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Old 07-14-2018, 12:05 PM   #5321
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July 14, 1950
Battle of Taejon

Following the invasion of South Korea the United States sent ground forces to the Korean peninsula. American forces in the Far East had steadily decreased since the end of World War II. When forces were initially committed, the 24th Infantry Division, headquartered in Japan, was the closest US division. It was understrength, and most of its equipment dated from 1945 and earlier due to defense cutbacks. American soldiers were unprepared at the outbreak of the war, and this lack of training showed in early engagements. Most of the Americans were out of shape, undisciplined and had no combat experience. Nevertheless, the division was ordered to Korea, the first division committed.

On July 12, the division commander, Maj. Gen. William Dean, ordered his 3 regiments (19th, 21st, and 34th) to cross the Kum River, destroying all bridges behind them, and establish defensive positions around Taejon. Taejon was a major city 100 miles south of Seoul and 130 northwest of Pusan, and was the site of the division HQ. Dean formed a line with the 34th and 19th facing east, and held the battered 21st in reserve to the southeast. The Kum wrapped north and west around the city, providing a defensive line 10-15 miles from the outskirts of Taejon, surrounded to the south by the Sobaek Mountains. With major rail junctions and roads leading in all directions, Taejon was a major transportation hub, giving it great strategic value for both sides. The division was attempting to make a stand at the last place it could conduct a delaying action before the North Koreans could converge on the unfinished Pusan Perimeter.

24th Division's regiments were already below strength on their deployment, and heavy losses in the preceding 2 weeks had reduced their numbers further. The formation numbered about 11,400 men. Each regiment had only 2 battalions of infantry instead of the normal 3. Large numbers of men had to be pulled from the line from combat fatigue. Morale was extremely low and the soldiers were exhausted from days without sleep. Casualties among the officers were extremely high, forcing younger officers and NCOs to take positions normally occupied by more experienced men. In addition, shortages of equipment hampered the Division. Losses reduced artillery support to 2 battalions. Most of the radios did not work, and batteries, phone wire, and telephones were in short supply. The division had no tanks: they were still en route. One of the few weapons that could penetrate the North Korean T-34 tanks, the 3.5 inch M20 "Super Bazookas", were in short supply.

North Korean (NKPA) planners intended for 3 divisions to attack Taejon from 3 directions, supported by tanks. 3rd Division was to attack from the north, against the flank. 4th Division would attack across the Kum from the east and south, in order to envelop Taejon. Eventually they would also be supported by elements of 105th Armored Division. Although 2nd Division was ordered to attack against the American right flank, it was slow to move and arrived too late to participate in the battle. 3rd and 4th Divisions were supported by over 50 T-34s. Each North Korean division was at 60-80% strength, giving them nearly a 2-1 numerical superiority. The morale of the 2 divisions was low, owing to repeated air attacks and overall exhaustion. Political officers promised the divisions they would be able to rest in Taejon after they took it.

On the morning of July 14, American soldiers from 3/34th Infantry on the heights 2 miles above the Kum River spotted T-34s across the river. By mid-morning, NKPA infantry were spotted crossing the river by boat and mortar and artillery fire began hitting the 34th's lines. In the confusion and resulting poor communication, the North Korean infantry managed to move around the Americans. 1st Battalion, further north, also came under heavy attack, and though it repulsed the attack, it was forced to withdraw to safer positions. In the early afternoon, another force crossed the river, destroying the HQ battery of 63rd Field Artillery Battalion. Its survivors retreated on foot to the south. Meanwhile, a battery of the battalion also came under attack by 100 NKPA infantry, resulting in similar casualties and retreat. B Battery was attacked by 400 North Koreans, but South Korean horse cavalry spared the battery from heavy losses, allowing it to make an organized retreat. The 63rd lost all of its guns and 80 of its vehicles, many still intact.

Later in the evening, 1/34th counterattacked the positions but was unable to take them back and was forced to withdraw by nightfall. After this, Dean ordered the positions with the captured equipment to be destroyed by an airstrike. With the 1st Battalion having taken heavy casualties and the 3rd forced to move to counter NKPA attacks, the northwest flank of the American line had been beaten back. North Korean 4th Division began crossing the river, only slightly impeded by US aircraft attacking its boats.

34th Infantry moved south to Nonsan. 2/19th moved to fill some of the gaps, reinforced by ROK troops. They observed a large build-up on the other side of the river. At 0000 on July 16, the North Koreans launched a massive barrage on 19th Infantry and North Korean troops began to cross the river. The North Koreans pushed against the entire battalion, threatening to overwhelm it. The regimental commander ordered all support troops and officers to the line and they were able to hold. However, in the melee, North Korean troops infiltrated their rear elements, attacking the reserve forces and blocking supply lines. Stretched thin, the 19th was unable to hold the line at the Kum River and simultaneously repel the North Koreans. That evening, 2nd Battalion tried, but was unable, to break the roadblocks. By July 17, the 19th withdrew, was ordered 25 miles southwest to regroup and re-equip. Less than half of its units remained intact. All 3 regiments of 24th Division were down to battalion-strength. On July 18, 8th Army commander, Lt-Gen. Walton Walker, ordered Dean to hold Taejon until the 20th so that 1st Cavalry Division and 25th Infantry Division could establish defensive lines along the Naktong River, forming the Pusan Perimeter.

