Africa WWI

Askari soldiers at shooting practice in German East Africa.

Africa was affected by the war in many spheres: military, political, economic, and social. The results were not the same everywhere. In areas where there had been actual fighting, notably in the German colonies, the people suffered greatly. In the French colonies, where the burden of conscription had been heavy, there were anti-colonial protests and widespread resentment. Indeed, in many areas the colonial authorities’ hold on power was weakened: their military were redirected to the war effort; markets and trade routes were disrupted; and the economic recession and growing unemployment that followed the war generated their own tensions.

Military recruitment had temporarily strengthened existing colonial armies, but many of the newly recruited troops perished. The actual number of casualties will never be known exactly, but it was undoubtedly large: of those recruited by the French almost 200,000 lost their lives, while nearly 100,000 lost their lives in the British campaign in East Africa. For the soldiers who survived the war, the experience broadened their view of both African affairs and world politics. They understood the causes of the war and the nature of imperialism, and could begin to consider the impact of colonialism on their own countries. Many acquired practical skills and a degree of technical education that they were able to put to good use after the war. For many the experience of Europeans in combat that they acquired during the war comprehensively undermined notions of white superiority.

African economies were affected in several ways. There was increased production of agricultural and mineral commodities for the war effort, but taxes were also increased and development expenditure cut. For example, Nigeria’s expenditure increased by about £1,400,000; in 1915, despite reduced revenues, FF5,860,000 were sent to France from French West Africa. In addition, various colonies raised relief funds and local war subscriptions. The economic losses took other forms too, associated with political disturbances, wildcat revolts, the scarcity of essential commodities, abandonment of development projects, the conscription of able-bodied men, and general discontent and growing unemployment in a number of cities. The dislocation of populations, shortage of shipping, and high costs for freight led to panic and an aggressive search for alternative markets. In the early months of the war, the withdrawal of German traders from regions where they had been the primary buyers of export crops, led to a loss of income for many local traders and producers. Where army recruitment had been intense many villages and rural areas were devastated by the loss of productive labor, with the number of male farmers declining considerably. The war and immediate post-war years also witnessed widespread food shortages and epidemics, including the devastating influenza pandemic of 1918–19.

A major shift occurred in the organization of foreign trade, which created new tensions between Europe and Africa. During the war, many African export traders were displaced by foreign firms that manipulated war conditions to their advantage. French and British companies dominated the important export business, backed by their colonial governments. In addition, these firms took control of businesses deserted by the Germans, thereby controlling the import trade as well. Furthermore, foreign firms established combines that forced down producer prices, emerging after the war as large firms with enormous power over the market and prices in general – all at the expense of African producers.

Germany lost its African colonies, which were shared out as ‘‘mandated territories’’ by the newly created League of Nations. The Belgians took over Ruanda-Urundi, South Africa received Namibia, the British obtained Tanganyika and northern Cameroon (added to their Nigerian colony), the French took the rest of Cameroon, and the British and French divided Togo. The expectation was that the European powers would serve only as guardians; in practice, this meant little or nothing to the African population, who were still treated as colonial subjects. When the League of Nations was dissolved in 1940, the status of these mandated territories was left unclear. The expectation that these ‘‘guardians’’ would prepare the countries for self-government was largely ignored.

There were other notable changes to the pattern of colonial rule. In January 1914, for example, the British Protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria were amalgamated. In 1917 a large part of western Egypt was transferred to Italian Libya, and was then administered as three units (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzān). The triangle of land to the northwest of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was transferred to Italy, also in 1917. In 1920 the French created the colony of Upper Volta from parts of the Niger, Sudan, and Côte d’Ivoire. Upper Volta was subsequently divided in 1932. Thus the modern map of Africa began to acquire its current shape.

Many of the economic and social changes affected politics, contributing to the emergence of African nationalism. Colonial conquests and the war had taken from Africans many of their businesses and administrative jobs. They began to realize that they would have to insist on – perhaps even fight for – reforms if they were ever to regain what they had lost. War propaganda had condemned Germany for wanting to dominate the world, and by 1919 the principle of self-determination had become widely known. Soon the right of all people to determine their own affairs had developed from being an anti-German slogan to one that the African elite could capitalize on – what was right for Europe was equally right for Africa. Even though independence was still distant, a spirit of national consciousness had begun to develop among Africans.

The colonial authorities by and large ignored this pressure from the African elites, and the expectation that the end of the war would bring power and prestige to Africans was not realized. Early leaders of the nationalist movements in Africa were anxious to see constitutional reforms that would give educated Africans a greater role in determining their own affairs, and political parties began to emerge: the National Congress of British West Africa, for example, was founded in 1920 to demand far-reaching political reform. Small concessions were granted in the 1920s, allowing a few people from the educated elite to sit on legislative councils in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. More significantly, in North Africa revolts in Egypt had led to its independence by 1922.

Another political outcome of the war was that it enabled the colonial governments to consolidate themselves. Even as African participants in the First World War began to expect remarkable changes in their lives, colonial governments were planning ways to make their control of Africa and its resources more permanent. The contribution of Africans to the war effort were simply ignored. Having won the war, the European powers in Africa felt even more confident of their ability to rule there: some officers expressed the opinion that they would remain in charge of the continent for ever. In some areas, such as the Belgian colonies and South Africa, colonial repression became more entrenched. Whether repressive or not, the victorious colonial powers shared one goal: the economic exploitation of Africa. In view of the devastation caused to their economies by the war, they saw the control of Africa as the best way of recouping their losses and rebuilding their economies.

Further reading: Boahen, A.A. (1985) UNESCO General History of Africa. Africa Under Colonial Domination 1880–1935, London: Heinemann. Digre, B.K. (1987) The Repartition of Tropical Africa: British, French and Belgian Colonial Objectives During the First World War and the Paris Peace Conference, Ph.D. thesis, George Washington University. Lunn, J. (1999) Memoirs of the Maelstrom: A Senegalese Oral History of the First World War, Oxford: James Currey. Page, M.E. (1987) Africa and the First World War, New York: St. Martin’s Press. Reigel, C.W. (1989) The First World War in East Africa: A Reinterpretation, Ed.D. thesis, Temple University.


Russia and Sweden

The Swedish Victory at Narva by Gustaf Cederström, painted 1910

Peter could not make war on Sweden until his peace with the Turks was secure, but Denmark and King Augustus had no such obstacles. The latter began operations in February with a surprise move against Riga which failed to take the city, but Denmark fared even worse. Charles XII knocked the Danish king out of the war in a few weeks. Peter kept up the pretense in public that all was in order with Sweden, and no war was coming, even reassuring Kniper personally of his pacific intentions. Kniper could not quite believe that the war would really happen, but he dutifully reported the rumors that war was coming as well as Russian military preparations. Peter could not be sure of the Turkish response, and so in April he decided on an ambassador to Sweden. The eventual choice was Prince Andrei Khilkov, a relative of Prince Romodanovskii and Golovin. Khilkov would have an even more difficult task than he expected, but at the time the rumor was not that he would have the post, but instead Prince Iakov Fyodorovich Dolgorukii, only a few months before in bad odor with Peter over the inadequacies of the campaigns in the south against the Tatars. Kniper went so far as to ask his brother Boris if the rumor was true, and prince Boris denied it: Prince Iakov had too little of the tsar’s confidence for such an important post. Prince Boris was partly wrong, however, for Peter had originally chosen Iakov for the post, changing his mind a week later and appointing Khilkov. Peter preferred to keep Prince Iakov with the army and he remained in the position of general military commissar. In the summer Peter replaced Lefort in his capacity as an army commander with General Adam Weyde and appointed the Georgian Prince Alexander Archilovich of Imeretia to command the Russian artillery.

After the official Russian declaration of war on 19 August, Peter lost no time in ordering his army to besiege Narva. The choice showed Peter’s desire for a ready-made port, since Narva was not part of the lands lost to Sweden in 1617. It lay across the old border in the Swedish province of Estonia, and had been the object of Ivan the Terrible’s wars in the sixteenth century. The army command was a mixture of old and new. In June the story was that the supreme commander was to be Sheremetev, and the prince of Imeretia was to command the artillery. In August, however, Peter appointed as Field marshal the boyar and admiral, F. A. Golovin, proven as a capable diplomat and administrator but hardly a military man. Sheremetev received the cavalry, largely the traditional gentry cavalry from Novgorod and some Ukrainian Cossacks. Under Golovin the army was divided into three generalships under three full generals, Avtomon Golovin, Adam Weyde, and Prince Nikita Ivanovich Repnin. All three of them had served before in the Preobrazhenskii guards. The aristocratic Golovin was the same who had commanded at Azov, and before that the two guards regiments. Prince Repnin, who had served as a captain in the same regiment, was still on the road from Novgorod with part of his troops at the time of the battle, so Prince Ivan Iur’evich Trubetskoi replaced him in the line. Prince Trubetskoi was rather different from the former guards officers. A boyar since 1692, he had commanded part of the Azov feet in 1696 and in 1699 was named governor of Novgorod. It was he who signed the messages to the Narva garrison asking them to surrender. As in the case of Iakov Dolgorukii, his relations with the tsar had been troubled, but in spite of that he too received a major command. In the middle of the siege Peter appointed another Field marshal to carry out actual operations. This was Charles Eugene, the duke de Croy (1651-1702), an Imperial general originally from the southern Netherlands who was out of work after the peace of Karlowitz. De Croy was recommended to Peter by King Augustus with a group of other foreign officers, and arrived when the Russian army was already before Narva.

