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At the end of 1943 the SS and the Gestapo arrested several prominent Germans involved in plotting to overthrow Adolf Hitler, including Dietrich Bonhoffer, Klaus Bonhoffer, Josef Muller and Hans Dohnanyi. Others under suspicion, such as Wilhelm Canaris and Hans Oster, were dismissed from office in January 1944. Major Claus von Stauffenberg emerged as a leader of the group of German Army officers opposed to Nazi rule, and began to plan for the assassination of Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler, and for a takeover by the Army. Once these three prominent Nazis had been killed, the plan called for troops in Berlin and other major German-controlled areas, commanded by his co-conspirators, to seize key government buildings, telephone and signal centres and radio stations. At least six attempts were aborted before von Stauffenberg decided on trying again during a conference attended by Hitler on 20 July 1944. It was decided to abandon the plans to kill Goering and Himmler at the same time, and to focus solely on removing the Führer. Von Stauffenberg carried the bomb in a briefcase and placed it on the floor beside Hitler before excusing himself to make a phone call. The bomb exploded killing four men in the hut. Hitler was injured but survived the bomb blast. The plan that called for Ludwig Beck, Erwin von Witzleben and Erich Fromm to take control of the German Army and declare martial law was abandoned when it became known that Hitler had survived the assassination attempt. In an attempt to protect himself, Fromm organized the execution of Claus von Stauffenberg and two other conspirators, Friedrich Olbricht and Werner von Haeften, in the courtyard of the War Ministry. It was later reported that von Stauffenberg died shouting "Long live free Germany". As a result of the 20 July Plot, the new chief of staff, Heinz Guderian, demanded the resignation of any officer who did not fully support the ideals of the Nazi Party and presided over the Army Court of Honour that expelled hundreds of officers suspected of being opposed to the policies of Adolf Hitler. This removed them from military jurisdiction and left them to be sentenced by Roland Freisler and his fanatically pro-Nazi People's Court. Over the next few months most of the group including Wilhelm Canaris, Carl Goerdeler, Julius Leber, Ulrich Hassell, Hans Oster, Peter von Wartenburg, Henning von Tresckow, Ludwig Beck, Erwin von Witzleben and Erich Fromm were either executed or committed suicide. It is estimated that nearly 5,000 Germans were executed as a result of the events of the July Plot. Hitler ordered that the leaders should have a slow death. They were hung from meathooks with piano wire, and their executions were filmed and later shown to senior members of both the NSDAP and the armed forces.
British Commandos attempted to assassinate Rommel, the Desert Fox, in a daring special forces raid in North Africa during World War II.On the night of 13 November 1941 two British submarines surfaced off the Libyan coast 250 miles behind German lines. It was dark and stormy, and the 28 commandos on board Torbay had great difficulty climbing into their rubber dinghies and paddling towards the shore. Disaster struck the second submarine, Talisman, when a giant wave swept eleven commandos waiting on deck overboard. At dawn on the morning of 13 November the depleted raiding party was finally ashore, cold, wet and exhausted, but determined nonetheless to press on with their audacious mission - the assassination of General Erwin Rommel, commander of the German forces in North Africa. The raid made headlines round the free world. It was a shining example of British pluck and daring, proclaimed the papers, and to prove the point, Keyes was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Yet in truth the raid had been a glorious failure, a mission bedevilled by bad planning and poor intelligence. Yet crucial lessons were learned by subsequent special forces' operations, particularly by the SAS who carried out their first mission on the same night as the raid on Rommel's HQ. By the end of World War II the British special forces were the best in the world.
It was the beginning of the end for the James gang. In the past ten years Frank and Jesse James had gone from unknown ex-Confederate guerrillas to the most famous outlaws in the world. A string of daring robberies of banks, trains, and stagecoaches had brought them fame, admiration, hatred, and a surprisingly small amount of wealth. In 1876 they planned their most daring raid yet--to ride hundreds of miles from their home state of Missouri to rob the First National Bank at Northfield, Minnesota. This book will tell the story of one of the most daring bank jobs in American history. With most of the gang being former bushwhackers, they used many guerrilla tactics in the planning and execution of the raid, yet failed because of poor discipline and their own fame, which meant that every town in the Midwest had their guns loaded waiting to fight off bandits.
