A Hidden Gem – the South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia, SC

The second visit on third and last day of my South Carolina/North Carolina road trip was the South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia, SC. Located in the shadow of the Universtiy of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium, it’s operated by the South Carolina National Guard and located in the Guard’s compound on National Guard Rd off of Bluff Rd. It isn’t the easiest thing to find and you have to pass through a guard post to get back to it, but it is well worth the visit for any History or Military History buff.

The South Carolina Military Museum presents the Military History of South Carolina primarily from the National Guard perspective, from the Spanish explorers in South Carolina through today. Their collection and equipment on loan for display includes uniforms, weapons, equipment, and vehicles from the various wars from both sides of the conflicts. They have a number of beautifully restored military vehicles from both the United States and World War II Germany on display in the museum. There is also a wonderfully restored Bell H-13B, 48-0796, which is the first H-13B airframe, serial number 101 from 1948. Outside of the museum is a good collection of heavier armored vehicles that wouldn’t fit inside the museum and there is an OH-58 and UH-1 beside the museum. The museum also contains an excellent display on the South Carolina Air National Guard, detailing the aircraft they have flown since they were stood up in 1947. The ANG display also tells about some of the personnel that have flown in the SC ANG and has an ejection seat from an F-104.

The South Carolina Military Museum is indeed a hidden gem and is well worth finding. They have a great collection and friendly veteran volunteers full of interesting stories and information. There’s no admission since it’s a government museum, but there is a collection box you should drop a donation in; operating a museum like this isn’t inexpensive and their government budget doesn’t cover everything.

A Visit to Musgrove Mill State Park, Where 200 Patriot Militia Defeated 300 Loyalist Militia and 200 Provincial Regulars

On 8 January 2019, I visited the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site in Clinton, SC, the site of a Patriot victory over Loyalists and Provincials during the American Revolution. Also within the park is Horseshoe Falls, a waterfall on Cedar Falls Creek near the Enoree River. There are two trails on the site, one that covers the area where the Loyalists and Provincials were camped prior to the battle and another that covers the battlefield. I wasn’t able to walk the first trail because it had recently been underwater and was ankle deep in mud. I did walk the battlefield trail and it gave me a better understanding of why the militia was able to have success against regulars in the southern part of the Revolution; the rough, forested terrain prevented the regular’s massed formations and bayonet charges from having as much effect as they would on open ground.


On 18 August 1780, a Patriot force of 200 militia engaged and defeated a force of 300 Loyalist militia and 200 Provincial regulars (no British regulars were involved). The Loyalists and Provincials were camped at Musgrove’s Mill and the Patriots meant to make a surprise attack on them but were discovered by a patrol. Even though they were outnumbered by more than 2 to 1, the Loyalists decided to fight because their horses were in need of rest, making it hard to escape without fighting. The Patriots decided to bait the Loyalists and Provincials into an ambush instead of facing them head-on. A group of about 20 Patriots under Captain Shadrack Inman attacked the Loyalists then feigned fleeing in disorder; the Loyalists and Provincials then chased them uphill via the road to Musgrove’s Mill and broken terrain toward the top of a ridge. The rest of the Patriot force was waiting at the top of the ridge behind a hastily formed breastwork of brush and timber. When they realized what they were up against, the Loyalists and Provincials fired their volley too early and to little effect. The Patriots, however, held their fire until their enemy was closer and their volley had a tremendous effect. The Provincial regulars then executed a bayonet attack that was broken up when the Patriots threw in their reserves. Captain Inman, who headed the initial Patriot attack was killed during the battle, but the Loyalists and Provincials lost several officers during the battle, which caused them to break. The Loyalists and Provincials lost 63 killed, an unknown number of wounded, and 70 captured. The Patriots lost only 4 killed and 12 wounded. It was a lopsided victory that left the Patriots in command of the field.

Even though it was a Patriot victory, it came on the heels of a significant Patriot defeat by British forces at Camden, SC. Camden was just as lopsided a victory for the British as Musgrove Mill was for the Patriots (if not more), and it solidified the British hold on South Carolina. Musgrove Mill, however, proved to the British that while they may have held South Carolina, that hold would be very difficult to keep.

At the beginning of the Battlefield trail, you come across Horseshoe Falls, a low waterfall on Cedar Falls Creek near the Enoree River. It isn’t a large spectacular waterfall, but it is scenic and beautiful; I’d love to see it with the trees along the creek in their Autumn colors (a good reason to make a return trip one of these days…). While the rest of the Battlefield trail isn’t paved, the trail up to the falls is paved and wheelchair accessible.

