The 1622 Virginia massacre touched off the first large-scale Indian war. Indian-fighting remained a central theme in U.S. military history for the next two and one-half centuries. Théodore de Bry, America, Part XIII. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
The English and their Indian allies attack the Pequot Indians in their Mystic River fort in 1637. To fight Indians successfully, whites invariably needed the cooperation of friendly Indians. John Underhill, News From America, 1638. Courtesy of The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
The cornerstones of American military policy from the Revolutionary era through the 1880s were citizen-soldiers; a small regular army; a small navy that cruised on distant stations; and coastal fortifications.
Citizen-soldiers at the Battle of Lexington in April 1775. Engraving by C. Tiebout. Courtesy of The New-York Historical Society.
The Continental Army, America’s first regular army, at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. Painting by H. Charles McBarron. U.S. Army Art Collection. U.S. Army.
The 44-gun frigate President on station in the Mediterranean in the early nineteenth century. Painting by Antoine Roux. Courtesy of The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Fort McHenry, built about 1800, defended the harbor of Baltimore. Courtesy of the National Park Service.
One important factor in the Union’s victory over the Confederacy was the superior organizational and administrative abilities of these four Northern leaders.
President Abraham Lincoln, with practically no previous military experience, became a strong and resourceful Commander-in-Chief. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles mobilized the North’s naval forces, which blockaded the South, assisted the Army in capturing coastal enclaves, and cooperated with the Army in operations along inland waterways. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton oversaw the growth of the Union Army to more than 1 million men and ensured that it had ample logistical support. National Archives (111-B-4559).
Henry Wager Halleck exhibited superb administrative skills as the commanding general from July 1862 until March 1864 and then as Chief of Staff. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
Railroads were indispensable logistical arteries and played a large role in shaping Civil War strategy. Raiders in blue and in gray often made them a prime objective, because overturned locomotives and torn-up tracks could frustrate enemy plans as decisively as a battlefield defeat. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
Approximately 180,000 black troops served in the Union Army, playing a vital role in the North’s victory and, consequently, in the liberation of their race from slavery. This photo shows Company E of the 4th United States Colored Troops. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
These four military intellectuals fostered crucial developments in armed forces professionalization and theorizing during the late nineteenth century.
William T. Sherman, although best known for his Civil War exploits, made his most enduring contributions to the Army in the postwar era. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
Emory Upton wrote The Military Policy of the United States setting forth the simplistic thesis that the country was always unprepared for war. Reproduced from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
Stephen B. Luce, who hoped to apply scientific methods to the study of naval warfare, helped establish the Naval War College in 1884. U.S. Navy Photograph.
Alfred Thayer Mahan simply codified the big-navy philosophy of his age in The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783. U.S. Navy Photograph.
Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy, who proposed a “command of the sea” strategy based on battleship fleets, was instrumental in the dramatic transition in American maritime strategy in the late nineteenth century U.S. Navy Photograph.
The three battleships authorized in 1890, including the Oregon shown here, marked the advent of the new maritime strategy advocated by Tracy and Mahan. Once begun, battleship construction dominated the Navy for the next half-century. U.S. Navy Photograph.
The War with the Philippine Republic was America’s first large war in Asia. Filipino soldiers ultimately submitted to an American pacification program that combined effective colonial government with vigorous campaigning. National Archives (111-RB-1258).
As in all of America’s wars, hastily mobilized citizen-soldiers played an instrumental role in the War with the Philippine Republic. This picture shows Oregon Volunteer Infantry in the Philippines in 1899. National Archives (111-RB-1047).
Waiting to advance: American infantry in the Meuse-Argonne campaign, 1918. Signal Corps No. 111-SC-24445 in National Archives (hereafter NA).
Transportation problems: An AEF traffic jam in the Meuse-Argonne reflects the problems of coordinating an offensive. Signal Corps No. 111-SC-24642 in NA.
Artillery conquers, infantry occupies: A 75-mm. gun of the 6th Artillery Regiment fires for the 1st Division during AEF attacks, 1918. Signal Corps No. 111-SC-27421 in NA.
Air support for the AEF: Sopwith Camel pursuit planes of the 148th Squadron, American Air Service, AEF, prepare for a mission, 1918. Signal Corps No. 111-SC-18846 in NA.
The Navy prepared for a naval campaign above, on, and below the Pacific Ocean: The U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2) at anchor at Hawaii, 1933. No. 80-A-416531 in NA.
Submarines gave the U.S. Navy additional power for a Pacific war: “Fleet boats” like U.S.S. Mackeral (SS-204) provided the 1941 Navy with scouts and skirmishers—and commerce raiders after Pearl Harbor. U.S.N. No. 19-N-23722 in NA.
Amphibious warfare at inception: A detachment of Marines practices loading a landing craft, Quantico, Virginia, 1920s. Defense Department No. 531602 in NA.
Amphibious warfare at maturity: Beaching ships carry the heavy equipment of three marine divisions ashore at Iwo Jima, February, 1945. American amphibious assault operations provided the allies with an important offensive advantage in World War II. Defense Department No. 110851 in NA.
Attack on Fortress Europe: 8th Air Force B-17s bomb German oil refineries, November 1943. The Anglo-American bomber forces created a “Second Front” in the air. Defense Department No. 55429 AC in NA.
Attack on Fortress Europe: Soldiers of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division clear a street of German defenders in Brest, France, August 1944. Signal Corps No. SC 193705-S in NA.
The ships that sank an empire: The carriers Langley (CVL-27) and Ticonderoga (CV-14) lead three fast battleships and four light cruisers into Ulithi anchorage after air strikes on Japanese bases in the Philippines, December 1944. No. 80-G-301352 in NA.
Limited war remains total for the infantry: Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division prepare to cross a rice paddy, Korea, 1951. Signal Corps No. SC 368495 in NA.
Air power helps save Korea: UN Command tactical air power, such as this F-80 taking off from Japan, provided an important advantage over the Communist armies in Korea, 1950. U.S. Air Force No. 77201 in NA.
Vertical assault in Vietnam: UH-1B “Huey” helicopters carry American soldiers into action in central Vietnam, 1966. Air mobility gave the U.S. Army and Marine Corps added effectiveness in the war with the North Vietnamese Army. Signal Corps No. SC 634829 in NA.
Ambush! Marines cross a creek under fire during a jungle patrol near Phu Bai, South Vietnam, 1967. Despite added helicopter mobility and close air support, American infantry still had to fight the NVA in Vietnam’s wooded mountains. Defense Department No. A188945 in NA.
Air power in the Nuclear Age: A B-52 bomber, designed to carry nuclear weapons to deter attack by the Soviet Union, instead carries conventional bombs to targets in South Vietnam. U.S. Air Force No. 94836 in NA.