The Lee-Enfield is one of the 20th century's most recognizable and longest-serving military rifles. It was adopted by the British Army in 1895 and only replaced by the L1A1 SLR in 1957; even then a sniper variant, the L42A1, was used until 1989, giving a service life of nearly a century. It saw combat from the Boer War onwards, and thousands are still in use today, notably by the Taliban in Afghanistan; it is estimated that 17 million have been produced. The Lee-Enfield featured an innovative detachable ten-round magazine; this large capacity, together with the weapon's revolutionary bolt-action operation, made it possible for well-drilled shooters to fire 20 to 30 rounds in 60 seconds (the 'mad minute'). This extraordinary speed gave rise to mistaken German reports of being opposed by massed machine guns in 1914. The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE), introduced in 1903, set a new precedent in military rifles, being neither a carbine nor a full-length rifle but an ingenious compromise that was soon copied by other countries.The Lee-Enfield equipped British, Commonwealth and other forces throughout the world wars and well into the 1960s, giving excellent service in every kind of terrain and weather. Soldier's recollections of the rifle are overwhelmingly affectionate (it was known as the Smellie); today it remains a very popular target rifle for competitive shooting, and modern copies are being manufactured to meet demand.Featuring first-hand accounts, brand-new full-colour artwork and close-up photographs, many in colour, this is the story of the Lee-Enfield, the innovative, reliable and long-lived rifle that equipped British and other forces through the world wars and beyond.
As a lightweight machine gun, the American designed Lewis Gun made a place for itself in World War I & World War II.Although machine guns were widely issued and used during the bloody opening months of World War I, these deadly weapons proved to be too heavy to be tactically mobile. Casting around for existing designs to supplement inadequate stocks of the excellent Vickers gun, the British adopted the US-designed Lewis gun, which had not found favour with the US Army. The British quickly came to realise that while the new weapon was unable to match its heavier cousin in terms of robustness and sustained firepower, its light weight and the fact that it could be fired both prone and on the move made it an ideal weapon both to support advances and defend captured trenches. Serving on the Western Front and across the world, the Lewis gun soon became the core of the British and Dominion infantry section, and was widely adopted by the Germans too; even so, the US Marine Corps found on landing in France that their Lewis guns were replaced by an inferior French weapon, the CSRG 'Chauchat'.Although offering significant advantages over its rivals, such as the Danish Madsen, American BAR and German MG 08/15, the Lewis was not without its faults. Although the distinctive cooling tube proved to be a very effective flash hider and the weapon's 'forced cooling' system and open-bolt design helped to limit overheating, like all fixed-barrel guns it couldn't offer true sustained fire. Its magazine feed system made it easier to carry than rival models employing non-disintegrating fabric belts, which trailed everywhere, picked up water and froze, but the Lewis's open-bottom pan magazine let dirt into the mechanism, and the pans were relatively flimsy. Even so, it won a lasting reputation and became an iconic weapon of World War I.Adopted by an array of countries from the Netherlands to Japan during and after World War I, the Lewis successfully served as the primary or secondary armament in armoured fighting vehicles and in both ground-based anti-aircraft and aircraft-mounted roles, being the first weapon to be used to shoot down an enemy aircraft from an aeroplane - indeed, it was the most important aircraft-mounted machine gun in virtually every air force well into the 1930s. Although it was superseded by the Bren in British service in 1937, the outbreak of World War II meant that thousands returned to active service to counter weapons shortages, and it played a key role as far afield as Libya, with the Long-Range Desert Group, and the Philippines, with the US Marine Corps. Fully illustrated and written by an authority on this iconic weapon, this is the fascinating story of the innovative and influential Lewis gun, from the trenches of World War I to the Libyan desert and Pacific islands of World War II and beyond.
