Great Wall



Construction of defensive walls began during the reign of China’s ‘‘First Emperor,’’ Qin Shi Huang, in 221 B.C.E. These connected sections of preexisting border fortifications of Qin’s defeated and annexed enemies, dating to the Warring States period, from which the Qin empire had emerged as victor. The building technique of this remarkable structure was the ancient method of stamped earth that employed masses of slave laborers as well as military conscripts. Some parts of the wall stood for nearly two millennia and were incorporated into the modern ‘‘Great Wall’’ built by the Ming dynasty following the humiliation of defeat and capture of the Zhengtong Emperor at Tumu (1449). After he regained the throne in 1457, the Ming court decided on a purely defensive strategy and began building 700 miles of new defensive walls starting in 1474, fortifying the northern frontier against Mongol raiders. The Ming system involved hundreds of watchtowers, signal-beacon platforms, and self-sufficient garrisons organized as military colonies. Infantry were positioned along the wall to give warning. But the main idea was for cavalry to move quickly to any point of alarm and stop raiders from breaking through. In that, the Ming strategy emulated Mongol practices from the Yuan dynasty. It was also reminiscent, though not influenced by, the Roman defensive system of ‘‘limes’’ which in Germania alone were 500 kilometers long.

The Great Wall was meant to reduce costs to the Ming of garrisoning a thousand-mile frontier by channeling raiders and invaders into known invasion routes to predetermined choke points protected by cavalry armies. This strategy was mostly ineffective. The Great Wall was simply outflanked in 1550 by Mongol raiders who rode around it to the northeast to descend on Beijing and pillage its suburbs (they could not take the city because they had no siege engines or artillery). The wall was also breached by collaboration with the Mongols of Ming frontier military colonies, which over time became increasingly ‘‘barbarian’’ through trade, marriage, and daily contact with the wilder peoples on the other side. Some Han garrisons lived in so much fear of the Mongols they were militarily useless; others lost touch with the distant court and hardly maintained military preparations at all. Finally, the Great Wall could always be breached by treachery or foolhardy invitation. Either or both occurred when a Ming general allowed the Manchus to enter China via the Shanhaiguan Pass to aid in the last Ming civil war in 1644, which brought the Ming dynasty to an end and put the Qing in power.

China never built a defensive wall along its Pacific sea frontier, as it felt no threat from that quarter. And yet, the main threat to its long-term stability and independence came across the Pacific in the form of European navies and marines. As with the 20th century Maginot Line in France, building the Great Wall in some ways signaled Ming defeatism rather than advertised Ming strength. The overall historical meaning of the Great Wall is ambiguous. To some, it signifies the worst features of China’s exploitative past; to others, it celebrates the longevity of China’s advanced, classical civilization.

Suggested Reading: Sechin Jagshid and V. J. Symons, Peace, War, and Trade Along the Great Wall (1989); Arthur Waldron, The Great Wall of China (1990).


When World War I broke out in August 1914, German colonies around the world became targets. Germany had entered the empire-building race late in the 1800s and was not as successful in claiming productive territories as its European rivals. The main location for action during the war was the colony of East Africa, which was surrounded by other colonies controlled by or allied to the British. Though the German colony was enclosed, it would give Germany the opportunity to strike in several directions while maintaining interior lines of communication. As soon as war was declared, the German officer in charge, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, began doing just that.

Lettow-Vorbeck could draw on a force of about 1,800 active-duty soldiers and 5,000 reservists, backed by several thousand askaris (native troops). He had been an observer with the Boers during their war with Britain and had learned their impressive guerrilla commando tactics. The Germans used this hit-and-run fighting style to keep the British Ugandan Railway in a constant state of disrepair.

The British responded by creating Force B of 8,000 soldiers from the Indian army and Force C of 4,000 Indian army soldiers stationed in British East Africa. Force B was to land on the Indian Ocean coast, then drive inland to link up with 165 Force C. It never happened. On 4 November 1914, the invasion was first held at bay by a lone German machine gun, then by hastily dispatched German reinforcements. Street fighting in the town of Tanga the next day was fierce enough to cause 2,000 British-Indian casualties and force their withdrawal. The British spent the next year training local units to handle the fighting; Lettow-Vorbeck spent the time continuing his raids against the Ugandan Railway.

Another conflict was going on simultaneously that had more prestige than military value. The Germans armed several boats to control Lake Tanganyika, and the British and Belgians responded. In a series of clashes reminiscent of the movie The African Queen, the Allied force ultimately prevailed with the assistance of aircraft sent from Britain. By midsummer 1916, the lake was in Allied hands. The other naval aspect of this theater was the appearance of a German cruiser, the Koenigsberg, which had been harassing Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean. British warships chased the cruiser into the delta of the Rufiji River, but the deeper draft British ships could not follow. Nevertheless, they pounded the cruiser with their big guns until the Koenigsberg settled into the mud. Lettow- Vorbeck salvaged some 4.1-inch guns and some sailors to handle them, and used them in his campaign.

In January 1916, 30,000 newly trained African troops were ready to take the offensive. They came under the command of South African Jan Smuts, one of the Boers who had given the British fits almost 20 years earlier. Smuts planned a two-pronged offensive around the north and south sides of Mount Kilimanjaro to catch the Germans in a pincer. Poor communications and extremely difficult terrain argued against a well-coordinated effort, and the Germans were able to hobble the attacks and then fall back southward. A large battle in March pitted Lettow-Vorbeck’s small force against an entire division under Smuts. The Germans and askaris took the most casualties, but were again able to slip away. The British forces had to give up the chase because of a lack of food and water as well as a growing casualty list from disease. Still, one of the main objectives was achieved: The Germans were never again in a position to cut the Ugandan Railway.

