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History of Revenge V - History

History of Revenge V - History

Revenge V

(Sch.: t. 90; 1. 60'; b. 16'6"; dph. 6'6"; cpl. 30; a. 1 long 18
pdr. and several carronades)

The fifth Revenge, was built in 1808 at Charleston, S.C., as Gunboat No. 158 by James Ingraham & Sons. After service patrolling the southern coast, the schooner was laid up at Charleston from 1817 to 1822. She was then placed in service and until 1824 operated in Commodore David Porter's Mosquito Fleet in the West Indies suppressing piracy.


Eurythmics

Eurythmics were a British pop duo consisting of members Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. Stewart and Lennox were both previously in The Tourists, a band which broke up in 1980 Eurythmics were formed later that year in Wagga Wagga, Australia. [2] The duo released their first studio album, In the Garden, in 1981 to little success, but went on to achieve global success when their second album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), was released in 1983. The title track became a worldwide hit which topped the charts in various countries including the US. The duo went on to release a string of hit singles and albums before they split up in 1990. By this time, Stewart was a sought-after record producer, while Lennox began a solo recording career in 1992 with her debut album Diva. After almost a decade apart, Eurythmics reunited to record their ninth album, Peace, released in late 1999. They reunited again in 2005 to release the single "I've Got a Life", as part of a new Eurythmics compilation album, Ultimate Collection.

The duo have won an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist in 1984, the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1987, the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music in 1999, and in 2005 were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. The Eurythmics have sold an estimated 75 million records worldwide. [3] In 2017, the group was nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, [4] and were nominated again in 2018. [5]


Contents

In 1835, there was a drastic shift in the Mexican nation. The triumph of conservative forces in the elections unleashed a series of events that culminated on October 23, 1835, under a new constitution, after the repeal of the federalist Constitution of 1824. Las Siete Leyes (Spanish: [las ˈsjete ˈleʝes] ), or Seven Laws were a series of constitutional changes that fundamentally altered the organizational structure of Mexico, ending the first federal period and creating a unitary republic, officially the Mexican Republic (Spanish: República Mexicana). [6] Formalized under President Antonio López de Santa Anna on 15 December 1835, they were enacted in 1836. They were intended to centralize and strengthen the national government. The aim of the previous constitution was to create a political system that would emulate the success of the United States, but after a decade of political turmoil, economic stagnation, and threats and actual foreign invasion, conservatives concluded that a better path for Mexico was centralized power.

The new policies, and the increased enforcement of immigration laws and import tariffs, incited many immigrants to revolt. [7] The border region of Mexican Texas was largely populated by immigrants from the United States, some legal but most illegal. These people were accustomed to a federalist government and to extensive individual rights including the right to own slaves, and they were quite vocal in their displeasure at Mexico's law enforcement and shift towards centralism. [8] Already suspicious after previous American attempts to purchase Mexican Texas, [9] Mexican authorities blamed much of the Texian unrest on American immigrants, most of whom had entered illegally and made little effort to adapt to the Mexican culture and who continued to hold people in slavery when slavery had been abolished in Mexico. [10]

In October, Texians engaged Mexican troops in the first official battle of the Texas Revolution. [11] Determined to quell the rebellion of immigrants, Santa Anna began assembling a large force, the Army of Operations in Texas, to restore order. [12] Most of his soldiers were raw recruits, [13] and many had been forcibly conscripted. [14]

The Texians systematically defeated the Mexican troops already stationed in Texas. The last group of Mexican soldiers in the region—commanded by Santa Anna's brother-in-law, General Martín Perfecto de Cos—surrendered on December 9 following the siege of Béxar. [11] By this point, the Texian Army was dominated by very recent arrivals to the region, primarily illegal immigrants from the United States. Many Texas settlers, unprepared for a long campaign, had returned home. [15] Angered by what he perceived to be American interference in Mexican affairs, Santa Anna spearheaded a resolution classifying foreign immigrants found fighting in Texas as pirates. The resolution effectively banned the taking of prisoners of war: in this period of time, captured pirates were executed immediately. [15] [16] Santa Anna reiterated this message in a strongly worded letter to United States President Andrew Jackson. This letter was not widely distributed, and it is unlikely that most of the American recruits serving in the Texian Army were aware that there would be no prisoners of war. [17]

When Mexican troops departed San Antonio de Béxar (now San Antonio, Texas, USA) Texian soldiers captured the Mexican garrison at the Alamo Mission, a former Spanish religious outpost which had been converted to a makeshift fort by the recently expelled Mexican Army. [18] Described by Santa Anna as an "irregular fortification hardly worthy of the name", [18] the Alamo had been designed to withstand an attack by native tribes, not an artillery-equipped army. [19] The complex sprawled across 3 acres (1.2 ha), providing almost 1,320 feet (400 m) of perimeter to defend. [20] An interior plaza was bordered on the east by the chapel and to the south by a one-story building known as the Low Barracks. [21] A wooden palisade stretched between these two buildings. [22] The two-story Long Barracks extended north from the chapel. [21] At the northern corner of the east wall stood a cattle pen and horse corral. [23] The walls surrounding the complex were at least 2.75 feet (0.84 m) thick and ranged from 9–12 ft (2.7–3.7 m) high. [24] [Note 1]

To compensate for the lack of firing ports, Texian engineer Green B. Jameson constructed catwalks to allow defenders to fire over the walls this method, however, left the rifleman's upper body exposed. [20] Mexican forces had left behind 19 cannons, which Jameson installed along the walls. A large 18-pounder had arrived in Texas with the New Orleans Greys. Jameson positioned this cannon in the southwest corner of the compound. He boasted to Texian Army commander Sam Houston that the Texians could "whip 10 to 1 with our artillery". [25]

The Texian garrison was woefully undermanned and underprovisioned, with fewer than 100 soldiers remaining by January 6, 1836. [26] Colonel James C. Neill, the acting Alamo commander, wrote to the provisional government: "If there has ever been a dollar here I have no knowledge of it". [26] Neill requested additional troops and supplies, stressing that the garrison was likely to be unable to withstand a siege lasting longer than four days. [26] [27] The Texian government was in turmoil and unable to provide much assistance. [28] [Note 2] Four different men claimed to have been given command over the entire army: [Note 3] on January 14, Neill approached one of them, Sam Houston, for assistance in gathering supplies, clothing, and ammunition. [28]

Houston could not spare the number of men necessary to mount a successful defense. [29] Instead, he sent Colonel James Bowie with 30 men to remove the artillery from the Alamo and destroy the complex. [28] [Note 4] Bowie was unable to transport the artillery since the Alamo garrison lacked the necessary draft animals. Neill soon persuaded Bowie that the location held strategic importance. [30] In a letter to Governor Henry Smith, Bowie argued that "the salvation of Texas depends in great measure on keeping Béxar out of the hands of the enemy. It serves as the frontier picquet guard, and if it were in the possession of Santa Anna, there is no stronghold from which to repel him in his march towards the Sabine." [31] [Note 5] The letter to Smith ended, "Colonel Neill and myself have come to the solemn resolution that we will rather die in these ditches than give it up to the enemy." [31] Bowie also wrote to the provisional government, asking for "men, money, rifles, and cannon powder". [31] Few reinforcements were authorized cavalry officer William B. Travis arrived in Béxar with 30 men on February 3. Five days later, a small group of volunteers arrived, including the famous frontiersman and former U.S. Congressman David Crockett of Tennessee. [32]

