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Combat of Hundheim, 23 July 1866
The combat of Hundheim (23 July 1866) was a Prussian victory over German Federal troops that began to disrupt an over-ambitious plan for a counterattack aimed at expelling the Prussians from Frankfurt (Austro-Prussian War of 1866).
At the start of the war the Prussians had faced three opponents in western Germany - the Hanoverians in the north, the 8th Federal Corp (Crown Prince Alexander of Hesse) around Frankfurt and the Bavarian Army (Prince Charles of Bavaria) at Bamberg. The Prussians allocated three divisions to this campaign, forming them into the Army of the Main (General Falckenstein). While the Bavarians and the 8th Corps tried to decide what to do, the Prussians concentrated against the Hanoverians, who were forced to surrender on 29 June 1866.
This meant that the Federal and Bavarian plan to unite at Hersfeld, south of Cassel, was now dangerously obsolete. The two corps were advancing on opposite sides of the Hohn Rhön Mountains and were thus potentially vulnerable to Prussian attack. Prince Charles wanted to alter the plans so that they would unite to the south-east of the mountains, but Prince Alexander insisted on an advance to the north, and the two commanders agreed to meet at Fulda, north-west of the mountains. This plan was foiled by the rapidly advancing Prussians. On 4 July the Bavarians were defeated around Dermbach, north-east of Fulda. This meant that the two corps could no longer unite in the north, and they began to retreat south. The Bavarians hoped to be able to defend the line of the Saale River, east of the Hohn Rhön, but once again they underestimated the Prussians. On 10 July the Bavarians were defeated at Hammelburg and Kissingen, and were forced to retreat from the Saale.
On 11 July Falckenstein was ordered to turn west to occupy Frankfurt and the area north of the River Main, so that it would be in Prussian hands at the end of the war. He advanced across the Spessart, an area of low wooded mountains south of the Hohn Rhön, defeating a Federal advance guard at Laufach on 13 July. By this point Prince Alexander had decided to abandon Frankfurt and move south-east to try and join up with the Bavarians, but on 14 July the Prussians captured Aschaffenburg on the Main, blocking his original route. Prince Alexander was forced to use a route that started further west.
At the end of 14 July the 8th Corps was spread out across the countryside south and south-east of Frankfurt. Prince Alexander believed that the entire Prussian army must have been close by or they wouldn't have attacked Aschaffenburg. On 15 July his corps began to move south, and by the end of 16 July it was approaching Miltenberg. This was a key location where the Main turned north-west to flow towards Frankfurt, after flowing west along the southern edge of the Spessart. The 8th Corps rested on 17 July and then began to move east, reaching a new position on the River Tauber, south of the Main, by the end of 22 July.
These movements finally meant that the 8th Corps and Bavarians were within touching distance. Prince Charles knew that his combined force still outnumbered the Prussians, and he was determined to go onto the offensive. Once again Prince Alexander spoilt Prince Charles's plan. The best idea would have been for the Bavarians to move west to join the 8th Corps and for the united army to move back along the Main towards Frankfurt. Prince Alexander insisted that his troop's morale would suffer if they had to retrace their steps, and suggested an alternative plan. The Bavarians would move north-west from Würzburg to Lohr on the Main. The 8th Corps would move north from its position south of the Main. The two forces would them advance west across the Spessart and hit the Prussians either around Frankfurt, or on the march east.
Once again this plan failed to take the Prussians into account. The Allies didn't think that the Prussians would advance along the line of the River Main, but this was exactly what they did. On 16 July Falckenstein occupied Frankfurt, but soon afterwards he was replaced by Manteuffel. Manteuffel visited Frankfurt on 20 July, and then ordered his army back into movement. Goeben's Division was sent south to Darmstadt, then east to Dieberg. Manteuffel's own division, now under General Flies, and Beyer's Division both advanced south-east along the left bank of the Main. By 22 July the Prussians were arranged in a triangle in the area south of Aschaffenburg. Beyer was furthest north, at Wallstadt. Goeben was to the south-west, at König. Flies was at Laudenbach, just to the north of Miltenberg.
In order to cover the planned move north the Baden Division moved to Hundheim, west of the Tauber, and south-west of Wertheim on the Main. This position would allow them to cover the left flank of the corps as it moved north. However Prince Alexander had failed to take into account the possibility that the Prussians would follow him along the Main.
The Baden Division deployed with Laroche's Brigade on the right, around Hundheim (about four miles S/SW of Wertheim, where the Tauber flows into the Main). Nenbronn's Brigade was on the left, at Steinbach, about a mile south of Hundheim. Two companies of riflemen and one squadron of cavalry were posted at Wertheim itself. Later in the day General von Laroche sent the 5th Regiment of Infantry, 2nd Battalion of Grenadiers and an artillery battery to Nassig, north of Hundheim.
Laroche was directly in the path of General Flies's Division. On 23 July Flies was ordered to advance along the Main. His left flank was to follow the river, his right flank was to take Hundheim and his main force was to take Nassig. Flies was with the central column, while the right-hand column was led by the Coburg-Gotha Regiment, under Colonel Fabeck.
The first minor clashes came at Sonderried, west of Nassig, where Flies's main column pushed back some Federal scouts.
The main action involved Colonel Fabeck's detachment. As this approached Hundheim it ran into Baden infantry in one of the woods. The Baden infantry quickly retreated, but it convinced the Colonel that there might be more serious opposition in the area. He sent his 1st Battalion forwards in columns of companies. Most of this area turned out to be empty of the enemy, but on one flank his men ran into a strong Federal force.
