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The USS Arizona Sinks During the Attack on Pearl Harbor:
December 7, 1941

December 2, 2016 by | 0 comments

Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Today, and Dec 7, 1941
On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In this surprise attack, which would lead America to enter World War II, 6 U.S. ships were sunk and more than a dozen others were damaged. 2,403 American servicemen lost their lives, and another 1,178 were injured. The ship with the most lives lost was the battleship USS Arizona, with 1,177 deaths.

Below are excerpted accounts from that day by men who were on the Arizona and experienced its destruction firsthand. The full accounts, and others, can be found in Fold3’s WWII War Diaries collection.

“It was just before colors, in fact, I had already sent the messenger down to make the 8 o’clock reports to the Captain. Then I heard a dive bomber attack from overhead. I looked through my spyglass and saw the red dots on the wings. That made me wonder, but I still couldn’t believe it until I saw some bombs falling.” —Ensign H. D. Davison

“The worst explosion filled the inboard end of the room with flame and left a residue of orange smoke which continued to vent out the port. By this time the ship was down by the bow and sinking so rapidly that the lines from the ship to the after key were snapping. […] The ship was still sinking rapidly and oil was burning on the water and spreading aft. Because of the damage received there was no pressure on the fire main with which to fight the fire.” —Ensign A. R. Schubert

“I noticed No. 3 gun wasn’t firing due to safety bearing when the foot firing mechanism cut out. I was then shocked and surrounded by smoke and flames. I was backing away from the smoke and I can’t remember much from then on. I was in the water and was helped in a boat and from there to a hospital.” —Chief Gunner’s Mate J. A. Doherty

“Ensign Davison and myself got three boats clear of the oil fire on the water and picked up the men in the water who had jumped to get clear of the fire. We took several boatloads of badly burned and injured men to Ford Island landing and continued picking up men in the water between the ship and the shore.” —Ensign W. J. Bush

“About 0900, seeing that all guns of the antiaircraft and secondary battery were out of action and that the ship could not possibly be saved, I ordered all hands to abandon ship. […] I cannot single out any one individual who stood out in acts of heroism above the others, as all of the personnel under my supervision conducted themselves with the greatest heroism and bravery.” —Lt. Commander S. Q. Fuqua

Learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor from Fold3’s World War II collection. Or visit Fold3’s Interactive USS Arizona Memorial to learn more about the servicemen who perished on the Arizona.

Fold3’s Interactive Pearl Harbor and Vietnam War Memorials

November 15, 2016 by | 36 Comments

In this month of both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, take a moment to visit the two interactive memorial walls on Fold3—the USS Arizona Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—to pay tribute to America’s fallen heroes who perished in the attack on Pearl Harbor or during the Vietnam War. These interactive memorials allow you to learn more about the people whose names are inscribed on the walls as well as share your own facts, stories, and photos in remembrance of the veterans.

Interactive USS Arizona MemorialAdd your Tribute to the names on the wall
When the Japanese bombed the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona was sunk, killing 1,177 officers and crew. The USS Arizona Memorial was built in 1962 over the ship’s wreckage to honor the Arizona’s casualties and commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Fold3’s Interactive USS Arizona Memorial includes a high-resolution image of the wall that you can search or browse to find the names of servicemen who died on the Arizona. Each name is linked to an Honor Wall page where you can find information about the veteran as well as add your own photos or tributes.

Interactive Vietnam Veterans MemorialJames L Littler III on The Wall
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC was completed in 1982 and is etched with the names of more than 58,000 veterans killed or missing during the war. The interactive memorial on Fold3 was made of 6,301 photographs of the physical wall that were stitched together by computer into a single, high-quality image.

As with the Interactive USS Arizona Memorial, the Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial allows you to either search for a name or look at a high-resolution image of the wall—as if you were really in Washington DC. Like the interactive Arizona memorial, every name on Fold3’s Vietnam wall is connected to an Honor Wall page for the veteran that you can view or edit.

