Tag Archives: American battles

Battles of the 19th Century – CityLit Summer School Course Programme

CityLit, the London based centre for Adult Learning is offering a series of summer school one day courses on the battles of the Nineteenth Century.  The story of 19th century battles is is a story of technology and tactics, culture and Clausewitz. For two hundred years from 1600 warfare was a matter of cannon, horse and musket, with either bayonet or pike. The industrial revolution brought rapid changes in technology, with dramatic changes affecting almost every aspect of warfare. Weapons became more accurate, with longer ranges and more lethal effects. The steam age revolutionised transport and logistics. The changes in communication and culture affected how wars were fought and perceived by the public. This inquisitive era saw an explosion in the study of warfare and of military history, by figures such as Clausewitz, Jomeni and du Picq,

The soldiers of this era probably experienced more change than at any time in history before or probably since. Some of the men who fought in the Waterloo campaign took part in the campaigns of 1793-4 alongside and against men who had served in the wars of Frederick the Great. Some of the men who fought in the Victorian Imperial small wars in South Africa and Afghanistan lived to contemplate the Great War in 1914-18, with its trenches, aeroplanes and tanks. Lt Smith-Dorrien, survived the Assegais of the Zulus at Isandlwana to command an Army Corps in the BEF in 1914-5 against the machine guns and poison gas of the Kaiser’s army. Lord Roberts of Kandahar, the British hero of the 1879-80 Afghan war, had been commissioned under the Duke of Wellington, was awarded the Victoria Cross in the Indian mutiny and died in the field in Flanders in 1914.

The series of one day courses covers a range of battles from Waterloo in 1815 to Maiwand in 1880, including Waterloo, Gettysburg, Sadowa/Königgrätz, Sedan, Isandlwana and Maiwand.  The courses last between two hours and six hours  each at a modest cost. £11-21 full  Senior £6-12 and Concession £3-7.  I am the tutor for all apart from Sedan.

10th Hussars at the Batle of Waterloo Denis Dighton (wikipedia commons)
10th Hussars at the Batle of Waterloo Denis Dighton (wikipedia commons)

The Waterloo Campaign in mid June 1815 is the climax of the Napoleonic wars. Its a coda to Napoleon Bonaparte’s career. Its also the only occasion when Napoleon faced Wellington and has given rise to bridges, railway stations roads and Eurovision winning songs. This day will include a visit to the National Army Museum and draw on some of their unique resources, including the famous model by Captain Siborne. More details here

Pickett's Charge. at Gettysburg, taken from "Hancock at Gettysbug" by Thure de Thulstrup, Restoration by Adam Cuerden. (wikipedia commons)
Pickett’s Charge. at Gettysburg, taken from “Hancock at Gettysbug” by Thure de Thulstrup, Restoration by Adam Cuerden. (wikipedia commons)

This July is the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, 1-3 July 1863. This is the iconic battle of the US Civil war. Not only was it the largest battle in the war and indeed, the Western hemisphere, and a turning point in the war. Abraham Lincoln’s address at a remembrance ceremony on the battlefield in 1863, is one of the greatest political speeches of all time. More details here

Cavalry battle between Imperial and Royal Hussars and Prussians Cuirassiers at the battle of Königgrätz (Alexander von Bensa, 1866).
Cavalry battle between Imperial and Royal Hussars and Prussians Cuirassiers at the battle of Königgrätz (Alexander von Bensa, 1866).

The Seven Weeks war of 1866 culminated in the battle of Sadowa, also known by Germans as Königgrätz, 3rd July 1866. This was one of the defining battles of the era, establishing the success of the Prussian military machine and the dominance of Prussia over Austria as the leading German state. It was the first campaign won by the genius of Von Moltke and the first battle fought with infantry armed with bolt action breech loading rifles. More details here

Napoleon III Surrenders his Sword after the Battle of Sedan (wikipedia Commons)
Napoleon III Surrenders his Sword after the Battle of Sedan (wikipedia Commons)

The battle of Sedan in 1870 marked the defeat of Napoleon III and the end of his Empire, and a decisive moment in the Franco-Prussian War. This war was the first in which both protagonists had breech loading bolt action rifles, rifled artillery and saw the first use of the machine gun on a European Battlefield. More details here

Battle if Isandlwana 1879 by Charles Edwin Fripp  (wikipedia Commons)
Battle if Isandlwana 1879 by Charles Edwin Fripp (wikipedia Commons)

Isandlwana 22 January 1879 and Maiwand 27 July 1880 were two setbacks suffered by the British Empire in the last quarter of the the Nnineteenth century. Isandlwana, was the first battle of the Anglo-Zulu war and resulted in one of the biggest defeats for the British army for a generation. Maiwand was a dramatic episode in the Second Afghan War, a controversial part of Disraeli’s foreign policy. Both of these battles captured the public imagination and have been the subjects of art, literature and film. During this day we will visit the National Army Museum and look at some of their collections and archives relating to these battles. More details here

"Maiwand: Saving the Guns" by Richard Caton Woodville.(wikipedia commons)
“Maiwand: Saving the Guns” by Richard Caton Woodville.(wikipedia).  

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Details of how to visit these battlefields – to follow.

However, visitors specifically interested in the battlefield of Maiwand and other sites of the Second Afghan War are advised to contact their nearest  Army Careers Office for details of their expeditionary packed tours which offer good value but rather inflexible terms and conditions.