On February 11, Neill left the Alamo, determined to recruit additional reinforcements and gather supplies. [33] [34] He transferred command to Travis, the highest-ranking regular army officer in the garrison. [31] Volunteers comprised much of the garrison, and they were unwilling to accept Travis as their leader. [Note 6] The men instead elected Bowie, who had a reputation as a fierce fighter, as their commander. Bowie celebrated by getting very intoxicated and creating havoc in Béxar. To mitigate the resulting ill feelings, Bowie agreed to share command with Travis. [34] [35] [36]

As the Texians struggled to find men and supplies, Santa Anna continued to gather men at San Luis Potosi by the end of 1835, his army numbered 6,019 soldiers. [37] Rather than advance along the coast, where supplies and reinforcements could be easily delivered by sea, Santa Anna ordered his army inland to Béxar, the political center of Texas and the site of Cos's defeat. [37] The army began its march north in late December. [37] Officers used the long journey to train the men. Many of the new recruits did not know how to use the sights of their guns, and many refused to fire from the shoulder because of the large recoil. [38]

Progress was slow. There were not enough mules to transport all of the supplies, and many of the teamsters, all civilians, quit when their pay was delayed. The many soldaderas – women and children who followed the army – consumed much of the already scarce supplies. The soldiers were soon reduced to partial rations. [39] On February 12 they crossed the Rio Grande. [40] [Note 7] Temperatures in Texas reached record lows, and by February 13 an estimated 15–16 inches (38–41 cm) of snow had fallen. Hypothermia, dysentery, and Comanche raiding parties took a heavy toll on the Mexican soldiers. [41]

On February 21, Santa Anna and his vanguard reached the banks of the Medina River, 25 miles (40 km) from Béxar. [42] [43] Unaware of the Mexican Army's proximity, the majority of the Alamo garrison joined Béxar residents at a fiesta. [44] [Note 8] After learning of the planned celebration, Santa Anna ordered General Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma to immediately seize the unprotected Alamo, but sudden rains halted that raid. [43]

Investment

In the early hours of February 23, residents began fleeing Béxar, fearing the Mexican army's imminent arrival. Although unconvinced by the reports, Travis stationed a soldier in the San Fernando church bell tower, the highest location in town, to watch for signs of an approaching force. Several hours later, Texian scouts reported seeing Mexican troops 1.5 miles (2.4 km) outside the town. [44] Few arrangements had been made for a potential siege. One group of Texians scrambled to herd cattle into the Alamo, while others scrounged for food in the recently abandoned houses. [45] Several members of the garrison who had been living in town brought their families with them when they reported to the Alamo. Among these were Almaron Dickinson, who brought his wife Susanna and their infant daughter Angelina Bowie, who was accompanied by his deceased wife's cousins, Gertrudis Navarro and Juana Navarro Alsbury, and Alsbury's young son [46] and Gregorio Esparza, whose family climbed through the window of the Alamo chapel after the Mexican army arrived. [47] Other members of the garrison failed to report for duty most of the men working outside Béxar did not try to sneak past Mexican lines. [48]

response of José Bartres to Texian requests for an honorable surrender, as quoted in the journal of Juan Almonte [49]

By late afternoon Béxar was occupied by about 1,500 Mexican soldiers. [50] When the Mexican troops raised a blood-red flag signifying no quarter, Travis responded with a blast from the Alamo's largest cannon. [51] Believing that Travis had acted hastily, Bowie sent Jameson to meet with Santa Anna. [49] Travis was angered that Bowie had acted unilaterally and sent his own representative, Captain Albert Martin. [52] Both emissaries met with Colonel Juan Almonte and José Bartres. According to Almonte, the Texians asked for an honorable surrender but were informed that any surrender must be unconditional. [49] On learning this, Bowie and Travis mutually agreed to fire the cannon again. [52] [Note 9]

Skirmishes

The first night of the siege was relatively quiet. [53] Over the next few days, Mexican soldiers established artillery batteries, initially about 1,000 feet (300 m) from the south and east walls of the Alamo. [54] A third battery was positioned southeast of the fort. Each night the batteries inched closer to the Alamo walls. [55] During the first week of the siege more than 200 cannonballs landed in the Alamo plaza. At first, the Texians matched Mexican artillery fire, often reusing the Mexican cannonballs. [56] [57] On February 26 Travis ordered the artillery to conserve powder and shot. [56]

Two notable events occurred on Wednesday, February 24. At some point that day, Bowie collapsed from illness, [58] leaving Travis in sole command of the garrison. [58] Late that afternoon, two Mexican scouts became the first fatalities of the siege. [59] [Note 9] The following morning, 200–300 Mexican soldiers crossed the San Antonio River and took cover in abandoned shacks near the Alamo walls. [55] [59] [60] Several Texians ventured out to burn the huts [60] while Texians within the Alamo provided cover fire. [61] [62] After a two-hour skirmish, the Mexican troops retreated to Béxar. [55] [62] Six Mexican soldiers were killed and four others were wounded. [55] No Texians were injured. [63]

A blue norther blew in on February 25, dropping the temperature to 39 °F (4 °C). [56] Neither army was prepared for the cold temperatures. [64] Texian attempts to gather firewood were thwarted by Mexican troops. [56] On the evening of February 26 Colonel Juan Bringas engaged several Texians who were burning more huts. [65] According to historian J.R. Edmondson, one Texian was killed. [66] Four days later, Texians shot and killed Private First Class Secundino Alvarez, a soldier from one of two battalions that Santa Anna had stationed on two sides of the Alamo. By March 1, the number of Mexican casualties was nine dead and four wounded, while the Texian garrison had lost only one man.

Reinforcements

Santa Anna posted one company east of the Alamo, on the road to Gonzales. [55] [68] Almonte and 800 dragoons were stationed along the road to Goliad. [69] Throughout the siege these towns had received multiple couriers, dispatched by Travis to plead for reinforcements and supplies. [51] [70] The most famous of his missives, written February 24, was addressed To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World. According to historian Mary Deborah Petite, the letter is "considered by many as one of the masterpieces of American patriotism." [71] Copies of the letter were distributed across Texas, [72] and eventually reprinted throughout the United States and much of Europe. [59] At the end of the first day of the siege, Santa Anna's troops were reinforced by 600 men under General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma, bringing the Mexican army up to more than 2,000 men.

