My ever-loving girlfriend pointed out that it would be uber-useful to have a reference guide to all of the various pieces Deadliest Blogger has written over the years; placing each in it historical order. Well, her wish is my command!

Here is a list of all of my historical pieces, placed within a chronological timeline:


The Art of War: Warriors of the Pharaohs: 16th-12th century BC, a look at the warriors of ancient Egypt, focusing upon depictions in art; part of series, “Art (work) of War”



The Art of War: Heroes of Troy and Mycenae: 15th-12th century BC, a look at the warriors of the Greek “Heroic Age”, focusing upon depictions in art; part of series, “Art (work) of War”

05 Pyrrhus 2The 25 Greatest Commanders of the Ancient World: 1475 BC- 476 AD, the Deadliest Blogger’s list of the top commanders of the era, with brief bios




Spartans: Elite Warriors of Ancient Greece: 6th-4th century BC, a multi-part series on the warrior-heroes of Ancient Greece



1417290-aGreat Warships of History: The Greek Trireme: 5th century BC, the “wooden walls” that allowed the tiny Greek city-states to fend off the mighty Persian Empire, and for Athens to establish a maritime empire of its own; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

The Lion at the Hot Gates: Thermopylae 480 BC: Sparta’s finest hour  came in 480 BC, when a brave king led 300 volunteers to a narrow pass in the north of Greece; to buy time with their lives while their countrymen prepared for war

Greece is Save By Its Wooden Walls: 480 BC, as the Great King Xerxes watches from the cliffs above, the Persian invasion of Greece is checked in the narrow straits of Salamis; in one of history’s greatest galley battles


1551560Spartan Invincibility is Destroyed at Leuctra: 371 BC, the Spartan dominance of Greece is broken and a Spartan king slain by the Thebans; who are led by the brilliant Epamonidas



Great Captains: Alexander the Great: 4th century BC, examination of perhaps history’s greatest general; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”


Granicus: Alexander’s Most Perilous Battle: 334 BC, Alexander the Great’s first battle against the Persians nearly ends in his death


Diadochi: Macedonian Game of Thrones: 321 BC – 281 BC, war and intrigue follow the death of Alexander the Great, as his family and generals struggle over his empire; multi-part series


Armies of the Successors: The Antigonids: 4th-2nd century BC, the army of Macedonia following Alexander the Great


Armies of the Successors: The Seleucids: 4th-2nd century BC, the army of the Macedonian empire of the near east established by the general of  Alexander the Great


Armies of the Successors: The Ptolemies: 4th-1st century BC, the army of the Macedonian-Egyptian kingdom of Cleopatra and her ancestors


Great Captains: Hannibal Barca: 3th century BC, examination of the great Carthaginian general who challenged Rome in the Second Punic War; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”

Breaching the Alps: Hannibal’s Icy Ordeal: 218 BC, the Second Punic War, Hannibal beats the odds and gets his army of tens-of-thousands across the frozen Alps


Cannae: Hannibal’s Masterpiece: 216 BC, Second Punic War leads to one of Rome’s greatest defeats, and a establishes Hannibal as one of history’s greatest generals


Phalanx vs Legion: Closing the Debate: 3rd-1st Century BC, historians and military gamers argue endlessly over the relative merits of the two competing tactical systems: the Macedonian-style phalanx and the Roman legion. How each worked, why, and which was superior

Mad Kings and Maccabees: the First Hanukkah: 2nd century BC, a mad king threatens to extinguish Judaism; and in the struggle to maintain their identity the Jews find a mighty champion: Judah “the Hammer”


Disaster In the Desert: Crassus at Carrhae: 54 BC, and the conqueror of Spartacus and co-ruler of the Roman Republic leads an army into Mesopotamia; in an effort to replicate the conquests of Alexander the Great. Instead, he meets his doom beneath the desert sun at the hands of the nomadic Parthians

caesar-bustGreat Captains: Julius Caesar: 1st century BC, examination of one of histories greatest generals, the “noblest Roman of them all”; part of the series, “Great Captains of War”



Adrianople: Twilight of the Legions: 378, the battle often blamed for the fall of the Roman Empire is reexamined



The Age of Arthur: 5th-6th century Britain; the “historical” King Arthur, his world and the creation of Anglo-Saxon England.  Multi-part series.


