BB Archives Page Three

Touratech Founder Got an Early Test Ride of the BMW F800 GS in East Africa

Touratech has announced
that its founder, Herbert Schwarz, got a 5,000 km test ride of the BMW
F800 GS through the African nations of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi
and Uganda 4 weeks before the launch at Milan. Lucky guy!

The really good news is that Touratech kitted the bike out with as
many Touratech parts as possible for the ride, so we should have a wide
selection of gear and gadgets for the 800 when it hits the showrooms.

I'd still like to ride it so I can compare it to my KTM 950 Adventure.

On a military history note, I'd love to ride the East African battlefields of the German commander, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.
Lettow-Vorbeck was never defeated in the field and caused enormous
trouble for the British in east Africa during World War 1, even thought
the British had an overwhelming numerical advantage.

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Waller Chases Hopton from Cheriton, Hampshire on 29 March 1644


In the summer of 1644, the Royalist forces were threatening London
in the English Civil War with the Parliamentarians. The Royalists
confidently blocked a Parliamentarian force near Winchester and forced
a battle. They would regret it. The battle was a turning point in the
southern campaign and suddenly stopped the Royalist pincer strategy on
London by destroying the lower jaw of it.

This is one of my favourite local rides. The battlefield is highly
accessible by bike and foot with multiple farm tracks and lanes.
Additionally, this part of Hampshire is beautiful and the lanes and
good "A" roads around here make it a great Sunday morning ride.

The Battle

Around 27 March 1644, the Royalist forces of Lord Hopton, joined by
the Earl of Forth had succeeded in halting Hopton's old friend William
Waller's Parliamentary forces from securing Winchester by blocking the
main road between London and Winchester near Alresford.
Two days of skirmishing in the area left Waller's army near the village
of Hinton Ampner and Hopton's army northeast of Cheriton with pickets
on a ridge overlooking Hinton Ampner to the south.

Hopton's pickets and Waller's patrols skirmished in the night of
28/29 March. Waller had flanked Hopton's pickets on the south ridge to
the point of making it untenable. Thus the day of the battle began with
Waller on the south ridge and Hopton on the north ridge. Upon seeing
the ground between the two forces, Waller saw that Cheriton Wood would
be the key to Hopton's left flank and dispatched 1,000 musketeers
there. Understanding this threat, Hopton countered with 1,000
musketeers of his own under Colonel Matthew Appleyard. The two forces
met in the dense Cheriton Wood and by all accounts fought a fierce
hand-to-hand melee with Appleyard's forces securing the ground. Hopton
had been frustrated by previous attempts to bring his old friend,
Waller, to battle, due to Waller's pessimistic nature and previous
defeats, most notably Roundway Down and Lansdown Hill. Alas, Hopton would be frustrated, but not by Waller this time.

Although intending to hold their position on the north ridge, one of
Hopton's lieutenants, Royalist Sir Henry Bard, on his own initiative,
led his regiment on a ill-starred attack from the right on Sir Arthur
Haselrige's regiment of horse, known as the "lobsters" for their 3/4
armour suits. Haselrige made Bard pay for his folly and destroyed the
entire regiment in plain sight of the Royalists. The Royalists were so
horrified by what they saw in front of them that they felt compelled to
send re-enforcements to Bard. However, they were sent piecemeal without
supporting fires or flank protection. The Roundheads met the challenge
and soon the entire front became engaged between the two ridges.

Parrying between the two forces ended up in close quartered fighting
along the hedges. Meanwhile, several cavalry actions played out over a
period of hours with the Parliamentary cavalry gaining the upper hand.
Finally, Waller's infantry enveloped the flanks and forced Hopton to
salvage his troops and guns with an orderly retreat up today's Scrubbs
Lane towards Basing House, passing the point where the commemorative
stone sits today.

Ride Recommendation

This is a good ride with the tour of the battlefield in the middle
of the ride along the farm lanes northeast of the village of Cheriton.
Use Ordnance Survey Landranger 185. The battlefield is centred on SU
598294. If using a road map, the battlefield is located northeast of
Cheriton village. It is 42.8 miles beginning and ending near
Winchester, Hampshire. There is a National Trust property at Hinton Ampner, a good pub called the Flower Pots in Cheriton, a Husqvarna dealership (Husky Sport) in Cheriton and a BMW Motorrad dealer (Bahnstormer) at Lower Faringdon.

