The Battle of Varna took place on November 10, 1444 near Varna in eastern Bulgaria. In this battle the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Murad II defeated the Polish and Hungarian armies under Władysław III of Poland and János Hunyadi. It was the final battle of the Crusade of Varna.
Hungarian general and regent. The son of a Romanian noble granted the estate of Hunyad (Hunedoara) in Transylvania by King Sigismund, Hunyadi began his military career serving the king in Italy and in the Hussite Wars in Bohemia. Originally a supporter of Albert of Habsburg following Sigismund’s death, Hunyadi later opposed the succession of Albert’s infant son, Ladislas Posthumus. In 1441, Hunyadi led the army of Polish king Wladyslaw II Jagiellon to victory over Ladislas’s guardian, Frederick III at Bátaszék, winning the throne for Wladyslaw, crowned Ulászló I of Hungary.
In 1443 Hunyadi led Ulászló’s Hungarian-Polish crusade against the Ottomans, driving the Turks out of Serbia, Bosnia, and Bulgaria in a winter campaign. A second crusade in 1444 ended in disaster at Varna on the Black Sea coast, where Sultan Murad II surprised and destroyed the Christian army and Ulászló was killed. Hunyadi escaped to Hungary and headed a regency council that opened negotiations with Frederick for the return of Ladislas. From 1446 to 1453,Hunyadi served as governor of Hungary in the name of the still-absent king. His third crusade against the Ottomans resulted in another defeat at the Second Battle of Kosovo Polje (1448).
After Ladislas’s return to the throne, Hunyadi continued to serve the king as chief captain and administrator of royal revenues. In 1456,Hunyadi and the Minorite monk Giovanni di Capestrano organized a popular crusade in Austria and Hungary for the relief of Belgrade, besieged by Ottoman sultan Mehmed II. Hunyadi’s small army, consisting largely of peasants and townsfolk, cut the Ottoman supply lines, repelled a Turkish assault, and impetuously attacked and broke the Ottoman army. On 11 August 1456, two weeks after his greatest victory, Hunyadi died in an epidemic that broke out in the Christian camp.
References and further reading:
Bak, János.“The Late Medieval Period, 1382–1526.” In A History of Hungary, ed. Peter Sugar. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1990.
Held, Joseph. Hunyadi: Legend and Reality. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1985.
U.S. Army general
One of the principal architects of the WORLD WAR II–era army, McNair was born in Verndale, Minnesota, and graduated from the UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY near the top of his class in 1904. He served in Utah, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., through 1909, gaining promotion to first lieutenant in June 1905 and captain in May 1907. After service with the 4th Artillery Regiment in the West from 1909 to 1913, he was sent to France to observe artillery training techniques, then returned to the United States in time to participate in the expedition to Veracruz (April 30–November 23, 1914). He also took part in JOHN JOSEPH PERSHING’s punitive expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa from March 1916 to February 1917.
McNair was promoted to major in May 1917 and was assigned detached duty with the ARMY GENERAL STAFF. He shipped out to France with the 1st Division during WORLD WAR I and, in August, was transferred to General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Force, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In June 1918, he was promoted to colonel, and, in October, became a brigadier general—at the time the youngest general officer in the army.
After the armistice, McNair served as senior artillery officer in the General Staff ’s Training Section, but then he reverted to his permanent rank of major. Upon his return to the United States, he taught at the General Service School (1919–21), then transferred into a staff post in Hawaii, serving there from 1921 to 1924. He returned to the mainland as a professor of military science at Purdue University from 1924 to 1928, when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and sent to the U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE. After graduation in 1929, he was named assistant commandant of the Field Artillery School and also worked with the depression- era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Promoted to colonel in May 1935, McNair was given command of the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade in Texas in March 1937, and he was promoted once again, to brigadier general (March 1937). Named commandant of the prestigious COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE at Fort Leavenworth in April 1939, he served until October 1940, also functioning in the capacity of chief of the newly organized General Headquarters. His responsibilities included training, organization, and mobilization, and McNair became responsible for shaping much of the army as it would enter World War II.