Attila is Stopped at the Catalaunian Fields: 451, the Hunnish invasion of Gaul comes to a climax near Chalons, as the Roman Empire nears its end


belisarius-2Belisarius at Darus: 530, Byzantium’s greatest general wins his first and perhaps greatest victory over the Sassanid Persians; giving the world a masterly demonstration of the use of interior lines to outmaneuver an enemy



1432785aDark Ages Elite: The Bucellarii of Belisarius: 6th-early 7th century, the first in a multi-part series on the elite warriors of the Dark Ages (476-1066 AD). Belisarius’ household retainers led the Byzantine military conquests of Justinian, and were the model for Byzantine kataphractoi in the subsequent centuries


Great Warships of History: Byzantine Fire Dromon: 7th – 12th century, Byzantium is protected at sea by swift galleys bearing one of history’s most secret weapons, “Greek Fire”; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

Dark Ages Elite: Caballarii of Charlemagne: 8th-9th century, the elite Frankish horsemen who were the prototype for the chivalric heroes of the Medieval legend; part of the “Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages” series


The Vikings: An Enduring Fascination: 793 – 1066, a brief history of the most ferocious warriors of the Dark Ages, and why they continue to engage our interest to this day


England is Born at Bloody Brunanburh: 937, the Anglo-Saxons are united under the rule of Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, the first king of “England”. At Brunanburh he faces a challenge from by a Viking and Scottish army and the Danish lords of the north

Dark Ages Elite: The Jomsvikings: 10th-11th century, continuing the multi-part series on the elite warriors of the Dark Ages (476-1066 AD). The Jomsvikings were an elite Viking brotherhood that was the progenitor of late elite units

Carnage at Clontarf: Ireland’s Darkest Day: 1014, Irish unity is shattered with the death of her greatest national hero, Brian Boru, High King of Ireland; as he stops a Viking army at Clontarf

Dark Ages Elite: Anglo-Saxon Huscarls: 11th century, continuing the multi-part series on the elite warriors of the Dark Ages (476-1066 AD). The Huscarls were the professional warriors who warded the last Anglo-Danish kings of England



1408160Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages: Norman Knight: 11th-12th century, the elite armored horsemen who conquered England, Ireland, and led the First Crusade; part of the “Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages” series



1066: A Bloody and Momentous Year: Three men contend for the crown of England; and change the course of British history


Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages: Varangian Guard: 11th-14th century, the elite axe-bearing Viking and later English guard of the Byzantine emperors; part of the “Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages” series




Manzikert.jpgThe Terrible Day: Disaster at Manzikert: 1071, Christian Byzantium is betrayed and Muslim Turkey is born on a remote battlefield in Armenia




22853_Otto-IThe 25 Greatest Commanders of the Middle Ages: 475-1453, the Deadliest Blogger’s list of the top commanders, with brief bios of each.

The Crusades: A Politically Incorrect View: 1095 – 1204, a look at the Crusades, their cause and effect, without the lens of multi-cultural “PC” nonsense that has so distorted the history in recent tellings; a multi-part series


Great Captains: Chingis Khan: 13th century, history’s greatest conqueror, creator of the largest land empire; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”


Legnicia 1

Legnica: The Mongol Terror Reaches Poland
: 1241, the Polish and Teutonic knights face the Middle Ages greatest war machine as the Mongols invade Europe



End of the Caliphate: The Mongol Sack of Baghdad: 1258, the last of the ancient Abbasid Caliph’s of Baghdad dies at the hands of the heirs of Genghis Khan


Slaughter in the Mud:Henry V at Agincourt: 1415, the original “band of brothers” make a heroic stand on St. Crispins Day


A Most Sanguinary Affair: Bloody Towton: 1461, the War of the Roses reaches a climax in the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil


The War of the Roses Ends at Bloody Bosworth: 1485, the battle that established the Tudor Dynasty, and ended the Plantagenet



