Investment is the military process of surrounding an enemy fort (or town) with armed forces to prevent entry or escape.It serves both to cut communications with the outside world, and to prevent supplies and reinforcements from being introduced.
A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages but smaller than cities, though the criteria to distinguish them vary considerably between different parts of the world.
A circumvallation is a line of fortifications, built by the attackers around the besieged fortification facing towards an enemy fort (to protect the besiegers from sorties by its defenders and to enhance the blockade).The resulting fortifications are known as 'lines of circumvallation'. Lines of circumvallation generally consist of earthen ramparts and entrenchments that encircle the besieged city. The line of circumvallation can be used as a base for launching assaults against the besieged city or for constructing further earthworks nearer to the city.
A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from Latin: sedere, lit. 'to sit'. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static, defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy. The art of conducting and resisting sieges is called siege warfare, siegecraft, or poliorcetics.
A sortie is a deployment or dispatch of one military unit, be it an aircraft, ship, or troops, from a strongpoint. The sortie, whether by one or more aircraft or vessels, usually has a specific mission. The sortie rate is the number of sorties that a given unit can support in a given time. The term is an evolution of the concept of "sortie" in siege warfare.
A blockade is an effort to cut off supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade. It is also distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city. While most blockades historically took place at sea, blockade is still used on land to prevent someone coming into a certain area.
A contravallation may be constructed in cases where the besieging army is threatened by a field army allied to an enemy fort.This is a second line of fortifications outside the circumvallation, facing away from an enemy fort. The contravallation protects the besiegers from attacks by allies of the city's defenders and enhances the blockade of an enemy fort by making it more difficult to smuggle in supplies.
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Thucydides notes the role circumvallation played in the Sicilian Expedition and in the Spartan siege of Plataea during the initial stages of the Peloponnesian War in 429 BC.
Thucydides was an Athenian historian and general. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the fifth-century BC war between Sparta and Athens until the year 411 BC. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" by those who accept his claims to have applied strict standards of impartiality and evidence-gathering and analysis of cause and effect, without reference to intervention by the deities, as outlined in his introduction to his work.
The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place 415–413 BC during the Peloponnesian War between the Athenian empire on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other. The expedition ended in a devastating defeat of the Athenian forces.
Plataea or Plataia, also Plataeae or Plataiai, was an ancient city, located in Greece in southeastern Boeotia, south of Thebes. It was the location of the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC, in which an alliance of Greek city-states defeated the Persians.
Julius Caesar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War describes his textbook use of the circumvallation and contravallation to defeat the Gauls under their chieftain Vercingetorix at the Siege of Alesia in September 52 BC.
Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a populist Roman dictator, politician, military general, and historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He also wrote Latin prose.
Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, Netherlands, and Germany, particularly the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi). According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.
Vercingetorix was a king and chieftain of the Arverni tribe; he united the Gauls in a revolt against Roman forces during the last phase of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars.
Another example from the pre-modern period is the siege of Constantinople in AD 717–718. The leaders of the Islamic Empire took advantage of the violent anarchy within the Byzantine state to prepare a huge host, comprising more than 100,000 troops and 1,800 ships, to take them to the capital Constantinople. Upon arriving outside the Theodosian walls, the Arab host had some knowledge that the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian had allied with Bulgaria under their khan Tervel, and so in preparation for the Bulgarian army, built a set of stone walls against the city and against the countryside, with the Arab camp in between.
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.
The Second Arab siege of Constantinople in 717–718 was a combined land and sea offensive by the Muslim Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate against the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. The campaign marked the culmination of twenty years of attacks and progressive Arab occupation of the Byzantine borderlands, while Byzantine strength was sapped by prolonged internal turmoil. In 716, after years of preparations, the Arabs, led by Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik, invaded Byzantine Asia Minor. The Arabs initially hoped to exploit Byzantine civil strife and made common cause with the general Leo III the Isaurian, who had risen up against Emperor Theodosius III. Leo, however, tricked them and secured the Byzantine throne for himself.