This was General Laroche's detachment returning from Nassig, with the Grenadiers in the lead and the 5th Regiment to the rear. The Prussian advance threatened to cut his road to Hundheim, and prevent him rejoining the rest of the 8th Corps. A fight broke out in some woods. The Prussians drove back the Baden infantry and forced them to retreat towards Ernsthof, north-east of Hundheim. The Baden troops were then charged by half a squadron from the Prussian 6th Dragoons. By this point the 1st Battalion, 5th Baden Regiment, had reached the scene, and the Prussians found themselves under fire from several directions. They retreated west back into the woods where the skirmish had begun.
It was now clear to Colonel Fabeck that he was outnumbered, and so he drew up in a defensive position to the north-west of Hundheim. The Baden Brigade ended the day in Hundheim, with detachments on the roads that ran west and north.
The Prussians suffered very minor casualties on the day - only 5 dead and 15 wounded. The Baden Brigade lost 13 dead, 56 wounded and 23 missing, an total of 92 casualties. The Prussians only took one unwounded prisoner.
To the south Goeben's advance guard reached Walldürn, twelve miles to the west of Tauberbischofsheim. Here they ran into a squadron from the Baden 'Leib' Dragoon Regiment, and a skirmish broke out. The Prussians attacked with two squadrons of Hussars, and forced the Baden dragoons to retreat. Here the Baden cavalry lost 2 dead and 31 wounded or missing.
Prince Alexander decided to concentrate on the line of the River Tauber, although it isn't clear if he intended to make a major effort to hold the river line, or just delay the Prussians while he prepared to move across the Main somewhere to the east. Whatever his original plan was, it had to be abandoned after the Prussians defeated his troops on the Tauber (battles of Tauberbischofsheim and Werbach, 24 July 1866). In the aftermath of these defeats the 8th Corps retreated east towards Würzburg. The Bavarians had now abandoned their march towards Lohr, and were heading south to come to their allies' assistance. All this achieved was to expose both forces to defeat on the same day. On 25 July the Bavarians were defeated by Beyer at Helmstadt, while the 8th Corps was defeated by Goeben at Gerchsheim. By the end of the day the 8th Corps was in full retreat towards Würzburg, and relative safely across the Main. The Bavarians stayed in the field, only to suffer another defeat at Rossbrun. The fighting now began to fade away. On 27 July there was an artillery duel between the Prussians and the guns of the fortress of Marienberg, but soon afterwards news arrived that an official truce was to begin on 2 August. The two commanders put a temporary ceasefire in place on the Main front. On 1 August Manteuffel threatened to end this unless the Bavarians surrendered Würzburg, and on 2 August, just before the start of the official truce, the city was surrendered to the Prussians.
Battle of Aschaffenburg (1866)
The Battle of Aschaffenburg, sometimes also called The Skirmishes Near Aschaffenburg was a battle of the Austro-Prussian War on July 14, 1866 between pitting the armies of Prussia on the one hand and parts of the VIII Corps of the German Federal Army on the other side which primarily consisted of soldiers from the Austrian Empire, Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Kassel.
226 dead 484 wounded, 1,759 missing soldiers and prisoners
- 25 officers 481 dead and wounded, 22 officers and 1,964 men captured 
- 4 officers 14 men dead and wounded, 4 officers and 52 men captured
- 3 officers 12 men dead and wounded, 5 prisoners
The train station was in the center of Offenbach am Glan . It was 169.7 meters above sea level between the railway stations Niedereisenbach-Hachenbach (km 68.1) in the south and Wiesweiler (km 72.8) in the north.
The zero point of Kilometrierung the railway line is located west of the station Scheidt. From there it leads over the existing line that has existed since 1879 or 1895 to Rohrbach , then over the connection via Kirkel and Limbach that existed on January 1, 1904 and then switched to the Glantalbahn. Later the Homburg – Altenglan section was re-kilometered, while the kilometer north of Altenglan remained. According to this, the station is located at kilometer 46.9 when viewed from Homburg main station.
Re-designation of 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry regiment [ edit | edit source ]
The unit derived from the 4th Battalion, 8th Infantry regiment, 1st Armored Division, which served in Mannheim, Germany until the unit was sent (along with the rest of the brigade) to Fort Lewis, Washington in the summer of 1994. That fall, the regiment was inactivated and re-designated 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. This enabled units of the 2nd Infantry Division to set foot on US soil for the first time since the Korean War began.
Combat of Hundheim, 23 July 1866 - History
1828 Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts . This removed the political disabilities imposed on non-Anglican Protestants by legislation passed in 1673 and 1661 respectively. Following the repeal of these Acts, Dissenters could sit in parliament and participate in local government. The Act changed the Anglican constitution into a Protestant constitution.
1829 Catholic Emancipation Act . This controversial legislation allowed Catholics to sit as MPs for the first time since the Elizabethan Act of Settlement (1558/9). The Act was passed by Wellington's government despite huge opposition the constitution now became Christian but non-denominational.
Metropolitan Police Act . This was the culmination of the work of Robert Peel to establish a civilian, unarmed police force. It was the foundation of policing in Great Britain and was based on his work in Ireland.
1831 (Hobhouse) Factory Act. This was the third Factory Act, its predecessor being the 1801 Health and Morals of Apprentices Act and the 1819 Factory Act. Hobhouse's Act forbade night work for persons under the age of 21.
