The Battle of Paducah took place in March 1864 in Paducah, Kentucky – on the Ohio River. Here, David Pyle explains what happened during this American Civil War battle.

 Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States during the US Civil War.

Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States during the US Civil War.

March of 1864, forces commanded by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest had set out from Columbus, Mississippi with the objective of recruiting more fighters, obtaining needed supplies and harassing the enemy. The General had 3,000 men under his command as he made the trip, cutting through Western Kentucky.

Tensely waiting action on the Union side were some 665 blue coats under the command of Colonel Stephen G. Hicks. The soldiers had many reasons for nervousness, one being Forrest’s nearing army and another being stationed in the unsympathetic city of Paducah, Kentucky, which would just have soon seen the fort burned to the ground.

Making the Union forces even more unpopular with the locals was the First Kentucky Heavy Artillery Colored unit being stationed there. Backing up the Union troops were two gunboats on the Ohio River.

Among Forrest’s troops were soldiers from Paducah. They were quite familiar with the city. The Confederate general set up his headquarters in Mayfield, Kentucky 25 miles from Paducah on March 25, 1864. One of these men was Col. Albert P. Thompson; he and some others were assigned by Forrest to launch a raid on Paducah, taking what the Confederates needed and spreading alarm and confusion.

Colonel Thompson and a force of 1,800 troops quickly moved to Paducah. Thompson’s regiment was first to reach Paducah’s outer picket lines where they took several Union sentinels prisoner. One guard who refused to surrender was killed in an exchange of gunfire.

 

To engage in the open?

The Confederate troops continued on into Paducah capturing pickets as they advanced. About 3 p.m. Thompson’s forces reached 15th and Broadway in Paducah; from their mounts they watched as Union soldiers marched into Fort Anderson. Several Confederates voiced a desire to engage the opposition while they were out in the open, but were reminded that the raid’s purpose was to capture medical supplies and munitions and not for prisoners. All they could do was watch as Union forces secured themselves in the fort.

Still, the desire to storm the fort was strong in the Paducah natives who served the Confederate cause. An assault upon Fort Anderson was most inevitable.

General Forrest ordered a flag of truce be sent to Fort Anderson’s commander, Col. Hicks. Forrest decided the men from Paducah should be the ones to deliver the message. The troops had started forward, Company D in the lead, but they were overtaken by a courier with a change in orders that all but six should return. D Company’s Captain selected the first six men in his charge to deliver the message.

Forrest’s message read, “Colonel: Having a force amply sufficient to carry your works and reduce the place, and in order to avoid the unnecessary effusion of blood, I demand the surrender of the fort and troops, with all public property. If you surrender you shall be treated as prisoners of war, but if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter.”

While the message was being delivered, members of the Third and Seventh Kentucky regiments took their positions; the Eighth regiment ransacked the commissary stores.

Hick’s considered Forrest’s demand for surrender and replied, “Sir, I have this moment received yours of this instant, in which you demand the unconditional surrender of forces under my command. I can answer that I have been placed here by the government to defend this post, and in this as well as all other orders from my superiors, I feel it to be my duty as an honorable officer to obey. I must, therefore, respectfully decline surrendering as you may require.”

As the refusal was being delivered, the gunboats Peosta and Paw Paw began shelling the city. Many shells went over the Confederates’ heads, but the gunboat commanders lowered the guns and flying gravel picked up by cannonballs mingled with the hurling shells. The fire forced the withdrawal of General Abraham Buford’s regiment from the river’s edge.

Union gunboats ranged their fire up Paducah’s streets to clear it of cavalry. Three-inch shells pierced an old Maple tree in the city.

After three assaults against Fort Anderson Gen. Forrest issued a ceasefire order. Col. A.P. Thompson and his staff gathered near an officer. Thompson sat upon his horse talking with the men not too many blocks from his Paducah home.

 

Falling back

It was now nighttime in Paducah, and the Confederates were 500 feet from the fort, under fire from the gunboats.

Capt. D.E. Meyers was given the job of delivering messages to the Confederate colonels ordering them to fall back to the protection of some nearby houses. As he neared Thompson, a shell fired from a gunboat cannon struck the colonel, who fell from his horse. The injured horse bolted and ran half a block before falling dead.

The horse was buried where it had fallen, but Col. Thompson’s mangled body would lay till morning.

After Col. Thompson’s fall, Col. Ed Crossland assumed command. While ordering the men to fall back, he was hit by rifle fire, which wounded him in the right thigh. Sharpshooters swarmed down the street; nine succeeded in reaching a home.

The nine, including J.V. Greif, exchanged fire with the defenders of Fort Anderson from a distance of 100 feet.

 “Our Guns were never idle,” Greif was reported as having said. “Until the enemy succeeded in bringing to bear on our position a gun from another part of the fort.”

Greif was knocked down when a cannonball passed through the house, and an object smacked his jaw. The order came to evacuate from the house. Greif managed to recover and fled with his comrades.

Greif’s jaw stung so much from the object that he thought he might have been wounded. To Greif’s relief a fellow soldier assured him there was no injury.

 “There was a boy named Ewell Hord at my left side,” Greif recalled. “He asked me to load his weapon, I told him to load it himself, I was busy.” Grief added the boy said he couldn’t as his arm had been wounded, so Greif told him, “Go to the rear you fool, what better luck do you want? It gets you out of all this.”

Hord went off to the rear in tears.

Col. Crossland’s men entered a building that overlooked the fort. From the second floor his men opened fire on the fort and fire was returned, as one of the men in the window was killed by a solid shot to the chest.

As the Confederates withdrew they were fired upon and shelled. One cavalryman was holding several horses when he was struck in the hip by enemy fire. He would die a few days later.

 

Aftermath

In all the Union had 14 men killed and 46 wounded; on the Confederate side 11 were killed and 39 wounded.

Forrest reported to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, “I drove the enemy to their boats and fortifications. We captured clothing, several hundred horses and clothes; we burned a steamer, the dock and all the cotton on the landing. We could have held on longer, but withdrew because of smallpox in the area.”

At 11 p.m. the Confederates withdrew from Paducah to a farm about six miles from Paducah.

The next day Col. Hicks ordered the 60 homes in Paducah burned. Word had gotten to him that the Confederates were planning another attack.

 “We were attacked by an overwhelming force,” Hicks reported. “We repulsed the enemy and beat them back all day. I saw I would be attacked again and the better to protect myself against sharpshooters, I issued the order to burn the home.”

On the 26th the battle of Paducah came to its conclusion. Forrest sent to Hicks an offer to exchange prisoners. Col. Hicks responded he had no power to do so, but if he could he would be most glad to. The Confederates then withdrew.

 

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The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a watershed moment in the history of the post-colonial world. The effects of the ill-fated military plan devised in secret between the forces of the United Kingdom, France and Israel, to invade and retake the Suez Canal following an invasion by Egyptian forces, would be felt much further than merely on Egyptian soil. Indeed, it is often cited as the event which ended European - and more accurately British - hegemony in international relations. From the Suez Crisis onwards, the United States would almost invariably take the lead in conducting large-scale military operations across the world.

However, the effect that the Crisis had within Egypt itself is less well documented. Here, Conor Keegan gives a brief explanation of the measures taken by Nasser immediately post-1956 to remove the mutamassirun community, with a specific focus on the effects of these policies on the Jewish population of Egypt.

 General Nasser (center of picture with hand in the air), Alexandria, Egypt, 1954.

General Nasser (center of picture with hand in the air), Alexandria, Egypt, 1954.

The Mutamassirun

The Suez Crisis, aside from producing an understandable rise in support for President Gamal Abdel Nasser and his regime, had devastating effects for persons living within Egypt who had become ‘egyptianized’ i.e. those who were not Egyptian citizens; or those whose ancestry was not wholly Egyptian, but had attained Egyptian citizenship through various legal statutes.