Promoted to major general in September 1940, he was again quickly promoted, to temporary lieutenant general, in June 1941. Later, when General GEORGE CATLETT MARSHALL instituted a sweeping reorganization of the army, McNair was named chief of Army Ground Forces (AGF) in March 1942. Headquartered at the Army War College, McNair directed the expansion of AGF from 780,000 men to its maximum wartime strength of 2.2 million in July 1943.
He was an energetic, hands-on commander, who traveled throughout the country and to the various war theaters to ensure that his troops were combat ready. On one of these trips, in Tunisia, he was severely wounded by a shell fragment in 1943.
McNair was dispatched to England in June 1944, to free up Lieutenant General GEORGE SMITH PATTON, JR., for invasion operations in France. McNair replaced him as commander of the decoy “1st U.S. Army Group,” designed to mislead the Germans as to the intended entry point for the D-day invasion. The next month, while McNair was in Normandy, observing the Eighth Air Force bomb German positions, he was killed by bombs that fell short.
The loss to the army was severe. McNair had already streamlined the army’s traditional two brigade, four-regiment “square” division into a three-regiment “triangular” division, which proved much more flexible in highly mobile World War II combat. Doubtless, he would have contributed even more to army doctrine and tactics.
U.S. Army general Chaffee is widely recognized as the father of army armor. He was the only son of the legendary U.S. Army general Adna Chaffee, Sr., and graduated from the UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY in 1906. As part of the 1st Cavalry, he served in the so-called Army of Cuban Pacification (1906–07), then attended the Mounted Services School at Fort Riley, Kansas, from 1907 to 1909. Chaffee, a champion equestrian, earned the honor of attendance at Saumur, the French cavalry school, during 1911–12. He returned to Fort Riley in 1912 as an instructor at the Mounted Services School, then shipped out with the 7th Cavalry to the Philippines in 1914, returning to West Point in 1916 as senior cavalry instructor.
After promotion to captain, Chaffee was assigned in August 1917 as adjutant to the 81St Division at Camp Jackson, South Carolina. He served briefly as acting chief of staff for the division, then sailed with it to France in February 1918 for service on the western front in WORLD WAR I. In France, Chaffee attended the General Staff College (March–May 1918) then served there as an instructor. In August 1918, he was appointed assistant G-3 (operations officer) for IV Corps and, soon afterward, G-3 of the 81st Division and of VII Corps (August–October) during offensives at Saint-Mihiel (September 12–17, 1918) and Meuse-Argonne (September 26–November 11). During the last days of the war, Chaffee served with the temporary rank of colonel and was G-3 of III Corps. He remained in Europe with III Corps as part of the army of occupation in the Rhineland.
In 1919, Chaffee returned to the United States as an instructor at the Line and Staff School (now the COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF College) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After brief service with the 3rd Cavalry during May–August 1920, he was reassigned as G-2 (intelligence officer) of the IV Corps area in Atlanta from August 1920 until 1921, and then as G-3 of the 1ST CAVALRY DIVISION at Fort Bliss, Texas, serving there until July 1924. He graduated from the U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE in 1925 and was assigned command of a squadron of the 3rd Cavalry at Fort Myer, Virginia, serving until June 1927, when he was posted to the Operations and Training Division of the War Department General Staff.
Chaffee, now a lieutenant colonel, was assigned in 1931 to command the newly formed 1st Cavalry (Mechanized) Regiment at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He subsequently served as overall commander of the 1st Cavalry (1934), doing much to establish, train, and organize the army’s first dedicated armored unit. Of even more enduring significance, it was Chaffee was developed the basic doctrine of mechanized warfare. When he headed up the Budget and Legislative Planning Branch of the War Department General Staff during 1934–38, Chaffee used his influence to fund increased mechanization. Returning to Fort Knox, he again served as commander of 1st Cavalry (Mechanized) (June– November 1938) and, promoted to brigadier general on November 3, was made commander of the 7th Mechanized Brigade (1st and 13th Mechanized Cavalry Regiments).
