About MSW

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“


1st Colorado Volunteers occupy Fort San Antonio de Abad in Malate district, Manila

Plan of the City of Manila. Antonio Giménez. Signed by governing general military Jaudenes. 1898. At the end of the 19th century the urban structure of Manila was completed. The original defensive configuration stayed invariable during the Spanish time, and it is conserved at the present time.

Date: 1 May–14 August 1898.

Location: on the west coast of the Philippine island of Luzon.

Forces Engaged: American: 10,000 soldiers. Commanders: Commodore George Dewey and General Wesley Merritt.

Spanish: 10,000–15,000 soldiers. Commander: General Fermin Jaudenes.

Importance: American capture of Manila marked beginning of U.S. occupation of the Philippine Islands, as well as the start of a three-year war with local insurgents

Historical Setting

In the late nineteenth century the United States was beginning to take on the duty of spreading the blessings of civilization and the American way to “lesser” peoples around the world. This, according to a famous poem that British poet Rudyard Kipling addressed to the United States, was the “white man’s burden,” which the British had been exercising in India, Asia, and Africa for decades. One of America’s first opportunities to aid “our little brown brothers” was in Cuba, an island the United States had long coveted. In response to reported Spanish brutality against a revolutionary movement beginning in 1895, the United States finally intervened in April 1898. Once war was declared on Spain, all Spain’s possessions became potential targets. Indeed, the first American attack on Spain’s military came not at Cuba, but against their fleet based in the Philippine capital of Manila.

Commodore George Dewey commanded the American Asiatic squadron, anchored in Hong Kong in early 1898. Upon receiving orders from Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Dewey’s six ships sailed for Manila, arriving late on the night of 30 April. Entering Manila Bay just after midnight on 1 May (challenged by a single shot from the island fortress of Corregidor guarding the harbor entrance), Dewey’s squadron proceeded to pound the Spanish fleet into wreckage just after dawn. Although he was able to occupy the naval facilities at Cavite, a few miles south of Manila, he did not have sufficient manpower to hold anything else. That meant that the Spanish garrison in Manila controlled the city and that Spanish troops occupied the remainder of the Philippine archipelago. Still, staring down the gun barrels of a modern fleet, the Spanish commandant in Manila allowed Dewey the use of his telegraph facilities to alert Washington to the victory. Dewey then cut the telegraph cable in an attempt to keep the Spanish from sending for help from home.

Dewey did not know that the Spanish had alternate methods of communicating with Spain. Dewey received communications from Washington via a ship shuttling back and forth to Hong Kong. It was through this avenue that Dewey learned both of American troops being sent to his aid and the alarm that Spanish warships had left their home port in Ceuta bound for Manila. The Spanish fleet outnumbered his own and he could not be sure which would arrive first, American or Spanish reinforcements. In the meantime, Dewey had the assistance of Emilio Aguinaldo. Exiled from the Philippines in 1894 for fomenting revolution, Aguinaldo arrived from exile in Hong Kong aboard an American ship on 19 May. He had arranged with Dewey to raise an army of insurgents to assist the Americans by controlling the countryside and bottling Spanish forces up in a handful of towns and forts. Aguinaldo did all this on the assumption that once the Spanish were defeated, the United States would grant independence to the Philippines. It was not a concept shared by American political leaders. Cuba, indeed, had been promised independence from the outset of the conflict, but American Secretary of State W. R. Day stated: “The United States in entering upon the occupation of the islands as a result of its military operations in that quarter, will do so in the exercise of the rights which the state of war confers, and will expect from the inhabitants … that obedience which will be lawfully due from them” (Freidel, Splendid Little War, p. 280).

The Siege

With Dewey’s ships blockading the harbor and Aguinaldo’s guerrillas hemming in the city, everyone awaited the arrival of American troops. The Spanish fleet that caused initial worry was called back to Spain when it reached the Suez. That sealed Manila’s fate, but larger political considerations were in play. Spanish leaders in Manila hoped that by holding on they could maintain official sovereignty of the islands as a bargaining chip in Spanish-American peace negotiations. The United States (after some discussion in President William McKinley’s cabinet) decided to claim the Philippines as spoils of war. Aguinaldo announced formation of a government and declared independence, neither of which any other country would recognize. Who would become master of the islands?

The first American troops departed San Francisco on 25 May, picking up escort in Hawaii and capturing the Spanish island of Guam along the way. These 2,500 men arrived at Manila Bay on 30 June. Another 3,500 arrived 17 July, and the final contingent of 5,000 arrived at the end of the month. With the final force was Major General Wesley Merritt, in overall command of the army units. As American troops arrived, they moved into trenches around Manila that had been occupied by Filipino insurgents. They improved them and began a lackadaisical siege, with almost random shooting from both defender and attacker. Both sides suffered light casualties while Dewey negotiated through the Belgian consul with the Spanish commandant, General Fermin Jaudenes. Further, the Spanish and American governments were negotiating a cease-fire and opening discussions on the final disposition of the Philippines. Because of the severed telegraph cable, however, Dewey and Merritt had no quick communications with Washington.

Jaudenes knew he could not long resist the power of American naval gunfire, for his batteries lacked the range to return fire. Although commanding some 15,000 men, he was far outnumbered by the combined forces of the Americans and the Filipinos. He and Dewey had some common ground: neither wanted Aguinaldo’s forces to occupy the city. “Thus, at the moment when the American public was debating whether we could honorably ‘give the islands back to Spain,’ Spain was actually holding them for us against the native population; and, most curious of all, the Spaniards had entered into an effective though unofficial alliance with us to assist in the suppression of the patriots while we were concluding that our duty to these same patriots prevented us from leaving them under ‘Spanish misrule’” (Millis, Martial Spirit, p. 357).

Unsure of the pace of negotiations on the other side of the world, Juadenes entered into a strange arrangement with Dewey and Merritt. He could not just surrender the city without a fight, for that would damage his career and that of his officers. At the same time, he knew he could not mount an effective defense. So a mock battle was arranged. On 13 August U.S. ships would open fire on an abandoned fort. After a reasonable bombardment, Dewey was to fly signal flags requesting a surrender. Juadenes would then order a white flag raised over the city walls. Attacking American troops could then advance against meager resistance, occupying the city while keeping Aguinaldo’s men at bay.

The planned attack started well. Fort San Augustin was blasted, then occupied by American troops. Owing to miscommunication or too much fighting spirit, some Spanish troops put up stronger resistance than was expected. There were a few brisk firefights, but for the most part the action went off as planned. Aguinaldo’s men did temporarily occupy parts of Manila, but American troops soon forced them out.


On 14 August Juadenes, Merritt, and Dewey signed the formal surrender papers. No one in Manila knew that the warring governments had signed a cease-fire two days earlier. News of that event arrived on the 16th, upon which Dewey sent Washington a request for direction in dealing with Aguinaldo. The reply: “The President directs that there must be no joint occupation with the insurgents…. The insurgents and all others must recognize the military occupation and authority of the United States” (Freidel, Splendid Little War, pp. 292–293).

While American and Spanish negotiators met in Paris to hammer out a peace treaty, Spanish forces still occupied most of the rest of the Philippine islands. That fact played a major role in the peace talks. While Spain gave up Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States as “spoils of war,” they resisted conceding the Philippines. Eventually, the United States paid Spain $20 million for a peaceful exchange of sovereignty—peaceful between America and Spain, at any rate.

Frustrated at his inability to gain any part of the new power structure, Aguinaldo led his men into the countryside and began a resistance to his new masters. The Philippine Insurrection, as it was called in the United States, lasted until Aguinaldo was finally captured in 1901. By that time, the United States had countered his guerrilla warfare with the concentration camp strategy developed by the Spanish in Cuba, which resulted in the deaths of some 200,000 Filipinos through exposure and disease. The United States had begun forming a national government under American control, and when Aguinaldo was invited to join it after his capture, the insurrection collapsed. Although the United States and the Philippines got off to a terrible beginning, over time they grew into allies. The United States promised independence to the Philippines in 1934 to be granted in 1942, but Japanese occupation during World War II postponed the actual transfer of sovereignty until after the war. In return, the United States received a long-term lease on a naval and air base, which was finally abandoned in the 1990s.


Frank Freidel, The Splendid Little War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1958); Walter Millis, The Martial Spirit (Chicago: Ivan Dee, 1989 [1931]); David Traxel, 1898: Birth of the American Century (New York: Knopf, 1998).


Athens after the Persians

The type of bow most people are familiar with is the “post Corinthian” bow. Previously, triremes had a ‘hollow’ bow. See Connolly’s reconstruction of this type, p.265 “Greece and Rome at War”, and the coin reverses on p.264 giving a good ‘before and after’ idea of the old and modified bows.

What Thucydides says can be translated thus: “They shortened the bows of their ships and strengthened them; they laid out stout ‘epotides’, and fixed stays from the ‘epotides’ to the ships sides both inside and out” (the ‘epotides’ lit: “ears” were the transverse beams across the hull supporting the ‘paraxereisia’ = outrigger that supported the upper bank of oars, sometimes in English called ‘catsheads’).

The Greek word for ‘fixed’ is the same derivative as the English term ‘hypotenuse’. The stays thus formed a “Y” support to each of the “T” shapes formed by the ‘epotides’ running at 90 degrees to the ship’s sides. This strengthened ‘epotides’ meant that the opponent’s epotides and paraxereisia would be smashed in a near head-on collision, allowing the scraping off of the opponent’s oar-banks…….

Pausanias’ misadventures and Spartan reluctance to become involved in overseas military operations handed to the Athenians leadership of the Greeks in the fight against the Persians. Spartan leadership, seen by many Greeks as corrupt and arrogant, gave way to the Athenians, who, on account of their democracy, may have been perceived as more open and friendly. Shortly after Pausanias’ recall home, the Athenians took the initiative and established a new military alliance, the Delian League, to continue the war against the Persians (478/7). Established on Delos, Apollo’ s sacred island, the Athenians organized the Greeks for what some imagined would be a permanent war. Rich and populous communities, especially those on the prosperous islands of Chios, Lesbos, and Samos, provided ships and crews in the military expeditions that the Athenians led and became more powerful themselves. Communities too small or disinclined to serve in person were assessed financial contributions. The Persian War veteran and hero Aristides established these initially, his nickname ‘ the Just ’ persuading the Greeks that their monies would be handled judiciously.  Later known as phoros , or tribute, these monies were paid into a war treasury kept at Delos and were administered by a board of Athenian officials called the hellenotamiai , or ‘ treasurers of the Greeks ’ .  The first assessment totaled some 460 talents, a vast sum. The Athenians regulated the tribute and kept lists (which were published) of the assessments and how these changed in the years that followed.  So armed and funded, the Athenians acquired incredible military power enabling them to lead expeditions throughout the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean world.