These people were collectively known as the mutamassirun, and, in the immediate post-colonial period in Egypt (from 1922 onwards) they owned a large share of capital and operated a large number of businesses in Egypt. They were also acknowledged to have made significant contributions to Egyptian cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in the past. Although measures to expel members of the mutamassirun were already underway before the Suez Crisis came to a head, the Crisis is widely seen as giving Nasser the necessary impetus and legitimacy to proceed to make it extremely difficult for ‘egyptianized’ persons to remain in Egypt.

It was a natural step for Nasser to seek to blame the Suez Crisis on the mutamassirun population. After all, Nasser had risen to power on an avowedly pan-Arab, anti-colonial message. As Britain had directly ruled Egypt from the late nineteenth century until 1922, and France had previously invaded under Napoleon in 1798, the mutamassirun were easy targets for blame post-Crisis Egypt, as many were of British or French nationality or extraction. There was also a sizeable population of Jews living in Egypt around the turn of the twentieth century. As the pre-Crisis period coincided with an increasingly confident and assertive Zionist movement, leading up to the creation of Israel in 1948, which led to great discomfort across Arab states, the Crisis only provided Nasser with a further reason to expel large numbers of the Egyptian Jewish population in its aftermath.

 

Impact on the Jewish Population

For the Jews specifically (including those Jews who also happened to be British or French citizens), Nasser’s policy of removal post-1956 was carried out in two ways: expulsion and ‘voluntary’ emigration. With regard to expulsion, the Egyptian government was able to make the number of Jews removed from Egypt seem much lower than the actual number by statistical sleight of hand: the estimate that at least 500 Egyptian and stateless Jews were expelled from Egypt by November 1956 does not include the expulsion of those Jews that were French or British citizens, nor does it include any member of a family who was not deemed by the Egyptian authorities to have been the ‘head of a family’, but who nonetheless had to leave Egypt along with the head of their family.

Furthermore, the Egyptian authorities used more informal (and ‘voluntary’) methods to expel Jews, which proved to be effective. These measures included widespread intimidation, economic coercion and ‘voluntary’ declarations made by those Jews who were Egyptian citizens renouncing their citizenship. When these methods are included, it is estimated that by the end of June 1957 between 23,000 and 25,000 of Egypt’s 45,000 Jews had left the country.

 

Making Citizenship Harder to Obtain

In additional to expulsions, the Egyptian government also actively set about depriving the mutamassirun in general of citizenship in the aftermath of the Crisis. In November 1956, Egyptian citizenship law was amended so that only persons who were resident on the territory of Egypt on January 1, 1900, and who had maintained their residence in Egypt from that date to the coming into force of the amendment on November 22, 1956, were entitled to Egyptian citizenship. Therefore, by virtue of this provision, it was a relatively uncomplicated task for the Egyptian government to retroactively deprive the mutamassirun in general of Egyptian citizenship. This policy was only made easier for the Egyptian government to enforce due to the fact that most mutamassirun did not possess official papers of any kind which proved their continuous residence in Egypt between the relevant dates.

The amended law was even clearer when it came to providing for Jewish citizens of Egypt: the amendment clearly provides that citizenship should not be given to ‘Zionists’. Therefore, while the attempt to make uncertain the position of the general mutamassirun population after 1956 was arguably camouflaged by somewhat confusing references to continuous residence in Egypt between two specific dates, the provisions of the legislation left no room for doubt that the Jewish population was prioritized by Nasser’s government when it came to identifying groups from whom they would seek to withdraw rights and privileges.

Therefore, it can be seen that President Nasser and his government used various legal, procedural, formal and informal measures to effectively expel and exclude the mutamassirun from Egyptian society, territory and nationality. While measures excluding this much-maligned group were not unusual in the broad expanse of Egyptian history, the measures enacted after the Suez Crisis of 1956 were more intense and more in the vein of ostracization (as opposed to discrimination) than any previous measures. Therefore, even though the Suez Crisis had far-reaching and important effects across the world, the Crisis also had drastic consequences for ‘egyptianized’ foreigners in Egypt, and most acutely affected the Jewish population.

 

What do you think of this article? Let us know your thoughts below…

Sources

Gorman, Anthony, Historians, State and Politics in Twentieth Century Egypt: Contesting the Nation 2003 Routledge Curzon

Harper, Paul, The Suez Crisis 1986 Wayland

Kazamias, Alexander, ‘The Purge of the Greeks from Nasserite Egypt’ 2009 Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 35(2) 13-34

Laskier, Michael M, ‘Egyptian Jewry under the Nasser Regime 1956-70’ 1995 Middle Eastern Studies 31(3) 573-619

William Walker, the man of destiny from the American South, was a very curious mid-nineteenth century adventurer. He launched various schemes in Mexico and Central America – and was even President of Nicaragua. Curtis H. Stratton explains (Twitter: @Curtis_Stratton).

 A portrait of William Walker by George Drury.

A portrait of William Walker by George Drury.

On September 12, 1860, the American-born President of Nicaragua died at the hands of a firing squad. This “gray-eyed man of destiny,” known as William Walker, had conquered the country with sixty men.

For, in the 1850s, bold military expeditions were undertaken by people without government sponsorship - expeditions, which were inherently based on conquest. These men-of-fortune were known as “filibusters.” The most successful, and most disastrously-fated, of these filibusters was a Tennessee native, William Walker. Of slight stature and thin-of-hair, the wildly-ambitious attorney seemed the least-likely to be a conqueror.

Yet, he was to be a conqueror not just once, but twice, and all as a private citizen.

 

Humble Beginnings

Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1824, the young Walker showed intellectual promise from an early age. At fourteen, he graduated with honors from the University of Nashville. Though he received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania at nineteen, Walker first made a name for himself as an attorney in New Orleans.

In New Orleans, Walker experienced his first successes and first tastes of failure. He founded a newspaper after practicing law for some time. His fiancée died of cholera in 1849, when he was but twenty-five. This did not quell the young man’s ambitions, as the United States was full of sentiment surrounding Manifest Destiny - the fervent belief that the United States was destined to settle both North American coasts. This popular conviction showed itself in the Annexation of Texas and the push for further control in the Oregon Territory.

As a Southern man, this ideal was deeply-held by Walker, and, as his ties to New Orleans faded, he decided to “Go West, young man.” The allure of the California Gold Rush drew Walker to San Francisco, where his personal legend grew following a duel with an infamous gunslinger, William Hicks Graham.

 

The Republic of Sonora

In 1853, Walker made a trip to Guaymas, in the Mexican province of Sonora. There, he petitioned the Mexican government to allow him to create a colony to act as a buffer zone between Native American raiders and American territory. Mexico declined his offer, and Walker returned to San Francisco.  

Despite the setback, Walker moved forward with his concept of the “Republic of Sonora.” With a recruitment office established and offers of land within the silver-rich Sonora, Walker was able to find recruits for his expedition, as well as the money necessary to undertake it. War veterans, destitute miners, and other adventuring men joined Walker in his quest to create a new country.

Sailing from San Francisco to La Paz, in Baja, Walker’s small army of roughly fifty men seized the city, imprisoned the Mexican governor, and declared the “Republic of Lower California,” with sights still on the neighboring Sonora. Walker made himself President of this new republic, and the laws of his last home-state, Louisiana, were applied, which made slavery legal.

The capture of La Paz made Walker infinitely popular in San Francisco, and he was reinforced with two hundred Mexicans and two hundred Americans from San Francisco, all of whom were drawn to the allure of land and a role in the new republic.  