As the United States moved toward entry into WORLDWAR II, Chaffee directed the 7th Brigade in large-scale maneuvers at Plattsburgh, New York (1939) and in Louisiana (summer 1940). For the army and for Chaffee, these were highly significant events that allowed him to refine and further develop American armor doctrine, including the crucial concept of combining armored, infantry, and artillery operations. This combined arms approach would prove extraordinarily valuable in the coming war.
Chaffee was named commander of the Armored Force on June 10, 1940, with responsibility for all infantry tank and mechanized cavalry units, as well as supporting artillery, motorized infantry, and engineer units. He created the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions and was promoted to major general on October 2, 1940. However, at the height of his career and on the eve of war, Chaffee succumbed to cancer, dying the summer before Pearl Harbor.
By: Shapour Suren-Pahlav
Eran Spahbodh Rustaham Suren-Pahlav, son of Arakhsh (Arash, pers.) and Massis, was born in 84 BCE. The name under which he appears in the western classical sources was apparently no more than his hereditary title, that of Suren, which continues to appear as well in the record of Iranian history far into Sasanian times.
His glorious name is preserved amongst the throne, of epic heroes whose deeds are recalled in the Kayanian section of the Shahnameh. In the Iranian national epic, the record of the Arsacids was suppressed at their true chronological point, the instance of Gotarz (Goudarz) has shown that some at least of its spectacular episodes were transferred to the legendary period of Key-Kavous, and incorporated there. The feat of arms performed by Suren was certainly the most celebrated of the whole Ashkanian era, was not vanished entirely. Thus in some ways the position of great Suren in the historical tradition is curiously parallel to that of Rustam the hero of the Shahnameh. His figure has been endowed with many features of a historical personality of the Rustam. The latter he was always represented as the mightiest of Iranian paladins, and the atmosphere of the episodes in which he features is strongly reminiscent of the Ashkanian period.
Plutarch Describes the great Suren as:
… For Suren was no ordinary person; but in fortune, family and honour the first after the king; and in point of courage and capacity, as well as size and beauty, superior to the Parthians of his time. If he went only on an excursion into the country, he had a thousand camels to carry his baggage and two hundred carriages for his concubines. He was attended by a thousand heavy-armed horse, and many more of the light-armed rode before him. Indeed his vassals and slaves made up a body of cavalry little less than ten thousand. He had the hereditary privilege in his family of putting the diadem upon the king’s head, when he was crowned. When Orodes was driven from throne, he restored him; and it was he who conquered for him the great city of Selucia, being the first scale the wall, and beating off the enemy with his own hand. Though he was not then thirty years old, his discernment was strong, and his counsel esteemed the best.
The Battle of Carrhae
The feudal and decentralized structure of the Parthian Empire may help to explain why, though founded on annexation and perpetually menaced by hostile armies both in the east and in the west, it never took a strong offensive after the days of Emperor Mithradates II. Iran tended to remain on the defensive. The wars between Iran and Rome therefore were initiated not by the Iranians — who deeply injured though they were by the encroachments of Pompey–but by Rome itself. Rome considered itself obliged to enter upon the inheritance of Alexander of Macedonia and, from the time of Pompey, continually attempted the subjection of the Hellenistic countries as far as the Euphrates River and had ambitions to go even farther eastward. With this objective, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the Roman triumvir in 54 BCE, took the offensive against Iran.
Such then were the protagonists in the decisive battle that was about to develop. With regard to the strength of the two armies, that of the Romans was greatly superior in sheer numbers, but ill adapted to the open terrain. According to the most reliable account, that of Plutarch, “Crassus commanded a force of seven legions, of which the total effective strength was estimated by Tarn at twenty-eight thousand heavy infantrymen”. Other commentators have given somewhat higher estimates. In addition, the Roman force included four thousand cavalry, a quarter of whom were Gaulish troops lent by Julius Caesar; and a similar number of light-armed infantry. At the minimum estimate, the army of Crassus would thus have numbered thirty-six thousand men.
The Iranian force lead by Commander of Iranian forces, Suren, which they were opposed consisted, as the account shows, of a thousand fully armored lancers, the cataphracti, who formed the bodyguard of the General. Nine thousand horse-archers formed the main body, and the baggage-train of a thousand camels was available to bring up extra stocks of arrows.