The North Koreans then moved against Taejon city. 3rd Division formed a roadblock between Taejon and Okchon, cutting off 21st Infantry in its reserve positions. The 21st was subsequently unable to join the fight. However it attempted to hold the escape route for the rest of the division during most of the fight at Taejon. At the same time, NKPA tanks and troops began to enter the city, occupying key buildings to establish sniper positions. North Korean forces attempted to eliminate American gun emplacements, food stores, and ammunition dumps, having received information on the location of these through agents operating in the city.

Dean began ordering elements of the division, including much of his headquarters, to retreat via train to Taegu, although he remained behind. By this time, several M24 Chaffee light tanks had been sent to reinforce the division. Regardless of this, on July 20, North Korean armored units pushed American forces back from Taejon Airfield, several miles northwest of Taejon, overwhelming the last American units defending the Kum River and forcing the remnants into Taejon itself. At this point the city was surrounded and North Korean troops began setting roadblocks along the roads out of the city.

For 2 days, 34th Infantry fought the North Koreans in bitter house-to-house fighting. NKPA soldiers continued to infiltrate the city, often disguised as farmers. The remaining elements of 24th Division were pushed back block-by-block. Without radios, and unable to communicate, Dean joined the men on the front lines. American forces pulled back after suffering heavy losses, allowing NKPA 3rd and 4th divisions to move on the city freely from the north, south, and east roads. The division repeatedly attempted to establish its defensive lines, and was repeatedly pushed back. At the end of the 20th, Dean was reinforced by several more light tanks. As the tanks fought through a North Korean roadblock, Dean, with a small force of soldiers, followed them. At the edge of the city, the final elements of the 34th Infantry leaving the city were ambushed and many of their vehicles destroyed, forcing the Americans to retreat on foot. When the last of the 34th Infantry's defenders left the city, the 21st Infantry, which had been protecting the road to Taegu, also withdrew, leaving Taejon in the hands of the North Koreans.

During the retreat, Dean's jeep made a wrong turn and was separated from the rest of the American forces. Dean and his party attempted to retreat to American lines on their own, but 35 days later, alone and lost in the hills, Dean was captured For most of his incarceration, the North Koreans were not aware of his rank. He repeatedly attempted to make the North Koreans kill him for fear of divulging information under torture. Eventually his rank was uncovered, but they were unable to gather any intelligence from him.

The Americans lost 922 men killed and 228 wounded, with almost 2400 missing. Evidence suggests that the North Koreans executed some of the prisoners immediately after the battle. North Korean casualties could not be estimated because of lack of communications between units during the battle, which limited the value of American signals intelligence. 15-20 North Korean tanks were destroyed. Losses among the infantry were heavy, especially in 3rd Division.

Although badly mauled, 24th Infantry Division accomplished its mission of delaying North Korean forces until July 20. By that time, American forces had set up the Pusan Perimeter to the southeast. On July 22, the division was relieved by 1st Cavalry Division; it went into reserve while it rested and rebuilt, and the first unit of the division back in action, the 19th Regiment, moved to the front lines in the Pusan Perimeter on August 1.
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:06 PM   #5322
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319 BC
2nd Diadochi War

The 2nd Diadochi War was triggered by the death of Antipater, the regent of Alexander the Great’s empire. His death was probably always going to trigger a new round of conflict, but his choice of successor virtually guaranteed it. Rather than appoint his son Cassander, who he felt to be too young, Antipater selected another of Alexander’s former generals, Polyperchon. Cassander was offended, and traveled to join Ptolemy, commander of the armies of Egypt and Antigonus, commander in Asia and satrap of large parts of Anatolia. It was an odd coalition, because the goals of Ptolemy and Antigonus were incompatible. The satrap of Egypt wanted an independent kingdom and was aiming at the division of the empire. Antigonus, on the other hand, still believed in the unity of Alexander's kingdom, albeit under his personal rule. In the future, they would be enemies. However, for the moment, their interests were identical to Cassander's: Polyperchon and King Philip had to disappear.

In the aftermath of the 1st Diadochi War, Antigonus had been given the task of defeating Eumenes of Cardia. Antigonus had pushed Eumenes back to Nora, in Cappadocia, and was conducting a siege of that fortress. Cassander’s arrival triggered Antigonus’ own ambitions. He abandoned the siege of Nora after apparently converting Eumenes to his side, and formed an alliance with Cassander, Lysimachus (satrap of Thrace) and Ptolemy, already the virtually independent ruler of Egypt. Polyperchon’s only senior ally in the upcoming conflict would be Eumenes, who soon reverted to his normal loyalty to the Macedonian royal family.

The 2nd Diadochi War was essentially 2 wars, 1 in Greece between Polyperchon and Cassander, and 1 in Asia between Eumenes and Antigonus. This separation was made more complete in 318 BC, when Antigonus defeated Polyperchon’s fleet at the battle of the Bosporus. Polyperchon lost control of the Aegean Sea to Antigonus. He was not interested; to him, Eumenes was more dangerous, and he hurried to Phoenicia.

The war in Asia is the easier to follow. Eumenes was forced out of Asia Minor into Phoenicia, where he planned to build a fleet. Antigonus pushed him out of Phoenicia towards Persia, where the two men fought at least two major battles, at Paraetacene in 317 BC and Gabiene in 316 BC (see posting). Eumenes could claim a slight victory at Paraetacene, and a draw at Gabiene, but despite that he was betrayed by his own soldiers after Gabiene, handed over to Antigonus and executed. Antigonus was now undisputed master of Asia.

