Archive for June, 2021

FRIDAY FOTO (June 25, 2021)

Peaceful Scene on a Sea of Troubles.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rawad Madanat)

The U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the South China Sea on June 15, 2021 with the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67).

Reagan, part of Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5, conducting maritime security operations, flight operations, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units while in the South China Sea, according to the Navy.

The South China Sea has become one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the United States, according to al Jazeera, with Washington rejecting what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing in the resource-rich waters, which are also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

In a show of force against the Chinese claims, U.S. warships have passed through the South China Sea with increasing frequency in recent years, invoking freedom of navigation rights.

June 25, 2021 at 12:36 am Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Navy and Marine Corps Unmanned Vision; Mixed Manned, Unmanned Naval Exercise


Navy, Marines’ Unmanned Vision.

The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, one of several unmanned systems Navy leaders say help extend the reach and capabilities of the fleet. (U.S. AIR FORCE photo by Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr).

The top commanders of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps say the increased deployment of unmanned air and maritime systems will help extend the reach and intelligence capabilities of the Fleet and the Force.

It could also sow uncertainty among peer competitors, like China and Russia, according to SEAPOWER magazine.

The Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday told a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing that in the future, the Navy will field the Fleet in a distributed manner. And that, he said, “will allow us to come at — let’s say China or Russia — at many vectors across many domains.” In other words, the increased number of ships — some with a crew and some being controlled remotely or running autonomously — would force adversaries to spread their resources and be on guard everywhere, all the time.

When the Navy and Marine Corps released their Unmanned Campaign Plan in March, some in Congress said it was light on details. At the June 14 Armed Services hearing, Chairman Adam Smith (D-Washington) asked Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger to explain how unmanned systems will help them perform their mission.

With unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Berger said, the the Marines expect help with intelligence collection, logistics and and command and control, in short, he said the ability to move information laterally within Marine units and back to the Joint Force commander.

The Marines are transitioning to a mixed capability of long-range ship and ground-based unmanned aerial systems (UAS) including the MQ-9 Reaper, (see photo above). “This will significantly expand our ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities and will enable us to better support the Fleet and the joint force operational commander, including anti-submarine warfare.”

Gilday noted that the Navy had recently completed its largest unmanned exercise on the West Coast, with unmanned undersea, surface and air systems operating with manned surface ships. The Navy also had the first successful refueling of an F/A-18 Super Hornet from an MQ-25 drone. The Navy also saw the third voyage of more than 4,000-miles — from the Gulf Coast, through the Panama Canal to California — by an unmanned surface vessel operating autonomously 98 percent of the time.

To read the whole story, click here.

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After Action Report.

Speaking of that big West Coast exercise with both manned and unmanned vessels and aircraft, the Navy has concluded its after-action review, according to the Office of Naval Research.

Led by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem 21 (IBP21), was held from April 19-26 in San Diego, California.

During IBP21, numerous multi-domain unmanned platforms — including unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles (UAVs, USVs and UUVs) — were put into real-world, “blue-water” environments, working in sync with manned platforms in actual combat drills designed to support Pacific Fleet objectives in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Large-scale exercises such as IBP21 are critical for the Navy and Marine Corps to make the transition to a hybrid manned-unmanned force in the future,” the Chief of Naval Research, Rear Admiral Lorin Selby said. “These demonstrations ensure what works in theory will work in the fleet—in an environment that is messier, dirtier and wetter than a lab. They also allow us to get valuable feedback from the Sailors and Marines themselves,” he added.

The purpose of IBP21 was to explore a variety of questions about how unmanned systems can be incorporated into fleet operations. For example: How can unmanned and manned systems work together effectively in diverse warfighting scenarios? How can you integrate unmanned systems seamlessly into existing platforms? What is the best way to train Sailors and Marines to use such complex, evolving technologies?

So far, according to SEAPOWER, major takeaways from IBP21 include:

Unmanned systems are resilient, enable better beyond-line-of-sight targeting, and improve battlespace awareness and command and control.