If you haven’t visited these interactive memorials before, take a moment to do so and perhaps leave a tribute for veterans in your family whose names are on the walls. Or leave a tribute for any veteran, no matter what time period they served, by expanding or creating a memorial page for them on Fold3’s Honor Wall.

Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address: November 19, 1863

November 1, 2016 by | 44 Comments

Image of Gettysburg Address Manuscript
Delivered on November 19, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address, with its famous opening lines of “Four score and seven years ago,” is one of the best-known speeches in American history. But did you know the following facts about the speech?

  • The Gettysburg Address was given as part of the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, four months after the bloody battle. Not all the bodies had been buried yet at the time of the dedication, which was attended by about 15,000 people.
  • Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the main speaker. Edward Everett, a politician and famous orator, had that honor. While Everett gave a 2-hour, 13,500-word oration, Lincoln’s speech lasted 2 or 3 minutes and was about 270 words long. Afterward, Everett wrote to Lincoln, “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
  • Lincoln was formally notified he would be speaking only 17 days before the event. Although Lincoln started writing the speech in Washington, he was still fine-tuning it up until the day he gave it.
  • Lincoln reported feeling sick the day he gave the Gettysburg Address. As it turned out, he may have had a mild case of smallpox.
  • There are no known photographs of Lincoln delivering the speech, perhaps because his speech was so short, the photographers didn’t have time to prepare. In fact, his speech was over before some of the audience even knew it had started.
  • There are five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address handwritten by Lincoln. Two of them were written around 19 November, and the other three were written afterward by request. The fifth draft, known as the Bliss copy, is generally accepted as the standard text of the speech since it was signed and dated by Lincoln, even though the copy was written by Lincoln after the speech had been given.
  • Dedication of the Gettysburg military cemetery
    The Gettysburg Address had its admirers and detractors at the time it was given, but it wasn’t necessarily seen as particularly influential during Lincoln’s lifetime. However, the speech was rediscovered and popularized 13 years later during the U.S. 1876 centennial.

Start a search on Fold3 to learn more about the Gettysburg Address. Or explore other Civil War documents in Fold3’s Civil War collection.

Free* Access to the Native American Collection

November 1, 2016 by | 1 Comment

82 - Broken Arm, Ogalalla Sioux
Do you have Native American ancestry? Or are you interested in Native American history? Then explore Fold3’s Native American Collection for free November 1-15.

Titles in this collection include:

  • Ratified Indian Treaties (1722-1869): Ratified treaties that occurred between the United States government and American Indian tribes. Also included are presidential proclamations, correspondence, and treaty negotiation expenses.
  • Indian Census Rolls (1885-1940): Census rolls submitted annually by agents or superintendents of Indian reservations as required by an 1884 Act of Congress. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under Federal supervision are listed on these census rolls.
  • Dawes Packets: Applications between 1896 and 1914 from members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes to establish eligibility for an allotment of land in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal law.
  • Dawes Enrollment Cards (1898-1914): Enrollment cards, also referred to as “census cards,” prepared by the staff of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, commonly known as the Dawes Commission. The cards record information provided by applications submitted by members of the same family group or household and include notations of the actions taken.
  • Eastern Cherokee Applications (1906-1909): Applications submitted for shares of the money that was appropriated for the Eastern Cherokee Indians by Congress on June 30, 1906.
  • Iroquois Indian tribe, 1914

  • Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller (1908-1910): The Guion Miller Roll is perhaps the most important source for Cherokee genealogical research. There are an estimated 90,000 individual applicants from throughout North America included within this publication.
  • Cherokee Indian Agency, TN (1801-1835): The records of the agent of Indian Affairs in Tennessee, including correspondence, agency letter books, fiscal records, records of the Agent for the Department of War in Tennessee, records of the Agent for Cherokee Removal, and miscellaneous records.
  • Rinehart Photos – Native Americans (1898): Photographs of over 100 Native Americans taken by Frank A. Rinehart, a commercial photographer in Omaha, Nebraska. Rinehart was commissioned to photograph the 1898 Indian Congress, part of the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition.

