|Gurkhas. An ethnic group located mainly in Nepal and Western Bengal. They invaded Tibet in 1790, where they were defeated by banner troops sent in by the Qing emperor Qianlong. Gurkha mercenaries long-served, and with great distinction, with the British Army and the Indian Army, earning a reputation for unusual toughness and ferocity. They were instrumental in British repression of the Indian Mutiny, after which Queen Victoria gave them the honorific “riflemen,” which at that time permitted them—unlike other sepoy regiments—the official privileges of eating in the same mess halls as white troops and riding inside trains instead of on top. They fought for Britain in most of its wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including World War I, World War II, and the Falklands War. They also served the sultans of Brunei. From the 1990s, Gurkha units acted as United Nations peacekeepers. In 1987 a small separatist movement turned to guerrilla warfare in favor of carving “Gurkhaland” from northeast India. In 1996 the last Gurkha regiment left its old base in Hong Kong. After that city was returned to China, many former Gurkha troops became personal bodyguards for residents of the erstwhile crown colony who were at risk of being kidnapped or just ostentatiously wealthy. See also Amritsar massacre; Nepal.|
|Gur states. Five slave-raiding military states of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, located in the “middle belt” country between savannah and forest, south of the great bend of the Niger: Dagomba, Fada N’Gurma, Mamprussi, Wagadugu, and Yatenga.|
|Gustavus Adolphus (1594–1632). GustavII, king of Sweden and the greatest field commander of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). He became king in 1611 at age 17. He immediately proved a brilliant organizer, innovator, and later, also battlefield commander. The key to his success was incorporation of the revolution in military affairs into the Swedish Army. He professionalized the military and made it into one of the first of the modern standing armies. He introduced and refined military reforms that emphasized drill, discipline, and formation fighting by volley, all but the latter techniques originally developed by Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, against Imperial Span during the Eighty Years’ War (1566–1648). Gustavus recovered Sweden’s Baltic provinces by appeasing Denmark in 1613. In a sharp war with Russia he took parts of Finland (1617). His power rested solidly on reforms he made in the bureaucracy, education, and the military. Sweden was a poor country, however, and so Gustavus went to war—to enrich it with new lands but also to batten and billet his oversized army on other people’s estates. He briefly made peace in 1620 with Poland, then still a major power, only to regroup and conquer more Polish territory, 1621–1629 (with another truce, 1622–1623), forcing Poland’s king to renounce long-standing dynastic claims to the Swedish throne. In all his wars he stressed offense and employed techniques of combined arms (infantry, artillery, and cavalry), which stunned his more staid and conservative enemies. He carried far more artillery into battle than did his enemies, a feat made possible by his shortening of gun barrels to reduce weight and improve mobility—in sum, an early development of field artillery. He intervened decisively in the Thirty Years’ War in Germany, posing as the great champion of the Protestant cause at the moment of apparent Catholic triumph in 1630. His force of largely non-Swedish mercenaries (surrounding a core of disciplined Swedish conscripts) and Saxon allies won a major victory at Breitenfield (September 17, 1631) over the Imperial Army and the Catholic League under the Imperial general, Tilly. This affair scattered the Habsburg and Catholic forces, but Gustavus failed to pursue his advantage. |
In March 1632, he moved south again, storming a Bavarian fortress (Donauwörth) and again defeating the Imperial Army and this time also mortally wounding Tilly. Next he faced Wallenstein, the great mercenary captain hired to the Catholic cause, who was gathering a new army in Moravia. Meanwhile, behind Gustavus even Protestant cities and princes in Germany were growing uneasy at the foreign general whose army moved through the Empire for a second year, eating it out like so many locust. They had reason to be suspicious: it was the Swedish king’s plan to make Germany his new forward base. Through deliberate depredations, Gustavus tried to compel Wallenstein to move into Bavaria to protect its Catholic population and towns. Instead, Wallenstein moved to Bohemia to drive out the Saxon Army and to cut off the Swedish line of supply, reinforcement, and communication. Wallenstein now did to Gustavus what Gustavus had first tried in Bavaria: he took Leipzig and began to despoil Saxony to break the Swedish-Saxon alliance and draw the Swedes northward, away from Vienna and the richest Imperial lands. It worked. Gustavus moved north to meet Wallenstein at Lützen, near Leipzig (November 6, 1632). He won the battle (he never lost one), but fell wounded while leading a cavalry charge and died that night. France subsequently replaced Sweden as the main opponent of the Habsburgs, to emerge also as the main victor of the war. See also Oliver Cromwell; Armand Jean Richelieu.