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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The 10 Greatest and Least remembered Battles in History



 We've had many history articles on our blog, The story of The Battle Of Lepanto being our best one, we've had many requests for more history related articles. So, we're presenting a new blog, EVENTS IN HUMAN HISTORY by our very own Kyle Weissman. 

Kyle Weissman is one of our original founders of the New England Alliance For Liberty and Free Markets, He has been very very active in the free state movement in New Hampshire and the Tea Party movement in California and Nebraska. He is a civilian veteran having served in Homeland Security and holds an honorary history PHD from The University of Oporto in Portugal.

Kyle Weissman's interests include military history and medieval history. His interests include World War 2, the Napoleonic wars and the middle ages as well as English Imperial history between 1700-1945. Kyle wrote our Lepanto Article and several of our other historical articles. He has also been instrumental in helping out in the research for writing our articles on the failure of liberalism in America and throughout history. He travels frequently and resides in Southern california in the LA area.

 The first article we present from Kyle Weissman's blog on Mainestategop are about 10 great battles in history that hardly anybody knows about. These are battles that were won using tactical genius against all odds and that are not known in history. Here now is Kyle Weissman

Its always a pleasure to work with my good friend Brian Ball. I wanted to get the ball rolling on my new blog that I have written with 10 great battles in history we've forgotten about. These battles had a significant course in shaping human history and were won against all odds. Many of the battles you'll read about seem almost miraculous. These particular battles are not well known by most audiences especially western audiences. So, you wont be reading about the 300 Spartans or the Battle of Pharsalus and Caesar, nor will you read of Waterloo and Napoleon.

These are battles that few remember or have heard of in different parts of time and parts of the world but they are spectacular battles and important battles nonetheless.

10. The Battle of Lepanto
OCTOBER 7th 1571

No intention to bring up my first history article that I wrote for mainestategop but it needs to be remembered and is being remembered as a significant victory by Christianity over the forces of Islam and the Ottoman Empire. Only Austria, Malta and the conquest of Poland would come close to rivaling this important victory that prevented the invasion of Italy and possibly the conversion of all Europe to Islam. 

The battle was fought on odds in favor of the Turkish fleet. The only thing the Christians had were new innovations in the form of newly built and christened Galleases with new and revolutionary armaments such as swivel cannons. That, and strong determination.

What is also significant of Lepanto is its religious traits. Saint Pope Pius V dedicated The Holy fleet and the cause to the Virgin Mary and the holy Rosary. Sailors and soldiers were chosen to serve not based on merit but their moral and spiritual fiber. They were also expected to conduct themselves as good Christians throughout the voyage

As the fleet departed for its inevitable confrontation with destiny, Christians all over Europe were admonished by Holy Father in Rome to pray the Rosary. In cities all over Europe, the Rosary was prayed in parades and processions in the streets and cathedrals. On the ships in the fleet the Rosary was also prayed.

October 7th 1571, the two fleets engaged in Lepanto on the Corinth Gulf. Don Juan sailed his Gallease at full speed towards the heart of the Ottoman armada into Ali Pasha's flagship! He was taken by surprised and the fleet was broken in two. Meanwhile, other galleases were placed in the front and used to attack any other enemy ships. 

The Ottomans were surprised and shocked by Don Juan's maneuvers. Next, many of the ships engaged in boarding actions against each other. The majority of the fighting in Lepanto was done this way. The Christians were ferocious and devastated the enemy. If this were not enough, Christian slaves in the Ottoman galley's who had been forced to row for the enemy for many years rose up against their masters and rebelled. They used their chains and shackles to destroy the enemy.

The Christian of the Holy League fleet went from having the odds against them to gaining the upper hand. The Ottomans despite being promised paradise for fighting fled in panic many abandoning their ships on the Greek shore.

The Turkish fleet suffered the loss of about 210 ships of which 117 galleys, 10 galleons and three fustas were captured and in good enough condition for the Christians to keep. On the Christian side 20 galleys were destroyed and 30 had to be scuttled.  The Holy League had suffered around 7,500 soldiers, sailors and rowers dead, but freed about as many Christian prisoners. Turkish casualties were around 25,000, and at least 3,500 were captured.

The defeat was devastating to the Ottoman empire. They had lost much of their veteran military force and had suffered Their first naval defeat in over a century. There would be many others on land and sea to follow and it would lead to the decay and collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the decline of Islam until the 20th century with the advant of religious tolerance and understanding and immigration. That tolerance and understanding is now on the wane...

It is said that on that fateful day in the Vatican, Pope Pius the V and several high ranking clergy were gathered in a bible study and prayer. It was there that Pope Pius raised his head, walked to the window, looked out and proclaimed, "Let us give our lady thanks for the victory she has given us over the Ottomans in Lepanto."

How could he have known?! There was no media or telecommunication at the time and it would take 2 weeks before news of the battle reached them? It did and was met with jubilation and thanksgiving. 

The Catholic church has made October 7th a holiday, the feast of Our lady of the Rosary. Pope Pius V was made  a saint in 1712.


We've all heard the story of Braveheart William Wallace, but were only familiar with the way Hollywood tells it through Mel Gibsons gory film. This battle which took place in the year 1297 between English forces under the Earl of warenne against William Wallace and Andrew Murray. This battle is considered the comedy of English battles, it involved strategic blunder by the English and clever tactics and deception by the Scots.

The battle of Sterling Bridge is considered by many historians to be a comedic defeat for the British. It was one of England's most humiliating tactical defeats, only to followed up by the siege of Orleans, Islandwana, The surrender of Khartoum by Lord Gordon which resulted in his execution by Mahdi forces and the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese, considered the most humiliating of them all.

The battle and what actually happened there sadly has been maligned by Hollywood and Mel Gibson. The actual battle was far more dramatic as well as more comedic than Mel Gibson could've dreamed of. The defection of the Irish during Falkirk for instance never happened. They fought Wallace as human shields and were slaughtered. Gibson added this to the script in the last minute because soldiers of the Republic of Ireland army were staged as the Irish and refused to perform due to the humiliating they suffered under English rule.

Sterling bridge in real life unlike the movie took place well... on a bridge in Sterling. The small bridge was very small and only broad enough to allow two horsemen to cross abreast, but offered the safest river crossing as the area was surrounded by marshland and the Scots waited as the English knights and infantry made their slow progress across the bridge on the morning of 11 September. It would have taken several hours for the entire English army to cross

Wallace and Murray waited until as many had come across as they felt could be overcome in battle. When a substantial number of the troops had crossed (believed to possibly be about 2,000) The two ordered the attack to commence! Scottish Infantry were backed by strong spearmen who successfully counter-attacked an English cavalry charge.

Wallace and Murray seized the eastern half of the bridge and the panicked and packed English tried in vain to run across. This also prevented reinforcements from arriving to help them. Most were killed, others fell into the river and drowned. The ones that survived wore light gear and leather armor and were able to swim across to safety.