The British attempts to flank the Germans and cut them off came to grief owing to the terrain and the weather, both of which exhausted the supply animals as well as the men. In September, however, the British occupied the port city and capital, Dar es Salaam. After the fall of the city, Lettow-Vorbeck’s force was down to 1,100 Germans and 7,300 askaris when he received news that the Portuguese were committing 7,000 men from the Congo to aid the British. Nevertheless, the British were still unable to catch the Germans. By the end of 1916, the white British and South African forces were relieved by West Indian and Nigerian units better acquainted with the tropical climate; 15,000 British soldiers were discharged and sent home as medically unfit.

The Allied forces finally came to grips with the Germans in October 1917. Their 4,000 men outnumbered Lettow-Vorbeck’s force two to one, most of his men being askaris. The two armies fought hard, often hand to hand, in a four-day battle. Once again, Lettow-Vorbeck was able to withdraw and continue his movement south. In late November he ordered all his sick and wounded to surrender to the British, while he took his remaining men into Portuguese East Africa. The British forces gave chase, and through most of 1918 the two forces circled each other, but with little contact. Lettow-Vorbeck crossed back into German territory in early November and fought his last battle on 12 November, one day after the armistice was signed in Europe.

Lettow-Vorbeck and his remaining 200 German troops were taken back to Germany, where they were treated as heroes in Berlin. He remained in the army for two years and aided in suppressing rebellions in the chaotic postwar German society. He served in the government throughout the 1920s, but gave it up rather than work with the Nazis. He kept in contact with his old enemy Smuts, who sent him food parcels and suggested to German conspirators in 1944 that Lettow-Vorbeck be named head of a new government should the Nazis be overthrown.

In East Africa, the Germans left behind a country that had flourished before the war. They had built railroads, schools, and hospitals, and established a profitable trade in sisal. The League of Nations decided that all German colonies in Africa should be assigned as mandated territories, which European powers would administer under the general direction of the League. The British were assigned German East Africa, which they renamed Tanganyika. They inherited a rail system badly damaged by the Germans during the war and a number of plantations left derelict for four years; the native population suffered from hunger and influenza. The most economically rich areas of the country, Rwanda and Burundi, were detached as nations of their own. The British administration was slow to act, but finally in the 1920s the country began a slow climb back to normality.

References: Harlow, Vincent, ed., History of East Africa, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965); Hoyt, Edwin, Guerilla (New York: Macmillan, 1981); Lineberry, William, East Africa (New York: Wilson, 1968).




One of the closing battles in the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453).

Fought on 15 April 1450, the battle of Formigny destroyed the last English field force in Lancastrian NORMANDY and thereby ensured the French reconquest of the duchy.

In June 1449, three months after the English sack of FOUGĖRES, CHARLES VII repudiated the Truce of TOURS and reopened the HUNDRED YEARS WAR by invading Normandy. Since the English had no field army in the duchy, the campaign quickly became a series of sieges; ROUEN capitulated in October and HARFLEUR followed in December. To halt the French advance, the government of HENRY VI dispatched an army of twenty-five hundred men to Normandy under Sir Thomas Kyriell. Landing at Cherbourg on 15 March 1450, Kyriell, acting at the request of local officials, deviated from his orders to proceed immediately to the relief of Bayeux. Instead, he asked Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, the English governor of Normandy, for reinforcements to recapture Valognes, which fell on 10 April. Now commanding an army of four thousand, Kyriell marched toward Bayeux, reaching the village of Formigny on 14 April.

The French had two forces in western Normandy. John, count of Clermont, commanded three thousand men at Carentan, while Arthur de Richemont, constable of France, lay twenty miles to the southwest at Coutances with two thousand Bretons. Unwilling to engage the larger English force alone, Clermont allowed Kyriell to proceed unmolested while Richemont marched north to St. Lô , which he reached on 14 April. At Formigny, the English were only ten miles from the safety of Bayeux, but instead of resuming his march, Kyriell held his position, presumably waiting to catch Clermont, whom he knew to be finally on the move. Unaware of Richemont’s march of the previous day, Kyriell probably hoped to engage and defeat Clermont before Richemont arrived.

At mid-afternoon, Clermont encountered the English army drawn up much as HENRY V’s had been at AGINCOURT, with a thin line of men-at-arms fortified at intervals by groups of ARCHERS that projected forward from the English front. Some 75 percent of the English troops were longbowmen. They took positions behind a crop of Spanish riders, backed by a small creek. After a pause that allowed the English to further entrench their position, Clermont’s dismounted men-at-arms assaulted the English line. When their first attack collapsed, the French sent cavalry charges against the English flanks, but were again unsuccessful. Clermont then brought forward two long-range coulverines on wheeled carriages, enfilading the English line. These guns fired into the dense pack of archers, out of range of return longbow fire but with a rate of fire and accuracy of their own rapid enough to tell heavily against limbs and lives. In desperation, the longbowmen charged and overran the coulverines. But terrible casualties had been inflicted and the French had other cannon with which to pound the English position. The French were now in disarray; had Kyriell attacked, he might have driven them from the field.

