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Author Topic: This Day in History  (Read 205148 times)

Sir Slash

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Reply #1110 on: February 27, 2024, 11:42:57 PM

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Reply #1111 on: February 28, 2024, 11:39:56 AM
1653         Three day Naval Battle of Portland begins: Tromp's Dutch defeat Blake's English

1833         Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, Chief of the German General Staff (1891-1896), alleged military genius, d. 1913.
The Era of the Elder Moltke.  Almost as soon as the Franco-Prussian War ended, the German General Staff, headed by Helmuth von Moltke (1800-1891), began thinking about a possible future war between the two countries.  During a “war scare” in 1875 Moltke realized that the French Army had already recovered sufficiently as to be competitive in size with the German Army.  But he also noticed that French military preparations seemed most likely defensive; not only were they fortifying the relatively short frontier with Germany, but their deployment plans (procured covertly) had the bulk of their army concentrated relatively far behind the front, lying in wait, as it were, to see what direction a German offensive would take.  Moreover, France was diplomatically isolated.  Widely viewed as a radical republic, France lacked allies among the other major continental powers.  This gave Moltke time to consider his options.  As long as both Austria-Hungary and Russia were allied with Germany, France wasn’t much of a threat.  He was fairly certain that Austria-Hungary would never break with Germany, given the Hapsburg Monarchy’s need for German help to protect itself from Russia.  Of Russia Moltke was much less certain, however.  So from the late 1870s he began to plan for a war in which France and Russia were allies, though he preferred avoiding such by careful diplomacy, at which Bismarck was adept.
Working on the assumption that even if allied with Russia, France would initially take a defensive stance in the event of war, in his first post-1871 war plan Moltke proposed making his main effort in the East.  He would put half the army in the West, with seven army corps in the newly-won provinces of Alsace and Lorraine and two corps covering the frontier with the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, lest the French attempt an end run through the neutral countries.  The other nine corps in the army would undertake offensive operations against Russia.  Moltke did not believe Russia could be defeated quickly, but expected his armies would be able to inflict severe reverses on the Russians, and throw them back sufficiently as to give Germany a good defensive position in the event the war dragged on.
In 1888, Germany concluded a secret military convention with Italy and Austria-Hungary, under the terms of which Italy was to put a substantial army on the Rhine.  Initially of 12 divisions, later of 10, this force was to reach Alsace by rail via Austria and be ready for operations on the 20th day of mobilization.  In the event of a war just between France and Germany, these troops were to support a German offensive in Lorraine by besieging Belfort and defending Alsace, while Germany would support Italian efforts against France in the Alps with four divisions, an undertaking which whether successful or not would tie down about eight French divisions.  Simultaneously, a combined Italo-Austrian naval offensive in the Mediterranean would impede the movements of the strong French forces in North Africa to France.
If Russia allied herself with France, the Italian troops would bolster a German defensive against the France, while the bulk of Germany’s forces were concentrated in the East for a series of offensives against Russia in cooperation with Austria.  Moltke accepted that it would not be possible to strike a decisive knock-out blow against Russia, and thus the war would be a long one, and such a situation would be best avoided through political and diplomatic action.
The Waldersee Era.  Moltke retired shortly after the agreement with Italy was concluded, just about the time that the Russo-German alliance came apart, due largely to the ineptitude of Kaiser Wilhelm.  Moltke’s immediate successor as chief of the Great General Staff was Alfred von Waldersee (1832-1904).  Although he too agreed that it would be best to avoid a two front war, Waldersee developed two different operational plans in the event one erupted.
“Good Campaigning Weather” (i.e. after the Spring rains and before the first frosts of Autumn): five to seven army corps would undertake an offensive into Russia, while fifteen to thirteen corps would deploy against the French, blunt any offensive, and then attack in turn.
“Bad Campaigning Weather”: three corps would hold the Russians, while seventeen would undertake an offensive against France
But Waldersee made several mistakes.  He was perceived as meddling in politics and was critical of the Kaiser’s plans to build a great navy.  Worse, during the autumn maneuvers of 1891, Waldersee made the mistake of defeating the Kaiser.  Waldersee was promptly demoted to command of a corps.  He was replaced as chief-of-staff  by Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1913), who would let his “Supreme War Lord” win whenever he wanted to.
Schlieffen Era.  Soon after Schlieffen became chief of the general staff he began to reconsider Moltke’s “Russia first” plans.  It seems likely that the staff had become aware that in the event of war in which Germany made its main effort against them, the Russians planned to retreat about 100 miles into the interior, abandoning Poland and parts of Belarus to take up defensive positions in a fortified zone they were building roughly between Kovno and Brest-Litovsk.  If this happened, Schlieffen feared that Germany would find herself involved in a protracted two front war of attrition, with little chance of a quick victory, a situation which Erich Ludendorff later said was confirmed by “countless war-games.”   So Schlieffen posed the question “Would it be possible to knock France out of the war quickly, and then take on Russia?”
The basic strategic problem of a war with France was that the Franco-German border was only about 150 miles long.  The southern part of the frontier ran through the rugged Vosges mountains, and the French had built elaborate fortifications behind the frontier at Verdun, Toul, Epinal, and Belfort.  This left little room for maneuver.   In 1893 Schlieffen developed his first plan for a “France first” war, involving a frontal attack across the border, through the approximately 50-mile “gap” between the fortified zones of Epinal and Toul, against the center of the French line along the River Meurthe.  Wargaming apparently demonstrated that this was a bad idea, as it was the premise of French deployment Plans XII and XIII, which had been kindly provided by an agent in the French railway system.
 By 1899 Schlieffen decided he had found a solution, one more than 2,000 years old.  He read the account of Cannae in the first volume of History of the Art of War within the Framework of Political History by the classicist Hans Delbrück (1848-1929).  Cannae (August 2, 216 BC) was a stunning victory, in which the Carthaginian general Hannibal executed a double envelopment against a greatly superior Roman army, virtually annihilating it, in what was perhaps the most devastating single defeat of any “Western” army in history.   Schlieffen felt this was the solution to the problem of France, encirclement of a numerically superior army by an inferior force.  But in his enthusiasm over Hannibal’s brilliance at Cannae he seems to have overlooked the fact that while Hannibal won the battle, against an inept enemy commander, Carthage lost the war.
To achieve this envelopment, Schlieffen decided to attack France by going through Belgium and the Netherlands.  Decades earlier Bismarck had warned that a German invasion of Belgium or the Netherlands would immediately bring Britain into a war against them, calling the idea “complete idiocy,” but by 1899 he was long dead.
To effect this plan, Schlieffen divided the German Army into three parts: 
Four army corps (eight divisions) would deploy in the East, to watch the Russians
Nine corps and four reserve divisions (22 divisions) would be in Alsace and Lorraine.
Seven corps and six reserve divisions (20 divisions) would deploy on the Belgian-Luxembourg frontier.
While the forces in Alsace-Lorraine pinned the French, those further north would invade Luxembourg and eastern Belgium, and then swing south along the line of the Meuse to envelop Verdun, unhinging the French lines further south.  At the time, the French had adopted their Plan XIV, which presumed a German frontal attack from Lorraine, so Schlieffen’s plan had a fair chance of succeeding, especially since the Belgian Army was a very feeble force.  But it was not a formula for a knock-out blow, as the French could fall back and juggle forces to continue the fight.  So Schlieffen kept working.