For Peter the siege of Narva in 1700 became a famous disaster. Fresh from his lightning victory over Denmark, Charles XII landed in Estonia in October. As this news reached the Russians, Peter left the army with Fyodor Golovin to return to Moscow, putting de Croy in supreme command. On the next day, 19/30 November, Charles attacked in the snow, and to tremendous effect. He smashed the Russian army, capturing de Croy, A. M. Golovin, Trubetskoi, Weyde, Hallart, Dolgorukii, Prince Alexander of Imeretia, and other Russian generals. Only Sheremetev’s cavalry, the guards, and some of the infantry escaped more or less intact. To Prince Repnin fell the job of reorganizing them and taking up position in Novgorod.


Peter had more immediate concerns. The boyars were not pleased with the defeat at Narva, blaming the Danish ambassador Heins for persuading Peter to break so suddenly with Sweden. Prince Boris Golitsyn was prominent among the discontented, not surprisingly as he had opposed the war from the beginning. Fortunately, Charles had withdrawn to winter quarters, so the tsar had a breathing space to reorganize. Immediately after the defeat the tsar ordered Sheremetev with the cavalry to harry the enemy in Livonia. Peter recruited new troops and assembled more artillery and powder, and sent Tikhon Streshnev, the head of the Razriad and the new Military Chancellery, to the Swedish border to supervise. Repnin was assigned to take the remaining troops under his command and help Augustus in Poland. The tsar also took care of the financial basis of the war. In January he revived the Monastery Chancellery under Ivan Musin-Pushkin, with the charge of taking control of the monastery estates, giving a stipend to the monks and the rest to the war chest. He also ordered the churches to sacrifice some of their bells so as to make cannon from the metal. He established a tax on beards, which Pleyer at least saw as a revenue device, not merely a cultural matter. All of these financial moves had the potential to create discontent, especially among the clergy and the pious. These and other recent measures also demonstrated Peter’s desire to move along in a more European direction, as Heins had noticed. Europe, he thought, ought to take care to go easy with Russia rather than reject it, for only time would tell what would become of the country under Peter’s tutelage.

During the Great Northern War (1700–1721) Sheremetev proved to be a capable but cautious and sluggish military leader. During the war he was the commander-in-chief and most senior officer in the Russian army. Sheremetev was very cautious in his movements but proved more effective than the younger Prince Menshikov, the 2nd in command whose impulsiveness was not always successful.

In June 1701, Sheremetev was appointed the supreme commander of the Russian troops facing Livonia, clearly in the full expectation of war in the region with the king of Sweden himself. That was not to be, for in July Charles defeated the Saxons before Riga and moved south into Kurland, toward Poland, the object of his attention for the next five years. Livonia was left alone to face Peter, and his forces did not wait long. While Charles was making his decision and Sheremetev assembling his army, the Swedish navy make an attempt on Archangel, but it was beaten off. The Swedish attempt reminded Peter of those who went to Egypt in search of mummies and were turned into mummies themselves by the sandy winds of the desert. In the next few years the Cossacks, the Kalmyks, and Sheremetev’s army would lay waste the land to Peter’s great satisfaction. The Swedish commander Schlippenbach was able to win small gains against the Russians, but on 30 December 1701 Sheremetev won his first victory at Errestfer. There were more to follow.

Peter was grateful to Sheremetev, for his ministers of state continued to be unhappy with the war. He sent Menshikov to present the Field marshal with the new order of St. Andrew and other gifts. Sheremetev himself came back to Moscow to celebrate:

Before the last Easter holidays the knight [sc. of Malta] Sheremetev came here himself and in the past Easter week held a meal and ball, which the tsar with most of the Boyars and great men of the country attended, but since the tsar showed himself there to be disturbed and unsatisfied against his custom and soon left, the gaiety was rather disturbed and Sheremetev takes it much to heart.

Even success in war did not bring harmony to the relationship of Field marshal and tsar, a state of affairs that may have rejected Peter’s general dissatisfaction with the management and command of his army. The tsar’s attempt to reorganize his army along European lines proceeded slowly, and the boyars were no help, for they were careless and lacked the necessary experience. Peter hoped for better things in the future, for he insisted that the young sons of the Russian princes and boyars go abroad to serve in foreign armies, not just to travel and observe. He considered plans to reorganize the administration of the Russian army into a German-type military commissariat, but for the time being left matters in the hands of the Military Chancellery.


In summer 1702, Sheremetev defeated a Swedish army again at Hummelshof near Dorpat, and in the fall the whole Russian force moved for its first great prize, Nöteborg. The voevoda of Novgorod, Petr Apraksin (the tsar’s brother-in-law), began the campaign by clearing the Neva of Swedish troops. Peter brought with him the two guards regiments, twelve regiments of infantry, and massive artillery, all under the command of Sheremetev. General John Chambers commanded the two guards regiments, Prince Nikita Ivanovich Repnin the rest of the infantry and Iakov Bruce the artillery. The siege began in October, and after a few days of fighting the Russian army entered the fortress on 14 October, its first major conquest of the war. The two guards regiments had borne the brunt of the struggle. The tsar ordered that the fortress bear a new name, not the old Russian name Oreshek but instead Schlüsselburg. Its fortifications were hastily prepared and a small exploratory expedition went down river to Nyenskans. Peter decided to postpone its capture to the following year. He set himself to return to Moscow and order new uniforms for the guards, but not before dealing with his commanders. Menshikov received the rank of general, his first important promotion since he became the supervisor of the tsarevich. Peter also cashiered both General Repnin and General Apraksin for corruption (‘einige Malversationes’) and for Repnin’s refusal to serve under Sheremetev. These were the first of many such cases, and both generals were soon to return to important positions.

The New Year 1703 brought the completion of the Russian conquest of Ingria, and with it the further rise of Menshikov and greater jealousy of his position in the state. This year the military operations were not so complicated. Menshikov continued work to improve the fortifications of Schlüsselburg and to build boats. By early spring Peter had a large army in the area, the main force under Sheremetev, Chambers, and Prince Repnin and a covering detachment under Petr Apraksin. Nyenskans fell on 1/12 May, and the other Ingrian towns, Iam and Kopor’e, in the course of the summer. The construction of the new city down the river from Nyenskans began almost immediately with the construction of a fortress. The new town would be St. Petersburg.

Imperial Russia and the Caucasus

Count Pavel Tsitsianov.

This painting once decorated the Abbas Mirza’s palace. Depicted on this huge canvas is the defeat of the Russian Trinity Infantry Regiment in the battle near Sultanabad, which took place on 13 February 1812. Persian soldiers wearing European uniforms and bearing Persian banners, on which a lion holds a sabre in its paw against a background of the rising sun.


This painting by Franz Roubaud illustrates an episode when 493 Russians for two weeks repelled attacks by a 20,000-strong Persian army. They made a “live bridge”, so that two cannons could be transported over their bodies.

Imperial Russia had not forgotten the dreams of Peter the Great: the conquest of the Caucasus, domination of Iran and the Persian Gulf with ambitions towards British India. Fathali Shah and Iran would soon be facing the might of imperial Russia, a military challenge for which the armies of the Qajars were wholly unprepared.

Iran was ruled by a series of princes in the major cities and provinces as well as tribes beholden to their leaders. The country would be stable so long as these forces acknowledged the shah’s authority, however the large degree of autonomy in the provinces did facilitate rebellion against the government or center. When Iran faced the armies of Russia, a series of rebellions broke out in the northeast (Khorasan) as well as the north (Astarabad and Mazandaran). These types of rebellions often forced the diversion of troops to provincial areas when they could otherwise have been used in critical battles against foreign armies. An example of fickle khans and the threats these posed to Qajar military activities in Khorasan as late as 1832 is provided by Hedayat’s Fihrist ol Tavareekh. Iran was to eventually lose all of the Caucasus due to a combination of Qajar mismanagement, outdated technology, and opportunistic khans who were willing to side with the Russians in hopes of increasing their personal wealth and status.

Agha Mohammad Khan’s assassination left his conquests in Georgia unconsolidated, inviting the Russians to forcibly pursue the establishment of their preferred Russo-Iranian border, as far south as the Kura River and even the Araxes River bordering Azarbaijan. There are indications that Fathali Shah did seek better relations with the Russians, especially in the earlier days of his rule. Tsar Paul was willing to accommodate Fathali Shah’s overtures and reciprocated by agreeing that Russian merchants should pay duties on goods they imported to Iran, the export of 18,000 tons of iron into Iran and that Russian warships not enter the port of Anzali arbitrarily. Despite these constructive acts of accommodation, the thorny issue of Georgia remained. No Iranian shah could conceive of ruling just a part of Iran by abandoning its other provinces, a practice which had occurred at the time of Karim Khan and Shahrokh Afshar. Fathali viewed Georgia as a prized province that had to be restored to the Iranian state. Tsar Paul I in turn was determined to treat Georgia as his protectorate, making the prospect of war all but inevitable.

The pattern of events unfolded as they had before. Fathali Shah wrote a highly threatening letter to Giorgi XII (son of Heraclius who had died in 1798), the new king of Karli-Kakheti, in the summer of 1798 ordering him to submit to his authority or face the prospect of “doubly increased subjection… Georgia will again be annihilated… Georgian people given to our wrath.” Giorgi XII sent emissaries to St. Petersburg in September 1800 in order to negotiate a new pact with Tsar Paul I (r. 1796–1801), The pact entitled Paul I to nominate himself as the tsar of Russia and Georgia, thereby considering the latter as a Russian protectorate. Giorgi also demanded that his eldest son David succeed him as king of Georgia.

