MHM February/March 2021

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The February/March 2021 issue of Military History Matters, the British military history magazine, is out now.

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In this issue:

Front cover of Military History Matters 120, the February/March 2021 issue.

Breaking the line

Between the battles of Quiberon Bay (1759) and Trafalgar (1805), developments in sail power made a decisive battle at sea increasingly elusive. But Britain’s relatively open society encouraged a spirit of enterprise, notably in the Royal Navy.

We chart the careers of two of its admirals, George Rodney and Richard Howe, both of whom violently overturned the established naval doctrine of sailing in parallel lines – allowing Britain to establish global maritime supremacy.

Jan Smuts: guerrilla, politician, warlord

Stephen Roberts reports on the extraordinary career of the man who went from Boer commander to Commonwealth statesman.

Sweden’s greatest defeat: the Battle of Kircholm, 1605

Poltava is more famous, but, explains historian Magnus Olofsson, Kircholm was probably the worst military reverse in Swedish history.

Combat of champions: the history of limited warfare

Ashley and Stephen Cooper take a close and critical look at this hallowed and ancient tradition.

Sideshow: Texel

Eric Lee describes the forgotten last stand of Nazi Germany on a remote Dutch island.

Also in this issue:

Christopher Warner’s series on War AthletesBehind the Image, War Culture, Book ReviewsMuseum ReviewBack to the Drawing Board, Listings, Competitions, and more.

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From the editor:

MHM editor Neil Faulkner
MHM editor Neil Faulkner

The British Empire could not have been built without seapower. And British maritime supremacy could not have been achieved without a revolution in naval tactics in the second half of the 18th century.

In the second of our short series on leading British admirals, we focus on Rodney and Howe. Both ‘broke the line’ – at the Battle of the Saintes (1782) and on the Glorious First of June (1794) respectively – but each victory was limited. We explore how the technology and tactics in these battles pointed the way to Trafalgar.

Back on land, Magnus Olofsson argues that Sweden’s greatest military defeat was not Poltava in 1709, as is generally assumed, but Kircholm in 1605, when the army of King Charles IX was annihilated by Polish-Lithuanian cavalry. Ashley and Stephen Cooper, meantime, take a long look – from antiquity to the Renaissance – at the hallowed idea of ‘combat by champions’.

Modern warfare is explored in Stephen Roberts’ article on Jan Christian Smuts, the South African soldier and statesmen who played leading roles in the Boer War and in both World Wars, and we round off with Eric Lee’s account of the Battle of Texel in spring 1945, the last stand of the Nazis in Europe.

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