1832 Reform Act . It took almost two years for this Act to reach the Statute Books and brought Britain to the verge of revolution. The Reform Act was the first systematic change to the constitution it extended the franchise to include those who did not own landed property and was the first of a series of constitutional changes.
1833 Factory Act . Passed by the Whig government, this Act was an attempt to regulate the working hours of women and children. It left much to be desired but was a step towards government regulation of working conditions.
Abolition of Slavery Act . This was the culmination of a lengthy campaign that had begun during the 18th Century. The legislation was finalised by the Jamaica Act of 1839.
first Education grant. Although not a piece of legislation, the grant of £20,000 for the provision of schools was the first time that the goverment had involved itself in education in any way. The first Education Act did not reach the Statute Books until 1870.
1834 Poor Law Amendment Act . Following the 1832 Reform Act, the PLAA was intended to reduce the poor rates it was not intended to help the poor who suffered as a result of the legislation. The PLAA replaced the existing poor laws and was responsible for the establishment of workhouses throughout the country. The poor were treated as criminals and people starved rather than apply for poor relief because that meant that they would become inmates of the dreaded "poor law bastilles".
1835 The Municipal Corporations Act was a local government version of the 1832 Reform Act. It made existing municipal corporations more answerable to the electors and allowed other towns to apply for incorporation.
1836 Civil Marriages Act : after the passing of this law, non-Anglicans were able to marry either in their own Church or in Registry Offices. The Church of England lost its monopoly over marriage services
Tithe Commutation Act : this provided for the payment of tithes to the Church of England in cash, depending on the price of wheat.
reduction of Stamp Duty. The Government's decision to reduce the stamp duty was primarily due to the success of the "war of the unstamped", and in 1836 the duty was reduced from 4d to 1d, in order to take the unstamped newspapers off the streets while allowing legal newspapers wider circulation.
1837 Registration Act (of Births, Marriages and Deaths). Although the 1833 Factory Act restricted working hours for young people, there was no means of telling the age of a person since no official records existed. Anglican churches had to record baptisms, marriages, and burials but there were few records for non-Anglicans. This legislation made it compulsory for all births, marriages and deaths to be registered at a Registry Office certificates were issued for each event and a second copy was retained at Somerset House in London. The administration of this Act was within the remit of the Poor Law Commission.
1838 Irish Poor Law Amendment Act . After a Commission reported that the 'importation' of the English 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act was inappropriate for Ireland, the government brought in its own "experts" and the 1834 PLAA was passed for Ireland. It was implemented just before the outbreak of the potato blight and proved to be inadequate to meet the crisis.
1839 The Jamaica Act finalised the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act, setting the remaining slaves and apprentices free in the British colonies.
The Rural Constabularies Act extended the 1829 Metropolitan Police Act and required counties to establish their own police forces. The Act was passed in the face of Chartist activity.
1840 Penny Post . This was the idea of Sir Rowland Hill. Prior to this, recipients paid for any letters that were sent to them. Hereafter, the sender attached an adhesive, pre-paid label to any items that were posted. The most famous 'stamp' of this period is the Penny Black.
1842 Railway Act . This first piece of railway legislation was mainly a safety Act to ensure that railways ran safe services. New lines had to be inspected by the Board of Trade, which could demand traffic returns and inquire into accidents.
The Mines Act prohibited the employment of all females and boys under 10 years old from working underground in mines.
1844 The Railway Act ("Parliamentary Train Act") followed Gladstone's Committee of inquiry into railway policy. By this law, the government assumed the absolute right to take control of all railways in times of national emergency and to fix fares and freight charges. It also said that railway companies had to provide a minimum service of one train each day each way, travelling at not less than 12 miles per hour and stopping at every passenger station, charging no more than 1d. per mile for third class passengers.
Bank Charter Act . This Act tied the issue of bank notes to the Bank's gold reserves and required it to keep the accounts of the note issue separate from those of its banking operations. The Bank of England (image) had to produce a weekly summary of both accounts.
This Factory Act legislated only for textile factories and was the successor to the 1833 Factory Act. It said that women and young persons (13-18) were to work no more than 12 hours per day children under 13 were to work no more than 6½ hours per day and no child under 8 was to be employed.
The Companies Act aimed to prevent 'reckless speculation' and to prevent the establishment of dubious compaines by making it compulsory for all companies to be registered officially. The companies also had to issue prospectuses and publish accounts regularly.
1846 Repeal of the Corn Laws . The Corn Laws had been passed in 1815 and had raised the price of wheat artificially, leading to an economic depression. A concerted campaign for the repeal of the Corn Laws had been going on since 1838. Consequent upon the repeal, the career of Sir Robert Peel was terminated.
Gauges Act . This was another piece of railway legislation that prohibited the extension of the 7' gauge, except on the Great Western Railway and said that a third line of 4' 8½' had to be laid where 7' track met 4' 8½" line.
1847 Factory Act . Yet another piece of compromise legislation by the Whig government, this so-called '10-Hour Act' said that women and children between the ages of 13 and 18 could work a maximum of ten hours a day or 58 hours a week. The precise times of work were not set down and the 'relay' or shift system survived. Working hours for men were left untouched.
Poor Law Act . This Act followed on from the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and replaced the Poor Law Commission with a Poor Law Board headed by a government Minister. Poor releif became more responsible to parliamentary control.
