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Battles won by much weaker side

Battles won by much weaker side


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I'm interested in battles that were won by much weaker side or even lost by it, but for example making the stronger side to keep fight against this weaker force and thus providing it strategic victory. This might be by high morale, skills of the defending commander (of course also brave attacks of the weaker side are also accepted) or -- last not least -- just luck. I would like not to take into account battles, where "weaker" side was equipped in some devastating weapon, say two tanks against million of spear-men, so eg. conquest of Peru (ca. 1520-1530) with Spanish having muskets and horses is not accepted.

I'm also not interested in heroic suicides that were clueless and achieve nothing but great remembrance in national poetry (like Massada (ca. 72) or both Warsaw Uprisings (1943 and 1944)).

From my first research, the most known are:

  • Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC), where Spartans kept resistance against much larger Persian army, being defeated eventually, but allowing other Greek forces to prepare to fight,
  • Battle of Crécy (1346) and similar battle of Agincourt (1415) where English forces, being outnumbered ca. 2:1, won with minimal losses, having better weaponry and combined with terrain advantages,
  • siege of Rhodes (1480) where Knights Hospitaller stood to much larger Ottoman army, being outnumbered at least 10 times,
  • Battle of Kircholm (1605) where outnumbered Polish hussars (ca. 3000) destroyed Swedish forces (11000), having minimal losses,
  • Rorke's Drift (1879), where the weaker side was better armed than stronger one, but in this case it was also high morale of defenders and use of available terrain,
  • East Africa Campaign (WW1) where combined German and native (askaris) troops managed to keep attention of large Allied forces during the war, surrendering few days after the Armistice, being the German longest-fighting unit,
  • cruisers of German Empire, like Emden and Dresden (in WW1 too), binding some part of Royal Navy for long time.

These pointed by me are the most popular in culture. Are there any less known, but in which the weaker side should be honored for its bravery?


This is kind of a tough question because to some degree the side which wins a battle is kind of by definition the "stronger" side. That being said, a couple examples from the American Civil War:

  • Chancellorsville: Probably the best example of the bunch. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had a force of around 60,000 opposing a Union force led by "Fighting Joe" Hooker (120,000). Amazingly, in the face of these long odds Lee chose to split his army in two, having somewhere around 35k of his troops sit in the front and withstand a Union attack while the other ~25k went through a purportedly impenetrable wilderness and caught the flank of the opponents. That group, led by Stonewall Jackson, succeeded in "crossing the T", as they call it in the navy, and routed a huge chunk of the Union army.

  • Fredericksburg: This one wasn't quite as lopsided as Chancellorsville, but it was still a clear Confederate victory in the face of long odds at the end of the day. This time the Union army was led by Ambrose Burnside, a man probably best remembered for his facial hair (his name is the origin of the term "sideburns"). Burnside basically ran his men up a hill at the entrenched Confederate forces, suffering heavy casualties and gaining no ground at the end of the day.

  • Cold Harbor: This came a good year after the Fredericksburg/Chancellorsville debacles (also, Second Bull Run is in there, was also a Confederate victory against long odds, and I'm only leaving it out due to the Rule of Three), and the Union commander in chief was overall a lot better at his job. This was Ulysses S. Grant, opposed as ever by Robert E. Lee. Grant did much of what Burnside did at Fredericksburg, though, attempting a series of frontal assaults on entrenched positions which were bloodily repulsed. There was some method to this madness, as Grant knew that even if he lost troops at a 2:1 rate vs. Lee he'd eventually win, but in this battle casualties were worse than 3:1.


Taking this to mean numerical inferiority and restricting to cases where the weaker side won, these are the biggest disparities I can find.

The easiest way to win while significantly outnumbered is to defend a strong fortress in a siege, as shown in Eger where 2100 to 2300 Hungarian defenders held out against an Ottoman force with 35000 to 40000 men.

In field battles, armies have to rely on superior arms, training and tactics. In the Battle of Watling Street, 10000 professional Roman soldiers crushed Boudica's rabble of 100000 or 230000 (depending on the source). Without the advantage of substantially superior arms, the 30000 men under Xiang Yu surprised and defeated Liu Bang's force of 560000 to recapture Pengcheng.

Amongst naval battles, Phormio's Athenian fleet of 20 defeated a Peloponnesian fleet of 77 at the Battle of Naupactus. This was particularly impressive given they were already down to 11 ships before inflicting any damage on the Peoponnesians.


A prime example would be the Siege of Malta by the Ottomans in 1565. The Ottomans outnumbered the defenders 5 to 1, according to the numbers given by Francisco Balbi di Correggio, but did not succeed in conquering the island.


The Battle of Strasbourg when the Roman army of Julian the Apostate fought the Alamanni in 357 AD. Outnumbered 2-1 the Roman army nevertheless routed their opposing army with minimal losses.

Also most of Belisarius' battles were fought against vastly larger forces.


There are two episodes from WW2 in Russia come to mind.

Panfilov's Twenty-Eight Guardsmen

This is an episode every school kid from former Soviet Union studied in history course. The story is that 28 soldiers were able to withstand the attack of German tanks of Panzer Division while destroying many tanks and a lot of infantry. Almost all of them perished. That delay of German advance to Moscow outskirts provided much needed time for organizing of counter offensive that proved to be very successful.

Defense of Brest Fortress

This is another case of long-standing resistance against far more superior enemy forces right on the border between USSR and Germany (Poland and Belorussia's border presently). Brest's fortress was able to fight for several weeks after the war began and was doing so in isolation when the front line moved hundreds kilometers to the East. Strategic gain of that event was not immediate though for the war lasted for 4 years after that.


How can you discount the "2 tanks vs. 1 million spearmen" and still take into account Rorke's Drift? A breech-loaded rifle is a very massive technological improvement over a spear, regardless of whether or not you're in favorable terrain (which the missionary station can HARDLY be counted as one)

In anycase, most of Britain's battles fit into your 'category', as vague as it is. The reason being that soldiery was seen as a punishment in Britain, so usually only the dregs of society were thrown in, where they bonded over their common backgrounds and harsh punishment. A few of their achievements come to mind:

  1. Battle of the Dunes 1658 (Turenne's right was mostly uncommitted, most of the action was done by the English against Spanish veterans)
  2. Battle of Minden 1759 (Six British and 2 Hannoverian regiments against the entire French left wing)
  3. Battle of Assaye 1803
  4. Battle of Plassey 1757
  5. Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt

Salamis, Tigranocertae, Pharsalus.


Asymmetric warfare

Asymmetric warfare (or asymmetric engagement) is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly. This is typically a war between a standing, professional army and an insurgency or resistance movement militias who often have status of unlawful combatants.

Asymmetric warfare can describe a conflict in which two belligerents' resources differ in essence and, in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other's characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the weaker combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality of their forces and equipment. [1] Such strategies may not necessarily be militarized. [2] This is, in contrast, to symmetric warfare, where two powers have comparable military power and resources and rely on tactics that are similar overall, differing only in details and execution.

Asymmetric warfare is a form of irregular warfare – violent conflict between a formal military and an informal, less equipped and supported, undermanned but resilient and motivated opponent. The term is frequently used to describe what is also called guerrilla warfare, insurgency, counterinsurgency, rebellion, terrorism, and counterterrorism.


Battle of the Bulge

The Ardennes Offensive - a last-ditch effort By late 1944, Germany was unmistakably losing the war. The Soviet Red Army was closing in on the Eastern front, while strategic Allied bombing was wreaking havoc on German cities. The Italian peninsula had been captured and liberated, and the Allied armies were advancing rapidly through France from west to east. Therefore, Adolph Hitler knew that the end was near if something could not be done to slow the Allies' advance. After the triumphant breach of Normandy in August 1944, the Allies rushed across France with amazing speed. But before they could cross the Rhine River, they would have to face a last-stand German onslaught. The Battle of the Bulge, so named because of the westward bulging shape of the battleground on a map, lasted from mid-December 1944 to the end of January 1945. It was the largest land battle of World War II in which the United States directly participated. More than a million men fought in the battle — 600,000 Germans, 500,000 Americans, and 55,000 British. The battle was fought on an 80-mile front running from southern Belgium through the Ardennes Forest, and down to Ettelbruck in the middle of Luxembourg. Hitler's real target was the British-American alliance, and he saw the battle as a Juggernaut to break apart and defeat the Allied forces. That "surprise attack" would supposedly divide British and American forces, leaving the way wide open for the Wehrmacht (German army) to swing north and seize the port of Antwerp. Thus they could cut off the main supply base for the Allied armies on the Western Front. Hitler believed that he could force the western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis' favor. He also believed that such factors as bad weather, bad terrain, and the Christmas holiday would help him catch the Allies by surprise. In other words, he anticipated it to be a decisive battle to win. After all, the Allies were very much inferior to the Germans as far as their military strength was concerned. At the battle's beginning, the U.S. Army was equipped with 80,000 men, 400 tanks, and 400 guns, while the Germans had 200,000 men, 600 tanks, and 1,900 guns. The night before the battle, Hitler sent in soldiers to infiltrate the front. Some were dropped by parachute, others came in driving captured American jeeps. Those German soldiers spoke fluent English and wore U.S. uniforms therefore they managed to spread confusion by giving false directions, changing road signs, and cutting telephone lines. The Battle of the Bulge began with a German attack on the morning of December 16, 1944. Under cover of heavy fog, 38 German divisions struck along a 50-mile front. The German army managed to push American forces back nearly to the Meuse River and surround the town of Bastogne in Belgium. At that time, when ordered to surrender Bastogne, Brig. General Anthony C. McAuliffe famously replied: "Nuts." That same day, reinforcements were sent by airdrop and Allied airplanes began their attack on German tanks. Lt. General George Patton's Third Army rescued the defenders of Bastogne. Allied leaders, including General Omar Bradley and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, were surprised by the force of the German attack. Much of the battle was affected by the weather. Great snowstorms were a big problem. Trucks had to be run every half hour to keep the oil in them from freezing. Weapons froze, so men urinated on them to thaw them. The temperature during January 1945 was the coldest on record, and casualties from exposure to the cold grew as large as the losses from fighting. The Germans attacked in white uniforms to blend in with the snow. The Malmedy Massacre. On December 17, 1944, halfway between the town of Malmedy and Ligneuville in Belgium, an American battalion was captured by an SS force. About 150 POWs were disarmed and sent to stand in a field. About 80 men were killed by gunfire, and their bodies were left where they fell. Many prisoners escaped into nearby woods. News spread quickly among Allied soldiers, and an order went out that all SS officers and paratroopers should be shot on sight. The Malmedy Massacre is regarded as the worst atrocity committed against American troops during the course of the war in Europe.* Counterattack On December 23, American forces began their first counterattack on the southern flank of the "Bulge." On January 1, 1945, the Germans launched two new operations in an attempt to keep the offensive going and create second fronts in Holland and northern France. The Luftwaffe (German air force) launched a major campaign against Allied airfields and succeeded in destroying or severely damaging more than 460 aircraft. The Luftwaffe also sustained an incredible number of losses — 277 planes. While the Allies recovered quickly from their losses, the operation left the Luftwaffe weaker than ever. After 20 days of fighting, American forces fell back, having sustained more than 11,000 casualties — but inflicting 23,000. On January 7, 1945, Hitler agreed with his staff to pull back most of his forces from the Ardennes, thus ending all offensive operations. On January 8, German troops withdrew from the tip of the "bulge." Their losses were critical. The last of the German reserves were gone, the Luftwaffe had been broken, and the German army in the west was being pushed back. Most importantly, the Eastern Front was now ripe for the taking by the Soviets. With the majority of its air power and men lost, Germany had few forces left to defend the Third Reich. Germany's final defeat loomed just a few months away. Casualty estimates from the battle vary widely. American casualties are listed as 70,000 to 81,000, British as 1,400, and German casualties at between 60,000 and 104,000. More than 100,000 German soldiers were taken prisoner. In addition, 800 tanks were lost on each side, and 1,000 German aircraft were destroyed.