Boasting a rate of shooting not seen again in English hands until the late 19th century, the longbow was the weapon at the heart of the English military ascendancy in the century after 1340. Capable of subjecting the enemy to a hail of deadly projectiles, the longbow in the hands of massed archers made possible the extraordinary victories enjoyed by English forces over superior numbers at Crécy and Poitiers, and remained an important battlefield weapon throughout the Wars of the Roses and beyond; it also played a leading role in raiding, siege and naval warfare. Its influence and use spread to the armies of Burgundy, Scotland and other powers, and its reputation as a cost-effective and easily produced weapon led to calls for its widespread adoption in the nascent armies of the American Republic as late as the 1770s. Wielded by Englishmen, Welshmen and others, the longbow fulfilled the requirements of all infantry missile weapons throughout history - it was a well-made weapon suitable for production in quantity that projected a man-stopping missile over a suitable distance at a sustainable, relatively rapid rate of shooting. The longbow was a ''self-bow'' - that is to say, it was made from one piece of wood, normally yew, with the ''belly'' of the bow being ''heartwood'' and a thinner layer of ''sapwood'' being the ''back'' of the bow. Its arrows were normally made of aspen, a light and strong wood - although ash and other woods were also used - with a variety of metal heads available, depending on the intended use. A sophisticated piece of ammunition requiring many resources and skill to manufacture, the longbow arrow could penetrate plate armour if the conditions were right; this study argues, however, that the ''blunt trauma'' inflicted on the target, however well armoured, resulted in debilitating injuries and was far more significant on the field of battle. Featuring specially commissioned full-colour artwork and informed by the latest research into this intriguing weapon, this lively study debunks lingering myths and casts new light on the battle-winning longbow, the lethal missile weapon that enabled English victories against the odds in a series of famous battles of the 14th and 15th centuries.
The M1 Carbine was produced in more numbers than any other US small arm in World War II (1939-1945). In 1938 the US Chief of Infantry requested that the Ordnance Department develop a carbine or light rifle to be used by service and support troops, artillerymen, machinegun crews, tankers, mortar crews and other troops not needing the power of the M1 Garand rifle. The development of this new weapon was given an added impetus by Germany's successful use of airborne and glider troops early on in World War II. This caused a fear amongst US officers that troops normally considered "behind the lines" personnel might have to fight elite German troops and would therefore require a more effective weapon than their standard pistols. The resulting M1 Carbine was a not a shortened version of the standard service rifle but instead a brand-new design chambering a new cartridge. This new weapon would see service in every theater and with all US service arms as well as American and Allied special units including the OSS, Merrill's Marauders, the SAS and the SBS. Eventually numerous manufacturers would combine to produce over six million M1 Carbines before the end of the war. This new title provides an in-depth analysis on this crucial, trailblazing weapon.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The M1 Garand gave US infantrymen a marked edge during World War II. It shot faster and further than enemy infantry rifles and hit harder. No less an authority on killing the enemy than General George S. Patton called the Garand, "The greatest battle implement ever devised." At a time when opposing forces were armed with bolt action rifles, US troops had a highly reliable self-loader. It was the US Army's principal infantry weapon in World War II, beloved of troops for its ability to withstand hard use and be ready when needed. In most battles the Garands speed of fire combined with the powerful .30-06 cartridge gave US troops a distinct advantage. The eight-round clips which were used to load the M1 Garand were, however, viewed with mixed emotions by the troops on the ground. Eight rounds was not much magazine capacity for a self-loading rifle, thus requiring frequent reloading in combat. Some Army and Marine Corps troops allegedly felt that the distinctive "twang" as the Garand's clip was ejected when empty alerted the enemy that the soldiers were reloading and resulted in an attack. But this problem may have been overstated as experienced troops did not all empty their weapons at the same time. It was also a particularly heavy weapon in contrast to the much lighter M1 Carbine. But the Garand became the defining mankiller of the war, despite its weight and magazine problems, and many US combat veterans consider it one of the key reasons they survived the war, as one veteran succinctly commented, "I let my Garand do the talking."