Earl Surrey who commanded the archers and a small contingent of men at arms could have held off the Scots and cut them off from marching on southern England but the slaughter caused him and the rest of the army to panic. Surrey and the other nobles then does the unthinkable, they destroy Sterling bridge. While this only delays Wallace and Murray from attacking South, the action cuts off the remaining army, the supply wagons and secedes the Lowlands of Yorkshire to the rebels.

The battle concluded that day with over six-thousand English killed and an undetermined number of Scots dead and wounded among them Andrew Murray who dies from mortal wounds during the battle at the bridge. Hugh De Cressingham, one of the English nobles and a cruel tyrant who persecuted Scottish peasants and tortured Scottish rebels was said to be flayed alive in the same manner.

It should be noted that the story of Sterling Bridge has not only been maligned by Hollywood but by minstrels and bards who gave fictional accounts of Sterling that exaggerate the death toll upon the English and the actions of William Wallace. Bards like Blind Harry tell of Wallace sabotaging the bridge as the English try to cross and of Wallace killing one of the leaders with a large spear. Others portray the English as numerically superior though cowardly and demoralized, running from the English during the attack.

The battle stopped Wallace from advancing further on England but condemned Yorkshire and for that matter most of Northumbria to vicious raids by Wallace who became Guardian of Scotland. Wallace was unable to attack deep into Yorkshire and sack the city as portrayed in the movie but he did kill a great number of magistrates and nobleman.

One year later upon hearing of the defeat of the English, King Edward the Longshanks arrived in England from war in Flanders in France and defeated Wallace in the battle of Falkirk.

8 The Battle of Hansan-do JULY 8 1592

The Battle of Hansan-do is perhaps the first time in history that armored iron clad ships with cannon were used. It was a revolution and at the same time, devastating. Japan near end of its civil war began yearning for imperial conquest over China and the Korean peninsula.

Hansan-do is considered the Asian Lepanto. The Korean navy was all the stood in the way of the Japanese conquest of Asia. The Asian continent, weakened through internal strife and Mongolian raids stood little chance against the battle hardened samurai.

It is not known for certain the outcome had the invasion succeeded but it would've possible lead to Japan's assertion as a mighty super power possibly one that would dominate Asia perhaps even threatening the Muslim world and maybe even Christian Europe just as Timurlane and Genghis Khan did over a century before.

The attack began with a sighting of the Japanese fleet off Gyeonnaeryang Strait. Admiral Yi Sun Shin planned a trap for the numerically superior Japanese by luring them out of the straight with six battleships. Previously, the Koreans had either met the Japanese ships in a straight battle line or, if space was limited, with a circular or rolling method of attack, where their ships attacked in relays to sustain a continuous bombardment. Although these tactics were effective, it would do no good with numerically superior Japanese. Furthermore, Yi did not want any of them to escape.

In a tactic very similar to Hannibal's Cannae maneuver, Yi lured the Japanese fleet into the wide open sea and engaged them using a Crane Formation, a U shaped formation that surrounded the Japanese and inflicted heavy damage. The purpose was not just to defeat the Japanese, but to annihilate them. The Japanese were surrounded, crowded, unable to flee and barely fight back despite their numbers.

Admiral Wakizaka not only followed the six decoy Korean ships through the Kyonnaeryang Strait with his entire fleet of 73 ships into the ambush, but pressed as quickly as possible into the center of the crane wing formation, oblivious to the fact that he was exposing his ships and his flanks to the Korean fleet's concentrated and longer-range firepower. The results were devastating

Not only did they face the might of Korean ships with Iron hulls, they were surrounded and almost annihilated. Admiral Wakizaka was killed when his ship was boarded, other commanders committed suicide by Seppuku.

The defeat was a set back in the Japanese ambition to invade and conquer Asia. Other skirmishes followed but by this time, Korea and the Chinese empire was ready for them. Japan's conquest of Asia would have to wait many years. They had to wait till the 19th and 20th century when Japan with its more modern navy defeated China in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894, bringing Korea into its sphere of influence and seizing Chinese territory.

Japan would again would triumph over Asia during World war 2 seizing Manchuria as well as Pacific possessions of America, Netherlands and Britain. The American and British forces would be all that stood between them. The allied victory put an end to Japan's thirst for conquest but China and Japan are both at odds.

The Japanese learned much from the defeat. They adopted the crane tactic as their own and later with the onset of modern battleships perfected it with the maneuver of crossing the T. The tactic was devastating to the Russians in the 1905 Russo-Japanese war during the battle of Tsushima strait and to the Americans in Guadalcanal and the Solomon isles.

7. The Battle of Kohima April-June of 1944 GREAT BRITAIN VS JAPAN

The Battle of Kohima is another forgotten battle. Surprising since Kohima is considered the Stalingrad of the east. Kohima is also a strange battle. It is known as the battle of the Tennis court and the battle of the Commissioners bungalow. The National Army Museum of Britain voted to name Kohima Britain's greatest battle beating Naseby, Rorke's drift, the Somme and even Blenheim! Yet it is widely forgotten and almost unknown outside the UK.

The battle was fought from 4 April to 22 June 1944 around the town of Kohima in Northeast India. It was part of a larger operation called U-go, a last ditch push by the waning armies of Japan, now reeling from economic and military decline from defeat after defeat by the Americans. In desperation Japan wanted to push into India and foment a rebellion against British rule in order to take Britain out of the Pacific war.

Japan's army strategy was always that of aggression and offense even at the sacrifice of defense. It was a tactic that made great short term gain but on the other hand bled its army of recruits and resources giving China and England the chance to fight back and push off the enemy invaders.

Many of Japan's younger officers who had risen through the ranks mainly due to attrition of manpower questioned this but traditional officers in the imperial staff and Prime Minister Tojo, dogmatically stuck to the old ways.

One of the these men was commander of the 31st division Kotoku Sato, destined to lead the attack. General Sato objected to the attack and the traditional methods of the imperial staff. Sato warned that the army was tired, demoralized and that logistics would not allow for proper resupply and their current supplies were low. He warned that the army would probably starve to death before reaching its objectives. Nonetheless the plan to invade was approved by the general staff. The Japanese army would have to march with or without supplies and a supply route.

The key to seizing India was through an uprising by the Indian National Army which had been in rebellion against the British followed by the destruction of the British army in Impal. It would be a message to the world that the English were powerless and that Japan was still strong despite recent defeats by the Americans in the Pacific.

The Japanese high command counted on two things, that the Indian people who had suffered terrible under British Colonial rule would over throw their masters, that the British would surrender as it did in Singapore and that it would mean that Britain would exit the Pacific Theater.

Operation U-go was a last ditch effort by Japan to stave off inevitable defeat. It would be the last Japanese offensive of the war, the last and final gasp of the imperial war machine. It would be perhaps its greatest blunder and greatest defeat.

The Indian people who the Japanese believe would be swayed to their side were wary of English dominance but were keenly aware of the brutality of conquering Japanese on the civilian populace in China, particularly Manchuria and In Burma.