As news of the siege spread throughout Texas, potential reinforcements gathered in Gonzales. They hoped to rendezvous with Colonel James Fannin, who was expected to arrive from Goliad with his garrison. [73] On February 26, after days of indecision, Fannin ordered 320 men, four cannons, and several supply wagons to march towards the Alamo, 90 miles (140 km) away. This group traveled less than 1.0 mile (1.6 km) before turning back. [74] [75] Fannin blamed the retreat on his officers the officers and enlisted men accused Fannin of aborting the mission. [76]

Texians gathered in Gonzales were unaware of Fannin's return to Goliad, and most continued to wait. Impatient with the delay, on February 27 Travis ordered Samuel G. Bastian to go to Gonzales "to hurry up reinforcements". [77] According to historian Thomas Ricks Lindley, Bastian encountered the Gonzales Ranging Company led by Lieutenant George C. Kimble and Travis' courier to Gonzales, Albert Martin, who had tired of waiting for Fannin. A Mexican patrol attacked, driving off four of the men including Bastian. [Note 10] [78] In the darkness, the Texians fired on the remaining 32 men, whom they assumed were Mexican soldiers. One man was wounded, and his English curses convinced the occupiers to open the gates. [Note 11] [79]

On March 3, the Texians watched from the walls as approximately 1,000 Mexicans marched into Béxar. The Mexican army celebrated loudly throughout the afternoon, both in honor of their reinforcements and at the news that troops under General José de Urrea had soundly defeated Texian Colonel Frank W. Johnson at the Battle of San Patricio on February 27. [80] Most of the Texians in the Alamo believed that Sesma had been leading the Mexican forces during the siege, and they mistakenly attributed the celebration to the arrival of Santa Anna. The reinforcements brought the number of Mexican soldiers in Béxar to almost 3,100. [81]

The arrival of the Mexican reinforcements prompted Travis to send three men, including Davy Crockett, to find Fannin's force, which he still believed to be en route. [82] The scouts discovered a large group of Texians camped 20 miles (32 km) from the Alamo. [83] Lindley's research indicates that up to 50 of these men had come from Goliad after Fannin's aborted rescue mission. The others had left Gonzales several days earlier. [84] Just before daylight on March 4, part of the Texian force broke through Mexican lines and entered the Alamo. Mexican soldiers drove a second group across the prairie. [83] [Note 12]

Assault preparations

On March 4, the day after his reinforcements arrived, Santa Anna proposed an assault on the Alamo. Many of his senior officers recommended that they wait for two 12-pounder cannons anticipated to arrive on March 7. [85] That evening, a local woman, likely Bowie's cousin-in-law Juana Navarro Alsbury, approached Santa Anna to negotiate a surrender for the Alamo occupiers. [86] According to many historians, this visit probably increased Santa Anna's impatience as historian Timothy Todish noted, "there would have been little glory in a bloodless victory". [87] The following morning, Santa Anna announced to his staff that the assault would take place early on March 6. Santa Anna arranged for troops from Béxar to be excused from the front lines so that they would not be forced to fight their own families. [87]

Legend holds that at some point on March 5, Travis gathered his men and explained that an attack was imminent, and that they were greatly outnumbered by the Mexican Army. He supposedly drew a line in the ground and asked those willing to die for the Texian cause to cross and stand alongside him only one man (Moses Rose) was said to have declined. [88] Most scholars disregard this tale as there is no primary source evidence to support it (the story only surfaced decades after the battle in a third-hand account). [89] Travis apparently did, at some point prior to the final assault, assemble the men for a conference to inform them of the dire situation and giving them the chance to either escape or stay and die for the cause. Susannah Dickinson recalled Travis announcing that any men who wished to escape should let it be known and step out of ranks. [90]

The last Texian verified to have left the Alamo was James Allen, a courier who carried personal messages from Travis and several of the other men on March 5. [91]

Exterior fighting

Initial Mexican troop deployment [92] [93]
Commander Troops Equipment
Cos 350 10 ladders
2 crowbars
2 axes
Duque/Castrillón 400 10 ladders
Romero 400 6 ladders
Morales 125 2 ladders
Sesma 500 cavalry
Santa Anna 400 reserves

At 10 p.m. on March 5, the Mexican artillery ceased their bombardment. As Santa Anna had anticipated, the exhausted Texians soon fell into the first uninterrupted sleep many of them had since the siege began. [94] Just after midnight, more than 2,000 Mexican soldiers began preparing for the final assault. [95] Fewer than 1,800 were divided into four columns, commanded by Cos, Colonel Francisco Duque, Colonel José María Romero and Colonel Juan Morales. [92] [93] Veterans were positioned on the outside of the columns to better control the new recruits and conscripts in the middle. [96] As a precaution, 500 Mexican cavalry were positioned around the Alamo to prevent the escape of either Texian or Mexican soldiers. Santa Anna remained in camp with the 400 reserves. [93] [97] Despite the bitter cold, the soldiers were ordered not to wear overcoats which could impede their movements. [93] Clouds concealed the moon and thus the movements of the soldiers. [98]

At 5:30 a.m. troops silently advanced. Cos and his men approached the northwest corner of the Alamo, [96] while Duque led his men from the northwest towards a repaired breach in the Alamo's north wall. [99] The column commanded by Romero marched towards the east wall, and Morales's column aimed for the low parapet by the chapel. [99]

The three Texian sentinels stationed outside the walls were killed in their sleep, [100] [101] allowing Mexican soldiers to approach undetected within musket range of the walls. [100] At this point, the silence was broken by shouts of "¡Viva Santa Anna!" and music from the buglers. [95] The noise woke the Texians. [101] Most of the noncombatants gathered in the church sacristy for safety. [102] Travis rushed to his post yelling, "Come on boys, the Mexicans are upon us and we'll give them hell!" [100] and, as he passed a group of Tejanos, "¡No rendirse, muchachos!" ("Don't surrender, boys"). [94]

In the initial moments of the assault, Mexican troops were at a disadvantage. Their column formation allowed only the front rows of soldiers to fire safely. [103] Unaware of the dangers, the untrained recruits in the ranks "blindly fir[ed] their guns", injuring or killing the troops in front of them. [104] The tight concentration of troops also offered an excellent target for the Texian artillery. [103] Lacking canister shot, Texians filled their cannon with any metal they could find, including door hinges, nails, and chopped-up horseshoes, essentially turning the cannon into giant shotguns. [100] According to the diary of José Enrique de la Peña, "a single cannon volley did away with half the company of chasseurs from Toluca". [105] Duque fell from his horse after suffering a wound in his thigh and was almost trampled by his own men. General Manuel Castrillón quickly assumed command of Duque's column. [23]

Although some in the front of the Mexican ranks wavered, soldiers in the rear pushed them on. [103] As the troops massed against the walls, Texians were forced to lean over the walls to shoot, leaving them exposed to Mexican fire. Travis became one of the first occupiers to die, shot while firing his shotgun into the soldiers below him, though one source says that he drew his sword and stabbed a Mexican officer who had stormed the wall before succumbing to his injury. [103] Few of the Mexican ladders reached the walls. [106] The few soldiers who were able to climb the ladders were quickly killed or beaten back. As the Texians discharged their previously loaded rifles, they found it increasingly difficult to reload while attempting to keep Mexican soldiers from scaling the walls. [23]

Mexican soldiers withdrew and regrouped, but their second attack was repulsed. Fifteen minutes into the battle, they attacked a third time. [23] [103] During the third strike, Romero's column, aiming for the east wall, was exposed to cannon fire and shifted to the north, mingling with the second column. [23] Cos' column, under fire from Texians on the west wall, also veered north. [107] When Santa Anna saw that the bulk of his army was massed against the north wall, he feared a rout "panicked", he sent the reserves into the same area. [108] The Mexican soldiers closest to the north wall realized that the makeshift wall contained many gaps and toeholds. One of the first to scale the 12-foot (3.7 m) wall was General Juan Amador at his challenge, his men began swarming up the wall. Amador opened the postern in the north wall, allowing Mexican soldiers to pour into the complex. [106] Others climbed through gun ports in the west wall, which had few occupiers. [109] As the Texian occupiers abandoned the north wall and the northern end of the west wall, [106] [109] Texian gunners at the south end of the mission turned their cannon towards the north and fired into the advancing Mexican soldiers. This left the south end of the mission unprotected within minutes Mexican soldiers had climbed the walls and killed the gunners, gaining control of the Alamo's 18-pounder cannon. [98] By this time Romero's men had taken the east wall of the compound and were pouring in through the cattle pen. [109]

