This Day in History (26-Feb-1815) – Napoleon Bonaparte Escapes from Elba

Defeat in Russia forced Napolean to return to France, when all the european nations jointly attacked him and defeated him in April 1814. The post war treaty provided Napolean with 2 million francs a year, and allowed him to retain the title of Emperor. But Napoleon was of course distraught, and tried unsuccessfully to poison himself. Finally he accepted exile on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean Sea, six miles off the western coast of Italy. Napoleon was allowed to rule Elba, which had 12,000 inhabitants. Napoleon actually worked hard to improve Elba, and to all observers, it seemed as though Napoleon was content to a life of relative retirement. All the while, however, he was plotting his return.

On Elba, Napoleon was under the constant watch of Austrian and French guards. Nonetheless, he was not isolated: he received thousands of letters from all over Europe and read major newspapers that kept him abreast of events. Napoleon organized and trained a small navy, instructed work crews on the manufacture of mines and created a small regiment of loyal troops. He gathered approximately 1,000 men and slipped away from his palace on Elba during the night of February 26, 1815, a little more than ten months after his arrival.

Two days later, he arrived on the French coast and brought his force ashore with designs on a march to Paris. Passing through the southeast of France without much in the way of resistance, Napoleon and his men finally stood before resolute opposition at Laffrey. The soldiers realized it was their former commander and could not believe their eyes — Napoleon stood within range of their pistols and yelled, “Let him that has the heart kill his Emperor!” Amazed, the men are said to have lowered their weapons and shouted, “Vive l’Empereur!” before joining the ranks behind him. As the days passed, battalion after battalion lined up with Napoleon. Less than a month after setting foot on French soil again, Napoleon was in control of Paris on March 20th and Louis XVIII, the new king, fled to Belgium. However within next hundred days, Napolean was defeated at Waterloo and was sent to exile to the remote island of Saint Helena, in the South Pacific where he died due to poor health.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/february-26-1815-napoleon-bonaparte-escapes-from-elba

http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/napoleon/section8.rhtml

http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/napoleon/section9.rhtml

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This Day in History (25-Feb- 1932) – Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship by naturalization, which allows him to run in the 1932 election for Reichspräsident

Adolf Hitler was an Austrian German. He lost his father at the age of 13. Throughout his youth, Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist. He applied twice to the Vienna Academy of Art but was denied entrance both times. After his mother’s death in 1908, Hitler spent four years living on the streets of Vienna, selling postcards of his artwork to make a little money. it is just as likely that Hitler picked up a hatred for Jews while living on the streets of Vienna, a city known at the time for its antisemitism.

Hitler volunteered to serve in the German army once World War I began. Hitler endured and survived four years of war. During this time, he was awarded two Iron Crosses for bravery. He sustained two major injuries during the war. The first occurred in October 1916 when he was wounded by a grenade splinter. The other was in October 1918, when a gas attack caused Hitler to go temporarily blind. It was while Hitler was recovering from the gas attack that the war got over. Hitler was furious that Germany had surrendered and felt strongly that Germany had been “stabbed in the back” by its leaders. Furious at Germany’s surrender, Hitler returned to Munich after the end of World War I, determined to enter politics. In 1919, Hitler became the 55th member of a small antisemitic party called the German Worker’s Party and soon became a party leader. He designed the swastika logo and renamed party to Nazi party.

Hitler had formally renounced his Austrian citizenship in 1925, but at the time did not acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years he was stateless, unable to run for public office, and faced the risk of deportation from Germany.  On 25 February 1932, the interior minister of Brunswick, who was a member of the Nazi Party, appointed Hitler as administrator for the state’s delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin, making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick, and thus of Germany.

In 1932, Hitler ran against von Hindenburg in the presidential elections. Hitler came in second in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35 per cent of the vote in the final election. Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a strong force in German politics.

 

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_25

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler

http://history1900s.about.com/od/hitleradolf/a/Hitler-Facts.htm

This Day in History (22-Feb-1991) – US Gulf War allies give Iraq 24 hrs to begin Kuwait withdrawal

After the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Iraq was extremely indebted to several Arab countries, including a $14 billion debt to Kuwait. Iraq hoped to repay its debts by raising the price of oil through OPEC oil production cuts, but instead, Kuwait increased production, lowering prices, in an attempt to leverage a better resolution of their border dispute. In addition, greatly antagonizing Iraq, Kuwait had taken advantage of the Iran-Iraq War and had begun illegal slant drilling for oil into Iraqi reserves, and had built military outposts on Iraqi soil near Kuwait. Furthermore, Iraq charged that it had performed a collective service for all Arabs by acting as a buffer against Iran and that therefore Kuwait and Saudi Arabia should negotiate or cancel Iraq’s war debts. The war with Iran had also seen the destruction of almost all of Iraq’s port facilities on the Persian Gulf cutting off Iraq’s main trade outlet. Iraq security could only be guaranteed by controlling more of the Gulf Coast, including more secure ports including Kuwait.