Book Review: Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas by John Buchanan

Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas

Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas by John Buchanan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I decided to read Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas by John Buchanan as preparation for a vacation trip to visit the Ninety Six, Musgrove Mill, Kings Mountain, and Cowpens battlefields in South Carolina (due to the government shutdown, it seems I won’t be visiting three of the four since they are federal parks).

Road to Guilford Courthouse covers the American Revolution in the Carolinas from the beginning of the war through the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Buchanan tells the story by not just describing battles and troop movements but also by developing the personalities of the men guiding and leading those battles and movements. Through the use of primary sources, diaries, and autobiographies, he gives both the leaders’ view of the war and the line officers’ and soldier/militiamen’s view as well. One of the focuses of the book is on the use of militia, by both the Americans and the British, with a concentration on how they were properly used and who properly used them. Another focus is the analysis of both Regular and Militia leaders’ performance (including a chapter at the end of the book on what happened to many of them after the war).

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Road to Guilford Courthouse. It is a fascinating, captivating book that I often found hard to put down. The concentration on both actions and personalities give you a comprehensive look at that period of the Revolution in the south. It’s well researched and documented with extensive endnotes and a bibliography at the end of the book. The reason I haven’t given it a five-star review is its lack of maps. This campaign was very much a war of movement and maps showing the movements of the British and Americans would help the reader better visualize the relation of the two armies to each other. Maps of the battle would also help the reader visualize the positions of the units described in the text and the movements of the units during the Seige of Charleston and at battles such as Kings Mountain, Cowpens, and Guilford Courthouse.

Reading this book made me reflect on other conflicts. As I read, I kept coming back to the thought that the US military’s failures in Vietnam and Iraq are partly due to the failure to remember lessons from our own Revolutionary War. The southern war is rife with lessons on partisan/guerrilla warfare, particularly from the British on what not to do when fighting them and from the Americans on how to utilize your partisan/militia allies. As I read more about Greene and the war in the south, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Spruance at the Battle of Midway in World War II. Greene had to fight Cornwallis yet he couldn’t allow himself to be defeated in detail. Spruance had to fight Yamamoto yet he couldn’t allow himself to lose significant numbers of ships and men. If either had allowed themselves to lose their army or fleet, it would have been calamitous; arguably their decisions to be not as aggressive in battle were the correct ones.



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Warner Robins and Macon Road Trip Scanning Report; 11/12 June 2018

Since my nephew is thinking about joining the military after he graduates from high school, I took him on a trip to the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, and the Andersonville National Historic Site/Cemetery on Monday and Tuesday. We went to the Museum of Aviation with a side trip to the big Bass Pro Shops in Macon on Monday, stayed overnight in Warner Robins and then went to the National Infantry Museum and Andersonville on Tuesday, driving back home to Savannah on Tuesday evening. Since I wasn’t traveling alone, I didn’t have as much radio time as usual, but I did let the Home Patrol 2 and TRX-2 in the mobile station and the BCD436HP and TRX-1 portables scan and log during the trip.

Of particular interest on the first day of the trip, was Robins AFB. I always enjoy listening to military aviation activity at Robins and on Monday I was able to hear the usual E-8 JSTARS and Air Logistics Center activity, but some P-8s from NAS Jacksonville doing pattern work as well. The USAF TRS site at Robins AFB is something I usually listen to as well.  During this trip, I was able to ascertain that the USAF TRS encrypted talkgroup that is listed as “Doghouse” on RadioReference seems to be associated with the 116th/461st ACW and that the encrypted talkgroup 56166 seems to be the 116th/461st ACW MOC net.

Robins AFB
133.225 – Tower
257.975 – Tower
121.850 – Ground
275.800 – Ground
134.100 – Base Ops
225.925 – Robins ALC Ops
293.525 – 116th/461st ACW “PEACHTREE Ops”
119.600 – Atlanta TRACON
124.200 – Atlanta TRACON
279.600 – Atlanta TRACON
134.500 – ZTL South Departure Low
360.750 – ZTL South Departure Low

USAF TRS
TG 56046 – unknown
TG 56070 – ALC MOC
TG 56082 – ALC
TG 56121 – Robins AFB Base Ops
TG 56122 – Robins AFB Tower
TG 56123 – Robins AFD FD Dispatch
TG 56141 – Doghouse (enc); related to 116th/46st ACW)
TG 56166 – 116th/461st ACW (enc) (suspect this is MOC net)
TG 56192 – unknown
TG 56193 – unknown
TG 56257 – unknown

Monday evening and night’s weather around Warner Robins wasn’t very good. so it delayed several E-8 JSTARS flights at Robins AFB and generated a good bit of traffic on MOC nets at the base. TIGER 04 (P-8A, 169007, VP-8) and TIGER 88 (P-8A, 168760, VP-8) got in some pattern work at Robins before the storms came and DRACO 06 (E-8C, 00-2000, 116th/461st ACW) and PEACH 99 (E-8C, 94-0284, 116th/461st ACW) finally took off late in the evening after having to delay takeoff for lightning in the area.

