Monday, June 6, 2011
Battle of Cairo
Even more so than the events at Gettysburg, a couple weeks earlier, the events on July 17, 1940, sounded on of the death nails of the Confederate States of America. What occurred on that day was the most disastrous attempt at a river crossing in modern warfare. Lacking air support– in fact, the United States had its own Air Superiority over the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers– the Army of the Tennessee attempted a crossing of the Ohio east of Cairo, Illinois. American General Omar Bradley had his own 2nd Army dug into and around the city.
Confederate crossing of the Ohio was but a repeat of the American crossing of the Ohio at the start of the Great War, in 1913, up to the point of using the same technology. Open barges, riverboats, and anything that could float, were brought together by the Army of the Tennessee. Armor faced a more difficult challenge. Confederate riverboats were all the army had to escort it across the river. The gunboats were the first targets destroyed by American dive-bombers. After the gunboats were sunk, American air, river and artillery units chewed to pieces the Army of the Tennessee.
On that single day, Bradley succeeded in doing what Arnold failed to; he destroyed the enemy army. Not since the days of Rome had a single army lost so many soldiers in a matter of hours. More than a few companies within the Confederate Army faced casualty rates upwards to 70%. By night fall, what remained of the Army of Tennessee was in full retreat, in some cases unit discipline all but gone. Bradley faced disorganized resistance in his own invasion of Tennessee, mostly from dissolved units of Confederate who have fell back on bush-whacking and other irregular tactics.