The entire farce was mounted, and highly mobile under desert conditions. At a superficial reckoning, the Roman force may have seemed sufficient for the task in hand. The event showed, however, that in two critical respects the Romans had underestimated the Iranian forces. The power of horse-archers’ arrows to penetrate the legionary Armour had not been appreciated, perhaps because the Roman commanders were unaware that the compound bow which the Iranians employed was a more powerful weapon than the lighter bows found at that time in Rome. Again, the Romans had anticipated that the Iranian cavalry would quickly exhaust their stock of arrows; but the camel train of the General Suren made it possible for him to bring up stocks of arrows as the quivers of his men were emptied. But for these two miscalculations, the Roman legionary square might have been expected to hold its own against the Iranian cavalry. Yet the heat, and vast distances of the Mesopotamian plain (for the battle took place in June) would have put Roman infantry at a disadvantage due to lack of experience to meet such a stoutest military in the East. Moreover, the Roman means of retaliation against their adversaries were ineffective, since the range of the Roman javelin was obviously limited, and the Gaulish cavalry relied on for a counter-attack were provided only with short javelins, and were lacking in defensive Armour.
Before the Romans march began, Crassus had been advised by a Roman ally, Artavasdes, king of Armenia, to led his forces through the mountains of that country, for the sake of shelter from the Iranian cavalry. However, he declined this advice, being anxious to incorporate the substantial Roman garrison posted during the previous season in the towns of Mesopotamia. And again, after crossing the Euphrates at Zeugma, he rejected the plan of his legate Cassius, that he should follow the course of the river to Babylonia. Instead Crassus followed the guidance of a Tazi (Arab) chief, whose name is given by Plutarch improbably as Ariamnes, but whom other sources name as Abcar or Abgar, and whom commentators have identified as the chief of the city of Edessa. This guide, suspected by the historians of collusion with the Suren, led the Romans away from the river into the desert, to the direct proximity of the main Iranian force, and, when the battle was imminent, made a pretext to ride away.
At first the Romans prepared to advance to the encounter in extended line. Then Crassus formed the legions into a square, and so advanced to ford the River Balissus (Balikh). Contrary to the opinion of his officers, he decided not to camp by the water, but hurried the troops across, and before long came in sight of the advance-guard of the Iranians. The strength of their main body was at first concealed. Then the thunder of drums burst on the ears of the Romans. The mailed cavalry of the Suren’s bodyguard uncovered their Armour, and the sun glittered on their steel helmets. The first attack was a charge by the lancers of the bodyguard, led in person by the towering figure of the General Suren. Then, seeing the steadiness of the Roman legionaries, the horse-archers began their work. What followed was more like a massacre than a battle.
As often, the Romans had tried to remedy their weakness in cavalry by using light infantry mixed with their Gaulish horsemen. But such makeshift tactics were of little avail against the finest cavalry in the world. The legionaries were soon hard pressed and all but surrounded, so that Crassus was reduced to ordering his son, Publius, who commanded one of the wings, to attempt a charge – with his force, and so perhaps create a diversion.
The force which the Crassus’ son Publius, led into the attack consisted of thirteen hundred horse, five hundred archers, and eight cohorts of the infantry, the latter totaling some four thousand men. At first the Iranians retired in front of them; but when they were separated from the main force they were quickly surrounded, offering an all but help-less mark to the rain of arrows. The threat of a charge by the Cataphracts forced the Romans into close order, and thereby reduced their chances of escape. Though the Gauls caught hold of the Iranian lances to pull down the riders, and ran under the horses of their enemies to stab them in the belly, these were no more than tactics of desperation. Soon the young Crassus was disabled, and the remnant of his force retired to a mound to make their last stand. The young and naïve commander ordered his Armour-bearer to end his life, and five hundred of his soldiers survived to be taken as slave.