The British Army were  also aware of the cruelity the Japanese army inflicted on surrendering soldiers such as those in Singapore, many of whom were forced into slavery in building the imperial railway through Burma. Surrender was never considered, never an option. The British army under the command of General William Slim would hold its ground against the Japanese army.

The British were out numbered 4 to one. The Japanese surrounded the hills of Kohima and laid siege to the outnumbered force of British.

The Japanese army bombarded the hills of Kohima with artillery shells day and night as well as subjugating the garrison to the horrors of Suicidal Banzai charges. Through it all the British held on to the hill through incredible acts of bravery including one instant where an English Corporal single handed took a trench occupied by the Japanese.

Other times there was great despair. Water was short on all sides and an English air cargo relief had accidentally dropped needed supplies on the Japanese positions. The sight of their own water tanks parachuting into Japanese positions prompted the belegured and thirsty British to launch daring counter attack raids to get the water back.

In the end the garrison was saved by reinforcements including native Indian soldiers who came to lift the siege after 2 months of enduring endless attack, thirst, attrition and assaults from the Japanese. The sight of the Indian levy was enough to destroy Japanese morale for they had pinned their hopes on India rebelling against British rule. The Japanese were forced to pull back. It was the last Japanese offensive in the war.

Kotoku Sato, the commander of the 31st division survived the war and avoided prosecution in the war crimes trials that followed. He had known all along that U-go was destined to fail. Japan had worn itself down from years of fighting and aggression and with supplies cut off from the sea by the American navy and with army supplies spread thin, Japan was doomed to lose. He spent the remainder of his life helping Japanese veterans of the war. he died in 1959.

6. The Battle of Yang Ping 3rd century The Three Kingdoms war General Cao Cao of the Eastern Han Vs Zhao Yun of Wu

The Battle of Yangping is famous for being the earliest known reference to a notorious Chinese siege strategy known as the Empty fort Strategy. Legend has it that Cao Cao himself perfected it. Although some say that Sun Tzu perfected it others say that Liu Biu the first Han Emperor first practiced it.

The Strategy as practiced in the battle of Yang Ping sometime in the early 3rd century AD involves luring an enemy opponent of superior strength into capturing a fort that is either empty or otherwise occupied by a weakened garrison. The purpose, ambush.

The trap is sprung as the enemy enters the fort thinking they have achieved victory only to find that an army awaits outside the fort concealed either behind a hill or forest. Add to this, the fort contains a strong enemy force that surprises the enemy from the other side. The result, the enemy is caught in a pincer movement within the gate and the army left psychologically traumatized and unprepared with there combat efficiency reduced.

So it was when Emperor Cao Cao of Eastern Han lured the enemy general Zhao Yan to slaughter. Zhao Yan, his armies tired and hungry saw an open fortress abandoned by the enemy, full of supplies, rice, and wine as well as a new fortified position to attack the Han army.

What he didn't know was that Cao Cao's army had not abandoned the fort and lay and waited in ambush behind a nearby copse. There are two different versions of this story, one, Zhao Yan marched his army into the fort and was caught between the forts soldiers and Cao Cao's army, the other, Zhao Yan feared a trap and in retreating on accident walked into the ambush.

Either way the empty fort strategy is Asia's most famous and yet least known strategy. The tactic saw itself used in many a famous battle in Medieval China as well as world war 2.

5. Battle of Sekigahara October 21st 1600 Tokugawa VS Hideyori

For over 150 years, the Islands of Japan had been divided between warring factions and clans. The period was known as Sengoku, the Age of the Country at war. The emperor and the Shogunate could not restrain or control the ambitions of the mighty feudal warlords or Daimyos as they were known. Japan became a country of savagery, danger and death.

Those lords and clans who could not adapt either pledged their loyalty to stronger lords and served them as tenants on their own clan lands or were killed in combat. Many in the most violent and bloody ways imaginable. Even the stronger warlords such as Nobunaga Oda and those who served him suffered not only defeat but captivity, torture and painful death. Most commit suicide.

 Then there were those who spent their whole lives fighting to become overlord of Japan. Uesugi Kenshin was brave, noble and strong Daimyo from the northwestern prefects. He spent his life fighting many death-defying battles only to die of cancer at the age of 48. His Final words summed up the life of a warlord in those dreadful times

Even a life-long prosperity is but one cup of sake; A life of forty-nine years is passed in a dream; I know not what life is, nor death. Year in year out-all but a dream. Both Heaven and Hell are left behind; I stand in the moonlit dawn, Free from clouds of attachment.

Another warlord who was Uesugi's arch nemesis was Shingen Takeda. He too fought his whole life dying at the age of 51 from Pneumonia. Others died through assassination by poison, bullets or arrows.

In the end there were two warlords who commanded the might of the Japanese Samurai, the warrior class of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyori of the Oda clan who ruled the western portion of Japan, and his rival Tokugawa Ieyasu who ruled to the east was descended from the Mikawa Matsudaira clan and the Imagawa clan.

Both families, had a fierce rivalry. Ieyasu's Grandfather had been assassinated by a retainer of Nobunaga Oda when his father was 10 years old. When he was 4, he had been taken hostage and would not be returned unless his father cancelled his alliance with the Imagawa clan. He refused arguing that the seriousness of his alliance would be proven by sacrificing his son. In the end it was decided to spare Ieyasu's life. He was held for 3 years in a temple in Nagoya.

Then his father had been murdered by his own retainers who had been bribed by the Oda Nobuhide. But he died shortly afterwards. The Imagawa clan saved Tokugawa from destruction when they intervened shortly afterwards and in the process laid siege to Oda castle in exchange for Ieyasu's life. Ieyasu was spared and spent his childhood years under the Imagawa clan.

When he came of age, Ieyasu began to take up the mantle of his father and the blood feud between his family and his family's rivals. Tokugawa Ieyasu was unrivaled in terms of seniority, rank, reputation and overall influence within the Regency of the Toyotomi clan. Rumors started to spread stating that Ieyasu, would take over Hideyoshi's legacy just as Nobunaga's was taken.

There were rumors of conspiracies in Imperial court of attempts to assassinate Ieyasu, as well as rivalry against the Uesugi clan. Ishida Misunari, a powerful warlord in the Toyotomi clan and Hideyoshi's servant used this opportunity to forge an alliance to challenge the authority Tokugawa. Ieyasu also began to form alliances promising land, wealth and honors. The final battle that would unite and decide the future of Japan was about to begin...

Initially, Ieyasu's army had 75,000 men, while Ishida's army numbered 120,000. Tokugawa had also sneaked in a supply of Arquebuses, which were early 16th century muskets imported form the Portugeuse. Knowing that Ieyasu was heading toward Osaka, Mitsunari abandon his positions near Edo and marched to Sekigahara in Gifu Prefect. Even though the Western forces had tremendous tactical advantages, Ieyasu had already been in contact with many daimyo in the Western Army for months, promising them land and leniency after the battle should they switch sides.

Such treachery and betrayal was not uncommon in Asian battles especially when one's lord was weak and without honor. It was a hallmark trait in many of the battles in Asia. To westerners, such betrayals are viewed as dishonest, dishonorable even sinful and were even rare in Medieval Europe and the Rennaisance.