Confrontation was also hastened by Russian imperialist ambitions. Andreeva has noted that “Territorial aggrandizement … would make the empire rich and … the empire could in return benefit subject peoples by introducing them to civilization and Christianity.”  Russia was a major European power, thanks to her “absorption of western technology and military skills…” as well as her participation in the Napoleonic wars and European politics. From St. Petersburg, Iran and her Caucasian possessions looked ripe for imperial conquest and economic domination.

Catherine the Great had considered Georgia as the lynchpin of Russian foreign policy to her south. From Georgia Russia could project its military power against both the Iranians and the Ottomans. The Russian navy would also benefit greatly from having access to Georgia’s western ports along the Black Sea. With ports already established in southern Russia, access to Georgian seaports would transform the Black Sea into a Russian-dominated lake. As Georgia and the Caucasus stood at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, control of this region would greatly benefit Russian commerce. Control of Georgia as well as the khanates to its east and south would allow the Russians to dominate the maritime trade of both the Black and Caspian seas. Control of the Caspian Sea would allow the Russians to extend their maritime and commercial interests into northern Iran and Central Asia.


Mozambique was ravaged by war for nearly 30 years before it slowly returned to peace at the beginning of the 1990s. First came the war of liberation against the Portuguese (1964–75), only to be ended after the change of government in Portugal that came with the overthrow of the Marcello Caetano dictatorship in April 1974. Following this event, Portugal signaled its readiness to grant independence to its African territories and Mozambique became independent on 25 June 1975. The great majority of the 250,000 Portuguese settlers, who had held most of the administrative and skilled jobs, left the country at independence to present the Frente da Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO)/Mozambique Liberation Front government with formidable problems of reconstruction. Mozambique, by almost any standards, was one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world at this time.


As the fighting against the Portuguese in both Mozambique and Angola had escalated during the early 1970s, both white-controlled Rhodesia and South Africa had provided Portugal with support in its efforts to hold on to power; however, when the Portuguese finally withdrew in the mid-1970s, Mozambique’s neighbors embarked upon policies of destabilization in order to undermine the new governments which came to power, since both Salisbury and Pretoria saw these as Marxist opponents of white racialism. By 1975, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) was having an increasingly successful impact upon the Smith regime in Rhodesia and it received immediate backing from the new Mozambique government. The head of Rhodesian security, Ken Flower, who ran the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), conceived the idea of fomenting civil war in Mozambique by creating and then supporting a rival movement to FRELIMO. Flower originally advanced his idea during talks with his Portuguese and South African security counterparts during 1971 and 1972. At first his suggestion was not adopted, but in March 1974, Flower visited the director general of Security in Lourenco Marques (Maputo), Major Silva Pais, who agreed with his approach. Flower wanted to launch an African group of Flechas (arrows) who would be responsible for “unconventional, clandestine operations.” In April 1974, prior to the Lisbon coup which toppled Dr. Marcello Caetano, the Rhodesian CIO began to recruit Mozambicans to form an organization to operate inside Mozambique, in theory without external support, although in practice it would depend first upon Rhodesia and then, after 1980, upon South Africa for assistance. The members of this group became known as the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO)/Mozambican National Resistance, which was usually referred to simply as RENAMO. Flower and the CIO had little difficulty in recruiting dissident Mozambicans during 1974/1975 and such a movement made sense to an increasingly beleaguered Rhodesia.

The Civil War: 1975–1984

The huge exodus of the Portuguese was a contributory cause of the developing chaos: of 250,000 Portuguese at independence in 1975, only 15,000 remained by 1978. As colonialists, the Portuguese had reserved all the skilled posts for themselves and when they went, the greater part of the country’s skilled capacity went as well. Moreover, the departing Portuguese carried out wilful acts of destruction of machines and equipment as they left. Once the new FRELIMO government had made plain its political stand—its determination to apply United Nations sanctions against Rhodesia and its declaration of support for the African National Congress (ANC)—it made itself a natural target for Rhodesian and South African hostility. From 1975 onward, both the Rhodesian and South African military were to make periodic cross-border raids into Mozambique, and for them RENAMO was to prove an invaluable ally, or at least an important nuisance factor.

In the period 1975–1980, as RENAMO gradually built up its capacity to harass the new government, Mozambique found itself beset by four basic problems: the loss of Portuguese skills; the deteriorating state of the economy; the presence in Mozambique of both ZANU and ANC guerrillas, which attracted punitive cross-border raids from Rhodesia and South Africa; and growing dissatisfaction among FRELIMO members who had expected quicker “rewards” once the country became independent. It is not possible to pinpoint exactly when RENAMO resistance to the new government became sufficiently important to warrant the description of either dissidence or civil war. The immediate problems concerned Rhodesia rather than South Africa: there were about 10,000 ZANU guerrillas in the country and growing border violence as Rhodesian security forces and ZANU guerrillas raided back and forth in the two territories. Such conditions provided a perfect cover for RENAMO to launch its activities.

There was to be a state of border war between Mozambique and Rhodesia from 1975 until 1980 when Rhodesia became independent as Zimbabwe. In March 1976, obeying UN sanctions, Mozambique closed its border with Rhodesia. In August of that year, after RENAMO spies had provided the information, the Rhodesian Selous Scouts raided across the border to attack the ZANU base camp at Nyadzonia (Pungwe) where they killed about 1,000 members of ZANU, many of them women and children. During 1977, frequent ZANU incursions across the border into Rhodesia led to retaliatory cross-border raids against the ZANU bases in Mozambique. It was, in any case, easier for the Rhodesians to attack these camps than to find the ZANU guerrillas in the Rhodesian bush. President Samora Machel claimed that between March 1976 and April 1977 there occurred 143 Rhodesian acts of aggression across the 1,140 kilometer border between the two countries, in which a total of 1,432 civilians, of whom 875 were Rhodesian refugees, were murdered. At the same time, however, there was little evidence of any internal opposition to FRELIMO or of RENAMO guerrillas operating against the government.

The acknowledged opposition to FRELIMO at this time—the United Democratic Front of Mozambique—had failed to obtain arms from Europe for a struggle against the government. On the other hand, RENAMO claimed that its guerrillas were then fighting under the command of six former FRELIMO commanders. By 1978, it had become apparent that the poverty-stricken Mozambique economy was heavily dependent upon three aspects of its connection with South Africa: the transit trade through Maputo; remittances from laborers in South Africa, especially in the mines; and payments for power from the Cabora Bassa Dam. Two of these links with South Africa made Mozambique especially vulnerable: both the Cabora Bassa power lines and the transit routes (road and rail) to Maputo and Beira were open to attacks by RENAMO.

By 1979, ZANU was clearly winning the war in Rhodesia and huge new pressures (following the Commonwealth heads of government meeting which was held in Lusaka that August) spelled the coming end to the Smith regime in Salisbury. However, in Mozambique the activities of RENAMO had by then become a serious threat to the government; as a result, it was in Mozambique’s interest that the struggle in Rhodesia should be terminated. Thus, in December 1979, when the ZANU leader, Robert Mugabe, was prepared to abandon the Lancaster House Conference in London and return to the bush, President Machel exerted pressure upon him to come to terms with the British foreign secretary, Lord Carrington.

Once Mugabe had become president of Zimbabwe in April 1980, Flower told him of his CIO role with regard to RENAMO, but Mugabe still kept him in office. In Mozambique the stage was set for an escalation of the civil war, for though independence for Zimbabwe meant the reopening of the joint border and the immediate easing of existing tensions, RENAMO guerrillas were then established in Manica, Sofala, and Tete Provinces. The result was that the government had to deploy substantial forces against the insurgents. Even so, whether RENAMO could really become effective seemed doubtful at that stage: Rhodesia had ceased to be its paymaster and South Africa had to formulate a clear policy in relation to Mozambique. However, Pretoria soon decided upon a policy of maximum economic disruption of its neighbor; it urged RENAMO to attack lines of communication (roads and railways), which served the landlocked countries to its north—Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and, in particular, to concentrate upon the Beira Corridor. In April 1981, RENAMO attacked the Cabora Bassa hydro-electric power station and cut the power lines. At that time, Cabora Bassa supplied 10 percent of South Africa’s power; the attack demonstrated that South Africa did not control RENAMO. In June 1981, fierce fighting in the north of Mozambique between government forces and RENAMO guerrillas caused hundreds of refugees to flee into Zimbabwe; they complained of ill-treatment from both sides.

The government now constructed fortified villages (similar to the former aldeamentos of the Portuguese) so as to protect and control the rural populations. In July, Machel met with Mugabe to discuss joint security measures. By the end of 1981, RENAMO activities in Manica and Sofala Provinces were sufficiently damaging to lead the government to recall FRELIMO commanders who had been released from service: they were ordered to establish “people’s militias” and arm them. During the liberation struggle, FRELIMO’s main support had come from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), East Germany, and other Communist states; now, however, it felt the need to mobilize support from the West if it was to contain the South African destabilization activities.

