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American Amphibious Warfare

The Roots of Tradition to 1865



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American Amphibious Warfare by Gary J Ohls
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American Amphibious Warfare: The Roots of Tradition to 1865 will fill the gap in the historiography of naval and military warfare. As the title implies, this book describes and analyzes early landing operations (from the Revolution through the Civil War) of American history, showing how they contributed to its rich amphibious tradition. No such study currently exists. This study does not attempt to describe every amphibious operation in early America, but focuses on seven major battles or campaigns providing a strong appreciation for the roots of American amphibious traditions. It will address in abbreviated form other amphibious operations and various land and naval battles as necessary to place these major actions in proper historical context. It is important to remember that amphibious operations include both offensive and defensive actions; and both when viewed from the water's edge can be instructive. Of the seven major amphibious campaigns examined in this book, five are offensive and two are defensive from the American perspective. (The New York and Baltimore campaigns are defensive and the Yorktown, Derna (Tripoli), California, Veracruz, and Fort Fisher are offensive.) For many Americans, the concept of amphibious warfare derives from the World War II model where landing forces assaulted foreign shores against determined resistance. These actions resulted in very high casualties, yet proved uniformly success for American operations. The circumstances of geography coupled with the weapons and equipment available at that time dictated this type of warfare. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, no such equipment or weapons existed for assaulting defended beaches. Commanders attempted to land their forces in areas where the resistance would be light or nonexistent. The initiative and maneuverability inherent in naval forces permitted the establishment of combat power ashore before having to engage the enemy. The naval echelon could deliver forces to the point of attack faster that the land-based defenders could react. The focus of this book is to analyze and explain how amphibious traditions began in this earlier era and, in the epilogue, show how they compare and contrast with modern amphibious forces, particularly the modern U.S. Marine Corps. One of the interesting conclusions it that weapons and equipment (modern amphibious ships, landing craft air cushioned, VSTOL fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, and theV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft), coupled with new doctrine (operational maneuver from the sea, ship to shore maneuver) actually allow modern forces to return to the amphibious tactics and operations of the earlier period. Is short, the U.S. Marine corps of the twenty-first century is a true inheritor of these Roots of Tradition established in early America.

Author Biography

In addition to a career in the Marine Corps and with the Naval War College/Naval Postgraduate School, Dr. Gary J. Ohls has worked in management with the Aerospace Corporation and Northrop Grumman Corporation. Prior to teaching for the Naval War College, Dr. Ohls served as an Assistant Research Professor in the Maritime History Department at the Naval War College in Newport. Additionally, he has taught undergraduate courses at the University of Colorado and Texas Christian University. Previous community involvement includes serving as a member of the Redondo Beach, California Harbor Commission.
Release date NZ
December 30th, 2017
Country of Publication
United States
25 black & white photographs, 7 maps
Naval Institute Press
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