Military Archives

June 5, 2008

Free Access to Civil War Database Through June

0806CivilWar.jpgAlexander Street Press is offering free access to their online Civil War collection for all of June. It includes a comprehensive index of 4.3 million soldiers and thousands of battles, as well as databases for letters and diaries, newspapers and magazines, and photographs, posters, and ephemera.
As always, several government agencies, most notably the Library of Congress, have online Civil War archives that are always free.

The American Civil War Online [Alexander Street Press]
US Civil War: Selected Resources including Photographs and Maps [Library of Congress]
Civil War, forging a more perfect union [National Park Service]

"Antietam, Md. Battlefield on the day of the battle" from the Library of Congress' Selected Civil War Photographs collection

October 23, 2007

"A Patchwork of Jurisdictions and Rights"

The Territory of the United the best way to describe the "territory" of the United States, according to mapmaker Bill Rankin, proprietor of the marvelous Radical Cartography.
As the subtitle suggests, what I think emerges isn't a unified system of territoriality, but a hodgepodge of different attitudes toward the land and its inhabitants. Different areas under U.S. control have very different relationships to government, both in terms of democratic representation and in terms of land control. (I also show all the areas of the world -- land and water -- that are, or were, influenced by the U.S. government using equal-area projections.)
This is a unique and fascinating way of visualizing a lot of different information, from the big North American territorial acquisitions of the 19th century to modern-day military installations around the world. My only complaint? There's no option to purchase a big, glossy, full-size printout to hang on the wall at World Almanac HQ. Kinko's, here I come!

Link: U.S. Territory (Radical Cartography)

July 19, 2007

Ruffles and Flourishes

0707flourishes.jpgWe apologize for the lack of entries recently but we’ve been hard at work on the next World Almanac and Book of Facts. I was recently reviewing the Military Affairs section where, in between the lists for chief commanding officers and number of personnel on active duty, we cover personal salutes and honors (page 129 in the 2007 edition). This includes what song is to be played for dignitaries and how many ruffles and flourishes should be performed beforehand.

Don’t know what a ruffle or flourish is? Those are the drum rolls (ruffles) and horns (flourishes) heard before the song begins. The more important the person, the more ruffles and flourishes. You can hear the maximum amount, four, before the President’s anthem, “Hail to the Chief.”

Perhaps you know about ruffles and flourishes, but can you hum some of the other honor songs like “General’s March” or “Flag Officer's March” played for generals and admirals? The U.S. Air Force Band has a comprehensive list of songs that includes honor music—with ruffles and flourishes—on their ceremonial music page.

U.S. Air Force Band: Ceremonial Music

Photo of band at Hunter Army Airfield from

April 9, 2007

U.S. Enters the Great War

Lyrics from “Don’t Take My Darling Boy Away,” written by Will Dillon (music by Albert von Tilzer) in 1915, recorded by J. Phillips and Helen Clark in 1917:

Don't take my darling boy away from me,
Don't send him off to war
You took his father and brothers three,
Now you've come back for more

[Recording from]

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. officially entered WWI. To mark this anniversary, check out this vintage audio from 1917 on There you’ll find both speeches and music from the year Americans went “Over there.” You can find similar audio for the other war years, but for today we're sticking with 1917.

ww_ustroops_rest_01.jpg For the first three years of the war, which began in 1914, the U.S. remained neutral. U.S. businesses and banks sold supplies and granted loans to the allied countries, but the government didn't send troops. Americans at the time had little interest in joining that “European conflict” and were content to stay on their side of the Atlantic. The lyrics posted above were written almost as an anti-war protest song two years before the U.S. entered. But once the U.S. became engaged, the song sort of got pushed aside for more pro-war pieces such as “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way.”

This is definitely one of the best sites out there for historical information and resources for those looking to learn more about “The War to End All Wars.” It does a good job of presenting the political, military, social, and cultural aspects of the War.

For a basic synopsis of the First World War, turn to page 127 in the 2007 World Almanac. For casualty figures from all U.S. wars, skip over to page 135.

Photo: U.S. troops resting on the road to the Front lines in France from
Original source: Liberty's Victorious Conflict: A Photographic History of the World War, (Woman's Weekly, Chicago, 1918)

December 28, 2006

The World at a Glance: Number Ones

1_3.jpgEven though The World Almanac is the best-selling American reference book of all time, there are still people out there who don't quite know what, exactly, you can find in it. So in the 2007 edition, we added a new feature page that summarizes some of the diverse, interesting facts you can find throughout the book, including some surprising facts, milestone birthdays for 2007, and important trends in the U.S. and around the world. For today, however, we'll keep the focus on our "Number Ones" — the biggest, the best, the worst, and the most popular in just a few of the dozens of different subject areas contained in the book.

