Battle of Nomae, 450

Battle of Nomae, 450


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Battle of Nomae, 450

The battle of Nomae (450 BC) was a defeat that reduced the power of Ducetius, king of the Sicels, and that eventually forced him into exile.

In this period eastern Sicily was split between the native Sicels, who mainly lived in the interior, and the Greeks, who had founded a series of cities around the coast. In the 460s the Greek cities had overthrown a series of tyrants, and Ducetius had taken advantage of this distraction to create a powerful Sicel league, with himself as its king. Most of his efforts had been aimed at fellow Sicels, and when he clashed with the Greek city of Catana in 461 BC it was as an ally of Syracuse.

In 451 BC Ducetius began a series of attacks on the Greeks. First he took Aetna, a city founded by colonists expelled from Catana in 461. He then turned to his west and besieged Motyum, in the territory of Akragas. Syracuse and Akragas raised armies and advanced to lift the siege, but they were defeated at the battle of Motyum (451 BC). The Syracusan commander was later executed for treason and both armies retreated to their homes. After the battle Motyum was captured by Ducetius.

In 450 BC both Akragas and Syracuse returned to the field. Ducetius had taken up a position at Nomae, possibly somewhere between Piazza Armerina and Barrafranca. This would have placed him somewhere to the east of Motyum, and to the west of his main powerbase.

The Syracusan army found Ducetius at Nomae. A fierce battle developed, with heavy losses on both sides, but eventually the Syracusans were victorious. The Sicel army dissolved, with most of the survivors seeking refuge in various strongholds. Ducetius's remaining supporters retreated to Motyum, but this stronghold was soon taken by Akragas.

Ducetius's support now drained away. Fearing that he would be seized by his own men he escaped from his camp and fled to Syracuse, where he threw himself on the mercy of the citizens. His plea was successful (probably because he offered to give Syracuse control of the lands that he still controlled), and he was sent into exile at Corinth.


Greatest Battles In The History Of Cyprus

Ancient ruins of Salamis-in-Cyprus, near the site of the Battle of Salamis in the 5th Century BC.

Cyprus has had a history of warfare dating back to the time of the Ancient Greek dominance in the Mediterranean world. The Greeks fought against Persians and Turks in the course of their war history. With aid from the Egyptians, the Athenians fought for the Union of Greece with Cyprus, for the freedom of the Cypriots, and to bring an end to the Greek-Persian wars. In some of the wars Empires were born, while in others massive destruction was evident. Strategies employed defined the outcome of the battles and sometimes small armies relying on war strategy won against massive troops relying on numbers and might.

Battle of Salamis, 451 BC

Around this period, Athens had made a truce with Sparta, and for years the Athenians had been allied with the Egyptians against the Persians. Cimon, with 200 triremes of the Confederacy, sailed to Cyprus, sending 60 Ships to the Nile Delta to aid Amyrtaeos, the Egyptian Prince in the fight against the Persians, Cimon matched to Cyprus with the rest to join the Cypriot Greek and laid siege to Citium. When Cimon died in the assault, Anaxicrates took command and matched to Salamis where he engaged the Phoenician and Cilicians. In Salamis, the Greek gained victory on both the sea and land. The victory brought an end to the Greco-Persian Wars.

Battle of Actium, September 2nd, 31 BC

The Battle of Actium was a remarkable event. On September 2nd, 31 BC, the fleets of Mark Antony and Cleopatra met Octavian’s fleet just outside of the Gulf of Actium. Antony, who was a war genius and commander of the armies of Julius Caesar, had large ships built primarily for sinking and ramming enemy vessels. However, a Malaria outbreak resulted in his 500 ships and 70,000 troops undermanned. Octavian 400 ships were small and fully manned with 80,000 healthy men. Quintus Dellius, a general of Antony, sided with Octavian. Octavian won after destroying more than 5000 men and 300 ships while Cleopatra and Antony's ships escaped the war for the open ocean. Shortly afterward, Octavian had Caesarion, Cleopatra’s son, murdered, and annexed Egypt into the Roman Empire. Three years later, Octavian declared himself Emperor Augustus Caesar of the Roman Empire.

Battle of Spilia, December 12th, 1955

The Battle of Spilia, fought on December 12, 1955, was the greatest friendly fire incident in the history of Cyprus. The British army wanted to end the campaigns for the Union of Greece and Cyprus. An informant snitched on the location of the EOKA. So when the 700 soldiers attempted to encircle the guerrilla headquarters, General Grivas divided his troops into two one led by himself to fight the units coming from the north and the other led by Grigoris Afxentiou to fight those ascending from the south. The EOKA engaged the British at the summit for a while before escaping West under cover of a dense fog. The enemy troops soon reached the summit and unable to see clearly opened fire at each other for eight hours. There were 250 casualties 127 British soldiers dead, 102 injured, and 21 missing. The EOKA victory was significant since it formed a basis for the independence of Cyprus 5 years later.

Battle of Tillyria, August of 1964

The fight took place in Kokkina. In the wake of events leading up to 1964, the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots engaged in intense confrontations over the control of a strategic location on the region’s major highway. On August 6th, a Greek army led by George Grivas attacked and surrounded Kokkina. The Turks and other civilians were forced to evict and retreat to a narrow beachhead. A massive artillery barrage of the beachhead hit the village causing more casualties and extensive damage. The Turks managed to hold the base in the beachhead until August 8th when Turkey intervened with aerial assaults on civilians and military personnel alike. The Turks bombed a nearby hospital killing many and inducing horrific injuries to others. The attack was so intense that the UN council intervened. The Soviet Union stopped the annihilation by threatening to attack the Turks with their state of the art of weapons. The President of Cyprus promised to destroy every Turkish Cypriot Village in the country if the air raids did not cease. On August 9, 1964, Turkey ceased fire, and UNFICYP forces deployed to the area. Ever since the village heavily tarnished and damaged by the war has been a memorial ground.

A Heritage of War

Cyprus, as noted, has brushed shoulders with many enemies in the course of its history. From the Romans, the Turks, to their greatest ancient enemies, the Persians, the Cypriots have for long fought. When time called for confederacies, the Cypriots joined forces with allies that had their enemies as their enemies. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. However, the battles did prove beneficial to the Cypriot Greeks course. Most of the battles brought an end to the oppression brought forth by their rulers or adversaries. Even so, some, such as the Battle of Tillyria, were so severe that healing would take a long time.


Battle of Nomae, 450 - History

The Bible is a collection of books that are canonized in Judaism and Christianity and are considered holy and sacred. Different sects and denominations may have different books in their canons. Below are 39 books from the Old Testament and 27 from the New Testament – all of which list the author and chapters, as well as the approximated dates it was written.

Old Testament

The Pentateuch

Genesis
Written by Moses between 1440-1400 BC 50 Chapters
The term “genesis,” which refers to the origin of something, is an apt name for this book. It covers the beginning of life, mankind, nations and the redemption for sin. Genesis also tells the stories of the major patriarchs of the human race, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and prophecies of God’s “Chosen People”.

Exodus
Written by Moses between 1440-1400 BC 40 Chapters
The book of Exodus tells the story of God’s chosen people delivered from slavery through Moses, a prophet. It tells of their 40-year journey through the desert on the way to the Promised Land. The giving of the Ten Commandments and instructions for building of the Tabernacle are detailed in this book.

Leviticus
Written by Moses between 1440 and 1400 BC 27 Chapters
This third book of the Bible details the laws and rituals given to the Tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe. Some of the common themes throughout Leviticus include God’s holiness, the reason mankind needs atonement for sin, and the reason for a mediator between God and man.