The death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC threw the Macedonians into confusion; there was no capable heir, and no clear successor among the senior figures in Alexander's circle. Initial attempts to preserve the unity of Alexander's conquests gave way to a period of bloody and prolonged warfare. For well over a century the largely mercenary armies of Alexander's successors imposed their influence over the whole of the Near East, while absorbing local military practices. After Rome's decisive defeat of Carthage in 202 BC, Macedonia came under increasing pressure from the Romans. Three wars between the two powers culminated in the Roman victory at Pydna in 168 BC, which laid Alexander's empire to rest and established Roman hegemony in the Near East. Drawing upon a wide array of archaeological and written sources and written by a noted authority on the Hellenistic period, this survey of the organization, battle history and appearance of the armies of Alexander's successors is lavishly illustrated with specially commissioned full-colour artwork.
New archaeological material and research underpin this extensive, detailed and beautifully illustrated account of the famous Mamluk Askars.The Mamluk army is credited with finally defeating and expelling the Crusaders from the Middle East, with defeating and halting the Mongol invasion of the Islamic Middle East, and with facing down - though not defeating - Tamerlane. Their state was an essentially military one but was for centuries also the Protector of the Holy Places, which gave it supreme prestige within the later medieval Islamic world.The mamluk troops (askaris) of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt and Syria were probably the ultimate professional soldiers of the medieval period. They were supposedly recruited as adolescent slaves, though recent research has begun to undermine this oversimplified interpretation of what has been called the "mamluk phenomenon".The Mamluk Sultanate and its army lasted for a remarkably long time, from the mid-13th to early 16th century, long enough to resist the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, before finally being defeated and overthrown by the Ottoman Sultanate. Indeed the mamluk phenomenon lasted even longer in Ottoman-ruled Egypt, until the final years of the 18th century. It was so embedded in Egyptian, and to a lesser extent Syrian, society and politics that the modern Egyptian army of the 19th century has, during its first decades, been described as a neo-mamluk force.
The German A7V and the British Mark IV were similar in weight, size, and speed, but differed significantly in armour, armament and maneuverability. The A7V had thicker armour, and had nearly double the horsepower per ton. The Mark IV's pair of side-mounted 6pdr cannons forced the vehicle to present its side arc to an enemy in order to fire one of its main guns. Possessing twice as many machine guns as the Mark IV, the A7V had a frontally mounted 57mm gun that proved capable of defeating the Mark IV's armour. The Mark IV's rhomboid design proved superior in crossing trenches, climbing obstacles and moving over rough terrain. As the first tank-versus-tank engagement in history, the fighting around Villers-Bretonneux showcased the British Mark IV and German A7V designs. Although not purpose-built to combat enemy armour, both vehicles proved the viability of such operations, which during the postwar period led to key advances in suspension, armour, gunsights, ammunition, and command and control. While the British continued to develop their armoured forces, German armour development never materialized, and only in the postwar period did they address the issue.