Just as the Spartans faced the challenges posed by a successful wartime leader, so too did the Athenians. In the first years after the Persian defeat, Themistocles, the architect of victory at Salamis, dominated the city and engineered its recovery. He foiled a Spartan attempt to dissuade the Athenians from rebuilding their city walls, which would have left the city vulnerable to future attack. But the fickleness of the Athenian democracy, the jealousies a successful figure like Themistocles faced from enemies eager to see him fall, led to his political eclipse. In about 474/3 the Athenians ostracized him and the vote may have been rigged.  In 1937 a hoard of ostraca, or voting tokens, was found in an old well on the acropolis of Athens. Of some 191 pieces, all but one bore his name. Upon study only fourteen different hands could be read, evidence that a group of his enemies had surely gathered, written out the ostraca and then handed them out on voting day.  There is no way of knowing if these ostraca date from 474/3 or not, but they clearly indicate that Themistocles had enemies and that they were organized. Bound by the law, Themistocles left Athens and for a time resided in nearby Euboea. But then he too was caught up in the Pausanias scandal and fled to Asia where the new Great King, Artaxerxes I, son of his late rival Xerxes, gave him shelter. His former enemies welcomed him warmly and years later Themistocles died an honored exile.

Themistocles, however, had his defenders in Athens and not long after his ostracism, one of them, the Marathon veteran and playwright Aeschylus, reminded the Athenians of Themistocles’ service to the state. His drama Persians, staged in 472/1, not only commemorated the victory over the enemy, but indirectly praised the now dishonored Themistocles. Interesting too is the identity of the choregos , the individual responsible for providing the chorus with costumes and training. Pericles, son of Xanthippus and a wartime ally of Themistocles and scion of Athens’ grandest family, made his public debut as Aeschylus’ benefactor, subtly showing too where his political sympathies lay.

By 467/6, some members of the Delian League began tiring of wartime life as the Persian threat receded: there seemed little reason for a military alliance, forged in the euphoria of victory, to continue. Such was the case with Naxos, an island state, which now withdrew from the alliance. The Athenians, however, did not see things this way. When making their agreement, members of the new league had ceremoniously dumped into the sea lumps of iron and pledged that until the iron floated, they would remain loyal to their oaths of membership. The Athenians saw the Naxians as oath – breakers and so responded with great force. Attacked and subdued by veteran Athenian forces, the Naxians were compelled to dismantle their city – wall and pay penalties as they were forced back into the League. The allies, quickly becoming subjects now, could see that Athens would not negotiate or arbitrate any differences: there was little choice for them other than acquiescence to Athens’ greater power.

Naxos, however, was not the only state unhappy with the growing arrogance of power displayed by the Athenians. In 465 another island state, Thasos, broke its association with the League, as the Athenians encroached on its mainland holdings – rich in gold and silver. For some three years the Athenians assailed the island, finally subduing it and forcing it back into the League. Like Naxos, Thasos suffered severe punishment. But there were other casualties as well. Enemies of Cimon, who had commanded the Athenian forces in the campaign, prosecuted but failed to convict him of corruption.  Less fortunate were the Athenian settlers later introduced as colonists into the disputed region. Occupying a township known as Ennea Hodoi, the ‘Nine Ways’, the colonists were attacked by the local Thracian population and virtually annihilated, frustrating Athenian hopes of expansion (Thuc. 4.102.2).

Sometime around 466 the Athenian – led campaign against the Persian menace finally struck a decisive blow. At the Eurymedon River in Asia Minor, the Athenians and their allies led by Cimon destroyed a combined Persian fleet and army, thereby ending any chance of the Persians returning to Aegean waters. Cimon may have reached a settlement with the Persians, but by 460 he was in exile, ostracized, after an abortive expedition to Sparta. The Athenians now began flexing their military muscle throughout the eastern Mediterranean world. An expeditionary force to Cyprus was diverted to Egypt to support the rebellion of the Libyan prince Inarus. Fighting here lasted through several campaigning seasons and the Athenians invested a great deal of money and resources. In the end the Persians scored a major success, diverting the waters of the Nile and marooning the Athenian ships, then destroying them (c. 454).

As these dramatic events unfolded, the Athenian political scene heralded a new arrival – Pericles. Known by name and reputation, his political sympathies were revealed c. 462/1 when he supported the efforts of the reformer Ephialtes to strip the old aristocratic council, the Areopagus, of its authoritative judicial powers.  In attacking the Areopagus Council, Ephialtes transferred its power and prestige to other and more popular bodies, the assembly, law courts, and Council of 500. Responses to the reforms were impassioned and cost Ephialtes his life, though the details are far from clear (Plut. Per . 10.7 – 8). These events, however, found their way into the popular imagination through the dramatic medium of Attic drama. In 458 Aeschylus staged the only surviving trilogy in Greek tragedy, the Oresteia . In its final play, Eumenides, Aeschylus warns of the dangers of civil war and how this worst of political evils must be avoided.

Did Aeschylus make a political statement, and if so who heard his message? While the political nature of the dramatic venue can be overstated, so much so that the rich matrix of intellectual and spiritual ideas and beliefs is overshadowed, it remains that the theater experience was a diverse one with real and contemporary issues sometimes at play.  Here the Athenians heard the views and opinions of their best minds, who asked them to think about the world around them and to act as informed citizens. It must also be seen that those who heard these words were almost certainly the minority. The Theater of Dionysus, where Aeschylus ’ Oresteia was performed, as later the plays of Sophocles and Euripides, was apparently not large and may have accommodated no more than the local theater in Thorikos. In many ways, then, the theater experience was an elite experience. It did voice political concerns about the community and its political figures, but those who heard it represented a relatively small portion of the population.

In the turmoil of Ephialtes ’ reforms and death, and fighting raging in many corners, the Athenians, apparently with Pericles ’ backing, recalled Cimon from exile (c. 452?). A new Persian fleet threatened Greek communities and Athenian influence in the eastern Mediterranean, and Cimon led an expeditionary force to Cyprus but died not long after arriving (c. 451/0). His death, preceded by the setback in Egypt, led to a settlement between Greeks and Persians. Brokered by Callias, Cimon ’ s brother – in – law, these decade – old enemies signed the so – called Peace of Callias probably in summer 450/449. Three decades of hostilities with the Persians now ended.  

As Athens acquired great power so too did it acquire great wealth. Possibly in 454 and because of the failure of the Egyptian expedition, the treasury of the Delian League was moved to Athens. Within a short time, c. 449, the Athenians were rebuilding their city, something they had deliberately delayed since the end of the Persian Wars. In the ‘Oath of Plataea’ the Greeks had agreed not to rebuild their ruined sanctuaries and now with peace came a great building boom in Athens.  

In the decade that followed, the Athenians would have seen their city transfigured from a war – ruined wreck to an architectural showcase reflecting the power of imperial Athens. Pericles, dubbed ‘Olympian’ by his critics (Plut. Per . 8.4), took a keen interest in the designing of buildings and shaping of sculpture, and perhaps sat on a commission that supervised the whole program.  His ‘Olympian’ size ego no doubt prompted many artistic suggestions too. But it appears that his friend, the great sculptor Phidias, acted as the overall director of the rebuilding of the acropolis. Already he had crafted the great statue of Athena Promachos that greeted visitors to the acropolis (c. late 450s). Later he designed the gold and ivory cult statue of Athena Parthenos herself that would be placed in her rebuilt temple, the Parthenon, designed by Callicrates and Ictinus (built 447 – 432).  Later Phidias got into trouble. Charged with embezzling funds, and despite help from Pericles, he fled into exile (Plut. Per . 31.1 – 5).

Elsewhere Mnesicles built a new gateway to the acropolis, the Propylaea, while below it stood the Odeon, a circular music hall that took its inspiration from the pavilion of the Persian king seized at Plataea some thirty years before. Similar rebuilding took place at the sacred precinct at Eleusis where the important Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone were celebrated.  

Not all saw these expenditures as just, since much of the money funding this program came from the allied contributions, now deposited in Athens. Pericles’ influence over the city came to be seen by other Athenians as a threat. Chief among these critics was Thucydides, the son of Melesias, a relative of Cimon, who now mounted a challenge to Pericles’ leadership. Perhaps for the first time, organized ‘party ’ politics were practiced in the assembly. Thucydides grouped his followers together so that they could present a single voice, literally, in assembly debate. Both men were talented speakers and effective politicians, and their rivalry attracted even the attention of Archidamus, the Spartan king. Once asking Thucydides who the better wrestler was, Thucydides replied that ‘ whenever I throw him at wrestling, he beats me by arguing that he was never down, and he can even make the spectators believe it ’ ! (Plut. Per . 8).

In the end Pericles prevailed. He counterattacked forcefully, arguing that the allies did not contribute men or material to the defense of Greece from renewed Persian attack. Additionally, Athenians from all walks of life were profiting not only from military service but from the many jobs and work springing up from the vast program of public works. The wealth and power that Athens accrued also empowered the democracy, as payments were handed out for jury service as well as attendance at public festivals, making possible the participation of many more citizens in the political process. Against the growing prosperity of Athens, Thucydides could not compete. Pericles secured his ostracism (c. 443/3) and though he later returned, his political influence seems spent.  

Thucydides’ departure may not have bothered many Athenians who could look around their city and see everywhere the fruits of their labors and their sacrifices made good. Complacent and satisfied, however, the Athenians were not and those like Pericles knew that such hard won gains could be lost just as quickly.

Sparta after the Persians

Johnny Shumate Illustrations

As Athens grew powerful and wealthy – and just a little cocky – the Spartans watched from their safe haven deep in the Eurotas river valley of the Peloponnesus. Content to remain at home since the Pausanias affair, the Spartans were more concerned with the ever menacing presence of the helots. Critical to this control was their dominance over their neighbors, most of whom were members of the military alliance that Sparta led, the Peloponnesian League.

But in c. 464 disaster struck: an earthquake of tremendous force left virtually every house and building in Sparta destroyed. Striking in daylight, loss of life was severe, including a school full of boys of elite status. Only a few of these survived, having run after a rabbit that appeared moments before the earthquake struck, killing most still inside. Years later remains of the school, now the tomb of those killed, the Seismatias , remained a visible reminder of the tragedy (Plut. Cim . 16.5).

The Messenian helots, ever dangerous, quickly seized the moment and rose in rebellion, pressing the Spartans hard. Establishing a formidable position on Mt. Ithome, the Messenians repelled successive Spartan attacks. In one of these Arimnestus, Mardonius ’ killer at Plataea, died with three hundred others in the battle of Stenyclerus, having taken on the Messenians unaided (Hdt. 9.64.2). So severe was the situation that the Spartans appealed to the Athenians for aid. A lone Spartan envoy appeared before the Athenians, a simple and silent suppliant. Moved by this appeal, Cimon led a thousand Athenian volunteers to rescue the Spartans. Soon after arriving, however, the Spartans worried about their would – be saviors. Perhaps afraid that the democratic Athenians might switch sides and help the Messenians, the Spartans told the Athenians that their help was no longer required.

This Spartan volte – face ruined Cimon ’s stature in Athens and explains the circumstances of his ostracism (c. 461) engineered by his opponents. When fighting with the Spartans flared up and that with the Persians soured in Egypt and the east, Pericles and others called him home, soon sending him off to Cyprus where he died campaigning. But before his death he managed to bring about a five – year peace between Athens and Sparta (c. 452/1). This was only a temporary cessation in the hostilities. Relations between the two states would harden considerably in the following years.