Though the Mexican government could not rally an army to dislodge Walker from La Paz, the small force they did send managed to send Walker into retreat to Ensenada, further up the Baja Peninsula.  From there, Walker renamed the republic the Republic of Sonora, consisting of Baja and Sonora.

In a stroke of misfortune, the ship carrying Walker’s supplies left, and his recently-enlarged army soon began to desert.  With few options remaining for the fledgling republic, Walker decided to attack the city of Sonora proper, in hopes of securing a victory and bolstering his army and finances once more.  However, the desertions left him with but thirty-five men, and he crossed the border into American territory, in lieu of capture by the Mexican government.

As filibustering was illegal, he and his men were arrested by the U.S. Army.  He was given a trial in San Francisco, where the attorney-by-trade argued his way to an acquittal from a sympathetic jury. Having come close to victory in the Sonora Expedition, Walker returned to practicing law, his thirst for adventure not-yet-satisfied.

 

The Conquest of Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, thousands of miles south of San Francisco, the exploits of William Walker had reached the warring country. A civil war gripped Nicaragua, with two rival factions vying for control over the Central American country. The liberal Leonese were losing the war to the conservative Granadans.

Having heard of Walker’s expedition in Mexico, the Leonese wanted Walker to assist them in their efforts. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad baron from New York, had expressed interest in creating a canal through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean with the Pacific. Walker, like many Americans, thus saw Nicaragua as an economic jackpot, having noted it was a country “for which nature has done much and man little.”

Walker agreed to help the Leonese in their conflict, and, on May 4, 1855, he set sail from San Francisco for Nicaragua with a force of sixty men. Landing at San Juan del Sur on June 16, Walker’s volunteers were greeted by two hundred Leonese troops.  

Walker marched his newly-formed army through the Nicaraguan jungle to the Granadan stronghold of Rivas. The Battle of Rivas was a defeat for Walker’s army, but, following a regrouping, he and his men attacked the major city of Granada, taking the Granadans by surprise. The city was firmly his by October 1855, and he declared himself President of Nicaragua. His government was formally-recognized by President Polk in May 1856, giving President Walker international legitimacy.

However, Walker made many enemies through his conquest. By revoking Vanderbilt’s shipping rights in Nicaragua, legalizing slavery, and making English the official language, he provided fodder for a coalition led by the Costa Ricans to oust him from power in early 1857.

 

Home and Back

Walker safely returned to the United States following the collapse of his rule, where he was a popular figure in the South. While he made plans to recapture Nicaragua, he wrote a book and practiced law once more. After the better part of a year back in the States, Walker recruited some of his old followers and left from Mobile, Alabama in November 1857. Landing in Nicaragua, he was soon arrested by the U.S. Navy and taken back to the United States.

After another trial for violation of United States’ neutrality laws, he was again acquitted by a sympathetic jury in 1858. He remained in the United States until 1860, where he sailed from New Orleans to Honduras. The British Navy caught wind of his landing in Honduras. As the British held colonies in Central America, they abhorred the idea of Walker continuing his filibustering schemes.  

Thus, the British captured Walker before handing him over to the Honduran government, which ordered his death via firing squad on September 12, 1860. His last words were a request for clemency for his men, and the thirty-six-year-old “gray-eyed man of destiny” was killed, ending his dreams of conquest for good.

 

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The Great Leap Forward took place some 60 years ago in Chairman Mao’s communist China and led to the greatest famine in human history. Here, Stepan Hobza discusses why the Great Leap Forward took place and how Chairman Mao can be viewed today.

 Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong.

Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong.

Had any Western tourist gone to China 60 years ago, they would certainly have been surprised. They could have wondered if a horrible mistake had taken place and they had actually arrived in England taking part in a Monty Python sketch.

At the beginning of 1958 hundreds of thousands of citizens of the People’s Republic of China flooded the streets with drums and trumpets in their hands. Yet they were not celebrating. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on the sky. Now and then, a shot was fired into a treetop… The sole purpose of this strange behaviour would seem surprising to us: the Chinese simply went out to kill sparrows. The poor birds had fallen into disgrace with the Communist Party of China since they “harmed the crops”, and were probably lucky enough not to be labelled as imperialistic agents. The sequel is emblematic of Mao’s Absurdistan. After annihilating two billion sparrows, an excessive reproduction of insects followed. These vermin now really set about harming the crops and in order to kill them off, China had to import millions of sparrows from the Soviet Union.

This escapade was by no means a one-off eccentricity, rather one of the many components of a wider motion called The Great Leap Forward. This glorious operation was supposed to mean, “three years of hard work”, after which “ten thousand years of happiness” would follow. In fact, what followed was the greatest famine in human history. While in the West “Chinese cuisine” was becoming popular, the actual people of China were happy to obtain a bowl of rice. In one of thousands of starving villages “a teenage orphan kill[ed] and [ate] her four-year-old brother“ and “the last remaining resident, a woman in her 60s, [went] insane. Others [were] tortured, beaten or buried alive for declaring realistic harvests.“

The official account of the Chinese government acknowledges 15 million victims. In the 1990s, when the topic was more thoroughly explored for the first time, historians assumed that the real number could very well be twice as big. However, while it may seem unbelievable, a new and very well researched book concerning the topic, Frank Dikötter‘s Mao’s Great Famine speaks about “at least 45 million“ dead people. By way of contrast, this number is almost twice as big as the toll of all military casualties in WWII. You may as well imagine that a whole modern-day Ukraine would perish in the course of four years - because that’s exactly what happened in China from 1958 to 1962.

 

The reasons for the tragedy

The question could not be more obvious: Why? As happens to be the rule concerning huge catastrophes, a combination of factors rather than a single one was to blame for the outcome. A major geopolitical shift of global scale stood at the beginning. After the death of Stalin a new set of Soviet leaders vied for power in the Kremlin. Though the biggest chances were attributed to Georgy Malenkov – in fact, not so feckless and compliant as depicted in Armando Ianucci’s recent farce film The Death of Stalin –, Nikita Khrushchev finally prevailed. Yet, unlike the Soviet apparatchiks, Mao didn’t trust him. When they met in 1957 he was absolutely sure that the First Secretary would sacrifice anyone in order to reconcile with the USA. China was alone. Characteristically, Mao didn’t recoil from this new and awe-inspiring prospect. He already felt like an ideological leader of the socialist bloc, anyway. What could he learn from those “grandsons of the Revolution” who held sway in Moscow? With a single Great Leap Forward China would jump over the Soviets and pair its spiritual supremacy with an economic one.  

In Chinese Communists’ minds the ultimate goal of the socialist world – Communism as such – was within arm’s reach. It would suffice to mobilize the masses. In order to achieve this, the Party established mammoth-like communes. Many fanaticized farmers were guided to believe that an economic paradise was descending upon the Earth. Before entering the communes, they killed off their cattle and held carnivorous orgies. Needless to say how dearly they would appreciate the meat later, when they would have not even rice or bread. After their last happy days they finally set out for a journey to giant dams, the Red Flag Canal or other – true or failed – masterpieces of water management. Their working conditions were naturally horrific. An even bigger problem, though, was that since they left, there was – what a wonder – no one to plough their fields. However, this fact didn’t stop provincial officials from reporting massive harvest increases to Beijing. Thus starving cities demanded even bigger supplies from the country which didn’t have enough to feed its peasants. The circle of death soon closed. Nothing could have described the situation better than the words in which Zhou Enlai (contrary to widespread habit to quote this as Mao’s motto) summed up the Chairman’s convictions: All under heaven is in chaos, the situation is excellent.