*It is not known why the massacre happened — there is no record of an order by an SS officer. The shooting of POWs was common on the Eastern front, but rare on the Western front. American forces recaptured the site where the killings took place in mid-January and recovered the bodies of the murdered soldiers. After the war, the SS soldiers met justice in the controversial Malmedy Massacre Trial. Forty-two former SS officers were sentenced to death, although no death penalty was ever carried out. Most served sentences varying from 10 years to life imprisonment.


Contents

Shortly after the start of the Second Punic War, Hannibal crossed into Italy by traversing the Pyrenees and the Alps during the summer and early autumn of 218 BC. [4] He quickly won major victories over the Romans at Trebia and at Lake Trasimene. [5] [6] After these losses, the Romans appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as dictator to deal with the threat. [7] [8] Fabius used attrition warfare against Hannibal, cutting off his supply lines and avoiding pitched battles. These tactics proved unpopular with the Romans who, as they recovered from the shock of Hannibal's victories, began to question the wisdom of the Fabian strategy, which had given the Carthaginian army a chance to regroup. [9] The majority of Romans were eager to see a quick conclusion to the war. It was feared that, if Hannibal continued plundering Italy unopposed, Rome's allies might defect to the Carthaginian side for self-preservation. [10]

Therefore, when Fabius came to the end of his term, the Senate did not renew his dictatorial powers and command was given to consuls Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Marcus Atilius Regulus. [11] In 216 BC, when elections resumed, Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus were elected as consuls, placed in command of a newly raised army of unprecedented size and directed to engage Hannibal. [12] Polybius wrote:

The Senate determined to bring eight legions into the field, which had never been done at Rome before, each legion consisting of five thousand men besides allies. . Most of their wars are decided by one consul and two legions, with their quota of allies and they rarely employ all four at one time and on one service. But on this occasion, so great was the alarm and terror of what would happen, they resolved to bring not only four but eight legions into the field.

Estimates of Roman troop numbers Edit

Rome typically employed four legions each year, each consisting of 4,000 foot soldiers and 200 cavalry. [14] Per contemporary Roman sources, for the first time ever the Senate introduced eight legions, each consisting of 5,000 foot soldiers and 300 cavalry, with allied troops numbering the same number of foot soldiers but 900 cavalry per legion—more than triple the legion numbers. [15] Eight legions—some 40,000 Roman soldiers and an estimated 2,400 cavalry—formed the core of this massive new army. [16] Livy quotes one source stating the Romans added only 10,000 men to their usual army. [17] While no definitive number of Roman troops exists, all sources agree that the Carthaginians faced a considerably larger foe. [ citation needed ]

The two consuls were each assigned two of the four legions to command, unusually employing all four legions at once on the same assignment. However, the Senate feared a real threat, and deployed not just four legions to the field but all eight, including allies. [15] Ordinarily, each of the two consuls would command his own portion of the army, but since the two armies were combined into one, Roman law required them to alternate their command on a daily basis. The traditional account puts Varro in command on the day of the battle, and much of the blame for the defeat has been laid on his shoulders. [18] However, his low origins seem to be exaggerated in the sources, and Varro may have been made a scapegoat by the aristocratic establishment. [18] He lacked the powerful descendants that Paullus had descendants who were willing and able to protect his reputation—most notably, Paullus was the grandfather of Scipio Aemilianus, the patron of Polybius (one of the main sources of this history). [19]

In the spring of 216 BC Hannibal took the initiative and seized the large supply depot at Cannae, in the Apulian plain, placing himself between the Romans and their crucial source of supply. [20] As Polybius noted, the capture of Cannae "caused great commotion in the Roman army for it was not only the loss of the place and the stores in it that distressed them, but the fact that it commanded the surrounding district". [13] The consuls, resolving to confront Hannibal, marched southward in search of him. [21] After two days' march, they found him on the left bank of the river Aufidus, and encamped five miles (8 km) away. [21]

Varro, in command on the first day, is presented by contemporary sources as a man of reckless nature and hubris, who was determined to defeat Hannibal. As the Romans approached Cannae, some of Hannibal's light infantry and cavalry ambushed them. [22] Varro repelled the attack and continued slowly on his way to Cannae. [22] This victory, though essentially a mere skirmish with no lasting strategic value, greatly bolstered the confidence of the Roman army, perhaps leading to overconfidence on Varro's part. Paullus, however, was opposed to the engagement as it was taking shape. Unlike Varro, he was prudent and cautious, and he believed it was foolish to fight on open ground, despite the Romans' numerical strength. This was especially true since Hannibal held the advantage in cavalry (in both quality and quantity). Despite these misgivings, Paullus thought it unwise to withdraw the army after the initial success, and camped two-thirds of the army east of the river Aufidus, sending the remainder to fortify a position on the opposite side, one mile (2 km) away from the main camp. [23] The purpose of this second camp was to cover the foraging parties from the main camp and harass those of the enemy. [24]

The two armies stayed in their respective locations for two days. During the second day (August 1) Hannibal, aware that Varro would be in command the following day, left his camp and offered battle, but Paullus refused. [25] When his request was rejected, Hannibal, recognizing the importance of water from the Aufidus to the Roman troops, sent his cavalry to the smaller Roman camp to harass water-bearing soldiers that were found outside the camp fortifications. [25] According to Polybius, [13] Hannibal's cavalry boldly rode up to the edge of the Roman encampment, causing havoc and thoroughly disrupting the supply of water to the Roman camp. [26]

On the morning of the battle, as the forces drew up, a Carthaginian officer named Gisgo reportedly remarked to Hannibal that the size of the Roman army was astonishing. "There is one thing, Gisgo, yet more astonishing", Hannibal coolly replied, "which you take no notice of." He then explained, "In all those great numbers before us, there is not one man called Gisgo", provoking laughter that spread through the Carthaginian ranks. [27]

Authors like Appian and Livy inform that Hannibal sent a small contingent of 500–600 mercenaries to pretend to desert to the Roman side. Those men, Celtiberians according to Appian and Numidians according to Livy, would have handed their weapons to the Romans as a sign of good will while retaining hidden short swords in their clothes. Once the battle started, following Hannibal's plans, the mercenaries would have attacked, stealing weapons and shields from their victims and causing chaos and confusion in the Roman camp. However, the veracity of this part is disputed. [28]

Date Edit

Ancient historians rarely provide the precise dates for the events they describe for example, Livy provides no explicit dates for any of the battles of the Second Punic War. However, Macrobius, citing the Roman annalist Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius, states the battle was fought ante diem iiii nones Sextilis, or 2 August. [29]

The months of the pre-Julian Roman calendar are known not to correspond to its namesake Julian day for example, Livy records a lunar eclipse in 168 BC as occurring on 4 September, when astronomical calculations show it happened on Julian day 21 June of that year. [30] This discrepancy arose from the failure of the pontifices to properly perform intercalations, either by accident or for political advantage. A review of the evidence led P.S. Derow to identify the equivalent Julian date would be 1 July 216 BC other authorities have suggested other Julian dates. [31]

Armies Edit

Figures for troops involved in ancient battles are often unreliable, and Cannae is no exception. They should be treated with caution, especially those for the Carthaginian side. [32] The Carthaginian army was a combination of warriors from numerous regions, and may have numbered between 40,000–50,000. Their infantry comprised an estimated 8,000 Libyans, 5,500 Gaetulian, 16,000 Gauls, mainly Boii and Insubres (8,000 were left at camp the day of battle) and 8,000 of several tribes of Hispania, including Iberians, Celtiberians and Lusitanians. [33] Hannibal's cavalry also came from diverse backgrounds. He commanded 4,000 Numidian, 2,000 Iberian peninsular, 4,000 Gallic and 450 Libyan-Phoenician cavalry. Finally, Hannibal had an auxiliary skirmisher contingent consisting of 1,000–2,000 Balearic slingers and 6,000 mixed-nationality javelinmen, possibly including Lusitanians among them. [34] The uniting factor for the Carthaginian army was the personal tie each group had with Hannibal. [35] [36]