TIGER 88 TIGER 4 3
ADS-B plot of TIGER 04 (P-8A, 169007, VP-8) and TIGER 88 (P-8A, 168760, VP-8) in the pattern at Robins AFB on 11 June 2018

IMG_20180611_213050_resize
The laptop running with a RadarBox Micro ADS-B/Mode-S receiver, TRX-1 andBCD436HP scanners connected to the laptop, and a BC125AT at the motel room in Warner Robins

At the Museum of Aviation, a number of aircraft are under restoration, including their B-17G, HU-16, and VP-26B. All three are in the Scott Exhibit Hangar behind the Eagle Building (main building). Unfortunately, the EC-135 that used to be the CENTCOM command post aircraft is still out back behind the museum with parts of the aircraft removed. I hope they get some funding at some point to restore it. The last time I visited the museum, someone asked if John Travolta’s Gulfstream was still there; on this visit, I looked behind the hangars and it is still there.

 

 

After spending the night in Warner Robins, we left for Fort Benning and Andersonville on Tuesday morning. The morning was foggy and there were rain showers and thunderstorms throughout the day, so I didn’t hear all that much activity around Fort Benning. The radios did log some aviation activity from Lawson AAF and some land mobile traffic from the Fort Benning TRS, but nothing new was turned up since my last visit there in 2017.

Fort Benning
119.050 – Lawson AAF Tower
269.525 – Lawson AAF Tower
125.500 – Atlanta Approach/Departure
126.550 – Atlanta Approach/Departure
323.100 – Atlanta Approach/Departure
134.100 – Lawson AAF Base Ops
245.700 – Lawson AAF Base Ops
121.050 – Lawson AAF GCA
132.400 – Lawson AAF GCA
307.325 – Lawson AAF GCA

Fort Benning TRS
TG 3041 – unknown
TG 3255 – Bayonet Battalion
TG 3274 – unknown
TG 3389 – unknown
TG 3453 – Lawson AAF
TG 3517 – Transportation
TG 3636 – Ammunition
TG 3537 – unknown
TG 3567 – Range Control?
TG 3701 – E911
TG 3703 – Range Control

While my nephew, who is really interested in the Rangers, enjoyed seeing the Ranger related exhibits at the National Infantry Museum, I took particular interest in some of their World War I exhibits. I never get tired of seeing the Renault FT tanks there and the M1916 Armored Car. On this visit, they had the Global War on Terror memorial completed across from the Vietnam War memorial. Just as the Vietnam War memorial has all the names of those killed in action during the Vietnam War, the Global War on Terror memorial has all of the names of those killed in action during that conflict.

 

 

After we visited the National Infantry Museum, since it wasn’t very far away, I thought it was important that my nephew see the site of the Civil War prison camp, the Prisoner of War Museum, and the cemetery at the Andersonville National Historic Site. I felt that if he was going to see all of the “cool” stuff about military history at the National Infantry Museum, he should see the other side of military history at Andersonville. I wanted him to impress upon him that the military wasn’t always glamorous and that there was a downside to military history that we need to remember. Luckily we got there just as the afternoon guided tour was about to begin. Park Service intern Jessica gave the tour and did a magnificent job of it. She just didn’t point out was there and what happened there, but also encouraged us to think and contemplate upon what happened at Andersonville. It was something I’m glad my nephew was able to experience.

 

In the bottom left photo above, of the graves of Union prisoners of war who died at Andersonville, I’ll call your attention to the six gravestones that sit off to the right on their own. These are the graves of the Raiders, a group of POWs who robbed from and killed their fellow POWs. They were tried by a jury of the peers and hanged by their peers by permission of the Confederate camp commander. They are considered dishonorably discharged and aren’t honored on holidays as are the rest of the POWs buried at Andersonville.