The 25 Greatest Commanders of the Renaissance: 1453-1650, the Deadliest Blogger’s list of the top commanders, with brief bios



panipat_main-bMughal: “The Tiger” Founds an Empire at Panipat: 1525, the Mughal Empire of India is established by Babur’s use of cannons to defeat the Sultan of Dehli



Great Warships of History: Korean Turtle Ship: 1590s, the Japanese Samurai invasion of Korea tis thwarted by history’s first ironclad warships; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

Gustave_Adolphe_at_Breitenfeld-Johann_Walter-f3706497The Lion of the North Roars at Breitenfield: 1631, The Thirty Years War and Gustavus Adolphus wins his greatest victory


revenge-2Great Warships of History: Revenge, Race-Built Galleon: 16th century, the radically redesigned English warships that helped Britain rule the seas; part of the “Great Warships of History” series



The Last Hurrah of the Winged Hussars: 1683, Europe is saved as the Siege of Vienna ends in history’s greatest cavalry charge



18th – 19th CENTURY

Great Warships of History: The Ship of the Line: 17th-19th century, the king of the high seas in the Age of Sail; part of the “Great Warships of History” series


fritzGreat Captains: Frederick the Great: 18th century, a look at Prussia’s “Old Fritz”, one of history’s greatest soldiers; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”



article-0-183b67b900000578-145_640x816Great Captains: Napoleon Bonaparte: Late 18th-early 19th century, examination of France’s greatest conqueror  and one of history’s greatest generals; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”



Sabres in the Snow: Murat at Eylau, 1807! Napoleon reverses impending defeat by ordering his cavalry Marshal to lead a titanic charge against the Russian center


Napoleon’s Last Campaign: 1815, the “Waterloo Campaign” series, and final fall of Napoleon. Could “Le Emperor” have reversed his fortunes and saved his Empire?


alamo-213 Days of Glory: the Alamo, 1836:  the true story of the heroic siege and Texas’ struggle for independence


gandamuck-2Massacre in the Passes: Elphinstone’s Disaster: 1842, the First Afghan War comes to a climax with the calamitous death of an army in the frozen passes


Great Captains: Nathan Bedford Forrest: 1861-1865, the greatest natural military genius in American history, the “Wizard of the Saddle” was the Civil War’s most feared and hated general; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”


Zulu: Death and Redemption in the African Sun: 1879, the British Empire suffers a humiliating defeat at the hands of Africa’s greatest warriors; but redeem their honor with a glorious stand at the mission station at Rorke’s Drift


The British Face the Fuzzy Wuzzies at Abu Klea: 1885, the British expeditionary force in the Sudan is attacked by Dervish forces near the well at Abu Klea. For a few desperate minutes, the British square was breached and the army in deadly danger


Juramentado: Moro Suicidal Assassins: First decade of the 20th century, American forces in the Philippine Islands faced targeted attacks from suicidal Moro (Muslim) assassins “running amok”

Germany’s Schlieffen Plan: A Study in Economy of Force: 1914, the Chief of the German Imperial Staff comes up with a bold plan to end the impending war on the Western Front in rapid fashion, before it could stalemate; what went wrong?

Great Captains: George Smith Patton, Jr: 1940-1945, America’s most flamboyant and brilliant general of World War Two, “Old Blood and Guts”; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”

Great Warships of History: The Bismarck: World War Two, the storied German raider that led to the greatest sea-chase in history; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

The Devil’s Guard: Hitler’s Waffen SS: World War Two, a multi-part examination of the most hated and feared military organization in modern history, Nazi Germany’s elite SS


Great Warships of History: The Yamato: World War Two, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s super-Battleship, sporting the larges guns ever mounted on any ship; part of the “Great Warships of History” series


God Sides With the Big Battalions: When it comes to war, a great general once said that God sides with “whichever side has the biggest battalions”. While nations fielding smaller, higher-quality forces sometimes win battles; history shows that ultimate victory usually goes to the larger power

300: Rise of An Empire Review: Deadliest Blogger reviews the sequel to “300”. If you liked 2006’s blockbuster film, “300”, with its hyperbolic and highly stylized fantasy retelling of historical Battle of Thermopylae, you will likely enjoy this 2014 sequel.