But the Spartans still needed help against the Messenians and called in assistance from other communities, perhaps thought more trustworthy than the Athenians. The struggle with the helots, especially those of Messenia continued for years.  Those Messenians holding out in their mountain stronghold on Ithome (as late as 456?) finally agreed to terms with the Spartans, only too happy to grant their safe exit. The Messenians found protection with Athenians who were just as happy to settle these battle – hardened veterans at Naupactus, a port in Ozolian Locris, which guarded the northern approaches to the Corinthian Gulf (Thuc. 1.103.1 – 3).

After the Persian Wars, Athens and Sparta had taken divergent paths. Sparta remained an old – fashioned tribal community whose goal focused on preserving the status quo – maintaining control over the Peloponnesians to ensure control over the helots. Athens, however, was becoming increasingly a ‘ modern ’ state where, as Pericles emphasizes in Thucydides, democracy had reshaped its citizens into lovers of the polis .  Democratic institutions established at the end of the sixth century continued to be expanded and refined throughout the fifth – magistrates with defined tenures of office ce, a functioning assembly that wielded real authority, law courts and juries that expressed the will of the people.  To maintain this development – and the wealth of empire that came with it – Athens had to stay the course, to exercise power and authority wherever possible.  

But this Athenian reality may be expanded. Political scientist John Mearsheimer has argued that democratic states are as driven by power politics as their authoritarian counterparts and practice similar policies of aggression. Such analysis fi ts democratic Athens in the middle years of the fi fth century. In stark contrast to slow and ‘ conservative ’ Sparta, as the Corinthians emphasized in an illuminating comparison (Thuc. 1.70), Athens constantly looked for opportunity wherever it could be found. The tensions between these two states were not only between a ‘ land ’ power and a ‘ sea ’ power, but between two communities that for more than two generations had been heading in opposite directions.

A long-term peace treaty between Athens and Sparta in 445 proved illusory, though, for as Pericles put down several revolts within the empire he alarmed the Spartans. In 440-439, for instance, Samos revolted and received some aid from Persia, only to be crushed in an eight-month blockade and siege by Pericles and his reinforced fleet of 160 triremes of Athens and another 55 from Chios and Lesbos. As penalties, Samos lost her autonomy and navy altogether. Then, in 435, war broke out on the Adriatic coast-Corinth of the Peloponnesian League and Epidamnus (later Dyrrachium, modern Durazzo) against Corcyra (Corfu)- during which, the next year, the Corcyran fleet destroyed or captured 75 Corinthian triremes in a naval battle off Actium, then blockaded and captured Epidamnus. Angered by this reverse, Corinth created a 150-trireme fleet of new and allied Peloponnesian vessels, whereupon Athens gave support-10 triremes-to Corcyra. In the naval battle off the Sybota Islands in 433 Corinth claimed 60 Corcyran ships, but was checked from finishing the job by the Athenian intervention.

Athens’ brief war against a Spartan ally, Corinth, now precipitated the general Peloponnesian War in 431 between the two major powers of the Greek world-already mutually suspicious competitors. For ten years Athens pitted her maritime strategy against the armies of continental Sparta. Aided by allied vessels from Chios and Lesbos, the Athenians used their navy to blockade and raid the Peloponnesus, the Ionian coast of Asia Minor and the Gulf of Corinth, while Spartan and Boeotian armies ravaged the Attican countryside, leading to a strategic stalemate. When, in 429, a Corinthian-Spartan fleet of 47 and then 77 triremes attempted to wrest command of the Gulf of Corinth from an Athenian squadron of 20 galleys under Phormio, he routed it in two successive engagements at Chalcis and Naupactus (Lepanto). However, the cramped conditions of insular, walled-in Athens gave rise to a disastrous plague which claimed the life of the brilliant Pericles in 429. His successors, notably Cleon and Demosthenes, continued his strategy by suppressing revolts in Lesbos and Corcyra in 427, but began to overextend Athenian energies by carrying the war overland into Boeotia and overseas into Sicily.

Then, in 425, Demosthenes brought the war home to Sparta by taking the coastal city of Pylos and offshore Sphacteria by amphibious operations, capturing a Spartan fleet in the process. Athenian warships also occupied the island of Kythera to further strangle Peloponnesian overseas communications, and the theater of active fighting shifted northward to mainland Boeotia and Thrace, where the Spartans tried to cut the Athenian grain routes to the Black Sea. Refusing to make peace following the success at Pylos, Athens suffered sufficiently in the north-where Cleon met his death-to accept a settlement in 421.

But Athens had become so aggressive, particularly under the new leadership of Alcibiades, that cold war ensued throughout the Aegean and finally grew into a full-blown world war. While Sparta crushed a revolt by Argos and other cities, Alcibiades used 30 triremes to virtually annihilate the small island state of Melos in 416 and then to extend the Athenian Empire west to Sicily. Little had happened there until 415 when the cities of Segesta and Leontini appealed to Athens for help against Syracuse, ally of Corinth. The next year Alcibiades and Nicias led a fleet of 136 galleys to Catana, Sicily, followed later by reinforcements under Demosthenes. Alcibiades fled his political enemies by defecting to Sparta, which now rallied to the side of Syracuse and again declared open war on Athens.

An Athenian blockade of Syracuse was broken by a skirmish with a Spartan Corinthian squadron in 413, thus opening maritime communications between Syracuse, Sparta and Corinth. Athens tried to disrupt these connections by stationing a 33-ship squadron off the Gulf of Corinth, only to have it ravaged by 25 Corinthian triremes equipped with a new, reinforced prow for bows-on ramming. Then the Syracusans blocked the 115 Athenian triremes returning to the blockade in the harbor of Syracuse by sinking several hulks at the harbor entrance. There, after several skirmishes, on September 9, 74 Syracusan triremes – all reinforced with the new Corinthian prow-pressed in on the cautious Nicias and aggressive Demosthenes. In cramped waters that prevented the use of their diekplous and periplous maneuvers, the Athenian fleet was roundly defeated, losing 50 triremes sunk to 30 of Syracuse. Trapped, the Athenians scuttled their surviving craft and attempted to escape overland, only to be pursued and captured, Nicias and Demosthenes being executed. Still, the loss of 200 triremes did not deter Athens from raising another fleet and conniving successfully to get Alcibiades back from Sparta to command it. More colonies revolted, Persia intervened on the side of Sparta, and long-quiescent Carthage became involved in the Sicilian theater. The Peloponnesian War had become general.

Because of the remarkable Athenian ability to recover from the disaster in Syracuse and retain command of the Aegean, the issue would have to be settled at sea-for which non-maritime Sparta only slowly and with great difficulty prepared itself. A general Ionian revolt against Athens in 412 resulted from the news from Syracuse, but under the inspired political and naval leadership of Alcibiades between 411 and 407 Athens so isolated rebellious Lesbos, Chios, Thasos and Euboea by his naval and amphibious victories that pro-Athenian parties managed to return to power throughout the Aegean, with Samos being restored as the staunchest of Athenian allies and main naval base in the eastern Aegean. Sparta developed a fleet to cut Athenian supply routes to the Black Sea, but its various inexperienced commanders suffered disastrous defeats at the hands of Alcibiades, in 411 at Cynossema and Abydos and in 410 at Cyzicus, where the main Spartan fleet was wiped out. Alcibiades restored Athenian control over the Hellespont, only to be removed from command by his political enemies in 407.

Sparta built another fleet of 170 triremes, a contingent of which under Lysander won a small engagement at Notium in Asia Minor, and then moved against Lesbos under Callicratidas. This fleet trapped 70 Athenian triremes under Conon in the roadstead of Mytilene, only to be attacked and defeated by a relieving force of 150 triremes from Athens off Arginusae which sank or took 70 ships and killed Callicratidas. By now, the Athenian thalassocracy had degenerated into a military despotism which executed six admirals, allegedly for their poor performance at the battle. By contrast, Sparta placed its fortunes in the hands of Lysander, who cemented relations with Persia and took the offensive at sea with yet another fleet. The Athenian fleet of 180 ships under Conon moved to Aegospotami near the Hellespont to guard the supply route and in 405 was there surprised at anchor and on the beach by Lysander, whose fleet made quick work of the helpless Athenians, destroying some 170 triremes. With Athenian lifelines to the Black Sea now severed and the fleet destroyed, all Aegean cities submitted to Spartan sea power, and Lysander commenced a land-sea siege of Athens itself. In April 404 Athens surrendered.

As long as Athens had followed Themistocles and Pericles in their maritime strategy aimed at commanding only the sea, she had prospered, but Athenian commitments on the mainland and abroad in Sicily had dangerously overextended her resources and irreparably undermined the thalassocracy. With the demise of Athens, maritime stability collapsed in the Aegean, and the victor states hastened to improve their fortunes.

Ernst von Mansfeld

Count Ernst von Mansfeld (1580-1626), a German military commander, was the most famous mercenary leader of the early period of the Thirty Years’ War. In Mansfeld’s case the lack of an inheritance likewise led him into a career as a soldier of fortune, and although he was brought up a Catholic and first enlisted with the emperor he then went over to the Protestant Union, before going on to serve in turn the Catholic duke of Savoy, the Protestant Bohemians, the Calvinist Friedrich of the Palatinate, and the Lutheran Christian IV of Denmark.

Mansfeld has become notorious as the archetypal Thirty Years War mercenary general with an army for hire to the highest bidder, but while he switched employers several times he nevertheless fought consistently on the anti-Habsburg side, despite being born and brought up as a Catholic. His father was governor of the Habsburg province of Luxembourg for almost fifty years, and in his sixties and long a widower he formed a relationship with a woman of lower rank, but although they did not marry their three children were later legitimised on royal authority. Ernst, the eldest, became the heir after the death of his much older half-brother, but his father’s estate was heavily indebted and when he died in 1604 it fell to the Spanish crown, which because of one of its periodic bankruptcies also failed to make the expected provision for Ernst and his siblings. By then Mansfeld had already served eight years in the Imperial army in Hungary during the Long Turkish War, having started at barely fifteen, but the loss of his inheritance and his subsequent inability to find preferment in the Netherlands embittered him and began the process of turning him from an adherent of the Habsburgs into an enemy.

Peace with the Turks and the truce in the Netherlands left him without military employment, so that he was glad to enlist with Archduke Leopold at the beginning of the Cleves-Jülich conflict in 1609, but he was soon captured and held prisoner. Unable to raise the ransom demanded, and with the Habsburg side unwilling to pay it, he eventually changed sides and took service as a colonel with the Protestant Union’s general, Margrave Joachim Ernst of Ansbach. In 1616 the Union allowed Mansfeld to recruit a force of some 4000 men for the duke of Savoy, who with French and Venetian support was engaged in a war with Spain over the succession to the neighbouring Italian duchy of Montferrat, and he continued to serve the duke until the final Spanish withdrawal in June 1618. He and his men were then despatched to Bohemia, where he was engaged by the Estates with a rank equivalent to major-general. Mansfeld’s army arrived at a vital moment, but it was not large, and moreover Mansfeld was notoriously inclined to pursue his own strategy, usually one of limiting his risk, rather than following the orders of his employers.

