CMH Home
CMH Home
CMH News and Features
U.S. Army Center of Military History
Fall 2014 Issue of Army History Magazine

In this Issue:

"The Infernal Balloon"
Union Aeronautics During the American Civil War
By Joseph C. Scott

With Hammers and Wicker Baskets
The Construction of U.S. Army Airfields in China During World War II
By Raymond E. Bell Jr.

Army History Magazine

Fall 2014 Edition

In this Fall 2014 issue of Army History, we are pleased to present our readers with two interesting articles. The first, by Joseph C. Scott, an Army officer currently serving with the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan, puts a spotlight on the often-overlooked niche of Union balloon observation during the American Civil War. Scott highlights the parties involved with the concept of aerial reconnaissence, to include the civilian balloonists and the supporters and detractors within the Army and government. He ably shows that, despite its potential, the idea of balloon observation may well have been doomed from the start. The technical limitations of the period, coupled with personality conflicts, burdensome Army bureaucracy, and high expense far outweighed the potential benefits of the program in the eyes of the Union military leadership.

The next article also puts focus on a lesser-known and understudied area of World War II history. The China-Burma-India Theater is perhaps best known for its tales of Merrill's Marauders, building the Ledo Road, and the Flying Tigers. Author Raymond E. Bell Jr., a retired Army brigadier general, recounts the story of the epic construction efforts to build U.S. Army airfields in China. Hampered by constant logistical limitations, these air bases, built primarily by Chinese manual labor under the supervision of Army engineers, are a testament to the courage, tenacity, and skill of the Chinese peasant workers who toiled under difficult conditions, largely without the aid of mechanized construction equipment. While the impact these airfields had on the final outcome of the war is arguably negligible, the sacrifices of the Army personnel and Chinese civilians involved are unquestionably significant.

This issue's Artifact Spotlight deals with courageous events that took place during Operation Market-Garden, the seventieth anniversary of which is upon us.

The chief of military history, who is departing the Center of Military History to take the reins of the American Battle Monuments Commission, wishes a fond farewell to the Army historical community and highlights the Center's many successes over the last few years.

The chief historian, in his Footnote, details the functions of the Army History Program, an entity he believes unites the Army's historical components with a sense of purpose and mission.

- Managing Editor