Equipment Edit

Rome's forces used typical Roman equipment including pila (heavy javelins) and hastae (thrusting spears) as weapons as well as traditional bronze helmets, bodyshields and body armor. [37] On the other hand, the Carthaginian army used a variety of equipment. The Iberians fought with falcatas, while Celtiberians and Lusitanians would use straight gladii, [38] as well as javelins and various types of spears. [39] For defense, warriors from Hispania carried large oval shields and often wore a crested helmet made of animal sinews. [39] Most Gallic foot warriors likely had no protection other than large shields, and the typical Gallic weapon was a long slashing sword. [40] The Numidian cavalry were very lightly equipped, lacking saddles and bridles for their horses, and wearing no armor but carrying small shields, javelins and possibly a knife or a longer blade. [39] In contrast, the heavier Iberian peninsular cavalry carried round shields, swords, javelins and thrusting spears. [41] The similarly heavy Gallic cavalry added the four-horned saddle, with the wealthier ones being clad in mail, a Gallic invention. [39] Skirmishers acting as light infantry carried either slings or javelins. The Balearic slingers, who were famous for their accuracy, carried short, medium and long slings used to cast stones or bullets. They may have carried a small shield or simple leather pelt on their arms, but this is uncertain. Hannibal himself, like many Roman officers on the opposing side, might have been wearing a bronze musculata and carrying a falcata as his personal sidearm. [42]

The equipment of the Libyan line infantry has been much debated. Duncan Head has argued in favor of short stabbing spears. [43] Polybius states that the Libyans fought with equipment taken from previously defeated Romans. It is unclear whether he meant only shields and armor or offensive weapons as well, [44] though a general reading suggests he meant the whole panoply of arms and armor, and even tactical organization. Apart from his description of the battle itself, when later discussing the subject of the Roman legion versus the Greek phalanx, Polybius says that ". against Hannibal, the defeats they suffered had nothing to do with weapons or formations" because "Hannibal himself. discarded the equipment with which he had started out [and] armed his troops with Roman weapons". [40] Gregory Daly is inclined to the view that Libyan infantry would have copied the Iberian use of the sword during their fighting there and so were armed similarly to the Romans. [45] Peter Connolly has argued that they were armed as a pike phalanx. [46] This has been disputed by Head, because Plutarch states they carried spears shorter than the Roman triarii [43] and by Daly because they could not have carried an unwieldy pike at the same time as a heavy Roman-style shield. [44]

Tactical deployment Edit

The conventional deployment for armies of the time was placement of infantry in the center, with the cavalry in two flanking wings. The Romans followed this convention fairly closely, but chose extra depth rather than breadth for the infantry in hopes of breaking quickly through the center of Hannibal's line. [47] Varro knew how the Roman infantry had managed to penetrate Hannibal's center at Trebia, and he planned to recreate this on an even greater scale. [48] The principes were stationed immediately behind the hastati, ready to push forward at first contact to ensure the Romans presented a unified front. As Polybius wrote, "the maniples were nearer each other, or the intervals were decreased . . . and the maniples showed more depth than front". [13] [49] Even though they outnumbered the Carthaginians, this depth-oriented deployment meant that the Roman lines had a front of roughly equal size to their numerically inferior opponents. The typical style of ancient warfare was to continuously pour infantry into the center and attempt to overpower the enemy. Hannibal understood that the Romans fought their battles like this, and he took his outnumbered army and strategically placed them around the enemy to win a tactical victory. [50]

Hannibal had deployed his forces based on the particular fighting qualities of each unit, taking into consideration both their strengths and weaknesses. [51] This aspect of Hannibal's leadership was highlighted in the use of a Spanish unit, the Balearic slingers, whom he placed behind the infantry to hurl their ranged missiles into the masses of Roman troops. [39] He placed his Iberians or Celtiberians and Gauls in the middle, alternating the ethnic composition between Spaniards and Gauls across the front line, with himself at the front and center alongside his brother Mago. [52] Roman sources claim their placement was chosen for being the most expendable and unreliable troops, but modern reflections believe those forces were actually selected for their battle-hardening to carry the weight of the Punic side, as they were tasked with the controlled retreat that ultimately made possible Hannibal's pincer movement. [53] Meanwhile, infantry from Punic Africa was on the wings at the very edge of his infantry line. This infantry would remain cohesive and attack the Roman flanks. [54]

Hasdrubal led the Spanish and Gallic cavalry on the left (south near the river Aufidus) of the Carthaginian army. [55] By placing the flank of his army on the Aufidus, Hannibal prevented this flank from being overlapped by the more numerous Romans. Hasdrubal was given 6,000–7,000 cavalry, and Hanno had 3,000–4,000 Numidians on the right. [56] [55]

Hannibal intended that his cavalry, comprising mainly medium Hispanic cavalry and Numidian light horse, and positioned on the flanks, would defeat the weaker Roman cavalry and swing around to attack the Roman infantry from the rear as it pressed upon Hannibal's weakened center. [57] His veteran African troops would then press in from the flanks at the crucial moment, and encircle the overextended Romans. [55]

The Romans were in front of the hill leading to Cannae and hemmed in on their right flank by the river Aufidus, so that their left flank was the only viable means of retreat. [58] In addition, the Carthaginian forces had maneuvered so that the Romans would face east. Not only would the morning sun shine low into the Romans' eyes, but the southeasterly winds would blow sand and dust into their faces as they approached the battlefield. [49] Hannibal's deployment of his army, based on his perception of the terrain and understanding of the capabilities of his troops, proved decisive.

Battle Edit

As the armies advanced on one another, Hannibal gradually extended the center of his line, as Polybius described: "After thus drawing up his whole army in a straight line, he took the central companies of Hispanics and Celts and advanced with them, keeping the rest of them in contact with these companies, but gradually falling off, so as to produce a crescent-shaped formation, the line of the flanking companies growing thinner as it was prolonged, his object being to employ the Africans as a reserve force and to begin the action with the Hispanics and Celts." Polybius described the weak Carthaginian center as deployed in a crescent, curving out toward the Romans in the middle with the African troops on their flanks in echelon formation. [13] It is believed that the purpose of this formation was to break the forward momentum of the Roman infantry, and delay its advance before other developments allowed Hannibal to deploy his African infantry most effectively. [59] While the majority of historians feel that Hannibal's action was deliberate, some have called this account fanciful, and claim that the actions of the day represent either the natural curvature that occurs when a broad front of infantry marches forward, or the bending back of the Carthaginian center from the shock action of meeting the heavily massed Roman center. [60]

The battle began with a fierce cavalry engagement on the flanks. [61] Polybius described many of the Hispanic and Celtic horsemen facing the Romans dismounting due to the lack of space to fight on horseback, and called the struggle "barbaric" in the sense of its utter brutality. [62] When the Carthaginian cavalry got the upper hand, they cut down their Roman opponents without giving quarter. [63] [13] On the other flank the Numidians engaged in a way that merely kept the Roman allied cavalry occupied. [63] Hasdrubal kept his victorious Hispanic and Gallic cavalry under control and did not chase the retreating Roman right wing. [63] Instead, he led them to the other side of the field to attack the socii cavalry still fighting the Numidians. [64] Assailed from both sides, the allied cavalry broke before Hasdrubal could charge into contact and the Numidians pursued them off the field. [13] [64]

While the Carthaginian cavalry were in the process of defeating the Roman horsemen, the masses of infantry on both sides advanced towards each other in the center of the field. The wind from the east blew dust in the Romans' faces and obscured their vision. While the wind was not a major factor, the dust that both armies created would have been potentially debilitating to sight. [49] Although it made seeing difficult, troops would still have been able to see others in the vicinity. The dust, however, was not the only psychological factor involved in battle. Because of the somewhat distant battle location, both sides were forced to fight on little sleep. Another Roman disadvantage was thirst caused by Hannibal's attack on the Roman encampment during the previous day. Furthermore, the massive number of troops would have led to an overwhelming amount of background noise. All of these psychological factors made battle especially difficult for the infantrymen. [65]

The light infantry on both sides engaged in indecisive skirmishing, inflicting few casualties and quickly withdrawing through the ranks of their heavy infantry. [66] As the Roman heavy infantry attacked, Hannibal stood with his men in the weak center and held them together in a controlled retreat. The crescent of Hispanic and Gallic troops buckled inwards as they gradually withdrew step by step. Knowing the superiority of the Roman infantry, Hannibal had instructed his infantry to withdraw deliberately, creating an even tighter semicircle around the attacking Roman forces. By doing so, he had turned the strength of the Roman infantry into a weakness. While the front ranks were gradually advancing, the bulk of the Roman troops began to lose their cohesion, as troops from the reserve lines advanced into the growing gaps. [67] Soon they were compacted together so closely that they had little space to wield their weapons. In pressing so far forward in their desire to destroy the retreating and seemingly collapsing line of Hispanic and Gallic troops, the Romans had ignored (possibly due to the dust) the African troops that stood uncommitted on the projecting ends of this now-reversed crescent. [60] This also gave the Carthaginian cavalry time to drive the Roman cavalry off on both flanks and attack the Roman center in the rear. The Roman infantry, now stripped of protection on both its flanks, formed a wedge that drove deeper and deeper into the Carthaginian semicircle, driving itself into an alley formed by the African infantry on the wings. [68] At this decisive point, Hannibal ordered his African infantry to turn inwards and advance against the Roman flanks, creating an encirclement in one of the earliest known examples of a pincer movement. [69]

When the Carthaginian cavalry attacked the Romans in the rear and the African flanking echelons assailed them on their right and left, the advance of the Roman infantry was brought to an abrupt halt. [70] The Romans were henceforth enclosed in a pocket with no means of escape. [71] The Carthaginians created a wall and began to systematically massacre them. Polybius wrote: "as their outer ranks were continually cut down, and the survivors forced to pull back and huddle together, they were finally all killed where they stood." [72]

As Livy described, "So many thousands of Romans were dying. Some, whom their wounds, pinched by the morning cold, had roused, as they were rising up, covered with blood, from the midst of the heaps of slain, were overpowered by the enemy. Some were found with their heads plunged into the earth, which they had excavated having thus, as it appeared, made pits for themselves, and having suffocated themselves." [73] Victor Davis Hanson claims that nearly six hundred legionaries were slaughtered each minute until darkness brought an end to the bloodletting. [74] Only 14,000 Roman troops managed to escape (including Scipio Africanus, who managed to escape the encirclement with 500 men), most of whom had cut their way through to the nearby town of Canusium.