They also provide significant advantages in ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) and Targeting and Fires capabilities, without creating additional risks to the mission or warfighters. The result—more effective offensive and defensive postures.

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From General Atomics

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. completed initial flight tests of a new brushless generator system in May on a company-owned Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

The tests at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizonna, mark an important milestone towards upgrading the GE-ER fleet with generators that will significantly improve reliability and dramatically reduce platform sustainment costs. The new generator also provides electrical power to support expanding mission scenarios for the UAS.

The new generator performed aircraft ground and flight tests for over 44 hours testing up to maximum electrical power output across the full GE-ER flight envelope and at engine power levels from idle up to maximum rated thrust.

The brushless generator is designed as a drop-in replacement for the current alternator to help make the upgrade seamless for maintainers in the field. The brushless design eliminates scheduled depot service for brush replacement every 300 hours on the current alternator, reducing depot, shipping, and spare inventory costs. The new generator system can provide up to 14 kilowatts of power – more than a 50 percent increase over current system – and provide up to 10 kilowatts for sensors and payloads required for flight in a Multi-Domain Operations environment.


From Schiebel

Austrian drone manufactuer, Schiebel, says the Finnish Border Guard is once again operating its CAMCOPTER S-100 for icoast guard functions in the Baltic Sea.

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) service is offered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Based at a coast guard station in Hanko, Finland, the CAMCOPTER S-100 is carrying out Coast Guard functions, such as
maritime border surveillance, search and rescue, monitoring and surveillance, ship and port security, vessel traffic monitoring, environmental protection and response, ship casualty assistance — as well as accident and disaster response.

Information collected in the Baltic Sea from the on-board RPAS system is shared with multiple Member States, allowing for a common maritime picture and more comprehensive coordination. The operations will continue until end of July.

Two other CAMCOPTER S-100 operations for EMSA are being carried out in Estonia and Romania for maritime surveillance.

June 24, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (June 19, 2021)

Eagle Has Landed.

(Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, Kristjan Petersson) Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle — “America’s Tall Ship” — arrives in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 9, 2021.

The Eagle is a three-masted sailing barque and the only active (operational) commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services. And here’s something for you Master and Commander fans, the Eagle is an actual war prize, taken from the Nazis.

The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned as Horst Wessel. (Can you believe it?) Four identical sister ships were also built. Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken by the United States as a war prize after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew – aided by the German crew still on board – sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its new homeport in New London, Connecticut.

Today, a permanent crew of eight assigned officers and 50 assigned enlisted personnel maintain the ship year round. They provide a strong base of knowledge and seamanship for the training of up to 150 cadets, or officer candidates, at a time.

Eagle is currently conducting summer U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet training in at-sea leadership and professional development. Their first port call was Portugal in late May. Since 1946, Eagle has been giving future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, and other professional theory they have previously learned in the classroom.

For more on Eagle — including photosclick here and here.

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For regular 4GWAR Blog visitors who expected to see a pretty picture or an interesting one with a story behind it in yesterday’s FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO posting, thanks for your patience. We hope this FOTO fits the bill.

June 19, 2021 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO (June 18, 2021)


It’s June 19, or Juneteenth, – the holiday marking the last gasp of legal slavery in the United States. What started out as a holiday in Texas has been gaining recognition and popularity — especially in this very troubled time of police shootings, protest marches and the still evolving reckoning about the place of race in American history.

At 4GWAR, we thought we’d take a look at the events that led to the Juneteenth tradition in the waning days of the Civil War — harking back to a posting we created in 2015 to mark the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth

EDITOR’s NOTE: That’s how we started our blog posting a year ago. Little did we know those words would foreshadow recent events in Washington and around the country. You can see that 2020 blog posting in it’s entirety here.