View Larger Map

Books and Map Recommendations

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The New BMW F800 GS Versus My KTM 950 Adventure

Sierra BMW has posted videos on YouTube
of the new BMW F800 GS in action. I'm kind of not sure about it. I was
hoping for something a little beefier looking, if not heavy. I was too
optimistic about what BMW could accomplish, I guess. Given the R1200 GS
has a much bigger engine and shaft drive and is only slightly heavier,
I had hoped for a mini 1200 Adventure, but really got a slightly bulked
up 650 GS. I waited for a long time to see if the 800 GS would come out
to replace my 2001 BMW F 650 GS, but finally succumbed to the butt-ugly
charms of this bike ...

my KTM 950 Adventure

The F 800 GS still intrigues me and I will definitely take a test ride
when it hits my local dealer, but I don't think it will pull me away
from el gato negro.

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Abraham Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address on 19 November 1863

On November 19, 1863, a little over 4 months after the battle, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at what today is the cemetery across from the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center.

The Kentucky monument to its native son's address at the cemetery at Gettysburg NMP

In my mind, this is still the most eloquent and forceful dedication to
a cause that a leader has yet to deliver. Unbelievably, Lincoln left
Gettysburg with the impression that the address had been a miserable
failure and he had not risen to the occasion. Showing signs of his
self-doubt that plagued him at times, Lincoln reminds us that brevity
and directness, though seemingly incongruent with enormous endeavors,
is often what history demands of its giants.

Ride Recommendation

The official GNMP map
is the only resource you really need for a great day-long tour by
motorcycle. If you want an end of day jaunt to loosen up the bike and
your mind, head west up the Lincoln Highway to Tuscarora Summit.

View Larger Map

Book and Map Recommendations

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U.S. Army Rangers Destroy German Artillery at Pointe du Hoc on D-Day 6 June 1944

In between Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy lies a promontory
called Pointe du Hoc. Prior to D-Day on 6 June 1944, the Germans had
six 155mm artillery pieces that could effectively fire on either Omaha
or Utah beaches. Pointe du Hoc (typo'ed as Pointe du Hoe on many D-Day documents and maps) was target number one for the Americans to neutralize.

Feeling the pointe was unassailable from the sea, the Germans
focussed most of the defenses facing rearward. The Americans, knowing
this, sent their elite infantrymen, Companies D, E & F of the 2nd
Ranger Batallion, to scale the seaside 100 foot vertical walls of the
pointe in an attempt to surprise the Germans.

The pointe was subjected to an unprecedented aerial and naval
bombardment prior to the invasion. You can see the effects of this in
the giant craters that still exist here today. The firing lifted just
before the Rangers were to land at 06:30. This is where things begian
to go wrong.

At approximately 06:20, the Rangers’ landing craft were heading for
the wrong pointe (Pointe de la Percee, a similar pointe) 2 miles closer
to Omaha beach. The Ranger leader, Lieutenant-Colonel James Rudder,
noticed the error and corrected the flotilla. However, to correct, the
Rangers had to run parallel to the coast and against a strong tide.
Swells engulfed several boats, including a supply boat. This meant they
were 40 minutes late, short of men, food and ammunition. The delay
meant the Germans had begun to re-occupy the pointe after the aerial
and naval bombardment had lifted.

The Rangers landed at the base of the cliffs at approximately 07:10.
Using grappling hooks and ladders, the first elements were up in 10
minutes. The Germans killed and wounded 15 by firing down on the
Rangers and dropping grenades on them, but supporting naval fire
suppressed them enough to allow the Rangers to get on top of the

The next problem came when the Rangers realized that the guns they
had come for were not there. However, being trained to never dally
around, the Rangers began to move toward their next objective which was
to get to the main road (today’s D514) and set up a blocking position.
Some Rangers had to fight from trench to trench to move forward, but
others had a clear run to the road. Once at the road, elements from the
3 companies that had landed on the pointe set up blocking positions on
the road and began immediate patrolling of the area. A CP element and
an element trapped by snipers and an anti-aircraft position on the
western side remained on the pointe.

Back at the road, the patrols were out. During 2 of these patrols,
the missing German guns were found hidden in an orchard. One of the
patrols with two Ranger sergeants moved to the south of their positions
along a farm track and hedge row. At the end of the track, they found
the heavily camouflaged guns in the orchard. They could hear their
German crews being briefed and formed up in the distance. The Rangers
destroyed the guns with thermite grenades. They quickly made their way
back to the highway and sent a messenger to report to the CP back at
the pointe.