He behaved accordingly. He seized royal property; lured Peithon of Media to his court, had him executed, and appointed Nicanor as satrap; he reorganized the eastern part of the empire (although he had to admit that the Indus valley was lost to the Indian king Chandragupta Maurya, see posting); he appointed new satraps; and when he returned to Babylonia, he treated his ally Seleucus as a mere subject. Seleucus understood that Antigonus was striving for sole rule, and knew that this would be the end of his own ambitions. He therefore fled to Ptolemy in Egypt. The new satrap of Babylonia was another Peithon, the former satrap of the Indian satrapy of Gandara.

Further south Ptolemy invaded Syria, intending to secure his borders. He was unable to hold on to his conquests, but his actions are widely seen to indicate that he was already acting as an independent ruler of Egypt rather than as one of the rivals for the rule of Alexander’s empire.

The war in Greece and Macedonia was more complex. Polyperchon made an attempt to win support in Greece by promising to restore the liberties of the Greek cities. This briefly won him the support of Athens, though not Piraeus, Athens’ port, but Cassander soon expelled him, imposing his own form of government on Athens in 317 BC. Soon after, Cassander was recognized as ruler of Macedonia and regent of king Philip Arridaeus. Polyperchon’s army in Greece was soon restricted to the Peloponnese.

Polyperchon himself, however, had made his escape to Epirus in the west. With him were Alexander's widow Roxane and his son, the infant Alexander. Here, he was joined by Olympias, the ruthless mother of Alexander the Great, and king Aeacidas of Epirus. It was not a very powerful coalition, but it could play one trump card: the boy Alexander was the lawful successor of the great Alexander, whereas Philip Arridaeus was a bastard of Philip II. When they invaded Macedonia in October 317, Philip Arridaeus and his wife Eurydice met them at the frontier - Cassander was campaigning in the Peloponnese - but their entire army deserted them and joined the invaders. Arridaeus was immediately executed. Many supporters of Cassander were massacred as well. Olympias’ aim was to secure the succession for her grandson Alexander IV. Her actions had the opposite result. Cassander invaded Macedon, where Olympias had alienated all possible supporters. She was condemned by the Macedonian army, and then besieged in Pydna (315 BC).

The 2nd Diadochi War ended with Antigonus in command of most of Alexander’s Asian conquests, Ptolemy ruling in Egypt, Lysimachus in Thrace, and Cassander in Macedon. The only remaining member of the Macedonian royal family was Alexander the Great’s infant son Alexander IV, who, in the circumstances, was unlikely to reach adulthood. The 2nd Diadochi War was followed almost immediately by the 3rd. This time it was Antigonus who triggered the fighting in an attempt to unite Alexander’s empire under his own rule.
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Old 07-15-2018, 12:01 PM   #5323
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July 15, 1958
Lebanon Crisis

Tension in the Middle East began to increase in 1957, when it seemed as though Syria was about to fall to Communism. Acting on his recent increased commitment to the region, and in order to protect neighboring Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan, President Eisenhower approved the deployment of USAF fighters from Germany to Adana. The crisis quickly abated, but set the stage for the next upheaval the following year in Lebanon.

In July 1958, Lebanon was threatened by a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Tensions with Egypt had escalated earlier in 1956 when pro-western Christian President Camille Chamoun did not break diplomatic relations with the Western powers that attacked Egypt during the Suez Crisis, angering Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. These tensions were further increased when Chamoun showed closeness to the Baghdad Pact. Nasser felt that the pro-western Baghdad Pact posed a threat to Arab nationalism. As a response, Egypt and Syria united into the United Arab Republic (UAR). Lebanese Sunni Prime Minister Rashid Karami supported Nasser in 1956 and 1958.

Lebanese Muslims pushed the government to join the newly created UAR, while the Christians wanted to keep Lebanon aligned with the west. A Muslim rebellion that was allegedly supplied with arms by the UAR through Syria caused President Chamoun to complain to the United Nations Security Council. The UN sent a group of inspectors that reported that it didn't find any evidence of significant intervention from the UAR. Naim Moghabghab, a close friend and political ally, formed and led a military group to reinforce Chamoun's position. Heavy fighting occurred, mainly in Beirut and in the Chouf district, where bloody clashes occurred between Moghabghab and Kamal Jumblatt's men. The bloody toppling of a pro-Western government in Iraq's July 14 Revolution, along with the internal instability, caused President Chamoun to call for American assistance.

Eisenhower responded by authorizing Operation Blue Bat on July 15. This was the first application of the Eisenhower Doctrine under which the US announced that it would intervene to protect regimes it considered threatened by international Communism. The goal of the operation was to bolster the pro-Western government of President Chamoun against both internal opposition and threats from Syria and Egypt. The plan (Operations Plan 215-58) was to occupy and secure Beirut International Airport, a few miles south of the city, then to secure the port of Beirut and approaches to the city.

Specified Command, Middle East (SPECCOMME, a 'double-hat' for Commander in Chief, US Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean) was in operational control; 6th Fleet, with aircraft carriers Saratoga, Essex, and Wasp, cruisers Des Moines and Boston, and 2 destroyer squadrons comprised the naval component. Land forces included 2nd Provisional Marine Force (Task Force 62) and Army Task Force 201.

The operation involved approximately 14,000 men, including 8509 Army personnel, a contingent from the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry from the 24th Infantry Division (based in West Germany) and 5670 officers and men of the Marine Corps (2nd Provisional Marine Force, of Battalion Landing Teams 1/8 and 2/2). Only Marine units made assault landings. Army forces from Europe did not arrive in Beirut until July 19. Since combat did not develop in Lebanon, Force BRAVO, a 2nd airborne battle group and the advance headquarters of the task force never left its station in Germany. On July 16, 1958, Adm. James Holloway, Jr. flew in from London to Beirut airport and boarded USS Taconic, from which he commanded the remainder of the operation.