 

Mao in perspective

Few countries have ever changed as rapidly and profoundly as China has since 1960s. Although little has been revised in the official doctrine, the Trotskyist idea of permanent revolution seems ludicrous under the shades of hundreds of skyscrapers owned by trillions of dollars’ worth’ Chinese banks. Nevertheless, the white-collared communists keep addressing each other “comrade” and humming Pioneer songs. Chairman Mao is still considered a demigod-like hero and the myth surrounding his exploits is sacrosanct. Unfortunately, this lack of self-reflection is not a uniquely Chinese problem. With the People’s Republic possessing every thinkable potential to become a superpower, it is rather disturbing that the Great Famine of 1958-62, one of the biggest and most consequential crimes in human history, is still redubbed Three Years of Natural Disasters in Chinese vocabulary. Now, since Xi Jinping recently declared himself de facto dictator for life, the chances for change have grown even smaller, if not plummeted to zero.

 

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The Jacobite Risings were a stormy period from the late 17th century to the first half of the 18th century in Britain. They involved many plots and battles between those who wanted Britain to remain ruled by Protestants and those who wanted the Stuart Catholics to return to the British throne. Here, in the last of the series, Jamil Bakhtawar follows from his introduction (here) and article on the risings of 1715 (here), to explain how a later generation of Stuarts started the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

 Painting of Bonnie Prince Charlie by William Mosman.

Painting of Bonnie Prince Charlie by William Mosman.

For a generation after the ‘Fifteen’, the Act of Union was not seriously threatened. Jacobitism seldom rallied the forces which had been controlled so inefficiently previously. As the material benefits of the Union were seen, those in the Scottish Lowlands were tempted to follow a different path from the separatists; whilst, the Stuart cause found support chiefly among the Scottish clans.

The Jacobite dream of ruling Great Britain flared up again under the leadership of the Old Pretender’s son, Charles. Known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, the young Stuart began plotting an invasion of Great Britain in 1743. In his eyes, the time was ripe for rebellion. England had recently become embroiled in vast global conflicts; British forces were deployed in Europe while colonists took up arms in faraway places like North America, the Caribbean, and the Indian subcontinent. With all of Great Britain’s concerns overseas, the Bonnie Prince reasoned, they would never expect an uprising at home.

 

The Bonnie Prince

Prince Charles Edward Stuart won the heart of the Scottish Highlanders by wearing their dress and marching at the head of the second division, as strong and unwearied as the best among them. He brought with him his unassailable belief for restoring a Stuart back on the throne. His care for his followers tended much to endear him to them, and his followers adorned him with the graces of a king. Charles cultivated long-distance relations in the Scottish Highlands and amongst England’s Catholic nobility. Guaranteed by Charles that he would be compensated if the risings failed, Chief of the Clan Cameron committed his people to the cause. This led to the support of a few key western clans being crucial to the rising. Without them, the Jacobite standard could never have been raised: with them, the '45 unfolded.

 

The Sieges of ‘45

The Young Pretender rallied to his standard 10,000 Scotsmen, mostly Highlanders, and captured Edinburgh, thus securing a supply of arms. The rebellion had remarkable initial success. Many Hanoverian troops had been withdrawn to fight the regime's wars abroad, and only a handful remained to defend Scotland. This, plus the general reluctance of the population to martyr themselves for George II (the Protestant heir apparent), allowed Charles to occupy Edinburgh virtually unopposed.

Consequently, after a decisive victory over government forces at Prestonpans, the Jacobite Army invaded England by the western route through Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lanarkshire. Charles besieged Carlisle in mid-November and later entered the city with 5,000 infantry and 500 cavalry troops. After gathering all the ammunition, arms and horses from Carlisle, the Jacobites continued south thereby laying siege to Manchester. Morale inside the Jacobite ranks swelled, and the British throne seemed within their grasp.

All told, Charles made a spectacular advance into England, getting as far as Derby. When he reached Derby (only one hundred and twenty-seven miles from London) he found himself threatened by three armies, from the south, north, and east respectively. King George II (the son of George I) recalled his brother, the Duke of Cumberland, from the front lines in France to quell the rebellion. With ample men and resources, the Duke pursued the Jacobite invaders and Charles’ forces were greatly diminished by desertion. On December 6, threatened by superior forces, the Jacobites retreated to Scotland.

As the pursuit continued, the Duke of Cumberland and his army landed in Edinburgh in January 1746 and marched on the Jacobites. An already exhausted Jacobite Army was forced to retreat into the Highlands towards Inverness. However, the clansmen did not give up their cause; they awaited reinforcements and kept on their plan to seat Charles Edward Stuart on the throne of Britain.

 

The Battle of Culloden - 1746

Ignoring advice to launch a guerrilla campaign, Charles chose to stage a defensive action and confront his enemy at the Drummossie Moor, near Inverness. He also ignored warnings that the rough marshy ground may favor the larger Government forces. And so, on a rain soaked morning the Government Army struck camp and headed towards the moorland around Culloden and Drummossie to take up their positions.

Over the first half-hour of the battle, Cumberland’s artillery battered the Jacobite lines, first with round shot and then grapeshot. Finally, Charles issued the orders his Highlanders had been waiting for to charge the enemy.

The Jacobites were heavily armed with muskets and formed into conventional regiments. They were drilled according to French conventions and some British Army practice. They possessed numerous artillery pieces and fired more rounds per man than the British. Even so, they had no more than 200 mounted men; the British had almost four times as many. Once the Jacobite frontline failed to break the British front at more than one point, their reinforcements were readily disrupted by British cavalry and dragoons on the wings.

The Jacobite Army comprised about 5,000, barely a third its maximum strength in the earlier rising of 1745-46 and several thousand fewer than the British. It demonstrated impressive courage and persistence in fighting Culloden, despite being outnumbered. Culloden was difficult for the Jacobites to win, but this manpower shortage – combined with a lack of cavalry – was what made it possible for the British dragoon blades to cut down the Jacobite musketeers. Hence, the Highlanders finally broke and fled; the entire battle had lasted less than hour.

Charles’ decision to fight on the most unsuitable terrain possible for a Highland charge had enabled the Hanoverian artillery to cut the Jacobite army to pieces. Indeed, Culloden was a devastating defeat. Several thousand men, some of whom had not been present at the battle, gathered at Ruthven 30 miles south to continue the fight. But a lack of supplies and a failure of leadership from Charles put an end to any thought of a final stand.

 The Battle of Culloden by David Morier.

The Battle of Culloden by David Morier.

The Jacobite Army at Culloden

The Jacobite army at Culloden was organized along regimental lines, with the regiments named after their commanders. They were drilled using a mixture of French and British tactics and possessed a large amount of artillery. The battle of Culloden had to be fought because the Jacobite Army needed to protect Inverness, its last major supply depot. As it was, supplies were low and Charles’ army was too large and conventionally organized to fight a guerilla war. Nor was it a ‘clan-like' army; many of its units were from the Scottish Highlands, as well as Irish and Scottish soldiers in the French service, and some English volunteers.

Indeed, at Culloden some of the most effective units were non-Highland ones.

 

The End of the Jacobite Cause

Ironically, the government repression after Culloden was as unnecessary as it was brutal. Many former Jacobites were only too willing to seek terms with the State.

Within a relatively short time a large number of them were to be found serving the Hanoverians in a military capacity abroad. Jacobitism had been exposed by the '45 as no longer militarily viable. With the exception of a few half-hearted plots, it continued withering away.

The defeat of the Jacobites had led to the rolling out of a new British government policy: the attempted extinction of Stuart support in the Highlands via the systematic dismantling of the ancient social and military culture of the Highland clans. The wearing of Highland garb, particularly tartan plaid, was banned and the semi-feudal bond of military service coupled with the power of the chiefs over their clans was removed.