After landing late in the face of determined opposition and not
initially finding the guns, the Rangers had accomplished their mission
in approximately 2 hours. Colonel Rudder sent the message that still
inspires soldiers today; “mission accomplished - need ammunition and
reinforcements - many casualties.”

Rudder thought that his scheduled relief would arrive at any minute,
but only a single platoon had made it through. The near disaster at
Omaha Beach was preventing the mass of the Rangers’ organic
reinforcements from reaching Pointe du Hoc. Rudder and his decimated
force were alone. Over the next 2 days, there were 5 German
counter-attacks. The Rangers, initially strung out over a mile from
pointe to the road, were forced back inside a 200 meter perimeter. They
fought for their lives on low ammunition and little food to avoid being
pushed off the cliffs and into the sea. In the end, the 190 man strong
Ranger force was down to 90 that could defend the position. On D+2, the
relief force arrived. The Rangers had taken 70% casualties, but a near
mythical founding chapter of an elite force had been written.

In my current life it is hard to imagine the amount of personal
sacrifice required for such an undertaking as Pointe du Hoc. This is
one of the reasons I ride to these historic battlefields. I may never
have to do what these Rangers did, but I have a responsibility for
keeping the institutional memory alive. An excellent description of the
action can be found at the US Army's Center for Military History.

Not far from Pointe du Hoc is the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. It is well worth the visit and the new interpretive center there is superb.

Ride Recommendation

This is not hair on fire riding. However, you can see all of the key
points of the battles for Sword, Juno, Gold and Omaha beaches. Relax,
take the day, drink lots of espresso and eat some nice meals. Once in
your hotel for the evening, take in the local Calvados.

View Larger Map

Book Recommendations

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Battle of To-Hoto-Nim-Me / Steptoe Fight 17 May 1858

After being hectored by the fast and loose talking Isaac Stevens, the Washington Territory Governor, into signing a treaty
that would see them removed from their ancestral lands to reservations
in 1855, the native tribes of present day eastern Washington state
became restless with the intruding white settlers and miners. Repeated
raids and revenge killings spiralled the area into open confrontation
between the U.S. Regualr Army of the Northwest and combined tribes of
eastern Washington.

Stevens' disputed 1855 agreements were falling apart as several
tribes (a Yakima faction, Coeur d'Alenes, Palouses, Cayuses and
Spokanes) raided the eastern end of the territory. From 1855 through
1857 the pace of the unrest grew, until the exasperated Stevens called
up volunteers to seek out the Indians that they felt were not complying
with the treaty. Stevens had looked to volunteers, because, the
military commander of the area, General John E. Wool, had held Stevens'
demands for federal troop intervention in contempt. Eventually, Wool
sent a force under Colonel Newman S. Clarke to clear out the area, but
very little action was found by Clarke and the area slipped into a
relative calm. Wool started making concessions to the treaty in return
for continued peace. Stevens was livid, but Wool felt it was better to
try to live in peace with the Northwest Indians, rather than rankle
them all of the time. Unfortunately, the tribes of eastern Washington
began to view the concessions as weakness and the pace of the attacks
picked up again, especially against miners digging for gold in the
Colville area.

Eventually, Stevens had used his political connections to get Wool
re-assigned and Clarke, now a Brigadier General, took over from his
boss. Clarke was an old Indian fighter from the Second Seminole Indian
War in Florida, but held many of Wool's sympathies for the Indians and
was just as disgusted by the actions of many of the whites. Both
officers had either seen or had direct knowledge of the Cherokee's
Trail of Tears and were abhorred by it. However, Clarke was an old Army
hand and knew that he would follow Wool out if he didn't do something
to stop the killings around Colville. In May 1858, Clarke sent Major
(Brevet Lieutenant Colonel) Edward J. Steptoe, a respected and
decorated Mexican War veteran, on an armed reconnaissance of the
Colville area to see if there was a way to cool hot-heads on either
side. Steptoe headed out of Fort Walla Walla in southeast Washington
near the Oregon border on 6 May 1858 with approximately 160 soldiers
(1st Dragoons, Companies C, E and H and E Company of the 9th Infantry).