Numbers
Written by Moses between 1440 and 1400 BC 36 Chapters
Numbers tells of how God’s people were supposed to inherit the Promised Land, but forfeited the right because of continued sin and complaining. As a result, God judged many who were not faithful to Him. This book concludes with the next generation of Israelites under the leadership of Moses.

Deuteronomy
Written by Moses between 1440 and 1400 BC 34 Chapters
This last book of the Torah includes three speeches given by Moses to the Israelite. These include a summary of the previous generation’s 40-year journey, an encouragement to follow the law, comforting words regarding repentance and the importance of the allegiance to One God.

History

Joshua
Written by Joshua between 1400 and 1390 BC 24 Chapters
Joshua bridges the first five books of with the historical books. The first 23 chapters discuss how the land is divided for the tribes in Israel. The last two chapters include speeches from Joshua which challenge the hearers to renew their commitment to God and to keep the law of Moses.

Judges
Written by Samuel between 1374 and 1129 BC 21 Chapters
This book helps describe the leaders of Israel from the time after Joshua died until Samuel’s birth, which is often referred to as an age of darkness for Hebrews. There are 13 judges discussed in the book, but the three most prominent ones are Gideon, Deborah and Samson.

Ruth
Written by Samuel between 1375 and 1050 BC 4 Chapters
Ruth shows a brighter side to Hebrew history than the previous book – Judges. It discusses the loyal devotion and relationship that Ruth had to her mother-in-law and the love that the two had for each other.

I Samuel and
II Samuel
Written by Samuel & Nathan between 1043 and 930 BC 55 Chapters
Samuel was a major figure in Hebrew history and these two books together tell his story. The narrative discusses the time from the birth of Samuel until King David’s reign comes to an end. The first book focuses on Israel’s switch from judges to a monarchy while the second book focuses on a theocratic monarchy ordained by God.

I Kings and
II Kings
Written by Jeremiah between 1000 and 600 BC 47 Chapters
Continuing from the two books of Samuel, I and II Kings recount King David’s final days along with the fall of Israel (721 BC) and Judah (586 BC). All four books combined show how Israel rose, divided, and fell.

I Chronicles
and II Chronicles
Written by Ezra between 450 and 425 BC 65 Chapters
The two books of Chronicles help tie up some loose ends from the previous books. They summarize much of the Hebrew history that was discussed in the previous four books with mentions of earlier times that date back to Genesis.

Ezra
Written by Ezra between 538 and 450 BC 10 Chapters
Ezra is one of the most respected people in Hebrew history because he helped lead a large number of exiles from Babylon back to their home in Jerusalem. The Book of Ezra tells of this harrowing act and how he cleansed the community upon his return.

Nehemiah
Written by Nehemiah between 445 and 425 BC 13 Chapters
This historical book discusses the details of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem following the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile. Along with Ezra, these two books are important because they include firsthand information concerning the months and years immediately after the exile.

Esther
Written by Mordecai between 483 and 471 BC 10 Chapters
Esther was a Jewish queen who risked her life to save many Jews from being killed. This book tells of her struggles and how she rose to the position of queen and her loyalty to her people.

Poetical Books

Job
Written by Moses between 2000 and 1800 BC 42 Chapters
This book speaks to the eternal question, “Why do good people suffer?” It includes conversations between God and Satan about Job, a righteous man. When Job loses everything he has in life, how does he react?

Psalms
Written by David, Moses between 1440 and 550 BC 150 Chapters
The word Psalms translates to “The Book of Praise.” These 150 chapters were written by various authors, including David, Moses, Solomon and some anonymous authors. Throughout the book, the themes of trusting God and appealing to Him in our troubled times is woven into the poetic language.

Proverbs
Written by Solomon, Agur, Lemuel around 950 BC 31 Chapters
Written mostly by King Solomon, Proverbs is a collection of short sayings that have practical applications for everyday life. Some common themes include controlling your speech, how to have good relationships with others and other useful pieces of wisdom.

Ecclesiastes
Written by Solomon around 935 BC 12 Chapters
This book written about King Solomon stresses the fact that everything “under the sun” is vain and the main focus should always be on things “above the sun,” or God. The author discusses the fact that everybody will die and the importance of fearing God and keeping His commandments.

Song of Solomon
Written by Solomon around 950 BC 8 Chapters
One of the more controversial books in the Bible is the Song of Solomon because many readers interpret it as having a sexual theme. However, this collection of marriage songs is more likely designed to depict Christ’s love for His Church.

4 Major Prophets

Isaiah
Written by Isaiah between 700 and 680 BC 66 Chapters
This book records the message of Isaiah, one of the major prophets of the Old Testament. The message includes judgment for sins, comfort for those who have been exiled, and in-depth descriptions of the coming Christ.

Jeremiah
Written by Jeremiah between 627 and 580 BC 52 Chapters
When God’s chosen people turned their backs on Him, Jeremiah was the prophet who stood alone. He announces that Judah will be destroyed and he envisioned a time of a new covenant between God and His people.

Lamentations
Written by Jeremiah between 586 and 538 BC 5 Chapters
Lamentations includes five poems about the sadness of Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 BC. The writer of this book confesses sin for his people and prays for God to restore them to their home.

Ezekiel
Written by Ezekiel between 597 and 571 BC 48 Chapters
Ezekiel was a prophet exiled to Babylon, which is where he received his calling to speak to the people for God. The first half of the book discusses events occurring before the fall of Jerusalem and God’s judgment for sin. The second half is more encouraging with words of hope for those exiled who want to return to their homeland.

Daniel
Written by Daniel about 535 BC 12 Chapters
Many look to the Book of Daniel as one of the apocalyptic visions of the end of time. Others see it as little more than a series of visions about the circumstances the people found themselves in during the exile. There are graphic descriptions of events that ultimately refer to victory for God’s people.

12 Minor Prophets

Hosea
Written by Hosea around 715 BC 14 Chapters
During one of Israel’s darkest hours, God called the prophet Hosea to be his spokesperson. Hosea was a brokenhearted man because of the people’s indifference toward God, but his wife’s infidelity just made things worse. The prophet pleads with his people to repent and turn back towards God for compassion in their lives.

Joel
Written by Joel between 835 and 796 BC 3 Chapters
One of the major themes of the Book of Joel is repentance for sins. The prophet Joel describes a horrible drought combined with a plague of locusts followed by blessings from God and the coming judgment. The book is often discussed as symbolic of an apocalyptic future.

Amos
Written by Amos around 750 BC 9 Chapters
Amos was one of the most intolerant prophets regarding sin and he was not afraid to confront it with his people. He speaks a lot about God’s judgment on sin, but he concludes his message with the promise that God will restore those who are righteous.

Obadiah
Written by Obadiah about 840 or 586 BC 1 Chapter
Although Obadiah is only one chapter, it is a powerful book that tells of the destruction of Edom for its sins. Much of Obadiah’s message is regarding God’s judgment on the sinful nations.

Jonah
Written by Jonah about 760 BC 4 Chapters
The Book of Jonah tells a story about a prophet whom God told to go preach to a certain city, but he turned and ran the other way. After being swallowed and coughed up by a giant whale, he reluctantly did what God told him to do.

Micah
Written by Micah around 760 BC 7 Chapters
Micah brought a message that was not unlike Amos’ message. He denounces sin without apology and uses bold language to do so. This prophet also predicts the birthplace of Jesus and tells the people of assured deliverance through the coming Messiah.

