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In no other profession are the penalties for employing untrained personnel so appalling or so irrevocable as in the military.

-- General Douglas MacArthur

Welcome to the Patriot Files


The Patriot Files is a Library of Congress Veterans History Project Founding Partner web site comprised of first hand accounts of military life and combat, primary source material, as well as image, video, and audio resources.

The Patriot Files also supports the largest military usenet archive, military memorial, military website archive, and military news archive online.


Revolutionary War December 6
The Enemy forming a Line from towards our right to the extremity of our left upon an opposite long height to ours in a Wood. Our men were under Arms all Day and this Night also, as our Wise General was determined not to be attack'd Napping....
Note: Albigence Waldo was a Surgeon at Valley Forge, 1777.  9448 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II I grew up in the small town of Ellis, Kansas during the great depression of the 1930s complete with heat waves, drought and dust storms. We thought such conditions were the norm.I graduated from Ellis High School in May of 1943. I could have loafed around all summer waiting for my draft notice but I asked for immediate induction. My father was furious - thought I was out of my mind.
Note: by Kenneth F. Haas.  6627 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam I remember the first time we were told to go to Dong Tam-it seemed strange for flame thrower APC's, from the 9th Inf, 15th Engineers to be told we were going to be with the Navy for awhile. We were nicknamed on the radio and respectfully so "Zippos" sometimes the electronic firing device didn't work, so we'd bring out our Zippos lighters and light the napalm this way as it was leaving the barrel. I had no hair on my arm for the first 8 months of this.
Note: by Paul Kasper, 15th Engineers/9th Infantry Division  8260 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Saint-Leonard, a name that has continually come to mind over the last five decades, is the name of a quaint little village situated in the foothills of the Vosges of Southern France. It was not long after our encounter in this village when I made myself a promise not to be forgotten... a promise that I would keep in the many years to follow. The incident bringing about this promise I have lived with since that day, Nov. 20, 1944. It was a promise made out of both fear and anger, that some day if it be God's will, I will return.
Note: by Fielding D. Tucker  7155 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American I was just closing a letter to my family when I felt the crash of the explosion. It was a bursting, rending, and crashing sound, or roar of immense volume, largely metallic in character. It was succeeed by a metallic sound - probably of falling debris - a trembling and lurching motion of the vessel, then an impression of subsidence, attended by an eclipse of the electirc lights and intense darkness within the cabin.
Note: recounted by Captain Charles D. Sigsbee, USS MAINE, Commanding Officer.  11123 Reads  Printer-friendly page



POW On or about the 6th of March 1944 we crashed our B-17, on fire, on the way to Berlin. I became a POW and I made up my mind that I would have to try to escape. After traveling by boxcar for several days we arrived at Dulag Luft at Frankfort. We went through a very intense interrogation for a few days and then another trip by boxcar to Stalag Luft I at Barth, Germany. That was a trip no one will ever forget. I am certain all Ex-POW’s will agree. I still dream about those boxcars.
Note: by 2nd Lt. Herbert Markle  16746 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam I was a 1stLt. copilot in HMH463, and had only been in-country for a month at the time. I was assigned to the flight schedule for the nape drop, and was very excited to be going on one. I had heard about them, but this was going to be the biggest. Charlie Ridge was our target. The NVA there were in tight, and didn't want to move. Attempts to clear the area with fixed wing bombs had failed. Marines were taking heavy casualties.
Note: by Skip Burns  6570 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War The war had now assumed proportions altogether vaster than had been anticipated by either the North or the South. No man at the North, perhaps no man on either side, had at its beginning a clearer perception of the probable magnitude of the struggle than General W. T. Sherman.
Note: by General John B. Gordon  6613 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I The steamer appeared to be close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge, a small whistle in his mouth. I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward, and I saw, with surprise and a slight shudder, long rows of wooden partitions right along all decks, from which gleamed the shining black and brown backs of horses.
Note: by Adolf K.G.E. von Spiegel  7414 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War We started out to form a Company. We got together some 20 men. I have forgotten the exact number. Then we spliced with a number of young fellows from Selinsgrove. That formed Company D of the 18th Regiment then stationed at Harrisburg. Elected A.C. Simpson as Captain, Jerry Bogar as Quartermaster, McClay Coldren as 1st Sergeant and different others to less important posts.
Note: by Henry Fitzgerald Charles  7167 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I A fellow named Kendall and I palled up the day after he joined our company. We were in a sugar factory at the time, where we were to spend the night before going into the line. I had found two planks and trestles, and thought, in my ignorance, to make a bed where the rats would not disturb me, and while I surveyed the available floor space the slinking form of a large rat, just discernible in the dimming light, made me turn sharply round.
Note: by Private David Phillips, 23rd County of London Regiment  9293 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Enlisted in regular army April 24th 1917. Left Jackson barricks for Brownsville Texas in the same month, arrive at Gettysburg the latter part of June, and was from 4th transferred to 59th Infantry when it was organized in July. I was Mess Sgt, made Sept. 24 1917 arrived in Charlotte N.C. in Nov 8th 1917. And was transferred to 12 M. G. Bn in Nov 1917.
Note: Diary of Henry J. Tudury, Sgt. CO B. 59 INF 4 Div, DSC-PH.
  6880 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam March 4, 1968
Well Mom,
There really is a war going on over here. We made contact in daylight yesterday for the first time since I've been here. You know how they say war is not like the movies show it. Well, they're wrong. It's exactly like the movies.

Note: By Tim Driscoll  6662 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II It became known as the "Spearhead Division and I joined it, the Third Armored Division, at Camp Polk, Louisiana in early 1942, less than a year after it was formed. This account is of me telling of my day on the "Spearhead", how I got there, what happened, and how it ended.
Note: by Ray Reeder, 3rd Armored Division, 33rd Armored Regiment, Recon Company  16600 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Vietnam The next days are spent digging bunkers, filling sand bags and increasing the strength of our perimeter. We string endless lines of concertino wire, drive posts and set out trip flares, claymores and boo gas.( Buried 55 gallon drums that are a mixture of petroleum jelly and gasoline.) Instant crispy critter.
  6739 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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This Day in History
1865: Confederate General Joseph Johnston officially surrenders his army to General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina.

1865: John Wilkes Booth is killed when Union soldiers track him down to a Virginia farm 12 days after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

1865: Joseph E. Johnston surrenders the Army of Tennessee to Sherman.

1937: The ancient Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain is bombed by German planes.

1952: Armistice negotiations are resumed.

1971: The U.S. command in Saigon announces that the U.S. force level in Vietnam is 281,400 men, the lowest since July 1966.

1972: President Nixon, despite the ongoing communist offensive, announces that another 20,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam in May and June, reducing authorized troop strength to 49,000.