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Updated: June 13, 2004


The greatest battles fought by soldiers and warriors who have become infamous and immortal as a result of the great victories they achieved; their bravery, perseverance, determination, cunning, tactics, sacrifices and fortitude have written the stories of their battles and their names on the sand and winds of time. History is kind and forgiving to the victor, but forgetful and blind to those defeated, for it is the victor who is seen as right and just and who will write history to suit their own cause. They have used the power of force of their armies to invade, conquer and control; to eliminate, destroy enemies or force their will upon them, be they individuals or nations; to protect their countries against agressors; and to change the course of history by bestowing power of control upon others or eliminating those that don't agree with them.

The Zulu War of 1879 is full of individual acts of heroism, devotion and situations of the gravest peril; yet out of so much that was splendid and courageous in that fierce conflict, the famous Defence of Rorke's Drift stands out in history as one of the finest examples of discipline and valour ever recorded to the credit of British soldiers in the face of the enemy. On January 22nd 1879, the main Zulu Impi of 20,000 men attacked the British Camp at Isandlwana. The 1,500 defenders were overrun and massacred. Later on that day, the mission station at Rorke's Drift was attacked. Just over 100 men successfully defended the Drift against an overwhelming force of 4,000 Zulus. No fewer than 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded for this action. Asandlwana January 22nd 1879. Eleven days after invading Zululand, the camp at Isandlwana was attacked by 20,000 Zulu warriors. Chelmsford had left the camp earlier that day with half the Column, believing the main Zulu Army to be some way away. The 1,500 men that remained fought a furious battle, but as the horns of the Buffalo surrounded them, they were overrun and massacred with deadly efficiency. It was the most devastating defeat of a modern army. More officers were killed than at Waterloo and more men than at Alma or Inkermen. It was not until the end of May that the bodies were recovered and buried. Ntombe River March 12th 1879 A small escort of the 80th guarding supply wagons bound for Luneberg, made camp by the banks of the Ntombe River. Cptn. Moriarty was on the north bank with 71 men and Lt. Harward and Sgt. Booth had 34 men on the south bank. Few defensive measures had been taken to protect the camp. At dawn on the 12th shots rang out as a 1,000 Zulus attacked. The north bank was overrun and Moriarty was killed. Harward's men returned fire but Harward himself soon galloped off leaving Sgt. Booth to rally survivors and fight a 3 mile battle back towards Luneburg. Of the original escort of 106 men, 62 lay dead. Hlobane Mountain March 27th - 28th 1879. Sir. Evelyn Wood attacked the Zulu stronghold with mounted troops commanded by Lt. Colonels Buller and Russell. The ascent was slow due to the rocky terrain and Zulu snipers. Buller finally reached the summit but as he rode west, he was shocked to see 20,000 Zulus advancing. A running fight ensued and most of the Frontier Light and Border Horse were wiped out. Buller led the escape down a perilously steep precipice in a confusion of tumbling horses and men. Many were badly wounded and 15 officers and 79 men were killed. Kambula March 29th 1879. Colonel Wood prepared to defend the Kambula Ridge and positioned a 2,000 strong force on the crest. Extending over 10 miles below them were the 5 columns of Zulus that had attacked Hlobane. At 1.45p.m the Zulus began their assault, but a continuous volley of fire cut them down as they advanced up the slope. For an hour the battle raged against all positions. At 5.30 p.m. the exhausted Zulus began to retreat, hotly pursued by Infantry and Cavalry. The Zulus had lost over 2,000 warriors. Colonel Wood had lost 3 officers and 25 men. Kambula dealt a heavy blow to the Zulu Army and turned the tide of war. Reconnaissance across the White Mfolozi River July 3rd 1879 Commandant Baker and Lt.Colonel Buller crossed the White Mfolozi River with 2 sections of mounted troops. They met little resistance other than sporadic sniper fire. Suddenly, 4,000 Zulus leapt up and fired a volley of shots as more Zulus attacked from either side. Horses reared up throwing their riders and many daring rescues were carried out to retrieve stranded troopers from the Zulus' advance. Buller's troopers fell back in stages, firing and retreating until they reached the safety of the camp. Miraculously, only 3 men were killed and 4 wounded.

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The English Civil War 1642 - 1651. The tension between Charles and Parliament was still great, since none of the issues raised by the Short Parliament had been resolved. This tension was brought to a head on January 4th, 1642 when Charles attempted to arrest five members of parliament. This attempt failed, since they were spirited away before the king's troops arrived. Charles left London and both he and parliament began to stockpile military resources and recruit troops. Charles officially began the war by raising his standard at Nottingham in August 1642. Robert Devereux (3rd Earl of Essex) was made parliamentary commander. At this stage of the wars, parliament had no wish to kill the king. It was hoped that Charles could be reinstated as ruler, but with a more constructive attitude to parliament. The majority of the country was neutral in the civil wars, and both sides only had about 13,000 men in 1642. The areas of Royalist support tended to be the North, West and Wales. Parliament were supported by the richer South and East, including London. Parliament also held most of the ports, since the merchants that ran them saw more profit in a parliament-lead country. Parliament definitely had access to more resources than the king, and could collect taxes. Charles had to depend on donations from his supporters to fund his armies. The first war stretched from 1642 to 1646, beginning with the king's raising of the standard. Charles marched on London, hoping for a quick victory that would negate the benefits of parliament's resources. He was met at Edgehill (Oct 23 1642) by Essex and a battle was fought. This battle proved inconclusive, but failed to stop Charles' advance. He was met by another force at Turnham Green, however, and was forced to turn away from London. Charles withdrew to Oxford, where his headquarters was based for the rest of the war. In 1643, many battles were fought all over the country. The royalist forces won at Adwalton Moor (Jun 30), taking control of Yorkshire. They also won at Lansdown and Roundway Down (Jul) in the South-West, allowing Prince Rupert to take Bristol. The forces of parliament won at Winceby (Oct 11), taking Lincoln, but on the whole had the worst part of military actions for the year. At Newbruy (Sep), a large battle took place that was inconclusive. After this testing of the major armies, both sides sought allies elsewhere. Parliament drew up the "Solemn League & Covenant", which promised the Scots religious reforms in return for their help. Charles negotiated a cease-fire in Ireland that freed English troops for action on the mainland. In 1644, military actions were more balanced. Parliament won at Marston Moor (Jul 2), allowing them to take York with the Scots' help. They lost at Lostwithiel in the South-West, and withdrew from Newbury after a second inconclusive battle. In 1645, the New Model Army was formed by Fairfax. This army won two important victories, at Naseby (Jun 14) and at Langport (Jul 10), effectively destroying all of Charles' armies. In 1646, Charles had little choice but to disband his remaining forces. Oxford surrendered, and Charles fled North seeking refuge with the Scots, bringing the first war to a close. Charles was ransomed by parliament, and held at Holmby House whilst parliament drew up proposals. In the mean time, parliament began to disband its army. However, the army was unhappy about issues such as arrears of pay and living conditions, and resisted the disbandment. Eventually the army kidnapped Charles in an attempt to win a bargaining piece. However, Charles escaped to the Isle of Wight. Increasingly concerned, the army marched to London (Aug 1647) and debated proposals of their own at Putney. Charles took advantage of this shift of emphasis away from him to negotiate a new agreement with the Scots, again promising church reform (Dec 28 1647). This agreement lead to the second war. A series of royalist rebellions and a Scottish invasion (Jul 1648) took place. However, all were defeated by the now powerful standing army. This new betrayal by Charles caused parliament to debate whether Charles should be returned to power at all. Those who still supported Charles' place on the throne tried once more to negotiate with him. The army, angry that parliament were still considering Charles as a ruler, marched on parliament and conducted "Pride's Purge" (named such since the commanding officer of the operation was Sir Thomas Pride). 45 MP's were arrested, 146 were kept out of parliament, and only 75 were allowed in, and then only to do the army's bidding. This rump parliament was ordered to set up a high court of justice in order to try Charles I for treason in the name of the people of England. The trial of the king (Jan 1649) found Charles guilty as charged, and he was beheaded on January 30th. Oliver Cromwell then lead the army in quelling revolts in Ireland and Scotland (1649-50) to finally restore an uneasy peace. Charles II was then crowned in Scotland, claiming that the throne was rightfully his. He marched with the Scots on England. Cromwell beat the Scottish forces at Dunbar (Sep 3 1650), but could not prevent Charles II marching deep into England. Cromwell finally engaged the new king at Worcester (Sep 3 1651) and beat him. Charles II fled abroad, ending the civil wars. The Commonwealth was then established, with Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of England.

