Episode 5 - The Battle of Gettysburg - 1-3 July 1863
The greatest military battle ever fought on the North American continent, Gettysburg has often been considered the turning point of the American Civil War. Flushed with success from its smashing rout of the Union forces at Chancellorsville in May 1863, the Confederate government agreed to the audacious plan of their commander, Robert E. Lee, to invade the north and force a final showdown with the dispirited Union army in Pennsylvania. Only four days before the battle, President Lincoln replaced the Joseph Hooker, disgraced commander of the Army of the Potomac, with the taciturn Gordon Meade who immediately faced the prospect of another humiliating defeat that might break the Union will to fight on. In this podcast, we will learn how the unknown Meade managed to save the Union and defeat a seemingly invincible army that began a cascade of Union victories culminating at Appomattox less than two years later.
26 Apr 2015
Episode 8 - The Six Day War - 1967
The State of Israel faced mortal danger in June, 1967. Surrounded on three sides by hostile Arab states, armed to the teeth with the latest Soviet equipment, on paper, the odds of Israel's survival did not look good. Yet in six days that stunned the world, Israel not only survived, but routed three armies and tripled the size of its territory at the expense of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The impact of this brief campaign is still being felt today. This episode describes how this incredible military achievement was planned and executed using every art of war by Israel's brilliant commanders, Moshe Dayan, Yitzak Rabin, Mordechai Hod and their generals. Conversely, learn how the seeds of destruction were sown in the Arab alliance and within the political/military institutions of Egypt and Syria before the war ever began.
5 Sep 2015
Episode 4 - The Battle of Waterloo - 18 June 1815
The most famous battle of all time, Waterloo reached iconic status within days as news of the defeat of the greatest military leader in Europe spread throughout Europe, just as the return of Napoleon from exile in Elba had done 100 days earlier. In a desperate bid to quickly defeat the Duke of Wellington and his Prussian ally, Field Marshal Gebhard Blutcher, Napoleon marched north from Paris to the border of modern day Belgium and quickly defeated the Prussians at Ligny, dispatching them back to Germany and leaving him alone with Wellington's Anglo-Dutch-German force ... or so he thought. A series of mistakes and blunders uncharacteristic of the man Wellington once said was equivalent to another 40,000 men, let victory slip away on that fateful day in June when the Napoleonic era came to an end once and for all. Here it all on this podcast ...
26 Apr 2015
Episode 7 - The Battle of France 1940
As Winston Churchill watched the French army march past on Bastille Day, 1939, amid the tensions of Europe, he exclaimed "Thank God for the French army ..." and with good reason. France had the best equipped and largest army on the continent. Further bolstered by the virtually impregnable Maginot Line on its eastern border with Germany, a fleet second only to Britain's and a mighty air force, conventional thinking was that the Franco-British forces could and would defeat Germany's Wehrmacht if need be, or starve Germany to death by blockade. In this episode, we learn how a German general came up with the one plan that might succeed in winning the war and how the Battle of France was lost by the Allies, dooming the continent to five years of slaughter and destruction.
19 Jul 2015
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Episode 10 - Trafalgar
In October 1805, Britain had been almost continuously at war with Napoleonic France and under the constant menace of invasion across the narrow English Channel at Boulogne. There stood nearly a quarter million men under the personal command of Napoleon himself. The Armee d'Angleterre was the finest army on the continent of Europe and stood ready to invade and humble the "nation of shopkeepers", as the French Emperor contemptuously called his most implacable enemy. Standing between him and the beaches of Kent was the British navy. Napoleon had conceived a clever plan to unite the French and Spanish fleets and temporarily attain naval superiority in the Channel, long enough to get his army across. If he succeeded, he later claimed, "it would have been all over with England." This is the story of England's most famous naval commander of all time and how he managed to utterly annihilate the combined Franco-Spanish fleet off the coast of Spain in about five hours, losing his own life in the battle. Upon the outcome of this one battle on the high seas the fate of three empires were were sealed and the world would never be the same again.