His planning came to fruition in 1905.  By then the German army had grown to 23 army corps plus about two dozen reserve divisions which were suitable to undertake field operations, making 72 infantry divisions in total.  In contrast the French had 21 army corps, for about 45 active infantry divisions, but virtually no useful reserve divisions, which meant Germany had about a one-third superiority in field forces.  There was also some question as to the will of the French to sustain a war at this time, as relations between their people and their Army were amazing bad, in the aftermath of the “Dreyfus Affair” (1894-1906) and the “Affair of the Fiches” (1904-1905), in which anti-clericals and Free Masons in the war ministry hampered the promotion of officers they deemed too religious .  Moreover, French ally Russia was debilitated by her recent defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and subsequent internal disorders, and would hardly be able to pose a threat to Germany in the East.  Given these factors, Schlieffen saw an opportunity for a truly decisive victory over the French.  He would put just ten divisions in the East to keep an eye on the Russians, put eight divisions in Alsace and Lorraine on his left flank to hold the French back, and 54 divisions on his right, to execute a wide sweep through Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands into northern France, enveloping Paris and destroy the entire French Army in little more than a month, so that he could begin shifting forces to the Eastern Front by the 42nd day of mobilization.
Schlieffen developed this plan with certain assumptions in mind.  To begin with he assumed that the French would stand on the defensive, which was reasonable given their existing war plans were known to him.  In addition, he assumed both Belgium (with six divisions) nor the Netherlands (with four) would put up little or no resistance to Germany’s violation of their neutrality, and in any case dismissed their military prowess, writing “the armed forces of both states have a militia tinge about them.”  In addition, he assumed that Britain would not intervene, as they were still recovering from the unpleasant revelations of the Boer War, although he did make provisions in case six British divisions did turn up.  In what was perhaps his greater error, also assumed that beginning on the 16th day of mobilization (M+16) the troops on the outermost edge of the German right flank would be able to march on foot an average of about 20 kilometers a day for nearly four weeks, in the heat of summer, despite engaging enemy forces as necessary, keeping to a rigid timetable while their lines of supply grew ever longer, to attain victory by M+39.  The four weeks were critical, because by Germany’s M+39 Russian mobilization would be almost completed, and they would presumably soon be able to attack in the East.
Finally, Schlieffen assumed that the French would adhere to their war plan, which in 1905 was Plan XV.  That was essentially a defensive plan, which, although it had some provision for possible German maneuvers in eastern Belgium, presumed that the main threat would be a German offensive out of Lorraine.   
There is some argument as to whether Schlieffen actually wrote an executable plan based on these premises at the time, as no detailed version of the war plan of 1905 survived  What did survive were Schlieffen’s “Memorandum of 1905” dated December 1905 and an “Addendum to the Memorandum” dated February 1906 which are actually discussions of a plan.  They outline what amounts to the plan, and argue the need to increase the size of the German Army to 96 active and reserve divisions,  plus six “ersatz” divisions, but largely incorporated the assumptions described above.  Schlieffen wrote another memorandum in 1912, in which he argued for a total reorganization of the German Army in addition to its expansion, on which more later.  While it is clear that Schlieffen did not leave a plan in which “the last man on the Right” would “brush the Channel with his sleeve,” in the dubious death-bed phrase attributed to him, over the next few years his 1905-1906 vision, with its preponderance of effort on the German right and the grand turning movement that pivoted on Metz and Thionville certainly can be seen in all plans that have survived from 1905 through 1914.  Moreover, senior officers often invoked his name when discussing operations even as the campaign unfolded in 1914.
The Younger Moltke.  Schlieffen’s successor as Chief-of-the-General Staff was Helmuth von Moltke (1848-1916), known as “Moltke the Younger” to distinguish him from his uncle.  In many ways Moltke was a much better chief-of-staff than Schlieffen.  For one thing, unlike Schlieffen, he managed to get the Kaiser to stop meddling in the annual maneuvers.
Schlieffen may have written dismissively about the likelihood that the Italians would show up on his left, but detailed staff work to bring them by rail from Italy via of Austria to deploy in Alsace was regularly updated during his tenure at the general staff and continued right through August of 1914.  So it appears that Schlieffen expected ten Italian divisions on his left.  This changes the number of divisions on the German Left from 8 in the 1905 plan to 18, and the ratio between Right and Left from 6.75-to-1 to 3-to-1, which is pretty much where Moltke’s “tampering” had it; by 1912, when Moltke prepared his version of the plan, there was little likelihood that the Italians would show up, despite their recent renewal of the military agreement with Germany. In addition, Moltke saw little reason to add the Netherlands to the list of Germany's enemies.  Schlieffen had decided that the technical requirements of moving the armies necessitated occupying the so-called "Maastricht Appendix," the Dutch province of Limburg, a little sliver of land about 40 kilometers long and between seven and 24 kilometers wide, dangling south from the mass of The Netherlands between Germany and Belgium.  Moltke's analysis of the road net about Liege convinced him that it was possible to funnel both the First and the Second Army through the "Liege bottleneck".  This obviated the necessity of fighting the Dutch, which would require two reserve corps.  Furthermore, the increasing capability of German second-line forces permitted Moltke to substitute Landwehr and Ersatz (replacement) units for the three reserve corps that Schlieffen had ear-marked to blockade  Antwerp, to which the Belgians were expected to retreat after a token resistance.  So where Schlieffen had committed ten of the 54 divisions on his “strong right wing” to these ancillary operations, leaving only 44 for the famous “sweep” into northern France, Moltke was able to commit all 54 divisions to the supposed war winning flanking maneuver.
Moltke was, of course, aware of the French war plans, about which we will have more say shortly.  These were primarily contingency plans, with the troops in positions where they could resist a German offensive from Alsace-Lorraine, or, if opportunity arose, undertake offensives of their own into the disputed provinces.  While by 1914 French Plan XVII did make provision for a German threat through Belgium, and included a strong mobile reserve, Moltke believed the French would persevere in their focus on Alsace-Lorraine until it was too late to do anything to stop his Right Wing from sweeping through Belgium and encircling Paris.
So Moltke’s plan retained essentially the same basic flaws that Schlieffen’s had, and added a couple more. 
As the campaign unfolded, many German commanders thought the plan was working.  But Moltke was probably the most clear-headed of any of the senior German officers.  In the heady days before the Battle of the Marne he was the first to realize that the French were not beaten, but merely retreating in good order.
While one can argue with the British military historian and theoretician Basil Henry Liddell Hart on many issues, he was certainly right in his assessment that the plan was,
“a conception of Napoleonic boldness, and there were encouraging precedents in Napoleon's early career for counting on the decisive effect of arriving in the enemy's rear with the bulk of one's forces.  If the manœuvre went well it held much greater promise of quick and complete victory than any other course could offer, and the hazards of leaving only a small proportion to face a French frontal attack were not as big as they appeared.”
But Liddell Hart went on to add that in an era when the advancing German troops would be moving on foot on exterior lines, while the defending French troops could be shifted from place to place much more quickly by rail using interior lines.  The German plan required “a manoeuvre that had been possible in Napoleonic times.  It would again become possible in the next generation—when air-power could paralyse the defending side's attempt to switch its forces, while the development of mechanised forces greatly accelerated the speed of encircling moves, and extended their range. But Schlieffen's plan had a very poor chance of decisive success at the time it was conceived.”