During 1982, RENAMO widened the scope of its operations and obtained military equipment from South Africa, while concentrating its attacks upon road and rail links used by the landlocked countries of the interior. In May 1982, the government began a major operation to make the Beira Corridor safe from RENAMO attacks; this included arming civilians living along the Corridor. RENAMO then employed a fresh tactic, that of abducting foreigners who were working in Mozambique in an effort to frighten them into leaving the country. Its efforts paid off when 40 Swedish workers fled to Zimbabwe after two of their number had been killed. Other persons abducted included six Bulgarian workers, while a Portuguese was killed. Fresh strains were added to an already deeply damaged economy when RENAMO attacked the Beira Corridor. In October 1982, Machel was forced to seek assistance from two of his neighbors, Tanzania and Zimbabwe: he asked President Julius Nyerere to increase the number of Tanzanian troops in the north of Mozambique—there were 2,000 there already—and asked President Mugabe for assistance in fighting RENAMO. By 1983, RENAMO guerrillas had become active in every province except Cabo Delgado in the north where the Tanzanian troops were stationed. By this time several thousand Zimbabwean troops had been deployed along the Beira Corridor, although the railway line was still being sabotaged. The Mozambique government mounted a major anti-RENAMO campaign in Zambezia, Mozambique’s richest province, and a second campaign in Inhambane Province in the south.

A growing problem for the government was the poor condition of its army: by this time it was ill-equipped, badly malnourished, often unpaid, and its soldiers felt neglected. Such troops, suffering from low morale, did not want to take the field against RENAMO. Twice during 1983 (May and October), units of the South African Defence Force (SADF) raided Maputo, ostensibly to attack ANC bases, but in fact to exert further pressures upon an already harassed government. Also during 1983, Machel visited a number of western countries seeking aid, although the immediate consequence was that the USSR cut off its assistance to Mozambique. South African policy was to put pressure upon the “Frontline” States (which included Mozambique) so that they would not provide the ANC with bases, and Pretoria’s support for RENAMO now appeared to be paying dividends.

Under these pressures, Machel was obliged to forge a deal with South Africa. On 16 March 1984, President Machel met South Africa’s President P. W. Botha at Nkomati on their joint border; they negotiated the Nkomati Accord, by whose terms they would each prevent the activities of opposition groups in the other’s territory. Mozambique was obliged to withdraw its support for the ANC and South Africa for RENAMO. The ANC and Nyerere both condemned the Accord, but at the time, Machel had little choice, even though his own leadership was opposed to the agreement. In fact, no decline in RENAMO activity followed. In June 1984, South Africa’s foreign minister, “Pik” Botha, went to Maputo to insist that South Africa was keeping its side of the agreement. It did not do so. The government now made members of the ANC in Mozambique live in controlled camps (or leave the country) and reduced the ANC mission in Maputo to 10. Furthermore, about 800 ANC departed from Mozambique to other Frontline States. When Machel visited China and North Korea in July, both countries endorsed the Nkomati Accord, which gave Machel moral support but not much else. During the second half of 1984, RENAMO increased the severity of its attacks, with continuing backing from South Africa, and by August was active in all 10 of Mozambique’s provinces.

The Second Phase: 1984–1990

Meetings between representatives of the Mozambique government, RENAMO, and South Africa, during August and September 1984, had proved abortive, and in November 1984, RENAMO mounted a new offensive throughout Mozambique. A strong government counter-offensive destroyed 100 RENAMO bases and resulted in the deaths of about 1,000 guerrillas. During 1985, despite protests by the Maputo government, South Africa made no efforts to restrain RENAMO; nor did it withdraw its support, and by this stage Portugal was also providing aid for RENAMO. The guerrilla tactics now changed: they raided villages and forcibly conscripted villagers to act as porters or soldiers. Some towns also came under siege. In April 1985, RENAMO severed rail links between South Africa and Mozambique. When the country celebrated its tenth independence anniversary in June 1985, President Machel was obliged to tell the people that Mozambique had to remain on a war footing because of RENAMO. At a meeting with Presidents Nyerere and Mugabe in July 1985, the latter promised to commit more troops to fight RENAMO. In August 1985, a joint campaign by FRELIMO and Zimbabwean troops captured the RENAMO headquarters at Casa Banana in Sofala Province. Documents seized in the raid showed that South Africa had provided continuous support to RENAMO ever since the Nkomati Accord, and this led a for-once deeply embarrassed South African government to reply that it had only “technically” broken the Nkomati Accord. The spokesman then blamed Portugal and claimed that the government was unable to control the many Portuguese then in South Africa who “worked to Lisbon’s orders.”

Slowly, meanwhile, the West was becoming more sympathetic to Mozambique and both the United States and Britain offered relief aid following the 1985 drought. In addition, Britain offered military training for FRELIMO troops—but in Zimbabwe. A further 5,000 Zimbabwean troops were committed to Mozambique in addition to the 2,000 already there. The year 1986 turned into the worst year of the civil war. In February, RENAMO recaptured Casa Banana and this had to be retaken by Zimbabwean troops in April. The government found that it was spending 42 percent of its revenue fighting RENAMO or preparing to deal with South African incursions. RENAMO concentrated upon cutting railway links, thus reducing government revenues from the transit trade. Then, in a further calculated blow to the government, South Africa announced that it would no longer recruit Mozambicans for its mines or renew the contracts of those already in the Republic. This represented a financial loss in the region of $90 million a year. When President Machel asked President Hastings Banda of Malawi to hand over RENAMO rebels then in his country, Banda instead expelled several hundred into Mozambique where they ravaged the border area. RENAMO then declared war on Zimbabwe.

On 19 October 1986, following a meeting with Presidents Kenneth Kaunda and Mugabe in Lusaka, Machel was killed when his plane crashed on its return journey. The crash was never properly explained: South Africa was blamed and a South African mission in Maputo was sacked. South Africa claimed that documents found in the wreckage (the plane crashed just inside the South African border) showed that Zambia and Mozambique were plotting to overthrow Hastings Banda of Malawi. Joaquim Chissano, Machel’s foreign minister, succeeded him as president and Maputo increased its pressures upon Malawi to end its support for RENAMO, threatening to cut its transit routes through Mozambique. As a result, Malawi reversed its policy and committed 300 troops to help guard the Nacala Railway, which linked Blantyre to the Indian Ocean port of Nacala. The line was then being upgraded and rehabilitated.

The war continued as fiercely into 1987, and President Mugabe agreed to provide further military assistance until the war had been won. By this time an estimated four million Mozambicans were facing starvation or destitution as a result of the civil war and one million people had been forced to leave their homes in Zambezia Province, which was one of the worst affected areas. However, the presence of Tanzanian and Zimbabwean troops, as well as the reversal of Malawi’s policy of helping RENAMO, gave the government a new lease of energy to fight the war. A South African raid upon Maputo in May—supposedly against an ANC base—finally spelled the end of the Nkomati Accord. By this time, the Mozambique–Zimbabwe border region had become a semi-war zone.

There were 40,000 Mozambican refugees in camps in Zimbabwe and a further 40,000 were thought to be roaming the country in search of work. Zimbabwe rounded these people up and sent them back to Mozambique. A RENAMO incursion into Zambia produced Zambian retaliation and a military pursuit into Mozambique to destroy two RENAMO bases. In July 1987, RENAMO attacked the southern town of Homoine to massacre 424 people, although Chissano claimed that the South Africans were responsible. Further RENAMO attacks in the south included the ambush of a convoy north of Maputo in which 270 people were killed. RENAMO tactics aimed to isolate Maputo. These RENAMO forces operating along the coast were being supplied by sea from South Africa. They attacked the only road linking Maputo with Gaza and Inhambane Provinces. The Mozambican military escorts for convoys proved ineffective and the troops’ morale was low. Such attacks close to the capital also had a demoralizing effect upon both the government and the international community living in Maputo. However, internal divisions in RENAMO weakened its onslaught. A leading member, Paulo Oliveira, advocated peace while Afonso Dhlakama, the leader, insisted on continuing the war. In December 1987, following the announcement by Chissano of a law of pardon, some 200 members of RENAMO surrendered in January 1988 and Oliveira defected to the government. The Zimbabwean troops provided essential stiffening for the demoralized Mozambican army; with their help two RENAMO bases were captured in December 1987 and a further three in March 1988.

Meanwhile, under Chissano, Mozambique was moving steadily toward the West: Great Britain agreed to a $25 million aid package as well as an increase in the military training for FRELIMO, which it was carrying out in Zimbabwe; and in June 1987, Mozambique negotiated a financial package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In October 1987, Mozambique was allowed to send an observer mission to the Vancouver Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and a special Commonwealth fund was created to assist Mozambique. In addition, a massive $600 million project to rehabilitate the port of Beira was launched, to be financed (in the main) by funds from the European Community. Mozambique had now come to see the West rather than the Communist bloc as its essential economic resource and savior.

RENAMO activity reached a peak during 1988 with repeated attacks upon communications and villages, with sabotage aimed at the vital Chicualacuala rail line linking Zimbabwe to Maputo. By this time RENAMO had an estimated 20,000 men in the field. Sometimes a force of as many as 600 guerrillas would attack a particular target, though generally RENAMO used small bands of men, often armed only with machetes, who robbed and killed. Half the FRELIMO army appeared to have collapsed or disintegrated and only the better units were able to withstand RENAMO, while government control did not run in large parts of the country. Instead, the government appeared increasingly dependent upon troops from Zimbabwe (10,000) and Tanzania (3,000) to fight RENAMO.

The position was made worse because of the large numbers of refugees created by the war. Sometimes whole villages were massacred. Many RENAMO guerrillas were, in fact, no more than armed bandits, the product of a lawless time. Afonso Dhlakama controlled about half the RENAMO forces. He had worked closely with South African intelligence since 1980 and had undergone training at the South African Special Forces base at Voortrekkerhoogte. South Africa, even after the Nkomati Accord, had made airdrops of supplies to RENAMO. Its other backers were the Portuguese (principally those who had fled in 1975 to settle in South Africa) and right-wing groups in the United States. Part of Pretoria’s motive for assisting RENAMO was economic: South Africa wanted to force the landlocked countries to its north—Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—to continue trading through South Africa and a destabilized Mozambique helped ensure that this happened.

