Go to updates from: January 2015 onwards 2014 2013 2012 2011 July-December 2010 January-June 2010 June-December 2009 January-June 2009 2008 October-December 2007 July-September 2007 January-June 2007 2006 2005
We finish the year with a bumper update. The Overland Campaign against Richmond was U.S. Grant's first attempt to defeat Robert E. Lee. His attempts to outflank Lee's armies all failed, while a second campaign under General Butler was defeated at the battle of Drewry’s Bluff (16 May 1864). Grant was not discouraged, and instead switched his attention to Petersburg (Petersburg Campaign, 1864-5). A chance to capture the city easily was missed (Battle of Petersburg, 15-18 June 1864), and Grant settled into a regular siege. An attempt to break the deadlock by exploding a massive mine under the Confederate lines failed (battle of the Crater, 30 June-3 April 1864). The end came after Robert E. Lee launched his final attack of the war, at Fort Steadman (25 March 1865). Instead of forcing Grant to shorten his lines, allowing Lee to escape south, the battle weakened the Confederate line to the point where Grant's next attack, (Battle of Five Forks, 1 April 1865) broke the southern end of the Confederate line. The next day, Grant was finally able to break through the Confederate lines outside Richmond and Petersburg. Lee was forced to abandon the Confederate capital. His attempt to escape south ended in the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
Finally, we add a biography of the late Markus Wolf, the notorious head of the East German Secret Police (the Stasi), and one of the most important figures during the Cold War. Wolf was famous for his ability to infiltrate agents into western societies (including amongst them one of my university lecturers, exposed only after the fall of East Germany). His death in 2006 was seen by many as the end of an era.
Today we add the last two battles of Grant's overland campaign against Richmond. The Battle of North Anna River was the smallest scale battle of the campaign. Once again Grant failed to get past Lee's left flank. Cold Harbor saw the final failure of Grant's first plan for 1864. The Union army had been drained by the intense fighting of the previous three battles and was unable to break through Lee's lines. After Cold Harbor, Grant turned south to Petersburg.
From the Wilderness, Grant attempted to outflank Lee by reaching a crossroads at Spotsylvania. Lee rushed troops to the danger point in time to stop Grant's move. The resulting battle saw Grant launch repeated attacks against the entrenched Confederate line. The 'Bloody Angle' saw some of the most vicious sustained close quarter combat of the entire war, but failed to produce a breakthrough.
The Battle of the Wilderness was the first battle during U.S. Grant's overland campaign against Richmond. It was also the first clash between Grant and Robert E. Lee. Tactically, the battle was a Confederate victory, but unlike earlier Union commanders in Virginia, Grant did not allow one defeat to distract him from his plans. The Wilderness was followed by the first of many Union attempts to slip past Lee's right wing. From now on, Lee would be under constant pressure until the end of the war.
Pavel I. Batov was a senior Red Army commander during the Second World War. Early in the war he commanded Soviet forces in the Crimea, before moving on to command the 65th Army, commanding that unit from Stalingrad to Berlin.
The C.S.S. Alabama was the most successful Confederate commerce raider of the American Civil War. In a career that lasted for nearly two years, she sank or captured 66 Union ships, including the warship Hatteras.
Ambrose Burnside was one of the series of generals who had command of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War, and possibly one of the least suited to hold that place. When commanding smaller scale operations, he proved himself to be one of the more able Union commanders of the civil war. His first major successes came on the coast of North Carolina. After an earlier expedition captured Hatteras, Burnside saw how vulnerable the Confederate coast was. In the spring of 1862 he led an expedition that won a series of battles at Roanoke Island, Elizabeth City, South Mills, New Berne and Fort Macon, closing most of the North Carolina coast to Confederate shipping.
The battle of Talana Hill was the first major battle during the Second Anglo-Boer War. It was a British victory, but one that had almost no impact on the course of the war, which began very badly for the British.
The Knight's Cross with Oak-Leaves, Swords and Diamonds was the highest award for bravery given in Germany during the Second World War. Only twenty seven men won this award and today we provide a list of those men. We intend this to be the first of a series of similar lists for each participant in the war (where possible).
We also add the complete Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, one of the most valuable of all Civil War era autobiographies.