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1112 on: February 29, 2024, 10:55:54 PM
106    Reportedly, the loot from the Emperor Trajan’s Second Dacian War (105-106), amounted to 5 million pounds of gold and 10 million of silver, worth perhaps $100 trillion today, but in ancient times relatively speaking several times more.

The greatest war known among the aboriginal inhabitants of North American prior to the arrival of the European was that between the Iroquois and the Huron. The feud was old, having endured centuries, for the Huron, originally settled in Ontario, were desirous of moving into New York. This constant pressure had been a factor in the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy by the legendary Hiawatha and Dekanawidah in the late sixteenth century, which united the Seneca, Onondaga, Mohawk, Cayuga, and Oneida into a league that would ultimately come to dominate a major chunk of North America.
The final phase of struggle took place after Europeans had begun to settle North America. In 1609 the French intruded themselves into the quarrel when the explorer Samuel de Champlain used firearms to help the Huron defeat an Iroquois war party near the site where Fort Ticonderoga would later be built, in upper New York. By 1627, the Huron, with French support and guns, had effectively driven the Iroquois out of the Valley of the St. Lawrence. The French intrusion into the ancient Iroquois-Huron conflict touched off a struggle that ultimately had enormous strategic implications not only for the as yet unborn United States of America but for the entire world.
The Iroquois sought support from the Dutch, then just settling in the Hudson Valley, and later the English, who seized New York from the Dutch in 1664. Termed by one historian �the only people north of the Rio Grande who consistently practiced every principle of war at all times,� in 1648 the Iroquois, who could field some 16,000 warriors, began a devastating series of campaigns that in a generation saw them harry their foes relentlessly from New York across the Great Lakes and into Canada, until the Huron and anyone who offered them aid had been effectively exterminated. This established the Iroquois as the dominant military power in a broad swathe on both sides of the St. Lawrence River, a position which they would hold for over a century, despite the increasing encroachments of European settlers, and make a critical contribution to the expulsion of the French from North America by the British in the mid-eighteenth century.

1704  Deerfield Massacre: French & Indian raid on the Massachusetts town leaves c. 100 dead

1822  In the West African Kingdom of Bornu a large war horse – 15 hands or more – could easily cost as much as seven slaves.

The central event of the Crimean War was the protracted siege of Sebastopol (1854-1855) by a combined British, French, Sardinian, and Turkish army.  Actually more of a protracted blockade than a true siege, for most of the operation the two sides fought each from the dubious security of lines of entrenchment that stretched literally for miles, a harbinger of the horror that was to come during the Great War.
Naturally even when neither side attempted a full-scale effort to break the enemy lines, there was much fighting and skirmishing between the lines.
One night a particularly exposed British redoubt suddenly found itself the object of a strong Russian attack.  Although the British managed to hold the Russians, they were consuming ammunition at a prodigious rate.
Fearing that his position would soon be overrun, the officer commanding the post tore a leaf from a pocket note book.  On it he scrawled "In great danger.  Enemy pressing hotly. For Heaven's sake send us some ammunition," the officer signed his name, handed it to an orderly and sent the man to the rear.
The fighting grew more intense, and as ammunition began running low the officer awaited the return of his messenger.  Time passed, as the situation seemed to grow ever more desperate.  Then, almost as suddenly as it began, the Russian assault ebbed, even as the British troops were virtually down to their last rounds.
Just about then the orderly returned, bearing a message from the Ordnance officer.  One wonders what went through the officer's mind when he read, "All communications to this Department must be written on foolscap paper with a two-inch margin."

1948. Palestine: Stern Gang kills 27 British soldiers in a bomb attack on a train

By one recent estimate, for the nearly 400 million marks that the Third Reich spent to build the battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz, Germany could have procured over 2,500 Pz-IV battle tanks, or nearly as many fighter aircraft.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1113 on: March 01, 2024, 09:21:30 AM
752   BC   Romulus celebrated the first Roman triumph, for the defeat of Caenina

509   BC   Triumph of Publius Valerius Publicola for the defeat of deposed king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus

1449     Born    Lorenzo de'Medici, "Il Magnifico", unofficial lord of Florence, patron of the arts, d. 1492

1795, Lieutenant John Poo Beresford, just 28, was acting commander of HMS Hussar, a 28-gun frigate, which took part in an action in the Caribbean during which two French frigates were captured. In view of his gallantry, he was given command of one of the prizes, Prevoyante, and shortly afterwards a promotion to post captain.  Although Prevoyante was rated as a 40 gun ship, at the time she was only carrying 24 guns. To remedy this problem, Beresford took hers to Halifax, and had her fitted with a full 40 guns, at his own expense (he was the bastard son of the Marquis of Waterford).  He then took her back to sea, intending to recoup his investment by capturing French merchantmen for the prize money.
While Beresford was pursuing this goal, back in London the Admiralty learned of his initiative in refitting the ship.  Now although Beresford had already served as acting commander of a light frigate, the Admiralty decided that a 40-gun ship was much to distinguished a command to entrust to so junior a captain.  Soon orders arrived transferring Beresford to the second ship captured back in May, Raison, which was only a 24-gunner.
Adding insult to injury, Raison also needed a refit, and Beresford ended up footing the bill for her as well.
Despite these misadventures, Beresford’s career prospered, and he served long and well, commanding frigates, ships-of-the-line, and eventually squadrons against the Dutch, the Spanish, the Americans, and, of course, the French. At the time of his death, 1844, Beresford held a knighthood and ranked as an Admiral of the White