Western aid to Mozambique increased through 1988 while Chissano’s government attempted to reactivate the Joint Security Commission with South Africa (it had been set up under the terms of the Nkomati Accord). In Lisbon, Eco Fernandes, who wanted RENAMO to maintain its links with South Africa, was shot. At a time when right-wing U.S. senators were arguing for U.S. aid to RENAMO, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Roy Stacey publicly described RENAMO as “waging a systematic and brutal war of terror against innocent Mozambican civilians through forced labor, starvation, physical abuse, and wanton killing.” The war produced many contradictions: in May 1988, for example, South Africa offered the Maputo government 82 million rand in military assistance to protect the Cabora Bassa Dam against RENAMO; Mozambique refused the offer of South African troops, but accepted training for 1,500 FRELIMO troops to guard the power pylons. In mid-year the government launched a new offensive against RENAMO.

Peace Negotiations

A possible breakthrough occurred in August when Chissano endorsed a plan advanced by church leaders to meet representatives of RENAMO in an effort to end the war. In 1989, the U.S. State Department claimed that RENAMO had killed 100,000 people since 1984. Meanwhile, Malawi had become host to nearly one million refugees (one in 12 of its population) and early in 1989 refugees from the war were arriving at the rate of 20,000 a month. And, despite repeated denials by Pretoria, South Africa continued to support RENAMO. In April 1989, RENAMO made a conciliatory gesture when it agreed to a ceasefire to allow food supplies to reach starving people. In June 1989, President Chissano advanced a 12-point peace plan, provided that RENAMO would renounce violence and agree to constitutional rule: by that time, some 3,000 members of RENAMO had accepted the December 1987 government amnesty. Also that June, church leaders met representatives of RENAMO at one of its strongholds, Gorongosa, and Dhlakama endorsed the peace move. RENAMO then demonstrated its readiness to compromise by sacking Artur Janeiro de Fonseca, its pro–South African external relations minister, and replacing him with Raul Domingos, formerly chief of staff. Talks scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, were called off when the government launched an attack upon Gorongosa. However, Dhlakama did go to Nairobi for talks with church leaders at the end of July, and though no agreement was reached these talks were generally seen to herald the beginning of a peace process. There was a setback in October 1989, but at the end of the year, Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe met in Nairobi to urge both RENAMO and the Mozambique government to drop all talk of preconditions. Early in 1990, with the country facing growing industrial unrest and an army that often went unpaid for months, President Chissano announced major constitutional changes which had the effect of moving Mozambique into line with the western democracies. An immediate result of this move was a U.S. announcement at the end of January that it no longer regarded Mozambique as a Communist country, while the general effect of these reforms was to make Mozambique more acceptable to the West.

The end of the Cold War played a part in the peace process, for once Mikhail Gorbachev had come to power in the USSR, he signaled the withdrawal or ending of Soviet aid and advised the two sides in the war to negotiate a peace. Fighting was to continue through 1990, but in July, the two sides met in Rome for talks arranged jointly by the churches and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. In November 1990, the government announced the abandonment of Marxism–Leninism and said it would thereafter run the economy according to market forces.

In December 1990, after Zimbabwe’s forces had been confined to the Beira and Limpopo Corridors, a ceasefire was negotiated; however, in February, despite the emergence of new political parties as part of the peace process, RENAMO launched new attacks to cut the roads to Malawi in the north. Peace talks were resumed on 6 May 1991, with RENAMO attempting to alter the agenda while its guerrillas continued to launch attacks against the Cabora Bassa power lines and railway links. The talks again broke down, but the following 4 October, a cease-fire was signed by Chissano and Dhlakama. By this time both sides were exhausted: these talks had been brokered by the Roman Catholic Church, President Mugabe, and the British businessman “Tiny” Rowland.

Costs and Casualties

The statistics of this brutal war were horrifying: by 1988 RENAMO campaigns had forced a minimum of 870,000 people to flee the country, had displaced a further one million inside the country, and reduced another 2.5 million to the point of starvation, while approximately 100,000 civilians had been killed and many more wounded or permanently maimed. By the end of the 1980s, famine threatened up to 4.5 million people throughout the country. There are variations on these figures but they each tell the same story. For example, in 1988 the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that there were 420,000 refugees in Malawi, 350,000 in South Africa, 22,500 in Swaziland, 30,000 in Zambia, 64,500 in Zimbabwe, and 15,000 in Tanzania to make a total of 902,000. Other estimates gave a total of 650,000 refugees in Malawi. The government requested (mid-1988) $380 million in emergency assistance to help feed six million people threatened with famine.

By the beginning of 1992, Mozambique was rated (by the World Bank) as having the lowest standard of living in the world.

The Aftermath

In December 1992, the United Nations agreed to send a peacekeeping force of 7,500 to Mozambique; its task would be principally to safeguard the transport corridors. However, delays in implementation almost led to disaster and RENAMO withdrew from the peace process. This resumed again and on 14 April 1993 the Zimbabwe troops guarding the Beira and Limpopo Corridors were withdrawn. By the following May 4,721 UN soldiers from five countries, the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (UNOMOZ), had arrived and these were accompanied by additional unarmed units. On 14 June 1993, the repatriation of 1.3 million refugees began under United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) auspices while international donors promised $520 million for humanitarian programs. On 14 August, the Joint Commission for the Formation of the Mozambique Defense Armed Forces (CCFADM) agreed upon a program to create a Mozambique Defense Armed Forces (FADM); 50 officers from either side in the civil war and 540 soldiers were selected for a 16-week training course. On 20 October 1993, the UN secretary-general, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, visited Maputo for talks with Chissano and Dhlakama. A fresh timetable for demobilization was set—this was to be carried out between January and May 1994, with a new army coming into being in September 1994. UN Security Council Resolution 898 of February 1994 authorized the creation of a UN police component to supervise the coming elections.

By March 1994, troops were moving into demobilization centers by which time 6,000 UNOMOZ troops were stationed in the country at a cost to western donors of $1 million a day. By mid-July 1994, 3.2 million voters had registered in areas over which the government had control. RENAMO called for a government of national unity after the elections. During the run-up to the elections, Dhlakama charged FRELIMO with fraud and said RENAMO would not take part in the elections, although on 28 October he reversed this stand and urged his followers to vote. The election results gave Chissano 53.3 percent of the presidential vote and Dhlakama 33.7 percent while, for the legislature, FRELIMO obtained 44.3 percent of the votes and RENAMO 37.7 percent. Dhlakama agreed that RENAMO would accept these results and cooperate with the government. Various offers of aid for reconstruction were now made by western governments.

At first, relations between the ruling FRELIMO government and RENAMO were delicate; Chissano said Dhlakama could not be an official leader of the opposition because he was not a member of the legislature but would, nonetheless, be provided with a salary and other official benefits since he had come second in the presidential election. In March 1995, the Paris Club pledged $780 million in loans and grants to Mozambique; the government also hoped to obtain relief on $350 million of debts. The government launched a program to eradicate poverty. The European Union arranged another package of aid in 1995 worth $65 million to rehabilitate Cabora Bassa and the Beira Corridor. By May 1995, most of the refugees had returned home, and in November 1995, Mozambique was admitted as a full member to the Commonwealth. In 1996 Mozambique embarked upon the long haul of economic and social recovery. It enjoyed much international goodwill at this time and in particular, growing links with the new South Africa, which was ready to provide assistance for its recovery.

Vietnam 1970: From Victory to Defeat? II

Yet below the surface of Nixon’s Laotian decision-making lurked crucial inconsistencies. With no guarantees of battlefield victory, a setback might very well undermine the goals of highlighting Vietnamization’s progress and the president’s leverage over Hanoi. The Laos proposal also disclosed that long-held assumptions on North Vietnam being the source of communist aggression still held sway over many military planners. For years, senior MACV officers campaigned for a cross-border offensive to slash the Ho Chi Minh Trail and isolate the South Vietnamese battlefield. Cut off from its external supply bases, they claimed, the insurgency would wither on the vine. Former congressman Walter Judd agreed, writing to Ambassador Bunker just as the operation commenced that if Hanoi failed to secure its logistical lines, “then it seems fairly clear that it will simply have to call off its aggression and return its forces to North Vietnam with real hope for a good future for Southeast Asia.” Of course, the lines between northern aggression and southern revolution were never so neatly drawn.

Furthermore, MACV’s operational plans proved to be wholly transitory—hit the enemy, temporarily cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and depart. As one senior American official noted, a new incursion “should give the South Vietnamese another year’s grace.” This compared to Hanoi’s more existential objective of remaining in Laos to safeguard their bases from which they could launch future military offensives aimed at terminating the South Vietnamese regime. MACV’s logic thus entailed a crucial flaw. To prove Vietnamization’s worth, overcome the insurgency inside South Vietnam, and build political bonds between Saigon and the rural population required more than just a brief raid into Laos. Neither Abrams nor his senior staff ever articulated how an improved ARVN, one capable of a fleeting cross-border incursion, would facilitate the growth of a southern political community that voluntarily supported Thieu’s vision of the future. Secure borders might be a necessary component of building that community, but nowhere near sufficient alone for its inception and expansion.

