How a nice Jewish Boy from Baltimore made it this far. The trials and tribulations, not to mention the fun and frolics of every day life.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Military History Daily Calendar of Events

Starting with this post I will instituting new entries (hopefully) every day that lists a number of events, mostly with some military historical significance. Now I don't necessarily have entries for every day of the year and naturally, the entries I do have are not all inclusive. I am starting with September 23rd, as I don't have anything for September 24th or 25th. I will try to include some commentary on most events and hope to include an illustration for the event. So without further ado here we go.

September 23, 480 B.C. The Battle of Salamis

The Battle of Salamis (Ancient Greek: Ναυμαχία τῆς Σαλαμῖνος), was a decisive naval battle between the Greek city-states and Persia in September, 480 BC in the strait between Piraeus and Salamis Island, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens.

The Greeks were not in accord as to how to defend against the Persian army, but Athens under Themistocles used their navy to defeat the much larger Persian navy and force King Xerxes I of Persia to retreat. The Greek victory marked the turning point of the campaign, leading to the eventual Persian defeat.

Battle of Salamis
Part of the Persian Wars

September 23, 1803 The Battle of Assaye

On the 20th September, in pursuit of the Marathas, General Wellesley and Colonel Stevenson separated at Bednapur, to make use of two narrow roads. Stevenson advanced through a valley some 14 miles (23 km) west of Wellesley's line of march. He and Wellesley planned to rejoin forces at a village twelve miles (19 km) from Bokerdunon on the 24 September. But Wellesley encountered the army of Sindhia and Ragojee Bhonsla on 23 September. The latter numbered between 40,000 and 50,000 strong, including three brigades of regular infantry, the largest under the command of Anton Pohlmann, a Hanoverian,[1] who had previously been a sergeant in the East India Company before defecting to the Marathas. The Maratha forces had taken position on a tongue of land between the Kaitna and the Juah rivers, a position that the princes thought could be only attacked from across the Kaitna. Despite the numbers facing him, Wellesley determined to attack.

Wellesley could have been prudent, digging in to a defensive position, and awaiting the arrival the following day of Stevenson's troops. However, he judged that an immediate attack, even against the astounding odds of one to seven, had a chance of success, considering the brittle morale and looser discipline of the Maratha soldiers.

In the event, Wellesley marched his little army along the river looking for a place to cross. Despite the vigorous assertions of his native guides that no crossing existed thereabouts, he found a ford near the village of Assaye. He then attempted to attack a flank of the princes' army. This manœuver failed because his party was spotted as they crossed the river; the Indian army, in an example of excellent discipline, turned their front so that they were again facing the British. But a valorous charge led by two Scottish battalions, HM 74th Highlanders (which lost all its officers) and 78th Highlanders, shattered the combined forces, and the armies of the princes fled. The Maratha casualties numbered about 6,000 men, while the British lost approximately 1,500. Despite sustaining such heavy casualties in their frontal attack, the British/Indian combined force had won a considerable victory; but having fought the battle after a 24-mile (39 km) march, Wellesley's exhausted army was unable to pursue the defeated enemy.

This was 34 year old Wellesley's first major success, and one that he always held in the highest estimation, even when compared to his later triumphant career. According to anecdotal evidence, in his retirement years Wellington considered this his finest battle, surpassing even his victory at the Battle of Waterloo.

British East India Company Maratha Confederacy

4,500 Infantry
2,000 Cavalry
20 cannons
20,000 Infantry
30,000 Cavalry
100 cannons
Casualties and losses
428 killed
1,156 wounded
1,200 killed
4,800 wounded
98 cannons lost

Battle of Assaye
Part of Second Maratha War

The 74th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot at Assaye


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