Archive for June, 2014

Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand

June 30, 2014 with No Comments and Posted in World War I by

The Archduke entering his car on the day of the assasination

100 years ago, on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, setting of the “July Crisis” which in turn led to the beginning of World War I. A group of discontent Serbs planned to kill the Archduke because they wanted the southern provinces of Austria to break off into an independent nation. At 10:10 am one of the conspirators tried to throw a bomb at the archduke’s car. However, the bomb exploded to late, missing the archduke and destroying the next car and wounding 15-20 people. The would-be assassin tried, and failed, to commit suicide, and was captured by the police. The rest of the conspirators took up a new position and waited.

Drawing of the shooting

Soon enough the archduke’s car returned, mistakenly following the same route on the return journey. Gavrilo Princip stepped up and fired twice, killing the Archduke and his wife.  Princip and the rest of the assassins, and those who assisted them were soon caught. Four were executed and thirteen more received prison sentences. But by that time the spark of the assassination had already exploded into the Great War.

Princip’s Arrest

The State of Christianity in 1736

June 28, 2014 with No Comments and Posted in European Other by

It is come … to be taken for granted, by many persons, that Christianity is not so much as a subject of inquiry; but that it is now, at length, discovered to be fictitious. And, accordingly, they treat it as if, in the present age, this were an agreed point among all people of discernment; and nothing remained, but to set it up as a principal subject of mirth and ridicule, as it were by way of reprisals, for its having so long interrupted the pleasures of the world.

Bishop Joseph Butler, 1736, Analogy of Religion.

Telegraphing Nevada’s Constitution

June 24, 2014 with No Comments and Posted in American Other by

Governor Nye of Nevada

In 1864, while the Civil War was in progress, efforts were made to bring the state of Nevada into the Union. In July a convention wrote a Constitution, which the people approved in September. Before the statehood became official, the U.S. Congress had to approve it. At that time a contest a presidential election was in progress. Abraham Lincoln was running for reelection against General George B. McClellan, the Democrat candidate. The Republicans in Congress wanted to expedite Nevada’s entrance into the Union so that they could vote for Lincoln in the November election.

First Page of the Telegraphed Constitution

The Congress needed to have Nevada’s Constitution before they would vote for the state to be admitted. Paper copies were sent by train, but as October came to a close they still had not arrived in Washington. Unsure they would arrive in time, the territorial governor decided to send the Constitution by telegraph. It took two days, October 26-27, to send the 16,543 word document. This was the longest telegraph ever sent up to that time, and after paying by the word the total came to $4,303.27. This would equal more than $63,000 today. Nevada’s Constitution was received on time and the state was admitted to the Union just one week to the election. They cast their electoral votes for Lincoln, and helped him win in a landslide.

Only Existing Revolutionary War Mine Tunnel Opened

June 24, 2014 with No Comments and Posted in War for Independence by

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/30159

A WW2 Beachmaster

June 19, 2014 with No Comments and Posted in Weekly Video, World War II by

Gustavus Adolphus – Battle of Lützen

June 9, 2014 with No Comments and Posted in Reformation by

Two months after the siege of Nuremberg, the armies met again around Lützen, on a plain intersected by ditches and canals. Wallenstein had not expected the Swedes to attack that late in the season. He deployed his men and sent a message to Pappenheim to bring up more Imperial troops. Gustavus had about 12,800 infantry, 6,200 cavalry and 60 cannon. Wallenstein had 10,000 infantry, 7,000 cavalry and 24 guns, Pappenheim 3,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry.

Charge of the Swedes

The Swedes were awake two hours before dawn on November 16, the day of battle. Prayers were read and hymns were sung. The king appeared, mounted on his white charger and, as usual, without armor. Riding before his lines, with his sword drawn, he said to the men,

There you have the enemy in front of you. He is not on a mountain or behind entrenchments this time, but on the open plain. You know well how eagerly he has sought to avoid fighting, and that he is only fighting now because he cannot escape us. Fight them, my dear countrymen and friends, for God, your country, and your King. I will reward you all, and bravely: but if you flinch from the fight, you know well that not a man of you will ever see Sweden again. Forward in God’s name; Jesu! Jesu! Jesu! help us to strive today to the honour of thy Holy Name.

