Apelles, The Greatest Painter Of Antiquity

Painting is a perishable art.  Pigment fades and flakes with the centuries; and the passage of millennia leaves us nothing of painting but dust and memories.  From antiquity have survived statues, tombs, mosaics, some murals here and there, artifacts of all kinds, and the sublime monuments of architecture; but of the great Greek and Roman painters, we have no original works.    

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Disaster And Heroism At Maiwand

On July 27, 1880, General George Burrows led just under 2,500 British and Indian troops into the field near Maiwand, Afghanistan, to intercept an Afghan force led by Ayub Khan.  Burrows, however, was not aware that he was confronting a force that numbered around 25,000 Afghan warriors.  The terrible engagement that followed, known to history as the Battle of Maiwand, was one of the major battles of the Second Anglo-Afghan War.     

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Escape From Libby Prison (Part II)

As February 10, 1864 dawned at Libby Prison, the remaining inmates awaited the inevitable hurricane of outrage and disbelief that they knew was coming.  All through the night, men had made their way through Col. Thomas Rose’s tunnel and out of Rat Hell to the dark streets of Richmond.  Now they would have to face the music once the morning count was conducted. 

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Escape From Libby Prison (Part I)

The greatest prison camp escape in American history took place at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, in February 1864.  On a cold winter night, 109 Union officers crawled through a suffocating, claustrophobic tunnel from a Confederate hell-hole to an empty lot near the building, and from there tried to make their way through hostile country to Union lines more than fifty miles away.  Many of them won their freedom, but many were recaptured and sent right back to prison. 

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The Mysterious Death Of Lord Kitchener

By 1916, the year of his death, Lord Horatio Kitchener had for years been a venerated and legendary figure throughout the British Empire.  The campaigns in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia had dimmed some of his luster, but his name remained a revered one.  The official announcement of his death thus came as a deep shock; and even today, after more than a hundred years, the nebulous circumstances of his death continue to invite speculation as to whether some element of foul play was involved. 

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The Weird Tale Of Jenkins’s Ear

Governments looking for a pretext to justify a predetermined course of action will undoubtedly find one.  Some outrage can be seized upon, some barbarity can be dangled before the public, or some looming danger can be created to whip up support for a policy.  It is an ancient stratagem, and an effective one.  A convincing casus belli needs only the correct manner of its deployment. 

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Epic Journey: Lord Roberts Marches From Kabul To Kandahar

The late 19th century saw an intense competition between the British and Russian empires for influence in central Asia.  Once act of this “Great Game” was the Second Afghan War, which was fought between 1878 and 1880.  Britain’s goals were two-fold:  to keep tsarist forces out of Afghanistan, and to create a friendly buffer state between the British Raj and Russian territory. 

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A Fire Destroys H.M.S. “Bombay”

Fire both fascinates and terrifies man.  It has nurtured man’s ascent from savagery to civilization by cooking his food, keeping him warm, and smelting his metals for war and agriculture; and yet nothing else so triggers his instincts of panic and terror when trapped in its presence.  Fires in large buildings and aboard ships at sea are especially terrible because the victims of these fires often have nowhere to flee.

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Carry All By The Sword: Stephen Decatur Burns The “Philadelphia”

We have noted elsewhere that the young United States went to war against the Barbary principalities of northern Africa in 1801.  President Jefferson found the continued payment of tribute to these piratical opportunists to be obnoxious, and resolved to punish the corsairs militarily.  Tripoli returned the favor by declaring war on the Americans.  Sword and bullet would now settle the matter. 

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Stephen Decatur Personally Fights And Kills An Enemy Captain

Stephen Decatur ranks as one of the greatest of America’s early naval commanders.  His only equal in bravery and fighting prowess was John Paul Jones.  He was the kind of man who could not sit by the sidelines and watch a fight play out; he had to be in the thick of the action, issuing commands, and inhaling the sulphurous smoke of battle.  Yet he was no rash hothead; his decisions, while bold and daring, were always based on a sound consideration of military realities. 

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