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The British-American War of 1812 (June 1812 to December 1814). On June 18, 1812, the United States stunned the world by declaring war on Great Britain. Supporting its allies in Spain and Portugal, Britain’s army was on the Iberian Peninsula, involved in a struggle with Napoleon Bonaparte, who had marshaled the forces of Revolutionary France under his penumbra. The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain from June 1812 to the spring of 1815, although the peace treaty ending the war was signed in Europe in December 1814. The main land fighting of the war occurred along the Canadian border, in the Chesapeake Bay region, and along the Gulf of Mexico; extensive action also took place at sea. From the end of the American Revolution in 1783, the United States had been irritated by the failure of the British to withdraw from American territory along the Great Lakes; their backing of the Indians on America's frontiers; and their unwillingness to sign commercial agreements favorable to the United States. American resentment grew during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15), in which Britain and France were the main combatants. The Revolutionary War ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. Under the Terms, Great Britain surrendered the Old Northwest to the United States. Despite losing the Thirteen Colonies to George Washington and the American revolutionaries twenty-five years earlier, England, like many on the European continent, did not take the United States that seriously. Despite the fact that most of Britain’s supplies for the Napoleonic war came from America and Canada -from beef to feed the Duke of Wellington’s army, to the oak trees essential to maintain Britain’s majestic navy. Britain found itself faced with another war, a war they had assiduously tried to avoid. The ostensible reasons for the war seemed to have been forgotten once the opening shots were sounded. The United States was upset at the British navy’s arrogance on the high seas. Desperate to find sailors for a fleet of over one thousand ships, Great Britain didn’t hesitate to stop and search American ships in the hopes of recovering seaman who deserted the draconian existence of the British navy for the easier life aboard U.S. vessels. British captains were not above press-ganging the odd American while they were at it. England had also begun to seize Yankee ships trading with Napoleonic France. These tactics caused a huge controversy in the American Congress. Eventually, the United States cut off all trade with the continent. As the record reveals, the Americans wanted more than just maritime rights. What they also wanted was the other half of the North American continent still in the hands of the King of England. In 1778, during the American Revolution, the Yankees tried to seize Canada, and actually captured Montreal. The expedition however, under Generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold, perished in the sub-zero cold beneath the towering walls of the fortress at Quebec. In 1812, Americans were determined to make another attempt at eradicating the British presence in North America, and settle "the Indian question" once and for all. Such a campaign, promised Thomas Jefferson, would be a matter of mere marching. In Congress, the War Hawks took up this position and demanded the United States finalize the independence from Britain they had fought so hard to win. Many Americans came to see the 1812 conflict as the second Revolutionary War. When Great Britain finally realized that the Americans would go to war on the impressment issue, it revoked the Orders-in-Council which authorized the seizures. In the final analysis, these causes bore so little weight, that they were not even mentioned in the peace treaty which, eventually ended the war. But in early 1812, it was too late. War was imminent, and could would not be stopped. This aspect of the War of 1812 was made up of several almost independent struggles. On the high seas the U.S. Navy gained success in a number of single-ship frigate actions. The British frigates were generally smaller and less well-manned than their opponents and were often embarrassed by superior American gunnery and ship handling. In only one case, that of HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake did the British prevail, and the victor brought the unfortunate Chesapeake to Halifax harbour. In spite of its reverses, the Royal Navy had more ships than the U.S. Navy and was consequently able to maintain a tight blockade on American waters and was successful in transporting British Army troops to American shores. An important feature of the war on both sides was the taking of merchant ships of the enemy as prizes. Both naval warships and privateers (civilian vessels commissioned with letters of marque) preyed on the opposing side. In the Maritimes some considerable fortunes were made from the sale of prizes and their cargoes. In terms of men, money and materials, the cost of this tragic struggle cannot be calculated with any degree of accuracy. Official reports suggest British losses were 8,600 killed, wounded or missing, while the Americans suffered a total of about 11,300 casualties. In the end we ask who won and who lost the War of 1812. The clear loser in this conflict without any doubt is the Native People of North America. In the summer of 1815, the United States signed fifteen treaties with the tribes, guaranteeing their status as of 1811. But it did not return an acre of land. The dream of the Indian state never came true. If any one could claim victory it was Canada. The United States declared war on Great Britain and set out to make Canada states in the union. Ten American armies crossed into Canada and all were driven out.

