Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Actium (Wars of the second Triumvirate), 31 B.C

Cleopatra: A LifeMark Antony's commitment of Roman resources to Egypt and Cleoparta VII ensured a showdown with his rival triumvir Octavian. While Antony's fortunes in Rome were in decline, the 32-year old Octavian had been steadily winning popular favor by substituting moderation and mercy for earlier cruelties. In May 32 B.C. Antony formally divorced Octavian sister Octavia. Octavian then publicized Antony's will, which deed various woman possessions to the children of his affair with Cleopatra. Roman sentiment became so outraged that Octavian was directed to make war on Egypt.
Early in 31 B.C. Octavian landed an army of 40,000 men in Epirus, on the west coast of Greece. Just to the south, in the Ambracian Gulf, stood Antony's Roman-Egyptian fleet. On the promontory of Actium, on the south side of the Gulf, stood Antony's army, numberin also about 40,000 men. For months the two antagonist eyed each other without giving battle. During this time however, Octavian's ship cut Antony's supply line from the Pelopennesus back to Egypt. Finally, at dawn on September 2, 31 B.C. Antony risked everything on a naval battle. With superiority in numbers (480 against slightly more than 400) and in the size of its warshisp, the Roman-Egyptian navy sailed into the Ionean sea, seeking an early advantage over the lighter Liburnian (two banks of oars) vessels of Octavian. Octavian himself commanded the right squadron, Marcus Octavius the center, C. Sosius the left. Cleopatra's squadron stood in the rear, to the right of center. Opposing this formation were the three enemy squadrons commanded by, from left to right, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Arruntius, Octavian.
Each side tried to turn the opponents's northern flank. In the afternoon Antony's center and left began giving away. Cleopatra then sailed her 60 Egyptian ships between the two struggling armadas and left the scene of battle. Antony transferred to a quinquerreme (five banks of oars) and followed, boarding the Egyptian flagship Antonia farther out in the Ionian sea. The leaderless Antonian navy was now hopelesssly beaten. Octavian's swifter Liburnians, dodging the rams and missiles of the heavier vessels, methodically set fire to the opposing warships. At the end of ten hours of fighting the survivors of Antony's burning fleet surrendered. Five thousand of his men were dead.
On the land the flight of Antony caused equal consternation among the troops. They became even more frustrated when their leader, P. Crassus Canidius, fled to Egypt also. Octavian refused to attack them. Each day desertions increased. By September 9 the entire army melted away.
In Rome popular clamor force Octavian to launch an invasion of Egypt the following year. He arrived at Alexandria on August 1, 30 B.C.  The still powerfull army (11 legions) Antony had stationed to defend Egypt promptly deserted to the enemy. Antony and then Cleopatra committed suicide. Octavian looted the Ptolemaic treasures, exacted tribute, and returned to Rome as sole master of western world. Three years later the senate conferred upon him the title "agustus" (exalted).  As such he became the first ruler of the Roman Empire that was to endure for the next 500 years. The battle of Actium had determined that europe's cultural axis would not be turned toward the east.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Acroinum (Moslem-Byzantine Wars), 739

Twenty years after they had been driven away from Constantinople, the Arabs surged back into Asia Minor. The Byzantine emperor Leo III, the Isaurian, met the new invasion at Acroinum (Akroinon), in ancient Phrygia, in 739. In a great battle the Moslems of the Hisham caliphate were defeated and turned back toward Damascus. This check in Asia Minor followed the blunting of the moslem thrusts on the two extremes of their empire - France and China- and the was aggression of the Ommiad Dynasty. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Acre IV (Egyptian Revolt against Turkey), 1840

A History of Egypt: From Earliest Times to the PresentThe growing power of Mehemet (Mohamed) Ali of Egypt in the near east alarmed the major nation of europe. In the summer 1839 Egyptian forces had destroyed a strong Turkish Army at Nizib and and captured the sultan's fleet at Alexandria. Mahmud II had die and had been succeeded by his 16-year-old son, Abdul Majed I, who was powerless to oust the Egyptians from Syria. Great Britain, Austria, Prusia, and Russia (with France opposing) then intervened. The English admiral Robert Stopford took an allied fleet into the eastearn Mediteranian. On November 3, Stopford's ship bombarded Acre, in modern Israel, reduced the defense and stormed the town. The Egyptian forces of Gen. Ibrahim Pasha, son of Mehemet Ali, evacuated Acre and soon all of Syria. The following year, Mehemet Ali agreed to return the Turkish fleet and abandon claims to Syria, in exchange for the hereditary rule of Egypt.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Acre III (Wars of French Revolution), 1799

The Rise Of Napoleon BonaparteDuring the summer 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte had conquered Egypt only to be cut off from Europe by the defeat of his fleet at the Nile by British Navy. He the turned eastward, on February 6, 1799, to carry war against Turkey into Syria. With 13,000 men with 52 cannon Napoleon brushed past weak Turkish resistance to reach Jaffa on March 7. Here more than 1,000 Turkish soldiers who had broken parole to defend the city were recaptured and shot. On March 18, French arrived at Acre, which was defended by Turkish force under Ahmed Pasha, called Djezzar (the butcher). Aiding Turkish resistance was a British task force of two vessels under Sidney Smith, which protected all the city except the landward side from attack. Napoleon settled down to besiege Acre.
A month later a Turksih column approach the city from southeast. Napoleon detached Gen. Jean Kleber's division to hold off this advance. On April 16 Kleber, with the aid of second France force, routed the Turks at Mount Tabor. Acre, however, continue to hold out against all French efforts to break into the city. Finally, when plague struck Napoleon's troops, he raised the siege on the night of May 20 and withdrew toward Egypt. In all, he had lost 2,200 dead, including 1,000 from disease.