By August 5, all major forces had reached Beirut and the bulk of their equipment and initial resupply had arrived or was en route. By July 26, the Marines had deployed in and around Beirut. All operations went according to plan. Stable conditions were maintained until a new government was installed in Lebanon. The US withdrew its forces on October 25, after the tension diminished.

The revolt was quashed, but to appease Muslim anger, Gen. Fuad Chehab who claimed that he was a Christian enjoying considerable popularity in the Muslim community, was elected to succeed Chamoun. The American diplomat Robert Murphy, sent to Lebanon as personal representative of President Eisenhower, played a significant role in allowing Chamoun to finish his mandate term normally and Chehab to be elected according to constitutional procedures.
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Old 07-16-2018, 12:20 PM   #5324
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July 16, 1761
Decision at Vellinghausen

The main theme of the Seven Years War in northwest Germany was the constant French threat to Hanover and the other North German states allied to Prussia. In early July 1761 the two French armies of Prince Soubise and the Duc de Broglie united (92,000 men in total) with the aim of forcing Prince Ferdinand’s allied army (65,000 British, Hanoverians, Hessians, Brusnwickers and Prussians) to cross the River Lippe and abandon the important town of Lippstadt. Ferdinand took up positions to the south of the Lippe while the 2 French commanders approached and prepared to attack.

The allied army lay along a series of hills stretching from Vellinghausen to Hulbeck, divided in the middle by the Ahse River. The marshy Salzbach Brook lay along the front of the allied right wing. The French suffered from having in Soubise and Broglie 2 commanders of equal rank, neither prepared to accept orders from the other. The agreement between them was that Broglie would attack the allied forces that lay between the Ahse and the Lippe, while Soubise moved against Ferdinand’s troops on the French left, behind Werle, and envelope their unsecured right wing. The attack was intended to begin in the early hours of July 16.

Broglie’s troops moved forward about 5 PM on July 15 towards Vellinghausen. The Hessian General Wutginau commanded on the allied left. His corps was encamped to the rear of its intended battle positions and at 6:00 the French suddenly burst onto his force, taking him by surprise, and short of ammunition. . The French pressed forward. To take advantage of his unexpected success in what had been intended as a preliminary move, Broglie expanded his attack to include the hill above Vellinghausen, held by the Marquis of Granby with British foot and cavalry and some Hanoverian regiments (10 battalions in total). Also surprised Granby was pushed back to village of Vellinghausen. Ferdinand sent Wutginau to cover his line of retreat, but sent the Prince of Anhalt with 10 battalions to shore up Granby. Some of Wutginau’s troops attacked the French flank, forcing them to pull back to the shelter of the woods. Broglie sent his own reinforcements, which renewed his attack on Vellinghausen, repeatedly taking and losing the village.

Broglie called off the assault at 10:00. His troops were masters of the villages of Vellinghausen and Nateln. During the attack, Broglie received a letter from Soubise, announcing his march on Einecke and informing Broglie of his intention to retain Condé's corps because he felt that the Allies were reinforcing their right. Broglie knowing that, on the contrary, Ferdinand was reinforcing his left, directly invited Condé to join him and suggested to Soubise to replace Condé's corps with another.

During the night reinforcements for both sides came into the line. Broglie brought up fresh troops to renew the attack the next day. Ferdinand shifted regiments across the Ahse, strengthening his left wing at the expense of the right, until he reached parity with Broglie. The allied right wing was now heavily outnumbered by Soubise’s army.

At dawn Broglie renewed the attack around Vellinghausen. The ground was so much broken up by hedges and ditches that in many places the troops engaged, though no more than 150 yards apart, were unable to see each other and fired furiously at every puff of smoke that betrayed an enemy's presence. Broglie, considering that he was not strong enough to sustain the battle alone, informed Soubise that he intended to retire to his initial positions at Oestingshausen. However, Broglie's army, being engaged, could not retire.

At 7:00, Soubise received Broglie's message. Soubise had just began to move to force the passage of the Salzbach towards Scheidingen, faintly attacking Allied pickets and securing the bridge and village of Scheidingen, and launching his Irish Brigade against 3 Allied battalions. Soubise now feared to engage the Allies alone; he immediately recalled his columns and retired to his former camp at Kloster-Paradies despite the fact that he benefited from an overwhelming numerical superiority. He contented himself with an indecisive exchange of fire for the next 12 hours.

Meanwhile Broglie was looking anxiously for Soubise's demonstration against the Allied center and right, but he looked in vain. At about 8:30, after a brief respite, the fire opened again on the Allied left. Spörcken had detached 6 battalions from Herzfeld to reinforce Wutginau and the arrival of fresh Allied troops infused new life into the engagement. Broglie too showed symptoms of reviving energy, for 2 French batteries were observed in motion towards a height opposite the Dinkerberg, from which they might have wrought havoc on Granby's corps.

After some heavy fighting, a fresh allied force arrived from the far side of the Lippe and attacked down the left bank, catching the French at a moment of reorganization and driving them back. Ferdinand’s left wing, with Brigadier Sandford’s British brigade, the two highland regiments, the British grenadiers and Mannsberg’s Brunswickers, went onto the assault and Broglie’s troops retreated in disorder, one of his regiments being captured.

At 10:00, disheartened by his failure and by the apathy of Soubise, Broglie halted his attack and gave the word to retreat. Allied light troops followed the retreating French as far as Hultrop. The retreat was made in good order in a difficult terrain which prevented any attack of the Allied cavalry. Broglie was able to draw off his troops with little loss.

