Review of 'The Two Great Retreats of History':
-'The Retreat of the Ten Thousand', Greek expedition to restore Persian King,
in 401 to 399 before Christ
-'Retreat of Napoleon from Moscow', French expedition against Russia in 1812
The book is an adaptation of the chapter on 'Anabasis' ('March Up-country',
also known as 'The Retreat of the Ten Thousand') written in Greek by General
Xenophon and translated by George Grote in his 'History of Greece', plus a
translated abridgment of the book 'L'Histoire de Napoleon et de la Grande
Arm‚e en 1812' written in French by Count Philippe Paul de S‚gur. The two
authors, Xenophon and de S‚gur, were eye witnesses of the events, military
leaders in them, and provide rich detail. It is necessary reading for those
who love military adventures, and their deep effects on History. This double
book was published by Ginn in 1889 under direction of David Henry Montgomery.
A short synopsis of the two retreats follows this review for Many Books Net.
Xenophon (about 430 to 355 before Christ), Athenian Greek, was a disciple of
Socrates. During the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and allies (431-404 bC)
he distinguishes himself as a young soldier of the Athenian Army. He takes
part of the Greek expedition in 401 to 399 before Christ, trying to restore
the Persian King. They win the battle of Kunaxa (September 401 bC), but the
King dies in it and the Persians abandone them. They start a difficult retreat
to Greece. After the death or capture of most other Greek chiefs, Xenophon is
the most charismatic leader of the Ten Thousand (mostly Greeks, some Anatolian
and other allies), and guides their return amid perils few times in History
faced by a military force across hostile countries, for a distance so long.
-423 bC: Darius Nothus becomes King of Persia. He marries his half-sister
Parysatis and has two sons: Artaxerxˆs Mnemon and Cyrus the Younger. By
influence of Queen Parysatis, Cyrus the Younger is made Satrap of Lydia and
West Anatolia at 16 years of age. His Satrapy includes some Greek cities.
-404 bC: King Darius Nothus dies. Artaxerxˆs Mnemon is declared new King, but
Queen Parysatis convinces Cyrus the Younger that he really is the legitimate
King, not Artaxerxˆs. Cyrus plots to kill Artaxerxˆs, but is denounced by
Tissaphernˆs, Satrap of Caria. Cyrus is condemned to die, but saved by Queen
Parysatis, who holds him tight, kisses him, and desperately yells in bitter
tears that they would have to kill her too. No one dare touch the Queen. So,
Artaxerxˆs permits Cyrus to return to Lydia and continue being ruler of that
Satrapy. Cyrus still believes that he is the true King of Persia, and begins
mustering an army of Greek mercenaries under command of Klearchus, former
Governor of Byzantium (later called Constantinopolis, now Istambul, Turkey).
Ten thousand Greeks are the elite of Cyrus Army, plus a hundred thousand
auxiliaries from Anatolia and other parts of the Persian Empire. Cyrus knows
that Artaxerxˆs can muster a million men, but of dubious military quality.
-April 401 bC: Cyrus Army starts from Sardis, capital of Lydia, supposedly
against the Pisidians, wild tribes of the mountains at the south-east of
Lydia. Klearchus commands the Greeks, while Proxenus, Xenophon and other
distinguished Greeks command their respective units. Cyrus and Klearchus
know that the real target are not the Pisidians, but Babylon, then capital
of the Persian Empire. All the other men believe that they will fight the
Pisidians. Artaxerxˆs also believes that his Satrap and brother is marching
against the Pisidians. When reports come that Cyrus has deviated his route
and is now moving towards Babylon, Artaxerxˆs still believes that Cyrus has
chosen to fight his old enemy, Satrap Tissaphernˆs. Artaxerxˆs does not like
Tissaphernˆs either, and decides to let Cyrus have his revenge against him.
Arriving to Tarsus, in Cilicia, the Ten Thousand now realise that the target
is not the Pisidian mountains. They complain, but Klearchus increases their
pay with gold from the Treasure of Cyrus. Klearchus does not yet reveal the
real target, but the most intelligent begin to guess that it is Babylon.
-June 401 bC: Cyrus Army reaches Thapsacus and crosses the River Euphrates.
Artaxerxˆs begins to suspect foul play from the part of his brother Cyrus.
-Early September 401 bC: Cyrus Army reaches the River Tigris near Bagdad.
Artaxerxˆs is now seriously alarmed, and begins mustering his Royal troops.
Cyrus Army crosses the Median Wall (a military barrier) before Artaxerxˆs
could have time to garrison it. When the Cyreian forces reach Kunaxa, the
first Royal troops finally appear at distance, prepared to engage in combat.