Understandably the British government wanted to stamp out any potential of another rebellion occurring. However, the uncompromisingly ruthless and often violent manner in which this was achieved - including the destruction of property and livelihood, executions and transportation - swiftly turned the joy at the rebellion’s termination into sympathy for the rebels and, soon after, disaffection towards the government. The Duke of Cumberland’s enthusiastic leadership in this process won him the soubriquet ‘The Butcher.’ Thus, the pacification of the Highlands and the channeling of Highland military prowess into the British Army largely removed any potential for a future uprising in the area.

Culloden was seen as the final battle in an Anglo-Scottish conflict. It was the precursor to the Highlands becoming the last part of Scotland to be fully incorporated into Great Britain and, most importantly, the British Army. This helped underline the sense of Jacobites as aliens: Gaelic-speaking Catholics in an English-speaking Protestant country.

Culloden was, of course, the true end of a long civil war, as was the Anglo-Irish war of 1919-21 or the American War of Independence. Every national struggle divides its nation, and the Jacobite uprisings were a fight not only for the restoration of a Catholic monarchy but also for an independent Scottish nation. 

 

What do you think of the article? Let us know below.

With the ever greater use of computers, phones, and other technologies, students are paying less and less attention to textbooks, paper charts, and extended presentation based materials. As such, it should come as no surprise that educators and instructors have got the message that they should incorporate technology into their materials to captivate students, to keep their attention, and to allow them to discover their talents and skills.

So here’s a widely acclaimed solution to increase engagement in history.

 How the class room used to be...

How the class room used to be...

Create a Classroom Website

Perhaps you have often admired other teachers who use a website to impart knowledge and teach history – making things interesting and learning effective. The good news is that websites are now accessible and ever easier to create.

As well as uploading presentations, you can also use websites for other purposes, such as general announcements, to show materials for upcoming classes, to upload images and notes of class progress, and to connect to important resources on the Internet through hyperlinks. The uses can be as many as you want.

Some teachers say that it has become quite hard to make modern day students interested in history. But, with a website at your disposal, you will be able to communicate the significance of all aspects of the past using computer technology and website design software.

Here are some other tips:

  • You can use websites to add links to the primary and secondary sources of historical analysis you have discussed in class
  • You can add pictures of relevant historians and history related events to awaken more interest
  • For a more fun filled history experience and to increase the engagement of your students, incorporate interactive media such as videos, music, maps, texts, and non-textual description such as charts and photographs
  • Provide appropriate access to your website and the Internet in the classroom

 

How to create a classroom website

You can easily find a number of websites that offer you website building options, but few specifically tailored to offer a complete classroom website builder option. Some of the most popular for instructors and educators are Weebly, WordPress, Ning, and Blackboard. Some of them offer users step-by-step instructions for building a website, so it makes it easier for you to go through the process and your website can be ready and running in less than 30 minutes!

But even if you have already found a platform for your future classroom website, what else is there you should think about?

Well, you need to choose your site and domain name. Then you need to choose a template for your website – all of the platforms have a great number of templates so you can choose the one that suits you the most. The best part about the template and design of your website is that you can always choose to change it if you feel like it.

 

Domain and title

The domain name has to be bought if you do not want the platform name as part of the URL of your site, so it is recommended that you buy one to give your site a more personalized touch.

 

Elements

Elements are what help you drag your information into the site. Some website building platforms also offer a huge, free database of pictures for you to use if you have little time to look for images on the Internet.

 

Header

Your header comes next, the font and color of which you can always change according to your taste and the selected design and template of the website.

 

Publish it!

After you have done the above steps, your site is ready to be published.

After publishing, you can keep adding more and more pages, new layouts and blogs to your site. A website is a whole new world in itself and should consist of all the information you can possibly give to your audience.

Unlike a blog that can become rather claustrophobic when you have too much information to share, a website offers you unlimited capacity and options to drag and drop as much and as many types of information as you want. You just have to broaden your horizons of technology use and your website will be more than complete.

 

One final tip…

A lot of sites also allow you to make your website interactive by adding fun quizzes, forms and documents so that students do not feel like the communication is only one sided. Therefore, always remember that the more interactive and fun your site is, the more engaged your students will be.

 

What tips do you have about increasing engagement in history in the classroom? Let us know below.

Forty years ago, on March 16, 1978, a tragic airplane crash claimed 73 lives, including a number of elite Polish cyclists. Shrouded in Cold War secrecy, the crash remains unexplained to this day.

Written by Matthew Stefanski. Matthew interviewed Dr. Leszek Sibilski, a member of the Polish Olympic Cycling Team at the time, to write the article.

 Leszek Sibilski (center) with Marek Kolasa (left) and  Krzysztof Otocki (right). Sprint, Youth Spartakus Games in Lodz, Summer 1977. Kolasa and Otocki perished in the crash.

Leszek Sibilski (center) with Marek Kolasa (left) and  Krzysztof Otocki (right). Sprint, Youth Spartakus Games in Lodz, Summer 1977. Kolasa and Otocki perished in the crash.

When tragedy strikes the sporting community, it tends to captivate the world’s attention. Athletes who are competing and striving for victory one day, can simply be gone the next, as was the case in the Manchester United Munich Air Disaster or the luging accident during the Vancouver Olympics. Perhaps it is because the competitiveness and passion of sports is thought to safeguard athletes from worldly vices that these tragedies seem so unfair. Whatever their cause, society can oft only respond with grief expressed in a need to commemorate and remember the victims long after their untimely passing. 

Unfortunately even in sports, tragedies can fade. March 16 this year marks the 40th anniversary of an airplane catastrophe which claimed the flower of Polish cycling. Shrouded in Cold War secrecy, it remains unexplained to this day; forgotten by all but those closest to the victims.

 

Training in Bulgaria

“Bulgaria was the cradle of spring trainings for the Polish cycling team. In Poland March was very tricky. We needed to build mileage on our bikes and to do so we needed dry roads and sunshine” explains Dr. Leszek Sibilski, professor of sociology at Montgomery College in Maryland.

In 1978 Sibilski was a member of the Polish Olympic Cycling Team. That March, as they often did, the team traveled to Bulgaria for spring training as they prepared for the coming season and worked towards qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. The team was composed of short and medium distance cyclists, some 20 athletes in all. They were young, passionate and the best cyclists Poland had. 

The training in Bulgaria progressed as any other, with the mild Balkan weather melting away the cyclist’s winter blues.

On March 16, the team split. The medium-distance athletes continued to train in Bulgaria, while the six short-distance sprinters, who were on a different training regime, prepared to depart for Warsaw aboard a Balkan Bulgarian Airlines flight.

 

The crash and its aftermath

The Tu-134 aircraft with 73 passengers and crew aboard departed Sofia but never reached its cruising altitude. Less than ten minutes after takeoff, due to still undetermined reasons, the airplane crashed near the village of Gabare, 80 miles from Sofia. There were no survivors. 

The crash site was quickly cordoned off by the Bulgarian military and a cloak of secrecy and unanswered questions descended over the area.

As word of what happened spread, the Polish cyclists who had remained in Bulgaria quickly traveled to the site only to be turned away by military personnel. Few answers were forthcoming, and little more would be learned over time. 

The incident was briefly covered by the Polish press, which then was still subject to Communist censorship, but overall the cyclists were quickly forgotten. The funerals were private, and no public commemorations were organized. “The topic was avoided, it was painful, inconvenient, and became easy to forget,” explains Sibilski. 

Following a superficial investigation the official cause of the crash was described as electrical circuit malfunction, but theories quickly began to circulate. Was the aircraft shot down by the Bulgarian armed forces, some wondered, or did the crash have anything to do with the secret military base located near Gabare? The year, however, was 1978 and both Poland and Bulgaria were behind the Iron Curtain. With an atmosphere not conducive to prodding questions, the theories went unanswered. 