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The Boer War, South Africa, 1899-1902 , is often described as `a domestic quarrel of the white people', as the two independent Boer republics (the South African Republic or Transvaal and the Orange Free State Republic) in the north fought against Great Britain and its two colonies (the Cape Colony and Natal). There were really two Boer Wars. The first, in 1880-81, began after D'Israeli had annexed the South African Boer Republics--the Transvaal and the Orange Free State--in 1877. After making repeated attempts to repeal annexation, the Boers under Kruger revolted and secured limited self-government. After gold and diamonds were discovered in the Transvaal, tensions between native Boers and British "uitlanders," aggravated by guerilla raids and the repressive policies of the British Governor of the Cape, became more intense. After the Boers attacked Cape Colony and Natal in October 1899, the second war, which lasted until 1902, was underway. British forces at Ladysmith, Mafeking, and Kimberley were surrounded and besieged until relieved by counter-attacks by forces under Roberts, the British commander-in-chief who had been the hero of the Indian mutiny. Between September 1900 and the peace of Vereenigning in May 1902, Boer commandos fought a prolonged guerilla war against the British, who responded by putting Boer civilians in concentration camps.The year is 1899. Queen Victoria has recently celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. The British Empire is at its zenith in power and prestige. But the High Commissioner of Cape Colony in South Africa, Alfred Milner, wants more. He wants to gain for the Empire the economic power of the gold mines in the Dutch Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. He also wants to create a Cape-to-Cairo confederation of British colonies to dominate the African continent. And he wants to rule over it. To do this, Milner precipitates a war with the Boers. As always, over-confident generals and politicians predict the war will be over 'by Christmas'. And again, as frequently happened with the British in their colonial wars, they only win one battle - the last one. But they will have to wait two and a half years for that. Until then, disaster is piled on disaster, military careers are destroyed, 22,000 Tommy Atkins are laid to rest in 'some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England', and the Empire muddles on in the heat and dust of the South African veldt. In October of 1899 the Boers, starting the war with the maxim 'the key to a good defense is a good offense', invade Natal and Cape Province and quickly invest three towns: Ladysmith, Mafeking, and Kimberley. This forces the British to abandon their original offensive plans in order to lift the sieges. The subsequent set-piece battles to free these cities only highlight the problems of the British Army. It is after achieving overwhelming superiority in the field that the British manage to lift the sieges and capture the capital cities of the two Boer republics in May/June, 1900. Two political ideologies namely British imperialism and Afrikaner nationalism were to clash at the turn of the nineteenth century in South Africa. Britain sought the unification of whole of South Africa under the British flag. The existence of the two Boer republics namely the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State therefor was a stumbling block. The two republics on the other hand wanted to preserve their independence and to build their republics into regional forces. They were therefore not prepared to become part of a united South Africa under British authority. The late nineteenth century was the time when the European powers were dividing Africa up amongst themselves, in what became known as “the scramble for Africa”. South Africa, with its location at the tip of the continent, is a strategic location, with all shipping trade to the east passing by. Britain's control of the Cape colony and Natal gave it control of the whole southern coastline and these colonies were not under threat. In 1884, Germany had gained control of South West Africa (Namibia), immediately north-west of the Cape Colony. Portugal had controlled Mozambique (immediately to the north-east of Natal) for some time. Britain's strategic interests lay, therefore, in a push northward up between the two. Britain feared an independent Afrikaner state, especially one that was wealthy. This was not because it felt its current colonial possessions were under threat, but because its future possessions might be. In particular, Britain was anxious to make sure that such a state would not have access to the sea and thus the ability to operate completely outside of British influence. Britain had consequently annexed Zululand and Tongaland (in 1887 and 1895 respectively) stopping Boer advances toward the Indian Ocean and thereby isolating the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The military intervention into the Transvaal represented the logical conclusion to the previous 30 years' policies of the British government, in which it had also annexed Basutoland and southern Bechuanaland and had made inroads into Rhodesia. The British, with antiquated battle strategies, were totally unprepared for the war, in a terrain they did not understand and fighting an enemy they could not see. This incompetence led to the deaths of some 22,000 British soldiers—13,000 died from disease—and forced a reappraisal of the role of black Africans in the fighting. Somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 were armed and participated in the war. The British generals had a difficult time adjusting to the different tactics of a different war. The Boers were a fast and highly mobile guerilla force, using the new smokeless cartridges in their German Mauser rifles which greatly concealed their positions; and they employed hit-and-run tactics that not only caused losses the British couldn't afford, but thoroughly frustrated the Empire's view of a 'fair fight'. The British were unable to fight the Boer soldiers into submission. In 1900, General Sir Herbert Kitchener authorised a scorched-earth policy in response. Some 30,000 farm buildings were destroyed. Livestock was killed in huge numbers and often left to rot. The British now to feed 250,000 to 400,000 soldiers, but also the civilian population of the war zone. Since they had wiped out most of the agriculture within the region, they had to import food. Lord Kitchener set up concentration camps in South Africa from 1900-1902. In 14 months more than 20,000 inmates of these camps died - mostly as a result of the conditions in them.

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The term Norman Conquest traditionally refers to the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy, subsequently King William I. At Senlac Hill near Hastings, William's, Duke of Normandy, in pursuit of his clam to the English Throne met Harold, King of England in battle. Throughout the day the Norman Knights continually threw themselves against the Anglo-Saxon Phalanx. The centre was held steady by Elite House Carles, but by nightfall Harold was dead and the Anglo-Saxon resistance had collapsed. William's victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 effectively completed the conquest, regarded as an important watershed, the start of "conventional" English history. (For the importance of the concept in mass culture, note the spoof history book 1066 and All That). The Viking invasion of northern England by Harald III of Norway in September 1066 provided one factor aiding the ease of the Norman takeover - it left England unable to gather a large enough army to fend off the new enemy. Moreover, Norman cultural and political influence in England had built up over the years prior to 1066. Note that the conquest of Wales by the Normans took place piecemeal and finished only in 1282, during the reign of King Edward I. The same king, though he subdued Scotland, did not truly conquer it, as it re-asserted local sovereignty, remained an independent kingdom until 1707 and retained a separate monarchy until 1603. The Norman conquerors introduced Norman French as the language of the ruling classes in England, displacing Old English. Norman French retained the status of a prestige language for nearly 300 years. England itself became a cultural and economic backwater for almost 150 years. Few kings of England actually resided for any length of time in England, preferring to rule from French cities such as Rouen and concentrate on their more lucrative French holdings. The country remained an unimportant appendage of Norman lands and later the Angevin fiefs of Henry II. However in 1204, the French king Philip II seized all Norman and Angevin holdings in France except Gascony. This would later lead to the Hundred Years War when English kings tried to regain their dynastic holdings in France. The conquerors remained ethnically distinct from the native population of England but over the centuries, particularly after 1348 when the Black Death pandemic carried off a significant number of the English nobility, the two groups merged and have become barely distinguishable. The Isle of Ely became what we have come to term a "pocket of resistance." It was then that the natural defences of the Isle became of prime importance, and were exploited by the Saxon leader, Hereward the Wake! After a number of adventures, including the sacking of the monastery at Peterborough, which Hereward did to forestall the Norman abbot Turold, he went to Ely and took command of the Saxons who defied the Normans. William was encamped with his army at Brandon, but could not find a way through the fens & finding that he could not make a successful attack upon Ely from the direction of Brandon, William moved his army to Cambridge, and tried to gain access to the Isle of Ely across causeways at Stuntney, Little Thetford and Aldreth. He was prevented from doing so by Hereward and his followers. They exploited the remoteness of the Island of Eels. The Normans would have to prepare wooden rafts to enable a full assault on the settlement. Hereward allowed, even worked on the building of the rafts and bridges only to booby trap them with explosives and weaknesses. Then when the bridges were most full for the attack, Hereward did set them alight. But the Ely Monks were not in full agreement with the Saxon leader Hereward, and William evenually gained access into Ely with the aid of information supplied by the monks of Ely. Hereward escaped and lived to fight another day... but, in spite the betrayal of their Saxon defenders, William exacted a heavy penalty from the monks and the abbot of Ely. Ely was the second richest monastery in England at the time of the Domesday survey made by William I and pardon was only obtained after making a journey to Warwick, and the payment of a thousand pounds. It is recorded that in order to satisfy William the monks had to melt down or sell almost all the gold and silver objects in the church, including "crosses, altars, shrines, tissues, chalices, patens, basins, buckets, fistulas, goblets, dishes, and above all the figure of St. Mary with the Child seated on a throne of wonderful workmanship which Abbot Elsin (died 1016) had made", also four wooden figures of Virgins enriched with gold and silver and precious stones.

