May 22, 1863 - Union forces under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks begins the siege of Port Hudson (right). Advancing in support of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Vicksburg Campaign, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks was tasked with capturing Confederate stronghold at Port Hudson, LA. Investing the town on May 22, 1863, he launched a massive assault against its defenses five days later. This was repulsed with heavy losses and Banks began siege operations. Eager to break the deadlock, he again attacked the town on June 14 with similar results. Settling into a siege, his army slowly starved Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner's garrison. Upon learning of Vicksburg's fall, Gardner, seeing that nothing could be gained by continuing, surrendered on July 9. The two victories opened the entire length of the Mississippi to Union traffic and split the Confederacy in two.
Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration
Sunday May 19, 2013
May 19, 1643 - French troops defeat the Spanish at the Battle of Rocroi. In early 1643, a 27,000-man Spanish-Imperial army crossed the French border from Flanders. Moving through the Ardennes, the Spanish troops, led by Francisco de Melo, laid siege to the town of Rocroi. Advancing to meet this invasion were 23,000 men led by the Duc d'Enghien (the future Prince of Conde). On May 18, 1643, d'Enghien deployed his troops on a ridge south of Rocroi with his infantry in the center and cavalry on the flanks. Moving to meet this threat, de Melo formed his men in a similar fashion. The following morning, d'Enghien advanced. As the armies met, the Spanish infantry began to get the better of the French. A similar situation developed on the French left where de Melo's German cavalry blocked a French thrust. Counterattacking, the Germans were stopped by the French infantry reserve. On the right, d'Enghien's cavalry, supported by musketeers, was able to rout its Spanish counterparts. Turning, they next attacked the flank and rear of the Spanish infantry. As the fighting raged, the Spanish army was reduced to the core of their infantry. Though fighting valiantly they were forced to surrender. The Battle of Rocroi was the first major defeat for the Spanish in nearly a century.
Friday May 17, 2013
May 18 ,1863 - Union forces begin the Siege of Vicksburg (right). Crossing the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg on April 29-30, 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee embarked on a stunning campaign which saw it win several battles before driving Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton's forces back into the Vicksburg defenses. A fortress that commanded the Mississippi, holding the city was key if the Confederates wished to deny use of the river to the Union. Attacking on May 19, Grant's army was repulsed by the Vicksburg defenses. Trying again on the 22nd, the result proved no better. Unwilling to suffer more casualties, Grant elected to lay siege. Reinforced over the next month, he compelled Vicksburg to surrender on July 4, 1863. Coming a day a after the Union victory at Gettysburg, the fall of Vicksburg, and Port Hudson fours days later, opened the river to Union traffic and marked the turning point of the Civil War.
Civil War Battles - 1863 in the West
Photograph Source: Public Domain
Wednesday May 15, 2013
Envisioned as a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane, the Hawker Typhoon (right) suffered from a series of developmental and operational issues early in its career. Though intended as a mid- to high-altitude interceptor, the Typhoon's performance dropped badly over 20,000 ft. Nearly cancelled, the aircraft was rushed into production in mid-1941 to counter the threat posed by the new Focke-Wulf FW 190. Effective as a low-altitude interceptor, the Typhoon later made its mark as the Royal Air Force's premier ground attack aircraft. Commencing these types of operations in late 1942, the Typhoon was honed over the following year and proved capable of carrying both bombs and rockets. Forming the backbone of the RAF's tactical air forces, it played a key role in supporting Allied forces in the weeks after D-Day and during the campaign in northwest Europe.
World War II - British Aircraft:
Photograph Source: Public Domain