'Tangier crisis' and Morocco

by Mitch on November 27, 2010 0 Comments

Colonel Charles Mangin greets the new French Resident General of Morocco, General Hubert Lyautey, at the gates of Marrakesh in 1912. Lyautey instructed Mangin to seize Marrakesh despite strict orders from Paris to the contrary.


The short-term causes of what became known as the 'Tangier crisis' resided in the equally ill-fated attempt on the part of von Bulow to isolate France diplomatically. France's major ally, Russia, was already engaged in a catastrophic war with Japan. If Germany supported Moroccan independence, the German chancellor calculated, Britain would back off from her alliance with France. It was a neat plan, but it contained at least one fallacy - it assumed that Britain would desert her new ally. This was unlikely. For the British, the Fashoda crisis followed by the Second South African War had demonstrated all too painfully how friendless Britain was in the world. The German naval laws of 1898 and ...

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by Mitch on November 24, 2010 1 Comment

BEFORE: Europe’s Colonies in Africa, 1880. Britain, France, Portugal, and Spain had established a number of colonies in Africa by 1880, four years before the Berlin Conference was convened to resolve territorial disputes between these and other colonial powers.

Between 1875 and 1914, European countries invaded and subjugated almost all of the African continent. Historians have long debated the causes for this break with past European policies toward Africa. The rising European appetite for conquest, and the willingness of European governments to pay for imperialist ventures, has become known as the ‘‘New Imperialism’’ to distinguish it from older traditions of colonialism before 1850. Earlier policies focused more on seeking commercial influence rather than formal occupation.



No one cause can explain the Scramble. Rather, a conjunction of attitudes favorable to empire, technological advances, and political and social concerns led different governments to believe the occupation of ...

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Renault FT- 17

by Mitch on November 23, 2010 3 Comments

FT 17 tank displayed in Kabul, Afghanistan. It is one of 4 known FT 17 that were in this country before 2003. This one is still preserved in Kabul. During operations in Afghanistan in 2003, Major Robert Redding, a Special Forces member of the Colorado Army National Guard, found two World War I-era Renault FT-18s while visiting an Afghan scrapyard. Redding sent digital photographs of the tanks to the Patton Museum with a note asking if the museum would be interested.

The two FT-18 tanks were originally built in France during World War I. They were captured from the British Expeditionary Force in the Anglo-Afghan war of 1919.

Fort Knox personnel arrived in Kabul in May 2003 to examine the tanks. The vehicles were in very good shape because Afghanistan is relatively dry, but they were dirty and missing armament. Both tanks still have their original engines, complete tracks and ...

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by Mitch on November 18, 2010 1 Comment

Maji Maji Rebellion (1905-1907) is celebrated on February 27th every year in Tanzania. It was an uprising by several African indigenous communities in Tanzania against the Germany colonial rule in response to a German policy designed to force African peoples to grow cotton for export


The Maji Maji Revolt (1905–1907) was a pivotal event in the history of early colonial Tanzania. The revolt was the first manifestation of a united, interethnic opposition to colonial rule in Africa. Though the rebellion failed to oust the Germans from East Africa, it led the colonial administration to implement a series of reforms. The Maji Maji Revolt further engendered a protonationalist tradition that was tapped into in the 1950s during the country’s modern nationalist period.


Following the Berlin Conference (1884–1885), Germany acquired several colonies in Africa, including the present-day countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and part of Mozambique. Like other colonial ...

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by Mitch on November 18, 2010 0 Comments

Map of Macau Peninsula in 1639

Macao (also Macau), a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, occupies a small, hilly peninsula located on the west shore of the Pearl River (or Zhujiang River) on the southeast coast of China. Originally less than 15 square kilometers (5.8 square miles), the peninsula and the adjacent islands of Taipa and Colôane have expanded by land reclamation since the early twentieth century to 27 square kilometers (10.4 square miles). The population in 2004 was approximately 460,000, 95 percent comprising Chinese immigrants from the South China provinces, plus a small number of perhaps no more than 5,000 Macanese, the mixed-blood descendants of early Portuguese unions with Asian peoples.


Macao was founded in 1557 by Portuguese traders seeking a location for a permanent commercial settlement. Until the founding of Hong Kong nearly 300 years later, Macao was the ...

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by Mitch on November 18, 2010 0 Comments

Patrice Lumumba (1925–1961). Patrice Lumumba, leader of the Congolese National Movement, addresses troops in Stanleyville, July 18, 1960.


