and countered. The German withdrawal turned into a rout, especially after Hitler pulled out troops to counter the Allied invasion of Sicily. In the fighting, Luftwaffe superiority in the air was occluded by summer dust and smoke, and the greater speed of the Soviet tanks outstripped the better guns of the Wehrmacht's tanks. In the Ardennes, in the winter of 1944-45, the Battle of the Bulge was Hitler's last offensive on his western front. Ten armored divisions and fourteen others drove along the grain of the Ardennes westward hitting the American sector of the Allied front where it was lightly manned, reaching for Antwerp, trying to split the Allies as they stood ready to attack across the Rhine. The Wehrmacht advanced rapidly through the snow, protected by a heavy cloud cover, and reached Dinant on the Meuse. But Allied resistance stiffened, the skies cleared, German fuel ran out and their drive lost steam. Faced with counterattacks, Hitler pulled out the Panzers to meet the expected Soviet winter offensive in the east, and the bulge collapsed. However, losses of men, aircraft and tanks had been too great, and they did not have enough left to resist the Red Army's advance to Berlin.

It is fitting to end this historical survey with a reminder that there are temperate plains outside Europe and that violent turning points in history have been fought on these. Xuzhou was the crucial battle of the Chinese Civil War, one in which there were a million people in action on each side. In 1948 the Nationalists made a stand at this juncture where the railway from Beijing to Nanjing crosses the line from the coast to the middle reaches of the Huang He. The Grand Canal from Shanghai to Beijing also passes in this vicinity. They might have done better to fall back farther south to the Haui He. The river and a string of lakes would have provided a natural defensive line. Xuzhou was defensible, but the surrounding countryside was open and featureless, with no inhibitions to wide, encircling movements. The Nationalists made the mistake of withdrawing into the city from a wider perimeter. This disarmed the effectiveness of the American equipment with which they had been provided. It also provided the Communists with a clear field to sweep around them and press them from all sides. Liu, the Nationalist commander defected, and the Red Army closed, killing one-half million Nationalists and capturing one-third million more.

These battles provide us with the raw material to generalize first on classical tactical ploys and then on the evolution of modern tactics and their exploitation of and response to terrain characteristics.


REFERENCES

Chandler D. 1987. The Dictionary of Battles. London: Ebury Press.

Creasy E. S. 1852. Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo. Reprint. New York: Military Heritage Press, 1987.

O'Sullivan P., and J. Miller. 1983. The Geography of Warfare. London: Croom Helm.

-103-

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Terrain and Tactics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Tides in Contributions in Military Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • 1 - Military Geography 1
  • References 3
  • 2 - Some Third World Wars 5
  • References 30
  • 3 - The Lie of the Land 31
  • Reference 39
  • 4 - The World at War 41
  • References 68
  • 5 - Geography of Revolution 71
  • References 85
  • 6 - The Geography of Battles 87
  • References 103
  • 7 - Classic Spatial Ploys 105
  • References 111
  • 8 - Terrain and Tactics 113
  • References 123
  • 9 - Guerrillas and Counterinsurgency 125
  • Conclusion 134
  • References 135
  • 10 - War in Cities 137
  • References 148
  • 11 - Northern Ireland 149
  • References 161
  • 12 - Fighting in the Landscape and Fighting for a Place 163
  • References 167
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index 175
  • About the Author 183
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