At this moment, Richemont arrived from the south, his forces ideally positioned to assault the flanks and rear of the English army. The second French army now attacked; 1,200 horse trailed by 800 crossbowmen. These reinforcements forced English survivors into a defensive arc so dense that it inhibited firing by many longbowmen, while the French assaulted from two directions at once. Lacking a reserve, Kyriell had to maintain his front against Clermont while shifting part of his army to the left to meet Richemont’s attack, the sight of which encouraged Clermont’s men to resume their assault. The English line quickly disintegrated under the pressure, with groups of men being surrounded and cut down. Although Sir Matthew Gough, commander of Somerset’s reinforcements, led a small force to safety, most of the English army was killed or captured, with Kyriell among the latter. The English line collapsed under intense crossbow and gun fire; the whole English army was killed, captured, or fled the field (the latter ran all the way to Caen) in utter panic. Having disposed of Kyriell’s army, the French resumed their campaign of sieges, which concluded on 12 August with the fall of Cherbourg, the last English-held fortress in Normandy.

Further Reading: Burne, Alfred H. The Agincourt War. Ware, England: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1999; Griffiths, Ralph A. The Reign of King Henry VI.

Swedes of Gustavus Adolphus


An episode from the battle of Lutzen, 16 November 1632, by Palamedes Palamedesz (1607-38). The figure in the centre is presumed to be Gustav II Adolf riding his white charger, Streiff, at the head of the Smaland cavalry regiment.


Warlord Games

The dominant army in the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) responsible for many military innovations, as well as establishing the first modern professional army.

Much of northern Europe went to war in 1619 for political and religious reasons. The Diet of Augsburg in 1555 had decreed that a prince could mandate a particular religion within the borders of his domain. This applied to Lutherans as well as Catholics. It did not, however, include Calvinists. As Calvinism grew in popularity with many in the lower classes, it also became more distasteful to many princes. In 1619 Ferdinand of Bohemia, a staunch Catholic, rose to the position of Holy Roman Emperor. Although placed in that position by the seven electors whose duty it was to choose the emperor, Ferdinand had but two days prior to his election been deposed by his Bohemian subjects in favor of a Calvinist ruler, Frederick V of the Palatinate. In order to regain his Bohemian throne and crush the Calvinists he despised, Ferdinand brought the power of the Holy Roman Empire to bear on Calvinists in his homeland and on Protestants in northern Europe in general. Thus began the Thirty Years War.

Throughout the 1620s, the Catholic imperial forces pillaged their way through Protestant territory, the armies led by Johann Tilly and Albrecht von Wallenstein. These two generals raised forces through force, principally by devastating a region so thoroughly that the only alternative for the survivors was to join the army and be paid in loot. With an army driven by blood lust more than principle, the Catholics defeated Frederick V and gave his homeland of the Palatinate to a Catholic monarch. They then defeated Danish forces raised by King Christian IV that entered the war in 1625. By 1628, however, the Catholic armies had stretched their forces too thin and ran into trouble when attempting to besiege the port city of Stralsund on the Baltic Sea.

A few days prior to the beginning of the siege, the city of Stralsund concluded a treaty with Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus. Gustavus’s army was the best of its era and was molded completely by its commander. With this army, Gustavus acquired the provinces of Estonia and Latvia after defeating the forces of both Poland and Russia between 1604 and 1617. It was an army unlike any other of its day, and Gustavus embarked for Stralsund to both protect his newly acquired provinces and to fight for the Protestant cause.

The armies of Europe at that time were primarily mercenary. The core of the force typically consisted of professionals who hired out their services, while the rank and file would be whatever manpower could be obtained. Such an army was therefore lacking in discipline and cohesion, but if well led, could be devastating. Gustavus, however, created his army strictly from Swedes, and did so by mandating that every tenth man in each parish was liable for military service. This created a national army of citizen-soldiers such as had not been seen in Europe since the fall of Rome. It was also the first standing army since the Roman Empire, for Gustavus kept 20,000 men under arms at all times. Seventy percent of Sweden’s budget was dedicated to this army, and it was one of the few armies of the age regularly and fairly paid. Gustavus instilled in his men a spirit that combined nationalism and religion, and it was an army that was motivated, disciplined, well prepared, and well equipped.

Although all the armies of the seventeenth century were equipped with firearms, Gustavus improved his weaponry with mobility in mind. The standard formations of the day were large squares based upon the system developed by the Spaniards some decades earlier. The standard square was made up of a mixture of pikemen and musketeers, who used a heavy wheel-lock musket. The Swedish musket was redesigned by Gustavus to lighten it from the standard 25 pounds to a more manageable 11 pounds. This made the standard forked support used by other armies unnecessary. He also created the cartridge, a paper package with a premeasured amount of gunpowder and a musket ball. This made for much quicker reloading, hence much greater firepower. The musketeers were deployed in ranks six deep, unlike the 10 ranks used in other armies. The front three would face the enemy with ranks successively kneeling, crouching, and standing. They would volley fire, then countermarch to the rear to reload while the other three ranks moved forward to deploy and fire. Although the standard formation of other armies called for a greater number of pikemen to act as defenders for the musketeers, the Swedes introduced a 150-man company that included 72 musketeers to only 54 pikemen. The smaller company could be used much more flexibly than the large square formation.