At that time, governments did not have the money or the administrative skills necessary to pursue their military ambitions. As a result, they often hired, on a contract basis, successful men who were able to undertake such difficult tasks for them as levying taxes; transferring money from one city or country to another; leading overseas expeditions; conducting maritime warfare; or – as military entrepreneurs, (i. e., as mercenary captains)- recruiting, organizing, training, commanding armies, and putting down local rebellions,. These men were very good at what they did but they were also very expensive. More than 300 of them were active in Germany alone during the Thirty Years’ War.

Mansfeld arrived in Bohemia in 1618 just in time to prevent the Imperialists from making a determined advance on Prague, following which both sides preferred to spend the autumn manoeuvring, skirmishing and ravaging the countryside rather than risk a major battle. In this Thurn fared rather better than the Imperialists, while Mansfeld besieged Pilsen, which he captured in late November after a seven-week siege, a feat for which he was promptly placed under the Imperial ban by Emperor Matthias. This marked the end of the campaigning season, leaving the troops to find their winter quarters and the governments to pursue the conflict through diplomacy and propaganda until military action could be resumed in the spring.

In the spring of 1619 Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II was almost equally isolated militarily, while the forces he had put into the field with Spanish assistance the previous autumn had fared badly. Thurn, following on from his bloodless triumph in Moravia, took advantage of the situation to march into Austria, and by May he had the capital itself under siege. In early June there was a change of fortune. Some 7000 Spanish troops were making their way from Flanders to join the Imperialists in Bohemia, but when Mansfeld tried to intercept them he was himself caught by Bucquoy, who defeated him heavily near the town of Zablati. This was the first significant Imperialist victory and one which immediately caused the Bohemian directorate to recall Thurn, so that the siege of Vienna was lifted.

Mansfeld retreated to Pilsen which he had first taken it in November 1618 and had retreated there again after his defeat at Zablati in June 1619. As an outsider with a Catholic background Mansfeld had been at odds with the Bohemian generals almost from the outset, while he and they alike resented the overall command being given to Anhalt, so that he had increasingly behaved as a independent condottiere in the south west of Bohemia. Nevertheless he took an active part in Anhalt’s campaign during the summer of 1620 before being sent back to Bohemia in September, where he had re-established himself in Pilsen. The Bohemians had not paid him, so that his men too were unpaid, and when the League army arrived outside the city in October he was ready to negotiate, particularly as his Bohemian service contract was due to expire shortly, and he in fact received his discharge from Friedrich at the end of that month. For Maximilian of Bavaria time was shorter than money by this stage, and as the city was well fortified a siege would probably have taken weeks, so he met Mansfeld’s price for a truce which enabled him to march on.

Meanwhile with the truce coming to an end it was in the Dutch interest for Spanish forces to remain embroiled in Germany, so in February 1621 Friedrich was able to beg and borrow enough money to re-engage Mansfeld, then still securely fortified with his men in Pilsen. Although he had long been unpaid and had been inactive during the last stage of the revolt, the general had earlier managed to acquire many of the Palatine and privately recruited troop units which had made their way to Bohemia from the west, so that by this time he had a considerable army, which he had also protected from attack after the defeat of the revolt by agreeing a six-week truce with Tilly in January. He was able to supplement his numbers further by recruiting men from the remnants of the Bohemian army, and after he was forced out of Pilsen at the end of March he broke through into the Upper Palatinate in May, where he was followed and confronted by Imperialist units and part of the League army under Tilly’s command. Both sides were cautious, digging themselves into fortified positions and skirmishing for the next four months while Maximilian delayed, seeking to increase the pressure on Ferdinand as they haggled over Friedrich’s property. When the duke finally sent reinforcements in mid-September the resourceful Mansfeld, better at tactics than pitched battles, slipped away with his army under cover of darkness to begin a forced march across Germany, reaching the Rhine and the Lower Palatinate two weeks later, although he lost many men on the way. This was a military failure for Tilly, but it was a political success for Maximilian, who thus occupied the Upper Palatinate and secured control of one part of Friedrich’s territories.

On the other hand the episode also delayed Maximilian’s intended seizure of the part of the Lower Palatinate east of the Rhine, where he planned to forestall any possible Spanish move to extend their area of control. Tilly’s army too now hurried westwards, ostensibly pursuing Mansfeld, who moved on into Alsace, but actually aiming at the Palatinate. By then it was late in the year, and the armies were severely depleted by campaigning, epidemics and desertion, so that although Tilly occupied much of the territory he was unable to take the principal fortified cities of Heidelberg and Mannheim, while across the Rhine the fortress of Frankenthal continued to hold out as the last point of resistance to the Spanish occupiers. Thus the conquest of the Palatinate could not be completed in 1621, and there was scope for new contenders to take the field when campaigning resumed in the spring of 1622.

Ernst von Mansfeld helped Frederick V, who was King of Bohemia from 1619 to 1620, by defending the Upper and Rhine Palatinate, a historic state of the Holy Roman Empire. Because of his close ties with Frederick, who provided the cash and troops, Mansfield had 15,000 to 20,000 men under his command. He was an excellent organizer, thanks in large part to his network of experienced recruiting officers. Although he was a good strategist and a fine tactician, he was also quite ruthless and was willing to risk his men’s lives. If defeated, he would sometimes retreat so quickly that his own forces would disintegrate. This made him rather expensive to employ because new forces would then have to be recruited in the wake of his retreat.

Had Mansfeld, Christian of Brunswick and Georg of Baden-Durlach been able to bring their armies together, had the quality and equipment of their forces matched their numbers, and had they been well commanded, they might have been more than a match for Tilly’s League army, but none of these requirements was met. Mansfeld was a better recruiter and organiser than a field commander, Christian, although well provided with native wit and raw courage, was a young romantic rather than a trained officer, and Georg had studied military theory but had no practical experience. Tilly, on the other hand, was the ultimate professional and one of the most successful generals of the age, his army was well equipped, and it had a battle-hardened core from the Bohemian campaign. Christian’s army was in northern Germany while Georg of Baden-Durlach and Mansfeld were in the south, although separately, and it was evident to Tilly that he had to find, fight and defeat them individually before they could join up against him.

Encouraged by the emergence of his new supporters, Friedrich himself accompanied Mansfeld, who moved his army west into the Palatinate early in 1622, crossing the Rhine and encountering Tilly with a smaller force but in a strong defensive position at Wiesloch, ten miles south of Heidelberg. Mansfeld withdrew, hoping that Georg of Baden-Durlach would soon join him, but Tilly followed, attacking from the rear on 27 April as Mansfeld’s troops crossed a small river. The subsequent fighting was indecisive, although the League army suffered considerable losses, while Tilly himself was wounded and narrowly escaped capture. Both sides then retired to a safe distance, where Tilly was reinforced by Cordoba but his opponents’ strength was increased much more by the arrival of Georg and his Baden army. The Palatine side then unwisely sacrificed their numerical superiority as Mansfeld split off to besiege a small Spanish-held town, giving Tilly the chance to attack Georg at Wimpfen, near Heilbronn, on 6 May. The resulting battle was fiercely fought and long drawn out, but the outcome was a decisive victory for Tilly, while the Baden army was virtually destroyed, and little more than a quarter of the men eventually rejoined Mansfeld.

Meanwhile Christian of Brunswick had been making his way south slowly, experiencing some difficulty in crossing hostile territory. Tilly took the opportunity to concentrate all his available forces into one of the largest armies which had so far been involved, so that even though Mansfeld despatched a sizeable part of his own force to join Christian the latter was outnumbered by around two to one. Tilly caught up with him at Höchst, just west of Frankfurt am Main, attacking him at another river crossing on 20 June and putting his army to flight with heavy losses. Christian managed to join up with Mansfeld’s main force, and together they escaped Tilly’s pursuit, although with further losses, and after re-grouping they headed north east, aiming to reach Dutch territory. Cordoba intercepted them near Namur in late August, leading to another battle at Fleurus, but eventually Mansfeld and Christian succeeded in breaking away, claiming victory despite yet further losses of men and equipment, so that it was with a very much reduced and battle-scarred force that they eventually reached their destination.

Both generals had in fact already been dismissed by Friedrich, ‘Winter King’ of Bohemia a move intended as a conciliatory gesture towards his opponents and a response to the urgings of his father-in-law James I, as the defeats of the summer had undermined his resolution and he was for the first time prepared to consider negotiation. Georg of Baden-Durlach, even more disillusioned, had discharged the remains of his army in late June and petitioned the emperor for a pardon. The conquest of the Palatinate was completed in the following months, when Tilly finally captured Heidelberg in September and Mannheim surrendered at the beginning of November. The fortress of Frankenthal held out over the winter, but it too was surrendered by its mainly English defenders in March 1623, on the orders of James I, who hoped that this would assist peace negotiations.

In the event little progress was made in agreeing peace terms, and in the meantime Friedrich recovered his determination to continue the struggle. Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick entered Dutch service briefly in the autumn of 1622, and they were able to rebuild and reequip their forces over the winter. Hence they intended to take part in the joint campaign with Bethlen Gabor in 1623 mentioned above, but once again the two generals failed to unite their armies, and Tilly intercepted Christian in north Germany before the march eastwards began. Christian attempted to retreat back towards Holland, but eventually Tilly forced him to battle at Stadtlohn, on the border west of Münster, effectively destroying his army on 6 August although Christian himself escaped. Maximilian refused to allow a pursuit into Dutch territory, as the League was as anxious to avoid entanglement in the war in the Netherlands as the Spanish and the Dutch were to limit their involvement in Germany.

After defeating Christian of Brunswick at the battle of Stadtlohn in August 1623 Tilly had moved his army back into Westphalia and encamped it on the borders of the Lower Saxon Circle, where he rebuilt its strength while he kept watch on Mansfeld in Ostfriesland, and although Mansfeld dispersed his force and slipped away early in 1624 Tilly stayed put. There were of course good reasons for this. Mansfeld had fled into Holland once before, only to re-emerge six months later with a substantial reconstituted army, and he might have done so again.

During this campaign Mansfeld had remained on the defensive in a strong position in Ostfriesland, on the Dutch border in north-west Germany. Tilly did not have sufficient resources to mount an attack after his own losses over the summer, so instead the two armies settled into winter quarters in the region, but in January 1624 the local Estates, anxious to be rid of the troops, offered Mansfeld enough money to pay off his men, most of whom promptly re-enlisted with the Dutch.

Mansfeld himself slipped away too, but before the year was out he had recruited a new army with James I of England’s money, for service in the next phase of the war.

Like other mercenary captains, Mansfeld had his share of military successes and of military failures, but unlike the vast majority of other captains he also understood the propaganda value of the written word. At his direction, for example, in 1622 his administrative staff produced a wide-ranging “apologia”-that is, a formal defense of his opinions, positions, or actions-which was designed to uphold his reputation and to impress prospective employers with his military expertise and knowledge. In the words of the modern Dutch scholar Aart Brouwer (with light editing), the essence of Mansfeld’s apologia is as follows:

The tone of the apologia is that of a soldier, a cool professional who speaks in a succinct manner and with a degree of sarcasm, even of a superficial rationality, about battles past and his own and often bloody part in them. What is most remarkable about the apologia is Mansfeld’s cynical but pragmatic view of mercenary soldiers, whose loyalty, he says, depends solely on regular payments. As soon as these are withheld, they will “take their income where they find it, and once the doors have been opened they will run on and on at the same level of lawlessness. The Germans, Dutch, French, Italians and Hungarians each add their own national vices and mis chief to the mix, so that there is no form or shape of fraud or ruse which they will not practice.”