This agonizing diversion had temporarily relieved pressure on the main Roman force. But the magnitude of their disaster became clear when the Iranians rode back with the head of Publius Crassus on a spear. Thereafter the main body had to defend themselves as best they could for the rest of the day under the constant hail of missiles. Only when it grew too dark to shoot did the Iranians draw off, leaving the Romans to pass a melancholy night, encumbered as they were with wounded, and anticipating their final destruction on the following morning. By this time the Crassus himself was prostrated with despair. But Octavius and Cassius, his lieutenants, cowardly resolved that their only hope was to escape under cover of darkness, and seek shelter behind the walls of the city of Carrhae. Thus they slipped away silently from their camp in the darkness; but those of the wounded who could be moved obstructed their march, and the majority, who had to be abandoned, raised the alarm with their cries. Understandably, retreating in the dark, the Roman column fell into disorder. But a party of cavalry reached the city at midnight, and warned Coponius, commander of the garrison there, merely that Crassus had fought a great battle with the Iranians, before turning west to make their escape across the Euphrates. Another detachment of two thousand under the Roman officer Varguntius lost their way in the dark, and were found by the Iranians forces in the morning established on a hill. Of these, only twenty made their escape. But at Carrhae, Coponius suspected a mishap, and called his men to arms. Then he marched out, and conducted Crassus and the main body into the city.
There were no supplies in Carrhae for standing a long siege, nor hope of relief from the outside, since Crassus had concentrated for his army all the forces in the Roman East. The Roman commander therefore determined to break out on the second night, and make his way to safety in the shelter of the Armenian hills. Once again, his guide, Andromachus, was a Parthian sympathizer, who indeed was later rewarded after the expulsion of the Romans with the governorship of the city. It is said that he misled the Roman column in the dark, so that by dawn the main body was over a mile from the shelter of the hills. The qxraestor Cassius, another great of Roman commander with five hundred horsemen, escaped to Carrhae and later by a different route to safety in Syria. Octavius, another of the Roman officers, had reliable guides who took refuge in the mountains. At daybreak, Crassus and his force had occupied a spur connected by a low ridge to the main mountain range.
When they came under attack, Octavius and his men moved down from the heights to their support. At this moment the Suren rode forward to offer a parley over terms of peace and forgive their lives. It is not clear whether Crassus accepted voluntarily, or under pressure from his men. But he and Octavius, with a small group, went down to meet the Iranians, who mounted Crassus upon a horse, to take him away for the signing of the treaty. Octavius, by mistake suspected a foul play, seized the bridle of the horse, and, when a scuffle broke out, drew his sword. In the melee that followed, all the Romans in the party were slain; and their leaderless troops either surrendered or scattered, though very few were successful in making good their escape. Of the entire force, twenty thousand are said to have been killed; ten thousand were captured, and deported to distant Margiana for hard labor and slavery. Thus ended the disastrous Roman campaign of Carrhae. The Euphrates was firmly established as the boundary between the two.
Despite the crushing defeat of Romans, the Iranians made no attempt to follow up their victory to invade Rome. Romans after Carrhae learnt from Iranians to introduce cavalry into their army, just as nearly a thousand year earlier the first Iranian to reached the Plateau introduced the Assyrians to a similar reform, but the upshot of the debacle was to win unquestioned recognition for Iran as a superior to Rome and return of Iranian Empire.
The Success of the great Suren had excited the jealousy of his sovereign, which soon after Carrhae he was executed, and Iran was thus not only deprived of a capable general, but created difference and bitterness between the House of Suren-Pahlav and the ruling House of Ashkan, which subsequently later, made the Suren-Pahlavs to help king of Kings Ardeshir I, of the Persian House of Sasan, to overthrown the Ashkanian Dynasty.
Soviet army marshal who was in command of the 4th Ukrainian Front at the end of World War II. Born in Markovka, Russia, on 14 October 1892, Andrei Yeremenko was drafted into the Russian army in 1913. He fought in World War I as a junior officer. He joined the Red Guards in October 1917 and the Red Army and Communist Party in 1918. Yeremenko fought as a cavalry officer in the Russian Civil War, ending that conflict as deputy commander of a regiment. He then commanded a regiment and attended the Military Political Academy and the Frunze Military Academy in 1935. Yeremenko commanded a cavalry division between 1935 and 1938, then the VI Cossack Cavalry Corps, which he led in the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland in September 1939.