1848 Public Health Act . This was the first piece of legislation that attempted to deal with issues of public health. However, it was permissive rather than compulsory in towns other than Municipal Corporations. The Act established a central Board of Health and allowed Local Boards of Health to be set up if more than 10% of the population petitioned for one. No central inspection was required for authorities that had Boards of Health outside the legislation. Towns where the death rate exceeded 23 per 1,000 were obliged to set up a Board of Health.
1849 Repeal of the Navigation Acts . These laws had been introduced in the Seventeeth Century and said that goods being imported into Britain and her colonies had to be carried either in British ships or the ships of the country where the goods had origin. The laws had been modified during the 1820s but finally they were repealed.
1850 Factory Act . The law dealt only with textile factories. Women and young persons (13-18 years old) were to work in factories only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. or 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. but working hours were raised from 10 to 10½ per day.
Coal Mines Inspection Act . The 1842 Mines Act had not dealt with safety in the mines this legislation attempted to rectify that omission. More inspectors were provided to enforce the 1842 Act and were to produce reports of conditions and safety standards in the mines. The coal mine owners opposed all attempts to regulate conditions in the mines and many of these men sat in the House of Lords one of the most influential was the Marquis of Londonderrry who owned many of the coal mines in the north east of England, particularly around Durham.
1851 Ecclesiastical Titles Act . In 1850 Pope Pius IX restored the Catholic hierarchy in Britain, giving the Catholic Church a hierarchy like that of all Catholic countries. The Ecclesiastical Titles Act was an anti-Catholic measure intended to prevent the newly createdCatholic dioceses from taking existing Anglican diocesan names. Ironically, many of the Anglican dioceses had continued to use established Catholic names after the Reformation. The law was repealed by Gladstone in 1871.
1855 Abolition of stamp duties on newspapers. In June the final remaining penny of the British newspaper duty was removed and in September the Daily Telegraph appeared at the price of 1d. For the British working man, the newspaper became what reformers in the 1830s had predicted: 'the readiest, the commonest, the chief vehicle of knowledge'.
1856 County and Borough Police Act . The Metropolitan Police was established in 1829 in 1839 the Rural Constabularies Act was passed. This third piece of legislation obliged the counties to organise police forces, subject to government control and devised a system of inspection already in use in factories, workhouses and education. Grants to the police became dependent on the efficiency of the force: it was estimated that half of them were not efficient. The Act shifted the emphasis from the prevention of crime to its detection.
1857 Matrimonial Causes Act . By this Act, divorce courts were established. Women were given only limited access to divorce which could be obtained only on a specific cause other than adultery. Right of access to children after divorce was extended and women were able to repossess their property after a legal separation or after a protection order given consequent upon the husband's desertion.
1858 Abolition of the property qualification for MPs : this was one of the demands made by the Chartists. From this date, men did not have to own property in order to stand as candidates in parliamentary elections.
Jewish Disabilities Act implemented. In 1847, Baron Lionel de Rothschild was elected as an MP for London but objected to taking the oath which included the phrase "on the true faith of a Christian". He asked to be sworn in on the Old Testament. It took eleven attempts in the House of Lords to have the oath changed. Subsequently, Jews were able to take their seats in both Houses.
1859 Molestation of Workmen Act . This Act allowed peaceful picketing in the event of strike action taking place. The Act said that 'no person, by reason merely of his endeavouring peaceably and in a reasonable manner, and without threat or intimidation, direct or indirect, to persuade others to cease or abstain from work, in order to obtain the rate of wages or the altered hours of labour agreed to by him and others, should be deemed to have been guilty of "molestation" or "obstruction".'
1860 Food and Drugs Act . This was the first attempt at legislation to prevent the adulteration of food. It was common to find harmful additives in staple foods: white lead in flour, ground glass in sugar, red lead in coffee for example. The new law made the inclusion of additives a criminal offence. However, it was not very effective and had to be amended in The Mines Regulation and Inspection Act increased the number of mines inspectors and prohibited boys below the age of 12 from working underground.
1861 Repeal of paper duties . Gladstone helped the publishing industry by abolishing the excise duty on paper. This made producing newsapers cheaper still it revived rural paper works and encouraged the growth of London newspapers and the provincial press.
1866 Sanitary Act . Finally, it was recognised that the 1848 Act had failed to produce the desired results: this was due mainly to that Act being permissive rather than compulsory. The 1866 Act compelled local authorities to improve local conditions and remove nuisances (health hazards). They became responsible also for the provision of sewers, water and street cleaning. The Act enforced the connection of all houses to a new main sewer it set definite limits for the use of cellars as living rooms, and established the definition of 'overcrowding'. Every town was to appoint Sanitary Inspectors and the Home Secretary was empowered to take proceedings for the removal of nuisances where local authorities failed to act.
1867 the second Reform Act . This extended the franchise to most urban working men.
Master and Servant Act . This Act amended an existing piece of legislation strikers could now be prosecuted only for breach of contract. The Trade Unions were still dissatisfied, however, because it was possible for criminal proceedings to take place on the grounds of 'aggravated causes'.
1869 Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church . This Act came into effect on 1 January 1871. All ecclesiastical property belonging to the Church of Ireland, except churches in use, was vested in the Commissioners. Compensatoin was set at £16 million: half of the capital of the confiscated property and surplus funds were to be used for the relief of suffering. The Act also said that no Irish bishops were to sit in the House of Lords. Nonconformist ministers were to be given a grant from the Regium Donum (gift of the monarch) The Church of Ireland was to have a General Synod that was elected triennially by the dioceses.
