Friday, March 11, 2005

Famous war units

Here are some of the famous units that I've studied. They are strictly U.S. units, and they are famous for their bravery, and extra-ordinary combat ability. I like to think about these units are respresentitive of the greatness of U.S. combat units.

"Iron Brigade"

During the Civil War there was a brigade in the Army of the Potomac made up of strictly men from the West (Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan). They were known for wearing their black dress hats into combat. At Gettysburg, these men lost over 60% of the men they engaged in trying to hold the ground that General Reynolds wanted. A quote taken from "The Iron Brigade of the West" website: "The Iron Brigade loss at Gettysburg 1,153 out of 1,885 engaged, or 61 per cent." "It was to the Iron Brigade more than to any other that the nation owes its salvation at Gettysburg."

20th Maine

This was a smaller unit during the Civil War. Commanded by Joshua Chamberlain (perhaps that is why I know about it??), this regiment was almost solely responsible for holding the Union left flank on Little Round Top. They made a daring bayonet charge when they ran out of ammunition. It was a marvelous success. Amazing how real heroes are born when there are very few options left. Check out this site for more information.

101st Airborne Division

This unit first saw action during WWII, and it is still around today. They helped significantly at D-Day, by dropping behind enemy lines and securing key bridges and towns. They are probably most famous for holding Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Buldge. They were surrounded in the dead of winter by 2 Panzer divisions and 2 infintry divisions (according to this site). After being surrounded without supplies for several days, the Germans demanded surrender. The response of General McAuliffe of the 101st is classic: "Nuts." This response had to be explained to the Germans--even after it was translated. Patton eventually rescued the 101st after about 5 days of being surrounded.


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