Posts Tagged ‘Military History’

George Washington. ‘Nuff said.

George Washington named Britain’s greatest ever foe

George Washington has been named as the greatest foe ever faced by the British.

The American was voted the winner in a contest run by the National Army Museum to identify the country’s most outstanding military opponent.

He was one of a shortlist of five leaders who topped a public poll and on Saturday was selected as the ultimate winner by an audience of around 70 guests at a special event at the museum, in Chelsea, west London.

In second place was Michael Collins, the Irish leader, ahead of Napoleon Bonaparte, Erwin Rommel and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

At the event, each contender had their case made by a historian giving a 40 minute presentation. The audience, who had paid to attend the day, then voted in a secret ballot after all five presentations had been made.

Dr Stephen Brumwell, who had championed Washington, said: “As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent.”

via George Washington named Britain’s greatest ever foe – Telegraph.

And for your enjoyment, a great speech. I learned this speech in 5th, or 6th grade. Not sure if they still teach it, or not. Kind of have my doubts.

Couple things of note for today.

The Marines’ iconic photo was taken today on Iwo Jima in 1945.

More on Iwo Jima.

Also today, Col. William B. Travis, commander of the Alamo, rejects a Mexican ultimatum to abandon the fort by firing a cannonball in the general direction of the enemy army, thus opening a 13-day siege.

Here’s a good sight to read up on that battle:

The Alamo

Originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio’s five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields, once the mission’s but now their own, and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.

In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood”) in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The post’s commander established the first recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack. The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s ten-year struggle for independence. The military — Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican — continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.

San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Martín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo — already fortified prior to the battle by Cós’ men — and strengthened its defenses.

On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna’s army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo’s garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.

The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo’s walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.

More

Today, the longest battle in World War I would commence.
The battle of Verdun…

The Battle of Verdun 1916 – the greatest battle ever

The Battle of Verdun is considered the greatest and lengthiest in world history. Never before or since has there been such a lengthy battle, involving so many men, situated on such a tiny piece of land.

The battle, which lasted from 21 February 1916 until 19 December 1916 caused over an estimated 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing). The battlefield was not even a square ten kilometres. From a strategic point of view there can be no justification for these atrocious losses. The battle degenerated into a matter of prestige of two nations literally for the sake of fighting……

The attack started on 21 February on the right bank of the Meuse with the heaviest bombing that had ever taken place in a war. It lasted over 9 hours and was the most horrible that man had ever seen.

In the following days the Germans did not progress as much as they had expected, but on 25 February the unbelievable happened: the Germans occupied the most important fortress on the defence line. This fort Douaumont had been considered impregnable. Verdun lay within reach.

Plenty more here to explore on this great battle.

Today in military history, the U.S.S. Maine was sunk off the coast of Cuba.

The Destruction of USS Maine

The Spanish-American War (21 April to 13 August 1898) was a turning point in the history of the United States, signalling the country’s emergence as a world power. The blowing up of the battleship USS Maine in Havana harbor on the evening of 15 February was a critical event on the road to that war. In order to understand the role the ship’s destruction played in the start of the war, one must know the context in which the event took place.

Tensions between Spain and the United States rose out of the attempts by Cubans to liberate their island from the control of the Spanish. The first Cuban insurrection was unsuccessful and lasted between 1868 and 1878. American sympathies were with the revolutionaries, and war with Spain nearly erupted when the filibuster ship Virginius was captured and most of the crew (including many American citizens) were executed. The Cuban revolutionaries continued to plan and raise support in the United States.

The second bid for independence by Cuban revolutionaries began in April 1895. The Spanish government reacted by sending General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau with orders to pacify the island. The “Butcher,” as he became known in the U.S., determined to deprive the rebels of support by forcibly reconcentrating the civilian population in the troublesome districts to areas near military headquarters. This policy resulted in the starvation and death of over 100,000 Cubans. Outrage in many sectors of the American public, fueled by stories in the “Yellow Press,” put pressure on Presidents Grover Cleveland and William McKinley to end the fighting in Cuba. American diplomacy, along with the return of the Liberal Party to power in Spain, led to the recall of General Weyler. However, beset by political enemies at home, the new Spanish government was too weak to enact meaningful reforms in Cuba. Limited autonomy was promised late in 1897, but the U.S. government was mistrustful, and the revolutionaries refused to accept anything short of total independence.

When pro-Weyler forces in Havana instigated riots in January 1898, Washington became greatly concerned for the safety of Americans in the country. The administration believed that some means of protecting U.S. citizens should be on hand. On 24 January, President McKinley sent the second class battleship USS Maine from Key West to Havana, after clearing the visit with a reluctant government in Madrid.

Go read more.