A caliphate is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph, a person considered a political-religious successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire ummah. Historically, the caliphates were polities based in Islam which developed into multi-ethnic trans-national empires. During the medieval period, three major caliphates succeeded each other: the Rashidun Caliphate (632–661), the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750) and the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258). In the fourth major caliphate, the Ottoman Caliphate, the rulers of the Ottoman Empire claimed caliphal authority from 1517. During the history of Islam, a few other Muslim states, almost all hereditary monarchies, have claimed to be caliphates.
King Pepin the Short of Francia built a number of fortified camps during his Siege of Bourbon (761) to completely surround the town.He built a complete set of lines of circumvallation and contravallation during the Siege of Bourges (762).
The basic objectives and tactics of a military investment have remained the same in the modern era. During the Second World War there were many sieges and many investments. One of the best known sieges of World War II, which demonstrated the tactical use of investment, was the siege of Stalingrad. During the first half of the siege the Germans were unable to fully encircle the city, so the Soviets were able to get men and supplies in across the Volga River. In the second half of the battle, the complete investment of Stalingrad by the Soviets (including air space which prevented the construction by the Germans of an adequately large airbridge) eventually forced the starving Germans inside the city to surrender.
In modern times, investments and sieges of cities are often combined with intensive shelling and air strikes.
The Siege of La Rochelle was a result of a war between the French royal forces of Louis XIII of France and the Huguenots of La Rochelle in 1627–28. The siege marked the height of the struggle between the Catholics and the Protestants in France, and ended with a complete victory for King Louis XIII and the Catholics.
Encirclement is a military term for the situation when a force or target is isolated and surrounded by enemy forces.
A sally port is a secure, controlled entryway to a fortification or prison. The entrance is usually protected by some means, such as a fixed wall on the outside, parallel to the door—which must be circumvented to enter and prevents direct enemy fire from a distance. It may include two sets of doors that can be barred independently to further delay enemy penetration.
A redoubt is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, although some are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a hastily constructed temporary fortification. The word means "a place of retreat". Redoubts were a component of the military strategies of most European empires during the colonial era, especially in the outer works of Vauban-style fortresses made popular during the 17th century, although the concept of redoubts has existed since medieval times. A redoubt differs from a redan in that the redan is open in the rear, whereas the redoubt was considered an enclosed work.
A bastion fort or trace italienne, is a fortification in a style that evolved during the early modern period of gunpowder when the cannon came to dominate the battlefield. It was first seen in the mid-15th century in Italy. Some types, especially when combined with ravelins and other outworks, resembled the related star fort of the same era.
Vallum is either the whole or a portion of the fortifications of a Roman camp. The vallum usually comprised an earthen or turf rampart (Agger) with a wooden palisade on top, with a deep outer ditch (fossa). The name is derived from vallus, and properly means the palisade which ran along the outer edge of the top of the agger, but is usually used to refer to the whole fortification.
The Celtiberian oppidum of Numantia was attacked more than once by Roman forces, but the Siege of Numantia refers to the culminating and pacifying action of the long-running Numantine War between the forces of the Roman Republic and those of the native population of Hispania Citerior. The Numantine War was the third of the Celtiberian Wars and it broke out in 143 BC. A decade later, in 133 BC, the Roman general and hero of the Third Punic War, Scipio Aemilianus Africanus, subjugated Numantia, the chief Celtiberian city.
The Siege of Maastricht was fought between 9 June and 22 August 1632, when the Dutch commander Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange eventually captured the city from Habsburg forces.
Sapping is a term used in siege operations to describe the digging of a covered trench to approach a besieged place without danger from the enemy's fire. The purpose of the sap is usually to advance a besieging army's position towards an attacked fortification. It is excavated by specialised military units, whose members are often called sappers.