Gustavus also improved his artillery. Most guns of the time shot a 33-pound ball and were so heavy that they were arranged to stay in one place all day. The Swedish artillery was much lighter. Most fired only six-or 12-pound balls while the smallest (which could be easily moved by a single horse or three men) fired only a three- pound ball. Constant training that only a standing army could provide made Gustavus’s artillerists able to fire their cannon eight times while the enemy musketeers could fire but six times in the same span. Again, this meant increased fire power for the Swedes. By quickly moving light field pieces around the battlefield and using smaller infantry units to outflank the bulky enemy squares, the Swedish rate of fire was designed to take advantage of the large target the enemy formations presented.

Finally, Gustavus remolded the cavalry. The standard European horseman was little more than a semimobile gun platform. He would ride to a position on the battlefield, usually on the flanks of the infantry squares, and deploy with the same large musket the men in the squares carried. The cavalry was trained to fight in much the same fashion as Gustavus’s infantry, with a line of horsemen delivering a volley of pistol fire, then riding to the rear to reload as another line advanced. The Swedish cavalry was again more lightly armed, with carbines (shortened muskets) and pistols. In the early years of his reign, Gustavus’s cavalry fought as dragoons, mounted infantry who dismounted to fight in order to capture positions before the arrival of the infantry. In later times they were equipped with sabres and fought from the saddle. The Swedish horsemen would charge the enemy cavalry, which had to maintain its formation in order to maintain its fire, and the speed and shock of the Swedish assault shattered whatever cohesion the enemy may have had. Then the close-range pistol fire, coupled with the cold steel of the sabres, proved more than most horsemen could withstand. The coordination necessary among cavalry, infantry, and artillery only came from the constant training that a regular standing army could provide.

All of this fire power and coordination needed direction, however, and Gustavus provided that as well. He proved himself in battle (which always endears men to their leader) but ruled his army with an iron hand. Unlike the pillaging and looting encouraged in the armies of Tilly and Wallenstein, the Swedish army was banned from any action against civilians. Hospitals, schools, and churches were strictly off-limits as targets. Anyone caught looting or harming a civilian was punished by death, the sentence for violating about a quarter of Gustavus’s regulations. Gustavus apparently believed that if one fought for religious reasons, one should behave in a more religious manner.

Thus, it was a thoroughly professional army that Gustavus Adolphus brought to the continent to assist the city of Stralsund in 1628. Although he was forced to recruit replacements while on campaign, he tended to hire individuals and not mercenary units. This brought the new man into an already organized unit with an existing identity, and he became part of the Swedish army rather than remaining a part of a mercenary band. The Swedes arrived on the coast of Pomerania in 1630 but, rather than welcoming them, the hard-pressed Protestants viewed Gustavus’s forces at first with suspicion. In the fall of 1631, Gustavus finally found an ally in the Elector of Saxony, and in September the allied force met and defeated Tilly’s imperial force at Breitenfeld, near Leipzig. In three hours, the entire momentum of the war was reversed. Thirteen thousand of Tilly’s 40,000 men were killed or wounded, and the army of the Holy Roman Empire fled, abandoning all their artillery. This victory helped unite the Protestants into an army that numbered almost 80,000 by the end of the year. The following spring, Gustavus defeated Tilly again, and the imperial commander died of wounds a few weeks later. The Protestant army liberated much of southern Germany, but in the process extended their supply lines too far. Wallenstein took advantage of this by moving a new army into Saxony, threatening Gustavus’s rear. Wallenstein occupied a strongly fortified position at Alte Veste, which the Protestants failed to take after a two-day battle in September 1632. When Wallenstein dispersed his men into winter quarters in November, Gustavus seized his opportunity and attacked with 18,000 men against Wallenstein’s 20,000 at Leuthen, about 20 miles from Breitenfeld. Again the forces of the empire were forced to retreat, but Gustavus was killed in the battle.

Command of the army fell to Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, who led it during the majority of the battle at Leuthen, but Gustavus was irreplaceable. Luckily for the Protestants, however, Wallenstein failed to follow up on the advantage of having killed Gustavus. Instead, he entered into a variety of political machinations that ultimately lost him his job and then his life. With the deaths of Wallenstein and Tilly, the empire’s armies became the norm, and civilians remained out of the way of the battlefield until the nineteenth century. Nationalism, which had been growing for 200 years, began to take serious root in Europe. Gustavus Adolphus’s professional military was the standard by which others were created until the development of the completely nationalist armies engendered by French Revolution.

References: Addington, Larry, Patterns of War through the Eighteenth Century (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1990); Roberts, Michael, Gustavus Adolphus: A History of Sweden, 2 vols. (New York: Longman, 1953–1958); Wedgewood, C. V., The Thirty Years War (Gloucester, MA: P. Smith, 1969 [1938]).




An Indian ethnic group that resisted the British occupation of India. The homeland of the Marathas, another of the martial races of India, is the Deccan, the plateau of central India south of the Narbudda River stretching to the west coast. This region was one of the final acquisitions of the Aryans in prehistoric times, and the inhabitants are descendants of both those invaders and the aboriginal tribes that lived there prior to conquest. The Marathas first displayed their warlike tendencies with the arrival of the Muslims in India. As Hindus, the Marathas fiercely resisted the imposition of Islam, especially under the Mogul dynasty. Their leader was Sivaji, called “the mountain rat,” and his successes against the Moguls, including the kidnapping of an emperor, laid the groundwork for what became the Mahratta Confederacy. Prior to the arrival of the British in the 1700s, the only serious military opponents the Marathas had faced were the Afghans, who had defeated them along the border at Panipat in 1761. That defeat laid the foundation for internal disputes that brought about the two Maratha wars.