But to the warlords and warriors of Asia, honor was everything. The codes of honor and the ways of Bushido dictated that a lord or leader who was weak, who could not be trusted who was defeated in all battles was not to be obliged with promises or guarantee. A man who has no honor, must lose his head. Others however were more swayed with wealth and land than honor. Whatever the case, history and the course of events would be written by the victors.

Though outnumbered, Ieyasu had bribed many of Ishida's commanders and retainers to disobey orders and to defect. Ieyasu would also rely on tactical strategy against the enemy. It was these two that would decide the battles outcome. If Ieyasu could not persuade them to side with him, he may lose the battle. But Ishida was not as respected as Tokugawa and not as honorable.
The battle began on October 21st 1600, on the 15th day of the 9th month of 5 Keicho in the Japanese Calender when Tokugawa’s forces under Fukushima Masanori, the leader of the advanced guard, charged north from Tokugawa’s left flank against the Western Army’s right center along the Fuji River. The ground was still muddy from the previous day's rain, the charge was not as effective and the conflict there devolved into a bloody melee. Tokugawa then ordered attacks from his right and his center against the Western Army’s left in order to support Fukushima’s attack.

Ishida ordered units of the right flank which had not been attacked to reinforce his left flank under the command of Shimazu Yoshihiro. Shimazu refused... Fukushima’s attack was slowly gaining ground, but this came at the cost of exposing their flanks to an attack which was made by Otani Yoshitsugu who seized the opportunity. But just past Otani’s forces were those of Kobayakawa Hideaki on Mount Matsuo.

Kobayakawa was one of the daimyos loyal to Ishida and Toyotomi that Tokugawa courted for an alliance. He had agreed to defect to Ieyasu's side, yet in the actual battle he was hesitant and neutral. He was no longer sure of what side to join. Such are the hardships of a neutral warlord, for the side he chooses could mean a victory for that side yet if he lost he would pay dearly. He knew that his decision would have a grave outcome on the history of the empire.

As the battle grew more intense, Ieyasu ordered the arquebuses to fire at Kobayakawa's position on Mount Matsuo in order to force Kobayakawa to make his choice. Kobayakawa made his choice, he joined the battle as a member of the Eastern Army, chargin on Otani's position, which did not end well because when Tokugawa opened fire, the army panicked making the charge ineffective. He was caught in a pincer and outnumbered.

But when Western Army generals Wakisaka Yasuharu, Ogawa Suketada, Akaza Naoyasu, and Kutsuki Mototsuna witnessed the heroic charge, it prompted them to switched sides, thus turning the tide of battle.

The now outnumbered army's of the west retreated, prompting Tokugawa forces to roll up on them. The right flank was destroyed and the center pusshed back. Ishida fled to mount nagnu where forces of the Mori clan waited. Ishida hoped to rally and regroup for another battle but Mori Hidemoto refused to meet with him stating he was busy eating. In truth they had abandoned Ishida who was then captured.

What is interesting to note is that both sides had late arrivals. Many of Ishida's most loyal troops could've arrived and perhaps changed the course of the battle but they were late due to slow pace and other minor battles that had occured.

Ishida and his loyal supporters were executed, before he died, he was paraded throughout the country in stocks. Next to him was a bamboo saw which onlookers could use to saw his head. It was however a formality. The clans that were loyal to Toyotomi were either annihilated or had their land seized from them, to be given to those who defected to the side of Tokugawa. Those who supported him were granted much wealth and land.

Those who remained neutral or fought against Tokugawa suffered. Mori, which had changed late in the conflict was spared but had its fiefdom of Aki relocated to the domain of Choshu. The Shimazu clan was granted leniency since their kingdom, located on mountainous terrain in the south west was impregnable. But The clans of Toyotomi and Chosokabe were dissolved, stripped of titles and lands. The survivors fled into exile to become Ronins, samurais with no lord or master many living as mercenaries and/or bandits

In 1603, Emperor Go-Yozei declared Ieyasu Tokugawa, Shogunate of all Japan. Samurai and Daimyo from all over the empire were required to visit Edo to pay homage to the Shogun. It was the beginning of a new era in Japan known as the Edo Period or Bakumatsu. It was a rigid, tyrannical and tranquil period. For some, a new and great age while for others a time of darkness.

The New Tokugawa shogonate encouraged its now idle samurai to engage in arts and literature while passing harsh edicts that established a rigid society of hierarchy and oppression. Many were unhappy but they were wise to keep their discontent to themselves. The worst aspects fell upon the Christian missionaries and their converts. Tens of thousands of Christians were tortured and killed.

The new Shogunate also became isolationist and banned foreign with all other nations except for the Dutch who had their trading privileges limited. It became a crime punishable by death to be shipwrecked on the isles of Japan. For the next two centuries, Japan was stuck in a time warp, cut off from new ideas and new technology that had developed outside its borders.

It was not until Commodore Perry of the United States navy would force the empire to open its doors to trade and commerce that Japan would reopen itself to the world. The rise of the emperor Meiji and his support for change and openess also changed the outlook of Japan. But the greatest change came with the downfall of the oppresive Shogunate of Tokugawa by discontent and the reemergence of the fallen clans that had suffered at the defeat.

In 1868, these forces with help from the European super powers rose combated the traditional samurai and isolationists culminating in the war of the Year of the Dragon leading to the restoration of Imperial court power and the dissolution of the Shogunate. It would lead to the end of isolation and the modernization of Japan and the acceptance of classical liberalism, yet Bushido and the warrior spirit remained indued within the hearts of the samurai.

This, and events in the 20th century such as the Russo-Japanese war, the 1914 famine, the influenza epidemic, the earthquake of 1923, the stock market crash of 29 and the takeover of the military and far right under Tojo lead to the entry of Japan on the Axis side in World war 2.


The biblical account of the Prophet Gideon against the invading and occupying Midianite army is vaguely remembered  in our time. Think of Gideon, we think mainly of the term Gideon army and the Gideon bibles we find in motel rooms when we travel. The bible's history especially in the jewish old testament is forgotten by many Americans as the nation grows more secular. Stories like Noah and the deluge and David and Goliath along with Ruth and the battle of Jericho are all that we tend to remember.

The account of Gideon and the battle he fought in Jezreel valley is often times a forgotten battle. The Valley of Jezreel, located in lower Galilee near the Israeli towns of Afula bears little resemblance to what it was in Gideon's day. It is now an agricultural plot where fields of corn, chickpeas sunflowers, cotton and other crops grow.

In the days of Gideon, the valley of Jezreel was an open well... a hot grass valley. It bore much resemblance to the prairies of the American mid-west and South west. It was here that one of the most pivotal and succesful military battles in Israel's ancient history was fought and won by a sheep herder and 300 brave men.

The account of the battle and what lead to it is found in the Holy Bible in the Jewish Old Testament in the book of Judges. It reads that Israel did evil in God's eyes and so he delievered the country into the captivity of the Midianites. The Midianites were distantly related to the Hebrew people through Abraham's nephew Midian. But they were a heathen people who lured the Israelites away from the worship of their God to the worship of the many pagan deities of the land such as Baal.