1870 Irish Land Act . This law was passed by Gladstone's government and was intended to protect tenants against unfair eviction. Landlords were required to pay up to £250 to tenants who had been evicted unfairly and tenants were assisted in the purchase of their holdings by being able to borrow up to 2 /3 of the cost from the government.
Married Women's Property Act . This piece of legislation allowed women to keep £200 of their own earnings.
(Forster's) Education Act . This Act was intended only to 'plug the gaps' in the educational provision that existed. The two religious organisations that ran schools were given grants and the Act provided for the establishment of so-called 'Board Schools'. Education was neither free nor compulsory under this legislation.
Cardwell's army reforms begin. Cardwell was the Secretary of State for War his reforms continued for over ten years.
1871 University Test Act . Until the passing of this Act, all academics and students at Oxford and Cambridge Universities had to be practising members of the Anglican Church. By this legislation, the privileges of the Anglican Church were removed and the universities were open to all with suitable abilities regardless of religious faith.
Civil Service reforms . Posts in the Civil Service were dependent upon privilege and connection with the 'right' people until this legislation. Thereafter, positions were open to all who could pass the examinations. The Foreign Office was excluded from the legislation, however, and continued to be the domain of privilege and connection.
Trade Union Act recognised unions as legal bodies with the right to own property and funds. Unions were allowed to protect these at law and they were also allowed to conduct strikes.
Criminal Law Amendment Act . This took away the power of strike action: although TUs could conduct strikes under the Trade Union Act, this second piece of legislation forbade the use of picketing of any description) even peaceful picketing). Consequently, it would be almost impossible for a strike to be conducted.
Abolition of the purchase of Commissions . This was one of Cardwell's Army Reforms by which officers in the British Army were to be appointed by merit and ability rather than being able to buy rank. The legislation met great opposition.
- gave magistrates the power to issue licenses to public houses where it was thought that there were too many of these, magistrates were able to close down some of them
- public houses now had to close in towns at midnight and at 11 p.m. in the countryside - so that agricultural labourers could walk home and arrive before midnight
- the adulteration of beer was made illegal: it was common for salt to be added to it, to make the consumers thirsty and so drink more.
1872 Ballot Act : this was one of the things that the Chartists had demanded. The Act introduced the secret ballot to all elections, making them less corrupt and less subject to bribery and corruption. The legislation was opposed by landlords and employers who could no longer control the votes of their tenants and workers.
Coal Mines Regulating Act . This insisted on the introduciton of safety methods such as fan ventilators, stronger timber supports, wire ropes, imporved winding gear and better safety lamps.
Public Health Act . This divided England and Wales into Health Authority districts, each of which had to have its own Medical Officer of Health and accompanying staff. The duties of the Health Authorities were not specified and most Health Boards were unwilling to spend the required money on radical reforms.
1873 Judicature Act . This Act rationalised the legal system in Britain by united seven different courts into one High Court of Justice.
1874 Licensing Act . This was an amendment to Gladstone's Act and provided for longer opening hours.
The Factory Act reduced working hours to 10 per day it also said that no child couild be employed until the age of 10 and no young person could work full time until the age of 14.
- ensure that there was an adequate water supply, drainage and sewage disposal
- nuisances were to be removed
- offensive trades were to be regulated
- contaminated food was to be found, confiscated and destroyed
- cases of infectious diseases were to be reported to the local Medical Officer of Health who then had to take appropriate action
- further regulations dealt with matters concerning: markets street lighting burials
1876 (Sandon's) Education Act . School Attendance Committees were established to encourage as many children as possible to take advantage of educational opportunities and parents were made responsible for ensuring that their children received basic instruction. The Committees could help to pay the school fees if parents were too poor to do so themselves - but this was not compulsory.
Merchant Shipping Act : this was the work of Samuel Plimsoll and was aimed at preventing ship owners sending unseaworthy or overloaded ships to sea, at the expense of the sailors' lives. The Act required a series of 'lines' to be painted on the ship to show the maximum loading point. It was not until 1890 that Board of Trade officials applied the regulations that Plimsoll had intended.
1878 Factory and Workshops Act . All workshops and factories employing more than 50 people were now to be inspected regularly by government inspectors rather than by local authorities (as previously).
1880 Employers' Liability Act aplied to all manual workers except seamen and domestic servants it gave to injured employees or their dependents the same rights to recover damages from their employers that non-employees always enjoyed
1881 Irish Land Act . This was another piece of legislation passed by Gladstone and it gave to Ireland what Irish tenants had been requesting for many years: the so-called "3 Fs" - fair rents, fixity of tenure and free sale of the tenancy. The Act also provided for the establishment of Land Courts which would decide on what was a 'fair rent'. Unfortunately, the Land League did everything it could to prevent the Act from working and the evictions and violence in Ireland continued.
(Mundella's) Education Act . This made attendance at elementary school compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and 10. Parents had to pay 'school pence' - about 3d. per child per week. Often, poor parents could not afford this sum of money.
1882 The Married Women's Property Act allowed all married women to continue as the separate owners and administrators of their property after marriage.
1885 Redistribution Act . This Act went hand in hand with the Reform Act: all boroughs with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants lost their MP those with fewer than 50,000 MPs lost one MP. There were now 142 seats available for redistribution and these were given to densely populated areas. Constituencies were reorganised so that there were 647 single member constituencies of the 670 in existence.
