A soldier from the 172nd Stryker Brigade fires an illumination flare over Mosul, Iraq, from the vehicle’s 120mm mortar. Flares are used to spot terrorists emplacing roadside bombs.

Military Heritage June 2008

Famous Military Weapons: Mortars

By William McPeak

The mortar is perhaps the oldest surviving ordnance piece developed during the Middle Ages. The earliest known forerunner to the mortar, introduced by Spanish Muslims about ad 1250, was essentially an iron-reinforced bucket that hurled stones with gunpowder. Read more

Wary Roman forces enter the Apennine Mountain pass at Caudine Forks in 321 bc. Samnite forces under Gaius Pontius were waiting for them.

Military Heritage June 2008

Swords and Citizens: Romans & the Samnites

By Jeffrey A. Easton

Centuries before the Romans came to dominate the Mediterranean basin, they fought a series of wars against neighboring peoples to establish their hegemony over the Italian peninsula. Read more

Vizier Mustafa Pasha commanded the Turkish ground forces at Malta, seen here breasting the Knights Hospitallers in one of numerous headlong assaults.

Military Heritage June 2008

Clash of Religions at Malta

By Tony Rothman

At dawn on May 18, 1565, one of the largest armadas ever assembled appeared off the Mediterranean island of Malta. Read more

Military Heritage June 2008

Belleau Wood: Shrine of Great Deeds

By Al Hemingway

In the early morning hours of May 27, 1918, the earth trembled and the air was filled with a deafening roar as 4,000 German artillery pieces let loose a tremendous barrage on Allied lines. Read more