So, just like that, with the victims buried and crash site cleared, the incident creeped out of public consciousness. 

“At a certain age, you begin to reflect and analyze your life. You look back on your mistakes and your successes. I consider this catastrophe the most defining moment of my life” asserts Professor Sibilski, “This incident haunts me. I am very lucky that I was not aboard that plane, and I want to pay it back.”

Professor Sibilski points out that education saved his life. Had he attended the spring training in Bulgaria, he would most certainly have been aboard that fateful plane together with the other sprinters. As was the case, his university schedule did not allow for him to take part in this particular training, so he remained instead in Poland to attend classes. 

“I lost five of my very close friends, my teammates, and no one is doing anything to find out what happened.” No one - that is - except Sibilski. 

 Photo 2 caption: Leszek Sibilski (first), Marek Kolasa (second), Spartakus Youth Games in Lodz, 1977, Sprint final,

Photo 2 caption: Leszek Sibilski (first), Marek Kolasa (second), Spartakus Youth Games in Lodz, 1977, Sprint final,

Trying to resolve the mystery

A recent self-described empty nester, Sibilski has long suppressed if not the memory than certainly the emotions of this painful chapter in his life. But recently, as he approaches 60, reflections on his life have led him to confront those memories, and to commemorate his lost teammates. 

Two years ago, following an impromptu mini-reunion of former Polish cyclists during the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, VA, Sibilski initiated an action that would result in the first official public commemoration of the five lost cyclists. In November 2016 a plaque was unveiled at the entrance to the velodrome in Pruszków, near Warsaw, Poland. 

It reads “The living owe it to those who can no longer speak to tell their story. In memory of: Marek Kolasa, Krzysztof Otocki, Witold Stachowiak, Tadeusz Wlodarczyk and Jacek Zdaniuk, the cyclists of the Polish National Team who died on March 16, 1978 in unsolved circumstances in a plane crash near Gabare, Bulgaria.”

Sibilski thought that this action would be the end of it. But, as he now explains, when he watched the unveiling ceremony and the moving reactions from the victim’s family members, something within him continued to stir. 

“Questions. Unanswered questions. So much is still unknown,” demurred Professor Sibilski when I spoke with him ahead of the fortieth anniversary.

Professor Sibilski is working with interest researchers in Poland and Bulgaria to study the declassified Communist archives for clues that could finally remove the cloak of silence that had descended over that fateful crash. “We are so close. The answers are surely in the archives. It’s time to shake people up; to give them an opportunity to find answers, perhaps I can be that spark to make something happen.”

 

Let us know your thoughts below.

 

Matthew Stefanski serves as the press advisor at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, DC. The views presented here are strictly his own.

The photographs in this article are from Dr. Leszek Sibilski’s private collection and are used in this article with permission.

King Henry VIII is one of the most legendary kings of England - for many of the wrong reasons. He gained a fearsome reputation among his subjects. Nevertheless, his break with the Papacy in Rome established the Church of England and began the English Reformation - which ultimately helped lead to the foundation of the United States. His two daughters would gain unforgettable legacies during their respective reigns as well. Yet, little is known about the male heir Henry had sacrificed three wives and national stability for. In his unfortunately short reign and life, King Edward VI of England still managed to stamp his own mark on history before being overshadowed quickly by his two half-sisters.

Casey Titus explains.

 King Edward VI of England as a child.

King Edward VI of England as a child.

1.     Edward was King Henry’s only legitimate son

Henry VIII was famously known to have had six wives, two divorced, two executed, one died in childhood, and the last that outlived him. Along with six wives came innumerable mistresses. His first wife, Katherine of Aragon, bore him five stillborn children and one surviving daughter, Mary I. His second wife, Anne Boleyn, miscarried two sons and birthed one living daughter, Elizabeth I. His third wife, Jane Seymour, gave birth to one surviving son, Edward VI. Henry acknowledged one illegitimate child, Henry Fitzroy, the son of his mistress Elizabeth Blount, and granted him a dukedom. At least six others are suspected of being his illegitimate children, including Catherine and Henry Carey, the children of Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn.

2.     Edward grew up coddled and educated

From the age of six, Edward was educated in philosophy, theology, the sciences, French, Spanish, and Italian. He was even said to have a high intelligence and a firm understanding of monetary affairs. Visitors spoiled Edward with toys and luxuries that included his own troupe of musicians. Both of Edward’s sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, doted on their younger brother. Edward wrote to Mary in 1546 that he “love(d) her most,” and Elizabeth had gifted him a shirt of her own working. Henry demanded his son’s household be strictly secured and cleaned, as little Edward was “this whole realm’s most precious jewel.”

3.     Prince Edward was betrothed as a young boy

In July 1543, Henry VIII signed the Treaty of Greenwich with the Scots which would not only unite the two kingdoms but the betrothal between six-year old Edward and seven-month old Mary, Queen of Scots. In a turn of events, the Scots renounced the treaty six months later to renew their alliance with France. Henry was furious and ordered Prince Edward’s uncle, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, to attack Scotland in possible the most brutal military assault launched by England against the Scots. This war, known as “The Rough Wooing”, would continue into Edward’s reign.

4.     Edward ascended to the English throne at just nine years old

King Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547 and was laid to rest beside Edward’s mother, Queen Jane Seymour, at his request, possibly for the sole reason of having bore him the son he desperately desired. Since Edward was still young at the time Henry passed away, he arranged a council of regency that would rule on Edward’s behalf. This was overridden by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, who took power and named himself protector. Nine-year-old Edward VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey on February 20, 1547 the first English Protestant King. At his coronation service, Thomas Cramner, a leader of the English Reformation, even referred to Edward as a “second Josiah” and would urge him to propel the reformation of the Church of England as the focus of young Edward’s reign.

5.     Edward had quite the busy 6-year reign

An English Prayer Book was published in 1549 with an Act of Uniformity to ensure it was used across the country. Peasants in the West Country rebelled against the Book. Simultaneously, Kett’s Rebellion from Norfolk responded to the enclosure of land, concentrating on economic and social injustices. In addition, the French declared war on England. Kett’s Rebellion was suppressed by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. Dudley would unexpectedly use this victory to engineer the downfall of Edward’s uncle, Edward Seymour. The 14-year-old Henry wrote of his uncle’s execution plainly and coldly: “The Duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill between eight and nine o’clock in the morning.” By this time, Edward was writing on subjects such as military campaigns and currency reform and was being briefed by advisors selected by him. He was beginning to resemble his father; when his Lord Chancellor refused to accept a document signed by King Edward because it had been countersigned by his advisors, Edward reacted forcefully: “It should be a great impediment for me to send to all my council and I should seem to be in bondage,” he wrote. Like Henry, Edward VI believed the king was free to use his powers any way he felt was necessary.

In 1553, Edward was rapidly dying from a lung infection, most likely tuberculosis, and composed a “Devise” for royal succession. The “Devise” was the most puzzling document of Edward’s reign, a trick of the elusive and shrewd boy-king.

Edward compelled the judicial and political establishments of his kingdom to sign the “Devise” while ignoring the lawful, legitimate claims of Mary (first) and then Elizabeth (second) to the throne. Edward recognized them both as illegitimate, especially Mary for her Catholic faith and her threat to dismantle Protestant efforts in England.

 

Edward named his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, as his successor.


In Conclusion…

On July 6, 1553, Edward whispered his last prayer and died at the age of 15 at Greenwich Palace at 8PM. His last words were: “I am faint; Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit.” He was buried in Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey on August 8, 1553 with reformed rites performed by Thomas Cramner. Lady Jane Grey would only be queen for nine days before Mary took the throne with overwhelming popular support.

