A world at war

A world at war

There was fighting almost everywhere from 1860 until 1865

Sometimes we Americans get so entralled in our own history we forget than almost the whole world was inflamed in war at some point or another while we were busy with our own Civil War. While many of these were relatively small in terms of human lives and costs compared to the Civil War, others were not. While Americans were engaged in their Civil War, the rest of the world saw the Pahang Civil War (1857-63), the French Indochina War (1858-63), the Venezuelan Civil War (1858-64), the Spanish-Moroccan War (1859-60), the Labing Flat Riots (1860-61), the Argentine Civil War (1861), the Columbian Civil War (1861), the Second Turko-Montenegrin War (1861-62), the Transvaal Civil War (1862-64), the Ecuadoran-Columbian War (1863), the Muslin Rebellion in China (1863-77), the Bhutanese-British War (1865), the Morant Bay Rebellion (1865), the Spanish-Chilean War (1865-66), the Spanish-Peruvian War (1864-66), the Busato War (1865-68), and the Russian conquests in Central Asia (1865-81). Finally, the period saw one of the costliest of all wars of all times, the Taiping Rebellion (1851-66), in which some 10 million soldiers fought, 600 cities changed hands, and 20 to 30 million people died. As well, soldiers as seen here fought in these additional wars in the period.

The years 1860-65 were bad ones in which to wear any country’s uniform, not just the blue or the grey.

The Maori Wars

New Zealand’s natives, known as Maoris, rebelled against British rule twice during the period, in 1860-61 and again in 1863-66. Although eventually the western power prevailed, the Maoris proved to be a seriious and able foe, using excellent tactics. It took a number of regular British Army and Australian and New Zealand volunteer troops to defeat them.

War of the Triple Alliance

In November 1864 Paraguay’s dictator Solano Lopez seized a Brazilian warship, then invaded Brazil in March 1865. In May 1865 Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay formed the Triple Alliance designed to destroy the Lopez government. After serious defeats for Paraguay, which lost 60,000 men by 1867, allied troops, fighting over terrible terrain, entered Asuncion in January 1869. Paraguay surrendered in 1870.

War of Italian Unification

Garibaldi’s 1860 campaign unified Italy.

The Polish Rebellion

Poles in Russian Poland rebelled against their Russian rulers in January 1863, seeking an independent Poland, but, lacking a trained army, were defeated by August 1864.

The Second Opium War

In 1859 Lord Elgin, leading British diplomats into China to sign the Treaty of Tianjin decided it would be best signed in Peiking rather than the foreigners’ enclave in Shanghai. The proud Chinese refused, and Royal Navy forces attempted to force their way up the Hai River only to face total defeat. The western powers then organized a force of some 13,000 British and 7,500 French. In July 1860 they landed near the forts at Beidang and, led by Royal Engineers, worked their way over walls and water-filled ditches to capture the Small North Fort, which led to the surrender of the others. The Chinese government shortly later signed the Peking Conventions of 1860.

The Mexican Adventure

When Mexico declared itself unable to pay its debts in 1861 France, Britain, and Spain landed troops to collect. France remained after the others left in May 1862, capturing most of the country. Conservative Mexicans then declared the country a Catholic Empire, offering its rule to Archduke Maxmillian of Austria. He accepted and foreign troops from many countries aided him. The U.S. demanded their withdrawal and in 1865 backed up their demands by garrisoning the border with veteran troops. By March 1867 the last foreigners were gone, and Maxmillian was captured and executed that June.

The Shimonoseki Strait

Antiwestern Japanese forced the Shogun to declare all “barbarians” expelled from Japan on June 25, 1863, and closed the well-used Shimonoseki Strait to foreign shipping, firing guns on western ships from forts at Choshu. A multi-national naval force made up of 17 Dutch, French, British, and U.S. ships, then destroyed Japanese forts at Choshu and reopened the Shimonoseki Strait to international traffic in July 1863 although there was further fighting there in 1864.

The Second Schleswig-Holstein War

The Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, on the Prussian/Danish border, were captured by Danish forces in 1850 but claimed by the German Federation which sent Prussian and Austrian troops into Holstein in December 1863. The Danes prepared to defend the duchies. After German victories at Dannevirke and Dybbol, the sides declared a truce on May 9, 1864, with Germany holding the duchies.

Copyright Military Images Sep/Oct 2003

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