Have you found an ancestor in Fold3’s Native American collection? Tell us about it! Or get started exploring the Native American Collection here.

*Access to the records in the featured collections will be free until Nov 15, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. MT. Free access requires registration for a free Fold3 account. After the free access period ends, you will only be able to view the records in the featured collections using a paid Fold3 membership.

UK, Military Deserters

October 21, 2016 by | 13 Comments

Fold3 Image - Desertion list from 1875 mentioning John Read
Do you have an ancestor who was absent without leave from the British military? If so, Fold3’s UK, Military Deserters collection can be a valuable resource for discovering personal details about your ancestor.

Starting in 1772, British law enforcement published what would eventually become known as the Police Gazette (sometimes also called the Hue and Cry), which provided information on people wanted for crimes. Every two weeks, the Police Gazette included a list of men absent without leave from the various branches of the British military; these lists are what are included in Fold3’s collection.

Fold3’s UK, Military Deserters collection includes desertion lists from 1812-1901 and from 1921-1927. Although not every list from within these time periods is available, there are still more than 300,000 pages of information about British deserters, stragglers, and absentees.

The types of information provided in the desertion lists varied over the years but was always fairly specific, as it was meant to help the authorities identify the deserters based on the description alone. In addition to including essentials like name, age, regiment and corps information, and date and place of desertion, the lists also included physical descriptions that ranged from the basics (such as height, hair color, and eye color) to specifics (like descriptions of the person’s eyebrows, neck, nose, mouth, feet, complexion, identifying marks, clothes, and more). Also commonly included were the person’s place of origin, trade, and any other bits of information that would aid in identification.

For example, a desertion list from June 1828 identifies as a deserter 21-year-old Valentine Carmody of the 15th Foot, who was born in Thornougate parish in Limerick county and was a clerk before enlisting. Carmody is described as being 5’7″ and slender, with a “regular” head, oval face, grey eyes, brown eyebrows, short nose, short neck, and dark brown hair.

Another list, this time from November 1875 describes John Read, age 28 ½, from Lambeth, Surrey. Read deserted 8 October in Woolwich from the Royal Artillery and had been a laborer before enlisting. He was 5’10¾” with dark brown hair, grey eyes, a “fresh” face, and a scar on his forehead and the back of his right hand. He was last seen wearing his regimental uniform.

The lists also sometimes identify men who had been dishonorably discharged, as well as those who had previously been listed as deserters but who had since either rejoined their regiment or were no longer to be apprehended for some other reason.

There’s a lot of interesting information to be found in Fold3’s UK, Military Deserters collection! Get started searching or browsing here.

Civil War Signal Corps

October 11, 2016 by | 25 Comments

Fold3 Image - Confederate cipher used by Signal Corps with directions on how to use it
Both the Union and the Confederacy developed an army Signal Corps during the Civil War. The job of the Signal Corps in both the North and South was to quickly and accurately relay information and orders between the commanders of different units within the two forces (which was especially crucial during battles). The main way they did this was through the use of a flag system called wig-wag (not to be confused with semaphore), which was invented by Albert J. Meyer, an army surgeon, shortly before the war.

In wig-wag, either a single flag (during the day) or lantern (at night) was moved in set patterns to the right or left to represent letters, abbreviations, and word substitutes. There were seven flags of varying sizes and colors that could be used depending on the distance the message was to be passed and what the terrain was like. Wig-wag was a faster way to communicate than sending a courier on horseback and was especially useful in areas where a telegraph system was not set up. Both sides used codes to try to keep their messages secret, but they were often able to crack the other’s codes, until the Union instituted the use of a cipher disc.