Deadliest Bloggers’ Greatest Quotes on War: Part One

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Two 

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Three

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Four

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Five

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Six

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Seven

“History Bites”: The Fork, “a Hateful Vanity”



“History Bites”: Son of a Gun



If World War One Were a Bar Fight!




If World War Two Were a Bar Fight!







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The 30 Years War had raged for ten years, and for the Protestant cause it had been a string of disasters! Then a new champion took-up the sword to defend the faith against the Catholic armies of the Empire: Gustavus Adolphus, the “Lion of the North”! In his first battle against the ever-victorious army of Catholic League General Tilly, the Swedish king would prove his name and renown!

In 1628, the Hapsburg dream of a united Catholic Germany, ruled from Vienna, seemed nearly realized. Ten years into what would become known as the Thirty Years War, Catholic-Imperialist forces had crushed all opposition from Bohemia to Denmark. The Protestant Electors of the Rhine principalities had been humbled, the Czechs brought back into the Catholic fold, and the Danes defeated and humiliated. By 1630, the Imperial armies of Tillyand Wallenstein were camped along the Baltic shores, with Germany seemingly pacified behind them.

Only Protestant Sweden, across the icy waters, remained defiant.

When King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden crossed the Baltic and landed in Germany with a mere 13,000 men, the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand II sneered, “So, we have another little enemy!”


(To continue reading, go here)

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“We saw it! The hussars let loose their horses: God, what power! They ran through the smoke and the sound was like that of a thousand blacksmiths beating with a thousand hammers. Jezus Maria! The lances bent forward like stalks of rye driven by a great storm, bent on glory! They crash into the Swedish reiters…Overwhelming them! They sliced without effort through the whole army…”

This breathless account of a 17th century battle from Potop (“The Deluge”), by Henry Sienkievich captures well the furious charge of the famed Polish “Winged Hussars”. For roughly a century (1576-1683) they were the premiere cavalry in Europe, if not the world. In battle-after-battle, their crushing charge dealt the coup-de-grace to every enemy they faced. While suffering the occasional (even crushing) defeat, their century-long record of success is unsurpassed in the annals of cavalry warfare.

The towarzysz (“comrades”) of the Polish Husaria were armored lancers, their primary weapon the very long (and light) kopia. This differed from the standard lance of the Medieval knights in that it was hollow, thus allowing greater length without commensurate weight. Many writers have opined as to the reason for the great length of the 18-21 foot kopia; suggesting that it was to give the lancer greater reach in order to defeat the pike-armed infantry formations of the day. But its use in such an action is only apparent in one battle of the many the Husaria engaged in; and accounts differ as to wither or not on that occasion the enemy square was broken by flank or frontal attack.

As backup weapon, the Hussar carried a variety of weapons: sabre, long sword, mace and even war-hammer (“nadziak”). Pistols, musketoons, and even composite bows could be carried as well.

The most famous piece of a Hussar’s equipment was his wings.

These varied over the heyday of the Husaria, from mere wings painted on or hanging from the Hussars shield; to two large “skoklosters“, hooped wooden frames onto which eagle feathers were attached. These latter were mounted on the Hussars back, or the back of his saddle.

The purpose of the wings is controversial. Some writers suggested that the wings made a frightening noise when the Hussar was at a gallop. This is almost certainly apocryphal: modern reenactor Rik Fox of the Los Angles-Based Suligowski’s Regiment Husariareenactment group assures me that no such sound is apparent; or would be heard above the din of battle, in any case. Others have put forth the theory that the fluttering wings frightened enemy horses unaccustomed to the sight; which might cause the mounts of enemy cavalry charging against the Hussars to balk. This is more plausible: the fluttering lance pennants and feathers might indeed “spook” an enemy horse unaccustomed to the sight. It has also been suggested that the wing-frames may have acted to deflect Tartar lassos or enemy sabre cuts.

All that we know for sure is that they lent the Hussars a unique and spectacular appearance.