God rose up Gideon and commanded him to wage war on the Midian occupation. This he started by destroying the altar of Baal on his family's land and leading a bandit army to harass Midian. This soon culminated into a full scale rebellion against the occupation.

The book of Judges chapter 7 describes what happened next... Over 32,000 Israelite warriors came to fight along Gideon against Midian but then a funny thing happened, Gideon chose to send nearly all of them away. Here is what Judges says:

The Lord said to Gideon, “I want to hand Midian over to you. But you have too many men for me to do that. Then Israel might brag, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ So here is what I want you to announce to the army. Tell them, ‘Those who tremble with fear can turn back. They can leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So 22,000 men left. But 10,000 remained.
The Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. So take them down to the water. There I will reduce the number of them for you. If I say, ‘This one will go with you,’ he will go. But if I say, ‘That one will not go with you,’ he will not go.”
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord said to him, “Some men will drink the way dogs do. They will lap up the water with their tongues. Separate them from those who get down on their knees to drink.” Three hundred men brought up the water to their mouths with their hands. And they lapped it up the way dogs do. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
The Lord spoke to Gideon. He said, “With the help of the 300 men who lapped up the water I will save you. I will hand the Midianites over to you. Let all the other men go home.” So Gideon sent those Israelites home. But he kept the 300 men. They took over the supplies and trumpets the others had left.

There was more... It was not so much that their own power would not save them but in as much as that only 300 could perform the tasks that Gideon had set forth. First off, having men with doubts and fear is not healthy to any army regardless of how powerful they are.

Fear is toxic to any army. Yes, everyone is scared but it must be mastered and it can contanimate and demoralize an entire army even the most elite. In World War one in the Battle of Verdun for instance, fear of being killed or being hurt was commonly expressed by the French soldiers who fought suicidal obsolete forms of assault against an army equipped with modern weaponry. 

In addition, the sight of retreating panicking soldiers  encouraged other soldiers to retreat and panick fearing that something had gone wrong and others not panicked were made to believe a retreat had been ordered when in truth that had not been the case. Marshall Petain rectified the situation by puttin an end to reckless and suicidal assaults and by moving inexperienced less courageous troops away from the more dangerous areas while executing deserters. 

The Red Army faced a similar difficulty early in World War 2. The red army was a wreck from the purge of senior experienced commanders and its replacement of inexperienced and less brave commanders. Add to this, supply shortage and obsolete weaponry against a techologically advanced and elite German army. 

It prompted Joseph Stalin to issue the controversial decree Order number 227, not one step back. Any soldier who retreated without permission from a corps level faced execution. Backing squads were placed behind demoralized divisions to force them forward. At the same time, Georgy Zhukov and Constantine Rokosovsky made important tactical reforms to the army in order to better help the red army fight the Germans.

A scared army letting its fear get the best of it is no army at all. Numbers mean nothing. Gideon was now left with 10,000 to fight the remaining armies of Midian. And he wasn't done yet... Something was still wrong.

Gideon ordered the men to take a drink of water from the river. Most got down on their knees and lapped it like a dog. Others, only 300 cupped their hands and brought it to their mouths. Those that did stayed with the army. But why?

In order to drink it the way the majority had done, they would have to remove their armor and shield in order to get down and drink it up, lapping it from the source the way a dog does. This would make them vulnerable to attacks from behind... From their own side!

See, the hebrews have always been a rebellious and  stubborn people. It was the reason why God chose them in the first place, what better way to showcase his law and his greatness to the rest of the world then to take a tribe of rebellious and stubborn sheep herders and transform them into a superpower!

Throughout the Bible, Israel rebelled against God's authority and those who he delegated authority to such as Moses and his elders. The Israelites also made peace with and committed idolatry with the very people they were supposed to fight with.

Even in modern history we see this treachery  and self hatred. Emil Maurice, a founding member of the SS which committed unspeakable atrocities in the holocaust and murdered scores of millions was a Jew who was made an honorary Aryan by Adolf Hitler. Dan Burros was a Jewish American born in Queens New York and went on to become a founding member of the American National Socialist party with George Lincoln Rockwell. Rockwell praised Burros for his dedication. His life became the inspiration for the controversial Henry Bean Movie The Believer. 

In Ancient Israel Gideon faced a similar problem, many of the Israelites who came may actually be more loyal to Midian culture and idolatry than God... That meant that the enemy could in fact be inside the camp! There was only one way to prevent slaughter, test the recruits to see if they were vulnerable to betrayal and assassination. Only the 300 who cupped their hands and brought the water to their mouths, keeping their armor own and relying on peripheral vision stayed.

And so Gideon was left to fight over 100,000 Midianite soldiers camped in the Valley of Jezreel with only 300 elite soldiers, a commando force. How could he do it? How would God deliever them into their hands with a commando force of just 300? It is something taken straight out of the pages of Sun Tzu and his Art of war.

Sun-Tzu says, for instance that numbers count for nothing and places an emphasis on espionage and deception. In fact Sun Tzu says that all war is deception. Nothing else. The only other tactics and traits are that of gathering information and sabotage and psychological warfare. These were the things Gideon planned to employ.

That night, Gideon and his servant infiltrated the camp of Midian to discover what the mood of the enemy army was. They found an army that was frightened and demoralized. These men, many who were no doubt conscripted and taken out of their homes and occupations were in a foreign land, slept worried and afraid. One expresses a dream, a vision of disaster. They do not know how many Israelites are out there, where they are, how many there are. It is a golden opportunity for Gideon to strike.

Returning to the Israelite camp nearby, Gideon set into motion a cunning plan of deception and psychological warfare that would decimate the army of Midian. The 300 commando elite, snuck into the camps edge with clay pots with a torch in them and with Ram's horn trumpets or Shofars. 

At the camps edge throwing down their potted torches on the dry grass beneath them igniting a fire. They blow their trumpets and give there war cry, "For the Lord and for Gideon!"The sound of shattering pots and loud trumpets plus the sight of burning spreading fires gave the appearance to the sleepy, grogy, frightened midianites that a horde of hundreds and thousands had descended upon them!

So confused were the Midianites that as they fled they slaughtered each other! The scattered survivors were intercepted by the Israelite armies of Naphtali Asher and Manasseh. Generals Oreb and Zeeb were captured and executed, their heads mounted on the borders of the Jordan River. 

Thereafter the rule of Midian eventually came to an end. Gideon's sons would lead Israel until once more  they were free and once more they rebelled against God and were again put into bondage under the Ammonites and the Philistines. It would be up to Jepthah and Sampson to free there people and Israel for over a century would be in war but that is for another time

3. Battle of Gaixia 202 BC
LIU BANG AND HAN VS Xiang Yu and Western Chu 

The battle of Gaixia in Ancient China was the battle that lead to the rise of the Han Dynasty which would rule for nearly 400 years. The story of Its first emperor Liu Bang Emperor Gaozu as he would be known and of the intense rivalry between him and violent and brash Xiang Yu is as intense and as epic. Its a story of Wisdom and meekness conquering power and unyielding aggression, of David and Goliath and of the founding of a great empire. I shall tell but a brief foray to better understand the situation.