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American Civil War was the greatest war in American history, 3 million fought - 600,000 died, four of the war's most significant battles - Bull Run, July 1861; Vicksburg, July 1863; Fredricksburg, December 1862; Chattanooga, November 1863. With the election of the anti-slavery Republican candidate for President, Abraham Lincoln, the Southern states decided they had to take drastic action in order to protect their own interests. On December 20, 1860, a secession convention met in South Carolina and adopted an Ordinance of Secession from the Union. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas quickly followed suit. These states sent delegates to Montgomery, Alabama and on February 8, 1861 adopted a provisional constitution for the newly formed Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis was chosen as the President for a six-year term of office. The Constitution by which the permanent government of the Confederate States of America was formed was reported by the committee and adopted by the Provisional Congress on the 11th of March, 1861, to be submitted to the States for ratification. All States ratified it and conformed themselves to its requirements without delay. The Constitution varied in very few particulars from the Constitution of the United States, preserving carefully the fundamental principles of popular representative democracy and confederation of co-equal States. a military conflict between the United States of America (the Union) and the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy) from 1861 to 1865. The American Civil War is sometimes called the War Between the States, the War of Rebellion, or the War for Southern Independence. It began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and lasted until May 26, 1865, when the last Confederate army surrendered. The war took more than 600,000 lives, destroyed property valued at $5 billion, brought freedom to 4 million black slaves, and opened wounds that have not yet completely healed more than 125 years later. The chief and immediate cause of the war was slavery. Southern states, including the 11 states that formed the Confederacy, depended on slavery to support their economy. Southerners used slave labor to produce crops, especially cotton. Although slavery was illegal in the Northern states, only a small proportion of Northerners actively opposed it. The main debate between the North and the South on the eve of the war was whether slavery should be permitted in the Western territories recently acquired during the Mexican War (1846-1848), including New Mexico, part of California, and Utah. Opponents of slavery were concerned about its expansion, in part because they did not want to compete against slave labor. By 1860, the North and the South had developed into two very different regions. Divergent social, economic, and political points of view, dating from colonial times, gradually drove the two sections farther and farther apart. Each tried to impose its point of view on the country as a whole. Although compromises had kept the Union together for many years, in 1860 the situation was explosive. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president was viewed by the South as a threat to slavery and ignited the war. As soon as it was certain that Lincoln had won, the South Carolina legislature summoned a special convention. It met on December 17, 1860, in Charleston. Three days later the convention unanimously passed an ordinance dissolving “the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States.” Both sides prepared for what would become a much longer war than either at first imagined. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers poured into the armies, and the respective economies tried to adjust to meet the demands of supplying huge military forces. On the battlefield, the Confederates won victories in Virginia at the First Battle of Bull Run in mid-July, and in Missouri at Wilson’s Creek in August. Despite these setbacks, the Union army and navy took steps to begin operations along the upper Mississippi River and along the southern Atlantic coast. These events were to set the stage for the bloodiest and saddest war in American history. In a conflict that combined elements of the Napoleonic Age with features of the new Machine Age, at least 600,000 Americans would lose their lives fighting for constitutional principle, sectional differences, economic self-interest, and moral righteousness. As a defining moment in United States history, our Civil War has no equal, which is why it remains such a fascinating subject even today. It was the only war fought on American soil by Americans, and for that reason we have always been fascinated with The Civil War. The Civil War was waged at sea with more massed violence and with more diversity of ships and weaponry than any previous, sustained naval action. It was pressed with at least the same vigor and passion as on land, and with considerably more improvisation. Ferryboats were turned by edict into men-o'-war. China and upholstered furniture were trundled off ocean liners as they were converted into warships. To compensate for a lack of naval guns, army field pieces were snatched from forts and wheeled onto tarred deckings, then lashed down. Iron or tin plating was nailed onto wooden steamships to make them "ironclads" or "tinclads." More Americans were killed in the Civil War than any other war in history. The war divided the people of the United States; in some families brother fought against brother. The war ended four years later on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his ragged army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

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The three Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage from 264 to 146 B.C. irrevocably changed the course of ancient history. Carthage, with her empire centered in North Africa, was humbled and then destroyed. The greatest naval power of the Mediterranean in the third century BC was the North African city of Carthage near modern day Tunis. The Carthaginians were orginally Phoenicians and Carthage was a colony founded by the Phoenician capital city of Tyre in the ninth century BC. While the Romans were steadily increasing their control over the Italian peninsula, the Carthaginians already controlled the North African coast from western Libya to the Strait of Gibraltar, and ruled over most of southern Spain—and the island of Corsica and Sardinia. These two mighty empires came into contact in the middle of the third century BC when Rome's power had reached the southern tip of Italy. The Romans were perfectly aware of the Carthaginian heritage: they called them by their old name, Phoenicians. In Latin, the word is Poeni, which gives us the name for the wars between the two states, the Punic Wars. These conflicts, so disastrous for Carthage, were inevitable. When the Sicilian city of Messana revolted against the Carthaginians, the Romans intervened, and the first Punic War erupted. Before the wars, Rome's power was limited to the Italian peninsula; by the end of the wars, Rome. Collective name on the wars between the Punic (the Romans used the name Poeni on the people of Carthage) city state of Carthage (now outside Tunis, Tunisia) and Rome, the first war starting in 264 BCE, and the last ending in 146. The wars were fought between the two strongest contenders for control over the central Mediterranean Sea of the time. For a long time during the second Punic war, it could seem that Carthage would become the victor. The wars ended with a strong destruction of Carthage, that ended the city's period as an independent power house and a important trade centre. However, the city would later became an important trading centre inside the Roman Empire.
FIRST PUNIC WAR (264- 241 BCE)
In first half of 3rd century BCE Carthage held many territories that made it easy for them to control and dominate the western Mediterranean Sea, but when they conquered Messana (now Messina) on the north eastern tip of Sicily in 264, they faced the Romans for war for the first time. The locals of Messana had requested Rome for aid, and from many different reasons Rome came to thier rescue. The fear of a powerful neighbour was only one out of several motivations by the Romans. The promise of glory and plunder was also of great importance. This war was fought mainly at sea around Sicily, and Carthage was by far the strongest of the two in this field. This supremacy was met by a large scale Roman construction of a naval fleet. After some years this brought its results, and it was reflected in the fightings, where Rome became stronger and stronger. In 256 Carthage was besieged, but the Romans were defeated. Then for some years Carthage was the most successful, notedly under the leadership of Hamilcar, but with the battle at the Aegates Islands in 241, the Carthagians were beaten so painfully that they requested peace. This agreement involved leaving Sicily and paying a huge indemnity. Rome now controlled Sicily.
SECOND PUNIC WAR (218- 201 BCE)
Most important of the three wars was the second, and also the most fascinating. It was the Carthagians bitterness over both the agreement from the first war, and the Roman expansion following the next years (Corsica and Sardinia was taken from Carthage in 237), that brought it on. From 237 to 219 Hannibal, son of Hamilcar, and Hasdrubal, Hamilcar's son-in-law, conquered parts of Spain. In 226 an agreement with Rome set the northern border of the Carthagian conquest to Ebro river (in northern Spain). But then the Romans themselves crossed the Ebro river, heading south on a conquest train, Hannibal decided to face them. This was at Saguntum (Sagunto, north of modern Valencia) in 219.
It was the same multiplicity of reasons as in 264, that made Rome declare war in 218. Then Hannibal did the totally unexpected: he set off in northern direction and brought with him large troops including elephants. He crossed the Alps as much as 300 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The crossing of the Alps was hazardous, and large parts of the troops, as well as the elephants, were lost. Hannibal could after the crossing enjoy a high star, and had for some time success in recruiting locals to his troops. This was especially the truth for the Gauls in today's northern Italy. Even if Hannibal made alliances, and won several battles in the early years, he did not succeed in winning decisive battles. To some extent it could be suggested that he avoided a couple of them. The Romans used a tactic of delaying, and they had strong hold on the communications over both land and sea. This would eventually result in declining morals in Hannibals troops, and a fast falling star among local peoples of what is today's Italian peninsula. After some time, Hannibal's troops had become like a state without land, drifting around, always looking for new alliances and weak points in the Roman defence, but never finding it. In 209 Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal Barca, repeated Hannibal's Alp adventure, bringing reinforcements, but he was beaten in 207 at Metaurus river (near today's Pesaro). The following year the Carthaginians were driven completely out of Spain.