Steptoe took off in early May 1858, but turn back immediately with a
wagon train that was just too heavy to maneuver to his animal's liking.
After unloading ammunition (leaving an average of 40 rounds per man),
he set off again. After crossing the Snake River at Red Wolf's
crossing, Steptoe had Indian company from thereon. The Allied Indians
had already received advance notice of his movements and were waiting.
They followed his movement up past what is known as Steptoe Butte today
and through the town of Rosalia, Washington.

As Steptoe passed Rosalia going North on 16 May 1858, he was
confronted by approximately 1,000 Indians of the combined tribes.
Steptoe, realising he was outnumbered, deciding to parley with them.
The talk merely confirmed to Steptoe that the Indians were spoiling for
a fight and could take his whole command if he wasn't careful. The
Indians thought Steptoe had come to fight and were unmoved by his
explanation that he came to try to settle the Indian / miner disputes
in the Colville area. Thinking discretion was the better part of valor,
Steptoe decided to withdraw back to the Snake and await re-enforcements
who he had requested through a courier, now on his way.

The night passed with an uneasy truce, but the morning of the 17th
found Steptoe on the move and aggressive Indians following like a pack
of hyenas waiting for a moment of weakness. By 8 AM, the soldiers were
taking regular assaults from the Indians. They just accepted them at
first, but had to start retaliating when the Indians started taking
high ground in advance of Steptoe's column. Eventually, the fire from
the soldiers took down several Cour d'Alene chiefs which raised the
blood of the Indians, namely Chief Vincent whose Brother-in-law was one
of the dead. Vincent had been one of the restraining voices in the
Indian camp. With Vincent's rage ignited, the combined tribes began to
attack in earnest. On the Army side, all ideas of a quiet withdrawal
were now gone. A series of running skirmishes on the flanks by Company
E and C of Dragoons, led by Lieutenants William Gaston and Oliver
Hazard Perry Taylor, respectively, were getting increasingly hot.
Steptoe sent H Company, led by Lieutenant David McMurtrie Gregg, ahead
to secure high ground, but even this was not enough to secure his
force. Once the force had consolidated on the Gregg secured hill,
Steptoe decided to keep moving to the vicinity of his 15 May camp
Southeast of present day Rosalia, near To-Hoto-Nim-Me Creek (now known
as Pine Creek). Along the way, Gaston and Taylor went down mortally
wounded. The Tribes were calling in re-enforcements as they realised an
opportunity to cut off Steptoe's command.

Finally, the soldiers reached the hill which today is the Steptoe Battlefield State Park,
on the Southeast outskirts of Rosalia. Steptoe set up a perimeter with
the howitzers guarding the main approaches. The Indians surrounded the
hill and tried attacking from multiple angles, but were beaten back
each time. However, the soldier's ammunition and water was running
disastrously low. One example of the fierceness of the fighting on the
flanks as the hill was being occupied was Trooper Victor De Moy, a
former French Captain, swinging his rifle as a club and firing off all
of the rounds of his Colt revolver except one...which he saved for
himself. As night closed in, Steptoe gathered his remaining officers
and suggested they fight to the bitter end. His lieutenants thought
otherwise and convinced Steptoe to evacuate the hill under cover of
darkness and make an end run for the Snake River. Burying the dead they
could find and the disassembled howitzers, the soldiers left their
fires burning, blacked out their gear and horses, tied down jangly
items and exfiltrated through a gap in the Indian lines. Rumor has it
that the great Yakima chief Kamiakin made it to the site by evening and
encouraged a full scale night attack, but was not taken up. Instead, a
series of uncoordinated attacks from different angles would harry the
soldiers. The first of such was around midnight, but the Coeur d'Alenes
who attacked found no soldiers, but most of their gear left behind. The
temptation of scavenging the remaining goods overtook reporting the
lack of soldiers, so Steptoe got a good head start.

Steptoe's troops then made an extra-ordinary march of approximately
90 miles to Wolf's Crossing on the Snake in 24 hours. There they were
met by friendly Nez Perce Indians who secured their camp for them as
they took well needed sleep. This ended a potentially disastrous
engagement for the U.S. regulars, but the sting of having to retreat in
the face of Indians was new to the U.S. Army.

Although in military history hindsight, Steptoe's retreat was one of
the most innovative, lucky and resourceful imaginable, his decision to
take too little ammunition and his decision to withdrawal in the face
of the combined tribes was questioned heavily at the time. The tribes
of eastern Washington were resurgent and felt their strength when they
fought together and in great numbers. The Army could not allow this
"humiliation" to stand and immediately began preparing a column to
address the issue. This column, which included future Indian fighting
legend Lieutenant George Crook,
met the combined tribes on 1 and 5 September 1858 at the battles of
Four Lakes and Spokane Plain, respectively, and won decisive victories
that ended the problems in the Northwest for the time being.