Lumumba, the son of a poor peasant, was born in Onalua (near Katako-Kombe, in East Kasaï, Congo) on July 2, 1925, when Congo was under Belgian colonial rule. During his primary school years, Lumumba ran away or was expelled from several missionary institutions. But at the same time, he was ambitious and driven by real intellectual hunger. On arriving in Stanleyville (now Kisangani) in July 1944, he attended evening classes and became a voracious reader. He was employed in the postal service, but also had an active public life outside of work.


Lumumba became the founder and president of several Congolese cultural, social, and political organizations, including the local Amicale Libérale. In this capacity, he met the Belgian Minister of Colonies, Auguste Buisseret, when the latter was visiting Congo in 1954 ...

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The Philippine-American War, 1899–1902 Part I

by Mitch on November 16, 2010 0 Comments

1899: US troops battling Filipinos.

News of the Treaty of Paris brought no comfort to Filipino nationalists. Since the fall of Manila an uneasy truce had existed between the Filipino army that continued to surround Manila and the Americans inside the city. After consolidating his hold over much of the archipelago, Aguinaldo established a republic with a capital at Malolos, northeast of Manila, and made preparations to resist the United States should it attempt to assert its claims of sovereignty over the islands. As the soldiers of both sides waited anxiously to see if the U.S. Congress would ratify the Treaty of Paris, relations between the erstwhile allies deteriorated and scuffles became common. It was only a matter of time before full-scale violence erupted.


That moment came on the night of February 4, 1899, when Filipino and American patrols traded shots near a disputed village in the neutral zone ...

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The Philippine-American War, 1899–1902 Part II

by Mitch on November 16, 2010 0 Comments

Macabebe Scouts undergoing inspection by 1Lt. Matthew Batson in Macabebe, Pampanga Province. Photo was taken in 1900.   By March 1900, there were about 478 officers and men in the native force that supported the U.S. army.

Complementing the guerrillas in the field was a clandestine civil-military organization that acted as a shadow government in the villages, enforcing insurgent edicts, raising recruits, collecting supplies and “taxes,” and gathering intelligence on American activities. Since many of the leaders of the resistance were from the middle and upper classes, they were able to exploit the oligarchic nature of Philippine society and the system of patron-client relationships upon which it was based to further the movement’s influence over the people. Using a mixture of genuine nationalism, paternalism, propaganda, and terror (including the assassination of pro-American Filipinos), the leaders of the resistance maintained their control over the population despite their inability to defeat ...

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The Philippine-American War, 1899–1902 Part III

by Mitch on November 16, 2010 0 Comments

Brig. Gen.  Frederick Funston (sitting) and the 4 officers who helped capture Aguinaldo:  LEFT to RIGHT, Captains Harry W. Newton and Russell T. Hazzard, and First Lieutenants Oliver P.M. Hazzard and Burton J. Mitchell. 


A born adventurer who lacked formal military training, Frederick Funston fought alongside Cuban revolutionaries before receiving a volunteer commission in 1898. Sent to the Philippines, he fought with distinction but was denied a commission in the Regular Army. He was about to muster out in early 1901 when he learned of the location of Aguinaldo’s headquarters. Throwing caution to the wind, he penetrated Aguinaldo’s headquarters by pretending to be a prisoner, then turned the tables and seized Aguinaldo. The exploit won Funston a commission as a brigadier general in the Regular Army.

By the end of the first full year of guerrilla warfare, the Americans had clearly gained the ...

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"Cease fire! They are wasting ammunition!"

by Mitch on November 14, 2010 0 Comments

Oh by the way, at Omdurman, Kitchener was seen riding back and forth behind the firing line shouting "Cease fire! They are wasting ammunition!"


The fact that they were also killing the enemy apparently didn't occur to him.


From a military perspective, Kitchener was absolutely correct, as was emphatically demonstrated later in the day.


After meeting the initial enemy attack on his perimeter in front of Egeiga, Kitchener's plan was to advance quickly onto Omdurman - about seven or eight miles away - and occupy it in order to disperse the enemy into the desert away from their logistic base. Because of the planned move away from his supply base, Kitchener's force would be moving with the ammunition it had left over from the initial battle - hence the need for strict fire control and ammo conservation.


Kitchener did not know the overall size of the enemy force (at c ...

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Machine Guns

by Mitch on November 14, 2010 0 Comments

Maxim machine-guns of the 2nd Brigade of the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers. Sudan Campaign 1896-98

Advances in weaponry were frequently focused on increasing firepower while reducing manpower; until metal cartridges were introduced, an effective multifiring weapon could not be developed.