In 204 the Roman sunder the leadership of Scipio invaded Ifriqiya (today's Tunisia), and despite strong resistance, a peace was almost arranged in 203, when Hannibal returned. Hannibal was beaten in Zama (near today's Maktar, Tunisia) in 202. Peace was signed in 201. All claims on Spain were given up, and the Punic fleet was reduced to ten ships.
THIRD PUNIC WAR (149- 146 BCE)
The third war was entirely provoked by the Romans. After the second defeat, Carthage managed once again to return
to much of its former glory, the economy prospered, and the fleet increased. But the memory of the former Punic wars was strong in Rome; many hated the Carthaginians especially because there seemed to be nothing that could force them on their knees. Many Romans wanted to gain glory, and no enemy was more attractive than Carthage, even if the city state now longer aspired to become an empire. Rome used their ally, Masinissa, who ruled over Numidia to the west of Carthage, to bring forward a pretext for going to war. Masinissa deliberately provoked Carthage, and in 149 Carthage attacked him. Rome came to aid for their ally, through declaring war on Carthage. The difference in military force was now to Rome's advantage, and few battles were fought to decide who was the strongest. At first a peace was agreed upon, but then Rome increased their demands, decreeing a total abandonment of the city. Facing these claims, the Carthaginians returned to fighting, and soon Carthage fell under what would become a 3 year long siege. When the Romans finally breached the walls, one week of fighting inside the city followed, then the city was burned, and the locals were either executed or sold into slavery.

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The Persian Wars - 499 BC to 479 BC. In the 5th century BC the vast Persian Empire attempted to conquer Greece. If the Persians had succeeded, they would have set up local tyrants, called satraps, to rule Greece and would have crushed the first stirrings of democracy in Europe. The survival of Greek culture and political ideals depended on the ability of the small, disunited Greek city-states to band together and defend themselves against Persia's overwhelming strength. The struggle, known in Western history as the Persian Wars, or Greco-Persian Wars, lasted 20 years--from 499 to 479 BC. Persia already numbered among its conquests the Greek cities of Ionia in Asia Minor, where Greek civilization first flourished. The Persian Wars began when some of these cities revolted against Darius I, Persia's king, in 499 BC. Athens sent 20 ships to aid the Ionians. Before the Persians crushed the revolt, the Greeks burned Sardis, capital of Lydia. Angered, Darius determined to conquer Athens and extend his empire westward beyond the Aegean Sea. In 492 BC Darius gathered together a great military force and sent 600 ships across the Hellespont. A sudden storm wrecked half his fleet when it was rounding rocky Mount Athos on the Macedonian coast. Two years later Darius dispatched a new battle fleet of 600 triremes. This time his powerful galleys crossed the Aegean Sea without mishap and arrived safely off Attica, the part of Greece that surrounds the city of Athens. The Persians landed on the plain of Marathon, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Athens. When the Athenians learned of their arrival, they sent a swift runner, Pheidippides, to ask Sparta for aid, but the Spartans, who were conducting a religious festival, could not march until the moon was full. Meanwhile the small Athenian army encamped in the foothills on the edge of the Marathon Plain. The Athenian general Miltiades ordered his small force to advance. He had arranged his men so as to have the greatest strength in the wings. As he expected, his center was driven back. The two wings then united behind the enemy. Thus hemmed in, the Persians' bows and arrows were of little use. The stout Greek spears spread death and terror. The invaders rushed in panic to their ships. The Greek historian Herodotus says the Persians lost 6,400 men against only 192 on the Greek side. Thus ended the battle of Marathon (490 BC), one of the decisive battles of the world. Darius planned another expedition, but he died before preparations were completed. This gave the Greeks a ten-year period to prepare for the next battles. Athens built up its naval supremacy in the Aegean under the guidance of Themistocles. In 480 BC the Persians returned, led by King Xerxes, the son of Darius. To avoid another shipwreck off Mount Athos, Xerxes had a canal dug behind the promontory. Across the Hellespont he had the Phoenicians and Egyptians place two bridges of ships, held together by cables of flax and papyrus. A storm destroyed the bridges, but Xerxes ordered the workers to replace them. For seven days and nights his soldiers marched across the bridges. On the way to Athens, Xerxes found a small force of Greek soldiers holding the narrow pass of Thermopylae, which guarded the way to central Greece. The force was led by Leonidas, king of Sparta. Xerxes sent a message ordering the Greeks to deliver their arms. "Come and take them," replied Leonidas. For two days the Greeks' long spears held the pass. Then a Greek traitor told Xerxes of a roundabout path over the mountains. When Leonidas saw the enemy approaching from the rear, he dismissed his men except the 300 Spartans, who were bound, like himself, to conquer or die. Leonidas was one of the first to fall. Around their leader's body the gallant Spartans fought first with their swords, then with their hands, until they were slain to the last man. The Persians moved on to Attica and found it deserted. They set fire to Athens with flaming arrows. Xerxes' fleet held the Athenian ships bottled up between the coast of Attica and the island of Salamis. His ships outnumbered the Greek ships three to one. The Persians had expected an easy victory, but one after another their ships were sunk or crippled. Crowded into the narrow strait, the heavy Persian vessels moved with difficulty. The lighter Greek ships rowed out from a circular formation and rammed their prows into the clumsy enemy vessels. Two hundred Persian ships were sunk, others were captured, and the rest fled. Xerxes and his forces hastened back to Persia. Soon after, the rest of the Persian army was scattered at Plataea (479 BC). In the same year Xerxes' fleet was defeated at Mycale. Although a treaty was not signed until 30 years later, the threat of Persian domination was ended.