In June 1940, Yeremenko took command of a mechanized corps and was promoted to lieutenant general. When the German army invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, he was commanding the First Red Banner Far Eastern Army. Recalled to the west, he replaced General Dimitri Pavlov as Western Front commander, helping to restore a degree of stability. An outstanding tactician, he understood the importance of airpower and the need to mass armor.
In August 1941, Yeremenko assumed command of the new Bryansk Front, where he was seriously wounded in October. After his recovery, he was promoted to colonel general and put in command of Fourth Shock Army in the defense of Moscow. Again seriously wounded in February 1942, Yeremenko took command of the Southeast Front, defending Stalingrad, in August.
In January 1943, he assumed command of the Southern Front, pushing the Germans out of the Caucasus. Transferred to command the Kalinin Front in April 1943, he was made General of the Army in August. Yeremenko commanded the 1st Baltic Front in October and November 1943 for the advance on Smolensk. He then led the Independent (Black Sea) Maritime Front in the eastern Crimea, before heading the 4th Ukrainian Front from March to July 1945.
Following the end of the war, Yeremenko commanded, in turn, the Carpathian, West Siberian, and North Caucasus Military Districts until 1958. He next served as inspector general of the Ministry of Defense, until his death in Moscow on 19 November 1970.
A French professional army officer who rallied to the revolutionary side in 1789, Lazare Carnot played the leading role in directing his country’s military affairs in the early 1790s during the French Revolution. As a member of the Committee of Public Safety, the 12-man executive body appointed to defend the Revolution, Carnot had the responsibility for raising, training, and employing the vast numbers of men the government conscripted. His career as a military figure continued for two decades thereafter.
Commissioned in the artillery in 1773, the young officer’s prospects in the prerevolutionary army were limited by his middle-class background. With the overthrow of the Old Regime in 1789, he found new political and military possibilities. He was elected to France’s Legislative Assembly in 1791 and to the National Convention the following year. The veteran soldier soon gained a reputation as one of the government’s military experts. His vote in the Convention in January 1793 to execute King Louis XVI exemplified his loyalty to the revolutionary order.
In August 1793, Carnot joined the Committee of Public Safety. With foreign armies threatening the survival of the Revolution, Carnot’s first military task was to stabilize and energize France’s armies along the country’s northeastern border. He personally helped to lead one army in a key victory at Wattignies in October 1793.
The dynamic military organizer then turned his attention to forming and directing the 800,000 men serving in France’s 12 field armies. Carnot amalgamated veteran soldiers with raw conscripts to form disciplined and stable fighting units, replaced lethargic commanders with enthusiastic young generals, and drew up plans for the campaigns that defeated France’s principal enemies by the middle of 1794. He urged the use of aggressive tactics, above all the use of the bayonet whenever possible.
Carnot survived the fall of Maximilian Robespierre and the other radical members of the Committee of Public Safety in July 1794. He remained an influential figure, and, as one of the five members of the new governing Directory, he continued to occupy himself with the country’s military efforts. His most important decision came in early 1796 when he appointed the dynamic young Napoleon Bonaparte commander of the French army in Italy.
Although he disapproved of Napoleon’s lust for power—in 1802 as member of the Tribunate appointed by the French Senate, he voted against making Napoleon consul for life—Carnot went on to serve the dictator. In 1814, as foreign armies moved to invade France, he distinguished himself in leading the defense of Antwerp.
Carnot was a marked man when the Bourbon monarchy finally returned to power. In 1815, he went into exile, settling finally in Prussia. He died there in the city of Magdeburg on August 2, 1823.
FURTHER READING: Lynn, John A. The Bayonets of the Republic: Motivation and Tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France, 1791 –94. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984; Palmer, R. R. Twelve Who Ruled: The Committee of Public Safety during the Terror. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1941; Watson, S. J. Carnot. London: Bodley Head, 1954.
Air Sport – “THE PETR N NESTEROV CUP”