Casualties Edit

Roman Edit

Polybius writes that of the Roman and allied infantry, 70,000 were killed, 10,000 captured, and "perhaps" 3,000 survived. He also reports that of the 6,000 Roman and allied cavalry, only 370 survived. [75]

Livy wrote, "Forty-five thousand and five hundred foot, two thousand seven hundred horse, there being an equal number of citizens and allies, are said to have been slain." [76] He also reports that 3,000 Roman and allied infantry and 1,500 Roman and allied cavalry were taken prisoner by the Carthaginians. [76] Another 2,000 Roman fugitives were rounded up at the unfortified village of Cannae by Carthaginian cavalry commanded by Carthalo, 7,000 fell prisoner in the smaller Roman camp and 5,800 in the larger. [76] Although Livy does not cite his source by name, it is likely to have been Quintus Fabius Pictor, a Roman historian who fought in and wrote on the Second Punic War. It is Pictor whom Livy names when reporting the casualties at the Battle of Trebia. [77] In addition to the consul Paullus, Livy goes on to record that among the dead were 2 quaestors, 29 of the 48 military tribunes (some of consular rank, including the consul of the previous year, Gnaeus Servilius Geminus, and the former Magister equitum, Marcus Minucius Rufus), and 80 "senators or men who had held offices which would have given them the right to be elected to the Senate". [76]

Later Roman and Greco-Roman historians largely follow Livy's figures. Appian gave 50,000 killed and "a great many" taken prisoner. [78] Plutarch agreed, "50,000 Romans fell in that battle. 4,000 were taken alive". [79] Quintilian: "60,000 men were slain by Hannibal at Cannae". [80] Eutropius: "20 officers of consular and praetorian rank, 30 senators, and 300 others of noble descent, were taken or slain, as well as 40,000-foot-soldiers, and 3,500 horse". [81]

Some modern historians, while rejecting Polybius's figure as flawed, are willing to accept Livy's figure. [82] Other historians have come up with far lower estimates. In 1891, Cantalupi proposed Roman losses of 10,500 to 16,000. [83] Samuels in 1990 also regarded Livy's figure as far too high, on the grounds that the cavalry would have been inadequate to prevent the Roman infantry escaping to the rear. He doubts that Hannibal even wanted a high death toll, as much of the army consisted of Italians whom Hannibal hoped to win as allies. [84]

Carthaginian Edit

Livy recorded Hannibal's losses at "about 8,000 of his bravest men." [85] Polybius reports 5,700 dead: 4,000 Gauls, 1,500 Spanish and Africans, and 200 cavalry. [75]

Never when the city was in safety was there so great a panic and confusion within the walls of Rome. I shall therefore shrink from the task, and not attempt to relate what in describing I must make less than the reality. The consul and his army having been lost at the Trasimenus the year before, it was not one wound upon another which was announced, but a multiplied disaster, the loss of two consular armies, together with the two consuls: and that now there was neither any Roman camp, nor general nor soldiery: that Apulia and Samnium, and now almost the whole of Italy, were in the possession of Hannibal. No other nation surely would not have been overwhelmed by such an accumulation of misfortune.

For a brief period, the Romans were in complete disarray. Their best armies in the peninsula were destroyed, the few remnants severely demoralized, and the only remaining consul (Varro) completely discredited. As the story goes, Rome declared a national day of mourning as there was not a single person who was not either related to or acquainted with a person who had died. The Romans became so desperate that they resorted to human sacrifice, twice burying people alive at the Forum of Rome and abandoning an oversized baby in the Adriatic Sea (perhaps one of the last instances of human sacrifices by the Romans, apart from public executions of defeated enemies dedicated to Mars). [87]

Within just three campaign seasons (20 months), Rome had lost one-fifth (150,000) of the entire population of male citizens over 17 years of age. [88] Furthermore, the morale effect of this victory was such that most of southern Italy joined Hannibal's cause. After Cannae, the Hellenistic southern provinces of Arpi, Salapia, Herdonia, and Uzentum, including the cities of Capua and Tarentum (two of the largest city-states in Italy) revoked their allegiance to Rome and pledged their loyalty to Hannibal. As Livy noted, "How much more serious was the defeat of Cannae than those which preceded it, can be seen by the behavior of Rome's allies before that fateful day, their loyalty remained unshaken, now it began to waver for the simple reason that they despaired of Roman power." [89] Following the battle, Sicily‘s Greek cities rose in revolt against Roman political control, while the Macedonian king, Philip V, pledged his support to Hannibal, initiating the First Macedonian War against Rome. Hannibal also secured an alliance with the new King Hieronymus of Syracuse, the only independent king left in Sicily [ citation needed ] .

Livy illustrates the state of Roman morale with two vivid anecdotes. The first concerns Hannibal's brother Mago, who had returned to Carthage with news of the victory. He reported to their senate that in several engagements with the Romans Hannibal had killed over 200,000 soldiers and taken 50,000 prisoner of six commanders, two consuls and a Master of horse had been slain and a number of Roman allies had gone over to the Carthaginians. Then Mago concluded his report by having a collection of golden rings poured upon the council floor in front of the assembled senators. He explained that each ring belonged to one eques who had been slain in battle and had earned the ring through exceptional bravery. Livy notes that one unnamed authority stated the volume of jewelry amounted to three and one-half measures (Congius?), only to add "it is generally and more credibly held that there was not more than one measure of them". [90]

The second concerns Lucius Caecilius Metellus and three other military tribunes, who had taken refuge at Canusium with other Roman refugees. Demoralized at the defeat, they discussed the possibility of setting sail overseas and finding employment as mercenaries for some foreign prince. Word of this meeting reached the young Publius Cornelius Scipio who, with only a few followers, strode to where the discussion was underway and burst into the chamber holding his naked sword over their heads. Before the wavering men Scipio is reported to have cried,

I swear with all the passion in my heart that I will never desert our homeland, or permit any other citizen of Rome to leave her in the lurch. If I willfully break my oath may Jupiter, Greatest and Best, bring me to a shameful death, with my house, my family, and all I possess! Swear the same oath, Caecilius! And the rest of you, swear it too. If anyone refuse, against him this sword is drawn. [91]

Following the battle, the commander of the Numidian cavalry, Maharbal, urged Hannibal to seize the opportunity and march immediately on Rome. It is told that the latter's refusal caused Maharbal's exclamation: "Of a truth the gods have not bestowed all things upon the same person. You know how to conquer, Hannibal but you do not know how to make use of your victory." [73] Hannibal had good reasons to judge the strategic situation after the battle differently from Maharbal. As the historian Hans Delbrück pointed out, due to the high numbers of killed and wounded among its ranks, the Punic army was not in a condition to perform a direct assault on Rome. It would have been a fruitless demonstration that would have nullified the psychological effect of Cannae on the Roman allies. Even if his army was at full strength, a successful siege of Rome would have required Hannibal to subdue a considerable part of the hinterland to cut the enemy's supplies and secure his own. Even after the tremendous losses suffered at Cannae and the defection of a number of her allies, Rome still had abundant manpower to prevent this and maintain considerable forces in Iberia, Sicily, Sardinia and elsewhere despite Hannibal's presence in Italy. [92] Hannibal's conduct after the victories at Trasimene (217 BC) and Cannae, and the fact that he first attacked Rome only five years later, in 211 BC, suggests that his strategic aim was not the destruction of his foe but to dishearten the Romans by carnage on the battlefield and to wear them down to a moderate peace agreement by stripping them of their allies. [93] [94]

Immediately after Cannae, Hannibal sent a delegation led by Carthalo to negotiate a peace treaty with the Senate on moderate terms. Despite the multiple catastrophes Rome had suffered, the Senate refused to parley. Instead, they redoubled their efforts, declaring full mobilization of the male Roman population, and raised new legions, enlisting landless peasants and even slaves. [95] So firm were these measures that the word "peace" was prohibited, mourning was limited to only 30 days, and public tears were prohibited even to women. [49] : 386 For the remainder of the war in Italy, they did not amass such large forces under one command against Hannibal they used several independent armies, still outnumbering the Punic forces in numbers of armies and soldiers. The war still had occasional battles, but was focused on taking strongpoints and constant fighting according to the Fabian strategy. This finally forced Hannibal with his shortage of manpower to retreat to Croton from where he was called to Africa for the battle of Zama, ending the war with a complete Roman victory. [ citation needed ]

Effects on Roman military doctrine Edit

Cannae played a major role in shaping the military structure and tactical organization of the Roman Republican army. At Cannae, the Roman infantry assumed a formation similar to the Greek phalanx. This left them vulnerable to Hannibal's tactic of double envelopment since their inability to maneuver independently from the mass of the army made it impossible for them to counter the strategic encirclement used by the Carthaginian cavalry. The laws of the Roman state requiring command to alternate between the two consuls restricted strategic consistency. [ citation needed ]

In the years following Cannae, striking reforms were introduced to address these deficiencies. First, the Romans "articulated the phalanx, then divided it into columns, and finally split it up into a great number of small tactical bodies that were capable, now of closing together in a compact impenetrable union, now of changing the pattern with consummate flexibility, of separating one from the other and turning in this or that direction." [96] For instance, at Ilipa and Zama, the principes were formed up well to the rear of the hastati—a deployment that allowed a greater degree of mobility and maneuverability. The culminating result of this change marked the transition from the traditional manipular system to the cohort under Gaius Marius, as the basic infantry unit of the Roman army. [ citation needed ]