The Dutch hired Mansfeld in 1622 because Spain was preparing to attack the strategically-important Dutch town of Bergen-op-Zoom and they needed his expertise. To get to Bergen-op-Zoom, however, Mansfeld and his men had to march through Lorraine and Habsburg territory-while being pursued by the army of the Spanish general Cordoba. When Mansfeld reached the town of Fleurus in the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium), he found to his great surprise that Corboda had got there first by marching through Luxembourg and the Ardennes.

The resulting battle of Fleurus seems to have been something of a draw. On the one hand, Cordoba claimed victory and sent a set of captured Mansfeld colors, e. g., battle flags, to the Infanta Isabella in Brussels. (Infanta Isabella of Spain was, together with her husband Albert of Austria, the joint sovereign of the Spanish holdings in the Low Countries and in the north of France.) On the other hand, much of Mansfeld’s ragtag mercenary army, with only two field guns, had managed to push the veteran Spanish troops aside and to force its way into the Netherlands, where it regrouped and fought on. The Dutch appreciated what Mansfeld had accomplished but, on balance, they considered his troops to be goet volck maer buyten discipline (“good people but without discipline”) and ordered him to seek quarters outside their own country.

BATTLE OF DESSAU, 1626. Albrecht von Wallenstein’s victory of the Protestant forces under Count Peter Ernst von Mansfeld at Dessau, Germany, in 1626. Contemporary broadside.

About 1624 he paid three visits to London, where he was hailed as a hero by the populace, and at least one to Paris. James I, being the father-in-law of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, was anxious to furnish him with men and money for the recovery of the Palatinate, but it was not until January 1625 that Mansfeld and his army of “raw and poor rascals” sailed from Dover to the Netherlands before failing to relieve the siege of Breda. Later in the year, the Thirty Years’ War having been renewed under the leadership of Christian IV of Denmark, he re-entered Germany to take part therein. But on 25 April 1626 Wallenstein inflicted a severe defeat upon him at the bridge of Dessau. Mansfeld, however, quickly raised another army, with which he intended to attack the hereditary lands of the house of Austria, and pursued by Wallenstein he pressed forward towards Hungary, where he hoped to accomplish his purpose by the aid of Bethlen Gabor, prince of Transylvania. But when Bethlen changed his policy and made peace with the emperor, Mansfeld was compelled to disband his troops. He set out for Venice, but when he reached Rakowitza near Sarajevo, in Bosnia, he was taken ill, and here he died on 29 November 1626, probably from a hemorrhage. He was buried at Split.

Wild rumors immediately spread upon his death, e. g., that he had died standing up in full armor with his sword drawn; that he had expired in the arms of his most loyal servants; or that he had left behind many valuable hidden treasures. In reality, however, his death was much less romantic and less eventful than his life. According to a modern biographer, Mansfeld had repeatedly broken the law, had used violence and subterfuge to steal the possessions of other people or to destroy their livelihood, and had undermined every kind of moral or worldly authority as he saw fit.

Dessau 1626 by Warlord156

This scenario is based on the Battle of Dessau Bridge. In reality it was a very one-sided affair with the Protestant forces heavily outnumbered and very unwise to launch an attack that ultimately lead to defeat and surrender of large parts of their army. For this scenario however, the armies have been evened up a little so that a more balanced game can be had – but the overall theme of the battle is retained. This battle is a challenge; the imperial position seems to be a strong one, well protected and lots of areas of cover to defend. The protestant’s don’t really have enough troops to directly assault the earthworks and so must try and tempt the imperials out of their positions and hope that their superior artillery will sufficiently weaken the opponent before the tercio’s steamroller their way through to the bridge.

Pike & Shot: Campaigns

The Black Watch at Fontenoy

The Black Watch at the Battle of Fontenoy by William Skeoch Cumming.

The Black Watch Chaplain at the Battle of Fontenoy, 1745 by William Skeoch Cumming (1897)

In March 1743 the regiment was ordered south into England. They reached London on 29th and 30th April, and in May embarked for the Continent, to join the army under command of the Earl of Stair at grips with the French forces of Louis XV. They sailed from Gravesend to Ostend, whence they marched to Brussels, arriving on 1 June 1743; and thence by Liege to Hanau, where lay the army commanded by George II in person, who had just assumed command from the Earl of Stair. Throughout the ensuing twelve months or more the Highlanders saw no active service, but the year 1745 was to be an eventful one for the Black Watch and indeed for the regiment’s homeland.

Leading the powerful French forces in the Low Countries was the redoubtable Marshal Saxe, one of the greatest military figures of the century. He was opposed, after King George returned to England, by the Duke of Cumberland, at least the equal of the most unsuccessful general ever to have commanded British troops. Together with his Dutch allies and some Austrians, he marched at the beginning of May to relieve the fortress of Tournai from the siege with which Marshal Saxe had opened his campaign. Leaving a force to ‘mask’ Tournai, Saxe had drawn up his army in a superb defensive position some miles away. Forming the key point of all’ L-shaped defence line was the village of Fontenoy; several woods formed natural obstacles, redoubts were constructed by the French to add to the hazards faced by the attackers, and the whole front was liberally garnished with field-guns.

On 10th May when, in the manner of the time, the Allied army began its deliberate approach, it was seen that the planned start line for the attack could be reached only through the small village of Vezon. A mixed force of infantry and cavalry, including the Highlanders, was therefore detailed to clear the place. This was achieved with little trouble, the French falling back after a sharp exchange of musketry; and that was the Black Watch’s baptism of fire. Thereafter the regiment was posted on the extreme right of the Allied line, facing the wood of Barri, which formed the point d’appui of the French left flank. The following morning the task of clearing the French from the wood was given to a certain Col. Ingoldsby, who was provided with a brigade consisting of the 12th and 13th Foot, a Hanoverian regiment, and the Highlanders. At 6.00 a.m. the brigade moved off, but a succession of quite inexplicable events halted it. Whether it was uncertainty on Ingoldsby’s part or confusion resulting from conflicting orders from his superiors, is not known (he was later acquitted at a court martial) but, despite the arrival of supporting artillery, he either could not or would not press home the attack. By 11.00 a.m. a Dutch attack on Fontenoy had failed, and the Highlanders were ordered to proceed from the right to the left flank to support them in a second assault. This was much more to their taste; off they went at the double led by Lieut.-Col. Sir Robert Munro, and stormed forward against the French positions about Fontenoy with tremendous spirit and elan. The French, protected by field fortifications and in considerable strength, were much shaken by this unusual attack launched by Highland furies armed – thanks to the granting of a request that this day they should fight with their native weapons – with broadsword and targe. Over the first line of entrenchments poured the Highlanders, but the French musketry was sustained and deadly and many of them fell and died before the fortifications. After a bitter struggle the Highlanders had to retreat, carrying with them the Lieutenant-Colonel, a man of such tremendous girth that he stuck in one of the entrenchments and barely escaped being made prisoner.

While the Black Watch was regrouping after this onslaught, there followed the tremendous episode when the solid mass of British and Hanoverian infantry – 16,000 strong – advanced into the heart of the French position, shattering the Gardes Francaises and many another distinguished regiment of the ancien regime, and retiring only after having been .virtually decimated by musketry and gunfire and innumerable cavalry and infantry counter-attacks. The Highlanders and another battalion were detailed to cover the inevitable retreat, a difficult duty even though there was no sustained pursuit, and the regiment was singled out for special praise by Cumberland in his report of the battle.

As an additional mark of favour, the men were asked if there were any special requests they might like to make. Unanimously they expressed the desire that two of their comrades, under sentence of flogging for allowing some prisoners to escape, should have the punishment remitted. Another incident is worth recording. On the morning of the battle, when the Highlanders paraded, the commanding officer saw the regimental minister standing in the ranks with drawn broadsword. This was Adam Ferguson, later Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, who was threatened upon the spot with the loss of his commission if he did not at once return to his more orthodox duties. ‘Damn my commission!’ retorted the bellicose prelate and marched off to battle with his men. Their first engagement cost the regiment dearly, over 30 officers and men killed and nearly 90 wounded – not as serious as the casualties of some other regiments taking part, but bad enough.


Theodoric the Great (c. 451 or 453/454–526)

Theodoric entering Rome.

Theoderic’s empire at the height of its power in 523, with territory marked in pink ruled directly by Theoderic and stippled areas under his hegemony.

One of the greatest of the barbarian kings and the greatest of the Gothic kings, Theodoric the Great, or the Amal as he was originally known, reigned over the Ostrogoths from 471 to 526 and ruled an independent Gothic kingdom in Italy from 493 to 526. He assumed power in Italy by defeating a rival barbarian king, Odovacar, and Theodoric’s reign was generally recognized for its effectiveness and tolerance. He skillfully managed the relations between his people and the native Roman population and also maintained good relations with the emperors in Constantinople. Theodoric was able to keep the peace in Italy between Ostrogoths and Romans despite important differences in religion—Theodoric and his people were Arian Christians and the native Italians were Catholic Christians. He preserved the best aspects of the administrations of Odovacar and the Romans and worked well with the Senate and Roman nobles. He was an active builder, promoted culture, and patronized the great scholars Boethius and Cassiodorus. His reign, however, was marred in its later years by increasing tension between Goths and Romans, as Catholic Christianity found important new leaders. The situation was worsened by Theodoric’s execution of Boethius and his father-in-law, Symmachus, leading Roman senators. Despite the difficulties of his later years, complicated further by the lack of a male heir, Theodoric was one of the greatest kings to rule in the years after the fall of the Western Empire.

The early life of Theodoric is important for his later years, though modern knowledge of it is marked with confusion. One particularly vexing problem about his early years is the date of his birth, which is traditionally given as 456. According to the tradition, Theodoric was born on the day that his family learned the news that his uncle Valamir had been attacked by and had defeated a large band of Huns. But this date is unlikely because it would make Theodoric quite young—indeed, perhaps too young—when he was sent to Constantinople as a hostage and still quite young when he later took control of the kingdom. More recent scholarship has suggested dates of birth as early as 451, which would correspond to the victory of the Ostrogoths and their Roman allies over the Huns at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, a date that would make Theodoric a more mature, and politically useful, boy when he was sent to Constantinople. Whatever his exact date of birth, he was born to the royal Amal family and was sent as a hostage in 459/460 as surety for a treaty between the Ostrogoths and Eastern Empire. While at the imperial court, Theodoric learned a great deal and had experiences that shaped his later life. He became aware of rivalries among the Gothic people, and most likely came to fear and hate rival Ostrogothic families who gained preferment at the imperial court. He also witnessed the sophisticated governmental practices of the empire, which he used when he became king of the Ostrogoths and then later ruler in Italy. He also gained a solid, if unspectacular, education, most likely learning to do arithmetic and to read and write.