The breech-loading, single-shot .458in Martini-Henry rifle has become a symbol of both the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 and the numerous battles in Egypt and the Sudan in 1884-85, but continued to be used by both British and colonial troops well into the 20th century. Its invention and introduction into British service were in direct response to the success of the Prussian Dreyse needle gun, which demonstrated that the breech-loading rifle offered faster loading, improved accuracy and superior range; significantly, the weapon could be loaded and fired from a prone position, thus offering the rifleman greater security on the battlefield.The Martini-Henry first saw active service in the Ninth Cape Frontier War (1877-79), where it was particularly effective at stopping the charge of rebellious tribesmen at the battle of Centane. Indeed the success of the rifle bred a certain amount of complacency in the British Army that, armed with such a weapon, the British could repel any attack, even if seriously outnumbered. The British defeat at Zulu hands at Isandlwana dispelled this myth and it was only with the adoption of the square formation at Gingindlovu and Ulundi, with a corresponding concentration of fire, that the Martini-Henry really demonstrated its 'stopping power'. The same tactical formation and use of the Martini-Henry continued in the battles in Sudan in 1884-85. The Martini-Henry again showed its ability to stop charging warriors in the Second Afghan War (1878-80), particularly at the battle of Ahmed Khel, but against a force armed with modern weaponry, as at the defeat of Maiwand, the British Army did not fare as well. In 1888 the rifle was replaced in British service by the bolt-action, magazine-fed .303in Lee-Metford and Martini-Henry production ended in 1889, but it was to remain in service with colonial forces into World War I.The Martini-Henry rifle was not without its faults or its critics. The rifle possessed a dreadful recoil when fired, especially once the bore was fouled, and in sustained combat severe bruising, even dislocation of shoulders and nose bleeds, were likely. The rifle had no safety mechanism of any sort and was prone to discharge if grit or sand entered the trigger mechanism. The weapon could jam, for the extractor grip might tear through the soft brass of the cartridge, or sand could enter the mechanism and cause a similar jam. The barrel became intensely hot when fired and although, from the Mk II design onwards, a wooden forestock was added to give some protection, the barrel would frequently become too hot to touch.Despite these faults, the Martini-Henry Mk II was far superior to any firearm previously issued to the British Army. Its small bore - which meant soldiers could carry more ammunition - greater accuracy, lower trajectory, ease of operation and reloading with consequent rapidity of firing, as well as its robustness, all combined to make the Martini-Henry a solid, if not always completely dependable, weapon to be used against Britain's enemies. It was sighted to 1,000yd and could maintain a reasonable degree of accuracy at that range. The soft lead bullet could stop a charging warrior in his tracks, and in experienced hands ten to twelve 'aimed' volleys could be fired per minute into the charging ranks of a massed enemy.
The history of the iconic Mauser family of German bolt-action rifles is told here in extensive detail. Drawing on first-hand accounts of the weapons in combat and fascinating primary sources regarding their mechanical performance, this fully illustrated study charts the Mauser's origins, combat record and lasting influence. It explores the full range of Mauser rifles, beginning with the hugely successful Gew 98, which entered service in the time of the Kaiser, provided the basis for the US Springfield M1093 and equipped combatants as diverse as the South African Boers. It also investigates the Kar 98k, which was still in front-line use with Wehrmacht troops in 1945, saw use with Mexican and Yugoslavian forces, and even played a role in the 1990s Balkan conflicts in the hands of snipers. Featuring expert analysis, specially commissioned artwork and gripping first-hand accounts, this volume ideal for anyone seeking an understanding of these sturdy and accurate rifles' unique place in the history of small-unit tactics in the 20th century.
Using archaeological evidence and first-hand sources, Konstantin Nossov charts the history of the medieval Russian fortress from its early beginnings until the 14th century.According to Russian legend, in AD 862, the Slav tribes of what is now European Russia invited a number of Scandinavian princes to rule over them. In AD 882, Prince Oleg united these kingdoms as the feudal state of Kievan Rus, by building a series of settlement and border fortifications, including the Zmievy Valy (Snake Ramparts), to protect against foreign invasion.The rise of feudalism through the 11th century saw the development of individual fortified sites to the detriment of the extended border defenses. Consequently, Mongol hordes poured over the border, introducing the siege warfare techniques of the East, and heavily influencing the fortification styles thereafter.The rise of Muscovy in the fourteenth century saw an enhanced role for Moscow and the Kremlin, which was rebuilt in stone reflecting its increased significance.This book brings all these diverse strands together into a comprehensive volume on the fortifications of Russia from the early days of the Kievan Rus' until the foundation of the modern state in 1480.
