Thursday, February 12, 2009

13 Battles Involving Thunderstorms

Some of our greatest battles occurred during severe thunderstorms. Here are a few….check out the links for more information.

1.Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly)- took place in Chantilly, Virginia on September 1, 1862 during the Civil War. Out numbered 3 to 1, in the dark of night, with a terrible storm all around them…first [Union] General Stevens, then [Union] General Kearny were both killed in action. Stevens [was killed] while actually leading a charge up Ox Hill towards Jackson’s main column on Little River Turnpike, and Kearny [was killed] while riding his horse, alone, into a cornfield trying to determine where the Confederates were and where to send his men….after Stevens charge had been repelled. Stevens charge and Kearny’s rallying ride held the Confederates in check for the night, and gave the rest of the Union army enough time to escape. Congress later named a special medal for honor and valor after Kearny…the Congressional Medal of Honor.

2.Battle of Nanshan-occurred during the Russo-Japanese War on May 25, 1904 outside the present-day city of Dalian, Liaoning, China. During a heavy thunderstorm, the Japanese Fourth Division attacked the walled town of Chinchou (modern-day Jinzhou), just north of Nanzan hill. Despite being defeated by no more than 400 men with antiquated artillery, the Fourth Division failed on two attempts to breach its gates. Two battalions from the First Division attacked independently …finally breaching the defenses and taking the town. With his flank thus secure, General Oku could then commence the main assault on the entrenched Russian forces on Nanshan hill. The Japanese infantry was assisted by a prolonged artillery barrage from Japanese gunboats offshore.

3.Battle of Kursk- was an important battle that took place between the Germans and Soviets from July to August, 1943, during World War II. The battle occurred at Kursk, in Western Russia….[The battle involved] more than 2 million men and 3000 tanks. Kursk has been called the greatest tank battle in history and cost Germany more than 100,000 men and irreparable losses to its previously invincible tank divisions. From this site...the ground was waterlogged, and the weather during the battle featured occaisional thunderstorms….some hampered movements and the roads were in very poor shape.

4.Battle of Monterey Pass-occurred on July 4, 1863 during the Civil War. This battle is one of the most confusing battles of the Civil War and occurred during the retreat from Gettysburg ordered by General Robert E. Lee…Darkness set in during a blinding rainstorm. The Confederates wearing gum blankets, were mistaken as Union troops by General Kilpatrick’s Union calvary and were mixed in with the Union troops.

5.Battle of Evesham- happened during England’s Second Baron’s War and resulted in the defeat of Simon de Montfort against Edward I. The battle began around eight in the morning as a severe thunderstorm began. The battle was a massacre with Simon de Montfort body severely mutiliated….his head, hands, feet, and testicles cut off.

6.Battle of Oriskany – fought during the American Revolution near Oriskany, New York on August 6, 1777. Wikipedia advises this battle was one of the bloodiest battles in the American Revolutionary War and a significant engagement of the Saratoga campaign. It also has the distinction of being one of the few battles of the war where almost all of the participants were North American: Loyalists and Native Americans fought against Patriots in the absence of British soldiers…A violent thunderstorm caused a one-hour lull in the battle.

7. Battle of the Hydaspes River – involved Alexander the Great and his men in 325 BC. Alexander wanted to enter India, but this battle proved it would not happen. The Hydaspes was the last major battle fought by Alexander. Although victorious, Alexander’s exhausted army mutinied and refused to go any further into India.

8. Battle of Messines-was fought during World War I in June, 1917. One of the key features of the battle was the detonation of 19 mines immediately prior to the infantry assault, a tactic which disrupted German defenses and allowed advancing troops to secure their objectives in rapid fashion. The attack which was a prelude to the much larger Third Battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele…At 3:10, the order was given across the line to detonate the mines, which totaled 600 tons of explosives. Of the 21 mines laid 19 were exploded. General Plumer remarked to his staff the evening before the attack, “Gentlemen, we may not make history tomorrow, but we shall certainly change the geography.”…The crest was blown off the Messines-Wytschaete ridge. Audible in Dublin and by Lloyd George in his Downing Street study, the combined sound of the simultaneous mine explosions comprised the loudest man-made explosion until that point. Of the two mines which remained undetonated on 7 June, the details of their precise location were mislaid by the British following the war, to the discomfort of local townspeople. One of the mines was detonated in a thunderstorm on 17 June 1955: the only casualty was a dead cow. The second mine remains undetected, although in recent years its location is believed to have been pinpointed. No-one has as yet attempted its recovery.

9. Battle of Puebla – Ever hear of Cinco de Mayo? This battle occurred on May 5, 1862 between Mexico and France. At some point during this battle heavy rains created a quagmire on the field. Learn more here.

10. Battle of Rain – this battle occurred during the Thirty Years War and is also referred to as the Battle of Lech….I included this battle only to be cute. No rain fell from the sky, but the battle did take place close to the city of Rain, Bavaria. Read about it here.

11. Battle of the Clouds – this battle is also known as the Battle of Warren, Battle of Whitehorse Tavern, or the Battle of Goshen and was fought on September 16, 1777 close to Malvern, Pennsylvania. Moments before a British attack a torrential downpour ensued. Washington and the Patriots were severely outnumbered and tens of thousands of cartridges were ruined by the rain. Washington opted for tactical retreat. Bogged down by rain and mud, the British allowed Washington and his army to escape.

12. Battle of Agincourt- October 1415…Having invaded France, Henry V met a formidable army at Agincourt, a village in the north east. The odds against him seemed hopeless—his troops were exhausted, hungry, suffering from dysentery and hopelessly outnumbered by the enemy. Their plight grew even worse the night before battle, when rain pelted down and, with very little shelter, the English were left soaking wet. Visit the link to find out who won.

13.Okinawa- 82 days of battle between the United States and Japan from March to June, 1945 with one of the highest number of casualties of any World War Two engagement: the Japanese lost over 100,000 troops, and the Allies (mostly United States) suffered more than 50,000 casualties. The much talked-about “plum rains” of Okinawa were to set in and continue day after day. Mud was to become king, and it was impossible to mount large-scale attacks during and immediately after the storms.


Dan Edwards said...

WAY COOL HISTORY POST ! Happy Valentine's Day !

Deb Sistrunk Nelson said...

I think it's WAY COOL, too. Have a relaxed Valentine's Day weekend.

The Tour Marm said...

Silly me, I posted my comment on the wrong one!

The two battles that came immediately to mind were:

The Spanish Armada and The Battle (Seige) of Yorktown.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Mike B said...

Great post and links. It seems to me that I read in one of the American Civil War books that it would often rain after a large battle - and it was attributed to the gunpowder residue, smoke, and sound. True or false? I don't know, but it's an interesting thought.

Editorial Staff said...

Great post... what about earthquakes? Snowstorms? The Battle on Snowshoes comes to mind. A really cool idea.

Dan Edwards said...

Hi again...for anyone interested, there is a book out there, "Battling the Elements, Weather and Terrain in the Conduct of War," by Harold A. Winters, published by Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1998. (Yes, it is one of many odd volumes found in my personal library....)

Robert Brown said...

At Phil Kearny's death, Confederate General AP Hill remarked "You've killed Phil Kearny! He deserved a better fate.". Just a little trivia for the afternoon!

Jennie W said...

Come visit the Military History Carnival - you've been included!