As long as Sivaji lived, the Marathas were united, but after his death the population broke into factions under rival princes who swore only nominal fealty to a central government under the rajah of Satara. The chief minister of the rajah was the peshwa, a hereditary position that exercised great influence. The princes collectively formed the Maratha Confederation, and for all their independent stances stood together when faced with outside threats. The confederation consisted of the princes Scindia, Holkar, and Bhonsla, along with the peshwa, and the European military advisors they employed at the opening of the nineteenth century, who were predominantly French refugees from the court of the recently deposed Tipoo Sultan of Mysore.

The Marathas staged two campaigns against the British. The first started in 1804 as the British were embroiled in European problems with Napoleon. Always on the alert to find some way to divert the British, Napoleon sent agents to India (where the French presence was coming to an end) to stir up trouble. Indian princes had long hired Europeans to train and command their armies, and the Marathas accepted the offer of French assistance against the growing power of Britain along the western coast of India. The forces comprising the Maratha army were neither citizen-soldiers nor patriots, but mercenaries and outlaws fighting for pay and to practice their chosen profession. Long a haven for raiders and bandits, British possessions around Bombay had suffered from decades-long harassment. As it was the British East India Company’s view that law and order promoted profits, conflict between them and the Marathas would certainly have broken out even without French aid.

It was the British defeat of Tipoo Sultan in 1798 that precipitated the conflict. The British had viewed Tipoo Sultan as a particularly despicable character who needed deposing, so they replaced him with a more cooperative ruler, who became the Nizam of Mysore. Upon disbanding the French forces, the Nizam was urged to accept a garrison of East India Company soldiers: four battalions from Madras and some artillery to defend the capital city of Hyderabad. These troops were necessary to defend Mysore from the bandit raids emanating from Maratha territory, while the British at the same time opened negotiations with the Marathas to end the banditry and cooperate against the threat of Afghan pressure. These negotiations, coupled with the death of Peshwa Madho Rao, led to internecine fighting among the Marathas. The new peshwa, Bajee Rao, broke ranks and allied himself with the British in return for East India Company troops and artillery. The Marathas responded by naming Bajee’s brother, Amrut, to be peshwa, which led to an inevitable conflict between the confederacy on one side and the British, forces loyal to Bajee Rao, and the forces of the Nizam of Mysore on the other.

The army that took the field against the Maratha Confederacy was led by Arthur Wellesley in his first major combat command. In total, some 50,000 men were under his command, operating in a number of smaller columns. He quickly captured the supposedly impregnable fortress at Ahmadnagar, then found himself facing a huge challenge at the village of Assaye at the Jua and Kelna Rivers. On September 23, 1803, with only 4,500 men, Wellesley charged a force of 55,000 led by a number of French officers. In a few hours Wellesley drove them from the field at a cost of almost half the British force killed or wounded. He followed these successes with victories at Argaon in November and Gawilarh in December, while one of his subordinates captured the fort at Aseergurh.

While Wellesley consolidated his hold in the southern region of Maratha territory, a second army under General Lord Lake operated farther north in the vicinity of Delhi, where he rescued the Mogul emperor, Shah Alam, from his Mahratta captors. Lake’s army operated against Holkar, one of the Maratha princes, while Wellesley had fought against princes ScIndia and Bhonsla. Lake soon captured Agra and sent forces in pursuit of fleeing Marathas, but was obliged to defend Delhi from a major counterattack. Throughout 1805, Lake campaigned in the Punjab, ferreting out Holkar’s forces and those of his allies. Lake’s ultimate defeat of Holkar at Armritsar led to the war’s end in 1806. Lake remained in India, but Wellesley was transferred to Europe to lead British forces in Spain against Napoleon’s army there, for which he was ultimately given the title of Duke of Wellington.

Peace between the British and Marathas was kept for more than a decade, but in 1817 the confederacy started hostilities again, owing to the activity of mercenary outlaws called Pindaris. The Pindaris, remnants of old Mogul armies, were raiding and pillaging so extensively that the British had to respond. They called on the Marathas for aid under the terms of the 1806 agreement, but received little assistance. The British forces thus had to campaign against the Pindaris while keeping an eye on the always restless Marathas. The erstwhile British ally Bajee Rao now chafed under British control and, under the guise of raising troops to aid the British, actually organized an army totaling 86,500 cavalry and 66,000 infantry to add to the 16,500 cavalry and infantry of the Pindaris. The combined number never operated together, but threatened the British from a variety of directions.

The opening of the conflict came in November 1817 when Mahratta troops attacked the British garrison stationed at Bajee Rao’s capital of Poona. British forces under Sir Thomas Hyslop and Lord General Francis Rawdon-Hastings made fairly short work of the Second Maratha War. The Pindaris were successful only against defenseless villages, while the Marathas, though numerous, had lost most of their quality soldiers in the previous war. When Bajee Rao surrendered in early June 1818, Maratha power was broken for good, and the East India Company attained dominance in the subcontinent. The British were obliged to interfere in a succession dispute in 1825–1826 but, as was their practice, the British began to incorporate the best Maratha soldiers into the Indian Army. The wars against the Marathas were the most difficult that the East India Company fought prior to the Sikh War of the 1840s and 1850s. When the Sepoy Rebellion broke out in 1857 the Maratha troops remained loyal to the British in spite of the fact that some of the Rebel- lion’s leaders claimed to be fighting to restore Maratha power. Marathas also proved themselves to be quality troops when they fought alongside British forces in Mesopotamia in World War I.