Nahum
Written by Nahum between 663 and 612 BC 3 Chapters
These three chapters discuss the destruction of Nineveh, which was the main city in Assyria at the time. His words were designed to bring comfort to those he spoke to by telling them that God would soon destroy their oppressors.

Habakkuk
Written by Habakkuk between 612 and 588 BC 3 Chapters
Habakkuk records a dialogue between this prophet and God Himself. After Habakkuk questions the Lord, he comes through the conversation with a stronger and better understanding of his faith.

Zephaniah
Written by Zephaniah between 640 and 609 BC 3 Chapters
The Book of Zephaniah continues the themes of most prophets – God’s judgment and His promise of salvation. Like the others, he strongly encourages his people to repent so God can dwell with them.

Haggai
Written by Haggai about 520 BC 2 Chapters
Following the exile, Haggai prophecies on behalf of God about things to come, including rebuilding the second Temple which was delayed for over 20 years.

Zechariah
Written by Zechariah between 520 and 518 BC 14 Chapters
As with many of the prophetic books, Zechariah’s is seen as being symbolic of the apocalypse as well. The first part of the book discusses the construction of the Temple. The last several chapters, however, discuss the “end times,” including the judgment of God on all nations and the restoration of Israel.

Malachi
Written by Malachi between 600 and 450 BC 4 Chapters
Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament as well as the last words spoken by God through a prophet for the next 400 years. It tells of God’s blessings for those who repent, how God will purify and judge all nations and the return of Elijah.

New Testament

4 Gospels

Matthew
Written by Matthew between 60 and 65 AD 28 Chapters
The Gospel of Matthew was written with a Jewish audience in mind. It is the most comprehensive of the four gospels because the author’s purpose was to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah they had been expecting.

Mark
Written by Mark between 55 and 65 AD 16 Chapters
Although Mark is the shortest of the four gospels, scholars believe it was the earliest one that was written. Instead of beginning with the birth of Jesus, Mark starts his gospel off with the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. This book’s focus is on the miracles of Jesus to show that He was the divine Christ.

Luke
Written by Luke about 60 AD 24 Chapters
The purpose for the Gospel of Luke was to show that Jesus was both a teacher and a healer. As a physician, Luke focused on the details that he found as a result of interviewing eyewitnesses for firsthand accounts of Jesus’ life and works.

John
Written by John between 85 and 90 AD 21 Chapters
John often refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” throughout his gospel. His focus is on confirming that Jesus was indeed God’s son. In addition to describing events much like the three previous gospels, John also interprets them in a spiritual context.

History

Acts
Written by Luke between 63 and 70 AD 28 Chapters
This is the only historical book in the New Testament, but it describes the development of the early church following the death and ascension of Jesus. It begins with a discussion of the days in Jerusalem following the event and then describes several missionary endeavors by the apostles and more.

Pauline Epistles

Romans
Written by Paul about 58 AD 16 Chapters
The Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament and Romans is the first and longest book with his authorship. These books are actually letters to various churches. This is a letter to the Roman church and it discusses salvation, God’s grace, sin and spiritual advice for all readers.

I Corinthians
Written by Paul about 54 AD 16 Chapters
Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth is about many things, namely a description of various spiritual gifts, how to love one another in Christ, the importance of Jesus’ resurrection and more. The first section of this book also discusses some doctrinal issues that were plaguing the church at the time.

II Corinthians
Written by Paul about 55 AD 13 Chapters
Some people at Corinth were questioning whether or not Paul was a real apostle of Christ, so he wrote this letter in defense of his apostleship. He also discusses how to care for the poor who live in Jerusalem.

Galatians
Written by Paul about 49 AD 6 Chapters
Paul’s main focus when writing to the Galatians was the freedom that is found in Christ. He discusses the problem with placing too much importance on the Law as well as other Christian doctrines, including the fruits of the spirit and the fruits of the flesh.

Ephesians
Written by Paul about 60 AD 6 Chapters
The main theme throughout Ephesians is that the church is essentially the body of Christ. Paul discusses how fellow brothers and sisters in Christ should be unified in purpose and how they can fight against spiritual warfare by living a holy and pure life that is inspired by Jesus Christ.

Philippians
Written by Paul between 61 and 65 AD 4 Chapters
While imprisoned, Paul pens a letter to the church in Philippi to thank them for their generosity and their love. He goes on to discuss how Christ was humble and how His servants should be the same way. He also discusses his goals of being perfect while maintaining humility in his life.

Colossians
Written by Paul between 55 and 63 AD 4 Chapters
Paul stresses the fact in Colossians that Jesus was around when the world was created and how Christ rules supreme over all creation. There are also some rules of conduct discussed, including ideas about food consumption, heresies, and more.

I Thessalonians
Written by Paul about 50 AD 5 Chapters
In this letter, Paul tells the church at Thessalonica that he is sending Timothy, a delegate, to them. He discusses issues like relationships between fellow Christians, mourning loved ones who have passed on and the importance of preparing themselves for God’s return.

II Thessalonians
Written by Paul about 50 AD 3 Chapters
As with all his letters, Paul opens II Thessalonians with a greeting and encouraging words. One of the major themes in this letter is the second coming of Christ. Paul tells the people of the church to stay firm in their beliefs so they can be ready when the Day of the Lord arrives.

I Timothy
Written by Paul around 64 AD 6 Chapters
Paul’s first letter to Timothy, his younger colleague, discusses instructions and responsibilities for operating a church body. Paul warns Timothy about several issues that he will encounter, including false doctrines, how women can serve in the church and the qualifications someone must have before being a church leader.

II Timothy
Written by Paul around 63 AD 4 Chapters
Because Timothy was young, Paul wanted to encourage him as much as possible. In this letter to the young Timothy, Paul tells him to be bold in spirit and to be unafraid when telling about Jesus.

Titus
Written by Paul around 64 AD 3 Chapters
Titus was another young preacher whom Paul mentored. Much like the letters to Timothy, Paul writes this epistle to help encourage Titus to stay strong. He also discusses issues that Titus will likely encounter and the best ways to deal with those problems as they arise.

Philemon
Written by Paul between 56 and 65 AD 1 Chapter
Philemon was a runaway slave in search of freedom. Paul writes this letter to the slave’s owner to plead with him to forgive him and let him return as a brother in Christ.

Hebrews
Written by Paul around 65 AD 13 Chapters
The Epistle of Hebrews was written to a group of Christians who were thinking about going back to the ways of Judaism. The author (possibly Paul) discusses how Jesus reigns over the Old Testament and performed the ultimate sacrifice for their sins.

Other Epistles

James
Written by James around 49 AD 5 Chapters
The Epistle of James has a lot of information for Christian believers. The sections range from discussing faith and wisdom to being friends with the world and tips for controlling your words. There are also warnings about being boastful, being partial and loving money.

I Peter
Written by Peter between 64 and 65 AD 5 Chapters
Peter wrote this epistle to warn of potential discrimination and persecution of Christians, either in the present time or many years in the future. He encourages believers to be steadfast and to rejoice in their sufferings because of the rewards that await.

II Peter
Written by Peter about 67 AD 3 Chapters
This epistle is more encouragement to believers for when they face persecution. Peter reminds them that there will be false teachers who will try to preach a different message than what they have learned. He stresses that it is important to remember that God will keep His promises to those who remain faithful.

I John,
II John,
& III John
Written by John between 85 and 90 AD 7 Chapters
These three epistles, written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of John, are addressed to different people. The messages throughout these three letters include fellowshipping with other believers, loving each other, how to walk closer to God and other topics related to the Christian lifestyle.