1805 Mehemet Ali, an Albanian, was appointed viceroy and pasha of Egypt by the Ottoman Sultan. He soon initiated a major program of modernization and industrialization. Among Mehemet Ali’s projects was the creation of a modern army, which would be useful not only to defend his interests, but also to expand his authority.
The first target of his ambitions was the Sudan, the vast, desolate, unruly land to the south of Egypt, which he wanted for its potential in mineral resources and its very real manpower resources, for he had found that Sudanese slaves made excellent soldiers. So in mid-1820, Mehemet Ali dispatched two expeditions to begin the conquest of the Sudan.
One was under Ismail Kamil Pasha, who was a pretty inept commander, described by one historian as “utterly incompetent in managing an army,” but was Mehemet Ali’s son.
 Despite his poor leadership qualities, Ismail didn’t do too badly, opening the campaign with a series of small victories over some of the poorly armed, mutually hostile tribes in northern Sudan, who had difficulties facing the new Egyptian army, with its muskets and artillery. .
In December of 1820, it was the turn of the Hannekab, who dwelt along the Nile in the vicinity of the Third Cataract.
Now it was the custom among many Sudanic tribes that the army should be led by a virgin, so that her virtue would bring it divine favor. Thus it was that on December 4, 1820, Safia, the daughter of King Zubeyr of the Hannekab led her father’s army at the Battle of Jebel Dager. Despite her undoubted virtue and the courage and skill of the Hannekab warriors, the Egyptians won the battle, and in the process captured Princess Safia.
Now Ismail may have been a poor commander, but he immediately realized that his prisoner might be put to good use. Rather than abuse her himself or send her as a gift to his father or demand an enormous ransom, as would have been standard operating procedure, Ismail took very good care of Safia.  He treated her with all the honors due a highborn woman – some people said as though she was one of his own sisters. After showering her with gifts, he sent her back to her father.
This so impressed King Zubeyr that the Hannekab shortly made an alliance with the Egyptians, by which they greatly benefited, being given additional lands and more modern arms.
Afterwards, Princess Safia quietly disappears from history. As for Ismail, he ran into some problems later; in 1822, while ill, he was captured by the enemy and burned to death.

1942         Action South of Java: Supported by dive bombers, Japanese battleships 'Hiei' & 'Kirishima' & their escorts sink USS 'Edsall' (DD-219), after a fight of nearly three hours
Battle of Bali Strait: US destroyers 'Ford', 'Paul Jones', 'Edwards', & 'Alden' escape a Japanese DesDiv
Battle of Sunda Strait: Cruisers USS 'Houston' & HMAS 'Perth', and destroyer HNMS 'Evertsen' go down fighting around 0100
Battle off Borneo: HMS 'Exeter' & destroyers HMS 'Encounter' and USS 'Pope' sunk by Japanese heavy cruisers

1991  Following USS Missouri’s (BB 63) bombardment of Faylaka Island during Operation Desert Storm, hundreds of Iraqi soldiers wave white flags and surrender to the battleship’s Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) flying overhead.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2024, 09:25:27 AM by besilarius »

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1114 on: March 02, 2024, 12:08:44 PM
537         the Goths besieged Rome, defended by Belisarius.
Numa Pompilius was the second King of Rome. Some time during his mythically long reign (715-673 BC), he built the Temple of Janus Geminus near the Forum. Although remodeled several times and even relocated once or twice, as originally built the temple was very small and rectangular, constructed of large roughly square stone blocks. According to the Sixth Century historian Procopius of Caesarea, who examined it personally, the temple was

. . . only large enough to cover the statue of Janus. Now this statue is of bronze, and not less than five cubits [7½ feet] high; in all other respects it resembles a man, but its head has two faces, one of which is turned toward the east and the other toward the west. And there are brazen doors fronting each face . . . .

Numa introduced the custom of keeping the doors of the temple open when Rome was at war, only closing them in times of peace. The symbolism is not clear; It may have meant that when the doors were open war was released or that when they were closed peace was secured.
Now in a notoriously belligerent age, in a very volatile region, the Romans were hardly pacifists. While records for many years are not very good, they seem to have been at war most of the time. So the temple gates were closed on only a few occasions, and we know of only a handful of those.
During the eras of the Kings (753-509 BC) and of the Republic (509-30 BC), the gates are reported to have been closed on only two occasions:
. 700 BC: Closed by King Numa himself, he being noted more for his religious and judicial skills than as a campaigner. How long the closure lasted is unknown.
235 BC: By the Consuls Titus Manlius Torquatus and Gaius Atilius Bulbus, following the conquest of Sardinia. The doors were reopened the following year, when war broke out with the Ligurians.
Surprisingly, during the Empire the doors are known to have been closed rather more often:

Jan. 11, 29 BC: By Octavian (not yet Augustus) to mark the end of the Civil Wars (44-30 BC). The near contemporary soldier-historian Velleius Paterculus (19 BC-c. AD 31), tells us that this marked only the third occasion on which the doors had been closed. It’s not known how long they remained so.
25 BC: By the now Emperor Augustus to mark the end of the Cantabrian War (29-25 BC), but it was soon reopened, as the Cantabrian rose up again, and the Salassians in the Alps, and then there were long campaigns against the Germans on the Rhine and the Danube and the Parthians in the East.
11 BC: Yet again by Augustus, to mark the conclusion of the German campaigns of 13-11 BC by Nero Claudius Drusus, brother of the later Emperor Tiberius and father of the Emperor Claudius. This closing probably lasted no more than a year or so, as Germany soon again became a major theater of operations.
9 BC: By decree of the Senate, upon completion of a massive campaign against the Germans by Drusus and Tiberius, the doors were scheduled to be closed, but before the ritual could be performed news arrived that the Dacians had begun raiding across the Danube from what is now Romania].
c. AD 65: The Emperor Nero issued coins heralding the imminent closing of the doors, but the ceremony did not take place due to the outbreak of the “First Jewish War” (66-70)].
AD 71: By the Emperor Vespasian, to mark the conclusion of the “Year of the Four Emperors ,” the Batavian Revolt, and the First Jewish War. The doors were probably opened again within a year, as revolts broke out in several provinces, including Asia and Britain.
c. AD 107: By the Emperor Trajan, having completed the conquest of Dacia, and with no wars in progress elsewhere in the Empire, a condition that may have lasted until about the beginning of 114, when he commenced his Parthian War.
c. AD 124: By the Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138), who had a generally quiet reign, though there were military operations on several occasions during – notably on the Danube (117-118) and in Mauretania (123), and the Second Jewish War (132-136). So the doors were probably closed in 124, when Hadrian averted war with Parthia by careful diplomacy. When they were opened again is unknown.
c. AD 143: By the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161), who had a remarkably peaceful reign. Some minor problems aside, the only major war was in Britain (139-143), which involved the suppression of some rebels, expulsion of Celtic invaders, and the extension of the frontier well into what is now Scotland, where the Antonine Wall was built. So it’s possible the doors were closed in 143, at the conclusion of this campaign. They may have remained closed for several years.
AD 192: The rather unreliable Historia Augusta reports that one of the omens preceding the murder of the maniacal Emperor Commodus on December 31st of 192 was “The twin doors of the Temple of Janus opened of their own accord,” which, if true, means they must have been closed some time earlier. The opening heralded the onset of a series of civil wars that lasted until 197.
c. AD 241, by the Emperor Gordian III (r. 238-244), probably after the suppression of a major revolt in Africa (240-241), as we know that the doors were reopened the following year, A.D. 242, when he undertook a war against the Persians.
These are apparently the only known occasions on which the doors to the Temple of Janus were closed. There certainly may have been other occasions as well, for there were periods when Rome was not at war, though specific information about the status of the temple doors has not survived. For example, available evidence indicates that the Romans were at war for 97 of the 102 years from 343 BC through 241 BC, and perhaps for as many as 100, but none of the surviving documents indicate whether the doors were opened or closed during the handful of “peaceful” years. Nor did the Romans know, which is why Velleius Paterculus wrote that the closing by Octavian in 29 BC was only the third on record.
We also don’t know how long the Romans continued the practice of opening and closing the doors of the temple to indicate war or peace. It is interesting to note, however, that Procopius tells us the custom was not abandoned until the advent of Christianity as the state religion. Arguably that could have been any time from the early Fourth Century, when Constantine adopted Christianity, to the early Fifth, when pagan temples were ordered closed. The temple of Janus itself remained closed, but otherwise undamaged for many years after the end of open pagan worship.
Then an odd thing happened.