Many historians have judged the legacy of King Edward VI. One school of thought stamps him as weak and sickly, never likely to survive to manhood. Another is Edward being a puppet, manipulated by powerful revolutionaries around him. The third remembers Edward as a brilliant intellectual and ruler. Less commonly known is that Edward was Protestant England’s hero in their fight against the Pope and the Catholic Church.

What do you think of Edward VI of England? Let us know below.

The Jacobite Risings were a stormy period from the late 17th century to the first half of the 18th century in Britain. They involved many plots and battles between those who wanted Britain to remain ruled by Protestants and those who wanted the Stuart Catholics to return to the British throne. Here, Jamil Bakhtawar follows from his introduction (here) and explains the risings of 1715.

 George I with his family. Painting by James Thornhill.

George I with his family. Painting by James Thornhill.

Across the Channel in France, James II’s son and heir apparent, James III (the Old Pretender) was not pleased to hear about King George I of Hanover’s ascension. The Old Pretender was certainly not alone in his discontent; many Scottish Highlanders, English Catholics, and noble families devoted to the Stuart cause were unhappy to see a foreigner ruling over Great Britain.

The premature death of Queen Anne in her late forties (on August 1, 1714) disappointed the vague hopes of James III. The English Tories feared moving for a Roman Catholic claimant, and preferred to assume that a Hanoverian dynasty would immediately collapse. James III countered George I's accession with no more effective measure than a proclamation; on August 29, 1714, he asserted his hereditary right.

 

Prelude

When George I began his reign by unceremoniously setting his face against the Tories and dismissing the Earl of Mar, he supplied the Jacobites with a leader. This was not a backward rural people rising for archaic notions of loyalty to the king over the water; rather, there was strong support for the Jacobite cause in the trading burghs of north-east Scotland, as well as in the Highlands. Historian Bruce Lenman characterized the backbone of the risings as 'Patriotic Scots and Disgruntled Britons'. The Union was, thus, in impending danger.

In September 1715 the Jacobite leader, Earl of Mar, raised the Stuart standard at Braemar Castle. Just eight days later, he captured Perth and gathered an army of over 10,000 men, drawn mostly from the Episcopalians of north-east Scotland and from the Highlands.

 

The Battle of Sheriffmuir

Jacobite sentiment and hatred of the Union had been the real forces behind Scotland’s support for James III. The Earl of Mar raised James III’s standard in the north of Scotland, where he met with a group of Highland chiefs on the pretext of a great hunt. The government was, however, reluctant to start a revolt. Prompt and vigorous action on Mar's part might have given him an advantage and made the insurrection exceedingly formidable. But ‘Bobbing John’, as he was nicknamed, was incapable of promptitude or vigor. While he sat still and did little, the Duke of Argyll, a soldier and statesman of considerable distinction, was dispatched to Scotland to suppress the insurrection. On November 13, 1715 the armies of Argyll and Mar met and fought at Sheriffmuir. The battle was characteristic in its futility.

Both the left wings broke and ran; some ran without any reason, and on the whole the Jacobites ran most effectively. To have called the fight a victory for either party would have been absurd; some five or six hundred appear to have fallen on either side. But the practical result was that when the running was over, Mar retreated and Argyll did not. The advancing of the insurgents had stopped, and all the heart that had been in the rebellion was taken out. When Mar had raised the standard of James in the North, the English Jacobites ought to have risen simultaneously.

 

The Battle of Preston

Insurrection in the Scottish Highlands was a much simpler matter than in England, where there were no solid Jacobite districts and the government troops could move with comparative ease. The news of the Scottish rising was immediately followed by the arrest of half-a-dozen English Jacobites. In the north of England, however, several Jacobite squires collected together under the leadership of the Earl of Derwentwater and Sir Thomas Forster, who was a General. Over the border, Lord Kenmure, along with Lords Nithsdale, Carnwath and Wintoun declared for James III, were joined by Brigadier MacIntosh with a few Highlanders from Mar's force.

These two companies united at Kelso. But the Englishmen would not march north to help Mar against Argyll, and the Highlanders would not march south to strike at the small government force commanded by General Carpenter. While they tried to make up their minds on a plan, government troops were assembling. The English insurgents were determined to invade Lancashire, while the Highlanders had returned home. The rest, some fifteen hundred strong, marched through Cumberland southwards collecting miscellaneous recruits along the way until they got to Preston in November 1715 where they were attacked by Carpenter and Wills. If led intelligently, they should have been able to rout the government troops, but after having repulsed an attack their commanders were bluffed into surrendering. 

Thus, the rising in England collapsed. In Scotland, it dragged on a little longer. James himself arrived on the scene with the idea that his presence would give heart to his followers. But the former king suffered from an inveterate melancholy which would have dampened the enthusiasm. Argyll was in no hurry to strike home, but the Jacobites had lost the power of striking at all. Their forces diminished day by day, James in despair withdrew from the country, and the once threatening Jacobite conflagration guttered dolefully out.

 

Aftermath of the Risings

The risings of1715 were like no other Jacobite rising since Killiecrankie: they had not started from abroad. It was also the only occasion when a sizeable rebellion also broke out in England - in heavily Catholic and financially broke Lancashire.

Most of the Jacobite leaders fled to France and some were retained. Of the prisoners taken at Preston, some who had been army officers were shot, some were condemned to be beheaded and several of the leading commoners were hanged. Some succeeded in breaking prison and only Kenmure, Derwentwater, and twenty-six commoners were actually put to death.

In not a few families, one or two sons had been allowed to join the risings to demonstrate the family's loyalty to the Stuarts, while the head of the house had remained at home to demonstrate its loyalty to the Hanoverian Succession. The nation at large sat still in scarcely disturbed apathy. The supreme question of the day was settled by two or three thousand regular troops, a mob of fox-hunters, a few broken adventurers, and some Highland clansmen, most of whom cared more about clan feuds than the genuine issues that were at stake. A few forfeitures, the construction of some military roads in the Highlands, and an ineffective measure of disarmament were the principal outcome of the Fifteen.

The uprisings of 1715 are widely considered to be the Jacobite uprisings that should have worked. They had a large amount of support, across both Scotland and England, but failed largely because of poor management and organization. The uprising, seen in this light, was the climax of a struggle for Scotland’s national and political identity.  Both sides had their part to play. In the Hanoverian corner, never forgetting the pounding they had taken between 1660 and the Glorious Revolution, these new defenders of George I were revealed as increasingly urgent, coherent and aggressive, unprepared for a counter-insurgency that would impose their own settlement on the Scottish nation. Nevertheless, the matter remained unsettled after a lengthy stalemate, and the Jacobites soon began advancing towards more rebellions and battles. To them the dye had been cast after the ascension of George I; now the plan had to be to overthrow George I.

 

If you missed it, part 1 in the series is here and you can read on to part 3 here.

What do you think of this article? Let us know below…

When the term “Epicurean” is brought up in today’s world, it is mostly associated with hedonism and gorging oneself with copious amounts of food and drink. However, the philosopher on whom that phrase is based, Epicurus of Samos, evokes a far different image among religious Christians and Jews. They see him as an atheist, a man who denied the existence of God in favor of sin. Such a perception has persisted for thousands of years, having been propagated by theologians, priests, and academics in Jewish and Christian intellectual circles. This characterization has existed for so long that even the Hebrew word for “heretic” is apikoros. However, is this claim really true? Was Epicurus of Samos an atheist? The answer, it turns out, is much more surprising and interesting than one would think.

Seth Eislund explains.

 Epicurus as depicted in the  Nuremberg Chronicle  (a late 15th-century book.

Epicurus as depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle (a late 15th-century book.