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The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). Although Sparta and Athens had fought as allies in the war against the Persians, they were very different. Athens, a fledgling democracy, could boast of being the commercial and cultural centre of Greece – an outward-looking, civilised society where power supposedly lay with the demos – the people. Sparta was a militaristic state ruled by the homoioi, a warrior élite, and propped up by a population of slaves. In 431 BC, Spartans invaded Athenian territory, and 300,000 Athenians crowded into the city for safety. A year later, a plague hit Athens, killing thousands of citizens, including its leader Pericles. The war lasted for 27 years and, for a long time, neither side could gain an advantage. Then Athens lost many of her best soldiers in a disastrous campaign in Sicily. In 404 BC, the Spartans cut off food supplies to the city, and forced the Athenians to surrender. The growth of Athenian power aroused the jealousy of Sparta and other independent Greek states and the discontent of Athens ' subject states. The result was a war that put an end to the power of Athens. Because the Spartans had the superior army, the Athenian leader Pericles employed a strategy that avoided land battles and relied instead on control of the sea. When the war broke out, most Athenians crowded into the city, leaving the outlying areas of Attica open to invasion. Sparta's strategy was to invade yearly, as it did from 431 to 425, except in 429 and 426, hoping to break Athens's will and to encourage Athens's subjects to rebel. This long struggle was called the Peloponnesian War. It was a contest between a great sea power, Athens and its empire, and a great land power, Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. The plan of Pericles in the beginning was not to fight at all, but to let Corinth and Sparta spend their money and energies while Athens conserved both. He had all the inhabitants of Attica come inside the walls of Athens and let their enemies ravage the plain year after year, while Athens, without losses, harried their lands by sea. However, the bubonic plague broke out in besieged and overcrowded Athens. It killed one fourth of the population, including Pericles, and left the rest without spirit and without a leader. The first phase of the Peloponnesian War ended with the outcome undecided. Almost before they knew it, the Athenians were whirled by the unscrupulous demagogue Alcibiades, a nephew of Pericles, into the second phase of the war (414-404 BC). Wishing for a brilliant military career, Alcibiades persuaded Athens to undertake a large-scale expedition against Syracuse, a Corinthian colony in Sicily. The Athenian armada was destroyed in 413 BC , and the captives were sold into slavery. This disaster sealed the fate of Athens. The allied Aegean cities that had remained faithful now deserted to Sparta, and the Spartan armies laid Athens under siege. In 405 BC the whole remaining Athenian fleet of 180 triremes was captured in the Hellespont at the battle of Aegospotami. Besieged by land and powerless by sea, Athens could neither raise grain nor import it, and in 404 BC its empire came to an end. The fortifications and long walls connecting Athens with Piraeus were destroyed, and Athens became a vassal of triumphant Sparta. Athens gained an advantage in the war in 425 by capturing a Spartan force on the island of Sphacteria, but this victory was canceled the next year when the Spartan Brasidas captured Amphipolis. The deaths (422) of Cleon and Brasidas, both of whom were prowar, led to a truce in 421. The peace was unstable because, although there were no significant hostilities, neither side fully complied with the terms of the agreement. In 415, a year after destroying the inoffensive island-state of Melos, Athens attempted to conquer Syracuse, largely at the urging of Alcibiades. The expedition ended disastrously in 413, and the debacle enticed Sparta into fighting once more. This last stage of the war is called "Decelean" from the name of a town in Attica, Decelea, which Sparta fortified--to the enormous cost of the Athenians. But the war was won on the sea. Aided by Persian resources, Sparta became a naval power. It encouraged the rebellion of Athens's allies; proceeding north from Chios to the Hellespont, Sparta gradually overcame the Athenian navy in spite of effective countermeasures taken by Alcibiades and others. Lysander won the decisive battle of Aegospotami in 405; Athens was blockaded and surrendered (April 404). Athens gave up its fleet, submitted to the destruction of its fortifications, and suffered the rule of an oligarchy, the Thirty Tyrants. The imperial city never recovered from the blow, although the Thirty Tyrants were deposed in 403. Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War is the principal source for the events of the war up to 411.

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Crimean War (1854-56) England entered this war between Russia and Turkey on the side of the Turks because Russia was seeking to control the Dardanelles and thus threaten England's Mediterranean sea routes. In the years 1854 to 1856, Britain fought its only European war between the ending of the Napoleonic conflict in 1815 and the opening of the Great War in 1914. Although eventually victorious,the British and their French allies pursued the war with little skill and it became a byword for poor generalship and logistical incompetence. The war began as a quarrel between Russian Orthodox monks and French Catholics over who had precedence at the holy Places in Jerusalem and Nazereth. Tempers frayed, violence resulted and lives were lost. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia demanded the right to protect the Christian shrines in the Holy Land and to back up his claims moved troops into Wallachia and Moldavia (present day Rumania) then part of the Ottoman Turkish empire. His fleet then destroyed a Turkish flotilla off Sinope in the Black Sea. In an early instance of propaganda, The Franco-Russian dispute over the holy places in Palestine was the immediate cause of the Crimean War. At the time Turkey controlled Palestine, Egypt, and large chunks of the Middle East. The Port (Moslem ruler of Turkey) had given privileges to protect the Christians and their churches in the Holy Land to many nations. That explains why so many different churches and nationals control various holy shrines in Israel to this very day. At the time France and England had gotten more specific commitments from the Port than other nations. France's interest in Palestine had been stimulated by a domestic crisis in 1840-1841. Napoleon II pushed it because he relied on the support of militant clerical groups in France. In 1850 Napoleon III requested the restoration to French Catholics of the capitulations of 1740. This meant that the French wanted the key to the Church of the Nativity in the old city of Jerusalem and the right to place a silver star on Christ's birthplace in Bethlehem. The French threatened military action if the Porte did not give way and the Russians threatened to occupy Moldavia and Wallachia if he did. The weak Porte did the best he could under the circumstances and gave a yes answer to foreign parties. This bit of typical Turkish duplicity was soon discovered. When it was discovered the French send the warship Charlemagne to Constantinople and a squadron of ship the Bay of Tripoli. In December 1852, having no other choice, the Porte gave in to Paris. It seems silly to us today that they argued over the keys to a church, but then it was not just any church. And besides, the religious issue was not the essential factor in the Franco-Russian dispute. France wanted to break down the continental alliance that had paralyzed her for half a century. n October 1853 Turkey took action by declaring war on Russia. The Anglo-French fleet now penetrated further into the straits and anchored in the Bosphorus. In November off the coast of Sinope in the Black Sea, meanwhile, the Turkish fleet was defeated by the Russians. Any settlement after this was impossible. The popular press in England and France became violent. In January 1854 the Anglo-French fleet sailed into the Black Sea. France, England and Turkey then made a formal alliance. When the Russian troops crossed the Danube, the Turkish war merged into a war against the European coalition. This was precisely the turn of events Nicholas had tried so hard to avoid. In March 1854 