Many thousands of Persians approach slowly. The Greeks give a fierce shout
to Mars, God of War, and charge like bulls. Most Persians lose heart and try
to flee. Cyrus sees his brother Artaxerxˆs at the centre of the Persians,
and rashly runs to engage him. Cyrus strikes a blow that wounds Artaxerxˆs,
but a javelin from the Royal Guard kills Cyrus on the spot. Seeing Cyrus
dead, the Persian auxiliaries of Cyrus turn and escape. The Greeks, most of
whom had not perceived the slain of Cyrus, continue the fight. Artaxerxˆs
troops are forced back, but when the victorious Greeks return to their camp,
they see that the Persian auxiliaries have fled and taken the stores away.
Artaxerxˆs sends emissaries who speak Greek and request surrender, but the
Ten Thousand refuse. They still have a few Persians commanded by Ariaeus, a
Persian nobleman. The Ten Thousand suggest Ariaeus to take place of Cyrus
and fight for the Persian Throne with their help, but Ariaeus replies that
Persian Nobility would never tolerate that, since he is not of Royal Blood.
The Ten Thousand then decide to retreat, not by the desert through which
they had arrived, but by the mountains at the North (the modern Kurdistan).
The rest of this epic history is left to the reader of Many Books Net.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), of Italian ancestry, enlisted in the French
Army at Brienne and became Artillery officer. He distinguished himself when
commanding French Republican forces at Toulon in 1793 against British, Spanish
and French Monarchist forces. At the age of 25 he became the youngest general
in Europe, fighting successfully in Italy in 1794, but separated from command
after the events of 9th Thermidor. After the 13th Vendemiaire he obtained the
command of the French Republican Army in Italy in 1796, impressing Europe with
a chain of victories. Already with strong influence in the Directoire, he
commanded the ill-fated French expedition to Egypt (1798-1799), showing that
French Arms were superior on land, but inferior to the British Navy at sea.
Realising that Republican France could not defeat the British Fleet, he chose
to return to France and provoke the Coup of 18th Brumaire (9th November 1799),
becoming First Consul. After Marengo in 1800 and other impressive victories
on the battlefield, he became Consul for Life in 1802 and Emperor in 1804. He
then followed an aggressive policy against ALL of Europe, being victorious at
Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Friedland, Eckmuhl, Wagram and other battles.
Having most of Europe (except the British Isles) under his boot, he proceeded
to name his friends and relatives 'kings' and 'princes' of various countries.
His first drawback was in Spain. Having succeeded in capturing the gullible
King of Spain as a 'guest' of French 'hospitality', Napoleon then forced the
intrusion of his own brother Jos‚ Bonaparte as 'king'. This was too much for
Spanish pride, still an imperial nation. A bloody revolt exploded in Madrid
on 2nd May 1808 against the strong French divisions already stationed in the
Spanish capital, starting an obstinate, savage, relentless, brutal guerrilla
war against French presence in Spain and political liberal ideas coming from
it. Spanish women were noted for a ferocity not inferior to their own men.
With British help, Spain and Portugal became aflame. Napoleon then tried to
force other European powers into blockading and isolating Britain and the
Iberian Peninsula. Most Europeans yielded, but Russia said 'No'. After an
ultimatum, Napoleon decided to invade Russia. 700 000 men and 40 000 horses
from France and European allies started in June 1812 the historical march
against Russia. The vast majority of men and horses never returned, they died
in the vast frozen lands of Russia. Cold, hunger and enemies annihilated them.
Count Philippe-Paul de S‚gur (1780-1873) was French General and participated
of the French expedition to Russia. He survived, and wrote "L'Histoire de
Napoleon et de la Grande Armee en 1812", which is perhaps the best account of
the terrible hardships that they confronted. The Grand Army was mainly French,
but the Emperor compelled his allies (Austria, Prussia, Poland, German and
Italian States, and others) to furnish huge numbers of troops. Besides the
Imperial Guard (a body of picked men over 50 000 strong under command of
Marshals Lefebvre, Mortier and BessiŠres), there were 13 Army Corps. The
French were led by Marshals Davout, Oudinot, Ney and Murat ('King' of Napoli),
the Italians by Prince Eugene, the Austrians by General Schwartzenberg, the
Prussians and other Germans by Saint Cyr, Regnier, Vandamme, Victor, Augereau
and Macdonald, and the Poles by Poniatowski. There were smaller contingents
from most other European nations. The disaster made Napoleon lose his Empire.
-April-May 1812: Napoleon musters the Grand Army at the River Niemen, then
boundary between Prussian-controlled Poland and Russian-controlled Poland.
-June 1812: the Grand Army crosses the Niemen and occupies without serious
resistance Wilno (Vilnius, then in the Russian Empire, now in Lithuania).
