Monday, September 24, 2012

Battle of Kleidon (1014 AD)

Red -- Bulgarian Army (Tsar Samuel);
Blue -- Byzantine Army (Basil II);

The Battle:--

The Byzantine Army marched from Constantinople through Komotini, Drama, and Serres and reached the Rupel Gorge on the Struma River.  From there, the army entered the Strumitsa Valley and reached the vicinity of the village of Klyuch, where the river bent and approached Belasita and Ozgrazhden.  There the army was stopped by a thick wooden wall, defended by Bulgarian soldiers.  The Byzantines attacked the palisade immediately, but were repulsed with heavy casualties.

In response, Samuel sent a large army under one of the most able Bulgarian nobles, Nestoritsa, to strike southwards and draw the attention of Basil away from the seige at  Klyuch.  Nestoritsa's Bulgarians reached Thessolonica, but Byzantine troops under Theophylact Botaneiates, the strategos (Governor General) of the city and his son Mihail managed to defeat them outside the city in a bloody battle.  Theophylact captured  many soldiers and a large quantity of military equipment and then marched North to join Basil at Klyuch.

Basil's first attempt to overwhelm the defenders of the pass was unsuccessful and his army was unable to pass through the valley, which was defended by 15,000 -- 20,000 Bulgarians.  Despite the difficulties the Byzantine Emperor did not abandon the attack.  He ordered his general Nicephorus Xiphias to manuver his troops around the high Belasitsa mountain and surround the Bulgarians, while he continued assaults on the wall.  Xiphias led his troops along a steep path that led him to the Bulgarian's rear.  On July 29, Xiphias attacked the guards trapping them in the valley.  The Bulgarian soldiers abandoned their towers to face this new threat and Basil was able to break through the front line and destroy the wall.

In the confusion of the rout, thousands of Bulgarian soldiers were killed and the remainder desperately attempted to flee eastwards.   Samuel and his son Gabriel Radomir immediately headed to the East  from their headquarters in the Strumitsa fortress to aid their army, but in the desperate fighting near the village of Mokrievo (present day Republic of Macedonia) they were overwhelmed by the quickly advancing enemy.  Many Bulgarian soldiers were killed at Morievo and many more were captured.   Emperor Samuel himself barely escaped, only breaking free through the bravery of his son, who mounted his father on his own horse and took him to safety in Prilep.  From Prilep, Samuel returned to Prespa, while Gabriel Radomir headed towards Strumitsa to continue the struggle.

Battle of Manzikert, Map #3 of 3

5. Emperor orders army to withdraw in order;
6. Right wing troops panic and flee the field;
7. Left wing troops withdraw in order until attacked in rear by Seljuks (8);
8. Seljuk left wing troops attack withdrawing Byzantine Left (7);
9. Byzantine Reserve withdraws and abandons  the main army;
10. Main Seljuk troops surround the imperial center.

Battle of Manzikert, Map #2 of 3

3. Byzantine Center and reserve advance toward the Seljuk center;
4. Seljuks harry Byzantine Wings, which attempt to counterattack and begin to lose contact with the center.

Battle of Manzikert, Map #1 of 3

A. Byzantine second line and reserve -- Andronicus;
B. Byzantine first line first line right -- Andronicus;
C. Byzantine first line Center -- Romanos Diogenes;
D.Byzantine first line Left -- Bryennios;
1. Initial Byzantine Advance;
2. Sejuks attack and withdraw, harrying Byzantine Forces with archers.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Battle of Casillinum #2

This drawing is another view of the subject battle.  In this view the "Boar's Head" tactic of the "Frankish Wedge" is better shown, as well as the surprise of Herul's Infantry, as they crossed the bridge and confronted the already distracted Frankish troops at the front of the wedge.

(See August, 2011 for Battle #1)

Also in this view of the conflict, Herul's Infantry crossed the river to encounter the Franks, while the "Frankish Wedge" charged toward the river, rather than away from it as in View #1.  Since there are many descriptions of this battle from many different authors; most of whom did not see the battle and who wrote about such many years aferward, the viewer must choose his / her view of the battle that they think most reasonable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tower and Gate of St. Paul (Post of France), Fortress of Rhodes.