With expert analysis and lively narrative, this engaging study of the Oswego raid casts light on a daring feat of arms at the height of the French and Indian War.The year 1755 saw the rivalry between Britain and France in North America escalate along the Great Lakes into open warfare as both sides sought to overcome the other's forts and trading posts. Lord Loudoun and the Marquis de Montcalm were sent from the mother countries to take charge, but the French lost no time in seizing the initiative, adopting Canadian-style "wilderness" tactics and planning a series of raids to keep the enemy on their toes.Amid the snows of March 1756, a 360-man French, Canadian, and Indian force stormed an Anglo-American outpost named Fort Bull in a surprise attack that left few survivors and the fort reduced to charred remains. Fort Bull's fall meant that the Mohawk River, the communication route between British-held Albany and the large and important Anglo-American post at Oswego, could now be cut off. Oswego, on the shore of Lake Ontario, had a formidable garrison based in three forts, named Pepperrell, George, and Ontario. The newly arrived Montcalm was tasked with the job of taking Oswego from the Anglo-Americans.In July and August 1756, Montcalm's 3,000-strong force - including a full train of artillery, 80 pieces strong - was transported in hundreds of sailing ships and craft. The Anglo-Americans failed to spot the approaching French forces until they had landed and secured their positions. Having surrounded and invested the forts, the French soon knocked out of action a number of British guns. The British evacuated Fort Ontario and then, at 9am on August 14th, a French cannonball killed the British commander, Colonel James Mercer. His successor, Colonel John Littlehales, did not have the stuff of a hero; an hour later, the white flag went up and Oswego surrendered just in time to avert a major onslaught.The Oswego raid was an outstanding French success; it denied the British a presence on Lake Ontario for the next two years, and relieved British pressure on Fort Frontenac. It demonstrated that the use of traditional European siege tactics in an American setting could reap great rewards, and had a great influence on the French's Indian allies too.
Napoleon Bonaparte is renowned as one of the great military commanders in history, and the central figure in so many of the events of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Throughout the first decade of the 19th century he won battle after battle by wielding the Grande Armï¿½e decisively against the other powers of Europe - Prussia, Austria and Russia. Yet his fortunes changed in 1812 when the invasion of Russia wrecked his forces, and Napoleon suffered his final defeat at Waterloo in 1815.
Osprey's examination of one of the most famous battles of the latter part of the American Indian Wars (1622-1918). With the wars between the US and the Native Americans drawing to a close, one tribe in Eastern Oregon continued to resist. The Nez Perce, led by the "Red Napoleon" Chief Joseph, refused to surrender and accept resettlement. Instead, Chief Joseph organized a band of 750 warriors and set off for the Canadian border, pursued by 2,000 US Army troops under Major-General Oliver Howard. The army chased the natives for three months, fighting 13 actions. Finally, just 40 miles from the Canadian border, the Army ran Chief Joseph to the ground, and forced him to surrender after a five-day battle near Bear Paw Mountain.
Osprey's third and final volume in the Barbarossa trilogy, this title completes the account of the strategic intricacies of the German campaign against Russia. Detailing the final Nazi push for Moscow, Robert Kirchubel examines the causes behind the German failure, including the inability to re-supply troops or provide reserves, and the lack of decent German winter uniforms and transport.Full-color artwork, maps and bird's-eye views illustrate the campaign in detail, revealing how the Red Army capitalized on every German weakness in spite of its own flaws.
Orde Wingate rose to fame by creating the Chindits in Burma in 1943. He is an extremely important figure in military history, and deserves just as much attention as Alanbrooke, Montgomery, and Auchinleck. Unlike them, however, he always operated outside the accepted etiquette and the formal chain of command. He was a maverick and misfit, and he held to the belief that the type of mass warfare demonstrated on the Western Front (1914-18) had very little to do with the warfare of the future. He believed that the latter would require an 'indirect approach', in which heavily lumbering armies would be exquisitely vulnerable to small groups of highly motivated, mobile and well-armed guerrillas. This book covers Wingate's experiences in pre-war Palestine, in Ethiopia in 1941 (where he formed an irregular guerrilla unit to harrass the Italian garrisons) and in World War II Burma, where the two Chindit campaigns would be his apotheosis.