Theodoric was released from his service as a hostage in the late 460s, after which, in about 469, he returned to his homeland, received control of a subkingdom, and began his ascent to power among the Ostrogoths. Already in 470 he launched campaigns, sometimes in the name of the empire, against his political rivals or to expand his territory. His success in 470 revealed his ambition; the campaign probably took place without his father’s permission, and marked, for Theodoric, the start of his independent authority. In the 470s he became an increasingly powerful and important figure in the military and political life of the Eastern Empire. His main Gothic rival, Theodoric Strabo, or the Squinter, rose in the imperial ranks in the 470s and took a prominent part in a revolt against Emperor Zeno. Having fled from the capital in 475, Zeno was able to return thanks to the support from Theodoric of the Amal clan and strike against Strabo, who quickly fell from grace, though he remained a powerful rival to both Theodoric and Zeno. Theodoric the Amal received numerous honors from Zeno and was made commander of East Roman troops. Theodoric’s people were made foederati (federated allies) of the empire and were given an annual subsidy from the emperor. Despite these achievements, Theodoric still faced a challenge from Strabo, who sometimes was supported by Zeno for fear of an over mighty Theodoric the Amal. Strabo’s sudden death in 481 freed his rival’s hand. Theodoric was now sole king of the Ostrogoths and a dangerous friend of the empire.

The 470s and early 480s saw important changes in the life of Theodoric and the Roman Empire. Theodoric had become one of the most powerful figures in the Eastern Empire. In 482–483 Theodoric waged a terrible offensive in the empire to force Zeno to come to terms, which the emperor did. Theodoric was rewarded with a consulship for 484, but his term in office was cut short by Zeno’s fears that the Ostrogoth had turned against him. Despite his own strength, Theodoric knew that he was no match for the full power of the empire, and events in the Western Empire offered both Theodoric and Zeno a solution to their problematic relationship. In 476 the last of the Western Roman emperors, Romulus Augustulus, and his general, Orestes, were defeated by the German general Odovacar. After defeating his rivals, Odovacar executed Orestes and deposed Romulus and sent him into internal exile. Odovacar also declared the end of the imperial line in Italy and, although recognizing the sovereignty of the emperor in Constantinople, ruled as an independent king in Italy. In 488, following another revolt by Theodoric, Zeno requested that the Ostrogoth invade Italy and restore it to imperial control.

Theodoric’s march to Italy was not unimpeded, as other barbarian peoples struggled against him, but he reached Italy by the summer of 489. His rival Odovacar was waiting for him with his army. Theodoric won two victories against Odovacar in August and September of 489. He also welcomed Tufa, one of Odovacar’s leading generals, and it seemed that Theodoric would quickly triumph over his enemy. But Odovacar was able to secure himself behind the walls and swamps of Ravenna, and Tufa rejoined Odovacar shortly after leaving, taking with him the Ostrogothic soldiers he commanded on the way to Ravenna. Odovacar then took the offensive and forced Theodoric to withdraw to the city of Pavia. Theodoric, however, managed to break the siege and defeat Odovacar once again, on August 11, 490, with the aid of a large number of Visigoths. Odovacar returned to Ravenna, where Theodoric besieged him. But Ravenna could not be taken, and Theodoric was forced to negotiate with Odovacar. Agreement was reached on February, 493, and Theodoric entered Ravenna on March 5. Apparently he had agreed to share power with Odovacar. On March 15, he welcomed Odovacar at a great banquet, at which Theodoric himself killed Odovacar. The murder of Odovacar was followed by the massacre of his family and supporters. Theodoric had eliminated his rival and then proceeded to take control of Italy.

Theodoric’s position remained uncertain for some time, in part because of his desire to be recognized as the ruler in Italy by the emperor in Constantinople. He was anxious to be recognized in the capital of the empire because he portrayed his kingdom as the legitimate successor of the Roman Empire in Italy. He did this for a number of reasons. He certainly had some sentimental attachment to all things Roman as a result of his time as a hostage in Constantinople. He also recognized the importance of being “Roman.” That identity meant civilization and defined relations with the nobility in Italy, as well as with the church, a very powerful force. It was also a means to secure support for his kingdom from the population of Italy, the birthplace of the Roman Empire. He could also use it in his relations with Constantinople, as an instrument to remind the emperor that any violation of the peace between them was a violation of the empire and an offense against God.

Theodoric’s status was resolved gradually over the first two decades of his rule in Italy, and in two stages, in 497/498 and in 508, the Ostrogoth gained recognition from the emperor for his independent status as king in Italy. His rule in Italy, from 497 until his death in 526, was a time of peace and prosperity for the peninsula. Moreover, his kingdom became the center of the greatest power in western Europe, as Theodoric established his authority not only over Italy but also over other parts of the old Western Empire. His closest rival, the Merovingian king Clovis, managed some success against Theodoric in southwestern France, but he never really attempted to unseat Theodoric, to whom he was related by marriage. (His sister, Audofleda, married Theodoric and bore the daughter Amalaswintha.) Indeed, marriage alliances constituted one of the tools Theodoric used to enhance his power in the old Western Empire. Another instrument in the extension of his power, of course, was his great ability as a general. His defense of the Visigothic kingdom in Spain and subsequent acquisition of the kingdom in 511 revealed his talents as a military leader, as did his campaigns for and against the emperor and against Odovacar.

Although king of Visigothic Spain, Theodoric is best known for his rule of Italy. As the independent ruler of Italy, Theodoric presided over a cultural and economic revival in the peninsula. He worked effectively with the Roman nobility, who enjoyed the peace brought by Theodoric and managed to revive the productivity of their estates. Theodoric’s equitable distribution of land, which did not overly burden the Roman population of Italy, also stimulated an economic revival. He not only worked well with the nobles but respected and honored the Senate, and in many ways preserved Roman imperial governmental practices. Despite his Arianism, Theodoric remained on good terms with the pope and Catholic church in Italy. Indeed, at one point he was invited to resolve a disputed papal election, and his good relations with the church were critical to his acceptance as the ruler in Italy. He also supported the traditions of Roman law and education in his kingdom. He helped maintain the infrastructure in Italy, restoring many roads and public buildings. He was also a great builder in his own right, most notably of the magnificent mausoleum that still stands in Ravenna today. Finally, Theodoric was a patron of arts and letters. His personal secretary was the prominent Christian writer Cassiodorus, and Theodoric also had close relations with the great intellectual and author, Boethius.

Despite his long and prosperous reign, Theodoric’s end was not a happy one, and his great kingdom did not long survive his death. Several events conspired to bring Theodoric’s reign to an unfortunate end. His failure to have a male heir made the establishment of a dynasty difficult and caused tensions among the Ostrogoths, which worsened other internal problems. It also undermined his foreign policy and the extension of his power over Spain. Furthermore, his good relations with the church came to an end for two reasons. The election of a new pope, John I (523–526), ended Theodoric’s good relations with the papacy, in part because of John’s hostility toward Arianism. His relations with the church also worsened because the tensions that existed within the church, between its eastern and western halves, were eased, as the new emperor, Justin (518–527), outlawed Arianism and supported Catholic orthodoxy. Theodoric’s Arianism was made to appear even more at odds with the Catholic population by the conversion of Clovis and the Merovingian dynasty to Catholic Christianity. Finally, his good relations with the Senate and Roman nobility were poisoned by an alleged conspiracy of senators in 522. Boethius’s defense of his fellow senators implicated him in the plot in the eyes of Theodoric, and as a result, Boethius fell from favor and was executed in 524.

Theodoric died in August of 526. According to the fifth-century Byzantine historian Procopius, Theodoric died of typhoid brought on by remorse for the deaths of Boethius and his father-in-law, Symmachus, who was also implicated in the plot against Theodoric. Procopius notes that Theodoric was served fish for dinner one evening and saw in it the face of Symmachus. Theodoric fled to his room frightened by the vision, and then called for a doctor, to whom he disclosed his great dismay over the execution of Symmachus and Boethius.

Theodoric was succeeded by his grandson, Athalaric, whose mother, Amalaswintha, served as a regent during the first part of her son’s reign. The problems of Theodoric’s last years continued to plague his successor and Amalaswintha. Dissension among the Goths led to her death and the eventual invasion and destruction of the Gothic kingdom by Justinian. A brilliant, tolerant, and effective ruler in many ways, Theodoric could not provide for a lasting settlement in the kingdom he created.


Amory, Patrick. People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy, 489–554. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Burns, Thomas. A History of the Ostrogoths. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1984.

Bury, John B. History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian. 2 vols. 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 1959.

Cassiodorus. The Variae of Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus. Trans. S. J. B. Barnish. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 1992.

Heather, Peter. The Goths. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.

Hodgkin, Thomas. Theodoric the Goth: the Barbarian Champion of Civilization. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1983.

Jordanes. The Gothic History of Jordanes. Trans. Charles C. Mierow. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1985.

Moorhead, John. Theodoric in Italy. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.

Procopius. Procopius, with an English Translation by H. B. Dewing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962.

Wolfram, Herwig. The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. Trans. Thomas J. Dunlap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Wood, Ian. The Merovingian Kingdoms, 450–751. London: Longman, 1994.

Radar – The Soviet Union WWII Part I

British Army. GL mark II, 5m gun laying, receiver British Army. GL mark II, 5m gun laying, receiver. The set had three dipoles: one at right and left for direction by swinging the whole assembly; a third that moved vertically for height determination. Although classified as “gun laying,” it had little or no blind-fire capability. Deployed 1940. Produced by the Soviets as SON 2.

Whoever wishes to learn how governments fail in the duties of protecting their peoples from disaster should study the history of the Soviet Union; whoever wishes to learn how competent engineers can best be thwarted in their efforts to provide weapons vital for defense should study the history of Soviet radar. It is always the case, that in large projects those close to the details are vexed by the confusion and mismanagement they perceive in their leaders and, above all, in the administrative machinery that attempts to carry out their leaders’ instructions. Such was the case in all radar development in the Second World War, but those who toiled in the laboratories of Britain, America, Germany and Japan and who suffered in this way little knew that their work places were ruled by reason and benevolence when compared with their counterparts in Muscovy. 

There was every reason to believe that the Soviets might have surpassed the west in this new craft. They began first with high-level support, had the influential interest of academician A F Joffe, had a brilliant young electrical engineer and veritable model of the new Soviet man, Pavel Oshchepkov, and a radio engineer who had proved himself with decimeter waves, Yu K Korovin, as enthusiastic leaders, and had obtained financial support in 1934 of 300 000 roubles, which dwarfed that provided by any other power. The initial work pointed toward the development of a Freya and a Würzburg, but by 1940 the resulting radar designs were poor, inferior to the Japanese, and left Russia dependent on Britain and America for much of her needs during the war. 

To understand the history of this place and period one must learn the identities of the contending bureaucratic agencies, and in order to keep this cast of characters straight it is best to know them by their identifying abbreviations.

GAU The Main Artillery Administration, an engineering service of the Red Army concerned with the design of weapons.

PVO The Air Defense Forces, the service to which Oshchepkov was assigned and that had the responsibility for the employment of AA troops; they had interests in weapons design.                                