Jude
Written by Jude about 65 AD 1 Chapter
The main focus of this short book is to expose false prophets and teachers who try to lead believers astray. It discusses the importance of faith and knowing what you believe in order to resist false teachings.

Prophecy

Revelation
Written by John about 90 AD 22 Chapters
This is one of the most discussed and controversial books in the Hebrew Bible. Many scholars believe it is a detailed and graphic look into the future to the end of time as we know it. Others believe it is a description of the Roman Empire.


Persian People

Persians are a subgroup of the Iranians, which is an ethno-linguistic group used to describe a wide range of different people who all spoke some variation of the Iranian language. Iranians began living in the region that is now Iran most likely in the 10th century BCE, and they are believed to have been the descendants of certain Aryan groups living in northern Europe.

The Iranian language is part of the Indo-European language group, which connects diverse languages such as Hindi, Spanish, German, French, Punjab, and many others.

Today, we understand Persian people to be those who speak Persian, which is often called Farsi, and/or who identify with Persian way of life. Over half of the population of Iran are Persian, which amounts to about 25 million people, but Persian people can be found living all throughout Western Asia, specifically in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. In fact, some of the most prominent figures in Persian history came from areas outside of the region known as Persia.


4. He invaded Gaul to win himself a wife.

In the spring of 450, Honoria, the ambitious sister of Valentian III, emperor of Western Rome, sent Attila a ring and asked him to help her get out of the impending marriage to a Roman aristocrat her brother was forcing on her. Attila, who already had several wives (the exact number is unknown), took Honoria’s overture as a proposal. He claimed her as his newest bride, and half the Western Empire as her dowry. Honoria claimed to have intended no such thing, but her brother, furious at his sister’s scheming, was ready to send her across the Danube to placate Attila. He eventually relented, allowing her to marry the boring Roman aristocrat after all. Attila wouldn’t give up so easily, however, and would wage his next two military campaigns in Honoria’s name.


How the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley Changed the Course of the Vietnam War

Fifty years ago today, one of the Vietnam war’s most ferocious battles broke out in the Ia Drang Valley. But the battle’s true toll would prove to be the hubris it bred in U.S. commanders.

James A. Warren

John Olson/The Life Images Collection/Getty

Fifty years ago today, November 14, 1965, the first wave of troopers from a battalion of the First Cavalry Division, an elite unit of the U.S. Army that had turned in its horses for helicopters and an experimental “airmobile” assault doctrine, debouched from its Bell UH-1 “Huey” transports into a tree-lined clearing, dotted with patches of elephant grass and red-brown anthills. Suddenly, 90 Americans found themselves in the Ia Drang Valley, deep in South Vietnam’s Central Highlands, a remote Communist base area from the days of the French Indochina War of the late 1940s and early1950s.

Within seconds of touching down at the base of the Chu Pong Massif, a 2,400-foot high mountain mass that stretched some seven miles westward into Cambodia, the battalion commander, a no-nonsense West Pointer named Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore, had sent out scouting parties into the tree line at the clearing’s edge. The rest of his force began to secure a perimeter in the center of the clearing. The battalion “had come looking for trouble,” Moore wrote years later. “We found all that we wanted and more.”

Army intelligence estimated the presence of a single enemy regiment of about 2,200 soldiers in the immediate vicinity. In fact, Moore’s battalion, the 1st of the 7th Cavalry, had landed within strolling distance of three regiments of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN)—the regular army of North Vietnam. As it happened, the North Vietnamese, too, were looking for trouble. According to Brig. Gen. Chu Huy Man, commander of the Central Highlands front, most of his troops had only recently arrived in the Highlands after an arduous, two-month trek from North Vietnam down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.They had been very active in the area over the preceding month, laying siege to a Special Forces camp at nearby Plei Me. Now they hoped to lure the newly arrived American forces into a major engagement in order to learn their tactics—especially how they used helicopters to deploy infantry units deep inside Communist-held territory, and to keep them supplied in extended operations.

Although it is little remembered today, the battle that unfolded over the course of the next three days proved to be one of the most intense and savagely fought ground actions in American military history since World War II. Moreover, it marked a strategic sea-change with profound implications in the violent struggle for control over South Vietnam that had been escalating slowly since 1959.

Even before Moore's battalion established a firm perimeter and landed its entire complement of 450 troops into the fighting zone, the 33rd and 66th Regiments had launched multiple assaults against the Americans. All were turned back with very heavy PAVN casualties. One unlucky American platoon from B Company was completely cut off and surrounded by the enemy 300 yards to the northwest of the battalion perimeter. By the time it was rescued about 28 hours later, it had fended off countless enemy assaults, and 20 of its 27 men had been killed or wounded.

Hard fighting continued throughout the afternoon of November 14. Only the deft insertion of another American battalion into the fight under heavy fire, and emergency resupply missions by a helicopter pilot who would later be awarded the Medal of Honor, prevented the North Vietnamese from overrunning the perimeter and routing the Americans on the first day of the battle.

As night settled over the cramped and corpse-littered battlefield, the outnumbered American force had taken 87 casualties. But the American infantry alone had killed around 200 PAVN troops another couple of hundred of the enemy had fallen well outside the perimeter as a result of fighter bomber attacks and pinpoint-accurate artillery fire.

soldiersAround 7 a.m. on November 15, the North Vietnamese launched a furious three-company (about 400 men) frontal assault against the lines of C-Company, killing three of its five officers within minutes. By 7:15, the North Vietnamese had launched two more powerful assaults from entirely different directions. As Moore’s men threw up torrents of machine gun and rifle fire to blunt the attacks, a dozen enemy mortar and rocket rounds exploded within the American perimeter, killing and wounding several of Moore’s troopers.

For a few minutes during that unforgettably intense morning, PAVN assault teams got inside C Company’s lines, and began to kill wounded Americans. According to Lt. Col. Moore’s after-action report, by 8 a.m., the entire LZ was “severely threatened,” and a fair number of soldiers in and around his command post had been killed or wounded by increasingly dense small arms fire. Yet the Americans held on doggedly, as Moore and his company commanders deftly maneuvered squads and platoons from one sector of the perimeter to the next, turning back each enemy thrust in turn.

After the final assaults against Charlie Company that morning, Lt. Rick Rescorla surveyed the grim scene: “There were American and PAVN bodies everywhere … There were several dead PAVN around one platoon command post. One dead trooper was looked in contact with a dead PAVN, hands around the enemy’s throat. There were two troopers—one black, one Hispanic—linked tight together. It looked like they had died trying to help each other.”

“The enemy were aggressive, and they came off the mountain in large groups,” Moore’s after-action report continues. “They were well camouflaged and took excellent advantage of cover and concealment. Even after being hit several times in the chest [with M-16 fire] many continued firing and moving for several more steps.” As the battle progressed, PAVN troops “dug into small spider holes” just outside the perimeter and waited for American defenders to expose themselves before firing their weapons. Others “dug into the sides and tops of anthills” and had to be eliminated with antitank weapons.

By all accounts the battle at LZ X-Ray came to bloody crescendo between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. on the morning of November 16. The PAVN launched a series of three 100-to-200-man assaults in rapid succession, testing the exhausted American defenders to the breaking point. Thanks to excellent defensive preparation and the skill of forward artillery observers in placing high explosive artillery right in the midst of the assault units as they moved in toward the perimeter, the American infantry handily fended off each assault.