Ride Recommendation

Below is a long ride if you want to follow the Steptoe line of
march. (A glitch in Google Maps is causing the route to go through
Moscow, Idaho on US-95. The map I designed is correct when I view it,
but the insertion code moves the route east. The route should follow
Highway 195 through Pullman, Washington. Sorry, but I can't really
complain, Google Maps are pretty good normally) Once in the area,
consider the Palouse Scenic Byway for some great scenery. Finally, check out the Rosalia Visitor and Interpretive Center at an old Texaco station for a map of the whole engagement.

View Larger Map

Books and Map Recommendations

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Royalists Run Roundheads into Bloody Ditch at the Battle of Roundway Down 13 July 1643

Roundway Down may have one the most dramatic geographical features
of any battleground, bar the cliffs at Pont du Hoc on the Normandy
coast. The escarpment that falls away from the back of Roundway Hill is
a sheer drop off and was the scene of a desperate retreat that ended
with many cavalrymen going over the cliff.

After the stalemate at Lansdowne Hill a few days earlier, Waller
wanted a decisive engagement with the Royalists that were working the
area, so he set siege on Devizes in Wiltshire. Royalist Hopton, who had
been injured in an accidental gunpowder explosion after the Lansdown
Hill battle, knew he needed help, so he sent Prince Maurice on a end
run to Oxford to get more forces to come to his aid. Those forces,
under Lord Wilmot and Sir John Byron, approached from Oxford and Waller
met them on the sweeping expanse of Roundway Down with a numerically
superior force. Waller had what he wanted.

The battle opened with a cavalry charge by Sir Arthur Haselrige's
cuirassiers or "lobster" cavalry that was beaten back on the
Parliamentary right flank after two tries. Haselrige was lucky to have
his beating early when several escape routes were still available to
him and he took one from the field. The other flank was just as
decisively engaged with charges and counter-charges swirling around the
flanks of Waller's lines. Waller's infantry could only watch as their
cavalry flanks were decimated by determined Royalist charges. Finally,
to the horror of everyone watching, Parliamentary forces were cornered
and fled over the cliff to their deaths in "Bloody Ditch," the steep
escarpment off the back of Roundway Hill. Some Royalists were in such
hot pursuit that they followed the Roundhead cavalry over. After such a
fight, Waller's infantry was left stunned and almost defenceless to the
Royalist cavalry and a large detachment from Devizes that had marched
to the sound of the guns, but arrived late.

What had begun as an overwhelmingly favourable position for Waller,
ended up with one the most decisive Royalist victories of the war.
Roundway Down would affect Waller for years to come and made him overly
cautious in future battles, especially those with his old friend,

Recommended Ride

23.5 miles, depending on the options chosen. Take the A361 Northeast
out of Devizes to Beckhampton, where you turn left onto the A4 and go
to Calne. Take a left onto the A3102 to Chittoe. Near Chittoe, take a
left on the A342 and go to Rowde. Just after Rowde take the lane to
Roundway. At Roundway, take the farm lane north to a "Y" and take the
left fork. This fork will give away to a very good, solid gravel road
where you can view the whole of the battlefield on the down. You can
also park up and walk about 500 yards to Oliver's castle and look over
the edge into "Bloody Ditch." If you have the time, try the A360 from
Devizes to Salisbury across the Salisbury Plain (additional 27 miles).

View Larger Map

Use Ordnance Survey Landranger 173. The battlefield is centred on SU
021655. If using a road map, the battlefield is located north of
Devizes, Wiltshire.

Recommended Book and Map

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Burma and the BBC

Burmese Monks are challenging the military authorities.
I visited the Thai/Burmese border a few years ago and the view reminded
me very much of the old East German border I used to patrol. I hope for
their sake that they can withstand the government repression and
deliver their nation from the thugs that rule it. Additionally, and not
to sound too light-hearted, but once it is free, we can do some serious
WWII battlefield touring there.

At the bottom of the article, the BBC lays on its best Homer Simpson deadpan;

"Are you in Burma? How have you been affected by the current
situation? What is the mood like in the country? Send us your comments
and experiences.

You can send pictures and video to: or to send via MMS please dial +447725100100.