1888 County Councils Act . This legislation established County Councils. The old local government boards (about 27,000 of them) were replaced by 67 elected County Councils which had extensive and compulsory powers to deal with matters such as road maintenance, the building of bridges, the establishment of a police force and the administrative duties that had previously been within the remit of JPs. Some sixty towns with populations over 60,000 became County Boroughs with the same powers as County Councils. Under this legislation, unmarried women were allowed to vote for councillors although they were not allowed to become councillors themselves.
1891 The Fee Grant Act effectively made elementary education free of charge
1894 Local Government Act (often referred to as the Parish Councils Act) . This Act divided the counties into Urban District Councils and Rural District Councils, each with its own elected coucil. Rural District Councils were divided into civil Parish Councils which had to be elected if the population exceeded 300. Generally, the civil parishes had the same boundaries as the ecclesiastical (Church of England) parishes. Women were now allowed to stand as candidates and sit as councillors on these councils.
1897 Workmen's Compensation Act . This law said that an employer should compensate a workman who was injured, and the dependants of a workman who was killed at work, irrespective of any negligence on the part of the employer or his other employees. The Act was restricted to a limited number of employments, the so-called "dangerous trades" that included the building trade.
First Ever Tank vs. Tank Combat
On April 24, 1918, at the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France, 3 British tanks met 3 German tanks in the first known instance of tank vs. tank combat in military history. The battle raged from April 24 to April 27, 1918, as part of the German Spring Offensive (alternately known as the Ludendorff Offensive), a desperate attempt to snatch victory before the Americans could bring overwhelming reinforcements to the fight. Of course, tanks had already seen battle in World War I, just not against each other.
One of the enduring innovations of World War I was the armored fighting vehicle, notably the tank, a self-propelled armored vehicle armed with machines guns or machine guns and cannon. One of the main innovations was the use of caterpillar treads instead of tires, enabling these hulking metal monsters unprecedented mobility (though slow) over rough terrain, even to the point of crossing the ubiquitous trenches that typified the Western Front in Europe.
This first tank on tank combat pitted 3 British tanks of the Mark IV type against 3 German tanks of the A7 type. The British tanks were of 2 sub-types, with 2 of them referred to as “female” tanks, armed only with 5 machine guns, and the other as a “male” tank, which also sported 2 X 57mm (6 pounder) cannon along with 3 machine guns. Capable of only 4 miles per hour, their lack of speed was not considered a detriment as soldiers on foot were expected to keep up with their progress. Range was a paltry 35 miles, and armor protection was a decidedly modest 6 to 12 mm. With a crew of 8 men, the Mark IV weighed 32 tons in the “male” mode and 27 tons in the “female” configuration. Their German opponents were the much larger A7 type, armed with a 57mm main gun and 6 machine guns each, weighing in at 33 tons and manned by a crew of 18 men! Their armor was from 5 to 30mm thick, while speed and range for the A7 was similar to the Mark IV.
When the land leviathans finally faced off for the first time, the British quickly found out that the “female” types were unsuited to facing other tanks armed with cannons. The A7’s quickly put holes in the 2 British female Mark IV’s which caused their hasty retreat. The remaining British Mark IV, the “male” type, had a crew of only 4, as the other 4 crewmen had been evacuated with injuries due to a German gas attack. The male Mark IV took the offending German A7 under fire, and in a running battle managed to hit the German tank with 3 shells once the Mark IV stopped for better aiming. The German tank was out of action and abandoned by the surviving crew members. The British tank machine gunned the fleeing German tank crew.
The male Mark IV then fought an engagement against the other 2 A7’s, causing the German tanks to retreat. British Whippet light/medium tanks joined in the fight and proceeded to engage German infantry, while German fire was concentrated on the remaining Mark IV. Of the 7 Whippets, 4 were destroyed by German artillery. The last Mark IV tried to retreat under fire after machine gunning and running over a number of German soldiers, but was disabled by a mortar round that destroyed one of the tank’s tracks, causing the crew to abandon the tank. Upon return to the tank after the battle, the British crew found its tracks to be covered in the blood of the German soldiers that had been run over.
The crew of the first German A7 in the battle, a tank nicknamed “Nixe,” later returned to their tank and attempted to get it going and return to their lines, but when this effort failed Nixe was blown up in place to deny it to the British.
This rather modest engagement of tanks in combat against each other was a precursor to the large tank battles of World War II to come, which were followed in turn by the extensive use of tanks in Korea and in the various Middle Eastern wars that have ensued. Often having their own obituary read, unlike the battleship, the tank is still an important part of the army of each powerful country in the world, and is still being developed for better protection, better firepower, and better mobility all the time, only now also with better stealth capabilities as well.
During the Cold War, the USSR maintained an enormous fleet of about 50,000 tanks, though Russia now has “only” 15,398, but that is enough to be the most of any country. China boasts a complement of 9151 tanks, a mix of older and cutting-edge technology vehicles. The United States has 8850 tanks, though of a uniformly high standard of capability and reliability. Perhaps more important, American tank crewmen are highly trained and efficient, as well as capably backed up by supporting arms and an unmatched supply chain. Another dozen countries have at least 1000 tanks in their inventory, with another 10 countries fielding at least 500. If you were wondering, Israel ranks only #12 in the world with 1560 tanks, though we suspect they are crewed by some of the best trained crews on the planet.
What about Britain and Germany, the original tank combatant countries? Today Britain has only 227 tanks while German has an embarrassingly low number of only 250 active duty tanks, with some in reserve. (Note: Britain, Germany, and other countries also have numerous types of other armored vehicles of the fighting and transport variety.)