In addition, a unified command came to be seen as a necessity. After various political experiments, Scipio Africanus was made general-in-chief of the Roman armies in Africa, and was assured this role for the duration of the war. This appointment may have violated the constitutional laws of the Roman Republic but, as Delbrück wrote, it "effected an internal transformation that increased her military potentiality enormously" while foreshadowing the decline of the Republic's political institutions. Furthermore, the battle exposed the limits of a citizen-militia army. Following Cannae, the Roman army gradually developed into a professional force: the nucleus of Scipio's army at Zama was composed of veterans who had been fighting the Carthaginians in Hispania for nearly sixteen years, and had been moulded into a superb fighting force. [ citation needed ]

Status in military history Edit

Cannae is as famous for Hannibal's tactics as it is for the role it played in Roman history. Not only did Hannibal inflict a defeat on the Roman Republic in a manner unrepeated for over a century until the lesser-known Battle of Arausio, the battle has acquired a significant reputation in military history. As military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge wrote:

Few battles of ancient times are more marked by ability. than the battle of Cannae. The position was such as to place every advantage on Hannibal's side. The manner in which the far from perfect Hispanic and Gallic foot was advanced in a wedge in echelon. was first held there and then withdrawn step by step, until it had the reached the converse position. is a simple masterpiece of battle tactics. The advance at the proper moment of the African infantry, and its wheel right and left upon the flanks of the disordered and crowded Roman legionaries, is far beyond praise. The whole battle, from the Carthaginian standpoint, is a consummate piece of art, having no superior, few equal, examples in the history of war. [97]

As Will Durant wrote, "It was a supreme example of generalship, never bettered in history. and it set the lines of military tactics for 2,000 years". [98]

Hannibal's double envelopment at Cannae is often viewed as one of the greatest battlefield maneuvers in history, and is cited as the first successful use of the pincer movement within the Western world to be recorded in detail. [99]

"Cannae model" Edit

Apart from being one of the greatest defeats inflicted on Roman arms, Cannae represents the archetypal battle of annihilation, a strategy whose successful implementation has been rare in modern history. As Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II, wrote, "Every ground commander seeks the battle of annihilation so far as conditions permit, he tries to duplicate in modern war the classic example of Cannae". [ citation needed ] Furthermore, the totality of Hannibal's victory has made the name "Cannae" a byword for military success, and is studied in detail in military academies around the world. The notion that an entire army could be encircled and annihilated within a single stroke led to a fascination among Western generals for centuries (including Frederick the Great and Helmuth von Moltke), who attempted to emulate its tactical paradigm of envelopment and re-create their own "Cannae". [74] Delbrück's seminal study of the battle had a profound influence on German military theorists, in particular the Chief of the German General Staff, Alfred von Schlieffen, whose eponymous "Schlieffen Plan" was inspired by Hannibal's double envelopment maneuver. Schlieffen believed that the "Cannae model" would continue to be applicable in maneuver warfare throughout the 20th century:

A battle of annihilation can be carried out today according to the same plan devised by Hannibal in long forgotten times. The enemy front is not the goal of the principal attack. The mass of the troops and the reserves should not be concentrated against the enemy front the essential is that the flanks be crushed. The wings should not be sought at the advanced points of the front but rather along the entire depth and extension of the enemy formation. The annihilation is completed through an attack against the enemy's rear. To bring about a decisive and annihilating victory requires an attack against the front and against one or both flanks. [ citation needed ]

Schlieffen later developed his own operational doctrine in a series of articles, many of which were translated and published in a work entitled Cannae. [ citation needed ]

In 1991, General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., commander of coalition forces in the Gulf War, cited Hannibal's triumph at Cannae as inspiration for the rapid and successful coalition operations during the conflict. [100]

There are three main accounts of the battle, none of them contemporary. The closest is Polybius, who wrote his account 50 years after the battle. Livy wrote in the time of Augustus, and Appian later still. Appian's account describes events that have no relation with those of Livy and Polybius. [101] Polybius portrays the battle as the ultimate nadir of Roman fortunes, functioning as a literary device such that the subsequent Roman recovery is more dramatic. For example, some argue that his casualty figures are exaggerated—"more symbolic than factual". [102] Livy portrays the Senate in the role of hero and hence assigns blame for the Roman defeat to the low-born Varro. Blaming Varro also serves to lift blame from the Roman soldiers, whom Livy has a tendency to idealize. [103] Scholars tend to discount Appian's account. The verdict of Philip Sabin—"a worthless farrago"—is typical. [104]

Historian Martin Samuels has questioned whether it was in fact Varro in command on the day on the grounds that Paullus may have been in command on the right. The warm reception that Varro received after the battle from the Senate was in striking contrast to the savage criticism meted out to other commanders. Samuels doubts whether Varro would have been received with such warmth had he been in command. [105] Gregory Daly notes that, in the Roman military, the right was always the place of command. He suggests that at the Battle of Zama Hannibal was quoted saying that he had fought Paullus at Cannae and concludes that it is impossible to be sure who was in command on the day. [106]


Contents

Prior to 1918 Edit

The idea of grouping all Germans into one nation-state had been the subject of debate in the 19th century from the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 until the break-up of the German Confederation in 1866. Austria had wanted a Großdeutsche Lösung (greater Germany solution), whereby the German states would unite under the leadership of German Austrians (Habsburgs). This solution would have included all the German states (including the non-German regions of Austria), but Prussia would have had to accept a secondary role. This controversy, called dualism, dominated Prusso-Austrian diplomacy and the politics of the German states in the mid-nineteenth century. [5]

In 1866 the feud finally came to an end during the German war in which the Prussians defeated the Austrians and thereby excluded Austria and German Austrians from Germany. The Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck formed the North German Confederation, which included most of the remaining German states, aside from a few in the southwestern region of the German-inhabited lands, and further expanded the power of Prussia. Bismarck used the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871) as a way to convince southwestern German states, including the Kingdom of Bavaria, to side with Prussia against the Second French Empire. Due to Prussia's quick victory, the debate was settled and in 1871 the "Kleindeutsch" German Empire based on the leadership of Bismarck and the Kingdom of Prussia formed – this excluded Austria. [6] Besides ensuring Prussian domination of a united Germany, the exclusion of Austria also ensured that Germany would have a substantial Protestant majority.

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the Ausgleich, provided for a dual sovereignty, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, under Franz Joseph I. The Austrian-Hungarian rule of this diverse empire included various different ethnic groups including Hungarians, Slavic ethnic groups such as Croats, Czechs, Poles, Rusyns, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes, and Ukrainians, as well as Italians and Romanians ruled by a German minority. [7] The empire caused tensions between the various ethnic groups. Many Austrian pan-Germans showed loyalty to Bismarck [8] and only to Germany, wore symbols that were temporarily banned in Austrian schools and advocated the dissolution of the empire to allow Austria to rejoin Germany, as it had been during the German Confederation of 1815-1866. [9] [10] Although many Austrians supported pan-Germanism, many others still showed allegiance to the Habsburg Monarchy and wished for Austria to remain an independent country. [11]

Austria during the First Austrian Republic: 1918–1934 Edit

By the end of World War I in 1918, Austria had not officially participated in internal German affairs for more than fifty years - since the Peace of Prague that concluded the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.

Elite and popular opinion in rump Austria after 1918 largely favored some sort of union with Germany, but the 1919 peace treaties explicitly forbade this. [12] The Austro-Hungarian Empire had collapsed in 1918, and on 12 November that year German Austria was declared a republic. An Austrian provisional national assembly drafted a provisional constitution that stated that "German Austria is a democratic republic" (Article 1) and "German Austria is a component of the German Republic" (Article 2). Later plebiscites in the German border provinces of Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of 98% and 99% in favor of a unification with the German (i.e. Weimar) Republic.

In the aftermath of a prohibition of an Anschluss, Germans in both Austria and Germany pointed to a contradiction in the national self-determination principle because the treaties failed to grant self-determination to the ethnic Germans (such as German Austrians and Sudeten Germans) outside of the German Reich. [13] [14]

The Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Saint-Germain (both signed in 1919) explicitly prohibited the political inclusion of Austria in the German state. Hugo Preuss, the drafter of the German Weimar Constitution, criticized this measure he saw the prohibition as a contradiction of the Wilsonian principle of self-determination of peoples, [15] intended to help bring peace to Europe. [16] Following the destruction of World War I, however, France and Britain feared the power of a larger Germany and had begun to disempower the current one. Austrian particularism, especially among the nobility, also played a role in the decisions [ citation needed ] Austria was Roman Catholic, while Germany's government was dominated by Protestants (for example, the Prussian nobility was Lutheran). The constitutions of the Weimar Republic and the First Austrian Republic both included the political goal of unification, which democratic parties [ which? ] widely supported. In the early 1930s, popular support for union with Germany remained overwhelming in Austria, and the Austrian government looked to a possible customs union with the German Republic in 1931.