Badly battered over three days and nights of fighting, the People’s Army’s 66th and 33rd regiments began withdrawing soon thereafter from the battlefield at X-Ray for good. Moore’s exhausted but unbowed battalion was airlifted out of X-Ray as well.

Gen. Man’s forces had taken close to 2,000 casualties, including more than 600 men killed in action, as counted on the battlefield by American forces. American losses at X Ray were 79 killed in action and 121 men wounded, many severely.

But the battle of the Ia Drang Valley wasn’t truly over. Not yet.

The next morning, Lt. Col. Bob McDade had orders to march the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry out of X-Ray, where it had bivouacked uneventfully the night of November 16, to LZ Albany several miles to the northwest for its extraction. As his 550-foot column came into the Albany clearing, scouts captured two PAVN soldiers. McDade assembled his company commanders and sergeants at the front of the column to discuss whatever new intelligence he could gather from the enemy prisoners. Meanwhile, the men in the column dropped to the ground to relax, smoke, or get some desperately overdue sleep.

Unbeknownst to the Americans, the 8th battalion of the 66th PAVN regiment lay in wait just out of sight beyond the clearing. At 1:20 p.m., the Communist unit, which had been held in reserve during the earlier fighting, executed a textbook-perfect ambush, cutting the column to ribbons with machine gun and rifle fire, and grenades. Caught with all their leaders at the front of the column, all unit coherence was lost among the Americans, and the fighting quickly degenerated into a number of savage, isolated firefights and hand-to-hand combat.

“I gave my orders to the battalion,” said the 66th’s commander, Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An recalled years after the event. “Move inside the column, grab [the Americans] by the belt, and thus avoid casualties from the artillery and air.” Of the 400 men in McDade’s unit, 155 died and 124 were wounded by the time the fighting ended. The battle at Albany proved to be one of the worst defeats of an American battalion in the entire Vietnam war.

Fought between November 14 and 17, 1965, the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley was the first major engagement between regular U.S. Army forces and the People’s Army of Vietnam. As such, it marked a major escalation in the war, for up to that point in the conflict, the fighting had been carried out largely by the proxies of the struggle’s chief architects in Washington and Hanoi: the indigenous guerrillas of the insurgency in the south—the Vietcong—against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, i.e., South Vietnam.

Previously, most of the fighting had been at the small unit level, typically involving platoons, companies, or at most, a single battalion, on each side. After the clash in the Ia Drang Valley, small unit fighting persisted all over South Vietnam. But henceforth the conflict also involved conventional campaigns, pitting multiple regiments and even divisions of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps against the regular army of North Vietnam, commanded and built from the ground up by the hero of Dien Bien Phu, Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap.

Ironically, the leading war strategists in Washington and Hanoi alike had gone to extraordinary lengths to achieve their objectives without deploying large numbers of troops from their own armies. The adversaries pursued strikingly similar strategies of incremental escalation, in which one side and then the other stepped up military and economic support for its proxy forces.

Between 1954 and 1961, the United States poured more than $1 billion in aid to the Republic of Vietnam and its armed forces. Hanoi countered with extensive shipments of arms, equipment, and men to the southern insurgency. Between 1961 and 1963, 40,000 soldiers of the PAVN came down the Ho Chi Minh trail into South Vietnam. There, they took off North Vietnamese army uniforms, donned black pajamas, and took up key leadership positions within People’s Liberation Army Forces—the official name of the Vietcong.

With the Communists making steady gains on the battlefield against the South Vietnamese army (the ARVN), President Kennedy ordered an additional 15,000 American military advisers to Vietnam between 1961 and 1963, along with several squadrons of Marine helicopters (with Marine crews) to enhance the South Vietnamese army’s (the ARVN) performance in the field.

Ominously, American advisers and helicopters did little to reverse the insurgency’s rapidly building momentum. Mired in corruption and lacking in aggressive leadership, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was regularly outfought—and often routed—by Vietcong forces with inferior numbers and weaponry. Meanwhile, the Communists’ political forces tightened their grip on a steadily increasing number of South Vietnamese villages.

With the Saigon regime on the verge of collapse, President Lyndon Baines Johnson reluctantly crossed the Rubicon in March 1965, deploying two battalions of Marines to Danang—the first U.S. ground combat units deployed to Vietnam. He also initiated a steadily escalating bombing campaign against North Vietnam in order to stanch the flow of men and materiel down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the southern battlefields.

Months before the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, both adversaries had committed substantial numbers of regiments and divisions of their conventional armies to the fight in South Vietnam. Despite the protestations of Senior General Giap, the Politburo in Hanoi had approved General Nguyen Chi Thanh’s plan to de-emphasize protracted guerrilla war in favor of a high-tempo conventional campaign waged by PAVN divisions to seize the Central Highlands, cut South Vietnam in two, and force the collapse of the government in Saigon before the influx of American combat divisions could turn the tide of the war.

Both sides immediately recognized the importance of what had happened at Ia Drang. Both sides claimed victory. As Hanoi saw it, not only had the PAVN conducted a devastating ambush at the engagement’s denouement. Its troops had fought with valor, discipline, and great ferocity at X-Ray, shot down several helicopters, and gained invaluable experience in tangling with elite American infantry.

For the American field commander, General William Westmoreland, “the ability of the Americans to meet and defeat the best troops the enemy could put on the field of battle was … demonstrated beyond any possible doubt, as was the validity of the Army’s airmobile concept.”

But it was Hanoi that went on to make the shrewder of the post-battle strategic reassessments.

After Ia Drang and several other conventional engagements against the Americans soon thereafter in Binh Dinh Province, the Politburo, at the strong urging of General Giap, agreed to de-emphasize conventional operations and revert once again to an emphasis on protracted guerrilla warfare. As Giap argued, to commit to a sustained conventional war in 1966 and 1967 against the Americans would be suicide. Superior fighting spirit could not compensate for the American forces’ extraordinary firepower and mobility. It was only through small unit action—ambushes, harassment, hit and run raids on bases and government posts—that, in time, the Communist forces could instill a sense of futility and exhaustion in the American and South Vietnamese ranks. Only through guerrilla war and political struggle could Communist forces in the South disrupt Saigon’s pacification programs and build up and protect the shadow government in the villages.

The Johnson administration and General Westmoreland, on the other hand, were exuberant in the wake of the battle of the Ia Drang Valley. With its “kill ratio” of roughly one American to twelve Communist Vietnamese, the battle seemed to go far toward confirming the viability of the attrition strategy Westmoreland had put forward in June 1965 to win the war. Attrition called for powerful, highly mobile American divisions to “find, fix and destroy” conventional Communist regiments and divisions, and leave the guerrillas to ARVN and lightly armed and trained village defense units.

By aggressive search and destroy operations and by cutting off the infiltration of men and materiel down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Westmoreland predicted he could reach the “crossover point”—the point by which the number of Communist troops killed or captured exceeded those Hanoi could afford to replace—in early 1967, given the 400,000 or so American troops he would have to do the job. Since the PAVN and Vietcong lacked air cover, and their main mode of transport was by foot, Westmoreland was confident that he could, in effect, bleed the enemy to death, at which point Hanoi’s will to carry on the fight was bound to collapse.

The attrition strategy killed a great many enemy soldiers and Vietnamese civilians, but it failed dramatically to produce the desired results. Despite a massive ground and air interdiction campaign, the U.S. by the end of 1967 had failed to stanch the flow of either North Vietnamese divisions or war materiel into South Vietnam. In fact the flow of Communist troops and supplies had steadily increased from 1965 to 1967. Seventy five thousand PAVN troops had come down the Trail just in 1967, and on January 31, 1968, 84,000 Communist troops launched a massive surprise offensive against more than a hundred objectives countrywide. Two months earlier Westmoreland had predicted the enemy was “on the ropes” and that the war had “reached the point where the end is beginning to come into view.”