Total Allied losses thus amounted to 311 killed, 1011 wounded and 192 prisoners. Broglie's loss was 4700 men, 2000 of them prisoners. Soubise had 300 casualties. Dumouriez, the future revolutionary general, who was present, said: “This battle was lost by the ambitious rashness of the maréchal de Broglie, who attacked one day too early to win it all by himself, and by the reprehensible envy of the Prince de Soubise, who sacrificed the honor of France to the criminal pleasure of mortifying his rival.”

The Allied victory was in fact trifling except for its moral effects. The French were humbled at the failure of a 100,000 men against 60,000. Furthermore, Broglie and Soubise, who had left the camp with embraces, returned to it sworn enemies, each bitterly reproaching the other for the defeat and refusing to cooperate further. Lastly, Broglie, who possessed some military talent and had hitherto been anxious to bring his enemy to action, came to the conclusion that Ferdinand could not be defeated in battle and that further general engagements were to be avoided.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:40 PM   #5325
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July 17, 1863
Battle of Honey Springs

By 1863, Confederate fortunes in the Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma) were in decline. A Union campaign launched from Kansas led by Maj. Gen. James Blunt drove the Confederates from the north of the region, and many of the Cherokee switched sides to support the Union. Union forces led by Col. William Phillips reoccupied Ft. Gibson in April, threatening Confederate forces at Ft. Smith, Arkansas. While Colonel Phillips struggled to keep his supply line open to Fort Scott, Kansas, 175 miles to the north, the Confederates assembled 20 miles southwest at Honey Springs. From this location Confederate cavalry detachments harassed the Federals at Ft. Gibson and attacked supply trains.

Honey Springs was a stage stop on the Texas Road before the Civil War. The side that controlled this place could control traffic along the road. The main attraction was several springs that provided water for men and horses. There was also a commissary, log hospital, and numerous tents for troops. Here, the Confederates planned an attack against Ft. Gibson, to be launched by Indians from the Five “Civilized” Tribes and some attached Texans, about 6000 strong, under Brig. Gen. Douglas Cooper, a former Choctaw-Chickasaw Indian Agent. He was highly respected by the Indians he served in both civil and military life. He was to be joined on July 17, by 3000 reinforcements and additional artillery from Ft. Smith under Brig. Gen. William Cabell.

Blunt got wind of Cooper's plan however, and opted to attack him first, before Cabell arrived, which would have given the Confederates overwhelming numerical superiority. Blunt's command (about 3000 men) included 3 Indian Home Guard Regiments recruited from all the Five Nations and the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, with 2 white cavalry battalions (6th Kansas and 3rd Wisconsin), 1 white infantry battalion consisting of 6 companies of the 2nd Colorado Regiment, and 2 Kansas artillery batteries making the remainder.

Blunt's troops crossed the Arkansas River in the late afternoon of July 16. They began marching toward Honey Springs at 11 PM, and continued through the night. They encountered a Confederate picket near Chimney Rock, a local landmark. After routing the picket, they came upon the Confederate camp on Elk Creek early on July 17. Confederate pickets rushed to inform Cooper. After eating breakfast and resting from the march, Blunt formed his men into two brigades, under Phillips and Col. William Judson.

Blunt's attack began on July 17, with desultory morning skirmishing that revealed many of the Confederate soldiers had wet gunpowder, causing numerous misfires and accidents. The main Union attack began at mid-afternoon, and the beginning of a rain squall intensified the Confederate ammunition problems. Opposing artillerymen each eliminated one gun on the opposing side during an early artillery duel.

Meanwhile, Blunt had dismounted his cavalry units to fight as infantry and ordered all commands to fire rapidly as possible. For over two hours the Confederates effectively held their position while attempting a spirited flanking movement on the Federal left. The fighting in the underbrush was slow and confusing as the lines swayed under the impact of close-in and hand-to-hand combat. With many more men committed to the battle than were available to the Federals, the Confederates appeared to be compensating satisfactorily for their inferior gunpowder, firearms, and artillery.

Then Blunt saw an opportunity, and ordered the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry to attack. Col. James Williams led the Colored Volunteer infantry forward, but the Confederates held their ground. Williams was wounded, but his troops conducted a disciplined withdrawal and sporadic firing continued. During this period the 2nd Indian Home Guards accidentally strayed into no man's land between the lines. The Federal commanders gave the order for the Home Guards to fall back, the Confederates assumed it was a retreat and attacked. The Confederates charged into an established defensive line held by the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, which repulsed the charge.

Cooper pulled his men back towards the depot to obtain new ammunition, but the Federals continued to press him closely. Heavy fighting occurred when Cooper's men made a stand at a bridge over Elk Creek, roughly 1/4 mile south of the original position. Union forces continued driving them back further and gradually beginning to turn Cooper's left, causing a general Confederate retreat. Cooper attempted to fight a rearguard action, making a last stand another 1/2 mile south near Honey Springs Depot. Despite a notable half-hour stand by the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, the Indians and Texans were badly organized, disheartened, and in many cases due to poor powder, unarmed. Most simply continued to flee.

By 2 PM the battle was over. Victorious Union forces took possession of the Honey Springs depot, burning what couldn't be immediately used, and occupying the field. The Confederates moved east and at about 4 PM. joined Cabell's 3000-man force en route with 4 mountain howitzers from Ft. Smith. Blunt decided not to pursue as his men and horses were fatigued and his ammunition was almost exhausted. He himself was suffering a high fever from a bout of encephalitis and ordered his forces to bivouac for the night on the battlefield, treat the wounded, and bury the dead, including the Confederates. Late on the day following the battle, Blunt directed his forces to return to Ft. Gibson.