Interior fighting

Last words of Texian defender Almaron Dickinson to his wife Susanna as he prepared to defend the chapel. [107]

As previously planned, most of the Texians fell back to the barracks and the chapel. Holes had been carved in the walls to allow the Texians to fire. [107] Unable to reach the barracks, Texians stationed along the west wall headed west for the San Antonio River. When the cavalry charged, the Texians took cover and began firing from a ditch. Sesma was forced to send reinforcements, and the Texians were eventually killed. Sesma reported that this skirmish involved 50 Texians, but Edmondson believes that number was inflated. [110]

The occupiers in the cattle pen retreated into the horse corral. After discharging their weapons, the small band of Texians scrambled over the low wall, circled behind the church and raced on foot for the east prairie, which appeared empty. [107] [109] [111] As the Mexican cavalry advanced on the group, Almaron Dickinson and his artillery crew turned a cannon around and fired into the cavalry, probably inflicting casualties. Nevertheless, all of the escaping Texians were killed. [111]

The last Texian group to remain in the open were Crockett and his men, defending the low wall in front of the church. Unable to reload, they used their rifles as clubs and fought with knives. After a volley of fire and a wave of Mexican bayonets, the few remaining Texians in this group fell back towards the church. [110] The Mexican army now controlled all of the outer walls and the interior of the Alamo compound except for the church and rooms along the east and west walls. [112] Mexican soldiers turned their attention to a Texian flag waving from the roof of one building. Four Mexicans were killed before the flag of Mexico was raised in that location. [Note 13] [113]

For the next hour, the Mexican army worked to secure complete control of the Alamo. [114] Many of the remaining occupiers were ensconced in the fortified barracks rooms. [115] In the confusion, the Texians had neglected to spike their cannon before retreating. Mexican soldiers turned the cannon towards the barracks. [106] As each door was blown off Mexican soldiers would fire a volley of muskets into the dark room, then charge in for hand-to-hand combat. [115]

Too sick to participate in the battle, Bowie likely died in bed. Eyewitnesses to the battle gave conflicting accounts of his death. Some witnesses maintained that they saw several Mexican soldiers enter Bowie's room, bayonet him, and carry him alive from the room. [116] Others claimed that Bowie shot himself or was killed by soldiers while too weak to lift his head. [117] According to historian Wallace Chariton, the "most popular, and probably the most accurate" [118] version is that Bowie died on his cot, "back braced against the wall, and using his pistols and his famous knife." [117]

The last of the Texians to die were the 11 men manning the two 12-pounder cannons in the chapel. [113] [119] A shot from the 18-pounder cannon destroyed the barricades at the front of the church, and Mexican soldiers entered the building after firing an initial musket volley. Dickinson's crew fired their cannon from the apse into the Mexican soldiers at the door. With no time to reload, the Texians, including Dickinson, Gregorio Esparza and James Bonham, grabbed rifles and fired before being bayoneted to death. [120] Texian Robert Evans, the master of ordnance, had been tasked with keeping the gunpowder from falling into Mexican hands. Wounded, he crawled towards the powder magazine but was killed by a musket ball with his torch only inches from the powder. [120] Had he succeeded, the blast would have destroyed the church and killed the women and children hiding in the sacristy. [121]

As soldiers approached the sacristy, one of the young sons of occupier Anthony Wolf stood to pull a blanket over his shoulders. [120] In the dark, Mexican soldiers mistook him for an adult and killed him. [Note 14] [122] Possibly the last Texian to die in battle was Jacob Walker, [123] who attempted to hide behind Susannah Dickinson and was bayoneted in front of the women. [124] Another Texian, Brigido Guerrero, also sought refuge in the sacristy. [120] Guerrero, who had deserted from the Mexican Army in December 1835, was spared after convincing the soldiers he was a Texian prisoner. [122] [125]

By 6:30 a.m. the battle for the Alamo was over. [124] Mexican soldiers inspected each corpse, bayoneting any body that moved. [122] Even with all of the Texians dead, Mexican soldiers continued to shoot, some killing each other in the confusion. Mexican generals were unable to stop the bloodlust and appealed to Santa Anna for help. Although the general showed himself, the violence continued and the buglers were finally ordered to sound a retreat. For 15 minutes after that, soldiers continued to fire into dead bodies. [126]

Casualties

According to many accounts of the battle, between five and seven Texians surrendered. [Note 15] [127] [128] Incensed that his orders had been ignored, Santa Anna demanded the immediate execution of the survivors. [129] Weeks after the battle, stories circulated that Crockett was among those who surrendered. [128] Ben, a former American slave who cooked for one of Santa Anna's officers, maintained that Crockett's body was found surrounded by "no less than sixteen Mexican corpses". [130] Historians disagree on which version of Crockett's death is accurate. [Note 16] [131]

Santa Anna reportedly told Captain Fernando Urizza that the battle "was but a small affair". [132] Another officer then remarked that "with another such victory as this, we'll go to the devil". [Note 17] [2] In his initial report Santa Anna claimed that 600 Texians had been killed, with only 70 Mexican soldiers killed and 300 wounded. [133] His secretary, Ramón Martínez Caro, later repudiated the report. [134] Other estimates of the number of Mexican soldiers killed ranged from 60 to 200, with an additional 250–300 wounded. [2] Most Alamo historians place the number of Mexican casualties at 400–600. [2] [3] [4] This would represent about one-third of the Mexican soldiers involved in the final assault, which Todish remarks is "a tremendous casualty rate by any standards". [2] Most eyewitnesses counted between 182 and 257 Texians killed. [135] Some historians believe that at least one Texian, Henry Warnell, successfully escaped from the battle. Warnell died several months later of wounds incurred either during the final battle or during his escape as a courier. [136] [137]

Mexican soldiers were buried in the local cemetery, Campo Santo. [Note 18] [133] Shortly after the battle, Colonel José Juan Sanchez Navarro proposed that a monument should be erected to the fallen Mexican soldiers. Cos rejected the idea. [138]

The Texian bodies were stacked and burned. [Note 19] [133] The only exception was the body of Gregorio Esparza. His brother Francisco, an officer in Santa Anna's army, received permission to give Gregorio a proper burial. [133] The ashes were left where they fell until February 1837, when Juan Seguín returned to Béxar to examine the remains. A simple coffin inscribed with the names Travis, Crockett, and Bowie was filled with ashes from the funeral pyres. [139] According to a March 28, 1837, article in the Telegraph and Texas Register, [140] Seguín buried the coffin under a peach tree grove. The spot was not marked and cannot now be identified. [141] Seguín later claimed that he had placed the coffin in front of the altar at the San Fernando Cathedral. In July 1936 a coffin was discovered buried in that location, but according to historian Wallace Chariton, it is unlikely to actually contain the remains of the Alamo defenders. Fragments of uniforms were found in the coffin and the Texian soldiers who fought at the Alamo were known not to wear uniforms. [140]

Texian survivors

In an attempt to convince other slaves in Texas to support the Mexican government over the Texian rebellion, Santa Anna spared Travis' slave, Joe. [142] The day after the battle, he interviewed each noncombatant individually. Impressed with Susanna Dickinson, Santa Anna offered to adopt her infant daughter Angelina and have the child educated in Mexico City. Dickinson refused the offer, which was not extended to Juana Navarro Alsbury although her son was of similar age. [2] Each woman was given a blanket and two silver pesos. [143] Alsbury and the other Tejano women were allowed to return to their homes in Béxar Dickinson, her daughter and Joe were sent to Gonzales, escorted by Ben. They were encouraged to relate the events of the battle, and to inform the remainder of the Texian forces that Santa Anna's army was unbeatable. [2]