The Battle of Belmont was U.S. Grant's first experience of battlefield command. As a battle it had little significance, but it has interest as a stepping stone in the career of the Union's most successful general.
William J. Hardee was a senior Confederate general and military theorist, who appeared in just about every theatre of war apart from Virginia, starting the war west of the Mississippi, and ending it in North Carolina. His career rather neatly sums up the Confederate experience outside Virginia, and includes the battle of Shiloh, the siege of Chattanooga, and the Confederate attempts to stop W. T. Sherman's march to the sea.
The Siege of Vicksburg was one of the most significant events of the American Civil War. The fall of Vicksburg removed the last significant Confederate presence on the Mississippi River, making it only a matter of time before the river was open to traffic from the north.
We complete a short series of biographies of New Zealanders with Lt Col L W Andrew, VC and Lt Col Howard Kippenberger, both of whom held important commands during the Battle of Crete in 1941.
We turn to the very start of the American Civil War, and look at the Siege of Fort Sumter, the battle that turned a crisis into a war.
One of the biggest problems faced by the North during the civil war was the threat to their supply lines posed by bands of Confederate cavalry. Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most able cavalry commanders of the war. In 1864 he posed a serious threat to Sherman's supply lines as he approached Atlanta. Brice's Crossroad (10 June 1864) saw Forrest win one of his most inpressive victories, defeating a much larger Federal force. Just over a month later he suffered one of only two defeats in his military career at Tupelo (14-15 July 1864), although even this did not stop him - in August he launched a raid that reached the Federal headquarters in Memphis!
Big Bethal and Ball's Bluff were two early Union defeats in Virginia. Big Bethal was the first test for General John Magruder, who was later to cause the Union many problems during the Peninsula campaign. Ball's Bluff was an insignificant affair, but it caused a massive political scandal in Washington because of the death of Colonel Edward D. Baker, a former Congressman, Republican Senator and friend of President Lincoln.
Brigadier Lindsay M Inglis was a New Zealander who served in both world wars. He commanded the 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade on Crete during the German invasion, and also in the western desert during the campaigns against Rommel, sometimes standing in for General Bernard Freyberg in command of the New Zealand division.
The Seven Days's Battles of 1862 saw Robert E. Lee's first victory during the American Civil War. George B. McClellan with his huge Federal army had advanced to within a few miles of Richmond, and on 25 June 1862 began the Seven Days's with his only attack, at Oak Grove. The next day Lee launched his own attack, at Mechanicsville. This first attack failed, but McClellan turned it into a victory by deciding to retreat south to the James River. Over the next five days, Lee launched attacks at Gaines’s Mill, Savage’s Station, Glendale and Malvern Hill. Only Gaines's Mill was a Confederate battlefield victory, but Lee had pushed McClellan away from Richmond, saving the Confederate capitol, and restoring his own reputation after defeats in West Virginia and on the Atlantic coast.
William Tecumseh Sherman was one of the North's most important commanders during the civil war. He first came to prominence as a trusted lieutenant to U.S. Grant, before succeeding him in command in the west after Grant was promoted to Washington. In that role Sherman led the armies that penetrated the heart of the Confederacy, seizing Atlanta before marching through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. By the time the war ended, Sherman's armies were beginning to threaten Robert E. Lee's armies in Virginia from the rear.
We also add four of his battles: the disaster at Chickasaw Bluffs, the controversial victory at Arkansas Post and the only battles of his march through the Carolinas, at Averasborough and Bentonville. We support these articles with three pictures and eleven maps.
Today we add the second part of our series on Operation Downfall, the allied invasion of Japan, planned for the end of 1945. In this article we concentrate on the planned invasion of Kyushu, the southernmost of the home islands and the deception plans that were put in place to help ensure the success of this invasion.
For today we have the Big Black River campaign, U.S. Grant's most impressive campaign of manoeuvre warfare. During the first half of May 1863, Grant won five battles (Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion's Hill and Big Black River), defeating forces that if they had combined would have been just as large as his own. We also add a biography of John A. McClernand, a political general who was one of Grant's three corps commanders during the campaign.
A change of topic today with an article on Nato map symbols, used to keep track of unit locations or to plan future actions. The article is supported by 25 illustrations showing the map symbols.