SKB (also KB-UPVO). A special construction office within the PVO to produce radar, opened in 1933 with Oshchepkov in charge.                                                                    

VNOS The Aerial Observation, Warning and Communication units of the PVO, which were to be the immediate users of radar.                                                

VTU The Military Technical Administration, a part of Red Army headquarters.                                                  

LFTI (also LIPT). The Leningrad Physical-Technical Institute, Joffe’s organization, which included D A Rozhanski until his death in 1936.                                                               

LEFI Leningrad Electro-physical Institute, a GAU laboratory, led by A A Chernishev.                                                        

QRL (also TsRL) The Central Radio Laboratory, another GAU laboratory, led by D N Rumyanysev.                

NII-9 Scientific Research Institute 9, another GAU laboratory that absorbed LEFI in fall 1935. The renowned radio engineer Professor M A Bonch-Bruevich became its director after the purges and attracted good men. Unfortunately, he died in March 1940.                      

UFTI The Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute, a laboratory organized by Rozhanski and where research in magnetrons was conducted. Later directed by A A Slutskin.                                                                           

NKTP The Research Sector of the Commissariat for Heavy Industry, the supervisory organization for both LIPT and UFTI.                                                                        

NIIIS-KA Scientific Research Institute of Communication Engineers of the Red Army, a group with its own program for the development of signals equipment.                                                                               

VEI All-Union Electrical Institute, a competent research organization with a laboratory for ultra-short waves led by Professor B A Vvedenskiy.                                                                            

SRI (also NII-RP). Scientific Research Institute of the Radio Industry headed by A B Stepushkin.                    

The Academy of Sciences (mercifully seldom referred to by initials). An organization consulted at the highest levels that concerned itself with all manner of scientific and engineering problems relevant to the Soviet state. 

NKVD The People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the secret police, the name of whose chief, Lavrenty P Beria, carried terror to millions. 

At this point one might well let the reader form in his mind the kind of radar that was to come from the machinations of these agencies, all of which participated, and his construction would probably be close to the mark. Yet the poor Soviet product resulted as much from the purges that Stalin initiated in 1937 as from clumsy, bickering agencies which knew how to use the NKVD for their bureaucratic ends and to take care of a few personal matters along the way. Fear concentrates thought but on survival, not on the subtle intricacies of electronic circuits. This no doubt lies behind the marked deterioration in design encountered in the second stage of Soviet radar development. Important parts of this story will remain unknown to us. 

The PVO had responsibility for early warning and had sponsored the early work on the radio screen Rapid that was done at LEFI until that group was absorbed into the Television Institute, the combination becoming NII-9. Despite the objections from many that Rapid gave precious little data of value about intruding aircraft, PVO had LEFI build under the supervision of B K Shembel a model suitable for army deployment, which had its first tests in July 1934. 

The GUA also wanted radio AA gun-laying equipment and had been sufficiently impressed with the experiments QRL had conducted in January 1934 with a 50 cm set that they wished the idea exploited, and NII-9 undertook the task of providing a suitable prototype. The work was started under Shembel. By early fall 1936 NII-9 had produced an experimental continuous-wave twin-dish set, Storm, which operated on 18 cm using early magnetrons from UFTI that gave about 6 W of continuous wave power. The detection range was only 10 km, and the directional accuracy only 4°, neither adequate. The range problem was a compound of magnetrons with too little power and frequency stability and a noisy receiver that also picked up too much of the primary transmitter signal. Shembel devised a solution for the direction problem analogous to lobe switching and presaging mono-pulse radar. He used four dishes, one a transmitter and the other three paired off in horizontal and vertical coordinates. The first trials failed, and he was unable to bring the concept to fruition before being separated from NII-9 in 1937. 

Victorious NIIIS-KA also continued the GUA gun-laying project, replacing NII-9 with UFTI. The principal deficiency of Storm had been the use of continuous rather than pulsed waves. Bonch-Bruevich had held the project to continuous waves, despite having used pulsed waves in early ionosphere studies; he even terminated pulse work at NII-9 when he became director in 1935. UFTI turned their efforts to a new, pulsed wave 64 cm design called Zenith. It combined every bad feature one could reasonably imagine in one set. It reported the coordinates of range, azimuth and elevation only every 17 s, making it useless for directing an AA gun, and had a dead zone extending out to 6 km, the result of the receiver being unable to recover from the transmitter pulse, although it could observe aircraft to 25 km. A pulse length of 10 to 20 µs gave correspondingly bad range accuracy. Work continued and by the middle of 1940 the range had been extended to 30 km, but the equipment had such a catalogue of ills that it was given up. The technical reasons for failure are not apparent. It would appear that the designers were unable to master the techniques of microwave electronics and thereby profit from the magnetron that N F Alekseev and D D Malairov had invented. 

The purges had at least made one agency responsible for radar, NIIIS-KA, but in the process had removed good engineers from the laboratories and the most supportive top military commanders. Soviet radar entered World War II a low priority project with equipment inferior to all the major powers. Yet it need not have been so. The early start with high-level support, capable engineers and the cavity magnetron could easily have made the Soviet Union the leader in radar. 

The reader must consider these simplified attempts at recounting relevant events in Stalin’s state with suspicion. The material available is limited and was written before the collapse of communism opened secret files and by men not indifferent to what history would record.

As already discussed, Soviet radar development suffered from lack of interest in the high command, confusion as to its mission and the dispatch of excellent radar engineers to the Gulag during the purges of the late 1930s. That anything at all came out is remarkable. Because of or in spite of these extraordinary circumstances there occurred what must be one of the most baffling incidents in the history of radar. In April 1940 when the cavity magnetron was Britain’s most precious military secret, when it traveled under armed guard, when its use was discussed at cabinet level, when it was described as the most valuable cargo ever to arrive in America, when the United States was preparing to open a special laboratory just to exploit its properties, when all these circumstances applied, two Soviet engineers published a complete description of it in the open scientific literature.

During 1936 and 1937 N F Alekseev and D D Malairov produced a series of cavity magnetrons as part of a project for building an anti-aircraft (AA) gun-laying radar at Scientific Research Institute 9 (NII-9) from proposals by its director, radio-eminence Mikhail Alexandrovich Bonch-Bruyevich. The magnetrons were discarded in favor of a pulsed transmitter that used very-high-frequency triodes that worked on 64 cm, had 12 kW peak power, was called Zenith and was abandoned in 1940. 

One can presume and little other evidence is at hand that the lack of success of magnetrons in this work, for whatever reason, taken together with Professor Joffe’s long-standing opposition to microwaves for radar allowed the publication of the paper. Irrespective of the reasons, the paper is a complete disclosure of the elements of the cavity magnetron. One does not even need to know Russian. It suffices to see the tables giving wavelengths and powers and to think a bit about the drawings of the characteristic electrode shapes. That the drawings showed water-cooled anodes tells one a lot. It was all there. There is a report of the independent invention of the klystron at NII-9 by N D Devyatkov during those same years, but even less was made of it than the magnetron. It was quickly followed by a reflex klystron.

The skepticism that had met Oshchepkov’s Rapid soon hardened into hostility to radio location generally in the form of a report in 1935 by the Red Army Chief of Signals, which asserted on the basis of studies by his own NIIIS-KA that radio location was unrealistic and a waste of time. M N Tukhachevskii, Chief of Ordnance, had been impressed with the possibilities of the new technique, even if it was not satisfactory at the moment, and decided in favor of retaining the infant radar program after a rousing fight. It was, as those familiar with the ways of bureaucracies will recognize, not the end but only the beginning. Life was becoming complicated and dangerous. 

In 1937 Army Commander A I Sedyakin conducted a large air defense exercise using conventional acoustical and optical methods that had a most unsuccessful outcome. He became acquainted with the new radio-location methods during discussions with General M M Lobanov of the GAU, who convinced him of the need to pursue this kind of work. This happy state of affairs came to a quick end in June 1937 when the purge swept military and technical ranks. Both Tukhachevskii and Sedyakin were quickly eliminated, and the NIIIS-KA instigated investigations of NII-9 and SKB with the resulting arrest of NII-9’s chief and the dismissal of Shembel. Bonch-Bruevich, who had attracted Lenin’s favor for his early radio work and who stood highest in electronic prestige, appealed directly to Central Committee Member Andrei A Zhdanov, who used Party influence to preserve the activities of NII-9. SKB was cleaned out and Oshchepkov, along with other radio engineers, went to the Gulag for ten years; he survived, thanks in no small part to academician Joffe, who sent him food packages and letters. 

NIIIS-KA stepped into this to absorb NII-9 and SKB, and once the hated radar project was theirs their attitude changed; they completed the transformation of Rapid into an army prototype called RUS-1 (Rhubarb). It had a truck-mounted transmitter and two truck-mounted receivers that were normally placed about 40 km from the transmitter. These sets, of which only 44 were manufactured in 1940 and 1941, were technically not significantly advanced over the way Oshchepkov had left them and proved to be of little value. 

Following completion of the design of RUS-1, LFTI set about building a pulsed air-warning radar, RUS-2 (Redoubt). It was bi-static equipment of 50 kW working on the 4 m band; transmitter and receiver were mounted on separate trucks having Yagi antennas that tracked one another in direction, although they had to be located about 1000 m apart, the obvious result of not having solved the common-antenna problem. The experimental set started in 1936 was not completed until late 1939, just in time for it to be tried in the Russo-Finnish War where it was successful enough for ten sets to be ordered on a crash basis. RUS-1 failed the same test completely. RUS-2 provides an exception to the general rule for design of meter-wave air-warning sets of the time in using Yagis rather than dipole arrays backed by conducting screens, the directional antenna immediately and instinctively adopted by others. 

Radar – The Soviet Union WWII Part II

In 1938 the first Soviet Pulsed Radar station was tested. In the end of 1939 the development and the test the RUS-2 were concluded. With It aircraft could be located up to 120 kms with a maximum height up to 7 kms.”Redoubt” = mobile station.

When the Luftwaffe opened the Great Patriotic War by destroying a substantial fraction of Stalin’s air force, it was unhindered by Soviet radar. There was only one kind of radar in use when the conflict began: RUS-2, the pulse-type air-warning equipment working on 4 m. That statement discounts completely the few units of the radio screen, RUS-1, the production version of Oshchepkov’s Rapid of 1934, for which the war found no use; yet despite its complete failure during the Finnish War of 1939-1940, 13 RUS-1 sets were manufactured in 1941. RUS-2 proved of value as an air-warning set but suffered from the need to have transmitter and receiver separated by about a kilometer, the antennas of which had to move synchronously. There were six sets in existence when war broke out, but they had no effect on events. The Scientific Research Institute of the Radio Industry (SRI) had devised how to use a common antenna before the war began and had incorporated it into the modification, RUS-2S, but production had not yet begun. 

The radar groups in Leningrad (LFTI, NII-9) and Kharkov (UFTI) soon found their principal problem was evacuation to the east, both of development laboratories and production plants, a process that removed five months of any useful activity. The death in March 1940 of Professor M A Bonch-Bruyevich, who had taken over the leadership of NII-9 after the purges added to the turmoil with which that group had had to deal. The production of only 53 RUS-2S sets during 1942 tells the story more eloquently with numbers than is possible with words. 

