Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25 - a day of famous battles

There are at least three great battles that the staff of Gaming with Chuck is particularly fond of, that all took place on October 25.  Other than being something like the 289th day of the year, it is also St. Crispin's Day (Crispin Crispianus) as any fan of Shakespeare will no doubt remember (read on)...

The first, of course, is the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. This battle marked the defeat of the Prince of France by young King Henry V of England in the 100 years war. Great stuff, and the product of many boardgames and miniatures rules. It is celebrated in Military History as one of the marker battles in the Revolution in Military Affairs the culminated in the ascendancy of Infantry over Cavalry as the chief battlefield arm. And there were a whole lot of longbows. And of course there is the fantastic treatment (mostly fictional, but still great fun) given to the battle by Shakespeare in his timeless "Henry V". The famous Band of Brothers speech comes from that play.
Great treatment of the battle from a bunch of different angles is given at Wikipedia
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

The second is the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, in the Crimean War. This is a battle fought between the British and French on one side, and the Russians on the other, over the rights of Turks amongst a bunch of other hegemonical things.  Other than the fact that it was a very interesting battle it is also the occasion for the famous Charge of the Light Brigade, which inspired the stirring poem of Alfred Tennyson.
Excellent article on the battle (with maps, bios of the commanders, and a blow-by-blow including the stirring events of the North Valley that led to the Charge of the Light Brigade) is located at Wikipedia.  Some excellent maps are located at the battle's webpage at History of War.
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!" he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Finally, in our own history, from October 23-26 the largest naval battle in history was fought - the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944. The Imperial Japanese Navy lost a fleet carrier, three light carriers, three battleships, eight cruisers and countless lighter vessels and planes. The United States lost one light carrier (and some lighter escorts). It was a victory for the US and secured not only the Philippines from the Japanese, but also halted the IJN from being a serious threat - in fact the only remaining surface action of any size that the Japanese dared after Leyte Gulf was the suicide run of the Yamato at the very end of the war.
Good article, with fantastic maps (for wargaming and just general historical drooling) again at Wikipedia

Hope to see you wargaming, soon!

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