Today we add articles on the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. These two Confederate forts guarded the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in northern Tennessee and were an important part of the Confederate defensive line in the west. Their capture by a force commanded by U. S. Grant punctured that line and secured most of northern Tennessee for the Union.
The most dramatic Union successes of 1864 were won by General Sherman. He began the year with the march on Atlanta, fighting battles at Resaca (13-15 May), New Hope Church (25-27 May) and Keneshaw Mountain (27 June) on the way. At Atlanta he fought off Confederate attacks (Battles of Peachtree Creek, 20 July and Atlanta, 22 July). Once he was at Atlanta, Sherman made two attempts to cut off the city's last rail connections. His first attempt failed (Ezra Church, 28 July), but a second attack with almost his entire army brushed aside a Confederate army rushed south to stop him (Battle of Jonesborough, 31 August). Atlanta was evacuated, and on 2 September Union forces occupied the city. The news of the capture of Atlanta played an important role in ensuring the reelection of President Lincoln, and left the heart of the Confederacy exposed to Union invasion.
Today we add a biography of General Braxton Bragg, one of the more argumentative Confederate generals of the civil war. We support that with an article on his most important campaign, the Confederate invasion of Kentucky in 1862, and with articles on the Battle of Richmond (30 August 1862), capture of Munfordville (13-17 September 1862) and the Battle of Perryville (8 October 1862), key moments during that campaign.
The least well known of the three Confederate offensives of 1862 was the attempted invasion of Western Tennessee and Kentucky. After avoiding a trap at the battle of Iuka (19 September 1862), being repulsed after two days of fighting at Corinth (3-4 October 1862) and narrowly avoiding being cut off at Hatchie Bridge (5 October), this attempted invasion ended without even leaving Mississippi.
The last major Confederate offensive of the war was General John Hood's invasion of Tennessee in late 1864. After failing to trap a Union army at Spring Hill (29 November 1864) , Hood launched a futile attack on the same Union army in a defensive position at Franklin (30 November 1864), before his army was finally crushed at Nashville (15-16 December 1864). The failure of Hood's offensive, at a high cost and with nothing achieved, began to convince many across the south that the Confederacy was doomed.
We swap back to our Second World War biographies, with articles on two German generals who fought at Stalingrad: Generalleutnant Hans Hube and General der Pioniere Erwin Jaenecke
Today we add nine battles of 1864-5 related to the Shenandoah Valley theatre of the American Civil War: New Market, 15 May 1864; Piedmont, 5 June 1864; Trevilian Station 11-12 June 1864; Lynchburg, 17-18 June 1864; Monocacy River, 9 July 1864; Winchester, 19 September 1864; Fisher’s Hill, 22 September 1864; Cedar Creek, 19 October 1864 and Waynesborough, 2 March 1865
Today we add a biography of Brigadier George A Vasey, a senior Australian officer during the Second World War. Vasey fought in the Balkans, on Crete and the in Far East, before dying in a plane crash in 1945.
Today we add the six battles of Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862: Kernstown (23 March 1862), McDowell (8 May 1862), Front Royal (23 May 1862), Winchester (25 May 1862), Cross Keys (8 June 1862) and Port Republic (9 June 1862)
After our walk along Hadrian's Wall, we return with a short article on the Century, the smallest unit within the Roman Legions.
Today we add a major article on the post-war history of insurgency in the Philippines.
We continue our series of shorter articles with the battles of Gettysburg, Shiloh/ Pittsburg Landing and Antietam/ Sharpsburg. These are three of the most significant battles of the war, each marking the failure of a Confederate attack.
After withdrawing from Yorktown, the Confederate armies pulled back towards Richmond. At Williamsburg (5 May 1862) the Confederate rearguard and the Union advance guard clashed in what developed into a bloody battle. The Confederates succeeded in delaying the Union advance for long enough for their supply trains to reach Richmond.
We also begin a series of shorter articles on the major battles of the war with First Bull Run/ Manassas, Frederickburg and Chancellorsville.
During the month-long siege of Yorktown, the Union army only launched one assault on the Confederate lines, at Lee's Mill on 16 April 1862. Even this was not intended to break the Confederate lines, but only to test its strength.
