November 11, 2003

On this day

November 11, 1864
My great grandfather is in Kernstown, Virginia. A veteran of Cold Harbor, Monocacy and Cedar Creek, he is serving with Co. 'M' of the New York 9th Artillery, part of Sheridan's VI Corps in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
On October 19, at dawn, after an unparalleled night march, Confederate infantry directed by Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon surprised and overwhelmed the soldiers of Crook's corps in their camps at Cedar Creek. The XIX Corps suffered a like fate as the rest of Early's army joined the attack. Only the VI Corps maintained its order as it withdrew beyond Middletown, providing a screen behind which the other corps could regroup.

Sheridan, who was absent when the attack began, arrived on the field from Winchester and immediately began to organize a counterattack, saying ``if I had been with you this morning, boys, this would not have happened.'' In late afternoon, the Union army launched a coordinated counterattack that drove the Confederates back across Cedar Creek. Sheridan's leadership turned the tide, transforming Early's stunning morning victory into afternoon disaster.
November 11, 1914
My English grandfather, serving with 1st Battalion, The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, is engaged in heavy fighting against superior German forces in the First Battle Of Ypres.
Fighting around Ypres would linger on until 22 November when the onset of winter weather forced a break in hostilities. The combat during this engagement was extremely confusing and unrelenting. After the fight, British survivors were content to say that they had been at "First Ypres"; no more information was necessary to explain what they endured.

One soldier, Private Donald Fraser, explained it this way: "one [a man] was not a soldier unless he had served on the Ypres front." Less than half of the 160,000 men the BEF sent to France came out of the encounter unscathed.
November 11, 1944
My father, captured while serving with the Rangers in Italy, is a POW at Stalag IIB near Hammerstein, Germany.
Treatment was worse at Stalag IIB than at any other camp in Germany established for American POW before the Battle of the Bulge. Harshness at the base Stalag degenerated into brutality and outright murder on some of the Kommandos. Beatings of Americans on Kommandos by their German overseers were too numerous to list, but records that 10 Americans in work detachments were shot to death by their captors.