Thus, it seems most important to place the Laotian invasion of 1971 within the context of how well the government of South Vietnam, rather than the ARVN, was progressing. Some high-ranking officials did express concerns that the South Vietnamese armed forces needed additional time to mature. Army Chief of Staff Westmoreland shared with Kissinger his support for an alternative plan in which the ARVN conducted smaller raids rather than a frontal assault into Laos. Admiral Moorer, though, affirmed the plan would proceed “exactly like Gen Abrams wants to do it and no other way.” In April, after critics roundly denounced the miscarried operation, Kissinger quietly called Westmoreland to express his regret for not following the army chief of staff’s advice.

These discussions about the size of ARVN’s planned raid concentrated more on the American withdrawal than on South Vietnamese political loyalties. Abrams called the Laos campaign “critical” to the US pullout, while Nixon publicly claimed its purpose to “save American lives, to guarantee the continued withdrawal of our own forces, and to increase the ability of the South Vietnamese to defend themselves without our help.” In March, Kissinger told the president that “we’ve got to get enough time to get out” and ensure that North Vietnam did not “knock the whole place over.” Even South Vietnamese generals, citing high morale after the prior year’s Cambodian campaign, tended to think of a Laotian incursion in narrow terms of border security and cutting Hanoi’s supply routes. Without question, these were important objectives. But such failures in linking military operations to political progress would haunt MACV planners for the remainder of their war in Vietnam.

In the end, Nixon and Kissinger settled for a narrow military offensive to accomplish three primary objectives: to demonstrate the headway being made in Vietnamization, to limit domestic blowback against a widened war, and to buy time for the GVN. Behind closed doors, the president had already determined that US troop withdrawals would continue regardless of the ARVN’s performance in Laos. In truth, then, the White House, not MACV headquarters, was now fully directing strategy inside South Vietnam. This civilian domination of military affairs certainly rankled professional officers who deemed Nixon’s inner circle as far overstepping their bounds. As one senior US Army general recalled, the military assessments of Kissinger’s NSC staff, in particular those of Alexander Haig, “were given more weight that the judgments of General Abrams, other responsible commanders in the field, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Of course, MACV still had a role to play. Abrams’s planners rushed to conceive an operation that provided logistical and air support to the ARVN while achieving “maximum feasible disruption of the enemy timetable and destruction of stockpiles.” As with the Cambodian operation, though, top secret planning once more excluded the South Vietnamese until the last moment. And astoundingly, despite American officers’ long-standing desire to expand the war into Laos, no detailed contingency plans had been developed by Abrams’s planning staff. The first weeks of December 1970 thus became a flurry of activity inside MACV headquarters. On the 13th, Haig arrived in Saigon and, accompanied by Abrams and Ambassador Bunker, met with President Thieu and Chairman of the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff Cao Van Vien to present the outlines of what would soon be code-named Operation Lam Son 719.

The primary objective of MACV’s four-phased plan aimed to “cut and disrupt” the Ho Chi Minh Trail system in Laos. American forces would first secure lines of communication along the South Vietnamese-Laotian border while establishing logistical and fire support bases. Next, the ARVN 1st Division would attack into Tchepone, establish a base there, and in the third stage commence probes to cut the enemy’s supply routes. The final phase, “dependent on developments,” foresaw an optional attack southwest from Tchepone to clear out enemy base areas and supply caches. A recently passed Cooper-Church Amendment forbade American ground troops from accompanying the ARVN outside of South Vietnam’s borders. The South Vietnamese consequently would be on their own, save US air and artillery support, throughout much of the operation.

Even before Lam Son 719 kicked off, however, signs appeared that trouble lay ahead. In late January 1971, MACV intelligence reported that the North Vietnamese army had been alerted to the impending offensive. CIA estimates that same week anticipated “that if the ARVN operation is marginally effective, it will encourage the Communists to continue their present course.” Senior US officials, with the benefit of hindsight, put into question why Lam Son 719 went forward in the first place. General Bruce Palmer Jr. recalled that “in cold objectivity, it did look very much like sending a boy to do a man’s job in an extremely hostile environment.” Kissinger, for his part, believed the operation “was a splendid project on paper. Its chief drawback, as events showed, was that it in no way accorded with Vietnamese realities.”

Despite the warning signs, Lam Son 719 proceeded as planned. On 30 January, US mechanized infantry units moved to secure the Khe Sanh area in preparation for the ARVN assault on 8 February. The shift of American forces into Quang Tri province, however, alerted the North Vietnamese, who quickly reinforced Tchepone. Already in these early stages, Abrams seemed off balance. Two days before the ARVN crossed into Laos, the general lamented that Washington officials did not understand that the outcome would be totally in his subordinates’ hands. “There isn’t anything I can tell them, or anybody else.” The NVA leadership, in comparison, apparently had no such management problems in reacting to the allied incursion. As MACV reported, “Communist resistance stiffened as ARVN forces penetrated deeper into Laos. Tanks often fought tanks, and hand-to-hand combat ensued. Communist AA [anti-aircraft] fire took its toll of helicopters and TACAIR. The enemy often organized coordinated counter-attacks, and in one instance completely overran an RVN support base.”

By mid-February, the shaky wheels of the Lam Son operation started to come loose. Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Lam, commanding the South Vietnamese armed forces in Laos, had never led such a large-scale campaign. Throughout, he seemed incapable of managing the complexities of a major offensive in bad weather, the petty rivalries of his subordinate commanders, and the agile response from the defending communists. Worse, as Lam’s forces clawed their way toward Tchepone, they presented “an excellent target for NVA gunners and ‘human assault waves.’ ” Despite encouraging reports from Abrams—ARVN performance was “very good and professional”—the White House worried Lam Son had bogged down in just under three weeks of fighting. To Admiral Moorer, Kissinger divulged that “I do not understand what Abrams is doing.” Worse, the national security advisor failed to glimpse “anything aggressive” along Highway 9 on the route toward Tchepone. Lam Son 719 looked to be floundering.

News from the front only worsened when the White House discovered that President Thieu had decided to abandon the operation and withdraw his forces from Laos earlier than expected. If highlighting ARVN fighting abilities interested Nixon most, the premature extraction of South Vietnamese troops threatened to publicly expose the deficiencies still attenuating Vietnamization. Thieu, though, saw little political gain by remaining in Laos as NVA reinforcements poured onto the scene. Abrams might view Lam Son 719 as “maybe the only decisive battle of the war,” but South Vietnam’s president thought otherwise. The withdrawal decision threw White House leaders into a fit of rage. Kissinger shot off a message to Ambassador Bunker on 9 March, fuming that they had “not gone through all this agony just for the favorable headlines.” Two days later, at a White House briefing, the national security advisor castigated the South Vietnamese as “sons of bitches” for “bugging out.”

The president’s fury, however, soon turned on Abrams. As February drew to a close, Kissinger, already questioning whether MACV’s commander understood the true objective of Lam Son 719, shared Nixon’s dissatisfaction over the operation’s progress with Ambassador Bunker. Reports that Abrams had failed to leave his headquarters during the campaign only heightened White House concerns. Frustrated, in Kissinger’s words, by being “constantly outstripped by events,” an enraged Nixon considered sending Haig to Saigon to replace the now embattled MACV commander. Cooler heads—and Melvin Laird’s faithful support of Abrams—prevailed. Nixon postponed a Haig-led fact-finding mission until mid-March. The damage to Abrams’s reputation, however, had been done. H. R. Haldeman recorded on 23 March that both the president and Kissinger felt “they were misled by Abrams on the original evaluation of what might be accomplished” and “concluded they should pull Abrams out.” With military operations in Laos winding down though, Nixon demurred, arguing it would not make much difference anyway.

But the incursion had made a difference. Lam Son 719 shattered Nixon and Kissinger’s faith in Creighton Abrams. In early June, Kissinger admitted to the president that he “wouldn’t believe a word Abrams says anymore.” Nixon concurred. “You’ve got to go to the local commanders from now on.” Then in September, after Abrams reportedly leaked to the press his reservations about the timetable for withdrawal of US troops, an infuriated Nixon once more considered “withdrawing the son-of-a-bitch.” Kissinger agreed that Abrams was “no longer on top of this,” prompting Nixon to insist on a deputy commander who would keep the senior general “from drinking too much and talking too much.” The exchange over Abrams’s alcohol problems would not be the last. Nor would the Laotian campaign be the low point of American civil-military relations in these final years.

For the time being, Abrams’s near relief remained private, but Nixon now had to confront the public assessments of Lam Son 719. Even before the ARVN’s early departure from Laos, Nixon proclaimed success, arguing the offensive had “very seriously damaged” the communists’ fighting capacity and that the US troop withdrawal schedule would “go forward at least at the present rate.” Abrams, even if out of favor at the White House, loyally supported his president’s case to the press. At a 21 March press background briefing, the general predicted the ARVN would “come out of this with higher confidence.” Though some weaker units withdrew in the face of enemy pressure, the majority “performed well and did not retreat.” Most importantly, Abrams argued, “Lam Son 719 has succeeded in disrupting vital portions of the enemy’s logistical system, capturing or destroying significant quantities of supplies and inflicting considerable damage on enemy units within the area of operation.” By such accounts, the campaign looked to be the most decisive military engagement since Tet.