The Soviet dismissal of radar at the beginning of the war was not reflected in their other attitudes concerning AA defense. Large cities had hundreds of guns, although their accuracy was poor [4]; the fighter squadrons were based at all-weather fields, much superior to the usual Soviet bases. Moscow was the best defended city in the world and, despite its proximity to the ground fighting, did not suffer serious damage from bombing. Besieged Leningrad suffered in every possible way, but it too put up a very strong air defense. Not surprisingly, the first effective Soviet use of radar was in augmenting the defenses of Moscow and Leningrad. 

An experimental station at Toksovo near Leningrad, used before the war by the Physico-technical Institute (LIPT), assumed immediate tactical functions and was manned by members of its technical staff. Its equipment was RUS-2 but with more power for greater range. Transmitter and receiver were mounted on separate 20 m steel towers; antenna movement allowed a 270° sector of observation. Operation was turned over to military personnel once they had been trained. 

The Research Institute of the Red Army (NIIIS KA), which had overall responsibility for radar, built in the first months of the war a large station for the Moscow air defense, which also used the RUS-2 principle. Specifications differ enough from those of other air-warning sets to be of interest: pulse duration 5060 µs, which allowed a receiver pass-band of only 40 kHz and a repetition rate 50 Hz. It mimicked CH in more than pulse rate, for it too used special demountable vacuum-pumped transmitter tubes; they were designated type IG-8 and made by the Svetlana tube plant. 

Leningrad received numerous air attacks, generally by formations of about 100 aircraft. In 1942 there were 38 such bombings, all of which were stoutly resisted. Radar’s performance opened the eyes of theretofore uninterested military leaders, as 20 000 targets were picked up that year. Attacking squadrons showed up on oscilloscope screens in plenty of time to alarm the city and scramble fighters. On a small scale the air defense of Leningrad was similar to the Battle of Britain, and by the end of 1942 the radar men did not have to beg for attention even though they had to beg for production. RUS-2 and RUS-2S gained reputations as simple, reliable pieces of equipment if only they could have given height information.

The poor showing of early Soviet gun-laying radars did not eliminate this type from the minds of designers, and NII-9 organized an experimental battalion-sized AA unit in October 1941, employed in the defense of Moscow while trying out its new equipment. Initially the battalion had four 75 mm, six 105 mm (German guns obtained during the time of the non-aggression pact) and six 37 mm automatic guns. A team of engineers headed by M L Sliozberg worked directly with the unit. They introduced some experimental sets, Sleep, B-2 and B-3 that worked on 15 cm using cavity magnetrons. The possession of the cavity magnetron, viewed in Britain and America as the ultimate microwave transmitter and the basis for uncounted radar successes in the coming years, seemed to hold no advantages for the Soviets. They were unable to produce a transmitter or local oscillator with sufficiently stable frequency to allow the construction of a heterodyne receiver, which was presumably attempted without a crystaldiode mixer. These gun-laying sets were failures and soon disappeared from the experimental battalion’s gun positions. 

The arrival of British GL mark IIs produced much more interest than the experimental microwave sets. It was not much of a gun-laying set, to be sure, but it was a robust, reliable and well-engineered piece that found use for searchlights, fighter direction and even air warning. The British technicians who had been sent to instruct the Russians, and who had been led to believe that radar was unknown to the recipients, encountered personnel who mastered the equipment rapidly despite a significant language barrier. Sliozberg’s people soon made a copy of it, called SON-2. It proved the favorite Soviet radar, but British imports of GL mark II (generally called SON-2) overwhelmed native production, which produced only 124 during the entire war. 

Later Britain sent 44 microwave GL mark IIIs and America sent 25 SCR-268s, 15 SCR-545s and 49 of the superb SCR-584. A copy of GL mark III appeared as Neptune, and the 584 was copied after the war as SON-4. 

In the summer and fall of 1941 Stalin’s gigantic army and air force suffered a defeat coupled with losses of men and material of magnitude unparalleled in history, but as Hitler’s forces stood before Moscow, everything changed in an almost miraculous manner: (1) Japan was suddenly found to be completely occupied with America and Britain, thereby freeing many fresh Siberian divisions to board trains headed west; (2) the Russian people, who may have been originally indifferent to the downfall of the communist state, had come to realize that the war was against them, not just Stalin; (3) Hitler had also conveniently declared war on the United States, which was to prove a serious distraction for the Nazi state; (4) a Wehrmacht without winter clothing or equipment had been assailed by a winter as deadly as the enemy. In January 1942 Germany found herself in total war, a discomfort theretofore left to her adversaries. Only then did German total mobilization begin. 

During the intoxicating summer of 1941 radar had been, if anything, even less important to the Germans than the Russians. The new weapon, so important in the west, was ignored in the east. The Luftwaffe dominated the air and found little need for equipment in short supply and required for the defense of the Reich against Bomber Command. There had been use of Freya sets before the surprise attack of 22 June to ensure that no Soviet observation planes discovered the large assembly of forces, but few of the clumsy Freyas followed the Blitzkrieg. 

The Soviet air force had to make its recovery in the face of German air superiority, but its slow progress called for correspondingly increased vigilance by the Luftwaffe. A measure of Russian progress can be found in the extent of German radar deployment. As Leningrad became besieged, the air struggle there became more advanced, and Luftwaffe Signals set up Freyas on the islands of Hiiumaa and Saaremann, located to the west of Estonia, to protect German shipping from air raids. A Freya unit covering the south approaches of Leningrad found movement of the set in the terrible winter retreat of January 1942 so difficult that it had to be destroyed. 

In 1941 radar was closely associated with strategic bombing, and its use with and against tactical ground forces lay a few years in the future. The steady growth of Soviet power came from factories beyond the range of German bombers, and the railway network continued to distribute supplies and troops, hindered but not brought to collapse by air raids. The four-engine bomber that General Walter Wever had favored to attack these resources was absent and not going to appear. 

An early German use of radar came from an unexpected quarter-partisan warfare. When it became clear that Germany was the enemy of all those Soviet peoples that did not have some ethnic status that made them acceptable to the Nazis, partisan groups began to make no small amount of trouble behind the German lines. Made up of soldiers cut off but not taken prisoner and civilians escaping and fighting SS terror, these groups were organized and maintained by the Soviet command. Night flying served as the means of bringing vital supplies and officers to these units and the carrying out of information and wounded. Soon an elaborate air transport was established at night. Combating these infiltrating flights proved difficult, in great part because of the primitive Russian equipment used. The most important aircraft was a biplane, paradoxically designated the U-2. Flying slow and low and necessarily observing strict radio silence it was difficult to detect. Radar was obviously called for, and it came as railway radar trains, but an effective counter to the U-2 was never found. 

Russia’s notoriously muddy roads made movement by rail essential for heavy equipment a Freya required 28 horses for movement by typical road and radar trains were the obvious answer, first placed in service in October 1942. They were portable fighter control units that consisted of a Freya for early warning and two Würzburg giants, one to track the enemy and the other to track the interceptor so the controller could bring the two together. Some trains made good use of searchlights. It was the system called Himmelbett in the west. As the air situation deteriorated for the Luftwaffe, the radar trains became more numerous and more important. In 1943 a radar train in the Orel-Bryansk sector took credit for bringing down about 30 planes. 

 (The first radar trains may have been placed in service somewhat earlier in France during the summer of 1942. By that time the activities of the underground were beginning to be troublesome, and light aircraft transported agents and supplies between the continent and England. Finding the resistance personnel was more important than bringing down the airplanes, so railway-mounted equipment that could be moved to suspected places of operation in order to observe where they landed was an obvious answer. It is reported to have led to several arrests.) 

Growing Soviet air power began forcing the Luftwaffe to bomb at night, and their efforts had grown to such an extent that the Soviets began organizing night fighter units in late 1943. These units were not particularly effective because they lacked both airborne and ground radar capable of bringing about interception. 

The absence of strategic bombing in the east meant there was no centralized air defense, so radar use on both sides tended to take on local character and ingenuity. A German bomber group at Shitomir (near Kiev) used two Freyas for night bombing Russian concentrations at locations beyond artillery range. One Freya directed a bomber by radio so as to follow an arc of constant radius while the second controlled the release of bombs. The attacks were not only complete surprises but remarkably accurate.

By the time of the great tank-air battle at Kursk during 511 July 1943 the Soviet air force was something that had to be dealt with, and the Germans assigned five of the nine then existent radar trains to the sector. The Wehrmacht lost decisively. The wreckage of hundreds of aircraft and tanks littered the field, but one Freya was credited with saving Fliegerkorps VIII from complete destruction.

Any Soviet use of radar at Kursk has escaped mention in the sources available. Indeed, Soviet use of radar in general was hardly noticed by the Luftwaffe until 1944 and never reached the stage where countermeasures were employed. They seem to have thought all of the enemy’s radar was of British or American manufacture and been unaware that any of the Russian equipment was of indigenous manufacture. 

German radar found ever wider use on the Eastern Front as ever more equipment became available and the pressure of Soviet air power increased and not just Soviet. The oil fields of Rumania received a generous allotment of AA and fighter units and with them came Freyas and Würzburgs for Flak and fighter control. Their effectiveness is attested by the heavy losses of the American bombers that attacked Ploesti. The saving or at least preventing the capture of the extensive radar deployment in Rumania became a matter of serious concern when Russian forces secured that nation in August and September 1944. 

Such was radar in the east. Compared with the use in the west and at sea it was small indeed, being a mere perturbation on the cataclysmic battles that were fought there. Germany’s deployment was, until near the end, trivial when measured against the air defense system facing the Allies. Russia used it first only in defense of her two largest cities, to what effect it is difficult to say. In the east huge ground forces struggled with air power restricted to army support. It was not until the appearance of remarkably accurate 10 cm equipment, such as SCR-584, that radar showed real value for this kind of warfare. In the hands of ingenious officers the equipment could be of benefit, especially to local fighter squadrons, but these contributions were never decisive. The actions in the deserts of North Africa are apt illustrations of this. Given this tactical background it is difficult to fault the Soviet command for not giving radar a greater priority. Were it not for their demonstrated capacity for confused and self-destructive administration, one might be tempted to attribute wisdom to the Soviet leaders for the low priority given radar. But whether from wisdom or folly, there is little reason to fault the result. The critical industrial strengths required for the manufacture and operation of radar were put to better purpose in communication equipment vital to mobile ground warfare. 

The quality of Soviet radar development before and during the war must be evaluated by what was accomplished against what was attempted. Here is a bewildering confusion of competence at its highest and lowest. Soviet engineers invented the cavity magnetron, a device for which praise in Britain and America exceeds that for any comparable device. That not being enough they invented the klystron independently of the Varians and Hansen. But their attempts at putting them to use failed, owing to an inability to master the lesser arts of microwaves, and resulted in an especially bad gun-laying set that was never produced. The klystron does not seem to have entered a serious Soviet radar design. In meter-wave equipment the advantage of an early entrance was lost. Postwar design started from Allied and captured German sets.