The Last Bridge

Today in History, March 7, 1945:

The Bridge at Remagen, or the Ludendorff Bridge Battle.

The American 1st Army arrived in Remagen to a surprise…that the last remaining bridge leading into Germany stood undamaged.

They quickly took the railroad bridge, which was strong enough for American tanks, trucks and artillery to move quickly into the German heartland. Once the bridge was taken, as always, it had to be kept.

And this bridgehead was important…and that is an understatement. The American forces had to fight against air attack, artillery, and sabotage. They moved quickly to take enough territory so that German artillery was out of range, set up sentries with powerful searchlights to catch enemy commandos, set up anti-aircraft batteries, and the bridge had it’s own Combat Air Patrol from the Army Air Corps. Engineers worked around the clock to repair any damage done to the bridge.

Costs of Appeasement

Today in History, March 7: 1936:

“If you French had intervened in the Rhineland in 1936 we should have been sunk and Hitler would have fallen” – German General Heinz Guderian, interviewed after WWII.

On this date, Germany “remilitarized” the Rhineland with a token force. It had been de-militarized after WWI to protect Germany’s neighbors.

In some skullduggery, Hitler claimed the people of the Rhineland were German peoples, and wanted the military presence. Now it was just a matter of seeing if anyone would call his hand.

In his memoirs, Hitler agreed with Guderian, saying that he had been very nervous in the 48 hours after the move.

Except for a few unheeded voices (Churchill), the governments of Europe refused to act, mostly for financial reasons. Bet they wished they could have had a “do over” on that decision.

The End of an Era

Today in History, March 7: 1885 – After the Civil War Texas Cattlemen began driving their herds north across Indian Territory to railroad hubs in Kansas. For twenty years Kansas towns (Abilene, Dodge, Hays, etc) vied to be the main hub to reap the accompanying profits. The cattle drives and the cowboys that led them became the source of our romance with the West.

However by 1885 Kansas had become a mostly agricultural state, and the cattle herds destroyed crops, their cowboys were rowdy. On today’s date the Kansas legislature passed a quarantine restricting Texas cattle from Kansas except in the Winter months, when the diseases they carried were less likely to affect Kansas dairy cows. It was a moot point by then anyway, as the railroads had made their way into Texas cattle country.