Though for a time the strongest state in Eastern Europe, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was beset by a plethora of enemies. Though its Hussars could tip the scales and win battles, these were a relatively small, elite force; never exceeding 3,000 armored lancers. Despite such battlefield successes as they enjoyed, the far-flung kingdom was beset on all sides by aggressive neighbors. Ultimately Poland was for time overrun and on the verge of collapse (the “Deluge”, 1648-1667).

But Poland reemerged, and in 1683 under its heroic king, Jan Sobieski, the Hussars enjoyed their most celebrated success; riding forth to save Europe one last time from the tide of Islam!


(To continue reading, go here)

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On an arid upland valley in Armenia, one hot August day in 1071, the Roman/Byzantine army marched out of camp to battle the forces of the Turkish Sultan, Alp Arslan. There, near the town of Manzikert, the course of medieval history and the map of the Near East would be changed forever. It was a seminal moment, one that would set in motion a chain of events whose impact is felt to this day.


Roman scouting was unaccountably poor, and the first indication the Romans had that a large Turkish army was in the vicinity was when foraging parties were driven-in by large, aggressive bands of Turkish horse archers. A considerable force of Roman regular cavalry, under Basilakes, Dux of Theodosiopolis (a Roman fortress town near the eastern frontier, now the modern Turkish Erzurum) was dispatched to drive off what was thought to be just small groups of Turkish raiders. Instead, Basilakes blundered into the Sultan’s army, and his force was annihilated. Another contingent under Nikephoros Byrennios, commander of the forces of the European Themes, was dispatched to aid Basilakes. These too were roughly handled, and retreated back into the Imperial Camp.

As swarms of Turkish horsemen poured into the far end of the valley, the Emperor and his commanders realized this was no raiding force, but the Sultan’s main army.

The Sultan now sent a delegation to request a cessation of hostilities; but, as earlier in the year, Romanus rejected this overture.

The following morning, August 26th, 1071 the last great native Roman army the Empire would ever field marched out of camp and prepared for battle.

(To read article, go here)

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On 22 August 1485 the War of the Roses reached a bloody climax at Bosworth Field. Here, Richard III, England’s most controversial king, defended his crown against the Lancastrian champion, Henry Tudor.

The thirty-year long Wars of the Roses was a dynastic struggle between rival branches of the ruling royal family of England, the Plantagenet. These two Houses, cadet branches of the Plantagenet, were descended from sons of the prolific Edward III: the House of York, whose symbol was the white rose, and the House of Lancaster, represented by the red.

After the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1461 and the subsequent execution of the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, the war seemed to have come to close. The Yorkist leaderEdward IV was firmly in command of his kingdom; and would rule undisturbed till his death in 1483. However, Edward left as heir his son Edward, not yet thirteen years old. The dead monarch’s younger brother, Richard of Gloucester was named as guardian for the young prince and Lord Protector of the Realm.

The War of the Roses raged across the map of Britain for 30 years, decimating the nobility of England.Throughout his brother’s reign (and the struggle for Yorkist victory that established it) Richard of Gloucester had ever been Edward’s capable, trusted, and loyal lieutenant. As Warden of the North he had proven himself an able captain; successfully campaigning against the Scots, temporarily occupying Edinburgh and capturing the mighty fortress of Berwick in 1482. But as Lord Protector for his young nephew, King Edward V, Richard quickly found his authority challenged by his brother’s widow, the Queen Mother Elizabeth Woodville and her ambitious family.

In the brief struggle for power that followed, Richard outmaneuvered the Woodvilles and took custody of both the young king-to-be and his brother, Prince Richard. The two princes were lodged in the Tower of London; then still used as a royal residence as well as a prison for the most important of prisoners. Over the next month, the boys coronation was postponed; while rumors were circulated that the marriage of Edward IV to Elisabeth Woodville had been illegal. The prince was ultimately disinherited, and on 25 June, an assembly of Lords and Commons declared Richard to be the legitimate king; later confirmed by act of parliament.

Thus began the reign of Richard III, perhaps England’s most controversial king.

The displacement of his brother’s son and heir alienated some supporters of the House of York. The disappearance of the two princes in the tower and rumors of their murder (later confirmed) further tainted Richard’s reign with the charges of usurpation and regicide.