Nazi Germany and Austria Edit

When the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, rose to power in the Weimar Republic, the Austrian government withdrew from economic ties. Like Germany, Austria experienced the economic turbulence which was a result of the Great Depression, with a high unemployment rate, and unstable commerce and industry. During the 1920s it was a target for German investment capital. By 1937, rapid German rearmament increased Berlin's interest in annexing Austria, rich in raw materials and labour. It supplied Germany with magnesium and the products of the iron, textile and machine industries. It had gold and foreign currency reserves, many unemployed skilled workers, hundreds of idle factories, and large potential hydroelectric resources. [17]

Hitler, an Austrian German by birth, [18] [b] picked up his German nationalist ideas at a young age. Whilst infiltrating the German Workers' Party (DAP), Hitler became involved in a heated political argument with a visitor, a Professor Baumann, who proposed that Bavaria should break away from Prussia and found a new South German nation with Austria. In vehemently attacking the man's arguments he made an impression on the other party members with his oratory skills and, according to Hitler, the "professor" left the hall acknowledging unequivocal defeat. [20] Impressed with Hitler, Anton Drexler invited him to join the DAP. Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919, [21] becoming the party's 55th member. [22] After becoming leader of the DAP, Hitler addressed a crowd on 24 February 1920, and in an effort to appeal to wider parts of the German population, the DAP was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). [23]

As its first point, the 1920 National Socialist Program stated, "We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people's right to self-determination." Hitler argued in a 1921 essay that the German Reich had a single task of, "incorporating the ten million German-Austrians in the Empire and dethroning the Habsburgs, the most miserable dynasty ever ruling." [24] The Nazis aimed to re-unite all Germans who were either born in the Reich or living outside it in order to create an "all-German Reich". Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (1925) that he would create a union between his birth country Austria and Germany by any means possible. [25] [ non-primary source needed ]

The First Austrian Republic, which was dominated from the late 1920s by the anti-Anschluss [26] Catholic nationalist Christian Social Party (CS), gradually disintegrated from 1933 (dissolution of parliament and ban on the Austrian National Socialists) to 1934 (Austrian Civil War in February and ban on all remaining parties except the CS). The government evolved into a corporatist, one-party government that combined the CS and the paramilitary Heimwehr. It controlled labor relations and the press. (See Austrofascism and Patriotic Front). [ citation needed ]

Power was centralized in the office of the chancellor, who was empowered to rule by decree. The dominance of the Christian Social Party (whose economic policies were based on the papal encyclical Rerum novarum) was an Austrian phenomenon. Austria's national identity had strong Catholic elements that were incorporated into the movement, by way of clerical authoritarian tendencies which were not found in Nazism. [ example needed ] Engelbert Dollfuss and his successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, turned to Benito Mussolini's Italy for inspiration and support. The statist corporatism which is often referred to as Austrofascism and described as a form of clerical fascism, bore a stronger resemblance to Italian Fascism rather than German National Socialism. [ citation needed ]

Mussolini supported the independence of Austria, largely due to his concern that Hitler would eventually press for the return of Italian territories which had once been ruled by Austria. However, Mussolini needed German support in Ethiopia (see Second Italo-Abyssinian War). After receiving Hitler's personal assurance that Germany would not seek territorial concessions from Italy, Mussolini entered into a client relationship with Berlin that began with the formation of the Berlin–Rome Axis in 1937. [ citation needed ]

Austrian Civil War to Anschluss Edit

The Austrian Nazi Party failed to win any seats in the November 1930 general election, but its popularity grew in Austria after Hitler came to power in Germany. The idea of the country joining Germany also grew in popularity, thanks in part to a Nazi propaganda campaign which used slogans such as Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer ("One People, One Empire, One Leader") to try to convince Austrians to advocate for an Anschluss to the German Reich. [27] Anschluss might have occurred by democratic process had Austrian Nazis not begun a terrorism campaign. According to John Gunther in 1936, "In 1932 Austria was probably eighty percent pro-Anschluss". [28]

When Germany permitted residents of Austria to vote [ clarification needed ] on 5 March 1933, three special trains, boats and trucks brought such masses to Passau that the SS staged a ceremonial welcome. [29] Gunther wrote that by the end of 1933 Austrian public opinion about German annexation was at least 60% against. [28] On 25 July 1934, Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis in a failed coup. Afterwards, leading Austrian Nazis fled to Germany but they continued to push for unification from there. The remaining Austrian Nazis continued terrorist attacks against Austrian governmental institutions, causing a death toll of more than 800 between 1934 and 1938.

Dollfuss's successor was Kurt Schuschnigg, who followed a political course similar to his predecessor. In 1935 Schuschnigg used the police to suppress Nazi supporters. Police actions under Schuschnigg included gathering Nazis (and Social Democrats) and holding them in internment camps. The Austrofascism of Austria between 1934–1938 focused on the history of Austria and opposed the absorption of Austria into Nazi Germany (according to the philosophy Austrians were "superior Germans"). Schuschnigg called Austria the "better German state" but struggled to keep Austria independent.

In an attempt to put Schuschnigg's mind at rest, Hitler delivered a speech at the Reichstag and said, "Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria or to conclude an Anschluss." [30]

By 1936 the damage to Austria from the German boycott was too great. [ clarification needed ] That summer Schuschnigg told Mussolini that his country had to come to an agreement with Germany. On 11 July 1936 he signed an agreement with German ambassador Franz von Papen, in which Schuschnigg agreed to the release of Nazis imprisoned in Austria and Germany promised to respect Austrian sovereignty. [28] Under the terms of the Austro-German treaty, Austria declared itself a "German state" that would always follow Germany's lead in foreign policy, and members of the "National Opposition" were allowed to enter the cabinet, in exchange for which the Austrian Nazis promised to cease their terrorist attacks against the government. This did not satisfy Hitler and the pro-German Austrian Nazis grew in strength.

In September 1936, Hitler launched the Four-Year Plan that called for a dramatic increase in military spending and to make Germany as autarkic as possible with the aim of having the Reich ready to fight a world war by 1940. [31] The Four Year Plan required huge investments in the Reichswerke steel works, a programme for developing synthetic oil that soon went wildly over budget, and programmes for producing more chemicals and aluminium the plan called for a policy of substituting imports and rationalizing industry to achieve its goals that failed completely. [31] As the Four Year Plan fell further and further behind its targets, Hermann Göring, the chief of the Four Year Plan office, began to press for an Anschluss as a way of securing Austria's iron and other raw materials as a solution to the problems with the Four Year Plan. [32] The British historian Sir Ian Kershaw wrote:

. above all, it was Hermann Göring, at this time close to the pinnacle of his power, who far more than Hitler, throughout 1937 made the running and pushed the hardest for an early and radical solution to the 'Austrian Question'. Göring was not simply operating as Hitler's agent in matters relating to the 'Austrian Question'. His approach differed in emphasis in significant respects. But Göring's broad notions of foreign policy, which he pushed to a great extent on his own initiative in the mid-1930s drew more on traditional pan-German concepts of nationalist power-politics to attain hegemony in Europe than on the racial dogmatism central to Hitler's ideology. [32]

Göring was far more interested in the return of the former German colonies in Africa than was Hitler, believed up to 1939 in the possibility of an Anglo-German alliance (an idea that Hitler had abandoned by late 1937), and wanted all Eastern Europe in the German economic sphere of influence. [33] Göring did not share Hitler's interest in Lebensraum ("living space") as for him, merely having Eastern Europe in the German economic sphere of influence was sufficient. [32] In this context, having Austria annexed to Germany was the key towards bringing Eastern Europe into Göring's desired Grossraumwirtschaft ("greater economic space"). [33]

Faced with problems in the Four Year Plan, Göring had become the loudest voice in Germany, calling for an Anschluss, even at the risk of losing an alliance with Italy. [34] In April 1937, in a secret speech before a group of German industrialists, Göring stated that the only solution to the problems with meeting the steel production targets laid out by the Four Year Plan was to annex Austria, which Göring noted was rich in iron. [34] Göring did not give a date for the Anschluss, but given that Four Year Plan's targets all had to be met by September 1940, and the current problems with meeting the steel production targets, suggested that he wanted an Anschluss in the very near-future. [34]

Hitler told Goebbels in the late summer of 1937 that eventually Austria would have to be taken "by force". [35] On 5 November 1937, Hitler called a meeting with the Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath, the War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, the Army commander General Werner von Fritsch, the Kriegsmarine commander Admiral Erich Raeder and the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring recorded in the Hossbach Memorandum. At the conference, Hitler stated that economic problems were causing Germany to fall behind in the arms race with Britain and France, and that the only solution was to launch in the near-future a series of wars to seize Austria and Czechoslovakia, whose economies would be plundered to give Germany the lead in the arms race. [36] [37] In early 1938, Hitler was seriously considering replacing Papen as ambassador to Austria with either Colonel Hermann Kriebel, the German consul in Shanghai or Albert Forster, the Gauleiter of Danzig. [38] Significantly, neither Kriebel nor Forster were professional diplomats with Kriebel being one of the leaders of the 1923 Munich Beerhall putsch who had been appointed consul in Shanghai to facilitate his work as an arms dealer in China while Forster was a Gauleiter who had proven he could get along with the Poles in his position in the Free City of Danzig both men were Nazis who had shown some diplomatic skill. [38] On 25 January 1938, the Austrian police raided the Vienna headquarters of the Austrian Nazi Party, arresting Gauleiter Leopold Tavs, the deputy to Captain Josef Leopold, discovered a cache of arms and plans for a putsch. [38]

Following increasing violence and demands from Hitler that Austria agree to a union, Schuschnigg met Hitler at Berchtesgaden on 12 February 1938, in an attempt to avoid the takeover of Austria. Hitler presented Schuschnigg with a set of demands that included appointing Nazi sympathizers to positions of power in the government. The key appointment was that of Arthur Seyss-Inquart as Minister of Public Security, with full, unlimited control of the police. In return Hitler would publicly reaffirm the treaty of 11 July 1936 and reaffirm his support for Austria's national sovereignty. Browbeaten and threatened by Hitler, Schuschnigg agreed to these demands and put them into effect. [39]

Seyss-Inquart was a long-time supporter of the Nazis who sought the union of all Germans in one state. Leopold argues he was a moderate who favoured an evolutionary approach to union. He opposed the violent tactics of the Austrian Nazis, cooperated with Catholic groups, and wanted to preserve a measure of Austrian identity within Nazi Germany. [40]

On 20 February, Hitler made a speech before the Reichstag which was broadcast live and which for the first time was relayed also by the Austrian radio network. A key phrase in the speech which was aimed at the Germans living in Austria and Czechoslovakia was: "The German Reich is no longer willing to tolerate the suppression of ten million Germans across its borders." [41]


Battle of the Sambre, July 57 B.C.