Impact on revolution

During the siege, newly elected delegates from across Texas met at the Convention of 1836. On March 2, the delegates declared independence, forming the Republic of Texas. Four days later, the delegates at the convention received a dispatch Travis had written March 3 warning of his dire situation. Unaware that the Alamo had fallen, Robert Potter called for the convention to adjourn and march immediately to relieve the Alamo. Sam Houston convinced the delegates to remain in Washington-on-the-Brazos to develop a constitution. After being appointed sole commander of all Texian troops, Houston journeyed to Gonzales to take command of the 400 volunteers who were still waiting for Fannin to lead them to the Alamo. [144]

Within hours of Houston's arrival on March 11, Andres Barcenas and Anselmo Bergaras arrived with news that the Alamo had fallen and all Texians were slain. [145] Hoping to halt a panic, Houston arrested the men as enemy spies. They were released hours later when Susannah Dickinson and Joe reached Gonzales and confirmed the report. [146] Realizing that the Mexican army would soon advance towards the Texian settlements, Houston advised all civilians in the area to evacuate and ordered his new army to retreat. [147] This sparked a mass exodus, known as the Runaway Scrape, and most Texians, including members of the new government, fled east. [148]

Despite their losses at the Alamo, the Mexican army in Texas still outnumbered the Texian army by almost six to one. [149] Santa Anna assumed that knowledge of the disparity in troop numbers and the fate of the Texian soldiers at the Alamo would quell the resistance, [150] and that Texian soldiers would quickly leave the territory. [151] News of the Alamo's fall had the opposite effect, and men flocked to join Houston's army. [150] The New York Post editorialized that "had [Santa Anna] treated the vanquished with moderation and generosity, it would have been difficult if not impossible to awaken that general sympathy for the people of Texas which now impels so many adventurous and ardent spirits to throng to the aid of their brethren". [152]

On the afternoon of April 21 the Texian army attacked Santa Anna's camp near Lynchburg Ferry. The Mexican army was taken by surprise, and the Battle of San Jacinto was essentially over after 18 minutes. During the fighting, many of the Texian soldiers repeatedly cried "Remember the Alamo!" as they slaughtered fleeing Mexican troops. [153] Santa Anna was captured the following day, and reportedly told Houston: "That man may consider himself born to no common destiny who has conquered the Napoleon of the West. And now it remains for him to be generous to the vanquished." Houston replied, "You should have remembered that at the Alamo". Santa Anna's life was spared, and he was forced to order his troops out of Texas, ending Mexican control of the province and bestowing some legitimacy on the new republic. [154]

Following the battle, Santa Anna was alternately viewed as a national hero or a pariah. Mexican perceptions of the battle often mirrored the prevailing viewpoint. [155] Santa Anna had been disgraced following his capture at the Battle of San Jacinto, and many Mexican accounts of the battle were written by men who had been, or had become, his outspoken critics. Petite and many other historians believe that some of the stories, such as the execution of Crockett, may have been invented to further discredit Santa Anna. [131] In Mexican history, the Texas campaign, including the Battle of the Alamo, was soon overshadowed by the Mexican–American War of 1846–48. [155]

In San Antonio de Béxar, the largely Tejano population viewed the Alamo complex as more than just a battle site it represented decades of assistance—as a mission, a hospital, or a military post. [156] As the English-speaking population increased, the complex became best known for the battle. Focus has centered primarily on the Texian occupiers, with little emphasis given to the role of the Tejano soldiers who served in the Texian army or the actions of the Mexican army. [157] In the early 20th century the Texas Legislature purchased the property and appointed the Daughters of the Republic of Texas as permanent caretakers [158] of what is now an official state shrine. [159] In front of the church, in the center of Alamo Plaza, stands a cenotaph, designed by Pompeo Coppini, which commemorates the Texians and Tejanos who died during the battle. [160] According to Bill Groneman's Battlefields of Texas, the Alamo has become "the most popular tourist site in Texas". [159]

The first English-language histories of the battle were written and published by Texas Ranger and amateur historian John Henry Brown. [161] The next major treatment of the battle was Reuben Potter's The Fall of the Alamo, published in The Magazine of American History in 1878. Potter based his work on interviews with many of the Mexican survivors of the battle. [161] [162] The first full-length, non-fiction book covering the battle, John Myers Myers' The Alamo, was published in 1948. [163] In the decades since, the battle has featured prominently in many non-fiction works.

According to Todish et al., "there can be little doubt that most Americans have probably formed many of their opinions on what occurred at the Alamo not from books, but from the various movies made about the battle." [164] The first film version of the battle appeared in 1911, when Gaston Méliès directed The Immortal Alamo. [5] The battle became more widely known after it was featured in the 1950s Disney miniseries Davy Crockett, which was largely based on myth. [5] Within several years, John Wayne directed and starred in one of the best-known, but questionably accurate, film versions, 1960's The Alamo. [165] [Note 20] Another film also called The Alamo was released in 2004. CNN described it as possibly "the most character-driven of all the movies made on the subject". It is also considered more faithful to the actual events than other movies. [166]

Several songwriters have been inspired by the Battle of the Alamo. Tennessee Ernie Ford's "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" spent 16 weeks on the country music charts, peaking at No. 4 in 1955. [167] Marty Robbins recorded a version of the song "The Ballad of the Alamo" in 1960 which spent 13 weeks on the pop charts, peaking at No. 34. [168] Jane Bowers' song "Remember the Alamo" has been recorded by artists including Johnny Cash [169] and Donovan. [170] British hard rock band Babe Ruth's 1972 song The Mexican pictures the conflict through the eyes of a Mexican soldier. Singer-songwriter Phil Collins collected hundreds of items related to the battle, narrated a light and sound show about the Alamo, and has spoken at related events. [171] In 2014 Collins donated his entire collection to the Alamo via the State of Texas. [172] [173]

The battle also featured in episode 13 of The Time Tunnel, "The Alamo", first aired in 1966, and episode 5 of season one of the TV series Timeless, aired 2016.


The V Weapons

The V weapons – the V1 and V2 – were used towards the end of World War Two with such an effect that the attacks on London became known as the second Blitz. The success of D-Day had speeded up the production of the V weapons and the first V1 was launched on June 13th, just one week after the Allied landings at Normandy.

A V1 at the Imperial War Museum, London

The V weapons were built at Pennemunde, a remote island off the Baltic. Here, the Nazis had assembled a group of scientists and a workforce who worked under the greatest of secrecy. In 1943, the Polish underground movement had sent back information about the base and the RAF had aerial photographs of the site. In August 1943, a heavy bombing raid by the RAF caused serious damage to Pennemunde and pushed development back some months but the project was not halted altogether.

The V1 and V2 were to be weapons of revenge – the Vergeltungswaffens. These were the fabled secret weapons that Hitler boasted about the weapons that would win the war for Nazi Germany.

A damaged V1 found by the Allies

By February 1944, 96 launch sites had been built for the V1. The R.A.F and the U.S.A.F. destroyed 73 but the remaining 23 were to cause many problems for Southern England.