The Offensive was eventually blunted, but it was clear in its wake that the Communists still had ample forces to continue fighting indefinitely. More important, they had the will to do so in spades. The United States did not.

In March 1968, the attrition strategy and General Westmoreland were quietly shelved by the Johnson administration in favor of a new strategy designed to regain control of the villages from the Communists. Meanwhile, American forces would be gradually drawn down and the war turned over to the South Vietnamese to fight.

Now, as early as 1964, Gen. Giap had recognized that big unit engagements were a necessary element of a successful protracted war strategy against the United States. Yet Vietnam was not a conventional Western war, and Giap didn’t deploy his divisions with a view to winning conventional victories with those forces. Rather, he used them very selectively, at places and times of his choosing, and almost exclusively with a view to diverting the big American units away from the war’s true center of gravity—the fight for control of the villages and the people in them. As Westmoreland himself admitted after the war: “From the first the primary emphasis of the North Vietnamese focused on the Central Highlands and the central coastal provinces, with the basic end of drawing American units into remote areas and thereby facilitating control of the population in the lowlands.”

And Giap’s conventional forces, although incapable of “winning” battles in the conventional Western sense of the word, could and did inflict heavy casualties on the Americans. Those casualties, coupled with an exceptionally effective propaganda campaign waged by Hanoi, were sufficient to create a growing sense of war weariness and despair among the American people, and to drive a wedge between them and their government over a war in which progress proved very elusive indeed.

It would be comforting to say that as a result of coming to terms with our strategic gaffes in Vietnam we have been able to make better decisions about when, where, and how to use our unrivaled military assets. Regrettably, this seems not to have been the case.

Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, American forces have prevailed in one major conventional war (the Gulf War), lost one major insurgency conflict (Iraq), and come to a tentative draw in another one (Afghanistan) after 14 years of fighting. A great many other limited interventions—one thinks immediately of Lebanon and Somalia—have come to less than satisfactory ends. All too often these conflicts have been, as Professor Dominic Tierney writes, “a limited war for us, and total war for them. We have more power they have more willpower.”

Perhaps the most valuable lesson we should take away from our history of military intervention since the last Hueys flew out of the Ia Drang Valley half a century ago is that counterinsurgency wars bring into play political, social, and diplomatic complications the American military by temperament and tradition is not very well equipped to resolve. And to ask the military to resolve them pretty much on its own, as we have done so often, is to ask too much.


The Georgian 450 – Holding Off 12 Thousand Men at Antietam Under the Brash General Robert Toombs

The ability of 450 resolute Georgians to stave off 12,500 Federals, preventing them from crossing Antietam Creek for several crucial hours, has to go down as one of the great stands of the Civil War. It was a Confederate Thermopylae. And the unlikely force behind this tactical masterstroke was Brigadier General Robert Toombs, age 52, a hard-drinking, irascible man—and failed candidate for president of the C.S.A.

Sometime after 9:00 AM, Ambrose Burnside, commanding the Federal IX Corps, issued the attack order. Toombs’s tiny band of Georgians awaited them.

Robert Toombs – Former Judge, Confederate Presidential Candidate and the 1st Confederate Secretary of State.

Digging In

Most of these soldiers were subsistence farmers, who worked the red clay hard, growing corn and oats. If there was anything these Georgia farm boys understood it was land. Relying on keen instincts, they had converted the steep bluffs on their side of the Antietam into a formidable natural stronghold.

Using bayonets and the halves of pilfered Yankee canteens, they had dug rifle pits into the bluff-sides. (A regulation Union canteen consisted of two convex pieces of tin, soldered together. Split one in half and you had a pair of very serviceable spades.)

Campaign Map of Antietam – Notice Toombs’ Georgians at the bottom facing Burnside’s IX Corp.

To bolster their positions, they had stacked stones and piled branches and foliage. In contrast to conspicuous Federal blue, they were wearing dusky homespun uniforms that blended nicely into their surroundings. These Georgians were among the most shoe-deprived in Lee’s raggedy army. They didn’t mind so much they valued the honesty of their bare feet on the rough earth. They were ready.

The Swift Flow of Antietam Creek

General Ambrose Burnside – His Failure to take the bridge quickly earned it his namesake – Burnside’s Bridge

Burnside’s Federals began their attack with no inkling of how many Confederates opposed them. Toombs’s men were so well concealed, the Rebel artillerists kept up such a steady cannonade, that it could just as well be 14,000 as 450.

The Federals only knew that they faced a series of formidable obstacles. First they had to climb down the steep bluffs on their side of the Antietam. Then they had to dash across the 100-yard plain leading to the creek, all the while exposed to withering fire.

Burnside Bridge from the Union View – Chris Light CC BY-SA 3.0

At the creek bank, the Federals had two options, neither one attractive. They could attempt to cross the Rohrbach Bridge. But it was only 12-feet wide the bridge could become a bottleneck, siphoning soldiers into a narrow chute, easy marks for the Georgians who would be firing almost straight down at them. Or they could attempt to locate fording spots.

Antietam means “swift flowing water” in the language of the Delaware Indians. Pity the poor soldier forced to plunge down a creek bank, encumbered by a musket and gear, then wade through swift water of unknown depth, before climbing the opposite bank, taking enemy fire all the way.

Burnside Bridge today over Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg.

Strength in Deceiving Numbers

As a consequence, Burnside’s attack was cautious and piecemeal. Soldiers entered the battle in dribs and drabs, one or two regiments at a time, charging down the bluffs only to be repulsed by the Rebs. A group of 3,200 men (a quarter of the Union IX Corps) got hopelessly lost in the woods searching for a fording spot.

Every time they emerged from the trees, Toombs’s Georgians opened fire. Yet again, the natural conclusion was that the bluffs on the west side of the creek were crawling with Rebels. Incredibly, the Georgians were defending a 1,650-yard front with a force the size of a Saturday night hoedown.

What a ruse! It was the finest hour for Toombs, a man with—shall we say—a colorful past.

Union soldiers surge across Antietam Creek in this 1878 lithograph by Kurz & Allison
Source: Library of Congress

The Unlikely Rise of Toombs

During his Georgia youth, Toombs was devoted to physical pursuits: riding, hunting, and brawling. He grew to be over six feet tall with dark roving eyes, a shock of unkempt hair, and a penchant for disheveled dress. He attended Franklin College (forerunner to the University of Georgia in Athens), where he got into a running feud with two brothers.

In the course of several days of sustained violence, Toombs threw a heavy wash bowl at one brother, pointed a pistol at the other, and charged both brothers wielding a knife in one hand, an axe in the other. This got him expelled. But the silver-tongued Toombs managed to talk his way back into the school, only to be expelled a second time. Somehow he managed to graduate from University of Virginia law school — dead last in his class.

Robert Toombs

Unbowed, Toombs set up practice as a lawyer in Washington, Georgia. At a time when a young Abraham Lincoln was travelling Illinois’ Eighth Judicial Circuit, Toombs traveled his state’s Northern Circuit, making a name for himself. In 1845, Toombs was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. (Two years later, Lincoln was elected to the same body).