Yet akin to the 1970 Cambodian incursion, assessments of Lam Son 719 varied widely. MACV reported the enemy lost some 13,000 dead, but the ARVN had equally suffered, losing 8,000 casualties—approximately 45 percent of the total forces earmarked for the campaign. In addition, the enemy downed more than 100 US helicopters supporting ARVN ground troops. Nor did Hanoi’s supply problems seem all that grave. According to Haig, by 7 April, “American pilots reported that NVA truck traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail appeared to be back to normal.” One week later, Lieutenant General Michael S. Davison, the II Field Force commander, reported to Abrams that in Military Region 3 “the enemy continues to sustain himself without major reliance on external sources of supply.” Kissinger hoped the disruption of the Ho Chi Minh Trail would aggravate Hanoi’s supply shortages and limit enemy options in 1972, but evaluations of the North Vietnamese resupply system being “severely hurt” appeared optimistic given the temporary nature of the Laos raid.

Such nuances tended to get lost in White House declarations of success. Still, talking points on enemy kill ratios, numbers of trucks destroyed, or individual weapons captured only persuaded so much. By late March and early April, journalists were writing of a new “credibility gap” and of an “ignominious and disorderly retreat” from Laos. According to the New York Times, Hanoi “won at least a propaganda victory” by blunting the South Vietnamese offensive. Privately, Nixon grudgingly acquiesced to these views even as he lashed out against the press. On 21 April, the president told Kissinger that the war was presenting “a very serious problem. You see, the war has eroded America’s confidence up to this point.” Though he still believed that abandoning “our friends . . . would abandon ourselves,” the president rearticulated the end-state of his Southeast Asian policy. As he imparted to Kissinger on the 23rd, “Winning the war simply means . . . letting South Vietnam survive. That’s all.”

Six days later, the US 1st Cavalry Division, having served for more than five and half years in South Vietnam, wrapped up its guidons and headed home to Fort Hood, Texas. One officer, packing up the division’s last items of gear, worried about getting mortared during the departure ceremonies. “We got hit a few days ago,” he quipped, “and we thought they just might be zeroed in on our parade ground out there. That would have spoiled the party.”


The Chaco War (1932-1935)

The First Battle of Nanawa was a battle fought from 20 to 26 January 1933 between the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies during the Chaco War. Paraguay in blue defending and Bolivia in red attacking.

The Chaco War, fought between the South American states of Bolivia and Paraguay from 1932 to 1935, ranks behind the U. S. Civil War as the second-bloodiest war in the modern history of the Western Hemisphere. The Chaco War was fought for possession of the region known as the Gran Chaco, which covers about 100,000 square miles (260,000 square kilometers) and is a vast forested wasteland with little water and no re- sources that today comprises most of western Paraguay and part of eastern Bolivia. Although Paraguay ostensibly won the war, both states suffered heavy loss of life and were further impoverished as a result of the conflict.

Paraguay’s population in the late 1920s has been estimated at approximately one million. A Spanish-speaking elite governed the country and ruled over an indigenous population of Guarani Indians. The economy of the country was based primarily on subsistence agriculture. In the War of the Triple Alliance (1865-1870) against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, Paraguay lost huge swaths of territory and almost its entire male population. As a consequence, Paraguay became a country surrounded by hostile neighbors and constantly on the verge of extinction.

Bolivia, on the other hand, had a much larger population of three million. The nation was also primarily indigenous peoples ruled by a Spanish- speaking elite. Subsistence agriculture predominated in the nation, although tin mining had proved an important source of revenue in the 1920s. The worldwide economic depression of the 1930s led to a fall in tin prices, and by 1932 Bolivia was deeply in debt and experiencing declining living standards. Prior to the Chaco War, Bolivia had lost territory through unsuccessful conflicts, suffering defeats by Chile in 1884 and Brazil in 1903. By 1932 the president of Bolivia, Daniel Salamanca, was determined to gain the Gran Chaco for Bolivia.

The Gran Chaco region is best described as a forested wasteland that blends into desert on the western edge. The region had virtually nothing in terms of economic resources, and water was very scarce. During the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the border be- tween Bolivia and Paraguay remained rather un- defined. The Paraguayans probably had the stronger claim to the region and had settled Canadian Mennonites in the Chaco in the 1920s to strengthen their claim. A theory widely circulated in the 1930s held that the war had been provoked by the American company Standard Oil, which had allegedly encouraged Bolivian aggression in the belief that vast oil reserves could be found in the Gran Chaco, but historians have since discredited that theory.

Border clashes in the late 1920s and early 1930s culminated in full-scale combat on June 15, 1932, when the Bolivians launched an offensive. The war initially proved wildly popular in both countries, with vast crowds at train stations cheering troops departing for the front. Both governments undertook propaganda campaigns and public fund-raising drives. Bolivia’s Salamanca used the war as an opportunity to move against his political opponents by declaring a state of emergency and imprisoning many dissidents, especially members of left-wing groups and trade unions.

The Bolivian offensive quickly stalled, and the Paraguayans moved over to the attack. The Paraguayans were led by General Jose Felix Estigarribia, a highly competent officer who under- stood the terrain of the Chaco. At the same time, the Bolivian Army was led by General Hans Kundt, an inept German émigré whose tactics consisted simply of hurling his troops frontally at prepared Paraguayan defensive positions. The Bolivians advanced in predictable patterns down roads that could be easily ambushed by the enemy. By contrast, Estigarribia stressed mobility with flanking and envelopment tactics and repeatedly surrounded the Bolivian units. He concentrated on capturing all the water sources in the Chaco, a strategy that inflicted much hard- ship on the Bolivians. The Bolivians troops, accustomed to higher altitudes, also had great difficulty acclimatizing to the low, swampy terrain of the Chaco. Many of the Bolivian soldiers could not understand why they were fighting for such a strange and worthless territory. Paraguayans, by contrast, saw the war as a struggle for national survival and had higher morale. How- ever, troops on both sides suffered from disease, starvation, and water shortages.

By late 1934 the Paraguayans controlled all the Chaco, and their armies were ready to advance into Bolivia itself. By this time, the Bolivians had begun to rally. General Kundt had been removed from command in December 1933, and President Salamanca was forced from office by the army in late November 1934. The Bolivians began to win some victories by April 1935, in part due to the fact that the Paraguayans were by this stage overextended and tired. However, the Bolivians realized that they were unlikely to re- gain the Chaco, either diplomatically or militarily. At the same time, Paraguay was running out of food, supplies, and ammunition and was on the verge on bankruptcy. As such, the two countries signed a cease-fire on June 12, 1935, with the war having lasted almost exactly three years.

It took until July 21, 1938, to sign the final peace treaty, which left most of the Gran Chaco in Paraguayan territory. Although the League of Nations and neighboring states in South America had made diplomatic efforts to settle the war while it was in progress, neither side had a motive to end the war until mutual exhaustion set in.

The Chaco War cost an estimated 100,000 lives, about 60 percent of them Bolivian. Bolivia had mobilized 250,000 troops during the war, while Paraguay had mobilized 140,000. Both states emerged from the war exhausted and debt ridden. Postwar recrimination in Bolivia led to much criticism of the governing elite, culminating in a revolution in 1952 that brought in modest democratic reforms.

Bibliography Farcau, Bruce. The Chaco War: Bolivia and Paraguay, 1932-1935. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996. Rout, Leslie. Politics of the Chaco Peace Conference, 1935-1939. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970. Wood, Bruce. The United States and Latin American Wars. New York: Columbia University Press, 1966. Zook, David. The Conduct of the Chaco War. New York: Bookman, 1960.

Cattaro and Ragusa (1813)

Following the capture of the islands of Lagosta and Curzola, which provided excellent naval bases just off the Dalmatian coast, the British navy felt able to launch attacks on larger French posts, often utilising elements of any local army garrisons available along the Dalmatian and Croatian coastlines, almost at whim.

The island of Cherso (Cres) was seized in May 1813, and the Istrian port of Umag and the town of Dignano (Vodnjan) were captured in early June, their garrisons surrendering, whilst the islands of Giuppana and Mezzo fell in July. Admiral Fremantle continued to move his squadron steadily northward along the coastline, capturing the ports of Fiume (Rijeka), Maltempo and Rovigno (Rovinj), and removing or destroying all the coastal craft found within. Fremantle even joined in the attack on the port of Trieste in October, having found the Austrians (who had joined the war against Napoleon in August 1813) besieging it. He materially contributed to its fall at the end of that month. Naval guns were also landed from the Havannah and Weazel to aid in the siege of Zara (Zadar), which capitulated on 6 December.

All these actions were authorised on a local basis, with no orders from higher authorities to indicate their course of action. Indeed, Fremantle wrote to his brother at this time, ‘It is extraordinary, but since I have been in the Adriatic, not one order have I ever received relating to affairs here. This doesn’t worry me in the least, because it allows me a latitude which I would not have otherwise.’

Captain William Hoste had always had a difficult relationship with Admiral Fremantle; apparently on one occasion he was asked sarcastically by the admiral if he only came to their meetings to be complimented. He therefore chose, not unsurprisingly, to remain separate and independent of the admiral whenever possible. The cities of Cattaro and Ragusa (Dubrovnik) were completely isolated by the capture of the Dalmatian islands and surrounding coastal towns, but were still garrisoned by significant numbers of French troops.

Colonel Robertson of the 35th Foot had reported that the native populations around Cattaro and Ragusa were ready to rise in revolt, and Hoste constantly watched eagerly for an opportunity to get involved. This was not an easy task, with Fremantle declaring their capture impracticable without a force of 10,000 men being sent from Sicily. He therefore merely continued to blockade them both by sea.