But tomorrow marks the first time June 19th will be celebrated as a federal holiday since Congress passed legislation and President Biden signed it into law on Thursday (June 17) . Some people are already worried whether the U.S. Mail will be delivered or the banks will be open on the 19th. Here at 4GWAR we’ll let other folks worry about all that.

We do have one concern that arose when we read a news story about the 14 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted against making June 19th a federal holiday. That news didn’t surprise us, not nearly as much as the news that the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make this date a federal holiday.

The 14 House members gave various reasons for their “No” vote — some of them pretty lame, like the added cost to taxpayers of another day off for federal workers. But a few voiced concern that the official name of the new holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, would confuse people about the July 4 holiday — or worse, “push Americans to pick one of those two days as their independence day based on their racial identity,”as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said.

That did concern us at 4GWAR. The last thing the United States needs right now is something to divide us even more. And at 4GWAR, where we’ve been writing about Juneteenth (off and on) since 2011, we feel any holiday that celebrates the fight for freedom from oppression — even if it commemorates somebody else’s history, like Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo or Hanukkah — is still worth appreciation.

We’ve been wracking our brain to find a military image in U.S. history, emblematic of the fight for freedom in the American Civil War for today’s FRIDAY FOTO. We thought about the opening battle scene in Lincoln or the final one in Glory, but on their simplest level they show white guys (the oppressors) and black guys (the oppressed) in brutal hand-to-hand combat. Neither looked like material to bring people together in today’s hair-trigger atmosphere.

Finally, we thought of Gettysburg, the epic 1993 film about the epic 1863 battle. It, too, can be problematic. Its even-handed portrayal of the soldiers and leaders of the Confederacy has been criticized as Southern propaganda. And there are next-to-no people of color in it, except for one scene with a runaway slave. However, there is a scene that captures the one difference between the soldiers in blue and those in gray (or butternut brown) — slavery. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine’s speech to a group of hard-headed soldiers from another Maine regiment who refuse to fight because their enlistment has run out. Here’s a shortened version, with very clear imagery.

In a statement quoted by the New York Times, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas (she represents the Houston area) and a lead sponsor of the bill, said “Juneteenth is as significant to African Americans as July 4 is to all Americans.” We hope that Juneteenth will grow to be appreciated by all Americans, and that whites will see it as something more than a black holiday marking beginning — just the very beginning — of the United States of America doing the right thing about racial inequality. To paraphrase Henry Fonda’s character in The Ox-Bow Incident, a cowboy trying to stop a lynching who’s been told its none of his business. Slavery “is any man’s business that’s around.”

And we hope people of color will realize than in addition to the 180,000 black soldiers who fought for freedom, thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of white men and boys died, not just to preserve the union, but to set other people free.

We all have a stake in the meaning of Juneteenth.

ANOTHER EDITOR’s NOTE: For regular 4GWAR visitors who expect to see a beautiful photo, or at least an interesting one with a story behind it on Fridays. We will post one on Saturday as a FRIDAY FOTO EXTRA.

June 18, 2021 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: AeroVironment Moves East; First In-Flight Drone Refueling of Fighter Jet

Leaving California.

California-based drone and robotic system-maker AeroVironment, is moving its base — East to Arlington, Virginia.

Aerovironment, which manufactures the Puma, Raven and Wasp small, hand-launched  unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) for the U.S. and other militaries, announced the move June 15. AeroVironment also makes the loitering munition, Switchblade, also known as a kamikaze drone.

A Marine launches a Puma UAV by hand in Afghanistan. (Photo by Sergeant Bobby J. Yarbrough)

“The greater Washington D.C. area is where many of our key customers are located and expanding our presence in the region will further our access to decision makers, influencers and talent,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment’s president and CEO.

“Our recent acquisition of Progeny Systems ISG and our new Artificial Intelligence Innovation Center expand our footprint near the Beltway and build on our momentum as we continue to grow our portfolio and global scope. We look forward to growing our Washington, D.C., presence and continuing to serve our customers with solutions that help them proceed with certainty.”