References: MacMunn, G.F., The Armies of India (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1911); Ma- son, Philip, A Matter of Honour (London: Jonathan Cape, 1974); Roberts, P.E., History of British India (London: Oxford University Press, 1952).

Kriegsmarine Cruisers


The Prinz Eugen was an enlarged Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruiser which served with the Kriegsmarine of Germany during World War II.


The Prinz Eugen in May 1941 (top), during the Channel Dash in February 1942 (center), and in 1945 (bottom).


Two of these units did not survive World War II. The Blücher was sunk on 9 April 1940 by land-based gun and torpedo installations during the German invasion of Norway. The Admiral Hipper was scuttled on 2 May 1945 after sustaining heavy damage from Allied bombing raids. The Prinz Eugen has the distinction of being the only large German warship to survive World War II. It was used as an experimental ship in the atomic bomb blasts at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It sank on 22 December 1946 as a result of damage sustained in the experiments. Two other units were never completed. In 1942, construction on one of these, Seydlitz, was nearing completion when the decision was made to convert it to an aircraft carrier. This plan was soon cancelled, and the hull remained unused for most of the war. On 10 April 1945, the vessel was scuttled to prevent its capture by the Russians. It was refloated by the Russians and scrapped. The other incomplete ship, Lutzow, was sold to the Soviet Union in early 1940. It served as an accommodation ship from 1945 to 1956, when it was scrapped.


Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945)  Underway during the later 1930s. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.


GERMANY: K-CLASS [Köln pictured]

All three units failed to survive World War II. The Königsburg was bombed by British aircraft on 10 April 1940, and subsequently scrapped in 1943. The Karlsruhe was torpedoed by a British submarine on 9 April 1940 and scuttled due to the damage sustained. The Köln was sunk by an Allied bombing raid and broken up in 1946.



Germany, one of the great naval powers before World War I, could not entertain hopes of rebuilding its navy. The Treaty of Versailles had required that Germany surrender its newest and most powerful warships, which left the country with a collection of obsolete vessels useful only as a coast-defense force. The terms provided for the replacement of obsolete vessels when necessary, but Germany was allowed to possess only eight light cruisers that could not exceed 6,000 tons; capital ships could not exceed 10,000 tons of displacement with 11-inch guns. Between 1921 and 1928, the Weimar government exercised its option to replace some of its old vessels when it laid down five new light cruisers. The first of these, Emden, was merely a ship built to the specifications of the country’s World War I era vessels. The next three warships of the K-class, however, were built using a totally new and innovative design.

The K-class ships were completed in 1929 and 1930, measured 570 feet, 10 inches by 50 feet, 2 inches, and mounted an armament of nine 5.9-inch guns and six 3.5-inch weapons. The turret arrangement for these cruisers was interesting, as there was one placed in the fore section and two mounted aft in a staggered fashion rather than in the center of the ship. The constructors believed that this latter arrangement could produce a better arc of fire. The engines utilized a combination of steam and diesel power, the latter being employed for the first time in a cruiser. The two types could not be used in combination with one another. Using diesel engines, the ships could travel at 10 knots, while the steam turbines could produce a maximum 32 knots. The hulls were protected by an armor belt up to 2.75 inches thick and a deck with a maximum depth of 1.5 inches. Although these ships represented the return of Germany as an innovative naval power, they also symbolized German willingness to violate the Treaty of Versailles. Each vessel displaced 6,650 tons; the last light cruiser laid down before 1930, Leipzig, was also a violation. These vessels were the first of a series of warships built in the next years that broke the terms of the peace agreement.

The restrictions of treaties were not regarded as a great hindrance to Germany, which was the greatest producer of heavy cruisers after 1930 through its bid to resurrect its armed forces in general. Upon their election to power in 1933, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party sought to undermine the Treaty of Versailles to return Germany to world power status. The first step, already initiated before 1933, shocked the world and was based on the cruiser. The Treaty of Versailles had stipulated a limit of 10,000 tons and a maximum armament of 11-inch weapons for any new German capital ship. The framers of the treaty believed that these strictures would limit future construction only to ships capable of coast defense. German ingenuity and willingness to violate these terms, however, produced much more capable vessels that were in essence large cruisers. These were the three ships of the Deutschland-class that were laid down between 1929 and 1932 and completed by 1936. Their hulls measured 610 feet, 3 inches by 70 feet, 10 inches; each mounted a primary armament of six 11-inch guns positioned in two three-gunned turrets located fore and aft. Each vessel also carried eight 5.9-inch guns, eight torpedo tubes, and 24 antiaircraft guns of varying sizes. Their engines were diesel and could produce a maximum speed of 28 knots. The importance of the vessels was great not only militarily but also politically for Hitler. The lead ship, Deutschland, was named after the nation itself and symbolized the rebirth of German naval power and an erosion of the Treaty of Versailles. Although they were publicly touted as displacing 10,000 tons, their actual displacement was 11,700 tons.