16 Nov 2015
Episode 11 - Yorktown and the Battle of the Capes
In 1781, the American Revolutionary War had been going on for over six years with more defeats for George Washington and the cause of American independence than victories. The British army under the command of Sir Henry Clinton, based in New York, together with a large fleet commanded by Admiral Thomas Graves, appeared impregnable and invincible. The British could strike anywhere, anytime along the extended American coastline bringing overwhelming military power to bear. In the last year, Clinton had again demonstrated this power as his army swooped in from the sea, annihilated a large American garrison at Charleston, South Carolina, and then returned to New York leaving a large occupying force there under the command of Charles, Lord Cornwallis. As another winter faded into Spring, Cornwallis was moving north from the Carolinas to establish another base midway between Charleston and New York in Virginia, scattering smaller American forces under Lafayette as he went. Yet new hope sprang up with the arrival of a French expeditionary force of 6,000 men under the command of the Compte de Rochambeau in Rhode Island coupled with the possibility of naval support from the French admiral de Grasse in the Caribbean. This is the story of a remarkable combination and coordination of sea and land forces that Washington managed patiently and brilliantly, decisively defeating a major part of the British army which finally compelled Britain to grant independence to the new American Republic, changing the course of history
28 Feb 2016
Episode 9 - The Battle of Austerlitz
After a dizzying rise to power, the 35 year old Napoleon Bonaparte faced his downfall in the summer of 1805 when first Russia and then Austria allied themselves with Britain to destroy the French Empire. A fourth great power, the kingdom of Prussia, waited in the wings for Napoleon to falter and would then join the alliance too. Deciding not to wait while his enemies slowly mobilized, Napoleon and his Grande Armee, encamped for nearly two years at Boulogne waiting to invade England, broke camp and marched east. This is the story of how Napoleon defeated his enemies, winning his greatest military triumph at Austerlitz and broke the alliance in just four months time on December 2, 1805. This campaign, culminating in this famous battle, is the supreme accomplishment of the greatestmilitary mind of his age and, perhaps, of any age.
8 Oct 2015
Episode 6 - Poltava and the Great Northern War
The Great Northern War pitted the Swedish Empire at the peak of its power against its southern and eastern neighbors, Denmark, Poland-Lithuania, Saxony and seemingly weak and backward Russia in a war that raged from 1700-1721. The Swedish army was the terror of Europe and was led by Sweden's young king, Charles XII, who had ascended the throne at the age of 18 when his father suddenly died. In the opening years of the war, Sweden systematically crushed each enemy in turn, beginning with Denmark who surrendered after only four months of contending with Charles' military killing machine. One by one every kingdom withdrew from the war until there was only one. The weakness and backwardness of Russia's armies were also exposed early in the war at Narva when Sweden's army routed a Russian force three times its size, but withdrawing into its vast hinterland, Tsar Peter the Great completely reorganized his army. By 1709, Peter was ready for a showdown with the "invincible" army of Sweden at Poltava. The complete triumph of Russia over Sweden in this unusual battle marked the entry of Russia into Great Power status in Europe, a status that continues to this day. Listen to how the world was forever changed in this titanic contest over two decades and the story of two young monarchs thrust by history into greatness and tragedy.
10 May 2015
Episode 3 - The Battle of Koniggratz - 1866
The Battle of Koniggratz, fought on July 3, 1866, was the largest military battle on the continent of Europe between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the Battle of the Somme during the First World War in 1914. Another improbable battle in this series, it seemed at the outset of the war that Prussia would be slowly crushed by the vast resources of Austria and the other German states, nearly all of whom allied with Austria. When Austria's imperial army defeated Prussia's only ally, the kingdom of Italy, at Custoza on June 24, Prussia's doom seemed to be only a matter of time. This is the story of the brilliance of Prussia's supreme commander, Helmuth von Moltke, and how in a matter of six weeks, he humbled the Austrians on the fields of Moravia in a lightening campaign. Austria's defeat and consequent expulsion from Germany irrevocably altered the European balance of power and within five years, the German Empire was born under Prussian domination with its capital in Berlin.
28 Feb 2016
Episode 16 - The Battle of Stalingrad
A disastrous offensive launched by the Red Army in May, 1942 around Kharkov ended in a rout that paved the way for a renewed German offensive deep into southern Russia and the Ukraine beginning on June 23, 1942. The goal was to break Soviet resistance by capturing the oilfields of the Caucasus and the River Volga at Stalingrad. The Red Army was once again put on the defensive and soon their backs were against the Volga River, desperately trying to hang on in the face of an implacable and ruthless enemy bent on the annhilation of the Slavic people. This battle, fought in subhuman conditions between August 1942 and January 1943 cost nearly 2 million casualties and unspeakable suffering for those who fought and died there. This is the story of the battle many consider the turning point of World War II in Europe.
26 Apr 2018