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Making History.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) made aviation history on June 4 with a successful air-to-air refueling of another aircraft. Boeing’s MQ-25 Demonstrator, T1, refueled a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter, a major step in the MQ-25A Stingray’s journey to become the Navy’s carrier-based aerial refueler, according to Seapower magazine.

The MQ-25 T1 test asset refuels the Navy F/A-18 during a flight June 4 at MidAmerica Airport in Illinois. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

Boeing’s T1 and the F/A-18F  were flown by a crew from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23. The two aircraft joined up and the MQ-25 passed a total of 325 gallons of fuel to the Super Hornet in two separate refueling events.

The MQ-25 carried a Cobham-built refueling store with a drogue refueling hose, the same type currently used in the fleet by Super Hornets. The Navy plans to use the MQ-25 in the refueling role to free more Super Hornets for the combat operations they were designed to perform.

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Testing Gremlins

The Defense Department, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and industry partners will hold the next demonstration of the drone swarming concept this fall, reports.

At an event hosted by Defense News, the deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, Lieutenant General Brian Robinson said revealed the next test for the program, known as Gremlins, will occur in the October to November timeframe.

In concert with Dynetics, a subsidiary of Leidos, Kratos Defense and DARPA, have been working on the project, in which controlled drones are dropped out of cargo planes — such as the C-130 Hercules — to swarm enemy defenses ahead of fighters, ships or ground vehicles.

For more on this topic, click here.

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Skyborg AI Test

Earlier this Spring, the U.S. Air Force flew an artificial intelligence (AI) system onboard a subsonic autonomous drone for the first time.

The Skyborg autonomy core system, or ACS, was loaded into a Kratos UTAP-22 “Mako” drone for a 130-minute flight test at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, on April 29, the Air Force announced. The Skyborg ACS conducted a basic flight and “responded to navigational commands while reacting to geo-fences, adhering to aircraft flight envelopes and demonstrating coordinated maneuvering,” the May 5 news release stated.

Skyborg is one of three initiatives under the service’s Vanguard Program for rapid prototyping and development of new technologies it can leverage for multiple operations, according to the website. The goal is for drones loaded with the Skyborg network to fly alongside manned fighters, so the machine can learn how to maneuver and even train with the pilot.

Follow-on test events will include manned-unmanned teaming with the Skyborg ACS-controlled system, according to the Air Force. To read more, click here.

June 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: U.S. Army Birthday; Flag Day 2021

Happy 246th Birthday!

(U.S. Army photo by Specialist Laura Stephens)

June 14th is a double-barreled day of significance in the United States. It’s the U.S. Army’s 246th Birthday and it’s also Flag Day, when Americans celebrate our national emblem — the Stars and Stripes.

The photo above shows soldiers assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” participating in the U.S. Army Birthday Run at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

On June 14, 1775 — at the urging of John Adams (the future 2nd U.S. president) — the Continental Congress, in effect, created the U.S. Army by voting $2 million in funding for the colonial militias around Boston and New York City. Congress also ordered the raising of ten companies of expert riflemen from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Together with the ragtag militias in New England and New York they would form the first Continental Army. George Washington of Virginia, one of the few colonials with military command experience (from the French and Indian War) would take command in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 3, 1775.

Flag Day

Two years later, on June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the 13-star, 13-red-and-white-and blue-striped banner as the national flag. Flag day was celebrated on various days in various ways around the United States until the 20th century.

A member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment — The Old Guard — places American flags in front of gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia on May 23, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Jose A. Torres Jr.)

As war wracked Europe and the Middle East in 1916, and it looked more and more like the United States would be drawn into the horrific conflict known as the Great War, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. In August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress — but it’s not an official federal holiday.


Francis Scott Key notes “that our flag was still there” during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York in the photo at left.

June 15, 2021 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 11, 2021)

Weird Angle.