In AD 535, by which time Rome and Italy had long been in Ostrogothic hands, the Emperor Justinian sent the great Flavius Belisarius to recover Italy for the Empire, initiating the protracted Romano-Gothic War (AD 535-554).
After recovering Sicily for the Empire in 535, in the Spring of 536 Belisarius landed in Italy proper, and on December 9th, having cleared the Goths out of southern Italy, he was welcomed at Rome by the local people as the Gothic garrison fled north. By this time Belisarius’s army, never large to begin with, was greatly outnumbered by the Goths, and he spent the winter of 536-537 putting the city into a state of defense. On March 2, 537, the Gothic King Vitiges invested Rome with about 45,000 troops, outnumbering Belisarius’s regulars by at least four to one, though he also had many untrained volunteers and conscripts. A desperate siege followed, and at one point it looked like the city would be lost. Then, according to Procopius, who was present during the siege,
. . . some of the Romans, I suppose, who had in mind the old belief, attempted secretly to open [the doors of the Temple of Janus],. But they did not succeed entirely, moving the doors only so a little. Those who had attempted to do this escaped detection; and no investigation of the act was made, as was natural in a time of great confusion, since it did not become known to [Belisarius’ subordinate] commanders, nor did it reach the ears of the multitude, except of a very few.
So the last time the Romans honored – or at least attempted to honor – the tradition of opening the doors to the Temple of Janus in war took place some 1,200 years after the custom had been established.

1502   Duke Alfonso I d'Este weds Lucrezia Borgia, and they live happily ever after

1933. King Kong" opens in New York

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1115 on: March 03, 2024, 01:11:23 PM
1746. The '45: Bonnie Prince Charlie's forces occupy Inverness Castle

1776. Under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins and Marine Capt. Samuel Nicholas, the Continental Navy makes the first American amphibious landing operation at New Providence, Bahamas, and captures the forts for much needed ordnance and gunpowder.

1852. Battle of Caseros: Argentine Dictator-President Juan de Rosas (c. 23,000) is defeated by Justo de Urquiza's Argentine-Uraguayan-Brazilian forces (c. 25,000) -- the largest battle in the Americas until the U.S. Civil War

1855  Congress appropriates $30,000 to buy camels for the US Army

1924. Deposition of Abdul Mejid II (Nov 19, 1922-March 3, 1924) ends the 1300-year old Islamic caliphate

1937. Amelia Earhart (39) & Fred Noonan (45), lost over the Pacific

1945. During World War II the U.S. Army procured 123 million pair of shoes and boots, enough to provide every one of the approximately 16 million men and women who served - including sailors and marines - with nearly eight pair each

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1116 on: March 04, 2024, 04:36:18 PM
30BC  So much loot was transferred from Egypt to Rome in the aftermath of the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, that annual interest rates on loans fell from 12-percent to 4-percent.

1653. Battle of Leghorn. Dutch fleet of 16 ships, under Commodore Johan van Galen (Mortally wounded), defeated English squadron of 6 ships, under Cptn. Henry Appleton,  attempting to break out of blockade at Leghorn and join  Cptn. Richard Badiley's 8 ships. 3 ships were captured and 2 destroyed.

1747. Kasimir Pulaski, Polish and American patriot, kia Savannah, 1779 -- Jeszcze Polska Nie Zginela!

1815. From about mid-1812 to the end of 1814 the United States and Great Britain were at war, a conflict sparked partially by British interference with American merchant shipping. Despite the minor inconvenience of a state of war, the desperate need of Britain’s merchants for shipping and the desperate need of American merchant mariners for work led to a very cozy arrangement between the two. Essentially, an American ship could be granted a “license” by His Majesty’s Government to carry cargoes for British merchants, thereby gaining immunity from seizure by the Royal Navy, which was assiduously sweeping the seas of Yankee vessels in the pursuit of glory and prize money.
As can be imagined, on more than one occasion one of John Bull’s numberless frigates (over 100 by 1812), swooped down upon some heavily ladened Yankee merchantman, only to be forced to cease calculating their remuneration in pounds (for the officers) or shillings and pence (for the enlisted folks) when the vessels’ skipper presented his license to the boarding officer.
Needless to say, occasional “mistakes” were made.
In May of 1813, HMS Hogue, a 74-gun ship-of-the-line, under Capt. Thomas Bladen Capel, a veteran of over eight years of command at sea, took an American merchant ship off the English coast. When, despite his claims to posses one, her master failed to produce the requisite license, Capel promptly burned the vessel. Alas, when Capel returned home, he discovered himself the object of a lawsuit by the ship’s owners, who asserted that they did possess a license, and that thus the burning of their ship had been illegal. 
The case dragged on for two years, until well after peace had been patched together. And in 1815 the High Court of Admiralty ruled that the owners had indeed possessed the claimed license (though why the captain did not have a copy was not explained). As a result, Capt. Capel was found liable to pay £4,000 to compensate the owners for their loss, a sum equal to over 300 times his annual salary, but one fortunately paid out of a special fund established by the Royal Navy to cover just such eventualities.