If signalmen were in a fairly permanent location, a tall wooden signal tower would often be built; otherwise, members of the Signal Corps used whatever was available to help them reach a higher elevation, including hilltops, rooftops, church steeples, and trees. The distance between signal stations was usually determined by how far the signalmen could see with a spyglass and was not often more than 6 miles. Because signalmen were in such highly visible locations, they were often the target of sharpshooters.

Fold3 Image - Washington, D.C. Central Signal Station, Winder Building, 17th and E Streets NW, and Signal Corps men
In addition to passing and receiving messages with wig-wag, signalmen also sometimes served as observers, scouts, and couriers. Although the Union and Confederate Signal Corps shared many of the same duties, the Confederate Signal Corps was also involved in espionage, including engaging in covert operations and developing a network of informants.

Fold3 has many records and images related to the Union and Confederate Signal Corps. Below are just a few examples:

Do you have ancestors who served in the Signal Corps? Tell us about them! Or search Fold3 for more information about the Signal Corps during the Civil War.

Battle of Leyte Gulf: October 23–26, 1944

October 1, 2016 by | 258 Comments

Fold3 Image - Battle of Leyte Gulf (Oct. 25)
From October 23–26, 1944, the Japanese navy unsuccessfully went up against the American navy off the coast of the Philippines in one of the largest naval battles in history. The Japanese loss at Leyte Gulf effectively finished off their navy and gave the Americans unchallenged dominance in the Pacific for the rest of World War II.

The Philippines were crucial to the Japanese war effort in Southeast Asia. So when Douglas MacArthur‘s troops invaded the Philippine island of Leyte in mid-October 1944, the Japanese sent their dwindling navy—with its now limited air power—to attack the American ships of the Third and Seventh fleets off the east shore of the island, hoping to cut off support to MacArthur’s invasion force. The Japanese planned to send a northern decoy force to draw away Bull Halsey‘s Third Fleet, while a central force (sailing through the San Bernardino Strait) and a southern force (sailing through the Surigao Strait) would cut through the Philippines to attack Thomas Kinkaid‘s Seventh Fleet simultaneously from north and south.

However, very few things went according to plan for the Japanese. The central force was discovered and attacked by American submarines on October 23 and then later pounded by American naval air power on October 24 while still in the Sibuyan Sea, causing the central force to temporarily turn around. However, because the Americans assumed the central force had permanently withdrawn, the Japanese force was eventually able to double back and continue its journey through the San Bernardino Strait unobserved.

Meanwhile, the southern Japanese force met its destruction on the night of the 24th–25th, when it attempted to pass through the Surigao Strait. Alerted to the presence of the Japanese in the strait, Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf was able to deploy his ships perpendicular to the oncoming Japanese vessels and “cross the T,” allowing his ships to fire full broadsides, while the Japanese were only able to use their forward guns.

Fold3 Image - plane lays smoke screen during Battle of Leyte Gulf when Japanese central force attacks Taffy 3
When the central Japanese force exited the San Bernardino Strait on the 25th, it discovered that the plan to draw Halsey’s Third Fleet away had been successful during the night, and it appeared that the Japanese would be able to attack the Seventh Fleet from the north without much trouble. But they soon encountered Taffy 3, the Seventh Fleet’s northernmost escort carrier group. Although it initially seemed that the small American task force stood no chance, the ships and planes of Taffy 3 (eventually aided by Taffy 2) surprised the Japanese with the pugnacity of their attacks, and the Japanese unexpectedly withdrew.

Overall, the casualties for the battle were high, though Japanese casualties far outnumbered the Americans’: 10,000 Japanese casualties versus 3,000 American. The Japanese also lost more ships than the Americans, spelling the end of effective Japanese naval power during the war. The battle was also significant for the use of a new Japanese tactic: kamikaze attacks—which would prove a significant challenge to American naval forces in the Pacific going forward.

Do you have family members who fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the battle by searching on Fold3.