The construction of the complex of fortifications near the Grand Master's Palace was begun under Jean de Lastic (1437 - 1454), who also built the Cannon and St. Anthony Gates, as well as the Battery of the Olives.  Pierre d' Aubusson (1476 - 1503) had it strengthened with a thick earthen outwork, which was cut through with a gate (d'Amboise Gate) under Emery d'Amboise 1n 1512.  In 1514 Grand MasterFabrizo del Carretto had a caponier built in the ditch on the extreme north-west cornerof the fortress, beyond d'Amboise Gate.  The Gate of St. Paul as protected from the outside with a polygonal barbican.  Although the walls of the barbican were adjusted to accomodate artillery, they were fairly thin and crowned with a merloned parapet.

outwork -- Any defensive structure in front of the main enciente;

caponier -- A covered defensive passagemade in a dry ditch projecting away from the main enciente in the direction of te enemy.  It is sometimes connected to the main enciente with outworks.  It was chiefly designed for laying flanking fire along the ditch;

barbican --An outwork designed for the defence of agate or a bridge leading to a gate;

merlon --The upstanding sections of a parapet between embrasures, behind which defenders can shelter;

parapet -- A bank, of earth, or a wall over which a soldier may fire; also known as a breastwork;

enciente -- Th outline of the main line of defences, excluding minor outworks;

embrasures -- An opening in a parapet allowing artillery to fire through.


-Konstantin Nossov, "The Fortress of Rhodes 1309-1522," (Osprey, 2010);
-Ian Hogg, "The History of Fortification," (St. Martin's Press, 1981).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Battle of Arsuf, Sept. 1191

The Battle of Arsuf was fought along the coastline of the eastern Mediteranean in the land territory of Syria.  Richard-The Lion Heart commanded the crusader army that was moving down the coast after their capture of Acre.  Saladin commanded the Muslim army which attempted to stop them.  The Muslim mounted archers harrased the army in the days march (six miles) from the morning camp to the outskirts of the ruined city of Arsuf.  It was there that the Muslim Forces attacked the crusaders in strength and Richard sent three cavalry assaults (he commanding one of them), aganst the Muslims which scattered the Muslim army and gave him a victory.


DeVeries, Kelley, "Battles of the Medieval World," Barnes and Noble, 2006

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fort St. Nicholas

Fort St. Nicholas was constructed away from the city on an isolated location, and one which serves as the protection for the Mandraki Harbour entrance North of the city of Rhodes.  The area was known to the defenders of Rhodes as the "Northern Approaches" to the city.  The tower was very badly damaged during the Turkish attack and siege in 1480 and in the following earthquake of 1481.  The tower was rebuilt by Grand Master d' Aubusson, who also constructed a strong fortification around the tower itself.  This had the result of making the previous tower into an extremely strong fort.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Simon de Montfort

Simon de Montfort who took the Cross to follow Louis on his 1248 Crusade, but ultimately remained behind to quell disturbances in Gascony

Outer Gate--Gate of St. John--Fortress of Rhodes 1309 -1522

The outer gate leading to the bulwark at the Gate of St. John, at the Post of Provence.  A course of double moulding separating the upper vertical part of the wall from the lower widening one is a characteristic of Pierre d'Aubusson's work.  The Grand Masters coat of arms can seen above the gatealongside that of the Order of St. John and a relief of St. John the Baptist

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Battle Of Talas River #5, Chinese Army Encircled

Heavy Cavalry Breaks the Encirclement.  The Chinese were surrounded but made a fighting retreat until the army's dicipline broke..  The Chinese Commander re-entered China with less than 2,000 troops having left 2,000 more behind as prisoners of the Caliphate.

Battle of Talas River #4, Chinese Army's Flank Is Turned

Battle of Talas River #3, Day 5, Pro-Caliphate Qarlug Cavalry

Battle of Talas River #2; Phase 1, Intial Contact and Early Assaults

Battle of Talas River #1

Note 1:
Neither army was reported to have made a river crossing and the Chinese didn't have to flee across the river toward the Tamir Valley, suggesting that both armies were on the Western (South) side of the river already.

Note 2:
Topograhical features aside from the river are the artists.

Organization of Armies, Talas River Battle

Caliphate Tactics, Talas River Battle

Chinese Tactics, Talas River Battle

Engineers Report, Chase Farm, Lincoln, R. I.