As the South dug in over states’ rights and slavery, Toombs’s political prospects just kept rising. He was elected to the Senate. His rhetoric soared. As an orator, Toombs had extraordinary skill and power. “Defend yourselves! The enemy is at your door” he boomed on the floor of the Senate in early 1860, “wait not to meet him at your hearthstone meet him at the doorsill, and drive him from the Temple of Liberty, or pull down its pillars and involve him in a common ruin.”

His “Doorsill” speech was widely reprinted, emboldening Southerners and unsettling the North.

First Capitol of the Confederate States in Montgomery, Alabama.

A Failed Bid for President of the Confederacy

When the South broke from the Union, Toombs might even have assumed the highest office in the fledgling Confederacy, but for an embarrassing incident. In February of 1861, delegates from the recently seceded states convened in Montgomery, Alabama, to select a provisional leader.

Toombs’s name was at the top of the list. But he got stinking drunk at a convention banquet—and at a couple other public events, too—making a fool of himself. The presidential nod went instead to temperate Jefferson Davis, a man that Toombs despised. The two had once come within a hairsbreadth of fighting a duel after Toombs questioned Davis’s political acumen, saying that his appeal lay with “swaggering braggarts and cunning poltroons.”

Jefferson Davis – President of the Confederate States of America

As a kind of consolation prize, Toombs was chosen as the Confederacy’s first Secretary of State. It was a job for which he was woefully unsuited. He was no diplomat, had in fact been overseas only once in his life for a quick tour of Europe, during which he’d judged each country by an unusual criterion: the quality of its cigars. After a few months, Toombs quit as Secretary of State, demanding a commission as a brigadier general in command of soldiers from his home state.

And here he was—the man who would be president of the Confederacy—commanding a tiny force of Georgians, trying to stave off a Union onslaught.

By All Means Necessary

By midday, Toombs’s Georgia boys were running low on ammo. Some had fired as many 60 shots, leaving their shoulders kicked black and blue. The artillery was tapped out, too. According to some accounts, the Rebels were reduced to firing “military curiosities” at this point, launching all manner of objects out of their cannons such as marbles and chunks of rail iron.

For the Federals, the slackening fire signaled opportunity. They began surging across the Antietam en masse, crowding onto the Rohrbach Bridge, fording the creek in other spots. The Georgians were flushed from their bluff-side hiding spots, and began retreating up a steep three-quarter-mile hillside toward the town of Sharpsburg.

Battle of Antietam by Thulstrup

But they’d achieved their objective and more: delaying the Federal crossing by roughly three critical hours. As a parting shot, some of the Georgia boys turned to throw stones and hurl insults at the oncoming Federals— these were Toombs’ men to the last.

Once the Federals had finally crossed Antietam Creek on this part of the field, the battle entered its most consequential phase. If Union forces managed to climb that hillside, they might cut off the ability of Lee’s army to re-cross the Potomac to the safety of Virginia. The Confederacy could lose the war this very afternoon.

General A.P. Hill arrived at the battle later in the day with fresh units.

Retaking His Bridge

Famously, A.P. Hill arrived just in time, having marched 2,500 soldiers at breakneck pace from Harpers Ferry, 17 miles distant. The Rebel newcomers fell upon the advancing Union troops, driving them away from Sharpsburg and back down the steep slope toward Antietam Creek. Hill would be celebrated as the savior of the Confederacy. But Toombs also deserves credit, though his contributions have been mostly forgotten.

As Hill’s counterattack built, Toombs joined in the effort. His Georgia boys, the ones that had held the Rohrbach Bridge for so many hours, were too exhausted to fight. Instead, the general assembled a kind of spit-and-glue force with fresh soldiers from several other Georgia regiments.

Antietam Overview – Hal Jespersen CC BY 3.0

As Toombs surged downhill, sweeping the Federals ahead of him, he joined forces with various wayward and shattered commands, soon assembling a formidable line. To the men, Toombs seemed nearly possessed. He leapt from his mare, Gray Alice, and ran to the head of the line.

There, the mad-maned, fire-eating old secessionist strode to and fro, spitting words and gesticulating wildly. He said he wanted to drive the Federals into the Antietam. He urged the men to retake his bridge—his bridge, he called it.

As the sun sank on the horizon, a lurid red disk, both sides were overcome by attrition and exhaustion. The soldiers under the command of Hill and Toombs halted. They started trudging back up the slope towards Sharpsburg.

Greatly relieved, the Federals simply held their ground. The bloodiest day in American history ended with a whimper not a bang. But Union forces had managed to fight to the far side of Antietam Creek.

Caption: The Burnside Bridge née Rohrbach Bridge never to be the Toombs Bridge (photo by Alexander Gardner). Source: Library of Congress

The Rohrbach Bridge would come to be known as the Burnside Bridge in honor of the gingerly general who commanded the Union IX Corps. But for the slimmest of margins—a few more fresh soldiers, a push of a few hundred more yards—it really might have been his bridge, the Toombs Bridge.

This is one in a series of posts, as guest blogger Justin Martin counts down to the September 17 anniversary of Antietam, still America’s bloodiest day. Martin’s posts will feature little-known episodes he learned about while researching his new book, A Fierce Glory: Antietam—The Desperate Battle That Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery (Da Capo Press).

Fierce Glory by Justin Martin

Justin Martin will continue to share some special and insightful stories about the Battle of Antietam throughout the week. Please stop by tomorrow to catch the next installment.


Battle of Nomae, 450 - History

The Roman army left Britain about AD 410. When they had gone there was no strong army to defend Britain, and tribes called the Angle, Saxon, and Jute (the Anglo-Saxons) invaded. They left their homelands in northern Germany, Denmark and northern Holland and rowed across the North Sea in wooden boats.

The Anglo-Saxons ruled most of Britain but never conquered Cornwall in the south-west, Wales in the west, or Scotland in the north.

The Anglo-Saxons divided England into several kingdoms.

Missionaries from Roman spread Christianity across southern Britain.

The Battle of Mount Badon: Britons under an unknown leader defeat the Angles and Saxons

St Augustine brings Christianity to England from Rome

King Æthelberht of Kent gave him land in Canterbury to build a church. Æthelberht became the first Anglo-Saxon king to turn his back on paganism and become Christian.

Æthelberht is now one of the most powerful kings in England

Edwin of Northumbria becomes the first Christian king in the north of England


Joan of Arc

At the age of 18, Joan of Arc, the daughter of a poor tenant farmer, Jacques d’ Arc, led the French to a famous victory against the English at Orleans.

Her unlikely ascent to the role of military leader was driven by mystical visions which compelled her to seek an audience with the future Charles VII who, convinced of her holy destiny to expel the English and reclaim France, granted her a horse and armour.

She joined with French forces at the siege of Orleans where, after a long, hard battle they routed the English. It was a decisive victory that led to Charles being crowned King of France on July 18, 1429. Joan was at his side throughout the coronation.

The following year she was captured during a Burgundian assault at Compiègne and tried by a pro-English church court on the charges of witchcraft, heresy and dressing like a man. She was burned at the stake on the morning of May 30, 1431.

A posthumous retrial, ordered by Charles VII in 1456 and supported by Pope Callixtus III, found Joan to be innocent of all charges and declared her a martyr. 500 years later, she was canonised as a Roman Catholic Saint.


Red River War

Though most of the battles of the Red River War were brief skirmishes that involved a small number of combatants and resulted in few casualties, a number of larger and more significant battles also occurred. These include the Battle of Red River, Sweetwater Creek, and Palo Duro Canyon. The battles of Lyman's Wagon Train and Buffalo Wallow also are notable.

