FEBRUARY 18, 2015 – History is a reflection of who we are as a people. While science and mathematics will always be cutting edge fields, without history, a society is like a person with amnesia: they might have the skills they need to survive but they lack the substance and dignity that comes from knowing who you are and where you came from. The importance of history is displayed in the growing interest in American History Masters programs throughout the country. One facet of history that has always sparked interest is military history. In this article, we’ll explore some interesting and surprising facts on military history, showing the honor and courage of the soldiers of the past.
First Battle: Battle of Megiddo
Historians regard the Battle of Megiddo as the first major battle of recorded history. The Battle of Megiddo was fought in 1457 BC, and saw an army of 20,000 Egyptians fight a force of around 15,000 Canaanites. The battle ended in a victory for the Egyptians, thus greatly expanding their empire into Israel. (Battle of Megiddo)
Alexander the Great and Persian Culture
While Alexander the Great might be known as one of the greatest leaders in the history of ancient Greece, he adopted many Persian habits. Alexander ruled over the largest empire in history, with his grasp reaching from Greece and Egypt all the way to parts of India. To help maintain his rule over the large swaths of Persian territory he conquered, Alexander adopted many Persian customs, including dressing in the manner of Persian royalty and even marrying Persian women. (Alexander the Great)
Julius Caesar: Enemy of Pirates
As a young man, future Roman general and dictator Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held for ransom. A charismatic and fearless individual, Caesar gained the trust of the pirates and encouraged them to demand twice as much as they originally wanted for his safe return. When his family paid off the captors, Caesar raised a fleet to go after the criminals, capturing them and later having them crucified. (Caesar and the Pirates)
Charles Martel: Hammer of France
The year 732 saw France in the crosshairs of the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate. After having already conquered Spain, the Muslims hoped to incorporate the rest of Europe into their empire, but were stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. Martel is regarded as a hero today, having earned the nickname “The Hammer” for his leadership during the battle, and ensuring Christian rule in Europe during the Middle Ages. (Charles Martel)
Benedict Arnold and the Battle of Saratoga
The name Benedict Arnold might be synonymous with traitor today, but in the early part of the American Revolution, he was regarded as one of the greatest American commanders. At the Battle of Saratoga, Arnold led an attack on the British position, helping to ensure American victory. Arnold’s commander, Horatio Gates, got most of the credit for the victory, which historians believe encouraged Arnold to switch sides. (Benedict Arnold)
First Minnesota at Gettysburg
The American Civil War saw horrendous casualties for both the Union and the Confederacy. One of the greatest losses of life took place at the Battle of Gettysburg. In a heated engagement, the First Minnesota Infantry took an astounding 82% casualty rate during an assault on a Confederate position. Only 47 of the original 262 man regiment survived the charge, the greatest loss of life for any single unit in American history. (First Minnesota)
Battle of the Falaise Pocket
The invasion of Normandy is seen by many individuals as America’s finest military hour. In the decisive moment of the campaign, Allied forces trapped the German Seventh Army and Fifth Panzer Army near Falaise. The resulting engagement led to the surrender of 50,000 German soldiers, one of the largest mass surrenders of the war. (Battle of the Falaise Pocket)
Military history is full of tales of heroism. Whether soldiers fought with the bow and arrow or tanks and machine guns, honor and courage are not bound by time and country.
Karleia is a freelance blogger. Away from the office she enjoys spending time with her two daughters.