The first viable machine gun was developed in 1862 by an American, Dr. Richard Gatling. In 1870, the British tested the Gatling gun and the French Montigny mitrailleuse breechloader, and after making improvements, the British Army adopted the Gatling gun the following year. The Gatling gun consisted of a number of breech - loading rifled barrels (ten barrels was preferred) grouped around and parallel to a shaft. The assistant gunner placed the ammunition in a hopper at the top of the gun, and the gunner turned a crank handle manually, with each barrel rotating and firing in succession, once in a revolution. The Gatling gun could fire more than ...

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Capture of Dongola, (23 September 1896)

by Mitch on November 14, 2010 1 Comment

The Egyptian Army grew as circumstances dictated. When the reconquest of the Sudan began in 1896, the Egyptian Army totaled 18,000 men and included Sudanese battalions. It ultimately comprised 18 infantry battalions. The new Egyptian Army had its first real test of battle late in 1885, at Kosheh and Ginnis. At that time, one Egyptian or Sudanese infantry battalion, one Camel Corps company, and one field battery were attached to each British brigade. The British were very surprised by the proficiency and discipline of their Egyptian Army counterparts, especially the Sudanese. The Egyptian Army bore the brunt of battle and campaigning during the 1896–1898 reconquest of the Sudan. In f act, of the 25,000 “British” soldiers at the Battle of Omdurman (2 September 1898), over 17,000 were Egyptians and Sudanese.

The British reconquest of the Sudan began in March 1896, and its first objective was to ...

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Book Review: Italian National Identity in the Scramble for Africa: Italy's African Wars in the Era of Nation-building 1870-1900.

by Mitch on November 13, 2010 2 Comments

Giuseppe Maria Finaldi. Italian National Identity in the Scramble for Africa: Italy's African Wars in the Era of Nation-building 1870-1900. Bern: Peter Lang/Bern, 2009. 341 S. $88.95 (paper), ISBN 978-3-03911-803-8.

Reviewed by Stephanie Hom
Published on H-Soz-u-Kult (November, 2010)

G. Finaldi: Italian National Identity in the Scramble for Africa

In Rome, walking from the historic center to the train station, one passes through a rather obscure piazza – the Piazza dei Cinquecento [‘Plaza of the 500’]. Erected in 1887, it was intended to commemorate the 500 Italian soldiers killed at Dogali (Ethiopia) earlier that same year. Yet the imposing, fascist Termini train station overshadows the piazza, and indeed, the piazza itself is often subsumed into the station’s geography. As such, this spatial example proves to be a poignant metaphor for the way that fascism has often come to overshadow Italian colonial historiography.

It seems to be the ...

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Caproni Ca.101 D2

by Mitch on November 12, 2010 0 Comments


Model by Enrico Tiolli


The Caproni Ca.101 was an Italian airliner which later saw military use as a transport and bomber. It was designed in 1927 and first flown in 1928.


The D2 version, was produced replacing the motors with three more powerful Alfa Romeo D.2 motors. In operations in Eritrea, they guaranteed good performance in the tropics. From the opening of the hostilities in East Africa in 1935, various versions of the Ca. 101 came used for all the conflict, carrying out tactical support missions for the infantry and bombing. The D.2 version, in particular, operated with the 14th Bomber Flight "Hic Sunt Leones" and 15th Bomber Flight "La Disperata" of the 4th Bombers Squadron.


The Regia Aeronautica ordered 72 Ca.101 and 34 Ca.102. These aircraft served with 8 and 9 Wing (Ca.102) and 7 Wing (Ca.101).

Though the Ca.102 was ...

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The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 – Land War II

by Mitch on November 12, 2010 0 Comments

Japanese soldiers near Chemulpo, Korea, August–September 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War.

Even as the battle on the Yalu was taking shape, General Oku Yasutaka’s Second Japanese Army had already put to sea. Immediately upon news of Kuroki’s victory, Oku commenced landing at Pitsewo, 60 kilometers north of Dal’nii, thus setting the stage for the battle of Nanshan at the narrow waist of the Liaodong peninsula. At Takushan, 57 kilometers west of the Yalu’s mouth, Kuroki’s First Army enjoyed a brief respite before striking northwest toward the Motien Pass, but not before making way for elements of General Nozu Michitsura’s Fourth Japanese Army to disembark. Now, Nozu might strike out northwest toward the Fenshui Pass while protecting Kuroki’s left. With precious few forward assets, the Russians now faced multiple advancing threats.