On both Monday and Tuesday, we were within listening range of the Bulldog MOA in east/central Georgia and could hear F-16s from Shaw AFB and McEntire JNGB as well as F-35Bs from MCAS Beaufort operating in the MOA on 343.750. We could also hear them entering and exiting the MOA on 322.325 with Atlanta Center.

There was a lot of public safety radio traffic to hear during the trip. In addition to local agencies in Georgia, we could hear local public safety agencies in Alabama while around Fort Benning and Columbus. Given the mix of urban and rural areas we went through, there was a mix of conventional and trunked systems as well as a mix of analog and digital traffic.

Georgia Conventional Public Safety
154.3550 (PL 141.3) – Butts Co FD Dispatch
154.1750 (PL 88.5) – Crawford Co FD Dispatch
154.0700 (PL 186.2) – Laurens Co FD Dispatch (Analog)
155.4000 (PL 85.4) – Macon Co FD/EMS Dispatch
155.6475 (PL 110.9) – Schley FD Dispatch
155.5500 (PL 225.7) – Talbot Co VFD
154.2650 (PL 156.7) – Taylor Co FD Dispatch
160.6650 (PL 118.8) – Upson Co FD Dispatch
159.1950 (PL 100.0) – Upson Co EMS Dispatch

Georgia State Public Safety
159.2250 (PL 179.9) – GFC D2 Repeater
159.2250 (PL 123.0) – GFC D3 Macon Repeater
159.1200 (DCS 047) – GFC D4 Covington Repeater
159.2400 (PL 167.9) – GFC D6 Bleckley Repeater

Alabama Conventional Public Safety
159.4350 (PL 107.2) – Barbour Co, AL Fire 1
151.1150 (PL 167.9) – Lee Co, AL Common
155.1450 (PL 123.0) – Lee Co, AL FD East Dispatch
154.0250 (PL 167.9) – Lee Co, AL EMS 1
155.8950 (PL 107.2) – Lee Co, AL EMS 2
154.4000 (DCS 134) – Auburn FD (Lee Co, AL)
154.1900 (PL 123.0) – Russell Co, AL Fire North Dispatch
154.3250 (PL 123.0) – Russell Co, AL Fire West Dispatch
453.0750 (PL 151.4) – Phenix City FD 1 (Russell Co, AL)

Central Georgia Interoperable Regional Radio System (P25)
TG 132 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Dispatch 1
TG 134 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Scene 2
TG 135 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Scene 3
TG 136 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Scene 4
TG 151 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Event 1
TG 152 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Event 2

Houston/Peach TRS (P25)
TG 16 – Houston Co FD Dispatch
TG 17 – Houston Co FD FG 1
TG 61 – Warner Robins FD Dispatch
TG 64 – Warner Robins FD Training
TG 65 – Warner Robins FD Talk
TG 91 – Centerville FD Dispatch
TG 121 – Perry FD Dispatch

Muscogee County TRS (P25)
TG 71 – Columbus FD Dispatch

 

Book Review: Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway: The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully

18663139A few years ago, I read Craig L. Symond’s The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) and saw Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway: The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully referenced in it. I took a look at the book on Amazon and it had a plain simple cover, giving it the feeling of an academic work, so I added it to my reading list but didn’t put it very high on the list. Recently, I finally got around to reading it.

Shattered Sword presents a new way of looking at the Battle of Midway. It is well researched and well documented with extensive endnotes and a lengthy bibliography. It is detailed yet captivating. Most of all, it presents strong arguments, backs up those arguments with documented sources, and effectively turns the traditional narrative of the Battle of Midway on its ear. The authors explore doctrine, strategy, planning, and tactics from the Japanese perspective; in doing so, they don’t just challenge the conventional wisdom about the battle and its after effects; to borrow from the title, it shatters them.

To put it mildly, this book is not what I thought it was. It is not a dry academic work, it is well written in a witty, conversational style. You’re not only getting a completely new understanding of the battle, you’re being entertained. It truly is hard to put this book down. Very seldom do you come across a book that presents an all-new way of looking at a historical event, but this book fits that bill. I’ve purposely not included any of Shattered Swords’ conclusions in order not to spoil the book. Buy it read it, you won’t be disappointed and you’ll come away with a whole new understanding of one of World War II’s important battles. I also think that those interested in military history can come away with important lessons, one of them being not to apply one side’s doctrine and operational practices to its opponent, analyze both sides’ actions in the light of their respective doctrines. It’s helpful to have about the Battle of Midway previously and have an understanding of how the US Navy fought the battle, but this truly is a five-star book and one that anyone interested in the Pacific Theater of World War II must read.