This issue of Naval History features our second historical travel package. As its title implies, Tom Huntington's article, " Birthplace of the Civil War ," is about the important role Charleston, South Carolina, played in the War Between the States. Tom explores that rich history by visiting several of the city's naval-related sites and facilities, including Forts Sumter and Moultrie and the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is being conserved and studied. On the night of 17 February 1864, she became the first sub to sink a warship, but the boat also went down with her crew near the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Among other things, Tom's article brings you face to face with the eight Sailors who died on the Hunley 's daring mission and provides Charleston travel tips. Nearby Patriots Point, featured in this issue's Museum Report, offers a wide variety of more-modern naval vessels, including the USS Yorktown (CV-10), as well as aircraft. While tens of thousands of tourists visit the Charleston area each year, only a fraction of that number visit the remote Pacific atoll of Tarawa, site of one of the most ferocious Marine battles of the Pacific war. In "Return to Tarawa," David McCormack recounts the brutal fight on the atoll's Betio Island, interspersing his impressions and photographs from his trip to the island in 2004.
In addition to featuring historical travel, this issue also commemorates the 225th anniversary of the British surrender at Yorktown. Accounts of the Yorktown campaign generally concentrate on the siege that preceded General Lord Charles Cornwallis' 19 October 1781 capitulation, but it only lasted 22 days. The fate of his army-and by extension the entire British war effort in North America-had been determined more than six weeks earlier, when 24 French ships of the line defeated 19 British men-of-war at the Battle of the Chesapeake Capes.
While David Skaggs' article, "Admiral de Grasse's Decision for the Chesapeake," concentrates on the French, along with their Spanish allies, and the run-up to the momentous battle, Wade Dudley's "The Sea Battle that Shook an Empire" examines the Royal Navy's actions before and during the clash. Both tales feature an ironic twist and, more important, elucidate a notable point: France played a crucial role in the United States gaining independence. That's doubtless an uncomfortable fact for some Americans these days, but one we all should recognize-at least on 5 September, the 225th anniversary of the battle.
In August 2005, Naval History published "Our Picks: Great World War II Books and Movies." In this issue we're again taking a look at great movies, but from a broader perspective. Eric Mills, an acquisitions editor with the Naval Institute Press, presents our selections, along with reviews, of the best naval history DVD packages. "Our Picks" generated a lot of feedback, both assenting and dissenting, from you. We hope you find " The Essential Naval History Film Library " equally engaging.