Though there is no evidence that Richard was a “bad king”, division within the Yorkist ranks invited adherents of the House of Lancaster to plot a renewal of the War of the Roses. Taking advantage of the disaffection, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, scion of the Lancastrian dynasty, landed in Wales on August 7, 1485 with a force of French mercenaries.

(Artwork by Graham Turner, “Bosworth 1485: Last Charge of the Plantagenets” by Christopher Gravett, © Osprey Publishing, part of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc)

Wales was a traditional Lancastrian stronghold; and this combined with Henry Tudor’s half-Welsh ancestry allowed him to gather to his standard a sizable force of Welsh troops and remnants of the Lancastrian cause. Welshmen comprised the largest part of his forces; with few, in fact, being English.

Though inexperienced at war, Henry had for advisor and commander the veteran warrior,John de Vere, Earl of Oxford; who had commanded the Lancastrian rightwing at the Battle of Barnet. While he could expect to be outnumbered by the Royal forces Richard would bring to bear, Henry had an “ace up his sleeve”: His mother’s husband, Thomas Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby and Lord of (the Island of) Man.

Stanley was a veteran courtier and intriguer. He was married to Henry Tudor’s formidable mother, Margaret Beaufort; a descendant herself of Edward III on her father’s side. She was a confirmed and dedicated Lancastrian, and for years had been preparing the way for her son to raise again the standard of the Lancastrian cause.

Portrait of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (the future Henry VII) as a younger man.As Henry Tudor marched through Wales, he was in communication with his stepfather; who through the agency of his brother, Lord Sir William Stanley, Chamberlain of Chester and north Wales, opened the way through the countryside to Tudor’s Army. Richard, of course, was not ignorant of Lord Stanley’s connection to his enemy; and of the Stanley’s complicity in Tudor’s invasion. His relations with Lord Stanley were strained and had been for over a decade; the enmity between the two erupting into violence in 1470. Wary of Stanley, Richard took Stanley’s son, Lord Strange, as hostage to discourage Stanley from openly joining Tudor’s army.

Meanwhile, Richard called the lords of the realm to assemble under his banner at Leicester on the 16th of August. Many of Richard’s vassals failed to answer the royal summons. The chief lords who did join their king were John Howard Duke of Norfolk, and his son-and-heirThomas, Earl of Surrey; and Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. While the Howards were loyal to Richard and the Yorkist cause, Percy is thought to have harbored deep jealousy of Richard dating from his time as Warden of the Northern Marches (a title usually held by a Percy) and the renown Richard had gained in his Scottish campaign. Both Percy and Howard held chief commands during the coming battle: Norfolk commanding the Yorkist Vanguard, and Northumberland the Rearguard/Reserve. On August 20, the royal army, with the arms of England flying overhead alongside Richard’s personal standard, displaying a White Boar; marched from Leicester to intercept Henry’s army, on route to London from Shrewsbury.

Three armies converged on a field south of Bosworth Market, 13 miles west of Leicester: Richard’s, numbering 10,000; Henry Tudor’s army, numbering 5,000; and that of the Stanley brothers, some 6,000 strong. The Stanleys had been in close communication with Tudor, and were ostensibly his ally. However, on the day of battle, they refused to declare themselves one-way-or-another; making the Battle of Bosworth Field a three-sided affair.

Richards took up a position on Ambion Hill, a strong position dominating the battlefield. Elevation aside, it was protected (or constricted, as events would show) by a marsh in the low ground to the left. Richard’s deployment is disputed: Norfolk’s “Van” may have been in the front or on the right of the Yorkist forces; with Richard, commanding the “Main” behind this (or in the center) at the crest of the hill. Northumberland deployed his 4,000 man “Rear” behind or to the left of Richard’s “Main”.

(To continue reading, go here)

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In the 16th century a little-known naval genius helped fend-off a Japanese conquest by use of a unique and effective weapon of war: the Turtle Ship!

In the last decade of the 16th century, the ambitious and capable warlord of Japan,Toyotomi Hideyoshi conceived a plan to invade Ming China, a doddering empire; and to place the Japanese Mikado upon the Celestial Throne in Beijing. As a springboard to this, Hideyoshi planned to first conquer Korea; which stood between the two powers and acted as a stepping-stone.

The Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) were extremely well prepared, enormous undertakings. In two waves, 300,000 fierce, battle-hardened Samurai warriors and supporting foot soldiers (Ashigaru) crossed the intervening Tsushima Strait and fought their way up the Korean peninsula. Initially the Japanese made great progress, defeating the Korean defenders at every encounter.

The Japanese had three advantages in this war. First, their Samurai were among history’s greatest warriors. Superbly trained and disciplined, they were possessed of an indomitable fighting spirit that knew no surrender. They wielded matchless swords and other bladed weapons, of a quality and cutting-power never equaled. Both on foot and as cavalry, man-for-man the Samurai had no equal. The second advantage Hideyoshi’s forces enjoyed was the widespread use (and expertise with) the matchlock arquebus. These had come into use in Japan through contact with the Portuguese; and during the last decades of the Sengoku Period had become a decisive weapon on the battlefield. The final advantage the Japanese armies enjoyed was the vast experience in war gained by a century of civil war: the Japanese troops were all veterans of numerous campaigns and battles; whose tactics were battle tested.

To counter this, the Korean defenders had a decisive weapon of their own: the Turtle Ship!

Developed and deployed by Korea’s brilliant admiral, Yi Sun-sin, the Turtle Ship (known among the Koreans as Geobukseon) was a coastal defense galley; but one possessed of some unique features. First, it was a ship whose sides and deck were covered-over; to protect the crew from missile bombardment. The roof, shaped vaguely like the shell of a turtle, was also covered with spikes to counter the Japanese’s favorite naval tactic: to board and clear enemy ships with their ferocious Samurai. It is also possible (though disputed) that the Turtle Ships were plated with iron, hexagonal plates; at least on the roof. The earliest (contemporary) accounts, including Admiral Yi’s own documents, don’t mention iron plating. However, if they indeed did possess metal armor it would make them history’s first “iron clad” warship.

These were not perfect warships, however…

(To continue, go here)


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On a hot and dusty plain eight miles from the Roman city of Adrianople, on August 9, 378 A.D., the elite field army of the Eastern Roman Empire and a tribal army of refugee Visigoths fought one of the most celebrated battles in western military history. The results would reverberate for centuries.

The Goths had been enemies of Rome for centuries.

Originating in Sweden (the southern region of which is still to this day called East and West Gautland, i.e., “Gothland”), this Germanic people had migrated in the early Christian Era onto the plains of western Ukraine and northern Romania. Under their greatest king,Ermaneric, the Goths created a powerful kingdom in the mid-4th century.

The broad rivers of Ukraine flow southward, draining into the Black Sea. Throughout the 3rd Century A.D., Gothic longships sailed down these alluvial highways, and from the Black Sea raided the civilized communities along its shores. Passing through the Bosporus and into the Aegean, they brought fire and sword to the ancient towns and cities of Greece and Asia Minor. Athens, Corinth, Argos, Olympia and Sparta: all felt the fury of the Goths. Troy and Ephesus on the coast of Asia were also sacked and pillaged. In the latter, the Great Temple of Diana, one of the “Seven Wonders of the World”, was finally destroyed for all time.


Perhaps presaging the sentiments of northern Europeans who centuries later faced the depredations of the Viking “Northmen”; Romans living along the Aegean Coast might well have prayed for deliverance from the “furore Gothicnorum”, the fury of the Goths!

On land, the Goths were equally formidable. In 249 an army of Goths and other barbarian warriors under the Gothic king, Cniva, crossed the lower Danube; raiding into the Roman province of Moesia. After nearly 2 years, they were brought to bay by the Roman EmperorDecius, near the town of Forum Terebronii (modern Razgrad, Bulgaria). On swampy ground, the advancing Roman heavy infantry and cavalry bogged down; and were overcome by showers of Gothic javelins and arrows. Decius was killed, becoming the first Roman emperor to be slain in battle.

This defeat by the Goths made a deep impression on the Romans, and though the Gothic menace abated after their crushing defeat at the hands of the Emperor Claudius “Gothicus”at the Battle of Naissus in 269 A.D.; they remained a “boogie man” in the minds of later Romans.

