By the evening of 20 May, Guderian’s panzer spearheads had reached Abbeville at the mouth of the Somme, and at this point their line was as thinned out as it ever would be. The Germans were vulnerable to a determined counterattack, but the only one that threatened the speeding panzers was by British tanks at Arras on 21 May. The Allies inflicted a stinging reverse on the SS Totenkopf division, but they quickly found themselves blocked by Rommel’s panzers. After a brisk battle, the British were driven back to their original positions and threatened with encirclement.
Following his victory at Bautzen, Napoleon ordered Marshal Nicolas Oudinot to continue the operation against Berlin with the three divisions of his Twelfth Corps. The emperor instructed Oudinot to drive Bülow across the Oder and take the Prussian capital. On 25 May the vanguard of the Twelfth Corps began the march from Bautzen toward Berlin, followed by the main body on the next day. By no means could Oudinot’s force be compared to the impressive army that Ney had led against the Prussian capital only one week earlier. Oudinot’s corps had dwindled during the campaign to a mere 20,000 men. Although equal in numbers to Bülow’s mobile troops, Oudinot’s men possessed one advantage: experience. They had fought at both Lützen and Bautzen.
Battle of the Volturno
Giuseppe Garibaldi was marching north from Naples when he was attacked in a strong position at the Volturno, outside Capua, by the Neapolitan army of Francis II under General Giosue Ritucci. Aided by Piedmontese, fresh from victory at Castelfidardo, Garibaldi drove off the Bourbon forces with heavy losses on both sides. He then captured Capua and advanced on Gaeta (1-2 October 1860).
The Army of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was divided among the large garrisons of Gaeta, Capua, and Messina and the field army of 25,000 men. The Neapolitan Army held a strong position on the Volturno. Two infantry and one cavalry division camped outside Capua, with a third infantry division spread upstream holding the fords and bridges across the river. Garibaldi’s army had advanced to positions from Santa Maria to Caserta and Maddaloni a week earlier. His army now boasted 22,000 men divided among four divisions. Most of these men had served in Sicily, now supplemented by more volunteers.
Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf
On 30 August Lehwaldt and the Prussian army emerged from the west near the town of Gross-Jägersdorf and attacked the Russians at around 5.00 am. The Prussians were spread thinly in linear formation. They had surprised the Russians on the march and tried to take advantage of the ensuing confusion. Heavy fighting took place in the center lines in the Norkitten Wood, but the Russian artillery took a heavy toll of the Prussians. After four salvoes against the center, the Prussian effort was spent and a general retreat began. The Prussians lost 4,500 men and the Russians lost 6,000. The Russians did not follow up the Prussian retreat, allowing them to leave the battlefield without much molestation. The Prussians, for their part, had a newfound respect for the fighting capabilities of the Russians that was reinforced in the later battles of Zorndorf and Kunersdorf.
The Night Attack On Targoviste
The Battle of Targoviste was fought on the night of June 17, 1462 between the armies of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. Better known as “Vlad the Impaler” or “Dracula,” the real Vlad was a hardened veteran of the long Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Mehmed demanded a jizya, or tax on non-Muslims, from many bordering states, but Vlad refused to pay. In 1460, the Hungarian regent Michael Szilagyi (Vlad’s main ally against the Ottomans) was captured by the Turks and sawed in half.
When Mehmed’s forces crossed the Danube and began pressing young boys into military service, Vlad responded by capturing Turkish soldiers and impaling them. Mehmed attempted to trick Vlad into an ambush, but the Wallachians surrounded and massacred his force of 1,000 cavalry. By 1462, Vlad was engaging in outright ethnic cleansing—by his own estimate, his forces slaughtered over 23,000 Muslim civilians and sympathizers. In response, Mehmed invaded Wallachia with at least 150,000 men. Vlad could only field around 30,000.
ISANDHLWANA AND RORKE’S DRIFT, 1879 Part II
The Defence of Rorke’s Drift, by Alphonse de Neuville (1882)
Account of Isandhluwana by Lieutenant Horace Smith-Dorrien
Since I wrote the first part of my letter a dreadful disaster has happened to us. It seems to me a pure miracle that I am alive to tell you about it. On the 21 st January an order came to me, then stationed at Rorke’s Drift, to go out to advanced camp [at Isandhlwana] to escort a convoy of twenty-five waggons from there to Rorke’s Drift and bring them back loaded with supplies. Accordingly I slept in camp. At about three a.m. on the morning of the 22nd the General sent for me and told me not to take the waggons, but to convey a dispatch to Colonel Durnford, who was at Rorke’s Drift, with about 500 mounted black fellows, as a battle was expected. He (Colonel Durnford) accordingly started off with his men to join the camp. I did not return with him, but came out an hour afterwards by myself.
Gibraltar is Taken
The combined English and Dutch fleets line up at the start of the attack on Gibraltar.
Attack on Gibraltar 1-3 August 1704. Prince George of Hesse entered the town on 6 August in the name of ‘Charles III’ but effective control remained with the English.
In 1624, the Spanish king, Philip IV, visited Gibraltar and ordered the construction of even more extensive fortifications, including walls and ditches, and these defenses, together with the cannons that had already been installed, made Gibraltar nearly impregnable as a fortress.
While American air and military power grew, the two sides’ diplomats growled at each other. Hussein may have misjudged Western resolve because of the weakness with which Jimmy Carter had acted-or failed to act-when Iran had kidnapped American embassy staff in Tehran. President Bush was cut from sterner stuff and built a decisive military and political coalition to defeat the Iraqi invasion. By January hosts of modern fighter planes faced Iraq’s aging Mirages, and a large U. S.-led army had shouldered up to the Kuwaiti- Iraqi border. The only question was the ability of the American armored forces, who hadn’t seen serious action in fifty years. If Saddam’s troops could sufficiently bloody the Americans, he must have hoped that the pacifist and isolationist elements of the American Congress would win his battle for him. He ordered his army into action.
Fall of Hong Kong
Brigadier Lawson with his brigade staff aboard the SS Swansea en route to Hong Kong, October 1941. Left to right: Major C.A. Lyndon, Brigadier Lawson, Colonel P. Hennessey and Captain H.S.A. Bush. Captain Bush was the only one of the four to survive the battle.
At the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, Hong Kong was a British Crown colony, densely populated over about 400 square miles by 1.4 million persons, virtually all of them Chinese. British military planners understood well that Hong Kong was vulnerable to attack and invasion from the Japanese-occupied Chinese mainland. The 12,000- man British garrison was instructed to hold out as long as possible in the event of an attack, pending the arrival of Chinese forces under Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Jieshi). Inasmuch as Japanese spies had been active in Hong Kong for many years and had provided Japanese military command with highly detailed information concerning the island’s defenses and its troop dispositions, the standing order was little more than wishful thinking. A small garrison could not hold out for any significant length of time against an invasion of any substance.
ISANDHLWANA AND RORKE’S DRIFT, 1879 Part I
Four Eyewitness Accounts
Africa south of the Sahara had, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, scarcely been penetrated by foreigners. A few coastal enclaves were held by slave-traders, European on the west coast, Arab on the east, while a Dutch colony, set up to service ships sailing to the East Indies, had been established at the Cape of Good Hope in the seventeenth century. The rest of black Africa remained in the possession of its native peoples.