The battle of the Sambre (July 57 B.C.) was the most important battle of Caesar's campaign against the Belgae in 57 B.C. and saw his army recover after being ambushed to inflict a crushing defeat on three Belgic tribes led by the Nervii.

Over the winter of 58-57 B.C. the Belgae had created a massive army, reported by Caesar as being nearly 300,000 strong. The Belgae's biggest weakness was their supply system, and after an inconclusive battle on the Aisne the army dispersed back to its individual homelands. Their intention was to wait for Caesar to make his move and then bring the army back together to oppose him, but of course the Romans moved too fast for this plan to be effective, and a series of tribes were forced to surrender without offering any real resistance.

The only exceptions were the Nervii, Atrebates, Viromandui and Atuatuci, the most northerly of the Belgic tribes. Between them the Nervii, Atrebates and Viromandui had contributed 75,000 men to original Belgic army, so they were now in a much weaker position than at the start of the campaign, but they were still determined to fight. The Atuatuci were on their way to join the Nervii, but didn't arrive in time to take part in the battle of the Sambre.

By this stage in the campaign Caesar had clearly become overconfident. He was marching with his six experienced legions at the front, followed by the baggage and then by two new legions raised over the winter of 58-57 B.C. As the army approached the Sambre the cavalry and light troops were sent across the river to guard against the Nervii, while the lead six legions were all ordered to build that day's camp. No infantry screen was put in place to protect the legions while they were working on the camp.

The situation was perfect for an ambush. The main Nervii force was hidden in some woodland on the far side of the Sambre. The countryside on the south bank was divided up by tall, almost impenetrable hedges, which made it almost impossible for anyone to see what was happening on other parts of the battlefield.

The Roman cavalry soon ran into the Nervii and was defeated and driven back across the Sambre. The Belgae then charged across the river so fast that Caesar and his officers didn't have time to react. Only the professionalism of the six experienced legions saved them from immediate defeat. Without waiting for orders the legions formed up into their order of battle and prepared to fight.

Caesar's army formed up in the order it had been working on the camp with the ninth and tenth legions on the left, the eight and eleventh in the centre and the seventh and twelfth on the right. Two new legions formed over the winter of 58-57 B.C. were acting as the rear guard of the army, and didn't reach the battlefield until later. Each wing of the Roman army faced a different tribe &ndash the Roman right was attacked by the Atrebates, the centre by the Veromandui and the left by the Nervii. The nature of the battlefield, crossed by tall impenetrable hedges, meant that each part of the battle developed separately, and Caesar was unable to exert much influence on the overall course of the battle.

The biggest influence on the events that followed was the relative strength of the three Belgic tribes. Caesar reported that the Nervii had promised to provide 50,000 men for the original army, the Atrebates 15,000 and the Veromandui 10,000. This meant that the Roman left was badly outnumbered while the right and centre were fighting on roughly equal terms.

The Nervii and their allies attacked all along the Roman line. On the right the Atrebates were quickly defeated, and were even pushed back across the Sambre while in the centre the Veromandui were forced back to the river.

The Roman left was much harder pressed. Caesar joined the twelfth legion, which by then had lost most of its officers, along with the standard of the fourth cohort. The legion was becoming dangerously compressed, making it hard for the soldiers to use their swords. To make things worse the success on the Roman right and centre had left their camp dangerously exposed, and it soon fell to the Nervii.

Caesar had joined the twelfth when it became clear that it was facing the main Belgic attack. As the crisis developed he led from the front, snatching a shield and placing himself in the front ranks, where he ordered the troops to spread out. Realising that the seventh legion was also hard pressed he ordered the two legions to form up together and effectively fight back-to-back.

Caesar had won some time for his left wing, but it was still hard pressed. Fortunately for Caesar reinforcements began to arrive. The two legions of the rearguard finally arrived on the battlefield. On the other side of the river Titus Labienus, one of Caesar's best lieutenants, had captured the Nervii camp. From this vantage point he was finally able to see what was happening on the Roman left, and he sent the tenth legion back across the Sambre to help Caesar.

The Nervii now found themselves facing five full legions. They probably still outnumbered the Romans by around two-to-one but the tide of the battle had changed. The Nervii made a desperate last stand, and hardly any of them escaped the battle. According to Caesar when the old men, boys and women surrendered to the Romans they stated that of their 60,000 men only 500 were still able to bear arms.

In the aftermath of the battle Caesar extended his protection to the surviving Nervii. They were allowed to return to their own territory and their neighbours were warned not to take advantage of their weakened condition. Caesar then moved on to deal with the Atuatuci, who had been on their way to join the Nervii when the battle took place.

The Gallic War , Julius Caesar. One of the great works of western civilisation. Caesar was an almost unique example of a great general who was also a great writer. The Gallic War is a first hand account of Caesar's conquest of Gaul, written at the time to explain and justify his actions.

Battle of Philippi

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Battle of Philippi, (3 and 23 October 42 bce ). The climactic battle in the war that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 bce , Philippi saw the final destruction of those who favored the old Republican constitution of Rome. The battle was a brutal killing match with much confusion and little generalship on either side.

Caesar loyalists Mark Antony, Octavian Caesar, and Marcus Lepidus formed a triumvirate. They seized control of Rome and the empire’s western provinces, then set off to defeat Caesar’s killers, Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius, who had joined with other opponents of Caesar—the optimates—in raising the eastern provinces of the empire.

In late September, Antony and Octavian found the enemy, led by Brutus and Cassius, entrenched in the gap between an impassable marsh and unscalable cliffs near Philippi in Greece. On 3 October, Antony and Octavian launched a frontal assault. Octavian’s troops were repulsed in disorder, and Brutus captured his camp. Antony broke through Cassius’s defenses, but had to pull back to aid Octavian. Cassius, however, committed suicide thinking that his army had lost the battle. Brutus took over command of Cassius’s forces and the fighting ended inconclusively. Antony then began building a fortified causeway across the marsh to outflank Brutus’s defenses.

On 23 October, Brutus launched an assault on the causeway, which developed into a general action between the armies. The confined space between marsh and mountain did not allow the cavalry to play much role, so the infantry slogged it out at close quarters. Eventually Brutus’s army broke and ran. Brutus pulled about a third of his army back in good order, but Antony’s cavalry surrounded them. Brutus committed suicide, and his men surrendered.

Losses: Triumvirate, unknown of 100,000 Brutus and Cassius, unknown, although all survivors surrendered and the army of 100,000 ceased to exist.


Battle of Stalingrad

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Battle of Stalingrad, (July 17, 1942–February 2, 1943), successful Soviet defense of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Russia, U.S.S.R., during World War II. Russians consider it to be one of the greatest battles of their Great Patriotic War, and most historians consider it to be the greatest battle of the entire conflict. It stopped the German advance into the Soviet Union and marked the turning of the tide of war in favour of the Allies.

Who won the Battle of Stalingrad?

The Battle of Stalingrad was won by the Soviet Union against a German offensive that attempted to take the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd, Russia) during World War II. Although German forces led a strong attack into Soviet territory, a strategic counteroffensive by Soviet forces flanked and surrounded a large body of German troops, eventually forcing them to surrender.

What is the significance of the Battle of Stalingrad?

The Battle of Stalingrad is considered to be one of the greatest battles of World War II. It marked a turning point in the war and significantly weakened Germany’s military forces.

When was the turning point of the Battle of Stalingrad?

The turning point of the Battle of Stalingrad was a Soviet counteroffensive named Operation Uranus. It targeted the weak Axis forces defending the flanks of the German armies trying to take the city. The Soviets surrounded the German Sixth Army, which surrendered (against the orders of Adolf Hitler) on January 31, 1943.

How many people died during the Battle of Stalingrad?

Axis casualties during the Battle of Stalingrad are estimated to have been around 800,000, including those missing or captured. Soviet forces are estimated to have suffered 1,100,000 casualties, and approximately 40,000 civilians died. The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the deadliest battles in World War II.

Stretching about 30 miles (50 km) along the banks of the Volga River, Stalingrad was a large industrial city producing armaments and tractors and was an important prize in itself for the invading German army. Capturing the city would cut Soviet transport links with southern Russia, and Stalingrad would then serve to anchor the northern flank of the larger German drive into the oil fields of the Caucasus. In addition, seizing the city that bore the name of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin would serve as a great personal and propaganda victory for Adolf Hitler. German war planners hoped to achieve that end with Fall Blau (“Operation Blue”), a proposal that Hitler assessed and summarized in Führer Directive No. 41 on April 5, 1942. Hitler’s goal was to eliminate Soviet forces in the south, secure the region’s economic resources, and then wheel his armies either north to Moscow or south to conquer the remainder of the Caucasus. The offensive would be undertaken by Army Group South under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. On June 28, 1942, operations began with significant German victories.

On July 9 Hitler altered his original plan and ordered the simultaneous capture of both Stalingrad and the Caucasus. Army Group South was split into Army Group A (under Field Marshal Wilhelm List) and Army Group B (under Bock). Within days, Bock was replaced at the head of Army Group B by Field Marshal Maximilian von Weichs. The division of forces placed tremendous pressure on an already-strained logistical support system. It also caused a gap between the two forces, allowing Soviet forces to escape encirclement and retreat to the east. As Army Group A captured Rostov-na-Donu, it penetrated deeply into the Caucasus (Operation Edelweiss). Army Group B made slow progress toward Stalingrad (Operation Fischreiher). Hitler intervened in the operation again and reassigned Gen. Hermann Hoth’s Fourth Panzer Army from Army Group B to Army Group A to help in the Caucasus.

Stalin and the Soviet high command responded to the summer offensive by forming the Stalingrad Front with the Sixty-second, Sixty-third, and Sixty-fourth Armies, under Marshal Semyon Timoshenko. The Eighth Air Army and Twenty-first Army were also placed under his command. While the initial Soviet response to Fall Blau was to maintain an orderly withdrawal and thus avoid the massive encirclements and troop losses that had characterized the early months of Operation Barbarossa, on July 28 Stalin issued Order No. 227, decreeing that the defenders at Stalingrad would take “Not One Step Back.” He also refused the evacuation of any civilians, stating that the army would fight harder knowing that they were defending residents of the city.