-July-August 1812: the Grand Army occupies several towns and reaches Smolensk,
at the River Dniepr. First serious battle, with a smashing French victory.
-7th September 1812: Occupation of Wiazma. French victory at the Battle of
Borodino, at the River Kologa, about 600 Kilometres from Moscow. The Tsar
abandones the capital. Russian General Kutusoff, commanding ninety thousand
men, makes boastful threats against the French but orders a retreat. Count
Rostopchin, Governor of Moscow, musters a popular Militia but takes hasty
measures for transporting everything valuable out of the city immediately.
-About 14 hours on 14th September 1812: the Grand Army reaches Moscow with
six hundred guns. Count Rostopchin and his Militia abandon the city, leaving
only some Police. General Miloradovitch, Commander of the Russian rear guard,
sends an officer who requests some hours for leaving the city, or they would
set fire to it. Napoleon orders the Grand Army to wait, expecting emissaries
from Tsar Alexandr I Romanoff. After two hours of waiting and no emissaries,
Napoleon orders to enter Moscow. A few Russians try to resist in the Kremlim,
but they are dispersed or defeated. Napoleon appoints French Marshal Mortier
as City Governor. A Russian Police officer warns that Moscow will be burnt.
The rest of this tragic history is left to the reader of Many Books Net.
Review of 'Fighting the Bolsheviki. Campaigning in North Russia 1918-1919':
The book was written by three officers of the United States Army, Captain
Joel R. Moore, Lieutenant Harry H. Mead, Lieutenant Lewis E. Jahns, of the
339th Infantry Regiment, part of a military expedition that several nations
sent in support of White Russians fighting in the Archangel region of North
Russia, near the White Sea, against Bolshevik Communist troops from Moscow.
This was the only time in History when big numbers of regular Soviet troops
engaged regular troops of the United States and of other nations that were
involved in the struggle against Communism: Canada, Great Britain, France,
Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Serbia, and contingents of other armies.
Only two thousand copies of the book were printed in 1920, given to surviving
U. S. soldiers of the North Russia campaign. The son of one of them had one
of the copies, from which he made a digital version, now available in Project
Gutenberg and in Many Books Net. A little known chapter of History, because
the end of the Great War made the allied nations forget the fight in Russia.
-Early 1917: unrest all over Russia, the Imperial Army is very hard pressed
in all fronts by German, Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian and Ottoman forces.
-March 1917 (February in the Julian Calendar): Tsar Nicholas II Romanoff
abdicates. A Royal Regency governs the Russian Empire for some months.
-Germany transports the Russian revolutionary V. U. Lenin and his staff in a
special train from Switzerland to Russia, for starting a revolution.
-September 1917 (August in the Julian Calendar): the Republic is proclaimed,
General Alexandr Feodorovitch Kerensky becomes President of Russia.
-November 1917 (October in the Julian Calendar): a revolution takes power in
Moscow. Of the many political parties involved, the Bolshevik Communists led
by Vladimir Ulianov Lenin and Lev Davidovitch Trotsky overpower the others.
-3rd March 1918: the Treaty of Brest-Litowsk ends the War between the Central
Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Ottoman Empire) and the Soviet
Union. The allied nations begin a (then secret) plan to open again the East
War Front, by disembarking an assortment of forces in Russian Arctic ports.
British Prime Minister Lloyd George enthusiastically supports the plan, but
Britain (and France) lack troops for massive intervention in Russia. Germany
has begun a strong attack against France, so British and French soldiers are
needed at the West Front. United States President Woodrow Wilson is not sure
of sending troops to Russia. The Soviets initially seem distant to the War,
but when it becomes clear that they are helping Germany, Wilson reluctantly
accepts sending a limited United States force. Marshall Foch (Supreme Allied
Commander) gives Command of allied forces in Russia to British General Poole.
-Late June 1918: 1 200 British, with a few United States and French soldiers,
depart for Murmansk and Archangel. United States Ambassador David R. Francis
secretly negotiates with the Regional Governments of Murmansk and Archangel.
-1st August 1918: feeling safe with the arrival of allied troops, Murmansk
and Archangel declare themselves against the Soviet Government. Anti-Soviet
Russians, British, French and United States forces fight the Red Guards and
expel them from the two cities and their immediate surrounding area. German
Ambassador in Moscow, Count von Mirbach, threatens Lenin and Trotsky with a
German advance from Finland into Russia and the capture of Saint Petersburg.
-Mid August 1918: the Red Guards counter attack. The scanty allied troops
desperately call for help. A stronger allied force is hastily mustered. The
Soviets can not focus all their efforts on the far North, because Admiral
Kolchak and other Imperial Russian Navy or Imperial Russian Army Generals,
are active in Siberia and other regions for restoring the Throne to the Tsar.