The first fighting on the Peninsula came at Yorktown, where a thin Confederate line managed to halt McClellan's advance for a month, fatally delaying his march on Richmond.
Our move into historical documents has got well and truly underway with our first significant entry from the Official Records of the Rebellion, the massive multi-volume collection of documents relating to the American Civil War. Today we have finished posting General McClellan's 50,000 word report on the Peninsular Campaign, an invaluable insight into the mind of the commanding general on the Union side during that campaign.
Our focus now moves onto the Peninsular Campaign, George McClellan's grand plan to outflank the Confederate armies in northern Virginia and capture Richmond before the rebels could react.
Today we add a biography of Vegetius, a late Roman author who wrote a military manual that describes an idealised Roman army.
Today we start a new venture for us with our first large primary source. Our first full text source is the Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, collected and linked by his son, Robert E. Lee Jr. Lee died before he could write his own autobiography, and so this book provides one of the best insights into Lee as a man.
We finish our themed month with two biographies: First, Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson, one of the most able generals of the war, and Lee's most important lieutenant, until his death in 1863.
Second, we have Ulysses S. Grant, the Union's most successful general. His ruthless approach to the war was to play a crucial part in finally bringing it to an end.
Finally, we launch our interactive section with three quizzes for you to test your civil war knowledge: Biographies Quiz, States Quiz and Years Quiz.
We finish our coverage of the fighting around Chattanooga with a look at the Battle of Wauhatchie, 28-29 October 1863, the only Confederate attempt to break General Grant's 'Cracker Line' bringing supplies into the city. We also add an interactive Map of the Chattanooga area.
The Battle of Missionary Ridge: General Grant drives the Confederate army away from Chattanooga.
The Battle of Orchard Knob (23 November 1863) saw the first fighting in General Grant's campaign to raise the Siege of Chattanooga.
The Battle of Chickamauga (19-20 September 1863) was the bloodiest battle of the western theatre, and brought to an end a Union campaign that had pushed the Confederates out of Tennessee and threatened Georgia.
The Battle of Campbell's Station was a rearguard action that allowed the Union forces under Burnside to withdraw into Knoxville.
We begin a look at the end of the siege of Chattanooga with an article on The Battle of Lookout Mountain, 24 November 1863
Today we add a biography of Philip Sheridan, a rare example of a man who succeeded as a infantry commander, a cavalry commander and in charge of an entire army.
The Battle of Bean's Station (14 December 1863) was the last fighting of the Knoxville campaign. It was a minor Confederate victory that ended the Union pursuit of Longstreet's army.
Today we add our timeline of the Civil War, with one page for each year of the war: 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864 and 1865. Expect more detail to be added to these pages as we increase our coverage.
After a brief break we resume with a biography of Robert E. Lee, the most iconic Confederate general, who won repeated victories against heavy odds, but was unable to find a winning strategy during his invasions of the north.
Today we look at the Knoxville campaign and the Battle of Knoxville (29 November 1863). The campaign gained the Union control of East Tennessee, and Confederate defeat in the battle ensured it would be maintained.
The Chattanooga and Chickamauga campaigns (1863) secured Union control of central and east Tennessee and exposed the heart of the Confederacy to attack in 1864.
Having given you Stuart, we move on to General George Armstrong Custer, who at least survived longer...
Our first biography is of James 'JEB' Stuart, the most famous of several dashing Confederate cavalry leaders
We launch our American Civil War month with an eleven part, 32,000 word article on the war itself:American Civil War: Introduction
Our last article before we begin our American Civil War month looks back to the War of Independence, and looks at the Siege of Fort Washington in 1776
Our last article before we take an Easter break is on the Junkers JU52, one of the most important German aircraft of the Second World War.
Biography of Andrei Ivanovich Yeremenko, a Russian general who held high command throughout the entire Second World War. He played an important role in stopping the Germans outside Moscow in 1941.
Douglas DC-3 / C-47 Dakota, probably the longest serving military aircraft of all time, the Dakota first flew in 1935 and is still in use around the world today.
The Battle of Long Island, 26-29 August 1776, a British victory during the American War of Independence that led to the capture of New York.