The V1 carried one ton of high explosives and travelled at a maximum of 400 mph. It had a maximum flying distance of 200 miles but the weather could decrease this. A pre-set magnetic compass and gyroscopic auto-pilot determined and maintained its course. A small propeller at the front of the weapon registered the distance covered. At a pre-set distance, the guidance system cut the power to the engine and the V1 went into a steep dive.

Between 8,000 and 9,000 V1’s were launched against Southern England, primarily London. After the initial shock of the first ones, their impact was limited as V1’s could be shot out of the sky by anti-aircraft fire as these guns could lock onto the trajectory of the incoming V1. The Royal Observer Corps gave an early warning of incoming V1’s. Fighter planes were also used to tip over the ‘wings’ of the V1 so that it continued to fly but off course. Over 50% of the V1’s fired at Britain were destroyed before they crashed to the ground and exploded.

Far more dangerous was the world’s first rocket – the V2. This was developed by Wernher von Braun and his team at Peneemunde. This rocket carried one ton of high explosive but travelled at such a speed that it could not be seen. Its terminal speed was 2,386 mph.

Whereas the V1 was a visible weapon, the V2 was invisible. These weapons spread considerable fear in London. In response to them the government used its intelligence units to convince the Nazis that the government had moved its base from central London to the Dulwich area of London. This worked and the V2’s were targeted towards Dulwich. About 1000 V2’s were fired at Britain before their launch sites were overrun by the advancing Allies. In total they killed or wounded about 115,000 people.

It is difficult to assess the true military value of the V weapons. Their psychological impact was probably greater than the actual damage they did. With the V2’s no one knew in London whether they would be the next victim. But they were not used against the advancing Allied armies or against the Russians. Antwerp, a vital port for the Allies, was devastated by attacks from V weapons but, in general, they were used on civilian targets only.

Albert Speer in his book “Inside the Third Reich” claims that the V weapons (especially the V2) could have been working many months before June 1944 if the men at Peneemunde had been given more support from Berlin. Speer cited Goering as the man who had little faith in the project. Their impact, if used from an earlier date, might have been greater.


Britain's defence

The crew of a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun keep watch for flying bombs, June 1944. Defensive measures against the V1 included massed batteries of anti-aircraft guns along the North Downs and the coast of south-east England, and the use of fast RAF fighter aircraft to shoot or 'tip' down the incoming flying bombs before they reached their targets. Anti-aircraft guns were responsible for the shooting down over 1,800 V1s. Similar numbers were downed by fighter aircraft and 200 were destroyed by barrage balloons.


The V1

The V1 was one of Hitler’s secret weapons that he had told his generals that Nazi Germany possessed which would turn the way World War Two was going in 1944. The V1 was first launched against Britain in June 1944, just one week after D-Day. The V1 is difficult to classify as a weapon as it was not a true rocket in that it did not leave the atmosphere, but it was also clearly not a plane. Perhaps it could best be described as a winged but pilot-less fuel propelled flying bomb.

The V1 was so-called because Hitler saw it as a reprisal weapon – a Vergeltungswaffen. Intelligence had already concluded that the Germans had developed something radical as early as late 1943 when spy reports and reconnaissance photos showed the existence of launch ramps that were clearly directed at London. Winston Churchill was sent the following memo regarding the issue:

“The Chief-of-Staff feel that you should be made aware of reports of German experiments with long-range rockets. The fact that five reports have been received since the end of 1942 indicates a foundation of fact even if details are inaccurate…no time should be lost in establishing the facts and in devising counter-measures….suggest you should appoint one man..…Mr. Duncan Sandys to direct investigations. It is not considered desirable to inform the public at this stage, when the evidence is so intangible.” General Ismay.

Churchill took on board the memo and appointed Sandys to lead investigations. Sandys soon provided Churchill with reports that Germany had been carrying experiments with heavy rockets, jet-propelled planes and airborne rocket torpedoes at Peenemünde on the German Baltic coast. More establishments had been identified in northern France. In June 1943, Sandys informed Churchill that intelligence was finding out more about large rockets that flying bombs. He advised Churchill to order Bomber Command to attack the base at Peenemünde as soon as possible. Such was the fear at government level regarding these findings, that the Home Office once again went through the motions of organising the evacuation of children and pregnant women. More Morrison shelters, last seen in the Blitz, were also moved to London.

Information about Hitler’s secret weapons came from a number of sources. An eagle-eyed WAAF Flight -Officer, Constance Babington-Smith, spotted on a reconnaissance photo a tiny aircraft on a ramp and a set of rails at Peenemünde. It seemed to be pointlessly aimed out to sea. In France an agent called Michel Hollard investigated a large concrete construction being built by the Germans near Rouen. He actually got a job there himself and saw a ramp being built that was in the general direction of London. Hollard cycled around other parts of northern France and found similar structures being built. He even got plans for one of the sites at Bois Carré.

On August 17th 1943, Bomber Command launched a raid on Peenemünde which destroyed many of the assembly shops and laboratories there and killed a number of high ranking scientists – including Chamier-Glisezenski, the chief scientist. Nearly 600 bombers took part in this raid – with 41 shot down. Ironically, the success of the raid forced the Germans to move their work to the Harz Mountains where work was carried on inside the mountain itself which made an attack by bombers impossible. Test flights took place in Poland.

At the end of December 1943, Air Marshall Bottomley, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, reported that 69 ‘ski’ ramps had been identified in northern Europe. Those in the Pays-de-Calais and Somme-Seine were targeted at London while those in the Cherbourg area were seemingly targeted at Bristol.

Between January 1944 and June 12th 1944, over 2000 tons of bombs had been dropped on the identified sites – either by high flying bombers or by modified Spitfires and Hurricanes carrying 500lb bombs. In fact, these raids proved of little value as the Germans were quick to rebuild the sites but also to carefully camouflage them. Any damage done was quickly repaired.

The Germans created a special unit to handle the flying bombs – the 155th Flakregiment commanded by Colonel Wachtel. The V1 – officially for the Germans the FZG-76 – was also known as the ‘doodle bug’, ‘buzz-bomb’ and ‘cherry stone’. It was 25 feet long and had a wing span of 16 feet. Loaded with fuel, it weighed 2 tons and it had a warhead of 2,000 lbs of explosives. The most common way of launching the V1 was by ramp. It could also be launched by a modified Heinkel III. Originally, the V1 had a maximum range of 150 miles but this was improved to 250 miles to allow for it to be launched from Holland. About 10,500 were launched at Britain from June 1944 on, 8,800 by ramp and the rest by plane. The first one was first on June 13th 1944.

At about 04.15 on the morning of June 13th, a member of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) in Kent saw what he described as a bright yellow glow in the dark, coming from the engine at the back of the V1. The ROC had already been told to look out for such things and the ROC lookout immediately informed his superiors with the code-word “diver”. The engine of this V1 cut out over Kent and it fell 20 miles to the east of the Tower of London on the village of Swanscombe. Very shortly, others fell on Cuckfield, West Sussex, Bethnal Green, London and Sevenoaks in Kent. The only deaths were six people killed in Bethnal Green. On June 13th, ten V1’s were fired at London but only four got through. Four crashed on take-off (confirming what Wachtel had feared, that they were not fully ready for use) and two crashed into the English Channel. If all of the sites in northern France had been fully operational, then nearly 300 V1’s may well have fallen on south-east England. Wachtel was given strict instructions by his commanding officer, Lieutenant-General Erich Heinemann, to get all the sites working as soon as was possible.