1930 uniforming an American soldier or marine cost Uncle Sam about $30.00-$32.00, slightly less than the price of his Springfield M1903 30-06 bolt action rifle, $32.75.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1117 on: March 05, 2024, 10:39:09 AM
1133         King Henry II of England, (1154-1189), not to mention Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, etc., etc., husband to Eleanor of Aquitaine, father to Richard Lionheart & John Lackland, d. 1189

1622         Duke Ranuccio I Farnese of Parma, Piancenza, and Castro (1592-1622), 52, famed for staging mass executions

1912         First wartime use of airships: Italian reconnaissance flight west of Tripoli

1946         Winston Churchill made his "Iron Curtain" speech, Fulton, Mo.  Having been invited to make a speech at Westminster College, a small liberal arts school in Fulton, Missouri, in the late winter of 1946 former British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill traveled to the United States. Early in March he was a guest of President Harry S Truman at the White House for several days. It was an amiable visit, and the two men got along well, though Truman apparently cleaned Churchill out at poker.
As the time for Churchill's speech approached, the two boarded a special train to take them to Fulton.
Shortly after boarding the train, the President asked if Churchill would like some whiskey. Never averse to a little booze – or a lot, for that matter – Churchill readily accepted the offer. But then Truman hauled out a bottle of his favorite potable, Wild Turkey. 
Churchill recoiled in horror, “That’s not whiskey, that’s bourbon!”
Within minutes, a presidential aide was on the telephone, and soon afterwards a wholly unscheduled stop was made at a railroad station in western Maryland, where several cases of Johnny Walker Red were brought aboard.
Thus properly lubricated, on March 5th Churchill delivered what would come to be known as the "Iron Curtain" speech, coining a phrase as he recognized the start of the Cold War.

1953         Josef V Stalin, Soviet dictator (c. 1926-1953), mass murderer, in bed at 73
Soviet Vozhd Joseph Stalin was extremely careful of the image that he projected, and had what was perhaps the best managed cult of personality in history.  At times he pushed his image to the utmost, projecting virtual god-like omniscience and omnipotence, while at other times he allowed himself to be depicted as the benevolent overseer of events managed by capable subordinates.  This softer image was particularly important during the Second World War, as illustrated by an anecdote recounted by his grandson Vladimir Allieluev.
 At the end of the war, with Germany under Allied occupation, Stalin ordered a monument to be erected in Berlin celebrating the Red Army’s heroic struggle to seize the city.
The noted sculptor Evgeny Vuchetich was given the commission, and in due time produced some sketches which were presented to Stalin for his approval.
Vuchetich proposed a monumental statue of Stalin triumphantly overlooking the conquered enemy capital.
Stalin glanced over the sketches, and then said, “Listen, Vuchetich, aren’t you tired of the guy with the mustache?”  Then the Vozhd proposed replacing his image with that of an heroic figure of a Red Army soldier protectively holding a little girl in his arms.  In due course this was the monument that was built (incorporating rare marbles salvaged from the devastated Reichs Chancellery Building and rubble from the Führerbunker) and which even now stands on a hilltop in Treptower Park.

1960         Elvis was honorably discharged from the US Army.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1118 on: March 06, 2024, 02:31:46 PM
1475         Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti, military engineer, d. 1564

1715 On his deathbed, Louis XIV, traditionally regarded as one of the greatest kings of France (r., 1643-1715), told his 5-year old great-grandson, who was about to become Louis XV, "I have been too fond of war; do not imitate me in that . . . ."  It was plain statement of the truth; from the time Louis XIV assumed full power, at the age of 18 in 1661, France was at war for about 30 of the 54 years until his death
Oddly, the longest, most terrible, and most costly of these conflicts, the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), might easily have been avoided.
The causus belli of the war was the death of the last Spanish Hapsburg, King Charles II (r. 1661-1700).  Despite having been married twice, Charles died without leaving any children, probably due to impotence, and without any clear close relative eligible to succeed him.  Now since Charles' health had always been precarious, the Spanish succession naturally interested the principal monarchs of Europe, Louis XIV, head of the House of Bourbon, and the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, head of the House of Hapsburg.  Leopold had married Charles' sister, Margarita Teresa, while Louis had wed the Spanish king's half-sister, Maria Teresa, and thus both had heirs would could claim a tie to the Spanish throne.
Attempting to settle the matter peacefully, in 1668 Louis and Leopold agreed that upon the death of King Charles, the Spanish Empire would be divided.  Louis would gain The Spanish Netherlands [Belgium], Lombardy, Sardinia, and Navarre, as well as Naples and Sicily (which France had been trying to conquer since the 13th century), plus the Philippines, while the Habsburg claimant to the throne would get Spain proper and the Americas.  This seemed an equitable solution to the problem, since each dynasty gained something from the deal, while Spain was united with neither, which would have created an unprecedented superpower.
Alas for peaceful settle of international problems, when Charles finally died in 1700, Louis promptly decided to scrap the agreement, hoping to secure the entire Spanish Empire for his middle grandson, Philip of Anjou, then about 17.  Naturally, Leopold, and most of the rest of Europe's monarchs objected.
The result was war, as the champions of the various claimants --at one point there were actually three!-- fought it out across much of Europe and goodly portions of the rest of the world as well.  In the end, exhaustion, the deaths of some of the claimants, and Bourbon victories in Spain, led to the accession of Philip of Anjou as King Philip V of Spain, who would reign, with a slight interruption, until 1746, over a rather diminished Spanish Empire.
So Louis had gained the throne of France for his family -- though with tough treaty arrangements barring the merger of the two kingdoms under a single ruler.  Of course Spain was devastated by the decade of war, while France’s economy was in a shambles.  Worse, France had lost its colonies in Hudson’s Bay, Newfoundland, and Acadia to Britain, while Spain had lost the Spanish Netherlands, Naples, Lombardy, and Sardinia to Austria, Sicily to Piedmont, Minorca, in the Mediterranean and Gibraltar to Britain, and territories in South America to Portugal
So Louis XIV can truly be considered an idiot-in-chief.

1779. Giovanni Battista Bugatti, known as "Mastro Titta", executioner for the Papal States (516 executions, 1796-1861), d. 1869

1831. Edgar Allen Poe is expelled from West Point

1836. Jim Bowie (39), William Barret Travis (26), James Butler Bonham (29), David Crockett (49), & c. 200 other Texians

18 62 USS Monitor leaves New York for Hampton Roads.

1925. Plebiscite transfers Eupen, Malmédy, & St Vith from Germany to Belgium

1945.       a US Pershing tank dueled with a German Panther in front of Cologne Cathedral --

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1119 on: March 07, 2024, 10:20:28 AM
150    Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla, Roman empress; daughter of Marcus Aurelius, sister of Commodus, wife of Lucius Verus, executed, 182, for conspiracy, by her brother)

1774. British close the port of Boston to all commerce

1778. Continental frigate Randolph explodes while attacking HMS Yarmouth off the coast of Barbados, killing all but four of her 305 crew.