Question for students (and subscribers): What is your favorite tank of any era? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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Fuller, Major General JFC. Tanks In The Great War, 1914-1918. Verdun Press, 2014.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Sardaka of Mephisto, a German tank used in World War I, held in Museum of Brisbane, Australia (Kodachrome slide scanned at 6400, originally shot 1988), is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
The Hyde Park Railings Affair is a little-known protest that took place 149 years ago today in Hyde Park. When the Home Secretary banned a rally organised by the Reform League from taking place in Hyde Park, the League decided to question the legality of the ban by marching to Hyde Park anyway. Demonstrators managed to break into the park, which led to scuffles with police and several days of rioting. The protest questioned the nature and control of public space in London, and contributed to Hyde Park’s radical legacy.
The Reform League was an organisation formed in 1865 to campaign for universal manhood suffrage in Britain. They had their origins in the Chartist movement, but they were not as radical. After the failure of the 1866 Reform Bill, controversy over which brought down the government in June, the Reform League decided to step up their campaigning by organising mass meetings. Meetings on the 29 th of June and 2 nd of July in Trafalgar Square were relatively peaceful, but the League’s next meeting was destined to be more controversial.
Edmond Beales, President of the Reform League (Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).
The Conservative Home Secretary, Spencer Walpole, banned the planned meeting in Hyde Park. Edmond Beales, the president of the Reform League, argued that the Home Secretary had no right to ban the demonstration, as the park either belonged to the people or the monarchy. Spencer Walpole was neither, therefore he had to right to dictate what was allowed to happen in the park. The protest became about more than electoral reform it was now also about who had the right to use, control, and police public space. The Reform League decided to challenge the legality of the ban by marching to Hyde Park anyway.
On the afternoon of the 23 rd of July, the League and their supporters set out from their headquarters in Adelphi Place towards Hyde Park. When they got to Marble Arch, they found the gates locked and guarded by the police. Edmond Beales requested to be allowed entry, but he was not prepared to start a violent confrontation, so he withdrew when he was refused permission to enter. Beales and the Executive Committee of the Reform League led the march to Trafalgar Square, where they had a peaceful meeting.
A contemporary illustration of the Hyde Park Railings Affair (Source: Illustrated London News).
Not everyone followed Beales and the Reform League however. A group of protesters stayed behind, and soon discovered that if the railings surrounding Hyde Park were rocked back and forth, they could be pulled from their foundations and toppled over. This happened at several locations around the park, leading to clashes with police as demonstrators poured into Hyde Park. There were injuries on both sides, but no deaths, and 40-70 people were arrested. The Police used Marble Arch as a temporary holding cell.
Rioting continued in the park for several days, which resulted in a lot of damage to the park. The stump of one oak tree which the protesters burnt down became known as the Reformers’ Tree. It became a focus point for radical activity in the park, and is commemorated by a mosaic. In 1872 the right of assembly and free speech was officially recognised in the northeastern corner of Hyde Park by the Royal Parks and Gardens Act. Speaker’s Corner is now a world famous site of public speech and debate.
The memorial to the Reformer’s Tree, near the site where the tree was thought to be located (Source: Royal Parks).
The Hyde Park Railings Affair is one of several protests in London that escalated because of government attempts to suppress protest, and Londoner’s determination to assert their rights Bloody Sunday is another. Access to public space and the right to assembly is something many of us take for granted, but it is not a given. It has been fought for by generations of Londoners, and still needs to be defended.
Sources and Further Reading
Tames, Richard. Political London: A Capital History. London: Historical, 2007.
Memphis Race Riot of 1866
On May 1-2, 1866, Memphis suffered its worst race riot in history. Some forty-six African Americans and two whites died during the riot. A Joint Congressional Committee reported seventy-five persons injured, one hundred persons robbed, five women raped, ninety-one homes burned, four churches and eight schools burned and destroyed, and seventeen thousand dollars in federal property destroyed. Hundreds of blacks were jailed, and almost all other freedmen fled town until the disturbance ended. For two days, white mobs, which included policemen, firemen, and some businessmen, attacked the freedmen’s camps and neighborhoods.
The riot started after an alarm went out that African American soldiers from Fort Pickering, on the south boundary of downtown Memphis, had killed several policemen who tried to arrest a black soldier. In response to the reports, Union General George Stoneman disarmed the soldiers and locked them in their barracks, leaving nearby freedmen’s settlements vulnerable to the white mobs that soon attacked women, children, and defenseless men, as well as the northern missionaries who served as ministers and teachers for the freedmen.
The Memphis riots reflected the anger and frustration felt by many white citizens and particularly former Confederates, who had suffered the agony of a bitter defeat at the hands of a black and white Union army. Irish immigrants, who had sided with the Confederacy, especially hated the freedmen who dominated the skilled and unskilled jobs that had previously served as a mechanism for upward mobility in the Irish community. Some downtown businessmen participated in the mob because they resented the hordes of penniless freedmen on the streets. Other rioters wanted revenge for the Union occupation. The use of African American soldiers as patrolmen with power to order whites to “move on” was especially galling to many. Finally, the riots reflected the attitudes of most white citizens toward the former slaves who were then free and soon demanding equal rights.
One outcome of the Memphis riot (and a similar riot in New Orleans) was the congressional move toward Radical Reconstruction. The Radical Republicans passed a Civil Rights Bill and the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship, equal protection of the laws, and due process to former slaves. Tennessee was forced to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment before being allowed to return to the Union (July 1866). Paradoxically, the former slaves became citizens, voters, and officeholders in part due to the Reconstruction acts passed in response to the race riots in Memphis and elsewhere.