The battle was the largest fought in the Indian Territory. Cooper reported his losses as 134 killed and wounded, with 47 taken prisoner. He maintained the Federal killed and wounded exceeded 200. Blunt reported his losses as 17 killed and 60 wounded. He said he buried 150 Confederates, wounded 400, and took 77 prisoners. The exact numbers will never be known. Cooper afterwards sent a letter of appreciation to Blunt for his burial of the Confederate dead.

The victory opened the way for Blunt's forces to capture Ft. Smith and the Arkansas River Valley all the way to the Mississippi River. The Confederates abandoned Ft. Smith in August, leaving it for the Union forces to occupy. Despite the efforts of notable Confederate officers like the Cherokee Stand Watie, Confederate forces in the region would never regain the initiative or engage the Union army in an open, head-on battle again, instead relying almost entirely on guerrilla warfare and small-scale cavalry actions. The loss of the supplies at Honey Springs depot would likewise prove disastrous. Confederate forces, already operating on a shoe-string budget and with bad equipment, would come to increasingly rely on captured Union war material to keep up the fight.
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Old 07-18-2018, 12:15 PM   #5326
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July 18, 1195
Battle of Alarcos

In 1189 the Almohad caliph Yaqub al-Mansur returned from Marrakesh to fight the Portuguese who, with the help of a Christian alliance, had captured Silves. He successfully recaptured the city and went back to his capital. An armistice between the Almohads on the Christian kings of Castile and León ensued. At the expiration of the truce, and having received news that Yaqub was gravely ill in Marrakesh and that his brother Abu Yahya the governor of Al-Andalus had crossed the Mediterranean to secure his succession in Marrakesh, Alfonso VIII of Castile decided to attack the region of Seville in 1194. An army under the Archbishop of Toledo Martín López de Pisuerga, which included the military Order of Calatrava, ransacked the province. Having successfully crushed his brother's ambitions, Yaqub al-Mansur returned to lead an expedition against the Christians, who were threatening the northern province of his empire.

On the first day of June, 1195, he landed at Tarifa. Passing through the province of Seville, the main Almohad army reached Cordova on June 30, reinforced by the few troops raised by the local governors and by a Christian cavalry contingent under Pedro Fernandez de Castro, who had a personal feud against the Castilian king. On July 4, Yaqub moved out of Cordova; his army crossed the pass of Muradal and advanced through the plain of Salvatierra. A cavalry detachment of the Order of Calatrava, plus some knights from nearby castles, tried to gather news about the Almohad strength and its heading; they were surrounded and almost exterminated, but managed to supply information to Alfonso

Alfonso gathered his forces at Toledo and marched down to Alarcos, near the Guadiana River, which marked the southern limit of his kingdom and where a fortress was under construction. He intended on barring the access to the rich Tagus valley, and did not wait for the reinforcements that Kings Alfonso IX of León and Sancho VII of Navarre were sending. On July 16 the Almohad army came in view. Yaqub did not accept battle on this day or the day after, preferring to rest his forces; but early on the 18th, the Almohad army formed for battle around a small hill called La Cabeza, 2 bow-shots from Alarcos.

Yaqub placed his vizier, Abu Yahya ibn Abi Hafs, in command of a very strong vanguard. The caliph personally commanded the second line, which comprised the best Almohad forces. It was a formidable army, whose strength Alfonso had badly underestimated. The Castilian king put most of his heavy cavalry in a compact body and gave its command to the fierce Diego Lopez de Haro, Lord of Vizcaya. They were to shatter the enemy with an irresistible charge; the king himself would follow with the infantry and the Military Orders, and complete the rout.

The Christian cavalry charge was somewhat disordered, but its impetus was still formidable. The knights crashed against the Zanatas and Bani Marin contingents and dispersed them; lured by the Amir's standard, they charged uphill: Vizier Abu Yahya was killed, and his contingent fell almost to a man trying to protect themselves. Most of the knights turned to their left and after a fierce struggle they routed the al-Andalus forces of Ibn Sanadid. 3 hours had passed abd the afternoon sun and heat bergan to take a toll on the well-armored knights. The Arab right had been enveloping the Castilian flank and rear; at this point the Almohad second line attacked, with the caliph himself clearly visible in the front ranks, and the knights were soon almost completely surrounded.

Alfonso advanced with all his remaining forces, only to find himself assaulted from all sides and under a rain of arrows. For some time he fought hand-to-hand, until removed from the action, almost by force, by his bodyguard; they fled towards Toledo. The Castilian infantry was destroyed, together with most of the Military Orders which had supported them; the Lord of Vizcaya tried to force his way through the ring, but finally had to seek refuge in the unfinished fortress of Alarcos with just a fraction of his knights. The castle was surrounded with some 3000 people trapped inside, half of them women and children. Pedro Fernandez de Castro, who had taken little part in the action, was sent by the Amir to negotiate the surrender; Lopez de Haro and the survivors were allowed to go, leaving 12 knights as hostages for the payment of a great ransom.

The Castilian field army had been destroyed, shaking the kingdom’s stability for several years. All nearby castles surrendered or were abandoned, and the way to Toledo was wide open. Fortunately for the Christians, however, Yaqub moved back to Seville to make good his own considerable losses; there he took the title of al-Mansur Billah ('The one victorious by God').

