Famous British Sieges, Daily Racing Form, 1918-08-02


view raw text

FAMOUS BRITISH SIEGES Even with n war waging its course through rivers of blood dwarfing utterly any struggle that 1ms gone before we can recall the grim pertinacity of General White at Ladysnilth keeping the Union Jack flying till the army of relief arrived 119 days after the siege had opened A remarkable feature of this memorable Investment was the un ¬ doubted fact that had the enemy instead of at ¬ tempting storming tactics In the first wrek of Jan ¬ uary postponed his big onslaught until the middle of February he must have succeeded so reduced in numbers and pitifully weak had the original army of defense 10000 strong become becomeDelhi Delhi however must rank as the most important British siege of the nineteenth century Never was the pluck of the British soldiers more patent in the defense of this teeming city of the Punjab now the capital of the great Indian Empire and volumes could be written of the glorious deeds performed In those days Delhi was one of the largest cities of India yet there were only 10000 defenders to fight 30000 wellarmed mutineers and keep guard over a huge population reeking with treacherous foes foesAs As the city proper had a circumference of fully seven miles the men were or necessity thinly spread out and hideous gaps in the line were soon made and ere 1 relief force tore away at the point of the bayonet into the town the defenders had sustained 4000 casualties in addition to many hundreds of cases of sickness sicknessFor For sheer duration General Gordons heroic de ¬ fense of Khartoum excelled all other sieges re ¬ corded here for it lasted 317 days or Just ninu days shorter than the Russian retention of Scbas topol Unfortunately as we all know its termina ¬ tion was a tragedy embittered by the fact that a few days later the wouldbe army of relief arrived only in time to pick up the threads of a pitiful disaster disasterBut But the greatest of all great sieges in British annals was undoubtedly that of Gibraltar then as now the most stragetic fortress in the world Cap ¬ tured by the British in 1704 as the outcome of n magnificent feat of arms the admiration of friends and foes alike advantage was taken by the Span ¬ iards during Englands conflict with America in 1779 to make a really stupendous effort to regain it General Elliott who was entrusted with the defense was thrown upon his own resources and he de ¬ termined to defend this grand position to his last cartridge Those were the days when every Britisii sergeant and corporal had to carry a mold to cast bullets and a ladle to melt lead in so quick firing almost needless to say was out of the question But the enemy sought to ensure a steady and de vasting rain of missiles by recourse of creating floating batteries on a prodigious scale Well versed in the peculiar topography of Gibraltar he put his knowledge to signal advantage The aptly expressed Key to the Mediterranean occupies a tongue of country rising to a height of 1300 feet of perpendicular rock with however clearlyde ¬ fined ridges traversing it on the west side on which the town is built From their floating batteries of a size hitherto undreamt of the besiegers raked the ridges while on the land side of the little peninsula large forces were concentrated menacingly menacinglyAs As months passed without prospect of relief the defenders became desperately short of food and even munitions had to be carefully husbanded Every ¬ thing possible was done to eke out the scanty supplies every foot of land being made to yield something wliile chickens were artificially hatched and reared Sickness especially scurvy began to lay a heavy hand on the brave garrison and all the time the men continued to fall victims to the plague of redhot shot and the accompanying deadly rain of rock splinters Just when these thinss were looking deeidPdly black Admiral Sir George Rodney literally crashed a way into the harbor with a re ¬ lief squadron leaving behind him a wealth of stores and a thousand soldiers but the exigencies of war elsewhere obliged him to sail away and almost im ¬ mediately the siege set in again with redoubled fury In the beginning of the summer of 1782 thirtysix months from the commencement of the in ¬ vestment mouldy biscuit crumbs in Gibraltar were selling at twentyfive cents a handful and the veriest blade of anything green had a market value yet the siege had still nearly another year to run Men were fast becoming animated skeletons though they continued to show such rare fight that the enemy dare not attempt storming tactics But this time the latter had 200 pieces of battering cannon and eighty great mortars belching forth destruc ¬ tion at the heroic garrison On the hilts of Andalu ¬ sia thousands of spectators daily congregated to gles of the doomed defenders defendersWeek Week after week passed however without the expected white flag being hoisted and the Spaniards were frankly nonplussed To them it seemed not men but devils who were defending the Itock They themselves were making the effort of their lives and they Jacked for nothing that money or skill could ensure but still the guns of the great fortress vomited defiance At last on the 10th of March 1783 after ii siege of three years seven months and twelve days relief to the garrison came along in disastrous shape for the enemy whose great float batteries were sent aflame and thousands of the gunners perished miserably Of the comparatively small force of defenders 1231 had suffered the ex ¬ treme penalty of war while hundreds were found by the relief force lying by their guns in a pitiful state of exhaustion Los Angeles Times

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1910s/drf1918080201/drf1918080201_5_8
Local Identifier: drf1918080201_5_8
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800