(U.S. Air Force video screen capture by Airman 1st Class Zachary Rufus) Click the photo to enlarge image.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter lands during a training competition at the Nevada Test and Training Range, on May 18, 2021. This unusual photo angle is a still captured from a video taken by a camera that appears to be mounted on the Pave Hawk’s aerial refueling probe.

The Pave Hawk is a highly modified version of the Army Black Hawk helicopter which features an upgraded communications and navigation suite, according to the website.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk is the Air Force’s primary combat search and rescue helicopter, used by both special tactics teams and pararescuemen. The HH-60G’s other operational capabilities include civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space flight support and rescue command and control.

To see a very brief video of a Pave Hawk in action, click here.

June 11, 2021 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Pentagon Creates Arctic Regional Center

New Arctic Regional Center.

The U.S. Defense Department is establishing a new Defense Regional Center — the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. The center will bring increased cooperation on the unique challenges and security concerns related to the Arctic region, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced June 9.

Curious polar bears approach the bow section of the USS Honolulu after the submarine surfaced in the Arctic Circle, 280-miles from the North Pole.

The center will support the U.S. Interim National Security Strategic Guidance to work with like-minded partners and across the government “to pool our collective strength and advance shared interests,” Austin said in a press release. “It will address the need for U.S. engagement and international cooperation to strengthen the rules-based order in the region and tackle shared challenges such as climate change.”

The Ted Stevens Center will provide a new place to collaborate with U.S. allies and partners to advance shared interests for a peaceful and prosperous Arctic. Where the center will be located — probably in Alaska — has yet to be determined.

Defense Department Regional Centers are international academic venues for multilateral research, communication, and training — with the goal of building strong, sustainable international networks of security leaders. Three of the five existing regional centers are located in Washington, D.C. The other two are located in Honolulu, Hawaii and Garmisch, Germany.

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New Skipper for Alaska Coast Guard Cutter

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley conducted a change of command ceremony May 19 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley makes its way to homeport in Kodiak, Alaska, on February 8, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings)

Captain Benjamin Golightly transferred command of the Alex Haley, a 282-foot medium endurance cutter, to Commander Brian Whisler. Rear Admiral Peter Gautier, the deputy commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony.

Whistler, who will serve as Alex Haley’s 14th commanding officer, is responsible for the cutter’s operations throughout the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, which includes protection of life and property, enforcement of federal fisheries regulations, preservation of living marine resources, and promotion of national security in the high latitude region.

June 10, 2021 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 4, 2021)

The Modern Day Marine.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Brienna Tuck)

A Marine tests the connectivity of the Networking On-the-Move (NOTM) Airborne communications system during flight operations May 27, 2021 from the USS America, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship.

The NOTM Family of systems is a Satellite Communications (SATCOM)-based on-the-move, command and control (C2) combat capability for all elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF).

A force multiplier on the battlefield, NOTM provides forward and main integrated C2 capabilities for bounding assaults to the edge of the battlespace; commanders are no longer geographically tethered to the COC. The NOTM capability is currently employed both in ground and air platforms, according to the Marine Corps.

You may have heard that the Marine Corps is divesting itself of heavy weapons platforms such as tanks and towed artillery to pay for new investments in cyber space, artificial intelligence and high mobility land and amphibious vehicles. Don’t worry the Marines will still have firepower, but it will be ground-based anti-ship missiles and high mobility rocket systems.

We outlined most of the major changes in this article for SEAPOWER magazine.

“The Marine Corps is redesigning the force for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested spaces. Marine Corps readiness is focused on building a more lethal force by training for advanced and persisent threats; growing cyberspace activities,” according to Navy-Marine budget documents. “These efforts will help ensure the Marine Corps is prepared to operate inside actively contested maritime spaces in support of fleet and joint force operations,” they add.

The Marine Corps is increasing and maturing yber capabilities through Marine Forces Cyber Command with an expansion of cyber mission forces teams who support operations across the globe. Major information warfare program funding is also planned.

