March 2, 2017

Catherine the Great – II: Not Quite Empress Yet – Extra History

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 4 Feb 2017

Sophia’s excitement to meet her future husband deflated when she realized Peter III was a boor who cared nothing about Russia. By contrast, she threw herself into learning the culture with such vigor that she earned the love of the people. She was rechristened Catherine and married Peter… but when he became emperor, his mistakes and her popularity began to add up to a crisis situation.

January 2, 2017

Simón Bolívar – I: Reverberations – Extra History

Filed under: Americas, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 19 Nov 2016

Born to one of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, Simón Bolívar imbibed the ideals of revolution from a tutor who inspired him to travel to Europe as a young man. What he saw and learned, he would one day bring back to foment revolution in the Spanish colonies of Latin America.

August 18, 2013

QotD: The unluckiest regiment in the British army

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

The history of the 24th Regiment (later the South Wales Borderers) is certainly one of the most interesting stories of any regiment in the British army. Throughout its long history, going back to 1689, it had been an exceptionally courageous regiment and also exceptionally unlucky. In 1694 it had taken part in the ill-fated descent on Brest. In the War of Jenkins’s Ear and the attack on Cartagena it lost more than half its number from disease in the West Indies. In 1756 it was forced to surrender to the French at Minorca. The entire regiment was captured in the American War. Forty-six per cent of the second battalion were casualties at the Battle of Talavera in the Peninsula War — more than any other British regiment engaged. In 1810 about 400 men, nearly half the regiment, were captured by the French while on troopships from South Africa bound for India.

Perhaps it is as well to outline here the story of this gallant but ill-starred regiment after the Battle of Chilianwala. The catastrophe which overtook it in the Zulu War will be described later. In World War I it was in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, and on 3 December 1917 the second battalion marched out of the lines in France with only two officers, the doctor and seventy-three men. In World War II a battalion was captured by the Germans near Tobruk and, naturally, it was part of the unfortunate expedition to Norway in 1940 — even the ship carrying them struck a rock and sank.

Byron Farwell, Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, 1972

September 12, 2009

The untold story from the Plains of Abraham

Filed under: Cancon, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:03

Desmond Morton points out that one of the most interesting parts of the battle — after both Wolfe and Montcalm had become casualties — is almost unknown today:

What happened next? Suddenly French soldiers knew: they would die. The chill of terror that dissolved British regulars in earlier battles now struck Montcalm’s men. A British cannon shell smashed their general’s side. As soldiers lugged Montcalm back to Quebec, they were jostled by terrified whitecoats fleeing for their lives.

Bayonets glinting, the British followed at their heels. On the left, Fraser’s Highlanders dropped their muskets, drew their heavy claymores, and raced forward with blood-curdling screams to cut off a French escape to Beauport.

This is as much of the battle as most historians report. What more do you need?

Montcalm died before dawn on the 14th. Hit again, probably by a Canadien militiaman, Wolfe died as the French ranks dissolved. Fighting on the Plains continued until dusk, sustained by Canadien militia and their native allies. When Quebec sovereignists killed plans to re-enact the battle they helped keep that heroic story secret. Perhaps they had no idea that it happened. When French regulars fled, the militia fought on.

Five times they stopped Fraser’s terrifying Highlanders from slaughtering the terrified regulars. Thanks to their despised militia and aboriginal allies, Montcalm’s French regulars could safely stop at Beauport, catch their breath, and begin a long, dreary march back to Montreal to prepare for another year of war. Did the separatists not want anyone to know?

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