (large creek actually). it was overgrown mostly with thicket this was '88 IIRC. the iron showed dings and creases from cannon shells. there was only a faint trail to it - gave me the hebee-jeebees.
  17. Maturin

    Maturin Member

    Marlin's post reminded me -- I was in Berlin not too long after the Wall came down and wandered quite a bit in the East section -- lots of building facades were still pockmarked by bullet and shell fragments -- weird.
  18. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Well-Known Member

    My great-great grandfather was there with the 64th Georgia,CSA.
    Here too. I live right on top of the Forrest-Streight route. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest pursued Yankee Colonel Abel Streight aross Alabama and into Georgia in 1863. At "Battle Above the Clouds" aka Battle of Chattanooga(Tenn.) it is hard to believe yankees were able to overcome such formidable terrain and win. It is practically straight up and we had the high ground(another great-great grandfather was there with the 22nd and 25th Alabama CSA).
  19. jim goose

    jim goose Well-Known Member

    I'd love to visit Galipoli one day.

    I also regret not visiting Normandy 10-20 yrs ago when you could get a wlaking tour from men who fought the battles. Cannot remeber his name, but a german officer wrote a great book and spent his later yrs giving walking tours of where he took out dozen's of canadien tanks with a German anti aircraft gun.

    I dont think Grnadad woud have been interested though. :)
  20. Hud

    Hud Well-Known Member

    The whole island was a battlefield. The last battle before the big one was deployed.
    '69-'70 still a lot of bunkers, gun emplacements etc.
    My houseboy there was 13 yrs. old when we invaded and had a lot of stories and carried the scar from being hit from friendly fire.
    Started working as a houseboy for the Marines and had been one ever since.
    Got to see the Ernie Pyle Monument on Ie Shima.
    Suicide Cliff at the southern most end of the island was a little freaky, standing next to a Japaneese man my age and thinking that our fathers could have faced each other on that island.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
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