The Civil War and Normandy

The Civil War and the Invasion of Normandy

Although the Civil War and World War 2 were fought in different centuries there is a commonality. Both wars were fought for freedom from oppression. There was also a distinct difference. The United States were indeed united in World War 2 in joining their allies against the oppressors. There were more American casualties in the American Civil War than in World War 2. As many as 700,000 Americans died in the Civil War while U.S. casualties in World War 2 totaled 418, 400.

On June 6th, 1944, Allied Forces, that included the United States, Britain and Canada, began the invasion of Normandy. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the Allied forces Supreme Commander and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery commanded the British Army forces. The operation was named Operation Overlord with the D-day being the codeword. Before the sun was up, 18,000 American and British paratroopers had been dropped behind the German forces that had dug in above the cliffs on Normandy's beaches to repel the expected invasion from the sea.

The invasion from the sea began at 6:30 AM with the U.S. Army's 1st Division troops landed at the now famous code named Omaha and Utah beaches. The British soldiers came ashore at Sword and Gold beaches and the Canadians at Juno beach. The invading armies, especially the 1st Division, had experienced very rough high seas on the ships coming from England. Navigation was a problem because of heavy seas, smoke and mist, and many of the Allied forces landing craft missed their landing areas. Once the invading forces reached the beaches they encountered implanted log and wire beach obstacles, mines and heavy enemy fire. Large numbers of soldiers were wounded in the water and drowned.

Once ashore the men faced heavily defended exits off the beach as well as imposing cliff faces. Small penetrations were achieved in pockets between the most heavily defended beach areas and the cliffs were scaled with fire raining down from above. Considering the heavy German defenses the Allied dead and wounded was relatively light. Approximately 1,000 troops were lost by each of the U.S. and the British forces with the Canadians losing 355 men. Only about 7,000 of the U.S.'s 14,000 intended vehicles made it ashore and three quarters of the 14,500 tons of supplies were lost. The beach landings were considered a success partially due to the small number of casualties and the tenacity and courage of the troops and their commanders.

This courage was forged at the Battle of Antietam, Bull Run, Gettysburg and many other bloody battlefields of the Civil War. The difference this time being that all Americans were united in their effort and fought side by side across Europe and the vast Pacific theater to victory.