Throughout the Napoleonic Wars, there was a growing perception that a muzzle-loading rifle was more practical compared to the limitations of rifles then currently in use. This thinking ultimately resulted in the 1853 Enfield Pattern, a rifle which, for the first time, was issued to every soldier in the British Army instead of the few trained marksmen. Its use during the Crimean War and later the Indian Mutiny would vindicate this policy when it became clear that the infantry were now capable of outgunning artillery. In addition, this was the first British weapon manufactured using new American technology, which meant that the component parts were interchangeable, ensuring that the weapon was easy to maintain on the battlefield. There were three main types based on the P 53 - the long rifle, the short rifle and the carbine, and this volume provides a concise history of the development and use of each type. In addition, the book discusses the privately manufactured varieties which were used for sport as well as the standard accessories issued to the infantryman in the field including bayonets, combination tools, the cartridge, ammunition pouch, muzzle stopper and ramrods. The P 53 first became notorious during the Indian Mutiny when the use of pig fat to lubricate the bullets led directly to the rioting by Hindu and Muslim troops within the British Army. However, its most widespread use was during the American Civil War when over a million rifles were sold to both the North and South. The author, a leading expert in the subject who worked at the Royal Armouries for a number of years, also details the effectiveness of the weapon during each conflict, including range, rate of fire, powder charge, accuracy and what it was like to be fired on by a P 53.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In 1864, Petersburg, Virginia became the setting for one of the last great campaigns of the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the longest siege in American History. After his failure to capture Richmond in the Spring, General Ulysses S. Grant decided to strangle the life out of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia by surrounding the city of Petersburg and cutting off General Robert E. Lee's supply lines. The ensuing siege would carry on for nearly ten months, involve 160,000 soldiers, and see a number of pitched battles including the Battle of the Crater, Reams Station, Hatcher's Run, and White Oak Road. But around these battles were long days of living in trenches, enduring poor diet and winter weather, and suffering constant artillery bombardment. In April of 1865, Grant ordered a sweeping offensive against the beleaguered Confederates, which broke Lee's right flank and forced him to retreat to Appomattox Court House, where he surrendered a week later.Written by an expert on the American Civil War, this book examines the last clash between the armies of U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
Plataea was one of the biggest and most important land battles of pre-20th century history. Close to 100,000 hoplite and light-armed Greeks took on an even larger barbarian army that included elite Asian cavalry and infantry from as far away as India, with thousands of Greek hoplites and cavalry also fighting on the Persian side. At points in the several days of battle, the Persians with their more fluid, missile tactics came close to breaking the Greek defensive line and cutting off their supplies. But, in a fatal misjudgement when he nearly had the battle won, their general Mardonius committed the cream of his infantry to close-quarters combat with the Spartans and their Peloponnesian allies. He died and his men were finally crushed by heavier weaponry and superior discipline. Meanwhile, 250 miles to the east, the Greek navy inflicted an equally decisive defeat on the Persians, neutralising Xerxes' seapower in the Aegean. The tiny minority of Greek city states that actually took up arms against the invading forces of the mightiest empire yet seen in the ancient world had halted its western expansion and driven it back.The reconstruction of the battle of Plataea will draw on recent persuasive academic interpretations of the textual sources and visual evidence (mainly from near-contemporary vase paintings) for the early 5th-century method of hoplite fighting.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The only major conflict of Lord Dunmore's War, the battle of Point Pleasant was fought between Virginian militia and American Indians from the Shawnee and Mingo tribes. Following increased tensions and a series of incidents between the American settlers and the natives, Dunmore, the last colonial governor of Virginia, and Colonel Andrew Lewis led two armies against the tribes. On October 10, 1774 Lewis and his men resisted a fierce attack, led by Shawnee chief Keigh-tugh-qua, or Cornstalk, at Point Pleasant, near the mouth of the Kanawha river. Despite significant losses on both sides, Lewis succeeded in forcing the Shawnee to retreat back to their settlements in the Scioto Valley. In the aftermath of the battle the Treaty of Camp Charlotte was signed in attempt to secure peace in the region and ultimately opened up Kentucky for American settlement. Illustrated with photographs, detailed maps and bird's-eye-views, this title brings to life one of the most significant pre-Revolutionary conflicts between American settlers and the native tribes.