However, in October 1813 Fremantle learnt that the local populace had indeed risen in revolt and that the French garrisons were now besieged within their forts. Fremantle, despite their cool personal relationship, realised that Hoste had a great deal of knowledge and expertise in this area and was therefore despatched ‘with some money, arms and ammunition to take management of the whole concern’. Hoste took the command with great enthusiasm, but this was tempered almost immediately when Fremantle refused to supply him with a force of some 200 soldiers or marines to enable him to launch further attacks on this strongly defended coastline. Fremantle had already asked for Austrian troops to be despatched to help besiege these fortresses, and he almost certainly felt that they would be much better placed to carry on such large-scale siege operations. The fortress of Cattaro was reported to mount almost 60 cannon and Ragusa no fewer than 150; what could the guns of one frigate achieve against such fearsome defences?

On 13 October 1813 Hoste, with just the Bacchante and Saracen (18 guns), entered the Gulf of Cattaro; this was difficult in itself, with the gulf’s own micro-weather system causing violent storms to suddenly whip up without warning. Passing the small fortress of Castello Nuovo (Herzog-Novi), the ships then squeezed through narrows only 200 yards wide before emerging into the capacious inland bay within, bordered by high mountains, whose crests were rarely to be seen without their shrouds of grey clouds. At the head of the gulf, clinging precariously to the shoreline, was the fortress of Cattaro, mounting some fifty-six cannon and with a garrison of some 700 Croatian and Italian troops, led by French officers. The fortress was commanded by General de Brigade Etienne Gauthier, who was confident that the natural strength of his command would prevent Hoste and the insurgents from prosecuting a successful siege.

On the 14th Hoste launched an attack on Castello Nuovo, whilst the ship’s boats pulled towards the two small islands that commanded the northern end of the narrows. The boats arrived to find the islands already besieged by local insurgents, but their arrival turned the tide and the small garrisons soon surrendered. The commander at Castello Nuovo was keen to capitulate, but refused the terms offered, which did not allow the repatriation of his entire garrison, including his small French element, to their homelands. Hoste lost his patience and announced that a fearsome bombardment would commence in five minutes, whilst an assault would be made by the Montenegrin insurgents, who had a fearsome reputation. The threat worked and Castello Nuovo promptly capitulated, with both the Russian and Austrian flags raised over the fortress to placate the various insurgent factions.

Hoste now moved against the even stronger fortress of Cattaro. He began by collecting the guns captured on the island of St Giorgio, but he did admit that it would be ‘a business of great labour and difficulty, if at all practicable’. However, internal dissensions within the various insurgent factions, who distrusted each other more than the French, eventually led Hoste to abandon the attempt and he promptly sailed out of the gulf to seek more promising adventures. After a short time off Ragusa, Hoste came to the conclusion that the Austrian force sent to take the two great fortresses was hopelessly inadequate and he saw no chance of successfully prosecuting either proposed attack.

However, as his frigate passed Lissa, a boat came out carrying Major John Slessor of the 35th Foot, who informed Hoste that the French garrison had abandoned Spalato (Split). Hoste promptly took a detachment of the 35th and landed them, along with his own marines, at Spalato, holding the port until Austrian troops arrived to take possession of it a few days later. Hoste’s force then returned to Lissa.

Meanwhile, Admiral Fremantle had supported the Austrian siege of Trieste, the British supplying guns and crews for the siege batteries. The Austrian General Count Nugent was then offered the support of a portion of the British garrisons in the Ionian islands, including two companies of the 35th Foot and some foreign troops commanded by Colonel Robertson. These were landed near Trieste by Admiral Fremantle on 12 October 1813, although they did not participate in the siege of the fortress. The French garrison, amounting to some 800 troops and fifty-three cannon finally surrendered on 29 October.

Plans were now made for an attack on Lesina (Hvar), the last remaining large Dalmatian island still occupied by the French. A detachment of the 35th Foot sailed with Hoste on board HMS Bacchante and HMS Mermaid to capture the island of Lesina on 8 November 1813. The following morning at 2.00am the troops landed, the 35th attacking the town whilst Hoste and his marines attacked Fort Napoleon on the top of a nearby hill, where the garrison slept each night. The attack on the town at dawn had succeeded beyond all expectation; all but one of the French officers, who continued to sleep in the town every night, were captured in their beds. But the marines found the climb to the fort harder than expected and the French garrison was fully aware of their approach. The attempt on the fort failed due to a lack of artillery and the invasion was finally abandoned. Two days later, however, the French garrison threatened to murder their sole remaining officer, an engineer, and offered to capitulate unilaterally to Major Slessor, who sent some troops from Lissa to take command of the island, Hoste having already left the scene in dismay.

Hoste again sailed towards Ragusa, where he learned that the Ragusan nobility had launched an insurrection and forced the French garrison to withdraw into the fortress, where they were effectively blockaded. Their leader, Count Caboga, agreed to a detachment of the 35th Foot and Corsican Rangers being landed at Ragusa Vecchia on the mainland, and Hoste duly transported the troops there. But here Hoste caused a bit of a diplomatic incident by raising the Ragusan flag at Ragusa Vecchia, in an attempt to encourage the Ragusans to rise up, although he held out little hope of success. The Austrians had no wish to encourage such independent thought amongst the Croatian population and were not pleased. Indeed, Hoste wrote to Admiral Fremantle that ‘I can give you no hopes of Ragusa soon falling … I do not possess the means of reducing it’, and he spoke disparagingly of the insurgents and the blockade: ‘like all undisciplined troops … sometimes there are two thousand before the place and the next day probably 100’.

Hoste then set off for Cattaro once again, whilst the infantry detachment sought to cooperate with the Ragusan insurgents in maintaining their blockade in the hope of starving the garrison into surrendering. One junior officer of the 35th Foot appears to have worked closely with the insurgents to ensure that the men of the garrison remained constantly penned in, and were eventually reduced to eating their horses and even the rats.

During Hoste’s absence, Captain John Harper of the sloop Saracen had continued his efforts to help the Montenegrins capture Cattaro. After General Gauthier had refused the first summons to surrender, the morale of the garrison began to fall sharply, the trapped men fearing a bloody assault and a massacre if they were defeated. Some of the Croatian troops actually planned to kidnap Gauthier, whilst Harper planned to place a gun to blow in the main gates to aid their attempt. Warned of the plan, Gauthier withdrew from the fortress to Fort San Giovanni, perched high on a mountain several hundred feet above the city, and warned his loyal troops to watch for any signs of a mutiny. On 28 October the attempt was made. The Croatians successfully forced the main gate and many of the garrison escaped, but the gates were closed again and the fortress held. Efforts to subvert the men, with bribes offered to officers if they did not oppose an assault, were made to no avail. The Montenegrins dragged some cannon into position and began to bombard the fort on 12 December, but they made little impression on the solid stone walls. At this point, Hoste reappeared with the Bacchante, now even more determined after his recent failures to capture the fortress, no matter what it took. As the passage through the gulf was proving difficult because of adverse winds, Hoste went ahead with the ship’s boats carrying fifty men and an 18-pounder cannon. On his arrival, he reconnoitred the fortress from a nearby mountain, from where it soon became abundantly clear to him that firing from the ships or from batteries on land would never be able to make an impression against the 30ft-thick stone walls. He therefore decided to drag some of his ship’s cannon up the mountain to fire plunging shot into the fortress, thereby, he hoped, forcing the garrison to capitulate. Despite the cold rain and biting winds, and the physical strain of hauling over 2 tons of cannon up an almost vertical climb, after six days the first cannon actually reached the summit of Mount Theodore. By 21 December, after herculean efforts, it was fully installed in the battery. Efforts began immediately on hauling up a second cannon and two 11-inch mortars. Further cannon were simultaneously hauled up the lower but steeper side of a second height to enfilade the walls of San Giovanni. All was finally ready and the guns began to fire on the morning of Christmas Day. They continued firing an incessant cannonade from both sides throughout daylight hours for six days. More cannon had been hauled up and on 1 January 1814 all the British batteries fired simultaneously, including rockets, and a number of fires were seen to take hold within the fortress. A further summons to surrender was, however, ignored and Hoste now concerted his efforts with the Montenegrins to assault the fortress.

Hearing of the proposed assault, and wary that it might lead to wholesale slaughter, Gauthier called a council of war and negotiations for a surrender finally commenced, coming to fruition on 8 January 1814. The 300 surviving men of the garrison were transported to Italy with the proviso that they would not serve again before they had been exchanged for British prisoners. Hoste sailed away on 16 January, handing possession of the fortress to the local magistrate, thereby avoiding becoming involved in the squabbles between the Montenegrins, the Bocchenese and the Austrians, who would soon appear under the command of General Theodore Milutinovich.

Hoste now moved on to the even tougher nut, Ragusa, where Austrian troops had already appeared to strengthen the blockade, but were constantly falling out with the Ragusan insurgents. Incredibly, although the Austrians had come to besiege a major fortress, they lacked siege artillery of any description. The 600 or so Croatian and French troops of the garrison, under the command of General de Division Joseph Montrichard, were now in serious straits regarding food but were determined to hold out for as long as possible. The fortress walls were up to 70 feet high and 16 feet thick and Hoste soon realised that a regular siege was unlikely to succeed here. He again began the job of dragging guns up the adjacent mountains to enfilade the fortress, a task made a great deal less arduous than it had been at Cattaro by utilising as a bridge a covered aqueduct running down from the mountains. He was also reinforced by another small party of the 35th Foot. On 27 January all the cannon were in place and the first ranging shots, plunging into houses on the central square, caused obvious panic within the city. It led to immediate calls from the garrison for negotiations, leading to a formal ceremony of surrender on 28 January in which the Austrians were allowed to march in early, to prevent any attempt by the Ragusans to declare independence.