 

When the morning mist had lifted, the Swedish army advanced. After an hour long artillery barrage, they charged. The fighting was desperate and the lines were often disorganized by the ditches in the field. At length the Protestant right, commanded by Gustavus himself, was able to outflank Wallenstein’s left and drive it into retreat. The success spread to the center, where the Swedes captured the enemy’s battery.

Gustavus Prays before the Army

Gustavus Prays before the Army

But at this critical moment Pappenheim arrived, leading his cavalry, and charged into the fray. He stayed the Swedish advance, but was himself wounded by a cannonball. He died while being carried from the field. Seeing the battle begin to turn, Gustavus Adolphus found a regiment of cavalry and led them forward. As they galloped across the field, the king pulled ahead of his men. Riding through the smoke field, he suddenly encountered a group of Imperial cavalry. They unleashed a volley from their pistols, striking the king in the army. Duke Francis Albert rode up, and Gustavus said to him, “Cousin, help me out of the battle, for I am sore hurt.” As his attendants tried to remove him, he was hit by several more bullets. German horsemen soon discovered the wounded king and page, and they stabbed him many times with their swords.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Battle_of_Lutzen.jpg

The death of Gustavus

Rumors of their commander’s death soon spread along the lines, and some men saw his bloodstained horse galloping back and forth in a frenzy. The subordinate Protestant commanders did not falter at this reverse. “Retreat!” cried Duke Bernard, “the time for that is past. It is vengeance now!” They made a desperate charge, but it was driven back by the Catholics, who made a heavy counter attack. The Swedish line began to retreat, but some regiments stood firm at a terrible cost. Two of the best Swedish regiments, the Blue and Yellow, were nearly wiped out. Nonetheless, the line held. Hard and bloody fighting continued throughout the day. When the sun set, the Protestants held the Imperial battery, and the Catholics retreated. Pappenheim’s infantry then arrived on the field, but Wallenstein would not allow them to attack. He fell back, acknowledging his defeat.

The Swedes had won the battle, but it had come at a heavy cost. Both sides lost around 6,000 men. The most important of these by far was King Gustavus Adolphus. The Protestants had lost their greatest commander, and the firm hand that was needed to keep some unity among the German princes. The war continued for many years, at heavy cost to Germany.

Battle of Lützen

Thus died Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, leading a charge as he had done so often. He was mourned all over Europe as the great hero of the Protestants. Although much is recorded about him, many questions remain unanswered.

We do not know much about Gustavus personal life. He had an illegitimate son in 1616, but we know little about the king’s character or its development. His innermost motives are nearly impossible to discern, but he did write, “God grant me so to live, that I may ever live with Christ, and on earth may never blush for my own deeds.”

It is also difficult to reach a conclusion about what his aim was in the invasion of Europe. Was it to save Protestantism, as the pamphlets of the day said? Was it to protect Sweden? Was it to establish a Scandinavian empire? Was it to gain power for himself? Doubtless some combination of the above.

Gustav Adolf

Regardless, we can say with certainty that he was a brilliant tactician, a great general, and a hero who did much for the cause of Protestantism. We will close with a letter from Gustavus Adolphus to his friend and minister Axel Oxenstiern which serves as a good summary of his life:

The issue of battle is doubtful by reason of our sins, doubtful too is human life’s span. I beg you, therefore, if it go hard with us, not to loose heart, but to look to my memory and the welfare of those dear to me. Deal with me and mine as I would with you and yours. I have reigned for twenty years with grievous toil, but, God be praised, with honour too. I have honoured my Father-land, and made light of life, riches, and good days for its sake. I have had no other end in life but to do my duty in my station. But, if I fall, my dear ones will be in a pitiable state; they are women, – the mother none too wise, the daughter a tiny maiden; too weak if they receive advice. It is στοργη naturalis [natural love] that drives me to write thus to you, and it is a relief to write. Yet them, and my body, and my soul, and all God hath given me, I do commend to His Holy Keeping.