Britain and France declared war on Russia, in support of Turkey whose navy had suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea off Sinope. Lord Raglan, in command of the British force encamped at Varna on the Western shore of the Black Sea, received instructions from Her Majesty's Government "to concert measures for the Siege of Sebastopol, unless, with the information in your possession but at present unknown in this country, you should be decidedly of the opinion that it could not be undertaken with a reasonable prospect of success". Despite having little information about Russian strength in the Crimea, Lord Raglan felt it his duty to obey this instruction, and so preparations went ahead to invade the peninsula. In September, the British and French armies landed on a beach north of Sebastopol, and began the march southwards to their objective. The electric telegraph had been invented many years earlier, and already interconnected the cities of Europe. A telegraph station existed at Varna, and when the allies occupied Balaclava a submarine cable was laid across the Black Sea from Varna to Balaclava, a distance of 340 miles, thus connecting the Commanders-in-Chief with London and Paris. It was not always popular with the Military. The French Commander-in-Chief was continually addressed by his monarch, Napoleon III, who took a close interest in the campaign. The British Commander Lieutenant General Sir James Simpson, who had succeeded Lord Raglan, was pestered with minor administrative queries from Whitehall without an adequate staff to deal with them. 'The confounded telegraph has ruined everything" he commented. When the Danubian campaign of Gorchakov turned into a disaster, Lord Palmerston, the new Prime Minister of England (since February 1855) suggested the Crimean expedition, an attempt to hit Russia in the soft underbelly. But strong Russian resistance at the Savastopol naval base came as a shock to the Allies. Total Russian losses in the war, including victims of disease, amount to 600,000. This was a loss the government could hardly sustain. Nicholas and his ultra-conservative policies were held to be responsible for the formation of the anti-Russian coalition which defeated them. The personal ambitions and irresponsible adventures of Nicholas, Napoleon, Palmerston, and Stratford also played a role in the disaster of the war. Unwise decisions at the very top were made consistently throughout the war. For Russia it meant that reforms were now unavoidable. By the end of the campaign, in September 1855, 21 miles of the cable had been laid, and eight telegraph offices were in circuit. The envelope date stamp commemorates the capture of Kerch on 25 May 1855. In order to prevent the allies from entering the straits of Kerch the Russians had erected powerful gun batteries on the Crimean shore of the straits. The allies decided to take the batteries by a 'coup de main', and this was successfully achieved by a combined British and French force, including the Highland Brigade Royal Marines, and some companies of the Rifle Brigade. Sebastopol finally fell to the allied armies on September 8th 1855, after savage fighting; this event being duly reported by the telegraph to London and Paris.The misunderstood order that lead to the suicidal Charge of the Light Brigade (by a brigade of light cavalry over open terrain against well-defended heavy artillery) was unfortunately symptomatic of the ineptness of the British command. The army's problems were made public by the first real war correspondent, William Russell of the London Times. (Other outrages included the inability of the supply corps to get food to starving soldiers six miles away.) The exposure lead to reform. As the enemy killed fewer British soldiers than starvation and cholera, so the gallantry of the Light Brigade was less consequential than the actions of Florence Nightingale, who reformed the way the hospitals were being run and invented the nursing profession. The coup de grace was delivered by the Austrian ultimatum, not the fall of Savastopol. Napoleon offered to help Russia secure "peace with honor," but Palmerston vigorously opposed such a move. Napoleon and Walewski supported Russia as much as they could in the Congress of Paris without intimidating and hurting the Anglo-French alliance. So Savastopol was exchanged for Kars. No big deal. A piece of southern Bessarabia was ceded to Moldavia to insure internal navigation of the Danube. The integrity of the Ottoman Porte was once more guaranteed. All promised not to interfere in Turkey. The Straits remained closed to warships. The Black Sea, in fact, was neutralized. Moldavia and Wallachia were put under Turkish suzerainty. The same fate awaited Serbia, with Ottoman troops allowed to garrison the territory. Russia, meanwhile, was forbidden to station troops on the Aland Islands. Britain, France, and Austria signed a special treaty to defend the Paris settlement by force, if necessary. There is little doubt that the whole affair had a definite anti-Russian flavor. It is no surprise, therefore, that Russia remained hostile to the settlement--and Britain, to some extent as well. In Russia the Paris Treaty gave rise to the chauvinistic Slavophile movement.

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The Wars of the Roses, 1455 to 1487, is the title generally given to the intermittent civil war fought over the throne of England between adherents of the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Both houses were branches of the Plantagenet royal house, tracing their descent from King Edward III. The name Wars of the Roses was not used at the time, but has its origins in the badges chosen by the two royal houses, a red rose for Lancaster and a white rose for York. The House of York, headed by the powerful and popular Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, challenged the fitness and legitimacy of the Lancastrian King Henry VI. The King was surrounded by unpopular regents and advisors who were blamed for mismanaging the government and poorly prosecuting the Hundred Years War in France, having lost nearly all of the land conquered by Henry V. Henry VI was a weak, ineffectual king, and he suffered from embarassing episodes of mental illness. By the 1450s many considered Henry incapable of rule. The short line of Lancastrian kings had already been plagued by questions of legitimacy, and the House of York believed they had a slightly stronger claim to the throne. Growing civil discontent, the abundance of feuding nobles with private armies, and corruption in Henry VI's court made the political climate ripe for civil war. When, in 1453, King Henry suffered the first of several bouts of mental illness, a Council of Regency was set up, headed by Richard, Duke of York, in the role of Lord Protector. Richard now began to press his claim to the throne with ever greater boldness. Henry's recovery in 1455 thwarted Richard's ambitions, and he was soon after driven from the royal court by Henry's queen, Margaret of Anjou. Since Henry was an innefectual leader, the powerful and aggresive Queen Margaret emerged as the de facto leader of the Lancastrian faction. Queen Margaret built up an alliance against Richard and conspired to reduce his assets. Richard resorted to armed hostilities in 1455 at the Battle of St Albans.
Opinions may vary as to when the Wars of the Roses began and ended, but the armed conflict was concentrated in the period 1455-1485. The antagonism between the two houses, however, originated with the overthrow of King Richard II of England by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, in 1399. Bolingbroke, crowned as Henry IV, had a poor claim to the throne and was tolerated as king only because Richard had been unpopular. Henry's heir, Henry V of England, was a great soldier and gained a firm hold on the reins of power but did not lack enemies. One of these was Richard, Earl of Cambridge, a son of Edmund of Langley and thus grandson of King Edward III of England. Cambridge was executed (1415) for treason at the start of the campaign leading up to the Battle of Agincourt. Cambridge's wife,
Anne Mortimer, also had a claim to the throne, being descended from Lionel of Antwerp, an older son of Edward III. Their son, Richard, Duke of York, grew up to challenge the feeble King Henry VI of England for the crown. At first appointed "Protector", he grew more ambitious and was at loggerheads with Henry's queen, Margaret of Anjou, especially after the birth of her son, Edward of Westminster.