1796. Amary Ngone Ndella, the Damel – lord – of the Wolof principality of Cayor, in the Senegambia region of West Africa, received an embassy from King Abdul Kader Kane of Futo Toro, a neighboring state. Now Cayor was committed to its traditional religion, which greatly offended Abdul Kader, a devout Moslem who had several times waged war to impose Islam on nearby peoples.
The ambassador was accompanied by two aides, each of whom carried a long pole which had curious sort-of knife fixed to its end.  When the ambassador was presented to the Damel, he offered greetings from his king, and then ordered his aides to step forward and lay their burdens at the Damel’s feet.
The ambassador then pointed to the first knife, saying, “With this knife, King
Abdul Kader will condescend to shave the head of the Damel, if he will embrace the Moslem faith. Then, pointing the second weapon, he went on, “. . . and with this other knife, King Abdul Kader will cut the throat of the Damel, if he refuses to embrace Islam – take your choice.”
The Damel replied that he chose neither to have his head shaved, nor his throat cut, and dismissed the ambassador.
Abdul Kader shortly invaded Cayor with a large army. Prepared for the onslaught, on the orders of the Damel, the people initiated “scorched earth” measures, filling in wells, destroying whatever goods, live stock, and provisions that they could not carry off, and burning their homes, before fleeing into the interior of the country. As a result, although Adbul Kader met no military resistance, as his army advanced, it began to suffer from a shortage of water. By the third day of the invasion, the situation was becoming critical, as men and horses began to die of thirst.
Then a scout brought word of a watering hole hidden in some woods. The king promptly advanced to the place, again meeting no opposition. At the watering hole, Abdul Kader’s men drank their fill, many becoming sick from over indulgence. That night, the exhausted troops slept among the trees, with scant attention being given to security.
Shortly before dawn, the Damel led his army into the woods. Many of the sleeping men were slain as they lay or trampled beneath the feet of the Wolof horses, others were cut down attempting to flee, and many more were taken prisoner. The Battle of Bungoy resulted in the virtual annihilation of Adbul Kader’s army, the king himself becoming a prisoner.
Abdul Kader was led in irons into the royal presence, and flung upon the ground at the feet of the Damel. As the prisoner awaited his fate, the Damel spoke, “Abdul Kader, answer me this question; If the chance of war had placed me in your situation, and you in mine, how would you have treated me?”
“I would have thrust my spear into your heart," came the defiant reply, “and I know that a similar fate awaits me.”
But the Damel responded, “Not so, my spear is indeed red with the blood of your subjects killed in battle, and I could now give it a deeper stain, by dipping it in your own, but this would not build up my towns, nor bring to life the thousands who fell in the woods. I will not therefore kill you in cold blood, but I will retain you as my slave, until I perceive that your presence in your own kingdom will be no longer dangerous to your neighbors. Then I will consider of the proper way of disposing of you.”
Abdul Kader remained a prisoner of the Damel of Cayor for three months, working as a slave. At the end of that time, the Damel, having received a request from the people of Futo Toro to have their king back, released the humiliated monarch, who thenceforth tended to behave himself, at least with regard to Cayor.
This – and other – deeds of the Damel Amary Ngone Ndella were later woven into an epic cycle of poems that were long recited among the Wolof, even after they converted to Islam, nearly a century later.

1810. Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood died.  Nelson's successor to command of the Mediterranean fleet and leader of the first column at Trafalgar in the SOL Royal Sovereign.


"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1120 on: March 08, 2024, 08:01:46 PM

1604. Duel between master samurai Yoshioka Seijuro and Miyamoto Musashi, who slays his opponent on the first blow

1680. Feeding the troops was until recently one of the most important jobs of an army. Of course different armies did it in different ways. The administrative, social, and cultural background of each service dictated often strikingly different approaches to the composition and issuance of rations. Consider how the Danish Army fed its troops during the late seventeenth century.

Weekly Issue per Soldier, 1680
Item   Amount
Pork or beef   3 pounds
Fish   2
Butter   1
Hardtack   6
Groats   1½ bushel
Peas   2
Ale   70 quarts
Now the Danish pound was actually something like 10-percent heavier than the English pound, so that has to be taken into account when considering the allotments above. Still, the diet was rather starchy, given all that hardtack and groats. But whatïs really surprising about the ration is the sheer volume of groats and peas. While the meat, butter, and hardtack rations were pretty close the what most armies issued their troops, the amount of groats (cracked but not milled grain, often oats) and peas was truly enormous; at c. 75 pints per bushel, we are talking something like 300 pints nearly six cubic feet of some very dry ingredients; or perhaps that is why the ale ration was of equally heroic proportions

1854. Commodore Matthew Perry opens treaty negotiations with Japan

1862. the CSS 'Virginia' & gunboats sank two sailing frigates, threatening the Union blockade, on thefirst day of the Battle of Hampton Roads

1916. Fred T. Jane, 50, military journalist, Sciencefictioneer, game designer -- "Jane's Fighting Ships," "The Naval War Game"

1944. India: Japanese offensive against British forces near Imphal.

1966. Nelson's Column in Dublin destroyed by an IRA bomb

1996. Lt Col John "Mad Jack" or "Fighting Jack" Churchill, DSO, MC, who fought WW II with a longbow, claymore, & bagpipes, died at 89

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1121 on: March 09, 2024, 11:02:30 AM
49 BC   Caesar besieges Brindisi, held by Pompey

1778. HMS Ariadne (20), Cptn. Pringle, and HMS Ceres (18), Cptn. Dacres, took American frigate Alfred (20) off the Bahamas. Her consort Raleigh escaped.

1773. Isaac Hull, who commanded the USS 'Constitution' when she took HMS ' Guerriere', d. 1843.   One of the most celebrated actions in the age of fighting sail took place on August 19, 1812, in the North Atlantic about 500 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, when the 38 gun British frigate Guerriere dueled with the 44 gun American frigate Constitution.
It was essentially a grudge match. The Americans were keen to wipe out numerous insults at the hands of the British, most notably the unprovoked attack in 1807 by HMS Leopard on the USS Chesapeake, and numerous instances of impressment of American seamen by British warships, including the Guerriere herself in May of 1811. The British, in turn, were also looking for a fight, to avenge an attack that same May by the USS President on the greatly outclassed HMS Little Belt, which the American frigate had mistaken for the Guerriere.
After maneuvering against each other for about three hours, at about 5:00 pm the ships began to close and the fight began, ending up slugging it out at about “half pistol shot” distance (i.e., 10-15 yards). Some 90 minutes later, the Guerriere was heavily damaged and the Constitution’s skipper, Capt. Isaac Hull, ceased firing. Hull sent a boat over to the Guerriere under a flag of truce. An officer asked the Guerriere’s skipper, Capt. James R. Dacres, if he was prepared to surrender. Dacres seemed to mulled the question over, “Well, Sir, I don't know,” then said, “Our mizzen mast is gone, our fore and main masts are gone – I think on the whole you might say we have struck our flag."
At that, enemies no longer, Hull sent boats to take off the Guerriere’s crew and offer assistance to her wounded. When Dacres came aboard Constitution, he offered his sword to Hull, who refused it. Through the night, American sailors attempted to save the British ship, and take her as a prize (as she had, in fact, been taken by the British from the French in 1806), but the effort proved hopeless, so Hull ordered her burned.
Before dispatching a party to torch the Guerriere, Hull asked Dacres if there was anything aboard her that he wished to rescue. Dacres replied, “Yes, my’s mother Bible, which I have carried with me for years.” Hull ordered an officer to secure the Bible, which was returned to Dacres, initiating a lifelong friendship between the two men.