Xiang Yu was the son of Noble Mandarin educated in the arts of war. He was strong, powerful and over six feet tall able to lift objects of massive weight that no one else could. He also was said to have double pupils in one eye. He was however arrogant and haughty. Raised by his uncle, he eschewed education and wisdom believing that one only needed to be taught basic essentials.

When it came to learning the arts of war and strategem, Xiang Yu too ignored these prefering to rely on strength and numbers. His uncle was frustrated and ashamed of his nephews arrogance and of his aggresive and at times rebellious behavior.

Liu Bang on the other hand was but of humble origins. He was a civil servant, a soldier, a policeman and one who enjoyed learning and was a devout follower of the philosophy of Confucius. Legend also had it that he was a distant relative to the imperial royal family and that he could make a claim to the throne. But this is not known for certain.

One day as the Qin Emperor was parading through a local village, Xiang Yu and Liu Bang came to watch the procession. What happened next sums up the two men. Xiang Yu with his uncle said as the emperor rode past, "I will replace him." His uncle feared that he would be heard and urged his nephew to be silent. When the Emperor rode past Liu Bang he said, "I wish to become like him."  

The Qin Emperor's popularity was on the wane. Many Chinese nobels and warriors rebelled and Xiang Yu and Liu Bang were caught up. Both men came out well most of all Xiang Yu. Liu Bang became the king of the Han in the poor western region of China known as the Bashu region near present day Sichuan. 

Xiang Yu became overlord of Western Chu, granting favors and armies to his friends. To pay for his massive favors and armies Xiang Yu taxed the people heavily and forced many men to join his massive armies. Despite living a life of luxury and disgusting decadence he wanted more. He desired the imperial throne. In 208 BC, he killed the righteous emperor and declared himself emperor of all China. Xiang Yu however alienated many of the nobles who rebelled against his authority.

Distraught over the death of the last Qin emperor, Liu Bang vowed revenge. With help from two wise strategist and advisor named Han Xin and Zhang Liang, Liu Bang expanded his small kingdom and broke his army out from the southern regions to challenge Xiang Yu. The nobles and warlords of China rallied to his side and a civil war ensued.

It was a war of deception and broken promises. Time again Liu Bang overcame Xiang Yu who offered treaties he never followed, promises never kept. Liu Bang outfoxed him time and time again and Xiang Yu alienated his followers who went to the side of Liu Bang. Xiang Yu's arrogance and foolishness also came back to haunt him...

Xiang Yu failed to plan supply logistics and failed also to use proper strategy. Xiang Yu's forces blundered into battle relying on strength and numbers while Liu Bang used deception and strategy. Xiang Yu survived only by his own massive strength.

In desperation, Xiang Yu kidnapped Liu Bang's father and wife and threatened to cook them over a slow fire if he did not surrender. Liu Bang reminded Xiang Yu that they were considered brothers in the days when they fought side by side in rebellion against the former Qin emperor and stated that he was essentially roasting his own family. Liu Bang could not surrender no matter what for if he did they would be killed anyway.

But fortune turned in Liu Bangs favor... Xiang Yu's wife Miaoyi was captured by Han forces. It was the perfect bait to lure the arrogant and foolish Xiang Yu into a Gaixia.

The Chu army exausted, underfed and under supplied as well as harried by Han forces blundered into ambush after ambush as an angry and desperate Xiang Yu fought to rescue his wife and defeat Liu Bang once and for all. Under Han Xin, Consort Yu was moved to a deep canyon. It was a risky move, there was no where to run to. He and his forces were trapped and would have nowhere to escape.

But Sun Tzu in his art of war writes, that on deadly ground like the deep canyon, the men would not be afraid and would fight to the death. In similar situations as these like Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasions in World War 2, the battle of Saratoga in the American Revolution, soldiers will fight to the death and more ferociously.

As Xiang Yu's forces entered the canyon to destroy what is thought to be a vulnerable easy prey, Han Xin springs the trap known as the Ten Ambushes or Ambush from ten sides. Han Xin first fought Xiang Yu face to face, retreated Xiang Yu gave chase and found himself trapped among the numerous Han army@ Everywhere Xiang Yu led his forces, ambushes and traps awaited them.

This not only caused heavy casualties for Chu, but also crushed the Chu army's morale, since escaping alive seemed impossible. The troops were now the ones trapped and without supply in the canyon. To further break the Chu army's spirit, Han Xin employed the "Chu Song from Four Sides" tactic. The Han army and the captured Chu then sang folk songs from Chu causing the soldiers to remember their families back at home. Finally to top it off a  fake message was delievered to Xiang Yu claiming that Chu had been conquered.

The Chu army began to melt away as many of Xiang Yu's loyal followers deserted and were permitted by Liu Bang to drop their weapons and leave for home. Only 800 loyal soldiers left behind and stayed with Xiang Yu, swearing to fight for him until the very end. Han Xin's tactic worked but now with his army small enough he could maneuver easily out of the canyon and escape.

Upon discovering this, Liu Bang ordered 5,000 elite cavalry to chase down Xiang Yu. Liu Bang ordered the cavalry to not kill Xiang Yu, but to capture him. Unfortunately for Xiang Yu, after he left the canyon, he soon got lost. He tried to ask local people for directions back to Chu, but they pointed him in the wrong direction, with this being possibly intentional given their loyalty towards Han.

Xiang Yu was trapped in a swamp and surrounded by Han forces. What happened is contested but many agree, Xiang Yu commited suicide most say through a suicidal assault on Han forces. Xiang Yu was so ferocious and so strong that it was impossible to defeat him. Over and over again he was overwhelmed only to kill all the soldiers who tried to kill him. It took many tries to finally bring him down. Others say that he got tired and after being seriously wounded, Xiang Yu slit his own throat.

Upon hearing of her husband's death Yu Miaoyi commited suicide with her husband's sword.

As a result, Liu Bang rose up to become the first Han emperor and one of China's greatest rulers.Learning the mistakes of past emperors and those of Xiang Yu that caused instability in the empire and the Chu kingdom, he greatly reduced taxation and the dependency on conscripted labor. He also is famous for promoting Confucianism in China. He reigned for seven years until his death in 195 BC

2. The Six Day War 1967 Israel General Moshe Doyan and Levi Eshkol VS The Arab Coalition

The six-day war has been forgotten by many. The war is further overshadowed by the bloody intifada in Israel as well as the conflicts brewing in the land between Jew and Arab to this day.

The Six Day War not necessarily a single battle in of itself deserves mention not only because its prominence has become forgotten by younger generations but because the brilliance of its execution. Many call the Six-day war an act of genius on the part of the Israeli commanders Moshe Dayan and Levi Eshkol. Other's call it a miracle...