Though the V1’s had no impact on the success or otherwise of D-Day, they did present a serious threat to London and south-east England. The defence of London rested with fighter planes, anti-aircraft fire around the coast and the use of barrage balloons. Any destruction or interception of the V1’s had to be done outside of London as any that were destroyed over London itself, may well have exploded on contact with the ground – thus doing what the V1 was intended to do regardless.

One major success that the British had was finding out the height at which the V1 flew – between 2000 and 3000 feet. The top speed of the V1 was also worked out – between 340 mph to 400 mph when it approached its target. The man put in charge of defending London – Air Marshall Roderic Hill – had a number of fighter planes at his disposal which were faster than the V1’s and could fly above the weapon before descending to attack it. The Spitfire XIV, the Mustang III, the Tempest V and the Mosquito could all do this – but they had a relatively small amount of time to do their work in.

On June 15th, 244 V1’s were launched from 55 sites. 73 hit Greater London and 71 hit areas outside of London. 100 V1’s failed to get across the Channel. It was the start of a major offensive. On June 17th, Hitler flew to northern France to congratulate Wachtel and he ordered that all the ‘cherry stones’ (Hitler’s nickname for the V1) should be targeted at London and nowhere else. On June 18th, one V1 hit the Guard’s Chapel at Wellington barracks and killed 121 people and wounded 68 others. London was about to experience another terror. By the end of June 18th, 500 V1’s had been fired in total.

Churchill asked Eisenhower to do what he could to attack the V1 bases in northern France as part of the Allied advance across the region after D-Day. 617 ‘Dambuster’ Squadron attacked sites with ‘tallboy’ bombs (12,000 lbs bombs) but by June 29th, 2,000 V1’s had been launched at London.

In London, a decision was taken about the city’s defence. Anti-aircraft guns were moved to the coast. Here they would have an unrestricted field of fire. Radar experts also believed that their equipment would work better nearer the sea away from buildings. Nearly 800 anti-aircraft guns were moved to the coast and 1,000 barrage balloons were erected. Fighter pilots also learned new tricks to destroy V1’s such as flying alongside the weapon and tipping over one of its wings, thus knocking it off course. Pilots also flew in front of a V1 so that it flew in the fighter plane’s slipstream. This was enough to unbalance the V1 so that it flew off course.

However, many V1’s got through. By July 5th, 2,500 people had been killed and even the Air Ministry in the Strand had been hit with 198 people being killed in that attack. By July 19th, 1,600 guns were in place around the coast. Hundreds more barrage balloons had been put up but many V1’s still got through – though more and more were being destroyed before they reached London. However, it did seem that the tide had turned in favour of the defenders of London.

But London was to face an even more terrifying weapon – one that could not be seen or defended against – the V2.


Olga of Kiev: One saint you do not want to mess with

Olga of Kiev was one of the most vicious and vengeful rulers in the history of the Kievan Rus’ – the principality that would eventually give birth to modern Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, stretching at its height from the Baltic Sea in the North to the Black Sea in the South.

Born sometime around 903 CE in Pskov, Russia, history gives Olga scarcely a glance for much of her life – including her marriage to Igor, Prince of Kiev and the birth of her son.

With her husband’s death though, Olga becomes more than a wife and mother, and without sacrificing either of those duties, takes centre stage.

Olga of Kiev, born circa 903 and died 963 CE.

Like all rising empires, Kievan Rus’ had grown at the expense of its neighbours and one tribe had grown wary of their smothering embrace.

The relationship between the Drevlians and Kievan Rus’ was complex – they had joined the Rus’ in military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire and paid tribute to Igor’s predecessors, but stopped in 912 when the previous prince died and instead paid this glorified protection money to a local warlord.

Igor’s attempted to restore his privileges in 945 with a trip to their capital of Iskorosten (now Korosten in Northern Ukraine). This visit – as if the previous 33 years simply hadn’t happened! – was a slap in the face and the Drevlians fought back, seizing the prince and murdering him in a gristly display.

Igor of Kiev collects his tribute from the Drevlians

“They had bent down two birch trees to the prince’s feet and tied them to his legs,” wrote Byzantine chronicler Leo the Deacon, “then they let the trees straighten again, thus tearing the prince’s body apart.”

With their son, the three-year old Svyatoslav, too young to take the throne of Kiev, Olga stepped up to rule as regent in his stead.

The Drevians would soon know her well, but for now they thought they were dealing with just another demure noblewoman who could be easily cowed and arrange to marry her to their own Prince Mal. Not only would they be free from paying tribute to the Kievan Rus’ – they would rule the Kievan Rus’.

Olga views her late husband’s body

The Drevians sent 20 of their best men to try and persuade Olga to marry the living symbol of her husband’s murder. Telling them to wait in their boat, she had a ditch dug and next morning had had the emissaries buried alive.

Rather than just leave it at this, a pretty definitive refusal if ever there was one, she sent word back to Prince Mal that should would accept his proposal, but only if the Drevians sent a part of their great and good to accompany her back to their territory, after all it was important that the proud Keivan Rus’ see just how important this matchmaking was.

Her would-be suitor obliged, sending a party of their chieftains to collect her. Extending a suitably grand welcome, she invited the visitors to wash up in her bath house and then locking the doors, burned the entire company alive.

Olga burns the Drevian nobles alive in her bath house

Amazingly this wasn’t the end of the matter.

With the whole of the Drevian ruling class cruelly exterminated, Olga hatched a plan to do away with the rest of them all together and announcing that she would be soon arriving at the Drevian capital of Iskorosten and asked for them to arrange a funeral feast where they could mourn over her husband’s death in that the very city.

Despite the not having heard from either of the missions they’d dispatched to Olga’s court, the Drevians set about preparing the feast and after drinking themselves insensible on mead, Olga’s soldiers put 5,000 of them to the sword.

Even this orgy of bloodletting wasn’t enough to satiate her need for vengeance and Olga gathered an army to wipe out her foes for good. The surviving Drevians begged for mercy and offered to pay in honey and furs to escape her anger.

She seemed to soften, although at this point you’d think they’d know better…

“Give me three pigeons,” she said, according to the Primary Chronicle, “and three sparrows from each house. I do not desire to impose a heavy tribute, like my husband, but I require only this small gift from you, for you are impoverished by the siege.”

The Chronicle records in great detail the feat of precision-guided pyromania that followed:

“Now Olga gave to each soldier in her army a pigeon or a sparrow, and ordered them to attach by thread to each pigeon and sparrow a piece of sulfur bound with small pieces of cloth. When night fell, Olga bade her soldiers release the pigeons and the sparrows. So the birds flew to their nests, the pigeons to the cotes, and the sparrows under the eaves. The dove-cotes, the coops, the porches, and the haymows were set on fire.

“There was not a house that was not consumed, and it was impossible to extinguish the flames, because all the houses caught on fire at once. The people fled from the city, and Olga ordered her soldiers to catch them. Thus she took the city and burned it, and captured the elders of the city. Some of the other captives she killed, while some she gave to others as slaves to her followers. The remnant she left to pay tribute.”

Olga burns the Drevian capital

The Drevians paid after all, in lives and homes, as well as in tribute to Keivan Rus’.

By why, despite this horrific carnage, is Olga of Kiev still venerated as a saint over a thousand years after her death (in 963 CE, in case you wondered)?