For the next two years, al-Mansur's forces devastated Extremadura, the Tagus valley, La Mancha and even the area around Toledo; they moved in turn against Montánchez, Trujillo, Plasencia, Talavera, Escalona and Maqueda. Some of these expeditions were led by the renegade de Castro. Most significantly, however, these raids did not lead to any territorial gains for the caliph, although Almohad diplomacy did obtain an alliance with King Alfonso IX of León (who had been enraged when the Castilian king had not waited for him before the battle) and the neutrality of Navarre. These alliances proved to be only temporary.

But the caliph was losing interest in the affairs of the Iberian Peninsula; he was in poor health, his objective of retaining a hold over al-Andalus appeared to be a complete success, and in 1198 he returned to Africa. He died in February 1199.

The advantage he had gained proved to be short-lived. When the Almohad caliph Muhammad an-Nasir attempted to build on it 16 years later with a new Iberian offensive, he was crushingly defeated in the more decisive Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (see posting). This battle was to mark a turning-point that led to the collapse of Moorish rule in the Iberian Peninsula. The Almohad Empire itself collapsed a few years later.
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146 BC
Achaean War

The Roman Republic had developed close ties to the Achaean League through similar religious and military beliefs and a cooperation in the previous Macedonian Wars. But despite cooperation in the latter part of the third century and early second century, political problems in Achaea soon came to a head. Two factions began to emerge - one, championed by the Achaean statesmen Philopoemen and Lycortas, which called for Achaea to determine its own foreign policy according to its own law, and one, championed by figures like Aristaenus and Diophanes, who believed in yielding to Rome on all matters of foreign policy.

Achaea was, in addition, undergoing internal pressures beyond the question over the nature of the influence of Rome. The withdrawal of Messene from the Achaean League and further disputes with Sparta over the nature of its position in the League led to growing micro-management by the Romans, including the sending in 184 BC of a Roman, Appius Claudius, to judge the case between Sparta and Achaea.

During the 3rd Macedonian War (171-168 BC), anti-Roman feeling was significant enough that the Romans took thousands of hostages in order to guarantee the compliance of Achaea, which involved the deportation of the historian Polybius to Rome. No less than 5 embassies were sent to Rome seeking the return of the hostages and Roman intransigence demonstrates the power difference between the 2. The hostages ended up being retained for 17 years. When they returned, Achaea was on the brink of open revolt.

Achaean domestic politics at the time played a large part in the coming about of the war. Upon the election of the populist generals Critolaus and Diaeus, economic proposals were made which would relieve the debt burden of the poor, free native-born and native-bred slaves, and increase taxes on the rich, all of which, according to Polybius, had the desired effect of increasing support for a nationalistic dispute with Rome amongst the lower classes. An uprising around this time by the pretender Andriscus in the 4th Macedonian War (148 BC) may also have spread to Achaea, giving hope that Rome, engaged in the 3rd Punic War to the West, would be too busy to deal with Greek rebellions.

Roman policy in the Greek east after the 3rd Macedonian War had become increasingly in favor of micro-management and the forced breaking-up of large entities, seen by the regionalization of Macedon and the Senate's mission to the magistrate Gallus, upon the application of the town Pleuron to leave the Achaean League, to sever as many cities from it as possible. In 146 BC, things reached a head when the former consul Lucius Aurelius Orestes was sent to Corinth to announce the forced reduction of the Achaean League to its original, narrow grouping - effectively crippling it and ending its territorial ambitions once and for all. A misguided effort at restoring peace, led by Orestes' former co-consul Sextus Julius Caesar, went badly, and the Achaeans, outraged at Rome's actions, and whipping up populist sentiment, declared war on Rome.

Unfortunately for the Achaeans, their timing was bad. Rome had just completed its war with Carthage, destroying that city (see posting, Fall of Carthage) and freeing the Romans to turn their attention to Greece. Marching from Macedonia, the Romans defeated the first Achaean army under Critolaos of Megalopolis at the Battle of Scarpheia, and advanced unhindered to Corinth. The Roman consul Mummius, with 23,000 infantry and 3500 cavalry (probably 2 legions plus Italian allies) with Cretans and Pergamenes, advanced into the Peloponnese.

The Achaean general Diaeus camped at Corinth with 14,000 infantry and 600 cavalry (plus possibly some survivors of the earlier defeated army. Part of the army consisted of slaves offered their freedom in return for fighting, hastily trained and equipped as a pike phalanx. The Achaeans made a successful night attack on the camp of the Roman advance guard, inflicting heavy casualties. Encouraged by this success they offered battle the next day but their cavalry, heavily outnumbered, did not wait to receive the Roman cavalry charge and instead rapidly dispersed. The Achaean infantry held firm until a picked force of 1000 Roman infantry charged their flank and broke them and the Achaeans retreated in good order into the city. However, Diaeus fled to Arcadia, and no one was left to organize a defense; the city quickly fell.

Corinth was utterly destroyed and her treasures and art plundered. The entire adult male population was put to the sword and the women and children sold into slavery. The annihilation of Corinth, the same fate met by Carthage the same year, marked a severe departure from previous Roman policy in Greece. The Achaean league was then disbanded and virtually all of mainland Greece was annexed by Rome.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:40 PM   #5328
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July 19, 1674
Battle of Martinique

In 1672, France and England had declared war on the Dutch Republic. However, Dutch naval victories in the North Sea forced the English to abandon their part in the war in early 1674. The Dutch could now direct all of their considerable naval strength against the French, and they decided to attack Martinique, the headquarters of the French colonial venture in the Caribbean. The Dutch believed that the capture of Martinique would enable them to quickly conquer France's other island outposts and rebuild their own war-ravaged network of Caribbean plantations, giving them dominance of the entire Lesser Antilles chain.