The king’s body being carried to Sweden

Sources
The Thirty Years War by C. V. Wedgwood
Gustavus Adolphus and the Struggle of Protestantism for Existence by C. R. L. Fletcher

Gustavus Adolphus – Lech River and Nuremberg

June 2, 2014 with No Comments and Posted in Reformation by

Although Gustavus Adolphus won a great victory at Breitenfeld, the war was far from over. The Swedish king continued to attack his enemy’s lands. He restored the Protestants to power, making no difference between the Calvinists and Lutherans as others did. Gustavus did not allow his troops to plunder anyone but the Jesuits, but he did require contributions be given to pay his troops. He would not allow rulers to declare themselves neutral in the war. As he said:

Up for the Gospel those of you who believe in it, or it will be the worse for you! I shall treat neutrality as equivalent to a declaration of war against me.

The victory at Breitenfeld brought more Allies to Sweden, but Gustavus wanted an even stronger alliance. In his diplomacy with the other Protestant rulers he worked to convince them to form another coalition in Germany with Sweden at the head. The German princes were not sure that they wanted this. They did not want to exchange a German emperor for a Swedish one.

Gustavus gives thanks for the victory at Breitenfeld

At this time both sides also wished for peace and some negotiations proceeded. The terms Gustavus demanded in January, 1632 were that the Edict of Restitution be repealed and the land taken restored, all Protestants be given toleration, and the Jesuits be excluded from the empire, in addition to many territorial matters. Although the emperor may have been amenable to reasonable terms, he did not consider these to be reasonable, so the war continued.

Through the first months of 1632 the maneuvering continued. Adolphus had around 100,000 men, but they were in eight different armies and he had to deal with threats from various angles. Finally 40,000 Swedes began moving into the lands of the Catholic Maximilian of Bavaria. The Catholics had two armies, one under Tilly and the other under Wallenstein. Gustavus determined to strike before these armies could unite. Tilly had 25,000 men positioned along the Lech River. Gustavus began crossing on the morning of April 15. He had developed a plan to crush the Imperial forces by focusing their attacks on a position held by the Swedish infantry, and then hitting them in the rear with the cavalry. This plan never went into effect, for before the cavalry charged, Tilly was badly wounded and Maximilian, who was not a general, ordered the leaderless army to retreat and saved them from complete destruction. The Swedes lost 2,000, the Bavarians 3,000. Gustavus sent his doctor to see Tilly on his request, but his efforts were useless. The famous general died of his wounds 14 days later.

Gustavus at Breitenfeld

After this new victory the Swedes furthered their advance, and captured Munich. But then they received bad news from the north – that John William of Saxony was negotiating with Wallenstein, who was attacking him. If he switched to the side of the emperor, Gustavus’ retreat would be cut off.

The situation worsened as Gustavus moved north. His allies were faltering. Imperial troops were recapturing the lands the Protestants had won. The king called for reinforcements from across Europe, and began fortifying the city of Nuremberg, one of his allies. Wallenstein arrived with a larger army, and laid siege to the town. For weeks the armies faced each other over the works. The country around was soon stripped of food, and hunger and disease increased in both camps. Gustavus did his best to keep his army from plundering. “My son,” he told one soldier brought before him for stealing a cow, “it is better that I should now punish thee, than that the wrath of God for thy misdeeds and his Judgment should fall on me and thee and all of us here present.” He said in one famous speech to the army:

It is rumoured that the Swedes are as bad as the Imperialists, but I know better. There are no Swedes that commit these crimes but you Germans yourselves. Had I known that you had been a people so wanting in natural affection for your own country, I would never have saddled a horse for your sakes, much less imperiled my life and my crown and my brave Swedes and Finns. I came but to restore every man to his own, but this most accursed and devilish robbing of yours doth much abate my purpose. I have not enriched myself so much as by one pair of boots, since my coming to Germany, though I have had forty tons of gold passing through my hands. By such means as you are now employing, victory will ever be won.

Siege of Nuremberg

At length Gustavus’ army was reinforced, but this only made the problem of food even worse. Finally the king decided to attack the besiegers’ works. The Battle of Alte Veste raged for hours, but the Protestants were unable to win the strong works. With no further recourse, Gustavus abandoned the town on September 8, unhindered by the Catholics.

Sources
The Thirty Years War by C. V. Wedgwood
Gustavus Adolphus and the Struggle of Protestantism for Existence by C. R. L. Fletcher