The war started due to Arab resentment against the young Jewish state of Israel, border disputes with Syria and Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Soviet deception and manipulation including false allegations made by the KGB that Israeli troops amassed on Syria's border, Guerilla activity by the PLO among the many reasons that the Six-day war was triggered.

It was Israel that was first to pull the trigger to protect itself. Critics called the pre-emptive strike a war crime, heinous, the world censured Israel and condemned it for attacking without a declaration of war despite Arab troop build-ups and anti-Israel propaganda calling for the destruction of Israel shortly before the war along with provocation by the USSR. Others say the attack was justified for Israel to defend herself from Arab and Soviet aggression.

Israel's elite espionage organization the Mossad had discovered that the Arab coalition had planned to attack Israel on the day they launched their pre-emptive strike. All the warning signs pointed to an imminent attack by the Arab states with Soviet backing. The Pre-emptive attack knocked out the Egyptian and Syrian air-force and slowed the Arab advance but it was not enough...

The Arab armies rolled up on Israel with the fiercest fighting taking place in the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and the Gaza strip. The Israeli army engaged the Arabs in overwhelming odds in favor of the Arabs. Israeli defeat was seen as a forgone conclusion yet Israel pulled a miracle...

In the Sinai peninsula for instance, Arab commanders became lost and ended up blundering into Israeli forces. Despite outnumbering them they panicked and fled! The Egyptian officers stationed at the radar stations picked up the scrambling Israeli aircraft, and sent a red alert message to Cairo. The sergeant in the decoding room of the supreme command tried to decipher the message using the previous day's code. By the time they realized their mistake the attack was over.

Also, The night before, president Naser and most of his top officers attended a party at an air force base . Early the next morning, he took off for the Sinai, where he had ordered all his top commanders to assemble in order to meet an Iraqi delegation. When the Israeli strike happened, not one senior officer was at his post. The success of the maneuver is generally attributed to the Israeli planes flying below the tracking altitude of Egyptian radar. Many other factors, however, contributed to the success of the air strike and the subsequent battles.

There were also stories from Israel's army of facing overwhelming odds and yet the arabs fled in fear. Others tell of Israel seizing fortified Arab positions that had been mysteriously abandoned for no reason whatsoever! For example, the Golan heights, once thought impossible to take fell easily in their hands! Commander Musa Klein and his platoon of 25 men took Tel Fakhr, one of the most fortified enemy positions in the area with no casualites!

Then there is the story of how an single Israeli scout seized a trench near Jerusalem. Arab witnesses and survivors of the conflict claim that they had mistakenly overestimated the Israeli forces or had miscalculated their positions.

The Last battle and the number one great battle is one that is forgotten yet one that is so great that its effects are now beginning to become apparent in our time. This is the battle that gave Islam its first great victory over Christendom and sent the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern empire of Rome on its downhill slope to destruction that would be complete 800 years later.

The Battle of Yarmouk lead to the assertion of Islam over the Eastern Middle east including Syria, Jordon, the holy land and the Levant. Areas that were once majority Christian once strongholds of Christianity fell to the sword of Islam. A Century later, the conquering Islamic Caliphate spread further, to North Africa, Eastern Byzantine, the Mediteranian including Southern Italy and Sicily and eventually reach Iberia and Southern France.

The conflict was part of a greater conflict between the Christian empire of Byzantium and Islamic Arabs that went back to before the death of Islam's founder the prophet Mohamed. No one can be certain what triggered the conflict.

According to Islamic sources, the Caesar of Byzantium Heraclius had captured and tortured Muslim missionaries because of Christian intolerance that existed in the early church. Western sources argue that Islam's militantism and expansionism started the conflict.

Neutral sources however point out that conflict between the Middle eastern Kingdoms and Byzantium were commonplace long before the ministry and even the birth of Mohamed. All historians agree however that the eastern most territories of Byzantium were reluctant to accept Byzantine rule and were in rebellion because of over taxation and oppresion by their foreign lords.

According to the 9th Century Persian historian Al-Baladhuri, the arrival of Islam was welcomed by the majority of inhabitants including the area's Jewish population which had suffered exploitation under unfair laws imposed by the empire He describes as follows...

The people of Homs[Western Syria] replied, "We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny in which we were. The army of Heraclius we shall indeed, with your armies help, repulse from the city." The Jews rose and said, "We swear by the Torah, no governor of Heraclius shall enter the city of Homs unless we are first vanquished and exhausted!" The inhabitants of the other cities—Christian and Jews—that had capitulated to the Muslims, did the same When by Allah's help the "unbelievers" were defeated and the Muslims won, they opened the gates of their cities, went out with the singers and music players who began to play, and paid the kharaj

HISTORIC FOOTNOTE: The Islamic tax imposed on agricultural produce on both Muslim and Non-muslim land owners as hold overs for the building of Armies in Syria to fight Byzantium. Not to be confused with Jizrah, the head tax imposed on Non-Muslim infidels or Dhimmi.]

 But according to the words of Caliph Abu Bakr, it was not always peaceful. Despite the heavy burden of the Imperial authorities, it was not always peaceful...

And when you have won a victory over your enemies, don't kill women or children or the aged and do not slaughter beasts except for eating. And break not the pacts which you make. You will come upon a people who live like hermits in monasteries, believing that they have given up all for God. Let them be and destroy not their monasteries. And you will meet other people who are partisans of Satan and worshippers of the Cross, who shave the centre of their heads so that you can see the scalp. Assail them with your swords until they submit to Islam or pay the Jizya. I entrust you to the care of Allah.

The Sassinid Persian empire which also held claim to the region and the Byzantines had worn themselves out with the fighting that took place. Islam however injected the much needed vigor and energy needed for the Arabs to rise up and throw off the rule of their Byzantine lords.

The result of this was the beginning of what would be a long drawn one-thousand four-hundred year long conflict that lasts unto this day between Christendom and Islam, between the crescent and the crucifix, between Mohamed, Fatima and Al-Qudus and Jesus Mary and Joseph. Between Al-quran, Mecca and Adab-Qitāl, the Trinity, the Rosary and the magisterium. It has shaped our world and our history in good ways and bad ways. Mainly bad.

The battle for the possesion of the Levant started in Yarmouk in 636 between Khalid Ibn Al-Walid and the commander of Byzantine forces emperor Heraclius, his general Vahan and General Theodore Trithyrius. The Byzantines outnumbered the Muslims by over 2 to 1. Their greatest advantage over the Muslims besides numerical superiority is their cavalry which was mostly armored Cataphractoi, heavy roman cavalry that was devastating against lighter cavalry and Infantry.

Khalid starts the battle by dividing his army into four independent units abreast with each flank of the army backed by a cavalry unit. The unit's commanders are mostly on their own and have full control. He keeps one cavalry unit in reserve and has another in the center. Heraclius deploys his army similarly except that his units are larger and has more cavalry backing him with many in reserve.

The first day of the battle involves duels between each sides Champions and officers. The Islamics dominate the battle. General Vahan stops the duels and the death of his officers which hurts his forces morale and orders a frontal attack by his forward troops. the purpose, to probe the Islamic army for weakness. Vahan and Heraclius know that they must rely on weight and numbers to defeat the army.