The Three Basics of Epicurean Philosophy: Empiricism, Materialism, Atomism

Epicurus was born on the Athenian island-colony of Samos in 341 BCE. Both of his parents were born in Athens and he began studying philosophy at an early age under the Platonist thinker Pamphilus. Epicurus later served in the Athenian military from the ages of 18 to 20. Once Epicurus had completed his service, he settled in Athens between 307 and 306 BCE and founded his philosophical school there.1

Epicurus espoused a philosophy based on materialism and empiricism that was heavily influenced by the Greek thinkers Leucippus and Democritus. These two 5th-century BCE philosophers were the founders of atomic theory, which states that all matter is made up of tiny, indivisible particles, including gods and the human soul.2 Epicurus wholeheartedly believed in atomism, stating that nothing existed but atoms and the void, and originated due to random chance and the laws of nature.3 Therefore, like most scientists and atheists today, Epicurus held an empirical, evidence-based worldview. He believed that “sensations, together with the perception of pleasure and pain [were] the only infallible ways of determining reality.”4 However, does Epicurus’ empiricism, materialism and atomism make him an atheist? Not necessarily.

 

The Avoidance of Pain, the Pursuit of Pleasure, and the Formation of Ideas

To Epicurus, the ultimate good was to avoid pain and seek pleasure. He believed that fear of death and punishment (especially divine punishment) was the cause of humanity’s suffering.5 Therefore, he argued that if people lived without fear and without desire, they would be able to reach the ultimate goal: pleasure. Epicurus saw religion as a source of fear that should be banished from people's’ minds if they were to live peaceful lives.6 This meant that people should not put their faith in gods, nor expect them to intervene in human affairs, as such beliefs would inevitably lead to anxiety and unhappiness. Epicurus believed that human beings should rely upon physics and the sciences instead of religion. This would remove the fear of death and gods from a person’s mind.7 Epicurus claimed that physics offers a consistent, reassuring explanation of how the world works, while deities, whom he called “heavenly spies,”8 inspire fear in the hearts of god-fearing men. However, Epicurus never denied that the Greek gods existed. In fact, he defended their existence, stating that since they appeared in the dreams and visions of humans, and that so many cultures believed in gods, they must exist. However, Epicurus believed that gods lived in ataraxia, a state of tranquility in the heavens, and therefore did not intervene in human affairs.9 This meant that humans must rely on the sciences, on what they could empirically see, rather than transcendent, divine intervention that would never come.

According to historian David Konstan, Epicurus held that human beings perceive any entity or sensation, including the Greek pantheon, via “thin films emitted by objects that enter the appropriate sense organ.”10 Epicurus believed that some of these films were so minuscule that they were able to penetrate the human body and enter a person’s mind. According to Epicurus, this process forms our dreams, a vehicle through which people can interact with deities, and influences our ideas, beliefs, and even the conscious choices we make.11 Epicurus reasoned that the only way humans could use their imaginations was through their absorption of the films floating about in the air. Such absorption, he argued, would enable people to see entities beyond the mortal realm. Since the gods lived in a realm beyond human existence, Epicurus believed that human beings could see them through the film they emitted.

 

Judeo-Christian Interpretations of Epicureanism and Conclusion

Epicurus’ philosophy was not based on atheism, but rather on a deistic worldview. Deism posits that gods exist, but do not involve themselves with worldly affairs. By denying the presence of deities in human life, Epicurus wasn’t arguing for an atheistic worldview, but trying to remove the fear of gods, death, and pain that humans experienced.12

Unfortunately, ancient Christian and Jewish thinkers mistook Epicurus’ deism for an utter rejection of God and relentlessly attacked his philosophy. Tertullian, a Christian writer who lived in the 3rd century CE, called Epicureanism “frigid conceit.”13 Saint Augustine of Hippo exclaimed that Epicurus was a “pig” and a supporter of “depravity and gluttony.”14 The Mishnah, Judaism’s written record of the Oral Torah, proclaims: “All Israel has a share in the world to come. As Isaiah said: ‘All of your people who are righteous will merit eternity and inherit the land.’ And these are the people who do not merit the world to come: the ones who deny the resurrection of the dead, and those who deny the Torah is from the heavens, and Epicureans.”15 Thus, inaccurate and intolerant Christian and Jewish interpretations of Epicureanism greatly influenced the commonly-held belief that it is a philosophy of heresy and evil. Philodemus, an Epicurean philosopher who lived in the 1st century BCE, gives us a more accurate depiction of Epicurus’ worldview. He states that Epicureanism is “unfearing of God, unsuspecting of death, the good easily obtained, suffering to be borne patiently.”16 Epicurus was no evil man, nor was he a heretic. He wanted humans to be free of fear, live bravely and kindly, and help themselves, as well as others, to feel true bliss.

 

What do you think about Epicurus? Let us know below…

References

1 "Epicureanism," ReligionFacts.com, October 28, 2016, accessed November 15, 2017, http://www.religionfacts.com/epicureanism.

2 Adam Lee, "Epicurus' World," Daylight Atheism, May 29, 2009, accessed November 19, 2017, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2009/05/epicurus-world/.

3 Ibid.

4 David Konstan, "Epicurus," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, January 10, 2005, accessed November 15, 2017, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epicurus/.

5 Ibid.

6 "Epicureanism," ReligionFacts.com, October 28, 2016, accessed November 15, 2017, http://www.religionfacts.com/epicureanism.

7 Georgios Papadogeorgos, Prominent Greeks of Antiquity: Their Lives and Work (Athena: Ed. M. Toubis, 2013), 70.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 David Konstan, "Epicurus," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, January 10, 2005, accessed November 15, 2017, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epicurus/.

11 Ibid.

12 Barry Loewer, Stephen Law, and Julian Baggini, 30-Second Philosophies: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Philosophies, Each Explained in Half a Minute (New York: Metro Books, 2009), 106.

13Adam Lee, "Epicurus' World," Daylight Atheism, May 29, 2009, accessed November 19, 2017, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2009/05/epicurus-world/.

14 Robert Hanrott, "Epicureanism after Epicurus – The influence of Epicurus on Western thought," Epicurus Blog, 2017, accessed November 19, 2017, http://hanrott.com/blog/epicureanism-after-epicurus-the-influence-of-epicurus-on-western-thought/.

15 Ibid.

16 Georgios Papadogeorgos, Prominent Greeks of Antiquity: Their Lives and Work (Athena: Ed. M. Toubis, 2013), 71.

 

Bibliography

-- "Epicureanism." ReligionFacts.com. October 28, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2017.

http://www.religionfacts.com/epicureanism.

 

Hanrott, Robert. "Epicureanism after Epicurus – The influence of Epicurus on Western

thought." Epicurus Blog. 2017. Accessed November 19, 2017. http://hanrott.com/blog/epicureanism-after-epicurus-the-influence-of-epicurus-on-western-thought/.

 

Konstan, David. "Epicurus." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. January 10, 2005.

Accessed November 15, 2017. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epicurus/.

 

 Lee, Adam. "Epicurus' World." Daylight Atheism. May 29, 2009. Accessed November

19, 2017. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2009/05/epicurus-world/.

 

Loewer, Barry, Stephen Law, and Julian Baggini. 30-Second Philosophies: The 50 Most

Thought-provoking Philosophies, Each Explained in Half a Minute. New York: Metro Books, 2009.

 

Papadogeorgos, Georgios. Prominent Greeks of Antiquity: Their Lives and Work. Athena:

Ed. M. Toubis, 2013.

 

 

About the Author

Seth Eislund is a currently a senior at Stuart Hall High School in San Francisco, California. He has always been interested in history, especially religious history and Jewish history. He blogs at https://medium.com/@seislund, and has a passion for writing short stories and poetry.

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones
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