Court Martial of Billy Mitchell II

Lead: In the 1920s, the U.S. military was hampered by severe budget cutbacks and a debate on the future of the airplane. One persistent, prophetic, but on more than one occasion obnoxious voice in the debate was General William “Billy” Mitchell.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Billy Mitchell’s father and grandfather were congressmen. He thus grew up in the circles of power and expected people to listen when he spoke, but his habit of going public with his ideas and tendency to browbeat his opponents, diminished his influence with the Army. Mitchell’s experience as head of Army air combat forces in Europe during World War I led him to conclude that the warplane was the key to victory in future conflicts and he went on a crusade to prove it. He was particularly adept at using the press to further his ideas. He arranged a series of highly-publicized tests in which his bombers spectacularly sank several surplus battleships thus proving their vulnerability and increasing obsolescence.

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Court Martial of Billy Mitchell I

Lead: Billy Mitchell’s experience as Army air combat commander during World War I showed him that future success in warfare depended on air power. His problem was that he just couldn’t keep quiet about it.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Before the war Mitchell had a limited view of the airplane’s potential. He was in the Signal Corps and believed flying machines were primarily useful only for reconnaissance, flying behind and over the battlefield, spotting artillery, tracking enemy maneuvers, and aiding in fast communication and travel. As the months in Europe passed, his perspective began to change. He started to fly battle missions beside his pilots and eventually rose to be leader of the Army’s air arm. Under actual combat conditions additional powerful possibilities for the airplane began to emerge. Tactically, warplanes could support troops fighting on the ground and strategically, planes could help destroy enemy installations behind the lines.

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King’s Mountain III

Lead: Fleeing aroused bands of Patriot backwater men from Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina in late 1780, Major Ferguson took refuge on King’s Mountain.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Patrick Ferguson commanded the left flank of General Charles Cornwallis’ army. After defeating Patriot forces at Camden and Waxhaws, Cornwallis was attempting to eradicate resistance to the British Army in the Piedmont and mountain of North and South Carolina. Having strayed too far west of the main army, Ferguson foolishly issued a public warning against the Backwater Men, fierce and devout Scot-Irish settlers in the river valleys of Eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The Backwater immigrants raised 2000 men and began pursuing Ferguson and his regiment of 1100 Tories. Ferguson chose to make his stand on the summit of King’s Mountain, a rocky spur of the Blue Ridge in South Carolina not far from Charlotte. The mountain rises 150 feet above its surroundings. Its slopes were forested; it was sliced with ravines leading to a summit that in 1780 was nearly treeless.

 

King’s Mountain II

Lead: The turning point of the Revolution in the American south is considered by many to be King’s Mountain. The key to the battle were the so-called “backwater men.”

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the late 1770s the British rightly suspected there were many loyalists in the South willing to bolster the regular army’s attempts to put down the rebellion there. What they did not reckon was there were also many who were deeply committed to the Patriot cause or at least willing to resist the British invasion. Since the outbreak of hostilities in 1775 bitter low-grade partisan warfare had divided neighbors and families throughout the Carolinas particularly in the eastern counties.

 

 

King’s Mountain I

Lead: It wasn’t a great battle, but many scholars believe the encounter at King’s Mountain marked the turning point of the American Revolution in the South.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Beginning in 1779, the main strategic thrust of the British Army shifted to the Carolinas. The Brits believed there was a rich vein of loyalist sentiment in the South that could be profitably mined. This conviction had a solid foundation. For years North and South Carolina had been ripped by low-level partisan conflict and guerilla warfare. A good number, perhaps a majority, of southern colonists, were either indifferent or openly hostile to the patriot cause. Regional, religious and political divisions, already in place by 1776, were intensified by the revolutionary shedding of blood. Partisan bands on both sides took after each other with a savage fury. The coming of British regulars made matters ever worse.

 

 

Battle of Wounded Knee II

Lead: The last major action in the Indian Wars was a major mistake, a culmination of fear, frustration, misunderstanding and false assumptions.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The massacre at Wounded Knee Creek in late December 1890 happened resulted from a religious revival among certain clans of the Sioux Confederation and a long-running dispute between the Indian Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Army.

 

 

Battle of Wounded Knee I

Lead: The last major armed conflict between whites and Native Americans ended on December 29, 1890 along Wounded Knee creek.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the cold early morning hours of December 29, 1890 elements of 7th and 9th United States Cavalry surrounded approximately 350 Miniconjous Sioux led by Big Foot camped at Wounded Knee twenty miles from the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Within a brief time over 150 Sioux had been killed with another 44 wounded about half were women and children. More would later die of exposure. Army casualties were not small. Over 60 troopers were wounded or killed. In retrospect, such a high sacrifice of life on both sides made little sense. It resulted from broken promises, emotional despair, faulty expectations, professional ineptitude, and bureaucratic infighting.

 

 

LFM: Alfred Thayer Mahan

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose devotion gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Perhaps the greatest naval theorist of the modern period, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, was afraid of sea duty and avoided it as much as possible, was inclined to sea-sickness, and was inclined to wreck the ships he did command. A brilliant graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he disdained the curriculum there as trivial, made no friends, and served with little distinction on blockade duty during the Civil War. Yet he was undoubtedly an intellect and by the late 1880s he had been posted to the Naval War College where he taught history and established the writing career that made him famous.