Germany continued to arm for war with the completion of new units that were openly in contravention of Versailles, although they were built in an atmosphere of partial legitimacy because of the diplomatic actions of Great Britain. In 1935, as part of its policy of appeasement to avoid war, the British openly violated the Treaty of Versailles by signing a naval pact that allowed for a German fleet that was 35 percent the size of the Royal Navy. The cruisers were part of Germany’s larger plan for naval rearmament. The largest units completed in 1938 and 1939 were the two battle cruisers of the Scharnhorst-class that measured 753 feet, 11 inches by 98 feet, 5 inches and displaced 34,841 tons. They were armed with nine 11- inch guns and 12 5.9-inch weapons and could steam at a maximum speed of 32 knots. An armor belt of 13.75 inches maximum and a deck 3 inches thick provided protection. Six cruisers of the Admiral Hipper-class with 8-inch guns were also being produced; two were ready for service by late 1939. In many respects, these ships mirrored those of the British, Americans, and French.

The cruisers that were completed or under construction in the period between 1936 and 1939 were only a small portion of a large number of ships that signified the general failure of the principle of peace through naval disarmament. By the opening of 1940, the number of cruisers in operation in the world’s navies was almost as great as before World War I: Britain maintained three battle cruisers, 18 heavy cruisers, and 50 light cruisers; the United States had 18 heavy and 19 light cruisers; Japan operated four battle cruisers, 18 heavy cruisers, and 38 light cruisers; Italy had seven heavy cruisers and 12 light cruisers; France maintained two battle cruisers, 10 heavy cruisers, and seven light cruisers; Germany operated two battle cruisers, five heavy cruisers, and six light cruisers; and the Soviet Union possessed nine light cruisers. These vessels and those completed over the next five years would serve in roles equally as important as in World War I. On 1 September 1939, a new war erupted in Europe that would eventually engulf the world in a conflict on both sea and land.

26. Panzer-Division


Panther Ausf.D’s of the 26th Panzer Division advancing towards the front between Anzio-Nettu photo was taken February 16th 1944.

Italien, bei Nettuno, Panzerkolonne

Italian Campaign, March 1944: under a pouring rain a column of 7,5 cm Sturmgeschütz 40 Ausf. G (Sd.Kfz. 142/1) and Panther tank of the 26th Panzer Division (Panther I./Pz-Reg 4) briefly parked on the borders of muddy lane of a rural area during the movement to Nettuno front.

Italien, Panzer IV

Composition: 1942 : Pz.Gr.Rgt. 9, Pz.Gr.Rgt. 67, Pz.Rgt. 26, Kradschtz.Btl. 26, Pz.Art.Rgt. 93, Pz.Jag.Abt. 51, H-Flakart. Abt. 304, Pz.Pi.Btl. 93, Pz.Nachr.Abt. 93, Kdr.Pz.Div. Nachsch. Tr. 93, Felders.Btl. 93 (Le Kradschtz.Btl. 26 becomes Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 26 the 1 April 1943. The 23 July 1943, the Pz.Jag.Abt. 93 left the division and was replaced by Pz.Jag.Abt. 5M Kradschtz.Btl. 26 became Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 26 on 1 April, 1943. On 23 July, 1943, Pz.Jag.Abt. 93 left the division and was replaced by Pz.Jag.Abt. 51.)

Commanders: Oberst (Gen.Maj. => Gen.Lt.) Smilo Frhr von Lüttwitz (14.7.1942-21.1.1944), Gen.Ma]. Hans Hecker (22.1.-19.2.1944, m.d.F.b.), Gen.Lt. Smilo Frhr von Lüttwitz (20.2.-10.4.1944), Gen.Maj. Dr.Jur. Dr. Rer.Pol. Hans Boelsen (11.4.-7.5.1944, in Vertretung), Gen.Lt. Smilo Frhr von Lüttwitz (8.5.-5.7.1944), Oberst Eduard Crasemann (6-18.7.1944, m.d.F.b.), Gen.Maj. Dr. Jur.Dr. Rer.Pol. Hans Boelsen (19.7.-26.8.1944, m.d.F.b.), Oberst (Gen.Maj.) Eduard Crasemann (27.8.1944-28.1.1945), Oberst Alfred Kuhnert (29.1.-19.3.1945), Gen.Maj. (Gen.Lt.) Viktor Linnarz (20.3.-5.1945).

History: 26. Pz.Div. was raised on 14 September 1942 from 23. Inf.Div. in the Courtrai-Béthune sector of France. In May 1943, it was stationed in the Amiens area until July, when it left for Italy to be allocated to 1. Fallsch.Korps (14. Armee, Army Group “C”). The division counterattacked at Anzio then took part in the fighting on the “Gustav Line”. It later withdrew to the “Gothic Line”. Around this time it took over Gr. Rgt. 1027. In November 1944, it distinguished itself during battles fought between the Apennines and the Adriatic. Early in 1945, it defended a sector along the Adriatic coast, in April, it fought to the south of the Po. It then received orders from Hitler to hold out on the Po with LXXVI. Pz K. to which it was assigned and was wiped out there. Only a few members of the division managed to escape across the Po, withdrawing towards Bozen (Bolzano). The division having lost all its vehicles and tanks by then, thus ceased to exist. Its men were placed in captivity at the Ghedi camp…

During what turned out to be a rather short existence, the division produced 11 Knights of the Iron Cross, 2 with Oak Leaves and one with Swords (Smilo von Lüttwitz, divisional commander, 4 July 1944, n° 76).



Stalingrad Duel




"Black devils"(Soviet marines) landing. Autumn 1942.


Hitler, on 2 September he issued an order that when the city was taken the entire male population was to be liquidated and all the females deported. Like Leningrad and Moscow, Hitler wanted Stalingrad to be erased from the face of the earth.