On 26 May, Oku launched a vicious assault against heavily fortified Russian ...

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The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 – Land War I

by Mitch on November 12, 2010 0 Comments

Clockwise from top: Russian cruiser Pallada under fire at Port Arthur, Russian cavalry at Mukden, Russian cruiser Varyag and gunboat Korietz at Chemulpo Bay, Japanese dead at Port Arthur, Japanese infantry crossing the Yalu River

Responses to the challenges of war in St. Petersburg and Tokyo were clear harbingers of the future. The Japanese had a well-conceived war plan, and they sought to attain its objectives with every convoy dispatched to Korea. The Japanese aim was to destroy Russian power in northeast Asia. But the die-hard Russian naval presence at Port Arthur would soon necessitate a ground assault against its landward defenses, thus requiring the Japanese to divide their army into two forces—one to besiege the naval base and the other to fight what would become the Manchurian war of maneuver. In contrast, St. Petersburg lacked a formal war plan for its Asian marches, so the Russians began a ...

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The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 – Naval War II

by Mitch on November 12, 2010 0 Comments

Admiral Tōgō on the bridge of Mikasa, at the beginning of the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. The signal flag being hoisted is the letter "Z", which was a special instruction to the Fleet.

The Russians did not at any time during the conflict give up the notion that they must contend with the Japanese for command of the sea. Not surprisingly, Stark was quickly sacked. Blamed for his squadron’s lack of readiness, he was replaced by Vice Admiral Stepan O. Makarov, who arrived at Port Arthur on 7 March 1904 to inject new life into Stark’s seemingly listless officers and crews. In addition to repairing damaged ships at a naval installation that did not have suitable dry docks, Makarov’s central task was to convince his sailors to fight and die for Russia. His life-long motto was “Remember War!”

By the beginning of April the Retvizan and ...

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The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 – Naval War I

by Mitch on November 12, 2010 0 Comments

Kokyo, “Engagement at Port Arthur, 14 February 1904.” Japanese woodblock print. Caption: “A picture of our destroyer advancing quickly like a bird in morning fog, venturing in the turbulent snowstorm, shooting and wrecking the enemy’s ship at Lushun (Port Arthur).”

Even though Russia and Japan committed vast reserves of manpower and materiel to the battlefields of the Manchuria, the central feature around which the war turned was the battle fought for command of the sea. Both sides understood this proposition, which explains why the war commenced with Admiral Togo Heihachiro’s surprise attack against the Russian Pacific Squadron at Port Arthur on the night of 8–9 February 1904. The ability to command the sea was key to winning the conflict largely because of logistics. With the desperately long and not quite completed Trans-Siberian railway as Russia’s only timely and secure means of transit and supply to the ...

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by Mitch on November 10, 2010 0 Comments


In the summer of 1917, T. E. Lawrence and the Arab leaders recognized the importance of seizing the port of Aqaba in order to secure a port and base on the northern Red Sea coast that could in turn facilitate further campaigns into Palestine and Syria. Accompanied by a party of tribesmen and Auda abu Tay , the hereditary war chief of the warlike Howeitat tribe, Lawrence led a small force on an epic two-month march through the desert. After a clash with a Turkish battalion at Abu al-Lissan, the Arab force took the surrender of some of the outlying garrisons and finally took Aqaba on 6 July 1917. The taking of Aqaba represented a huge turning point in the orientation of the campaign and thereafter the Arab Northern Army could use it as a base for later campaigns in support of General Allenby’s ...

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by Mitch on November 10, 2010 0 Comments

Persian Cossack Brigade in Tabriz in 1909


The reign of Mozaffar al-Din Shah (1896–1907) continued the trend of political suppression, top-down reforms, and development concessions (most notably, the d’Arcy concession of 1901 that led to the formation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909, the first oil company in the Middle East) that simultaneously deepened Iran’s financial problems and trained a westernized elite increasingly drawn to the democratic strands of renewalism. Economic disruptions caused by the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and resentment over heavy-handed government tactics to prevent hoarding by merchants sparked a new alliance of intellectuals, merchants, and ranking clergy against the monarchy.


Politicians with renewalist sympathies channeled the protest toward the creation of a Parliament (Majles) and a constitution over the course of 1906 to 1907. But no sooner was constitutional order established than disputes broke out over the nature of democracy in Iran. Some ...

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