During the War of 1812 the United States Army expanded rapidly. Naturally, the number of generals on duty expanded as well. On the eve of the war, which was declared on June 18, 1812, the Army had nine generals of the line on active duty, two major generals and seven brigadiers. During the war an additional 25 generals of the line were created. Allowing for several promotions from brigadier to major general, as well as deaths, dismissals, and resignations, by the war’s end, the army had 23 generals on active duty, ten major generals and 13 brigadiers.
Now with the war over, Congress was quite naturally in a budget cutting mood. The number of troops on active duty was slashed. And of course, the much reduced active army certainly didn’t need the services of 23 generals. So Congress decreed that a board of the seniormost generals be convened to study the problem and determine the number of generals the country actually needed, and who should be retained.
The board certainly was a distinguished one
- Major Gen. Andrew Jackson
- Major Gen Jacob Brown
- Brig. Gen. Alexander MacComb
- Brig Gen. Winfield Scott
- Brig Gen E. P. Gaines
- Brig Gen. F. W Riley
All of these men had proven themselves on the field of battle. Thorough professionals, they could be expected to carefully weigh the needs of the country and the skills of their colleagues.
After much deliberation, the board came to the conclusion that there should be just six, and named themselves.
Soviet Submarine Intelligence Gathering Operations
During the Cold War, Soviet submarines often tailed American task forces. There were several reasons for this. Obviously, by tailing carrier task forces, the Russians would be able to keep America’s principal naval assets in their sights, in the event that the balloon went up. Then too, there was the intelligence angle. After all, following an American task force was a good way to keep tabs on what areas Uncle Sam thought were in need of their attention.
At times the Russian submariners would score a real intelligence coup, due to Yankee carelessness.
Occasionally, despite procedures in place to insure the destruction of unneeded secret documents, classified papers would be carelessly discarded in the regular trash. And although the trash was supposed to be processed before being given the deep six, there were many instances of important documents and other papers being tossed overboard by lazy sailors.
So one of the missions of the Soviet submarine fleet was to collect American trash, just in case any interesting documents might be found. When such were recovered, they were examined very carefully for any intelligence they might yield. Some documents were especially valued, and, in the words of one Soviet sub commander, studied "with considerable interest," such as copies of Playboy.
"I Beg Your Pardon!"
During the Enlightenment, courtesy was a finely developed art, particularly among those in military service, who tended to deem themselves members of a unique international brotherhood, rather than dedicated enemies.
This sometimes led to wonderfully ludicrous exchanges between officers.
Late in 1775 Brig. Gen. William Woodford was campaigning in southeastern Virginia with about a thousand men, mostly from Colonel Robert Howe’s 2nd North Carolina. The American intention was to eject British Governor Lord Dunmore from the Norfolk area. On December 9th, they drove Lord Dunmore’s slender forces – he only had about 200 men – from the town of Norfolk in the Battle of Great Bridge. Dunmore sought refuge aboard some ships of the Royal Navy that were lying offshore. These were shortly reinforced by the 28-gun frigate HMS Liverpool, commanded by Captain Henry Bellew.
On Christmas Eve, Captain Bellow sent a party ashore under a flag of truce, requesting fresh provisions for his ships. As the British ships were quite powerful, and the American forces quite weak, the request put Woodford and Howe in a quandary; as they didn’t want to provoke an attack, yet they also didn’t want to provide supplies to the enemy. They resolved the problem in a rather solomonic fashion; they refused to provide fresh provisions for the British squadron, but supplied Bellew with various delicacies for his personal table.
Of course, hostilities could at best only be postponed. On December 29th, Bellew sent Howe a courteous letter. After the usual opening pleasantries, Bellew noted that although he much preferred avoiding so unpleasant a task, “the honor of my commission” required that he undertake an attack, because it was his duty to suppress armed rebellion against the Crown.
In an equally courteous reply, Colonel Howe noted that his high regard for Bellew’s honor naturally prevented him from asking that the attack be called off, but allowed as how Bellow would naturally understand that he would “be unworthy of the respect of a man of your character” if he did not, of course, resist the attack.
The attack came on January 1, 1776. Covered by the guns of HMS Liverpool and the other ships, Bellew landed a strong party of sailors, marines, and soldiers. Although unable to seize Norfolk, the British managed to torch the town before retiring on their ships. A few days later Lord Dunmore, Captain Bellew, and the rest of the British force sailed away.