In August 1990, Iraqi troops crossed the Kuwaiti border with armor and infantry, occupying strategic posts throughout the country, including the Emir’s palace. Iraq detained thousands of Western visitors as hostages and later attempted to use them as bargaining chips. Hussein then installed a new Iraqi provincial governor, described as “liberation” from the Kuwaiti Emir

In January 1991 the United States Congress authorized the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. The coalition launched a massive air campaign codenamed Operation Desert Storm, beginning early morning on January 17, 1991. On February 22, 1991, Iraq agreed to a Soviet-proposed cease-fire agreement. The agreement called for Iraq to withdraw troops to pre-invasion positions within three weeks following a total cease-fire, and called for monitoring of the cease-fire and withdrawal to be overseen by the UN Security Council. The US rejected the proposal but said that retreating Iraqi forces would not be attacked, and gave twenty-four hours for Iraq to begin withdrawing forces. On February 24, the US began Operation Desert Sabre, the ground portion of its campaign and declared that Kuwait had been liberated in next 3 days.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/february/22?p=2

http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/Middleeastweb/factfile/Unique-facts-MiddleEast10.htm

This Day in History (25-Jan-1565) – Battle at Talikota – the Deccan sultanate destroy Vijayanagar’s army and the last Hindu kingdom of Southern India

The Vijayanagar Empire was a South Indian dynasty based in the Deccan spanning across all present South Indian states. It was founded by Harihara I and his sibling Bukka Raya in 1336, the empire ruled untill 1646. The ruling dynasty declined in the 1565 after a key military defeat by the Deccan Sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagar, the remarkable ruins of which surround modern World Heritage site Hampi is in modern Karnataka, India, till today. The Vijayanagara Empire`s support facilitated fine arts and literature in order to attain new-fangled pinnacles in the languages of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic Music advanced into its existing structure. The Empire shaped an era in South Indian history thereby surpassing regionalism with the promotion of Hinduism as a coalescing feature.

After the death of Krishna Deva Raya the fall of Vijayanagar Empire began. Two rulers Achyuta Raya and Sadasiva Raya were weak. At the time of Sadasiva Raya his minister Rama Raya captured all the royal authorities. He tried to capital the difference amongst Muslim sultans of Bijapur, Bidar, Ahmadnagar, and Golconda of South India and crush them. But they soon understood his plan and joined hands with each other. Then jointly they attacked Vijayanagar. Battle of Talikota, was a confrontation between the forces of the Hindu raja of Vijayanagar and the four Muslim sultans in the Indian Deccan. The armies numbered several hundred thousand, with large contingents of elephants. The battle seems to have been decided by the Muslim artillery and the capture and execution of the ruling minister Rama Raya. The capital city of Vijayanagar was captured, destroyed over a period of five months, and never reoccupied. The raja and Rama Raya’s brother Tirumala retired to Penukonda, where the latter usurped the throne in 1570. The battle was decisive in breaking up the Vijayanagar empire, a Telugu domination over the Tamil and Kannada south. It also began a final Muslim penetration lasting until the end of the 18th century.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/january/25

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/581480/Battle-of-Talikota

http://www.indianmirror.com/dynasty/vijayanagaradynasty.html

 http://www.importantindia.com/11629/battle-of-talikota-1565/

This Day in History (24-Jan-1972) – Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese soldier unaware World War II is over, is found on the island of Guam after hiding for 28 years

During WWII, Shoichi Yokoi had been transferred from Manchuria to Guam, and he served as a sergeant in the supply corps. When the Americans came, he and nine other men hid in the jungle. Their numbers gradually dwindled to three. He knew from a leaflet he found in 1952 that the war was over but never gave himself up because “we Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive.” Eight years before he was found, the other two men died, leaving him alone.  Yokoi proved to be a real “survival skills” expert living for almost 28 years in adverse conditions. On January 24, 1972, two residents of the village of Talofofo in the southern part of Guam were out hunting along the Talofofo River when they spotted a very old and wild appearing Japanese man carrying a shrimp trap. After a few confused words, they subdued 56-year-old Shoichi Yokoi and took him back to their home. Eventually, the police were summoned, and the story of Shoichi Yokoi’s saga became known.

During this period, Yokoi built little traps and caught shrimp and eel from the river. Yokoi had fashioned a rat trap from wire for rat meat. He wove cloth from the beaten fibre, and sewed the pieces together to make a total of three “suits” during his 28 years on the island. In the beginning, Yokoi used a lens for fire-starting. At some point he lost this lens and he is said to have made his fire by “rubbing two sticks together.” One of his shelters was a small house made from rushes he collected. He also lived in a hole that he dug under a bamboo grove. The entire cave was dug with a trowel that Yokoi fashioned from an old cannon shell. Inside, he had a toilet hole so well designed that it would flow off naturally to the river below. On another end of the cave — the “kitchen” — Yokoi had some shelves, and a hearth with a cooking pot. He carefully cut a Japanese canteen in two, and made a frying pan from one half and a plate from the other half. He took cylinders of bamboo and used them to collect rainwater and as dippers to collect water from the river.