The first battle of the Red River War came on August 30, 1874, when troops of the Sixth Cavalry and Fifth Infantry under the command of Colonel Nelson A. Miles caught up with a large group of Southern Cheyenne near the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River in what is now southern Armstrong and northern Briscoe counties, Texas. The military records describe the daylong Battle of Red River as a running battle across the rugged canyonlands north and south of the river. Though the Army soldiers numbered some 650 strong with two Gatling guns and a 10-pounder Parrott rifle, the Indians were able to hold them off long enough for the Indian families to safely escape up Tule Canyon and vanish across the Staked Plains.

A week earlier, Major William R. Price and companies C, H, K, and L of the Eighth U.S. Cavalry had left Fort Union, New Mexico, and headed east toward the Texas Panhandle as the westernmost column in the campaign against the Southern Plains Indians. The column consisted of 216 soldiers and included two mountain howitzers and a large supply train. Crossing the Texas Panhandle south of the Canadian River, the column followed the old Fort Smith-Santa Fe Road. On September 4, Price divided his command, directing Captain Farnsworth to take H company, all of the wagons, and one howitzer toward Adobe Walls to establish a supply camp near there.

Major Price took C, K, and L companies and one howitzer as the main column. On September 12, as the column moved northeast between Sweetwater Creek and the Dry Fork of the Washita River, they encountered a large band of Kiowa and Comanche Indians led by Kiowa chief Lone Wolf. The ensuing engagement, known as Price's Engagement or the Battle of Sweetwater Creek, took place along a high ridge north of Sweetwater Creek in present Wheeler County, Texas.

Though Major Price and the soldiers were not aware of it while the battle was occurring, a large number of Indian families apparently were behind the high ridge trying to evade the troopers and make their escape to the southwest. The Indian warriors likely were trying to lead the troops away from the women and children and were trying to keep the troops occupied long enough to give the families time to escape, which they did successfully. The running battle lasted some four hours and covered a distance of about seven miles.

Meanwhile, Miles had decided to establish his headquarters camp on Red River and send a military escort under the command of Captain Wyllys Lyman with 36 empty supply wagons back toward Camp Supply in Indian Territory to restock the provisions. Lyman's command consisted of 36 infantry, 20 cavalry, and 36 civilian teamsters, of whom only 10 were armed.

On September 9, the train was returning to the Red River with supplies when it was attacked by a group of Kiowa and Comanche warriors at the divide between the Canadian and Washita rivers. The Indians began firing from long range, but the defensive maneuvers of the cavalry enabled the train to move 12 miles farther south until it reached a steep ravine about a mile north of the Washita River. As the train approached the river, the Indians began to press the attack and Lyman ordered the wagons to form into a protective corral for better defense.

As the train was circling, a group of about 70 warriors attacked from the right and rear of the train and almost overran the skirmish lines that had been established by the infantry. The skirmishers held and repulsed the attack but a sergeant named DeArmond was killed during the assault and Lieutenant Granville Lewis was severely wounded. One of the teamsters, a man by the name of Sandford, was mortally wounded while carrying ammunition to the troops. When the initial attack failed, the Indians retreated to the surrounding ridges and began to lay siege to the wagon train. It was later learned that, in addition to Lone Wolf, several other prominent chiefs also took part in the battle including Satanta and Big Tree.

With the onset of darkness, the fighting fell off, but it was now apparent to Lyman that the Indians intended to continue their siege for an indefinite period and he ordered the men to dig rifle pits around the perimeter of the circled train to afford additional protection for the men. The next morning the Indians resumed their fire. On the night of September 10, seeing that the situation was desperate, Lyman sent one of the scouts, W. F. Schmalsle, to Camp Supply to get help. As he left the wagon train, Schmalsle was chased by the Indians but he managed to evade them and he arrived at Camp Supply two days later. On the morning of September 12, the Indians began to abandon the siege.

Later in the afternoon, a cold rainstorm set in and continued through the next day. Even though the command was almost out of supplies, Lyman decided not to try to move the train in the storm. Several of the horses had been injured and 22 mules for the wagons had been killed. In the early morning hours of September 14, Company K arrived from Camp Supply with medical aid and an ambulance. With the siege broken, Lyman moved out with the wagons and later that morning joined Colonel Miles. On the recommendation of Colonel Miles, 13 of the troopers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their bravery in the fight and Lyman was eventually promoted for his performance.

On the morning of September 12, 1874 about 125 of the warriors who had laid siege to the Lyman wagon train decided to move south of the Washita River to join their families. As the warriors reached a small rise north of Gageby Creek they ran into a small detachment of six men from Colonel Miles' command who were riding with dispatches and were charged with locating Lyman's wagon train. The detachment consisted of civilian scouts Billy Dixon and Amos Chapman and four soldiers of the Sixth Cavalry. The ensuing engagement between the warriors and the six men has come to be known as the Battle of Buffalo Wallow.

The Indians quickly encircled the couriers, stranding them with essentially no cover. The little group of men dismounted and prepared to fight. A Private Smith was given the horses reins to hold. Within moments of the battle's outbreak he was shot in the chest and fell to the ground as the horses stampeded.

After about four hours of the Indians taunting and firing at them, all of the whites except Dixon had been wounded. He spotted a small buffalo wallow, a shallow depression on the plain. Determined to make use of what little cover there was, Dixon made a run for the wallow, and three of the other men quickly joined him. Once there, the men began digging with knives to deepen the depression, throwing the sandy soil up as a breastwork around the perimeter of the wallow. The two men who remained outside the wallow were Private Smith who had been shot first and was believed dead, and Chapman who had suffered a crippling wound to his leg. After several attempts, Dixon was able to reach Chapman and carry him back to the wallow.

As the afternoon wore on, the men began to run low on ammunition and it was decided that the revolver and ammunition belt should be retrieved from the body of the dead Private Smith. One of the soldiers, a Private Rath, ran to the motionless body and recovered the items, but when he got back to the wallow he reported that Private Smith was still alive. Dixon and Rath made their way back to Smith and carried him back to the wallow, but it was obvious that he would not survive. "We could see that there was no chance for him. He was shot through the left lung and when he breathed the wind sobbed out of his back under the shoulder blade," Dixon wrote in his memoirs. Later that night Private Smith died in his sleep.

By mid-afternoon a storm came up and a heavy rain began to fall. As miserable as the men were in the buffalo wallow the storm had an unseen benefit. With the advent of the inclement weather, the Indians broke off the fight and disappeared into the night.

The next morning Dixon left the wallow on foot to try to find help for the wounded men. After a short while, he encountered the Eighth Cavalry under Major Price's command. Upon learning of their situation, Colonel Miles had the men rescued. Although all six men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Dixon's and Chapman's were later revoked because they were not officially enlisted in the Army. In 1989, the Army Board for Correction of Military Records restored the medals to Dixon and Chapman.

The critical battle of the Red River War began as the sun rose on September 28, 1874. At least five Indian villages had sought protection in the hidden isolation of Palo Duro Canyon. Then Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie, in command of the Fourth Cavalry, charged into the canyon. With their people scattered, Indian leaders Iron Shirt of the Cheyenne, Poor Buffalo of the Comanche, and Lone Wolf of the Kiowa could not mount a united defense and fell back before the onrushing horsemen. The soldiers captured and burned the villages, including the Indians' winter food supply. They also captured 1,424 Indian horses that they drove some 20 miles from the scene of the fight where they killed more than 1,000 of the horses to prevent them from being retaken by the Indians.


Watch the video: Battle of Nomae - Wikipedia article


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