Most popular car color in the U.S. .......... silver, more than 20% of new cars
Highest-rated U.S. television show, 2005-06 .......... American Idol, Tuesday night
Top-spending U.S. advertiser in 2005 .......... Procter & Gamble, $4.61 bil
Most prescribed class of drug in the U.S. .......... antidepressants, prescribed 81.2 mil times in 2004
Most popular dog breed in U.S. .......... Labrador retriever, 137,867 new dogs registered in 2005
Leading cause of death in U.S. .......... heart disease, 685,089 deaths (28%) in 2003
Nation with the most vacation days per year .......... Italy, average of 42 days per person
Largest world city .......... Tokyo, 2005 population 35.2 mil
Largest army, by active-duty troop strength .......... China, 2.3 million
Nation hosting the most refugees .......... Pakistan, with 1.1 mil in 2005
Most densely populated U.S. state .......... New Jersey, 1,135 persons per sq. mi.
Most sparsely populated nation .......... Mongolia, 4.7 persons per sq. mi.
Nation with most water per capita .......... Iceland, 582,191.8 cubic meters (U.S. has 10,333)
Developed nations with highest federal tax rate .......... Belgium and Germany, 42%
Nation with highest per capita GDP .......... Luxembourg, $55,600
Highest temperature recorded on Earth .......... 136° F in El Azizia, Libya, 9/13/22
Deadliest natural disaster in U.S. .......... Galveston Hurricane, Sept. 8, 1900; up to 12,000 killed
Most career saves (baseball) .......... Trevor Hoffman, 482 through 2006

[P.S.: Know a trivia buff who might love this list? Want to share it with the world? This would be a perfect time to try some of our sharing and social-networking tools. Click "Email this" to send this entry on to a friend, or "Add this" to bookmark or share it with dozens of different online services.]

Related: "Unbreakable" Sports Records

Photo from Leo Reynolds' Flickr stream (CC)

December 26, 2006

Battle of the Kegs

turtle_new.jpgDavid Bushnell, an American inventor at the time of the American Revolution, is best known for designing the first submarine for war. His Turtle (pictured at right) was an egg-shaped, one-man vessel that was not entirely successful in its Sept. 1776 debut: the pilot tried, but failed, to attach a bomb to the hull of a British warship.

His pioneering experiments with sea mines are not as well known today, but they received a good deal of attention at the time. Shortly after Christmas in 1777, Bushnell set afloat a collection mines at Bordentown, NJ, 26 miles upriver from a British fleet at Philadelphia. The mines were kept afloat by kegs and were spring-triggered to detonate upon impact. As they drifted down river, two boys detonated one keg, while the crew of a civilian barge set off another. That was enough to alert the British, who set orders to fire upon any kegs floating downstream. Francis Hopkinson farcically recounted the "battle" between “the conquering British troops” and the “wicked kegs” in his song “Battle of the Kegs” set to the tune of Yankee Doodle. It was totally a hit with the American troops.

The Connecticut Water Machine Versus the Royal Navy (American Heritage)

(Turtle drawing, and other information on historical submarine technology, from the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations' Submarine Warfare Division)

December 7, 2006

Pearl Harbor

Pearl%20Harbor%20USS%20AZ.jpg It was in the wee hours of the morning 65 years ago today that almost 400 Japanese planes decimated the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. Famously recalled as the “date which will live in infamy,” Roosevelt almost referred to it as “a date which will live in world history” (as commenter DianeWT mentioned last week).

This month’s World Almanac E-Newsletter has a great special feature for those interested in reading about Pearl Harbor in greater detail.

Both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times have articles recounting the day in their respective cities. And the New York Times waited until today to run this interesting obit on Lt. Kenneth Taylor, one of the first two Americans to gun down a Japanese plane at Pearl Harbor. He passed away Nov. 25.

Also, the Pacific Aviation Museum, an aviation battlefield museum, opens today at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. And the USS Arizona is still leaking oil?

For all your other Pearl Harbor reference needs, the Naval Historical Center website is very comprehensive.

Motion picture frame of the forward magazines of USS Arizona (BB-39) exploding after being bombed. From the Naval Historical Center and National Archives.

November 29, 2006

Blogging From a War Zone

The special feature in The World Almanac 2007, “Blogs From Soldiers and Their Families: Voices of Service to America,” featured several bloggers. Of them, Arnold Strong is currently serving in Afghanistan and “Buck Sargent” is still serving as a NCO in Baghdad.

If you’d like to read other blogs by military servicepersons and their families, J.P. Borda's is a great place to start. By using the “advanced search” function, you can browse blogs by gender, military branch and relationship to the service (mother, father, soldier), and country of origin.

If you are interested in reading civilian perspectives from within Iraq, check out Iraq Blog Count, which features blogs of Iraqis within Iraq as well as abroad, as well as many other blogs on the subject of Iraq. One of particular interest is the blog of Fatima, an American-born Iraqi, who posts at Thoughts from Baghdad about her experience returning to her home country.

Warning: As personal journals, language in these weblogs can be rough and some pictures may be inappropriate for children.

Continue reading "Blogging From a War Zone" »

November 23, 2006

Holidays Far From Home

This holiday season, many members of the U.S. armed forces serving abroad won’t make it home to their families. But it is easier than ever to send some of the comforts of home to them; connects people who want to send care packages to active duty soldiers, marines, and airmen. Stationed in Iraq in 2003, Army Sgt. Brian Horn began distributing packages addressed to “Any Soldier” to the soldiers in his unit who were not receiving mail, and by January 2004 the effort reached out to “any member, of any of the Armed Forces in harms way.” The site includes recommendations for what to send to the servicemen and women listed, and instructions on how to send it. Another helpful site is TreatAnySoldier, through which Horn’s mother, a retired Army MP herself, provides preassembled care packages loaded with snacks, books, DVDs, hygiene products, and other goodies specially chosen for Iraq-climate use and durability.

–Sarah Janssen

About Military

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The World Almanac in the Military category. They are listed from newest to oldest.

Meteorology is the previous category.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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