Khalid is also aware and must exaust his opponents forces before he can launch an attack. The second day of the attack, the Byzantines launch a resolute and bold assault on the Muslims. The attack is on the center which is pinned then the attack is made on the flanks. Cavalry is committed but these too are pinned down. Much of the army is forced to retreat back to camp under preassure.

Both flanks of the Islamic army are weakened by this attack. The retreating army returns to camp only to be shamed by their wives and children who throw rocks at them demanding that they return to fight the enemy. The retreating army returns in time to save the flanks from destruction.

The next day, Heraclium and Vahan make a similar attack but instead of a center attack focuses on the right flank. This leaves his left flank opposed. Khalid had planned to attack first by attacking the left flank of the Byzantine army. This preemptive attack gave Khalid the opportunity utterly decimate the Byzantine ranks. The army is saved only because General Vahan and Trithyrius came in with the cavalry reserves. Even with their reserves commited, the Muslims are still able to inflict painful casualties on the Byzantines. The battle ends only with the arrival of evening.

On the Fourth Day, The Byzantine commanders decide on a two pronged attack. One to shatter Khalid's army and allow the Byzantines to bleed through, the other to attack once Khalid's reserves are called in. The tactic works well with the center left army pushing back Khalids right. Khalid contains this with cavalry reserves but anticipates the disaster unfolding!

Khalid orders a full attack on the right wing armies to throw them off balance. It is a dangerous situation for Khalid since his army is smaller despite inflicting painful casualties on the enemy. The women in the Muslim camp witnessing the disaster unfold as well run to the assistance of the men and join in a surprise attack on the Byzantines! The result is both armies making a short retreat. Khalid is successful in restoring his front lines. The Byzantines respond by deploying archers.

The arrows save the Byzantine army from disaster but they also prevent further attacks. Khalid in turn commits his own archers to attack. the day is known as the day of lost eyes. Over 700 of Khalid's best soldiers lose one eye as a result of the arrow attack. The day ends in a sort of stalemate except that the Byzantine's have again taken heavy losses.

The next day the fifth day, One of Khalid's scouts report that behind the Byzantine army is a river with a single bridge for the Byzantine army to escape. Could they force the Byzantine army to retreat and block them at the bridge, creating a chokhold and throwing the Byzantines into a panic stricken disorder at the river's edge?

Scouts also note that Byzantine ranks have been worn thin since the previous engagement and many of its best officers have been killed. The chain of command in the Byzantine army is uncertain and the army is deteriorating and on the verge of collapse of morale. Only one thing threatens his plans, Heraclius and Vahan still have fresh cavalry reserves they have yet to commit.

Khalid has his best men on his right wing move under cover of darkness and guard the bridge to stop a retreat by the Byzantines. He then launches one final desperate attack. First, Khalid pins down the front Byzantine infantry while his cavalry quickly swings arouund to launch a fierce attack on the Byzantine's left center shattering the army. Vahan orders cavalry to attack but they are too late to stop the carnage.

The reason for this is that Byzantine cavalry were not as mobile as the Muslim cavalry being weighed by heavy armor whilst Kahlid's cavalry, though lightly armored with mostly Leather and perhaps link mail armor were faster and more mobile. The Damage is already done and the Byzantine army panicks into a retreat!

This retreat is made all the more worse when they discover that their only escape route, the narrow bridge at the river is blocked by Khalid's best men. Attempts to break through are in vain as Byzantine cavalry and infantry are cut down at the choke point. The Byzantines are then forced into a confined space where they are violently hacked to pieces.

Emperor Heraclius General Vahan and Theore Trythius flee over the river. Other solidiers follow, discarding their shields and armor and swimming across to safety. Some do not make it and others drown in the panic, many weighed down by their armor and equipment they are reluctant to discard.

The battle ended with Islam's greatest victory! Khalid's small army despite being outnumbered courageously and ferociously fought on in the midst of the chaos losing only 20% of its original force. The Byzantine are believed to have lost at least half of their soldiers in the battle, most during the failed attacks on Khalid's flanks.

After the battle, Khalid and the armies of Abu Bakr pursued the retreating army, confronting them in Damascus where Vahan was killed. Emperor Heraclius returned to Antioch. He blamed himself for the disaster believing that it was God's judgement for his sins among them, his incestuous marriage to his niece Martina. He is said to have composed the following poem on his voyage:

Farewell, a long farewell to Syria, my fair province. Thou art an infidel's (enemy's) now. Peace be with you, O Syria – what a beautiful land you will be for the enemy.

There was no more resources left to hold the Levant. Heraclius took to sea on a ship back to Constantinople abandoning the Levant and its cathedrals and relics. Among the relics left behind, part of the true cross on which Christ was Crucified. The following years, the Byzantine empire tried to protect its remaining asstes, North Africa, Anatolia and Armenia which too were lost shortly afterwards to the rising tide of Islam.

The Battle Of Yarmouk was the battle that gave way to the age of Islamic conquest. Armenia, Anatolia, North Africa, Spain and Southern France fell to the conquering Arab armies only to be stopped thee hundred years later by Charles Martel at Poitiers and later to be driven out of Spain by El-cid then Fedinand and Isabella.

Byzantium unfortunately would also be lost under the rising tides of Islam. The last of the Roman empire vanished in the fifteenth century when Constantinople was conquered by the Turks and the tide would not stop until it reached the gates of Vienna in 1689.

What if Byzantium had won? What then? The armies of Mohamed perhaps would still make for Christian Europe or it would focus its eyes on China and the orient then in turmoil from internal strife or perhaps into the Northern Caucuses into Russia first.

Yarmouk is an important battle especially in these times where the conflict between Islam and the west is once again in sight and yet it is a forgotten battle.


Anonymous said...

I would nominate the Battle of Cowpens, during the American Revolution, as another brilliant but mostly forgotten battle.

Anonymous said...

Not bad for a soft opening however I don't know why Lepanto is up there at number 10 when it should be at 5 or 4. I mean what's with these Chinese battles? They weren't really that great except maybe the one with Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. And why is the Six Day war up there as well? That's not a battle that's a war! Also Sterling Bridge is very well known even in the United States! Braveheart and Mel Gibson may have revised it in people's minds but we know about it and remember it. Also Yang Ping, what effect does the empty fort strategy do that have on world events?

I mean its okay for a soft opening and everything but Most of these battles aren't that much forgotten and they really have no significant bearing on world history in particular Western Civilization.

I mean I'm not that interested in some battle between Asian warlords that happened thousands of years ago or some conflict between a couple of Kings that really had no bearing on current events.

Anonymous said...

You should only focus on battles that effect western civ and America. I for one don't care about Chinese or far east battles. These countries, these cultures got a free ride off our backs! Also a lot of these ancient battles have no bearing on modern times.

Focus instead on battles shaping American history and culture.

Also, loved you're article on Lepanto.

Could you do some articles about saints?