For his part, Hitler continued to directly intervene at the operational level, and in August he ordered Hoth to turn around and head toward Stalingrad from the south. By the end of August, the Fourth Army’s northeastward advance against the city was converging with the eastward advance of the Sixth Army, under Gen. Friedrich Paulus, with 330,000 of the German army’s finest troops. The Red Army, however, put up a determined resistance, yielding ground only very slowly and at a high cost to the Sixth Army as it approached Stalingrad.

On August 23 a German spearhead penetrated the city’s northern suburbs, and the Luftwaffe rained incendiary bombs that destroyed most of the city’s wooden housing. The Soviet Sixty-second Army was pushed back into Stalingrad proper, where, under the command of Gen. Vasily I. Chuikov, it made a determined stand. Meanwhile, the Germans’ concentration on Stalingrad was steadily draining reserves from their flank cover, which was already strained by having to stretch so far—400 miles (650 km) on the left (north), as far as Voronezh, and 400 miles again on the right (south), as far as the Terek River. By mid-September the Germans had pushed the Soviet forces in Stalingrad back until the latter occupied only a 9-mile- (15-km-) long strip of the city along the Volga, and that strip was only 2 or 3 miles (3 to 5 km) wide. The Soviets had to supply their troops by barge and boat across the Volga from the other bank. At that point Stalingrad became the scene of some of the fiercest and most-concentrated fighting of the war streets, blocks, and individual buildings were fought over by many small units of troops and often changed hands again and again. The city’s remaining buildings were pounded into rubble by the unrelenting close combat. The most-critical moment came when on October 14 the Soviet defenders had their backs so close to the Volga that the few remaining supply crossings of the river came under German machine-gun fire. The Germans, however, were growing dispirited by heavy losses, fatigue, and the approach of winter.

The turning point of the battle came with a huge Soviet counteroffensive, code-named Operation Uranus (November 19–23), which had been planned by Generals Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich Vasilevsky, and Nikolay Nikolayevich Voronov. It was launched in two spearheads, some 50 miles (80 km) north and south of the German salient whose tip was at Stalingrad. The counteroffensive utterly surprised the Germans, who thought the Soviets incapable of mounting such an attack. The operation was a “deep penetration” maneuver, attacking not the main German force at the forefront of the battle for Stalingrad—the 250,000 remaining men of the Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army, both formidable foes—but instead hitting the weaker flanks. Those flanks were vulnerably exposed on the open steppes surrounding the city and were weakly defended by undermanned, undersupplied, overstretched, and undermotivated Romanian, Hungarian, and Italian troops. The attacks quickly penetrated deep into the flanks, and by November 23 the two prongs of the attack had linked up at Kalach, about 60 miles (100 km) west of Stalingrad the encirclement of the two German armies in Stalingrad was complete. The German high command urged Hitler to allow Paulus and his forces to break out of the encirclement and rejoin the main German forces west of the city, but Hitler would not contemplate a retreat from the Volga River and ordered Paulus to “stand and fight.” With winter setting in and food and medical supplies dwindling, Paulus’s forces grew weaker. Hitler declared that the Sixth Army would be supplied by the Luftwaffe, but the air convoys could deliver only a fraction of the necessary supplies.

In mid-December Hitler ordered one of the most-talented German commanders, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, to form a special army corps to rescue Paulus’s forces by fighting its way eastward (Operation Winter Tempest), but Hitler refused to let Paulus fight his way westward at the same time in order to link up with Manstein. That fatal decision doomed Paulus’s forces, since Manstein’s forces then simply lacked the reserves needed to break through the Soviet encirclement single-handedly. The Soviets then resumed the offensive (Operation Saturn, begun on December 16) to shrink the pocket of encircled Germans, to head off any further relief efforts, and to set the stage for the final capitulation of the Germans in Stalingrad. The Volga River was now frozen over solid, and Soviet forces and equipment were sent over the ice at various points within the city. Hitler exhorted the trapped German forces to fight to the death, going so far as to promote Paulus to field marshal (and reminding Paulus that no German officer of that rank had ever surrendered). With Soviet armies closing in as part of Operation Ring (begun January 10, 1943), the situation was hopeless. The Sixth Army was surrounded by seven Soviet armies. On January 31 Paulus disobeyed Hitler and agreed to give himself up. Twenty-two generals surrendered with him, and on February 2 the last of 91,000 frozen starving men (all that was left of the Sixth and Fourth armies) surrendered to the Soviets.

The Soviets recovered 250,000 German and Romanian corpses in and around Stalingrad, and total Axis casualties (Germans, Romanians, Italians, and Hungarians) are believed to have been more than 800,000 dead, wounded, missing, or captured. Of the 91,000 men who surrendered, only some 5,000–6,000 ever returned to their homelands (the last of them a full decade after the end of the war in 1945) the rest died in Soviet prison and labour camps. On the Soviet side, official Russian military historians estimate that there were 1,100,000 Red Army dead, wounded, missing, or captured in the campaign to defend the city. An estimated 40,000 civilians died as well.

In 1945 Stalingrad was officially proclaimed a Hero City of the Soviet Union for its defense of the motherland. In 1959 construction began of an enormous memorial complex, dedicated to “the Heroes of the Stalingrad Battle,” on Mamayev Hill, a key high ground in the battle that dominates the city’s landscape today. The memorial was finished in 1967 its focal point is The Motherland Calls, a great 52-metre- (172-foot-) high statue of a winged female figure holding a sword aloft. The tip of the sword reaches 85 metres (280 feet) into the air. In the Mamayev complex is the tomb of Chuikov, who went on to lead the Soviet drive to Berlin and who died a marshal of the Soviet Union almost 40 years after the Battle of Stalingrad.


“That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day”

Early in the morning on October 25 (the feast day of St. Crispin), 1415, Henry positioned his army for battle on a recently plowed field bounded by woods. His men-at-arms were stationed in the centre, flanked by wedges of archers who carried longbows that had an effective range of 250 yards (229 metres). The terrain favoured Henry’s army and disadvantaged its opponent, as it reduced the numerical advantage of the French army by narrowing the front. This would prevent maneuvers that might overwhelm the English ranks.

Fighting commenced at 11:00 am , as the English brought their longbows within killing range and the first line of French knights advanced, led by cavalry. The field that the French had to cross to meet their enemy was muddy after a week of rain and slowed their progress, during which time they endured casualties from English arrows. When the first French line reached the English front, the cavalry were unable to overwhelm the archers, who had driven sharpened stakes into the ground at an angle before themselves. This was an innovative technique that the English had not used in the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers. Eventually the archers abandoned their longbows and began fighting hand-to-hand with swords and axes alongside the men-at-arms.

The next line of French knights that poured in found themselves so tightly packed (the field narrowed at the English end) that they were unable to use their weapons effectively, and the tide of the battle began to turn toward the English. As the English were collecting prisoners, a band of French peasants led by local noblemen began plundering Henry’s baggage behind the lines. Thinking it was an attack from the rear, Henry had the French nobles he was holding prisoner killed. The third line of the French army, recoiling at the pile of corpses before them and unable to make an effective charge, was then massacred swiftly.

The battle probably lasted no longer than three hours and was perhaps as short as half an hour, according to some estimates. While the precise number of casualties is unknown, it is estimated that English losses amounted to about 400 and French losses to about 6,000, many of whom were noblemen.


More War—Lysimachus vs. Seleucus, Invasion of Gauls : 285-275 B.C.

So far, so good, but now things get really complicated:

As we begin the next chapter, there were only three Diadochi kingdoms: Ptolemy in Egypt, Seleucus in Asia, and Lysimachus in Macedonia. Demetrius and his dynasty were out of the picture in Asia Minor, but still held some territory on the Greek mainland. But now succession problems begin. In Egypt there was contention between two sons of Ptolemy, Philadelphia and Ceranus for the throne. Ceranus was bypassed and fled to Seleucus. In Asia Minor, the second wife of Lysimachus arranged for the murder of his eldest son to clear the way for her son. The wife of the murdered son then took refuge with Seleucus, and induced him to declare war on Lysimachus. After leaving his successor Antiochus Soter, on the throne in Asia, 81 year-old Seleucus marched to meet Lysimachus and defeated him at Corupedium. Lysimachus was killed in battle, but Seleucus was also murdered by Ptolemy Ceranus who then seized the throne of Macedonia. He did not hold it for long though, since he was soon killed by Gauls who had crossed the Danube and invaded Thrace.

After the breakup of the empire of Lysimachus, there was much confusion in Asia Minor. Philetaerus, a general of Lysimachus seized the region of Pergamon, and established the Attalid dynasty there that lasted until Roman time. His son Eumenes contended with Antiochus Soter for control of Asia Minor, and won a good deal of territory there, but the Gauls continued to wreak havoc for several years in the region. After five year of chaos, most of the Gauls were finally driven out of Thrace (although some settled done in the "Galatian" region of Asia Minor). The general who successfully drove the Gauls out of Macedonia was none other than Antigonus Gonatas, son of Demetrius. It was therefore, the Antigonid Dynasty, originally founded in Syria by Antigonus I, that ended up on the throne of Macedonia, and it was that family that ruled Greece until it fell to Rome in 146 BC

Finally, nearly fifty years after the death of Alexander, relatively stable dynasties ruled Alexander's kingdom. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt and Southern Judea until the Age of Cleopatra, the Attalids ruled in Asia Minor, became allies of Rome and eventually voluntarily became a Roman province, and the Seleucid Dynasty, ruled much of the old Persian empire until being gradually conquered by the Parthians in the East, and Rome in the west.


Watch the video: Tierschutz: Hühner schlachten mit mobiler Geflügelschlachtung. Unser Land. BR (May 2022).