1796. Napoleone Buonaparte marries Josephine de Beauharnais, divorced in 1810

1861. Confederate Congress authorizes paper currency in bills of $50, $100, $500, & $1,000

1862. the USS 'Monitor' fought the CSS 'Virginia' to a draw, preserving the blockade, on the second day of the Battle of Hampton Roads.  Neither vessel was rendered inoperable.  However, since fearful naval engineers ordered Monitor to only use half charges of gunpowder, the Virginia likely would have been crippled otherwise.

1942. Ernest J. King, COMMINCH U.S. Fleet, was also named CNO -- One night, about two years before Pearl Harbor, young Ens. Arthur R. Manning was serving as communications watch officer of the carrier Saratoga. A message came in. After it was decrypted, Manning took it up to the ship's darkened bridge.
Stumbling about in the dark, Manning bumped into someone. Excusing himself, he asked, "Sir, are you on duty?"
The reply came swiftly, "Young man, this is the admiral. I am always on duty," said Rear-Adm. King.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2024, 11:11:50 AM by besilarius »

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1122 on: March 10, 2024, 07:52:53 PM
241   BC   the Roman fleet defeated the Carthaginians in Naval Battle of the Aegates Island, winning First Punic War

1705. A French squadron of 14 ships, under Rear Admiral Jean-Bernard Desjeans, blockading Gibraltar engaged by a combined British, Dutch and Portugese fleet, under Sir  John Leake, off Marbella. HMS Revenge (70), Sir Thomas Dilkes, took Arrogant (60) and two more French line-of-battle ships were taken and two driven ashore where they were burnt.

1776. Queen Louise of Prussia (1797-1810), "The only man in Prussia" - Napoleon

1920. Maurice Magnus (1876-1920), author of Memoirs of the Foreign Legion (London, Martin Secker, 1924), which was edited for publication by D. H. Lawrence, is generally believed to have been the son of a German-born American scientist and an illegitimate daughter of a prince of the House of Hohenzollern, probably Kaiser Wilhelm I (r. 1871-1888), thus making Magnus a cousin of “Kaiser Bill,” Wilhelm II (r. 1888-1918). Magnus’ memoir claims he enlisted in the Legion in Tunisia in 1916 and served until he deserted some months later, making his way to Italy. Magnus claimed that his subsidy from his Imperial kin continued to reach him during the war, despite his being in the enemy’s service, and only ended when the Hohenzollerns were ousted from Germany in November 1918.

1944         Severe restrictions are imposed on all private travel in the UK, in preparation for D-Day

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1123 on: March 12, 2024, 01:47:08 AM
153 BC.   Attacking Numantia, in Spain, the Roman commander Marcus Fulvius Nobilior deployed ten elephants to literally push down the city wall, which met with initial success, until a heavy piece of masonry crashed down on one beast’s head, causing him to panic, which infected the other nine pachyderms, who promptly stampeded over the very troops whom they were supposed to be supporting.

222         Elagabalus, very strange Roman Emperor (218-222), decapitated at 19 by the Praetorians, along with his mother Julia Soaemias, c. 42

1302         Fr. Laurence marries Romeo & Juliet

1448. When the Florentines hired Leonardo da Vinci to do a mural commemorating their victory over the Pisans at Anghiari (June 29, 1440), the great artist was given a lengthy essay on the battle by his friend Niccolo Machiavelli, who, in his status as secretary of war for the republic had, not co-incidentally, signed the artist’s contract .

1759, Captain Pierre Pouchot, commanding the French post at Fort Niagara on the eastern bank of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario, first learned that the British had placed a battery nearby when a cannon ball fired by one of its pieces dropped down the chimney of his quarters, rolled across the floor of his room, and came to rest next to the bed in which he was lying.

1915 During the opening stages of the British campaign against the Turks in what is now Iraq,  during World War I, Arab irregulars were quite active in harassing the invaders, especially at night.
It was not uncommon for raiders to sneak into camps, evading sentries and making their way among sleeping soldiers, to steal whatever they could find, such as boots, rifles, and blankets, and then getting away, usually without waking anyone.  One night in January of 1915, a raider managed to make off with a yellow flag from the camp of the 2nd Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment, shortly after which a Turkish spokesman reported the capture of “an enemy flag.”
Since flags have historically been among the most treasured of war trophies, the raider was probably well-rewarded for his efforts.  Naturally, other Arabs sought to emulate his achievement.  Soon thefts of the yellow flags became rather common.  To stop them, the British set booby-traps, and several raiders were killed trying to make off with the flags.
At the time of the first theft, Captain Alfred J. Shakeshaft of the Norfolks wrote in his diary, “We wondered if this would be hung up in the military museum at Constantinople.”  One wonders even now, particularly since yellow flags were the British Army’s standard markers for latrines.

1942. Bataan: MacArthur leaves for Mindanao on a PT-Boat

1958. Mars Bluff, SC: A B-47E accidentally drops a Mk 6 30-kiloton atomic bomb

2016. Apparently, when unexploded ordnance is discovered in Germany, the Bundesrepublik pays for its removal if it is of German origins, but if it’s Allied stuff, the bill falls to the state government.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


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Reply #1124 on: March 12, 2024, 10:47:11 PM
551 BC   Completion of the Temple of Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity

1714. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) the French Army annually lost about 25% of its manpower through desertion.

1798. During the Battle of the Nile a British gunner was about fire his gun when his right arm was taken off by a French cannonball, whereupon he snatched the match from the deck with his left hand, fired the gun, and then reported to sick bay.

1940. The arrest by the Crown of Sir Oswald Moseley, the head of the British Union of Fascists, was appropriately reported the next day in The Times, in the fifth column.

1944 The Allied drive across France and Belgium in the late Summer and Autumn of 1944 was accomplished through the expenditure of about 27 million gallons of gasoline each day.

1945  By the end of World War II the U.S. Army had 663 battalions of field artillery, enough for over 165 divisions, though there actually were never more than 90 divisions.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.