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, one of the most spectacular and distinctive military aircraft in history and for a long time the fastest and highest flying air breathing machine.
We bring up our 800th article with two battles between the Samurai and the Ikko-Ikki warrior monks (Japan), the Siege of Mount Hiei (1571) and the Second Battle of Azukizaka (1564)
Today we add an article on the Falklands War, a conflict with repercussions in both Argentina and Britain that were as important as the war itself.
Biography of Tadeusz Bor Komorowski, the commander of the Polish underground in 1944 during the Warsaw uprising.
Finally, we have an article on the battle of Copenhagen (1801), Nelson's second great victory and probably the hardest fought. The article is supported by our first two source documents, Nelson's first and second letters to the Crown Prince of Denmark, written as the battle was coming to its end, in an attempt to shorten the fighting.
Day Twenty Three sees an article on the British Army musket, commonly known as the 'Brown Bess', the main infantry weapon for over a century.
For Day twenty two we have an article on the Baker Rifle, the first rifle in common use in the British army.
Day twenty one sees the third and final part of our biography of Horatio Nelson, covering the period from the resumption of war in 1803 through to the battle of Trafalgar, Nelson's greatest victory and the moment of his death.
Day twenty sees an article on the Gunboat, the smallest ship of war in use during this period, and an essential part of many amphibious operations.
For day nineteen we have the battle of the Nile (1 August 1798), Nelson's first victory in commander of a fleet and one of the most decisive battles of the age of sail. The almost total destruction of his fleet left Napoleon stranded in Egypt and cut off from any reinforcements.
Day eighteen sees the First battle of Aboukir, 25 July 1799, Napoleon's final victory in Egypt before his return to France to seize power.
For day seventeen we look at the Sea Fencibles, a naval home guard raised to defend Britain against the threat of French invasion.
Typical of the revolutionary fervour that swept through France was the Republican Calendar, adopted as a symbol of the complete break with the past hoped for by the more radical revolutionaries.
Day Fourteen sees a definition of the Ship of the Line, the most powerful warship system of the period, and key to the tactics used in major battles at sea.
For Day Thirteen we discuss the use of body armour during the Napoleonic Wars. From being a dominant feature of military equipment, by this period body armour was used exclusively by the heavy cavalry, and even then was not in constant use.
Day Twelve sees part two of our three part biography of Admiral Nelson, which sees him cement his fame at the battle of the Nile, start his famous love affair with Lady Hamilton, and win his hardest victory at the battle of Copenhagen.
Day Eleven sees a biography of Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, second in command at the battle of Trafalgar, and the British commander in chief in the Mediterranean after the death of Nelson.
For Day Ten we have Calder's Battle off Finisterre (22 July 1805), a missed chance for a British victory during the campaign that led to Trafalgar.
Day Nine sees an account of the French invasion of Egypt (1798-1801), a three year venture that began with high hopes of destroying British power in the east, but that eventually fizzled out after the French lost control of the Mediterranean.
Day Eight sees a list of Napoleon's Marshals. These were his most trusted military commanders, and their successes and failures were almost as important for the fate of France as Napoleon's own.
Part one of our three part biography of Lord Horatio Nelson traces his career to the battle of Cape St. Vincent, where he first made his name when he placed his ship in front of the entire Spanish fleet to give the rest of the British fleet time to close their trap.
The creation of Demi-Brigades was amongst the first of a series of reformed that made French armies the most feared in Europe in the two decades after the revolution.
Day four sees the start of a min-series on naval concepts, starting with the phrase 'flying his flag', an important part of the command structure in fleets at sea.
For day three, we have the battle of Vittoria (1813), the most important British victory of the Peninsular War.
Day two sees an article on the Sabre during the Napoleonic Wars. The sabre was the main cavalry weapon during this period, used by all the major combatants.
We begin our Napoleonic month with a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, the politician and general who gave his name to the entire period. Napoleon's career still causes controversy - he can be seen as everything from a military dictator to a dedicated democrat - but his military ability is not in doubt.
Go to updates from: January 2015 onwards 2014 2013 2012 2011 July-December 2010 January-June 2010 June-December 2009 January-June 2009 2008 October-December 2007 July-September 2007 January-June 2007 2006 2005