Category Archives: Military

The Battle of Ticonderoga

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 The Battle of Ticonderoga

Ruins of Fort Ticonderoga

The Battle of Ticonderoga.  At noon of 20 April, 1775, the news of the battle of Lexington reached New Haven, and Arnold, who was captain of the governor’s guards, about 60 in number, assembled them on the college green and offered to lead them to BostonGen. Wooster thought he had better wait for regular orders, and the selectmen refused to supply ammunition; but, upon Arnold’s threatening to break into the magazine, the selectmen yielded and furnished the ammunition, and the company marched to Cambridge.  Arnold immediately proposed the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and the plan was approved by Dr. Warren, chairman of the committee of safety.   Arnold was commissioned as colonel by the provincial congress of Massachusetts, and directed to raise 400 men in the western counties and surprise the forts.  The same scheme had been entertained in Connecticut, and troops from that colony and from Berkshire, with a number of “Green mountain boys,” had already started for the lakes under command of Ethan Allen.  On meeting them Arnold claimed the command, but when it was refused he joined the expedition as a volunteer and entered Ticonderoga side by side with Allen. 

Soldiers storming Ticonderoga

A few days later Arnold captured St. John’s.  Massachusetts asked Connecticut to put him in command of these posts, but Connecticut preferred Allen.

Arnold returned to Cambridge early in July, proposed to Washington the expedition against Quebec by way of the Kennebec and Chaudiere rivers, and was placed in command of 1,100 men and started from Cambridge 11 Sept.  The enterprise, which was as difficult and dangerous as Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, was conducted with consummate ability, but was nearly ruined by the misconduct of Colonel Enos, who deserted and returned to Massachusetts with 200 men and the greater part of the provisions.  After frightful hardships, to which 200 more men succumbed, on 13 Nov., the little army climbed the heights of Abraham.  As Arnold’s force was insufficient to storm the city, and the garrison would not come out to fight, he was obliged to await the arrival of Montgomery, who had just taken Montreal.  In the great assault of 31 Dec., in which Montgomery was slain, Arnold received a wound in the leg.  For his gallantry he was now made brigadier-general.

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The Sepoy Rebellion

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Houses of Parliament

The Sepoy Rebellion – 1857 – As the mutiny developed, these conservatives looked round for some specific act to which they could triumphantly point the people of England as a verification of their predictions, and an adequate and valid reason for the Sepoy Rebellion.  They found it in the fact that the Governor General, Lord Canning, (fresh from home and not yet tainted with their Christless “neutrality,”) had so far forgotten the obligations of his high position before the people of India, that he had actually contributed money in aid of a Missionary Society.  

By an American reader this statement must be thought simply ridiculous, and the writer be deemed trifling.  But no, far from it; we are in sober earnest.   This was, in all seriousness, solemnly put forward before the British people and Parliament as the cause of the Rebellion by these “most potent, wise, and reverend seigneurs” of the East India Company.   They found a mouth-piece even in the House of Lords, in the person of one of their former associates, Lord Ellenborough, who rose in his place, and lifted his hands in horror as he announced the fact, and declared that nothing less than Lord Canning’s recall could be considered an adequate penalty for so great a violation of the rules and traditions of the Honorable Court!

This “old Indian,” who thus made a fool of himself, and slurred the Christianity of the very crown before him in the presence of what has been called “the most venerable legislative assembly in Christendom.

Excerpt from The Land of Veda by William Butler – 1872

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The Crimean War

 

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Russian Cross from the Crimea

The Crimean War – 1853-1856

THE greatest war in which Great Britain has been engaged since Waterloo was the Crimean War, which arose chiefly from the following causes.  Centuries ago a fierce and warlike people called the Turks had crossed from Asia into the land which we call Turkey.  They conquered the Christian peoples there, and were for a long time the terror of Europe.  Gradually their power waned, and in the early years of this century they were twice conquered by the Russians.  Russia hated the Turks because they were Mohammedans, and oppressed the Christian peoples of Turkey, who were of the same religion as the Russians.  In 1853 the powerful Czar of Russia claimed the right to interfere between Turkey and her Christian subjects; and when Turkey refused to grant his claim, he sent troops into her territory.  France and England began to take sides with Turkey, because they did not want Russia to become master of the Turkish lands.  In 1854 they declared war against Russia, and sent out great fleets and armies to Varna, a Turkish port on the Black Sea. But the Turks had already beaten the Russians on the Danube, and had caused them to withdraw from Turkish territory.

The allies were not satisfied with this, but said that the time had come to prevent Russia from becoming mistress of the Black Sea.  So the English and French forces were landed in the Crimea, in order that they might destroy the great Russian port and fortress, Sevastopol.  The allies marched to the south of the city, so as to get supplies from their ships in the harbor of Balaclava.  After some delays they began to attack Sevastopol and its forts.  But by this time the Russians were strong enough to try to cut off the British army from its ships, and this led to the battle of Balaclava.

Excerpt from taken from Stories from English History by Henry Pitt Warren – 1908

To honour acts of valor during the Crimean War Queen Victoria introduced the Victoria Cross in 1856.

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The Courage of the Crisis

 

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The Victoria CrossThe Victoria Cross – Everybody knows that the Victoria Cross is the supreme reward which England gives for distinguished valor on the field of battle.  But this reward is not given to the man who simply does his duty, even in the face of death. Every man is expected to do his duty.  When a man goes out of his way to do a splendid thing which he did not need to do, and does it splendidly, he wins the  Victoria Cross. 

This man’s father won the cross in the Sepoy Rebellion at the siege of Chunderi.  Chunderi was a stout and moated fortress.  The stones of its walls were twelve feet thick, and the water of its moat was twelve feet deep.  And in this fortress, when the Indian Mutiny began, were English women and children.  And they had to be got out. 

Now, this man’s father had gone fishing in the moat of Chunderi and had found a place where the moat was partly filled with rubbish, so that in that place the water was only two feet deep instead of twelve.  And he volunteered to lead a company of soldiers over the moat against the walls.  And this he did successfully. Over they went, in the face of the guns of the garrison, and scaled the walls and took the fort.  And he was given the Victoria Cross.  But that which especially interested me was this: The hero wrote a book for the reading of his grandchildren, containing the story of his life.  And in this book of eighty printed pages he gave to the adventure of the Victoria Cross just two lines, about twenty words, the length of two frugal telegrams;  while he gave some twenty pages to the record of his administrative work as governor of one of the central provinces of India.  There, you see, is the same thing over again. The emphasis is put, as in the word of God to the captain of the host of Israel, and as in the answer of the Lord to the question of the rich young ruler, upon the common life. 

The contrast is between two kinds of courage: the courage of the crisis and the courage of the commonplace.  The hero gives twenty words to the courage of the crisis, and twenty pages to the courage of the commonplace.

Excerpt from The Columbia University Quarterly – 1906

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