Lt. General U. S. Grant


All Federal Forces

Brig. General M. Burbank


New England Brigade

Major D. Erickson

Commandant (acting)

U. S. Corps of Topographical Engineers

Honored Gentlemen;

I beg your most kind indulgences to make my activity report.

Topographical Engineers present at the reenactment:


Ian Mckay, Brigadier General of Engineers (by brevet);
--Captain Ray Germain;
--Captain Norbert Reicke (seconded to the 9th Mass. Art.);
--Lt. Greg Webster (seconded to the 9th Mass Art.);
--Corporal M. Grossman, (Pioneers, 25th Inf.);
--Lady Heidi Webster (seconded to the 9th Mass Art.);
--Lady Maryanne Germain (Civ. Artist);
--Lady M. Mathews (Purser and Teamster).

Upon orders sent to General McKay, from the U. S. Grant Headquarters, 
I departed the New London area in the fast dispatch schooner moored at 
Fort Trumbull, New London, CT. We reached the city of Providence, R. 
I. in good time and from there took a carriage to Lincoln, R. I. and 
from there on to the Chase Farm, arriving in the early afternoon. I 
found Captain Germain already there and set up. Together we set up 
the Engineering Field Office. Gen. Burbank came over to discuss the 
fortifications planned for the battlefield. He generously took me to 
the site and explained what he wanted to do with the materials which 
were available.

  Upon return to camp, I designated Captain Germain to supervise the 
construction to the gun emplacements and the field fortifications.   
Corporal Grossman arrived at the field office and I gave him his 
drawing packet.

  Lady Mathews departed to make arrangements with the family who had 
offered us refuge for the nights. When she returned, the Germains, 
Lady Mathews and myself enjoyed a sumptuous supper at a small Inn at 
the top of Breakneck Hill near the farm.

  On Saturday morning a work party of about 60 men was gathered to build 
the fortifications and gun emplacements.  Corporal Grossman came by to 
pick up some tools for the work ahead. I designated Captain Germain 
to make a copy of the battlefield and fortifications for the unit 
files. Lady Germain was asked to draw the Confederate Camp on the far 
hill.  I busied myself in constructing a model of a corduroy road from 
downed limbs under the trees near to the field office.  I was relieved 
of the task of battle narration because a professional speaker had 
been appointed by the Chase Farm to undertake those tasks.

  When the fortifications were finished, Corporal Grossman returned the 
borrowed tools, and Captain Germain showed me his rough sketch of 
fortifications for approval.   I approved the rough drawing.  Captain 
Germain and I spent most of the rest of the day; he finishing his 
drawing, and I working on the model.  Lady Mathews returned in the 
early evening and the Germains, Lady Mathews and I retired to the inn 
on the hill for a second sumptuous dinner, then back to the house in 

Sunday morning we were back in camp by 8:00 A.M. and began working on 
the model again.

On Saturday and Sunday Captain Germain and I spent a 
good deal of time meeting and greeting the various spectators, 
answering their questions and telling them about the engineers, who 
they were, what their purpose was, and discussing the displays 
provided. Of all the displays , the caltrops were by far the most 
questioned item.  Lt. Webster and Lady Webster came over to the Field 
Office and spent some time there during a lull in the artillery 
drill / practice.  By midday the model of the corduroy road was 
finished and I had explained the use of that construction to several 

  After Sunday's skirmish the word was given to break camp, and the next 
hour was spent in packing the wagons.  The Germains, Lady Mathews, and 
I enjoyed a late afternoon meal at the Inn on the hill and made our 
way back to New London as we had come.

The weather was splendid over the weekend, if somewhat cool in the 
mornings. The Union HQ camp was on the edge of the bluff above the 
Chase Farm and the battlefield was marked out between the rising hill 
to the right and the great pond to the left. The Union camp was laid 
out along the access road to the far right of the upper fields. 
Between the Union camp and the battlefield was a rising mound which 
afforded a good view of the battlefield for the spectators.

Respectfully Submitted;

Your Servant

Ian McKay, Brigadier General of Engineers (by brevet);

Chief of Staff (acting)

Chief Engineer, 25th Corps

Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant's personal and military staffs


Talas River Map Legend