The Dutch assembled a powerful invasion force under Adm. Michiel de Ruyter, widely regarded as the greatest naval commander of the age, whose victories had driven the English out of the war. Under his command sailed a fleet of 18 major warships including his 80-gun flagship De Zeven Provincien, plus 36 smaller support ships and troop transports, and an invasion army of 3400 soldiers. The young Count of Styrum was appointed to lead the ground forces and designated to act as military governor, but the assault was entrusted to Count Willem van Hoorn, the Republic's top siege warfare expert.

Martinique was defended by a semi-professional militia with a theoretical strength of roughly 2000 men. However, the defending French commander, Jean-Charles, Marquis de Baas, miscalculated by concentrating his forces to defend the seat of government at St-Pierre in the north of the island: de Ruyter chose instead to attack the main anchorage at Fort-Royal (now Fort-de-France) on the west coast. The anchorage was defended by a fortified citadel (known today as Ft. St.-Louis), manned by the local militia company, and by the warship Les Jeux under Captain Thomas-Claude Renart, while they could expect some additional assistance from the captains and crews of the merchant ships in the harbor. However, most of these were uncertain military assets.

The Fort-Royal militia company could only muster around 100 men, of whom a quarter quickly deserted, including their captain. Only one of the merchant ships, the St-Eustache, carried any notable armament. The citadel was little more than a set of wooden palisades around a steep-sided promontory, with 2 unfortified artillery positions at the water's edge, a modest battery of 4 guns pointed outwards from the promontory's southern tip to sweep the outer roadstead of Fort-Royal Bay, and larger emplacement of around a dozen cannon commanding the sheltered anchorage to its east. The most significant military presence was thus the warship Les Jeux, but this was a small frigate, armed with just 28 guns, and carrying a crew of only 150 men.

The Dutch fleet arrived off Martinique on the afternoon of July 19, 1674, but calm conditions prevented them from starting their attack, and allowed the French to make hurried preparations. 2 merchant ships were scuttled as blockships to impede the deep-water channel leading into the anchorage, and a defensive boom was set across the entrance of the inner harbor; the veteran adventurer Guillaume d'Orange took the lead in organizing the remnants of the militia. The troops were reinforced by a detachment of sailors, combining volunteers from the crews of the scuttled ships and a small party of trained musketeers from Les Jeux, and as dawn rose on the morning of July 20, the island's governor, the Chevalier de Sainte-Marthe, arrived to take command, with a small contingent of additional militiamen. Even with these reinforcements, his defending force consisted of barely 160 men.

The Dutch attack began around 9 AM, with a cannonade by the ships, followed by the first wave of soldiers in open boats. Rather than attacking the harbor directly, they rowed into the largely undefended bay beneath the steep cliffs on the west side of the fortress, coming ashore around 11:00 on the beach where the civilian settlement was located, but the defenders fired down from the heights of the fortress, injuring Styrum. Popular accounts claim that many of the Dutch troops lost their discipline as they landed, and simply looted a warehouse full of rum, but the commanders rallied their remaining men, and prepared to assault the fortress.

The Dutch made an assault against the palisade on the landward side of the fort, where they were repulsed. A second Dutch force found a narrow passage leading up through the cliffs into the interior of the fortifications, but their attack was seen by Guillaume d'Orange - unable to use a musket due to old war-wounds, he threw down rocks at the Dutchmen; other soldiers and sailors hurried up to assist him, with Ensign de Martignac, the commander of the naval detachment, shooting repeatedly into the densely packed Dutch ranks at close range. This fight came down to hand-to-hand combat, but the Dutch standard-bearer was killed and his flag was captured, apparently by Captain Renart in person.

The Dutch retreated in some disarray, but in the afternoon, they renewed their attack. First, they tried to force the anchorage directly with an attack by frigates, but their advance was stopped by the sunken blockships, and their ships were caught in enfilade between the gun emplacements of the fortress on the west, and the broadsides of Les Jeux and St-Eustache in the sheltered inner harbor on the eastern side. When the ships retreated, the infantry attacked the fortress again, but found themselves under a devastating artillery fire: Captain Renart had brought Les Jeux close inshore to rake their advancing ranks with broadsides of grapeshot, and he had deployed the ship's 6 swivel guns to the fort, to fire directly into their attacking front. After several hours of unsuccessful attacks, Adm. de Ruyter gave the signal to retreat. The Dutch conceded 143 fatalities, and 378 seriously injured.

The French had suffered only 16 casualties in total, but they were short on ammunition, and they believed that the Dutch would soon renew their assault: Sainte-Marthe abandoned the fort, and ordered the ships to be burned. The remaining merchantmen were duly set alight, but Captain Renart decided to ignore the governor's orders for as long as possible, waiting anxiously aboard Les Jeux all night. Early in the morning, the lack of any evidence of activity around the Dutch beachhead prompted him to send his first officer to investigate: he discovered that the Dutch had withdrawn back to their ships during the night and their fleet was already sailing away, leaving only a few casualties, too seriously injured to move, amid the dead, and a haul of abandoned weaponry and military equipment.

Martinique would remain French. Captain Renart was rewarded with the noble title of Marquis d'Amblimont; he would later return to Fort-Royal as governor-general of the French Caribbean. The humiliated Dutch fleet retreated back across the Atlantic, their combat losses compounded by the ravages of sickness.
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