Empires and Indigenes: Intercultural Alliance, Imperial Expansion, and Warfare in the Early Modern World.

by Mitch on February 28, 2012 0 Comments

Wayne E. Lee, ed. Empires and Indigenes: Intercultural Alliance, Imperial Expansion, and Warfare in the Early Modern World. New York: New York University Press, 2011. 320 pp. $80.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8147-5308-8; $28.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8147-5311-8.

Reviewed by Rainer Buschmann (California State University Channel Islands)
Published on H-Empire (February, 2012)
Commissioned by Charles V. Reed

Indigenous Peoples and the European Military Revolution

The flood of literature on the European military revolution has somewhat abated in recent years. The present edited volume seeks to revive interest in this historiographical relic by focusing on what the revolution’s literature has hitherto neglected: the indigenous role in imperial expansion and consolidation during the early modern age (1500-1800). In a strong introductory chapter, Wayne E. Lee closely examines the Habsburg’s conquest of vast Native American empires, which he identifies as the Spanish model. In Lee’s view, the uniqueness of this model ...

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British Army and Society

by Mitch on February 20, 2012 0 Comments

British Army - Zulu War

The British Army existed on the fringes of British society, especially early in the period 1815–1914. Although it gained greater public attention and appreciation as social reforms were conducted and literacy was enhanced, the army was perceived more as the instrument of an increasingly successful imperialistic policy. Many Britons were ignorant of the army way of life and took little interest in it.


The social composition of the British Army remained relatively constant throughout this period, and the British Army remained a microcosm of the larger British society and reflected its class structure.


The financially exclusive aristocracy and landed gentry provided the backbone of the British Army officer corps. They were generally motivated by the ideal of service, honor, and prestige. As members of the “leisured class,” the aristocrats and landed gentry were society’s natural leaders and considered themselves duty - bound to protect the ...

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Battle of Maiwand, (27 July 1880)

by Mitch on February 12, 2012 0 Comments

The fall of the Conservative Government in England on 28 April 1880, during the Second Afghan War, resulted in a policy change to withdraw British forces from many locations, including Afghanistan. To fill the power vacuum upon their imminent departure and to maintain stability, the British selected Abdur Rahman to rule the country. He was proclaimed Amir on 22 July 1880.


Ayub Khan, a brother of Yakub Khan then governing Kabul, believed he should rule Afghanistan, and he had been marching with a large force toward Kandahar to gain the throne by force since early July 1880. Former Afghan Army soldiers and religious followers flocked to Ayub Khan’s cause.


On 2 July 1880, a British brigade, commanded by Brigadier General G.R. S . Burrows, began to advance from Kandahar to the Helm and River to prevent Ayub Khan’s force from crossing it. Burrows’s brigade consisted of the ...

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Kabul to Kandahar March (August 1880)

by Mitch on February 12, 2012 0 Comments

News of the British disaster at Maiwand on 27 July 1880 reached Kabul the following day. The experienced Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal) Sir Donald M. Stewart commanded the North Afghanistan Field Force and permitted his subordinate, Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal Earl) Sir Frederick S. Robert s ,V. C., to volunteer to lead a relief force to Kandahar.


The viceroy of India recognized something had to be done to retrieve the debacle and approved this propos al on 3 August 1880. He directed that Stewart’s force would also withdraw via the Khyber Pass to India. Stewart magnanimously placed all resources at Robert s’s disposal .The composition of Robert s’s force was also published on 3 August. It was to consist of three infantry brigades, each with a British battalion (60th Rifles, 72nd, or 92nd Highlanders), and a Sikh, a Gurkha, and a Punjab battalion. The Cavalry ...

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Second Afghan War

by Mitch on February 12, 2012 1 Comment

Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts

In the Second Afghan War, British forces invaded after Tsar Alexander II annexed the Central Asian Khanates of Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand to the Russian Empire and Shere Ali, son and heir of Dost Muhammad, renewed the Afghan policy of friendliness toward Russia. The campaign began in November 1878 and quickly chalked a series of victories leading to the capture of Jalalabad and Kandahar early in 1879. Shere Ali died and was succeeded by his son, Yakub Khan, who signed a treaty ceding the Khyber Pass, Kurram, Pishin, and Sibi to Britain and agreed to receive a British agent in Kabul. The peace was shattered almost immediately, however, as the entire British mission was slaughtered by mutinous Afghan soldiers shortly after their arrival in Kabul. A punitive expedition led by General Frederick Roberts took Kabul, and some 100 Afghan deemed responsible for the massacre of ...

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A Military Railway in Egypt-Sudan

by Mitch on February 11, 2012 0 Comments

The Director of Military Intelligence, Colonel Sir Francis Wingate, talking to an Arab civilian on leaving a train on the Sudan Military Railway, possibly near Atbara. Colonel Wingate spoke fluent Arabic. The Arab is probably Mohammed Fadl, a Sudanese spy from Dafur who was imprisoned and mutilated by the Khalifa. His right hand and left foot had been amputated as punishment.


If the southern section of the Cape to Cairo never got as far as Rhodes, or indeed Williams, had hoped, nor did the northern. Starting in Egypt and running through Sudan, it was an equally ambitious exercise simply because of the sheer scale of the enterprise, even though it passed through relatively easy territory. The line had to traverse vast swathes of desert, and its construction in those harsh conditions was only made possible through military discipline. Indeed, it was intended as a military railway built to give the ...

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Imperial Railways # 1

by Mitch on February 11, 2012 0 Comments

The Rhodes Colossus: Cape to Cairo

Africa presented a rather different set of obstacles which ultimately proved insuperable, and the rather insane ambition to create transcontinental railways on different axes by the two big imperial powers of the day – north–south for the British, east-west by the French – nearly precipitated them into a war. There was also a tense face-off between Britain and the Portuguese, who together with the Transvaal Republic, wanted to build an east–west route linking the two Portuguese colonies of Angola on the Atlantic Ocean and Mozambique on the Indian Ocean.


The neatly alliterative but overambitious Cape to Cairo railway, stretching 6,000 miles, was an empire-building project promulgated largely by that great imperialist Cecil Rhodes who had established Britain’s dominance in southern Africa. His dream was for a continuous line of pink  from one end of Africa to the other and a railway was ...

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