Richard, Duke of York, led a small force toward London, and was met by Henry VI's forces at St Albans, north of London, on May 22, 1455. The relatively small Battle of St Albans was the first open conflict of the civil war. Richard's aim was ostensibly to remove "poor advisors" from King Henry's side. With his victory, the Duke of York regained his position as Protector, and was also promised the succession by Henry, thus disinheriting Prince Edward of Westminster, much to the disgust of Queen Margaret. After the Battle of St Albans attempts were made to achieve a permanent settlement of the grievances which had given rise to the conflict, and for a while the compromise of 1455 seemed to enjoy some success. However, the problems which had caused conflict soon re-emerged, particularly the issue of whether the Duke of York, or Henry and Margaret's son, Edward would succeed to the throne. Queen Margaret refused to accept any solution that would disinherit her son, and it became clear that she would only tolerate the situation for as long as the Duke of York and his allies retained the military ascendancy. In the years up to 1459 both sides continued to raise armed support, with the Queen introducing conscription for the first time in England. Hostilities resumed on September 23 1459 at the Battle of Blore Heath in Staffordshire, when a large Lancastrian army failed to prevent a Yorkist force under Lord Salisbury marching from Middleham Castle in Yorkshire and linking up with York at Ludlow Castle. The Battle of Northampton on July 10 1460 proved even more disastrous for the Lancastrian cause. A Yorkist army under Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick - "the Kingmaker", aided by treachery in the Lancastrian ranks, captured King Henry. Queen Margaret, however, managed to escape, and immediately began raising a new army in Wales and the north of England, moving her headquarters to York. She gained a major success at the Battle of Wakefield on December 301460, when the army of the Duke of York and the Earl of Salisbury was destroyed. Margaret ordered the beheading of the Duke of York and the Earl of Salisbury and the placing of their heads on the gates of the city of York. Margaret followed up with a victory at St Albans on 22 February 1461, at which she defeated the Yorkist forces of the Earl of Warwick and recaptured her husband. Lancastrian success proved to be illusory, however, since the Duke of York's claim to the throne was immediately taken forward by his eldest son, Edward, an outstanding warrior who prevailed over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton in 1461 to become King Edward IV of England. With Margaret fleeing the country, Edward was able to rule in relative peace for ten years. There were two Lancastrian revolts in 1464 and twice the houses of York and Lancaster clashed; once at the Battle of Hedgeley Moor on the 25 April and once at the Battle of Hexham, soon after on 15 May 1464. Both revolts were put down by Lord Montagu. However, Edward's mentor, the powerful Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick - "the Kingmaker" - changed sides after being slighted by the young king, and transferred his allegiance to Henry VI's queen, Margaret of Anjou, triumphing over Edward at the Battle of Edgecote Moor on July 26, 1469, and restoring Henry briefly to the throne in 1470. Warwick's success was short-lived. With assistance from Burgundy, Edward returned and defeated Warwick at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. The remaining Lancastrian forces were destroyed at the Battle of Tewkesbury and Edward of Lancaster, the Lancastrian heir to the throne was killed. Henry VI was murdered shortly afterwards (14 May 1471), to strengthen the Yorkist hold on the throne. Peace was restored for the remainder of Edward's reign, but the Yorkist king died suddenly, in 1483, when his heir, Edward V, was a mere 12-year-old boy. Edward IV's brother, Richard III took charge of both the boy king and his younger brother, keeping them "protected" in the Tower of London. Having secured the boys, Richard then alleged that Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had been illegal, and that the two boys were therefore illegitimate. The two Princes in the Tower soon "disappeared", (believed murdered), and Parliament gave the throne to Richard III. Richard was the finest general on the Yorkist side, and so many accepted him as a ruler better able to keep the Yorkists in power than a boy who would have to rule through a committee of regents. Lancastrian hopes, on the other hand, now centred on Henry Tudor, whose father, Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, had been an illegitimate half-brother of Henry VI. It was through his mother, however, Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of Edward III, that Henry's claim to the throne rested, but it was derived from a grandson of Edward III's who was also illegitimate. Henry Tudor's forces defeated Richard's at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485
and Henry Tudor became King Henry VII of England. Henry then strengthened his position by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, and the best surviving Yorkist claimant. He thus reunited the two royal houses, merging the rival symbols of the red and white roses into the new emblem of the red and white Tudor Rose. Henry shored up his position by executing all other possible claimants whenever he could lay hands on them, a policy his son Henry VIII continued. Many historians would consider the accession of Henry VII to mark the end of the Wars of the Roses. However some would argue that the Wars of the Roses concluded only with the Battle of Stoke in 1487, which arose from the appearance of a pretender to the throne, a boy named Lambert Simnel who bore a close physical resemblance to the young Earl of Warwick, the best surviving male claimant of he House of York. (The plan was doomed from the start, because the young earl was still alive and in King Henry's custody, so no one could seriously doubt Simnel was an imposter.) It was at the Battle of Stoke that Henry defeated forces led by John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln - who had been named by Richard III as his heir, but had been reconciled with Henry after Bosworth - thus effectively removing the remaining Yorkist opposition. Simnel was pardoned for his part in the rebellion and sent to work in the royal kitchens.

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The Battle of Blenheim August 13, 1704 was a major battle in the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-14. The War of the Spanish Succession, also known as Marlborough's Wars (1702-13), fought in Europe and on the Mediterranean, were the last and the bloodiest of the Wars between England and France under Louis XIV, and the first in which Britain played a major military role in European military affairs. During the War Marlborough waged ten successful campaigns, besieged over thirty towns, and never lost a battle or a skirmish. After his successes in the Netherlands, the Bavarians and the French threatened Vienna and the Austrians, and Marlborough, a master of tactics and strategy, marched 250 miles across Germany and confronted the French army at Blenheim in 1704, destroying two thirds of it and capturing Marshall Tallard, its commander. A French and Bavarian army, under Count Camille de Tallard and Maximilian II Emanuel, elector of Bavaria, were advancing on the Austrian capital of Vienna. To counter this threat, the Austrian commander Prince Eugene of Savoy moved north and responding to appeals from Vienna, which was threatened by French and Bavarian forces, his English allies under John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough marched his army south from the Netherlands, 250 miles across Germany to Bavaria and joined forces with the Austrians. At Blenheim their combined army , then encountered their opponents at the small Bavarian village of Blenheim, near Höchstadt, Germany, in the district of Swabia, on the left bank of the Danube, overwhelmed a Franco-Bavarian force under Marshals Tallard and Marsin and the elector of Bavaria. The battle was decisive in Austrian and English favour, and the French were thrown back across the Rhine. Bavaria was knocked out of the war and occupied, and the French allies of Savoy and Portugal promptly changed sides. The allied army had 52,000 men. Marlborough was in the center, Eugene on the right, and a third group was on the left up against the Danube River. The French and Bavarians numbered some 60,000. The battle opened with the allied left attacking the French right twice and being driven back, while the French left attacked Eugene's forces on the right, which held their ground. As the French center was weakened by the need to reinforce the engaged flanks, Marlborough attacked and routed it. Wheeling left he rolled up the flank of the French right, driving many into the river and removing them from the battle. Savoy's troops then cleaned up the remaining adversaries on his side. French casualties were approximately 30,000, split evenly between those taken prisoner and those who were wounded or killed. The allies suffered about 12,000 casualties. For the first time in two generations the French suffered a crushing defeat, and the results were immediate and far-reaching. Bavaria was conquered and Vienna saved. The territorial ambitions of Louis XIV beyond the Rhine were checked, and France was placed on the defensive. In consideration of his military services ai~d especially his decisive victory, a princely mansion was erected by parliament and bestowed by Queen Anne on Churchill the duke of Marlborough near Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England, and was named Blenheim Palace after this place. A direct descendant, Sir Winston Churchill was born in the Palace in 1874 and went on to become one of Britain's greatest leaders. Sir Winston Churchill drew strength and inspiration from the example of his ancestor John Churchill all his life - and particularly during World War II.
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1650-1722,  English general and statesman, one of the greatest military commanders in history. Under James II he crushed the rebellion (1685) of the duke of Monmouth. During the Glorious Revolution he supported William III against James II but later (1692-98) fell into William's disfavour. Marlborough's power peaked in the reign of Queen Anne. Created duke (1702), he was involved in many victories in the War of the Spanish Succession, including Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709). Politically he favoured the Whigs during the war; when they fell he was dismissed (1711). On the accession of George I in 1714, Marlborough resumed chief command of the army. His wife, Sarah Churchill, duchess of Marlborough, 1660-1744, was a favourite of Queen Anne. Born Sarah Jennings, she married John Churchill in 1677. She wielded great influence at Anne's court until they quarrelled in
1705. After her husband's death she supervised the building of Blenheim Palace.
Eugène of Savoy 1663-1736, Prince François Eugène of the house of Savoy was a general in the service of the Holy Roman Empire. He is
regarded as one of the great military commanders of the modern age. He was a leading participant in the War of the Spanish Succession, and he and the Duke of Marlborough won the great battle of Blenheim (1704). He also fought the Turks and for Austria in the War of the Polish Succession. He had been born in Paris in 1663 and brought up at the French Court; his mother was the niece of the famous Cardinal Mazarin.  He first saw war at the age of twenty, when the Turks were besieging Vienna; and the bare record of his career bespoke his military talent: colonel at twenty, major-general at twenty-one, general of cavalry at twenty-six.  A crushing victory over the Turks at the Battle of Zenta in 1697 first established his European reputation.

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