In the seventh year of the Second Peloponnesian or 'Archidamian' War the Athenians occupied the promontory of Pylos on the west coast of the Peloponnese as a counterstroke to Sparta's repeated invasions of Attica. Over two days of fighting the small garrison beat off the Spartan army and fleet's determined efforts to dislodge it, and then the returning Athenian fleet won a crushing victory in the nearby waters of what is now known as Navarino Bay. As a consequence, a contingent of elite Spartan hoplites was stranded on the island of Sphacteria in the bay just to the south of Pylos for several weeks of inconclusive siege and blockade operations and an unproductive period of truce. The Athenians had full control of the sea. With the campaigning season drawing to a close, they finally decided to mount an attack on the island using unconventional tactics. An amphibious night attack overran the Spartan outpost covering the beaches and light-armed missile troops landed at daybreak in overwhelming numbers. The Spartans were slowly driven back to their stronghold at the tip of the island, losing men steadily and never allowed to engage in the hand-to-hand fighting at which they excelled. They held their final defensive line for a while until, as at Thermopylae, they found themselves also under attack from the rear. Then, exhausted and out of water, with their commander dead and his deputy incapacitated by wounds, and a large Spartan army close-by on the mainland but powerless to help them, the 292 survivors surrendered. This was a huge and surprising blow to the Spartans' glorious and fearsome reputation, and these prestigious prisoners-of-war served the Athenians very well as bargaining counters in the diplomatic activity that punctuated the hostilities that continued for the next four years. The Athenian victory also influenced the future conduct of the war by highlighting the limitations of the traditional hoplite mindset and tactics, and the battle-winning potential of light-armed troops, the hoplites' inferiors.
At the start of World War I a new and potent threat to Britain's naval supremacy took shape in the form of the Kaiser's Imperial German submarines, thanks to their recently acquired ability to submerge and stalk their adversaries. A submarine's crew could not board and capture a merchant ship, however, and at first the German leadership was reluctant to order their U-boat captains to use gunfire or torpedoes to sink merchantmen - crewed by civilian seamen - because of the expected hostile reaction of neutral countries such as the United States. Instead, U-boat captains were ordered to surface, then check the manifest of merchantmen and allow their crews to take to lifeboats before sinking the cargo vessels, rendering the U-boat highly vulnerable to attack. This enabled the Royal Navy to counter the submarine threat with vessels whose outward appearance was that of a merchantman, but which kept hidden an arsenal of weapons that would spring to life if a U-boat surfaced - the Q-ships.Q-ships came in all shapes and sizes - coastal steamer, trawler, barque, yacht or schooner - but all had to look harmless in order to lure opponents to the surface and encourage them to attack. Armaments differed according to ship size; steamers commonly had 4in guns mounted amidships and in the bow, trawlers 3-pdrs and sailing ships 12-pdrs. Those who served on Q-ships had to accept that their U-boat opponents would be able to strike first. Q-ship captains kept ready a 'panic crew', which was trained to act out an elaborate evacuation to convince the U-boat commander that the ship was being abandoned by its crew. The Q-ship captain would remain behind with a handful of other crewmen manning the guns, which remained hidden until the most opportune time to unmask and engage the U-boat.These deceptions did not go unnoticed, however; German captains learnt to be cautious, and frequently would engage with their guns at longer range and later in the war with torpedoes. U-boat boatswain's mate Christof Lassen view of Q-ships as the 'most unpleasant object we could hope to meet' was commonly held. As the Allies condemned the sinking of merchantmen, the Germans vilified Q-ships as a crude deceit manned by pirates and contrary to the rules of civilized warfare. Encounters were often fought with bitterness and little quarter was given.The Q-ship suited the Royal Navy's preference for offensive action to counter the submarine. The Q-ship concept had emerged early in the war when no other method seemed likely to counter the U-boat threat, and flourished until new technologies and tactics were developed, tested and implemented. Q ships instilled wariness into a previously bold and seemingly invincible enemy. The usefulness of Q-ships waned as they lost their surprise factor, but they helped mitigate the U-boat menace until more effective and efficient means of defence were adopted. Featuring specially commissioned full-colour artwork and drawing upon the latest research, this engaging study brings to life the deadly duel between these two very different vessels at the height of World War I.
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