Acre (Crusade-Turkish War), 1291

CrusadeBy 1290 the Christian Kingdom of Jerussalem has been reduced to a few fortresses on the coast, ruled by the absent King Henry II (III of Cyprus). That year street rioting between Christian and Moslems in Acre, the strongest of the remaining Frankish forts, prompted the Egyptian Sultan Al-Ashraf to organize an offensive against Acre. On April 6, 1291, the Mamelukes, with 60,000 horsemen and 100,000 foot soldiers, laid siege to the city. Amalric, brother of King Henry, commanded the Christian garrison, which consisted 1,000 mounted men and 15,000 infantry.
Despite heavy bombardment from Egyptian siege engines, Acre resisted stoutly. On May 4, King Henry arrived from Cyprus with reinforcements -100 knights and 2,000 infantry- but they were not enough to counterbalance the steady attrition brought on by moslem attacks. The outer wall fell on May 15, and in general assault three days later the Mamelukes stormed the inner gates and burst into the city. The King and his brother escaped with few nobles to Cyprus, while other Christians fought hopelessly in the streets. By the end of the day the Mamelukes victory was complete. Most of defenders died fighting, the others fell into captivity and were sold off as slaves. Acre was thoroughly sacked and its fortifications demolished.
On the following day, May 19, the garrison at Tyre, abandoned that city in the face of a threatened attack. Sidon and Beirut feel in July, the Mount Carmel Monastries in August. By the end of summer the last of the Frankish warriors had been erased from asian mainland. Syria and Palestine lay under moslem dominion as complete as that in 1097 when the first crusade began.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Acre I (Third Crusade ), 1189-1191

Crusade: The Complete SeriesThe crushing Christian defeat at Tiberias and subsequent loss of Jerussalem in 1187 left The Turkish General Saladdin master of the near east except for Frankish hold on Tyre. By luck, Conrad of Monferrat (in Italy) arrived at Tyre with a shipload of French Knights in the summer 1187, just in time to help repulse Saladdin on the city. For the next year Conrad built up his strength by recruiting armed pilgrims to his standard. Then in July 1188, Saladdin paroled Guy of Lusignan, the defeated king of Jerussalem. The two christian leaders immediately quarreled over supreme command. Finally, in august 1189, King Guy marched out to attack the Moslem garrison at Acre, 20 miles to the south. Conrad followed on september.
Acre, a powerful fortress built on peninsula, defied capture. The two rival christian leaders, with all about 30,000 men in all, prepared siege lines a mile to the east on The Hill of Turon. A mile still farther east saladdin built countersiege lines. A deadlock developed, in which both sides suffered more from disease and hunger than from combat, throughout 1190.
Meanwhile the three greatest kings of Europe were moving eastward in the third Crusade. First to start was the red bearded Frederic I, Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick led a strong contingent of Germans through the Balkans and Asia Minor but drowned in the Calycadnus River in Cicilia on June 10, 1190. His large army soon melted away and his son Frederick V of Swabia arrived in front of Acre in October with only 1,000 men-at-arms. The other two kings, -- colorless Philip II, Augustus, of France and flamboyant Richard I, Coer de Lion, of England -- set off in the summer of 1190, somewhat reluctant allies. They wintered in sicily. Philip then sailed directly to Acre, arriving there on April 20, 1191. Richard stopped over at Cyprus to wrest that island from Byzantine empire and did not land on the beach at Acre until June 8.
The christian host that assembled at Acre, quarreled among themselves to launch a unified assault on the fortress. But their piecemeal attacks, coupled with tight blockade instituted by their ships in the harbor, forced the moslem garrison to capitulate on July 12,  ending the two year siege. The victory brought new quarreling among the crusade commanders. Leopold, duke of Austria (who led the German contingent after the death of Frederick V of Swabia in the last year of siege), and King Philip sailed for Europe. Conrad sulk in Tyre. Richard, allied with King Guy, became the sole leader of the Crusade. When Saladdin refused to honor the surrender terms of the garrison, Richard executed all 2,700 Moslem captives. He then took the coast road south to Jerussalem.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Acragas (Carthaginian Invasion of Sicily), 406 B.C.

The Carthaginian scourge of Sicily, which began 409, made Acragas (Agrigentum), on the southwest coast, the target three years later. Employing the same tactics he used successfully at Selinus and Himera, Hannibal (not to be confused with the famed general at the Punic Wars) laid siege on the city, which was commanded by Dexippus, a spartan. Although an epidemic swept through Carthaginian camp, killing Hannibal and many others, Himilco, a cousin, succeeded to the command and continue the siege.
As in the earlier battles, a force of Syracusans, this time 35,000 men commanded by Daphnaeus, marched to the relief of the city. Under the walls of Acragas a pitched battle took place, in which the Carthaginians were partially defeated. However, dissension broke out among Sicilians, and many mercenaries deserted. Finally, after eight months, the entire garrisons abandoned the city, which was then occupied by victorious Himilco.