But, before that final solution could be imposed on the city, the Germans had to capture it. The first problem they faced, as Stephen Walsh points out (2000, p.52), was that as they were unable to employ their favourite tactic of the Kesselschlacht – the battle of encirclement. Stalingrad was a long, very narrow city that stretched for some 30–40 miles along the western bank of the Volga. Little development had spilled over to the east bank because the Volga was too broad, up to a mile wide at some points. Stalingrad was too extensive to be easily enveloped by German forces who were already over-extended and at the end of very long supply lines, and who would be subject to strong opposition from Soviet divisions protecting the city’s flanks along the river’s banks. On the other hand, the city’s narrowness (never more than 4 or 5 miles wide) invited a direct frontal assault with the aim of breaking through to the riverbank across a broad front.

An alternative tactic, much canvassed after the event, would have been to attack from the north and south along the Volga with the aim of taking control of the riverfront and isolating the defending Soviet forces within the city. But attacking on such narrow fronts would have had its own problems and would have been fiercely contested by the Soviets, who well understood the importance of control of the river bank, the lifeline for their armies in Stalingrad. Besides, the Germans expected to take Stalingrad quickly, if not easily, whatever method they adopted, and they almost succeeded in doing so.

Stalingrad was a city of three main sections. In the south was the old town, which bordered on the city’s railway stations and the central landing stage river dock area. In the central section was a modern city centre with wide boulevards, department stores, civic buildings and public amenities. The north of the city was dominated by three huge factories along the river front: the Dzerzhinskii Tractor factory, which had been converted to tank production; the Barrikady ordnance works; and the Krasnii Oktyabr (Red October) metal plant. Important features of the city from a military point of view were:

(a) the high banks of the Tsaritsa River, which flowed into the Volga and bisected the southern section of the city;

(b) Mamayev Kurgan – an ancient burial mound and, at over 300 feet, one of the highest hills in the city, with commanding views of the centre and north of Stalingrad and across the Volga; and

(c) the defensive shelter offered by the high banks and bluffs of the west side of the Volga, which rose to 1000 feet in places.

The main German attack force was Paulus’s 6th Army – the strongest field army in the Wehrmacht – conqueror of Poland, France and the Ukraine. Supporting the 6th Army was the 4th Panzer Army, making a total of 21 enemy divisions attacking in the Stalingrad region, although many units were under strength by the time they had fought their way to the Don and Volga. According to Soviet figures, 13 of these enemy divisions (170,000 men, 500 tanks and 3000 artillery pieces) were deployed on the 40-mile front of Stalingrad and its environs. Air support was provided by the Luftwaffe’s 8th Air Corps, which had about 1000 planes. Facing the Germans was a Soviet force of 90,000, with 2000 artillery pieces, 120 tanks and just under 400 planes.

The same imbalance of forces prevailed on the narrower front of the city of Stalingrad itself. On its 25-mile front the Soviet 62nd Army – the main defending force in the city – was 54,000 strong (as against 100,000 Germans), had 900 artillery pieces (against 2000), and 110 tanks (facing 500). The size and composition of both armies fluctuated, depending on casualties and replacements, but those kind of numbers and force ratios prevailed throughout most of the battle that was to follow.

The two main commanders were Paulus, and, on the Soviet side, General Vasilii Chuikov, who took charge of the 62nd army on 12 September. Paulus is a controversial figure (as losing generals often are) but the consensus is that he was a highly-competent but unimaginative staff officer, an operational technician rather than a field commander, at least not one to be involved in a Rattenkrieg (rats’ war) as the German soldiers in Stalingrad called the battle. Chuikov, on the other hand, may have lacked operational refinement but he was a tough and determined fighter, independent, outspoken and abrasive – and universally acclaimed as the ideal commander for a brutal and wearying city scrap. The contrast between the two is summed up by the fact that throughout the battle Chuikov was in the thick of it, often under direct fire, his command headquarters pushed back to the water’s edge of the Volga, while Paulus (not unreasonably) stayed away from the combat zone and commanded his troops from the rear.

Despite their superior numbers and firepower, the Germans were being drawn into a battle that would involve them in a very different kind of fighting from that with which they were familiar. Much of Stalingrad already lay in ruins following extensive aerial and artillery bombardment. The rubble would obstruct concentrated, mobile attacks by combined air, armour and infantry, while providing cover for defenders. Though out-numbered and out-gunned the defenders would have many advantages in the close combat of the innumerable small battles fought among the city’s ruins.

General Hans Doerr, who fought at Stalingrad, was the author of one of the earliest German studies of the battle: Campaign to Stalingrad (Der Feldzug nach Stalingrad, 1955). In a celebrated passage he set the scene for what was to come:

‘The battle for the industrial area of Stalingrad, which began in the middle of September, can be described as “trench” or “fortress” warfare. The time for conducting large-scale operations was gone for ever; from the wide expanses of the steppeland, the war moved into the jagged gullies of the Volga hills with their copses and ravines, into the factory area of Stalingrad, spread out over uneven, pitted, rugged country, covered with iron, concrete and stone buildings. The mile, as a measure of distance, was replaced by the yard . . .

For every house, workshop, water-tower, railway embankment, wall, cellar and every pile of ruins, a bitter battle was waged . . . The distance between the enemy’s army and ours was as small as it could possibly be. Despite the concentrated activity of aircraft and artillery, it was impossible to break out of the area of close fighting . . .’ (Chuikov, 1963, p.135)