Two weeks after his discovery in the jungle, Yokoi returned home to Japan to a hero’s welcome. He was besieged by the media, and was regularly invited to speak at universities and in schools across the country.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/january-24-1943-general-friedrich-von-paulus-is-denied-permission-to-surrender-in-the-battle-of-stalingrad

http://www.primitiveways.com/jungle_30_years.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16681636

This Day in History (16-Jan-1945) – Hitler descends into his bunker

After the Battle of the Bulge of World War II, Hitler had fallen into a state of deep despair and wearily returned to Berlin from his headquarters on the Western Front, setting up new headquarters inside the Reich Chancellery building, already partially damaged by Allied bombing. He remained there for 105 days until he committed suicide. During his daily military briefings he listened to gloomy reports concerning the unstoppable advance of largest combined military force the world had ever seen, now roaring into the Fatherland from East and West.

Throughout his life, Adolf Hitler had never been able to admit a single mistake or accept responsibility for any failure. On the west front, unwisely, Hitler ignored advice from Field Marshal Rundstedt to position his troops on the right bank of the river, thereby forcing the Allies to cross the water to attack. Instead, he left them as-is on the left bank, nearer the invaders, resulting in the loss of 350,000 soldiers and their equipment by the end of the month. For this, Hitler blamed Rundstedt and sacked him. Germans had failed to destroy a huge railroad bridge spanning the river in time to prevent American troops and tanks from seizing it. A furious Hitler ordered the execution of the eight Army officers who had bungled the bridge’s defense. This marked the beginning of a do-or-die phase for German troops at the hands of their vengeful Führer.

Mishaps and mistakes were now punishable by death. “If the war is lost,” Hitler told his Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, “the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. Those who will remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have all been killed.”

On April 29, Hitler married Eva Braun in their bunker hideaway. Eva Braun met Hitler while working as an assistant to Hitler’s official photographer. Loyal to the end, she refused to leave the bunker even as the Russians closed in. Only hours after they were united in marriage, both Hitler and Eva committed suicide. Both he and his wife swallowed cyanide capsules (which had been tested for their efficacy on his “beloved” dog and her pups). For good measure, he shot himself with his pistol.

Reference:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hitler-descends-into-his-bunker

http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/defeat/enter-bunker.htm

This Day in History (14-Jan-1761) – Third Battle of Panipat: Ahmed Shah Abdali, the ruler of Afghanistan, defeats the Marathas

Under Peshwa Baji Rao, Gujarat, Malwa and Mughal territories south of Delhi came under Maratha control. Baji Rao’s son, Balaji Baji Rao (popularly known as Nana Saheb) invaded Punjab. To counter Maratha advances, Durrani empire of Ahmad Shah Abdali joined with the Rohilla Afghans of the Gangetic Doab and Shuja-ud-Daulah, Nawab of Awadh. The Marathas, under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau, responded by gathering an army of between 45,000–60,000, which was accompanied by roughly 200,000 non-combatants and started their northward journey in March, 1760. The slow-moving Maratha camp reached Delhi in August, 1760, and took the city. However, Abdali daringly crossed the river Yamuna on the 25th of October at Baghpat, cutting off the Maratha camp from their base in Delhi. This eventually turned into a two-month-long siege led by Abdali against the Marathas in the town of Panipat. Food in the Maratha camp ran out by late December or early January and cattle died by the thousands. On the 13th of January the Maratha chiefs begged their commander, Sadashiv Rao Bhau, to be allowed to die in battle than perish by starvation. The next day the Marathas left their camp before dawn and marched south towards the Afghan camp in a desperate attempt to break the siege. The two armies came face-to-face around 8:00 a.m., and the battle raged until evening.

The battle involved over 125,000 troops. One of the bullets took the life of Vishwas Rao, the 17 year old son of the Peshwa. The commander Sadashiv Rao fought like a lion but ultimately cut down by Afghan sword. The forces led by Ahmad Shah Durrani came out victorious after destroying several Maratha flanks. Between 60,000–70,000 were killed in fighting, while the numbers of injured and prisoners taken vary considerably. The cryptic message sent to Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao states “Two pearls (Sadashiv Rao and Vishwas Rao) have been dissolved, twenty seven gold mohurs (Janokoji Rao and other commanders) have been lost, and of the silver and copper (soldiers and camp followers) the total cannot be cast up”. The result of the battle was the halting of further Maratha advances in the north, and a destabilization of their territories, for roughly 10 years until Peshwa Madhavrao revived Maratha domination.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/show.php

http://panipat.gov.in/abtus_history.html

http://livelystories.com/2011/12/29/the-third-battle-of-panipat/