Then, in the 4th Century of the Christian Era, a greater “boogie man” stormed out of the vast steppes of Central Asia: the Huns!


These nomadic herdsmen had been driven from the borders of China centuries earlier by the Han Chinese. (It is the subject of a great deal of scholarly debate as to whether or not the Huns are the same people as those known in Chinese sources as the Xiongnu. To date there is no consensus on this question.) Over a century, the Huns drifted ever westwards, across the “sea of grass” that covers the Eurasian hinterland. Along their westward trek, they subjugated or displaced other nomadic tribes. In (approximately) 370 A.D., after defeating the Alans, they entered the lands of the Goths.

The Goths, whose armies were still primarily composed of javelin or bow armed infantry, were no match for the swift-moving Huns, armed with the powerful and deadly composite bow. Like that of all Asiatic steppe nomads, Hunnic warfare was based upon “the Great Hunt”: herding or luring the enemy (like wild game) onto killing grounds; where they could be worn down by elusive swarms of horse archers. Once the enemy’s numbers were depleted or physical exhaustion had set in, the Huns would close with the enemy and finished them off with lance, sword, or lasso (which the expert Hun herdsmen used to rope and drag their foemen to their deaths).


The Gothic Kingdom of Ermaneric was overthrown, the old king committing suicide in despair. Rather than submit, the Gothic nation fled westward. Led by Fritigern, the Goths found themselves refugees pushing against the Danube frontier of the Roman Empire.

In 376, the Roman authorities agreed to allow the Goths to take refuge within the Empire. The Romans were interested in settling these warlike people along the frontier province ofMoesia, an area devastated by earlier Gothic raids. There they would repopulate the province and act as a buffer against future “barbarian” incursions. This arrangement was a common one the Romans employed throughout the empire, enlisting tribes as foederati: tribal warriors allowed to settle on Roman territory in return for military service.


Under the terms of the agreement, the Goths were to refrain from plundering Roman towns and farms; while for their part the Romans were to supply the refugees with needed food and other essentials. Unfortunately, as was all too often the case, local officials were both corrupt and short-sided. According to the contemporary historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, these Roman officials cheated the Goths and drove them into rebellion.

For the next two years, the Goths pillaged throughout the southern Balkans, as various Roman commanders attempted to deal with them with varying degrees of success.

In the summer of 378, the Eastern Roman Emperor, Valens, arrived back in Constantinople after several years of campaigning in Armenia against the Persians. He decided to take the field against the Goths in person ; and bring about a “final solution” to the Gothic menace.


Valens had every reason to anticipate complete success. Early in his reign, in 369, he had won a short war against the Goths along the Danube. That summer, his general (theMagister Peditum) Sebastianus had enjoyed success against Gothic detachments in Macedonia and Thrace by use of guerrilla tactics. Based on these successes, the Goths may not have seemed to Valens to be so formidable a foe.

The two armies met 8 miles from the town of Adrianople (modern Edirne). There the Goths had arranged their camp on a hill facing southward, overlooking a broad plain. Their wagons formed an outer defensive perimeter, called a “wagonberg”, atop the hill. This Gothic camp was not just filled with the booty taken over three years of pillaging in Roman territory; it was the home to a nation on the move: the wagonberg sheltered the warrior’s families as well. Not enough has been made by commentators concerning the morale effect that defending their families and their only homes must have had upon the Goths in the coming battle. Certainly knowing that defeat would mean death or enslavement for their loved-ones and an end to their people must have lent a desperate strength to Gothic arms.

Cognizant of the significance of possible defeat, and of the strength the Emperor had arrayed against them, the Goths sent emissaries of peace on both the 8th of August, and again on the day of battle, the 9th. Knowing that only a decisive defeat of the barbarians could guarantee an end to Gothic raids, and perhaps with the example of Claudius Gothicus to draw upon, Valens rejected these overtures. However, negotiations on the 9thtook up much of the day; and the battle did not commence till late in the afternoon.


The Roman army of the 4th Century A.D. bore little resemblance to that which had followed the eagles under Caesar or Trajan…

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