A line of communication is the route that connects an operating military unit with its supply base. Supplies and reinforcements are transported along the line of communication. Therefore, a secure and open line of communication is vital for any military force to continue to operate effectively. Prior to the advent of the use of telegraph and radio in warfare, lines of communication were also the routes used by despatch riders on horseback and runners to convey and deliver orders and battle updates to and from unit commanders and headquarters. Thus, a unit whose lines of communication were compromised was vulnerable to becoming isolated and defeated, as the means for requesting reinforcements and resupply is lost. The standard military abbreviation is LOC, or SLOC for Sea line of communication or ALOC for air line of communication.
The Siege of Grol in 1627 was a battle between the Army of the Dutch Republic commanded by Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and the Spanish controlled fortified city of Grol, during the Eighty Years War and the Anglo–Spanish War in 1627. The Spanish army led by Hendrik van den Bergh came to relieve Grol, but it came too late. The siege lasted from 20 July until 19 August 1627, resulting in the surrender of the city to the army of the United Provinces.
The fifth siege of Breda was an important siege in the Eighty Years' War in which stadtholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange retook the city of Breda, which had last changed hands in 1625 when the Spanish general Ambrogio Spinola conquered it for the Spanish Habsburgs. Hereafter, the city would remain in the hands of the Dutch Republic until the end of the war.
The 4th Siege of Badajoz took place from July to October 1658 during the Portuguese Restoration War. It was an attempt by a huge Portuguese army under the command of Joanne Mendes de Vasconcelos, governor of Alentejo, to capture the Spanish city of Badajoz, which was the headquarters of the Spanish Army of Extremadura. The fortifications of Badajoz were essentially medieval and considered vulnerable by the Portuguese, and had already been attacked by them three times during this war.
A schanze is, according to the specialist terminology of German fortification construction, an independent fieldwork, that is frequently used in the construction of temporary field fortifications. The word is German and has no direct English equivalent, although the word sconce is derived from Dutch schans, which is cognate to the German word.
The Lines of Contravallation of Gibraltar, known in English as the "Spanish Lines", were a set of fortifications built by the Spanish across the northern part of the isthmus linking Spain with Gibraltar. They later gave their name to the Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción. The Lines were constructed after 1730 to establish a defensive barrier across the peninsula, with the aim of preventing any British incursions, and to serve as a base for fresh Spanish attempts to retake Gibraltar. They played an important role in the Great Siege of Gibraltar between 1779 and 1783 when they supported the unsuccessful French and Spanish assault on the British-held fortress. The siege was ended after the lines of contravallation were attacked by British and Dutch forces under the command of the Governor of Gibraltar,General Augustus Eliot. The attack caused the Spanish forces to retreat and abandon the fortifications and the combined British led forces virtually destroyed all the spanish gun batteries and the enemy cannon and munitions either captured or destroyed. This attack is still commemorated to this day and is known as 'Sortie Day'.
Counter-castles were built in the Middle Ages to counter the power of a hostile neighbour or as a siege castle, that is, a fortified base from which attacks could be launched on a nearby enemy castle.
The Siege of Ath, was a siege of the Nine Years' War. The French stockpiled 266,000 French pounds of gunpowder for the siege and used less than half of it. Consumption of other material amounted to 34,000 pounds of lead, 27,050 cannonballs, 3,400 mortar bombs, 950 grenades and 12,000 sandbags. The financial costs were 89,250 French livres. After the garrison's capitulation, 6,000 peasant workers filled up the trenches. Under the terms of surrender, the Allied garrison marched off to freedom and was not taken prisoner. Of the 62 French engineers present, two were killed and seven seriously wounded. This demonstration of French military potency, combined with the successful storming of Barcelona the same year, convinced the Allies to come to terms with France in the treaty of Ryswick, thus ending the war.
The Siege of Bourges was a Frankish siege of the Aquitanian fortress town of Bourges in 762 during the Aquitanian War. The Frankish army under King Pepin the Short invested the fort with lines of circumvallation, contravallation and siege engines. The walls were breached and the fort taken. Count Chunibert of Bourges swore his loyalty to Pepin along with his Gascon levies and their families. Pepin appointed several counts of his own to garrison the place and the Frankish army went on to besiege Thouars.