She was the first ruler of the Kievan Rus’ to adopt Christianity and Olga’s efforts to covert the rest of her people (although not her son, who remained a pagan) earned her the title Isapóstolos: “Equal to the Apostles.”

“She shone like the moon by night,” frothed the Primary Chronicle, “and she was radiant among the infidels like a pearl in the mire, since the people were soiled, and not yet purified of their sin by holy baptism.”

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7. He was tolerant of different religions.

Unlike many empire builders, Genghis Khan embraced the diversity of his newly conquered territories. He passed laws declaring religious freedom for all and even granted tax exemptions to places of worship. This tolerance had a political side—the Khan knew that happy subjects were less likely to rebel𠅋ut the Mongols also had an exceptionally liberal attitude towards religion. While Genghis and many others subscribed to a shamanistic belief system that revered the spirits of the sky, winds and mountains, the Steppe peoples were a diverse bunch that included Nestorian Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and other animistic traditions. The Great Khan also had a personal interest in spirituality. He was known to pray in his tent for multiple days before important campaigns, and he often met with different religious leaders to discuss the details of their faiths. In his old age, he even summoned the Taoist leader Qiu Chuji to his camp, and the pair supposedly had long conversations on immortality and philosophy.


Shakespeare’s Tragedies

In Shakespeare's tragedies, the main protagonist has a flaw that leads to his (and/or her) downfall. There are both internal and external struggles and often a bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure (and tension). Often there are passages or characters that have the job of lightening the mood (comic relief), but the overall tone of the piece is quite serious. The 10 Shakespeare plays generally classified as tragedy are as follows:

  1. Antony and Cleopatra
  2. Coriolanus
  3. Julius Caesar
  4. King Lear
  5. Othello
  6. Timon of Athens
  7. Titus Andronicus

History of Revenge V - History

The V3 was the natural development from the V1 and V2 weapons that had terrorised London in 1944 – a weapon for revenge (‘Vergeltungswaffen’). The V3 was never fired at London though it was used in a very minor way in the Battle of the Bulge.

On July 6th, 1944, nineteen RAF Lancaster bombers from 617 Squadron (the ‘Dambusters’ Squadron) carpet-bombed a hillside on the French northern coastline between Calais and Boulogne. To all intents their target appeared to be a railway tunnel. In fact, inside the hill itself was an emplacement that would have fired the V3 if the chance had been there for it to do so – part of the firing mechanism is in the photo above.#

However, the Lancasters attacked the hill with 35 tons of high explosive bombs. Their target were the concrete and steel-lined covers of the massive gun barrels that were meant to attack London with the intention of reducing the inner city to rubble. The V3 was not a rocket like to V2 nor a pilot-less plane like the V1. It was a dart-shaped shell nine feet long and the 416 feet gun barrels targeted by the Lancasters were, on paper, capable of firing 600 of these shells every hour. However, one of the ‘Tallboy’ bombs (12,000 lbs of explosives) developed by Dr Barnes Wallis penetrated one of the five gun barrel shafts and did so much damage to the ‘guts’ of the project that it was eventually abandoned.

The idea of a weapon that could destroy London was sold to Hitler by the firm Roechling – a leading German armaments and steel firm. Because it had the backing of Hitler, great sums of money and manpower was thrown into the project. Men such as Werner von Braun claimed that the money was better spent on upgrading Peenemunde but Hitler had got his mind set on the destruction of London – something the Luftwaffe had failed to do during the Blitz.

Project ‘High Pressure Pump’ was started in August 1942. The man at the head of the project was August Coenders, a machine gun engineer. He had studied captured French documents from 1918 for a multi-stage long barreled gun that was meant to be the French answer the the Germans ‘Big Bertha’ long range gun that had fired 320 eight-inch shells into Paris from the distance of 78 miles. Coenders boss, Hermann Roechling, was a personel friend of Hitler and he saw this as a chance to greatly elevate himself in the eyes of the Führer. By 1943, Albert Speer was also willing to add his name to the project.

Speer’s plan was to build 50 of these huge guns set in giant underground emplacements near the hamlet of Mimoyecques in the Pays de Calais. The guns were designed to fire one round from each barrel every five minutes which, Speer hoped, would produce a “saturation coverage” of London with a maximum of 600 shells hitting London every hour.

Ballistic experts in Nazi Germany doubted whether the plan had any reality. Lieutenant-General Erich Schneider believed in the development of the V1 and V2 but he always believed that the V3 was in the realms of fantasy. In this he was probably correct. The initial tests on the shells showed that when they were fired they had a tendency to flip over in flight as they lack stability. Therefore, from the earliest tests, London appeared to be safe. However, this did not stop Speer pushing for Hitler to continue his support the project.

The huge emplacement was built at Mimoyecques using slave labourers, POW’s and German workers. Such activity obviously attracted the attention of the French Resistance who fed intelligence back to London. 1000 artillery troops were quartered underground the complex had its own power station that powered an air conditioning unit. Speer got it into his head that the V3 was to be the weapon that would bring Britain to its knees and vast sums of money was thrown at the project, so much so that it is said that the campaign in Russia was affected by this. It became the weapon that had overriding priority within Germany.

RAF photo reconnaissance planes also spotted a tell-tale sign – haystacks out in the autumn when all others had been brought in within the region of the Pay de Calais. These haystacks disguised the gun barrel covers of the V3 project. In November 1943, the RAF made its first attack on the complex but it made little impact.

In January 1944, the guns that were to be used on the V3 project were fired for the first time in Germany at a test range. The velocity of firing was only 1000 metres a second – 50% too weak for a shell to hit London from Mimoyecques. As important, the shells that were fired were well below the size expected for an all-out attack on London:

“The explosive charge they could carry was so small that they were quite useless against a huge target like London what we needed was an atom warhead but Hitler would not see that.”Lieutenant-General Erich Schneider

However, the expert opinions of the likes of Schneider were ignored and he had to tread carefully in an era when “defeatism” was punishable by a term in a concentration camp and possible death.

Those who were concerned that the V3 was absorbing far too much money, time and manpower. They called in Professor Werner Osenberg, head of the German Wartime Scientific Research Council. He quickly realised the the ‘High Pressure Pump’ project was fraught with scientific problems that probably could not be solved. Osenberg complained that the V3 project was not based on any form of scientific thinking and he referred to it as “messing about”. Roechling complained to Hitler about such comments but this became irrelevant when in June 1944, the Allies landed in Normandy. Movement up the coast to the Pays de Calais would not take long and the project was doomed to failure.

Perhaps the most pertinent comment about the whole project came from an engineer who worked on ‘High Pressure Pump’, Anton Huber:

“The actual project itself seems not to be scientifically perfect, and its development has not been sufficiently long. The workers are wasting a lot of time on the site because there are not enough trained concrete makers.”

On July 4th 1944, Huber wrote to Osenberg that the complex had been without electricity for seven days and that nothing had been achieved. On July 8th, Huber wrote that the project had effectively been wiped out as a result of the Lancaster bombers raid. However, Hitler, still convinced that the V3 would win the war for him, ordered that the project should be moved to Germany itself and placed under the control of the SS. Hitler saw it as the secret weapon that would push back the Allies as they tried to advance to Germany.

One barrel was used with just 44 rounds in the Battle of the Bulge. The very last V3 shells fell on Luxemburg. After this, the barrel was destroyed. The final order to end the V3 project came in February 1945.


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