Articles tagged with: Documents

Responsibility and Leadership: Eisenhower and Montgomery

No one is perfect and with the hindsight of history, it is a simple matter to question a commander’s battlefield decision or a president’s strategic direction. Given the unmistakable reality of human imperfection, some of history’s greatest figures can be defined by how they accepted their own imperfections and failures. Specifically, comparing Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery’s and General Dwight Eisenhower’s comments regarding some of their greatest battles, two very different pictures of these two leaders emerge with respect to responsibility.

Two Accounts of Lincoln’s Assassination

President Abraham Lincoln shortly before his assassination.

President Abraham Lincoln

On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot while he viewed “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. While numerous accounts of that fateful day exist, a May 28, 1865 letter from Dr. Charles Leale is especially moving as Dr. Leale was the first doctor to treat the stricken president. Combined with a diary entry from Horatio Nelson Taft, both the medical response and the human reaction to Lincoln’s assassination are visible.

The Weight of George H.W. Bush’s War Decision

President Bush in Saudi Arabia

President Bush in Saudi Arabia

In most instances, the personal deliberations of presidents making the decision to send Americans to war are outside public knowledge. While there may be public speeches outlining the case for war, those public deliberations can differ widely from the president’s personal deliberations.

Through a series of diary entries and letters to family, however, the internal deliberations of President George H. W. Bush in the lead up to the first Gulf War can be explored. Not only do these documents illustrate the difficult decision Bush faced, they demonstrate a keen sense of humanity.

Lewis and Clark’s Camp Dubois Detachment Orders

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis

When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off up the Missouri River on May 14, 1804, they led an exploring party with sights set on the Pacific Ocean. However, while Lewis and Clark planned to enter territory unseen by American eyes, they did not allow the unknown to displace military order and the expectation that chains of command be followed. In other words, the Corps of Discovery was a military operation.

Multiple instances throughout the journey illustrate this point, including the Corps of Discovery’s time at their first winter camp, Camp Dubois. For example, five “Detachment Orders” were issued to govern daily life as Lewis and Clark readied the men for the journey west.

History’s Unneeded Speeches

imageEarlier this week, the British Government released a draft of a speech Queen Elizabeth was to give at the commencement of World War Three. Echoing the words of Winston Churchill during the darkest days of World War Two, the proposed speech calls upon British resolve and urges “families [to] remain united and resolute” so that “our country’s will to survive cannot be broken.”

The School Yard of the Mexican American War

Saddam_rumsfeldThe cross roads of history are replete of examples of individuals crossing paths who would latter play much more significant roles. For example, the iconic photograph of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in December, 1983 contrasts with Mr. Rumsfeld’s subsequent role in removing the Iraqi leader from power.

The personalities involved in the Mexican American War are no different. Winfield Scott, the general in chief of the American army that captured Mexico City, crafted the Anaconda Plan, the initial strategy designed to economically devastate the South during the Civil War. George Meade, Robert E. Lee, P.T.G. Beauregard, Ulysses S. Grant, and other key officers received training under fire that shaped them into the commanders of the commanders of the coming conflict.

U.S. Navy Ends ALLCAP Messages – A Look at Historical Messages

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States Navy will be abandoning the requirement that official naval messages be sent in ALLCAPS. This announcement ended a tradition dating back to the 19th century that was required because early machinery only had ALLCAPS keyboards.

Since the dawn of radio communications, countless naval communications have utilized this standard. From the famous transmission to Admiral Bull Halsey asking “WHERE IS REPEAT WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34? THE WORLD WONDERS” to the actual directive ending the ALLCAPS requirement, United States naval history is full of notable examples of a now defunct standard.


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