-25th August 1918: British ships depart from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with troops
of various nationalities chosen for fighting in Murmansk and Archangel.
-4th September 1918: three ships land 5 500 United States soldiers in the
Russian port of Archangel, controlled by the anti-Bolshevik Government of
North Russia. Russians, Poles, French, British, United States Navy and other
troops had arrived before, and are hard pressed by the Bolshevik Red Guards.
-5th September 1918: a United States Infantry Battalion departs at once by
train, to support the few allied troops that are resisting near Obozerskaya,
about 150 Kilometres South of Archangel. They arrive and man the defences.
The anti-Soviet Government of Archangel is led by President Tchaikowsky,
inspired by the now gone Russian Republic of President Kerensky. There are
also Russian Monarchists led by Colonel Tschaplin, loyal to the Tsar. The
Monarchists overpower the Republicans and Tschaplin rules only six days in
Archangel (5th to 11th September 1918), but an intervention by United States
Ambassador Francis prevents serious hostilities among anti-Soviet factions.
-11th September 1918: first combat between United States and Soviet forces.
United States victory, capturing Verst 466 and the bridge at Verst 464.
-16th September 1918: Soviet Infantry counter-attack, supported by Artillery
and bombing aeroplanes. It fails, the surviving Soviets turn and run away.
-28th September 1918: nocturnal march through thick forest of United States
and some British troops, to take Versts 458 and 455. Lacking guides and maps,
they stumble upon a swampy maze, are stopped by a lake, and have to return.
-29th September 1918: Soviet attack towards Verst 461, conquering some ground
but stopped by United States and French forces at the bridge. Heavy losses,
due to the Soviet hordes and to clear incompetence of the British Commander.
-13th October 1918: French-United States attack against Versts 458 and 455,
this time with surprising success, forcing the Soviets to Versts 457 and 450.
-16th October 1918: first rumours of general armistice to end the Great War.
-17th October 1918: United States capture of Verst 445, expelling 600 Soviets.
A single Soviet soldier guards 27 Russian women and children, threatening to
explode a grenade. An interpreter assures him that the civilians will all be
respected, but that he must be taken prisoner. More calm, he surrenders. Red
propaganda always presented the allies as monsters, avid of innocent blood.
With Winter approaching, the allies dug in trenches at some Kilometres from
Emtsa, on the railway from Archangel to Vologda. Red Artillery shoots daily.
-4th November 1918: Soviet attack repelled by French and United States forces.
-11th November 1918: the armistice is agreed, the Great War is ended. But the
armistice does not include the Soviet Union. War still continues in Russia...
The rest of this fascinating history is left to the reader of Many Books Net.
The rating is given as four points instead of five, because of the rather Yankee chauvinistic tone that permeates the book, but otherwise the information is accurate and well explained.
"Herland" and "With Her in Our Land" (this one not in Many Books as of August 2014), are more realistic than "Mizora" or most other gynotopias. Three men exploring the Amazon fall prey of the legendary women. One man scientifically studies their unique feminine culture, another is mystically enraptured by their goddess-like "perfection", and the other is a selfish bastard who tries to get his own profit. Androtopias are far less common in literature, the earliest are the "Vera Historia" (about year 150) by Loukianous Samosatens, and the "Voyage to Cacklogallinia" (1727) by Captain Samuel Brunt. Frequent use of parthenogenesis in the average gynotopia might seem a fantastic literary device, but recent research shows that homothermal species can indeed reproduce thus. Haploid chromosomatic sets are sometimes made diploid by a variety of mechanisms, which we are now beginning to understand:
Androtopias or gynotopias are often simplified in their scientific elements, for the benefit of the ignorant reader:
A Russian lady exiled to Siberia escapes in a boat. Swallowed by a maelstrom, she falls in the women land of Mizora. The book describes that feminine paradise (poetry-heavy and with inconsistencies, mainly in the Mizoran language: it could not really have expressed ideas that are unknown in Mizora). Advanced Science gives synthetic food, parthenogenesis, no trouble at all, and everyone is a beautiful happy blonde. Gynotopias have existed in legend or literature since the Old Greeks, with the first European explorers of South America, and up to the present. Some of them may have been true matriarchies, others were tribes where men and women shared war or hunting, but most are just fantasy. Writers are often women, though not always. An incomplete English literary list is:
-Travels (1371), John Mandeville
-Mizora (1880), Mary E. Bradley
-New Amazonia (1889), 'George' Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett
-2894 (1894), Walter Browne
-Herland (1915) -also in Many Books-, With Her in Our Land (1916), Charlotte Perkins Gilman