The First Louisiana Native Guard became the first official black regiment of the Confederacy. In September 1862, the First Native Guard joined the Union army (later renamed the 73rd U.S.C. Infantry).
Without official authorization, General David Hunter organized the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first Union regiment in the South chiefly comprised of ex-slaves.
1862, May 13
Robert Smalls commandeered the Confederate steamer Planter and sailed it to Union forces. He went on to become the first and only black Civil War naval captain and later served as a state legislator and U.S. congressman.
1862, Sept. 22
President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, officially allowing black soldiers and sailors into Union forces. Shortly thereafter, Governor John A. Andrew of Massachusetts called for volunteers to form two black regiments, the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry.
1862, Oct. 28-29
The First Kansas Volunteers (colored) fought Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Island Mound, Missouri. It is the first engagement by black troops against Confederate forces during the war.
1863, Jan. 1
President Abraham Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation.
1863, Jan. 13
The First Kansas Volunteers (colored) were mustered into service.
1863, May 22
The Bureau of Colored Troops was established to organize black regiments.
1863, May 27
The First and Third Native Guards made unsuccessful charges on the Confederate stronghold at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
1863, June 7
Three black regiments and a small band of white troops repulsed an assault by Confederate forces at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana.
1863, June 30
The First U.S. Colored Troops in Washington, D.C., was the first black federal regiment enrolled by the Bureau of Colored Troops.
1863, July 9
Eight black regiments had an important part in the siege of Port Hudson, which gave the Union control of the Mississippi River.
1863, July 18
The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment led the Union assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Colonel Robert G. Shaw was killed along with nearly half of the attacking forces. In this battle, Sergeant William H. Carney became the first African American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
1863, Dec. 23
Robert Black, powder boy on the USS Marblehead, was the first black in the Union navy to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Around 30,000 sailors served in the Union navy.
During the battle of Mobile Bay, John Lawson kept the guns operating aboard the USS Hartford despite being badly wounded. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor.
Sergeant-Major Christian A. Fleetwood won the Congressional Medal of Honor for services on September 29, 1864, at the Battle of Chapin's Farm, Virginia.
1865, Mar. 13
Confederacy passed a bill authorizing the enlistment of blacks as soldiers.
The 62nd U.S. Colored Troops and two white regiments fought in the war's last battle at Palmito Ranch, Texas. Over the course of the Civil War, 250,000 blacks served in the Union forces, and 37,000 were killed.
1866, July 28
Congress created six all-black Regular Army regiments: 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments, and 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantry regiments.
1869, Mar. 3
The 38th and 41st Infantry regiments consolidated into the 24th Infantry 39th and 40th regiments consolidated into the 25th Infantry.
1872, Sept. 21
John H. Conyers became the first black admitted to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
1877, June 15
Henry O. Flipper became the first black graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
On this April Fool’s Day, we not only wish you a happy April 1st, but to dispel some historical and current event misconceptions, we also want to share with you three strange events that actually happened in the history of the southernmost continent, Antarctica. Again, we want to be explicitly clear that what follows are NOT jokes. These events actually happened!
1. The Nazis Attempted to Create a Colony There
Territory comprising New Swabia marked in red. Map by Thomas Blomberg. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
Yes, those guys! The Third Reich, enemies of Indiana Jones and Captain America… In 1939, Germany sent an expedition to explore a chunk of Antarctica already claimed by Norway called Queen Maud Land. This area sits between territory claimed by Britain and territory claimed by Australia. Calling their new “colony” New Swabia, the ship the expedition sailed on was fittingly named Schwabenland. During the time immediately prior to the outbreak of World War II, in 1938, Germany commissioned an expedition to Antarctica for the purpose of scouting out a whaling station there. Whale oil at the time was still an essential raw material for precision machined equipment.
2. At Least Two Attempts have been Made to Create Micronations There
Location of Westarctica. Map by User:Micromaster. This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Micromaster at English Wikipedia.
In 2001, a man named Travis McHenry tried to establish a tiny nation on Antarctica he called the Protectorate of Westarctica. If that is not impressive sounding enough, the place was previously called the Grand Duchy of Westarctica. McHenry, an American by birth, plopped his claim between Antarctic territory of Chile and New Zealand. With a land area of 620,000 square miles, Westarctica boasts a population of about 2000 citizens, though none actually live in the “country.” Giving the place an air of authenticity, consulates have been established in several other countries! Apparently a magnanimous place, Westarctica granted independence to an even newer micronation from of chunk of Westarctican territory called Maeland in 2020. Not to be outdone, a Belgian, Niels Vermeersch, established his own micronation in Antarctica in 2008, a land he calls the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis. Unfortunately, this newest micronation does not enjoy the recognition by any other established nation.
3. The COVID-19 Pandemic has Spread There
Territorial claims with confirmed cases (red) as of 31 December 2020. Map by TUBS. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Nowhere is safe! COVID-19 will find you even if you flee to Antarctica. Since December of 2020, 58 cases have been reported from the land down under everything else. Fortunately, none of the victims have been reported as dying from the infection. Scientists and technicians employed at various Antarctic bases have been reduced to minimum staffing levels to combat the spread of COVID-19, making an already difficult job even harder.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever been to Antarctica? Also, did anyone pull any pranks on you today? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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The featured image in this article, the emblem of the Nazi German Antarctic expedition (1938 – 1939), is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.