June 4, 2021 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Two Monuments and the Continuing Irony of U.S. History

In the Line of Duty.

Monument to the one U.S. Marine — Private Luke Quinn — killed during  John Brown’s raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry (then) Virginia in 1859. (Copyright John M. Doyle, 4GWAR Blog)

HARPERS FERRY, West Virginia — While visiting Harpers Ferry, West Virginia during the recent Memorial Day weekend, mostly to hike in the eponymous  National Historical Park to see little bit of nature, but also for little taste history, your 4WAR Blog editor encountered two stone monuments we had never seen nor heard of before.

The first, seen above, is dedicated to Irish-born Private Luke Quinn, the only Marine killed during abolitionist John Brown’s raid on the U.S. Army Arsenal in Harpers Ferry. On the night of October 16, 1859, Brown led an integrated group of 21 men on a mission to seize the strategically important town at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Brown wanted to arm local slaves in Virginia and touch off a mass uprising of enslaved people across the South.

The next day more than 80 Marines arrived by train from Washington under the command of then-Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee to end the incident, which had turned into a hostage crisis. Among the Marines was Private Quinn, born in Ireland (County Meath). When Brown and his men refused to surrender, Lee ordered the Marines to assault Brown’s refuge, a brick fire station known as the Engine House, with fixed bayonets to avoid shooting the hostages.

The inscription at the base of the monument to Private Quinn unveiled in 1940. (Photo copyright by John M. Doyle 4GWAR Blog)

Private Quinn, the second Marine through the battered door, was mortally wounded. He died later that day at the age of 24. Brown was captured, tried by Virginia authorities and hanged December 2, 1859.

Brown’s death fanned flames North and South over the emotional issue of slavery. Northerners celebrated Brown as a hero; Southerners declared him the devil, according to the American Battlefield Trust.

We see some irony, not in Private Quinn’s courageous service, fighting to regain illegally seized federal property, one of the nation’s two arsenals — but that his death came while fighting men, admittedly wrongheaded and murderous in their methods, who were fighting against slavery, and consequently defending the property rights of Virginians, including the right to own people.

Thank You for Not Rebelling.

Monument to Heyward Shepherd, a free Black man, killed in John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry 1859. (Copyright photo John M. Doyle, 4GWAR Blog)

The second monument, just up the street from Quinn’s is dedicated to a free black man, Heyward Shepherd, who was the first victim of Brown’s “attempted insurrection.”

Shepherd worked as a baggage handler at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station in Harpers Ferry. On the night of the raid, Shepherd encountered Brown’s men who ordered him to halt. When he didn’t comply, they shot him fatally. Over the years, many have noted the irony of Shepherd being killed by the very men who said they were fighting to free blacks.

That point wasn’t lost on the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans when they erected the Shepherd monument in 1931. Early on, critics complained that the final sentiment carved in stone propagated the myth of the Lost Cause and that slavery wasn’t all that bad.

The text that brings one up short, is near the bottom:

This boulder is erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a memorial to Heyward Shepherd, exemplifying the character and faithfulness of thousands of negroes who, under many temptations throughout subsequent years of war, so conducted themselves that no stain was left upon a record which is the peculiar heritage of the American people, and an everlasting tribute to the best in both races.

In an era where calls for removing municipal monuments to the Confederacy and renaming U.S. Army forts bearing the names of Confederate generals abound, the irony here is obvious: Praise for a black man that then turns into a kind of defense of black servitude.

The National Association of Colored People (NAACP) installed a plaque praising Brown in 1932 at Storer College in Harpers Ferry that read in part: Seven “slaves and sons of slaves” fought with Brown, who was “crucified”. It was written by W. E. B. Du Bois, a biographer of John Brown and an NAACP co-founder.

The battle over this monument is captured in an academic article by Akiko Ochiai in The Japanese Journal of American Studies.


June 3, 2021 at 11:31 pm Leave a comment


June 2021


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