Today in History - October 14th
October 14, 1892 - French defeat Dohomens at Kotopa
By October 14, the French columns had reached the town of Kotopa near the Koto River. On the far side of the river lay the sacred city of Cana, a place that the witch doctors had assured Behanzin would never fall to the white man. After reconnaissance, Dodds had decided that the three lines of Dahomean defenses in front of Kotopa were too strong to be taken by storm. Leaving the artillery to bombard the town, he then took most of his infantry upriver where he thought he might be able to ford the Koto and outflank those positions. His guides did not find a ford, but the Dahomean artillery did find the French column and began lobbing shells across the river. Temporarily stymied by the impassable jungle in front of him, Dodds drew his force back from Kotopa, called a halt and took stock of the situation.
The French expeditionary corps was now down to little more than 1,500 fighting men. Almost all the marines were out of commission from fatigue or wounds, a large number of the porters had melted into the forest, and dysentery and thirst were wearing down many of the infantrymen. Time was needed for rest and to bring up supplies and reinforcements, so Dodds set up a fortified camp a day’s march from the Koto, which the legionnaires christened the Camp of Thirst.
Behanzin, not realizing the difference between a tactical withdrawal and a retreat, ordered full-scale attacks against what he assumed was a beaten foe–attacks that turned into the same type of systematic slaughter that had occurred at Dogba and Grede. His warriors now had a graphic description for these strange adversaries who fought in square formations. They are like a great and evil bird, they said, who defends itself with its beak in front, with its wings to the sides, and with its claws behind.
October 14, 1899 Kimberly Besieged by the Boers
On 14 October 1899, Kimberley was besieged at the beginning of the Second Boer War. The British forces trying to relieve the siege suffered heavy losses. The siege was only lifted on 15 February 1900, but the war continued until May 1902. By that time, the British had built a concentration camp at Kimberley to house Boer women and children.
October 14, 1943, Allied Bomber Raid on Schweinfurt
8th Air Force again attacked Schweinfurt on 14 October 1943, a day that would go down in history as "Black Thursday." 291 B-17s left England, 229 bombed the target, and 60 bombers were lost. Crew casualties amounted to 639 men ... a loss the 8th Air Force could not afford, and which put a halt, for the time being, to unescorted deep strikes. The bombing was more accurate this time, but hindsight shows that it was not a crippling blow to the bearing industry.