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.
" (My emphasis)

Note to BBC; Doh!

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Indian Warfare Before and During the American Revolution

Tim Abbott at Walking the Berkshires has a good post on the history of the Iroquois Indians and the American Revolution as part of the Military History Carnival.

I rode through this area in May 2007 and the area is not only
historically intriguing, but one of the best riding areas I've
experienced east of the Mississippi. I wrote one detailed ride on the subject around the Fort Bull area and have an Oriskany ride in the works. I really like the Don Troiani painting of the Oriskany battle that Tim posts.

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A Ride to Mont Pincon

I rode around the Suisse Normande back in March and had all kinds of
plans to write up the whole ride, but work and family considerations
have left me berating myself for not getting something up. With
that in mind, I am putting up some info from the Battle of Mont Pincon.
The battle for the area lasted a few days, but the interesting bit to
me happened in the evening of 6 August 1944 and overnight.

A quick intro to the battle can be found here.

In short, British tanks from the 13/18 Hussars barrelled up the hill
along an uncovered track and occupied the key communications node of a
hill before the Germans knew what happened.

The map below shows many of the tracks on the hill and the track
running from the southwest side to the west side of the hill was the
one taken by the Hussars.

View Larger Map

I'm including 2 short videos on Youtube.

The first is riding up the main road to see the 2 modern radio
towers / antennae, which give a good idea of why Mont Pincon was so
important to the German defense of this area. One could surmise that
the loss of these posts led to some of the confusion that caused the
Germans to get trapped in Falaise pocket not long after this.

The second video is to show the road (that is not shown on Google
Maps), from the north, to the Hussars overnight leaguer area. They
actually came up from the southwest, but, alas, I cannot find my video
for that part of the ride. There is a battle interpretation board at
the end and the monument to the 13/18 Hussars is nearby.

I'm planning on writing a lot more on Mont Pincon, Operations
Bluecoat and Cobra and the great riding around the Suisse Normande, but
this should hold you for a while. ;o)

Book and Map Recommendations

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Parliamentarians Finish Off Southwest Royalists at Battle of Langport 10 July 1645

By July 1645, Royalist fortunes were on the wane and Lord Goring was
using all of his strategic wiles to evade the confident New Model Army
under Lord-General Fairfax. Knowing that Fairfax outnumbered him nearly
two to one, Goring sent 3 cavalry Brigades under Lieutenant General
Porter to threaten the nearby Parliamentary town of Taunton, probably
as a diversion, in the hopes of dividing Fairfax's force. However,
Fairfax caught up to Goring after capturing most of Goring's cavalry
diversion betwixt Langport and Taunton. Fairfax came to the battle
weaker than ideal, but still with the determination to break up
Goring's force for good.

Goring took up an easterly facing position on Ham Down northeast of
Langport overlooking the Wagg Rhyne, a small stream running generally
north to south. Fairfax approached from the east (follow Tengore Lane
for a good simulation of the movement) and occupied a westerly facing
position on Pitney Hill, also overlooking the Wagg Rhyne. The two
positions straddle the present day B3153. There was an obvious "pass"
and/or ford over the Wagg, which both forces identified as the key
terrain to own. There are 3 credible geographic points (on the A372, on
the B3153 and an ancient footpath near the railway underpass) for the
pass and academic debate is far from settled on the issue. Up to this
point in research and on the ground viewing, Battlefield Biker reckons
it is the middle one near the present day railway underpass. There is a
footpath that leads right through the likely pass and up Ham Down.

The Battlefield Biker and CabAz at "the pass."

Goring placed artillery, cavalry and musket over-watching the pass,
the narrowness of which gave him confidence of holding. Wasting no time
in taking the obvious action, Fairfax took out the Royalist artillery
with his own and then ordered Cromwell to take the pass and press the
attack up Ham Down. The pass only allowed a 4 horse abreast attack.
Under fire from Goring's over-watch, the lead troops of Cromwell's
cavalry, led by Major Bethel were able to secure the pass and deploy on
the slopes of the Down. The Roundhead infantry followed and established
the fighting in earnest.

After some fairly fierce fighting on the Down, the Royalists were
broken and they retreated whilst setting Langport alight. This did not
stop Cromwell, who chased the fleeing Royalist through Langport and

Ride Recommendation

View Larger Map

33.4 miles. The route leads down to Langport and its environs. On the
Wagg Drove you are bisecting the battlefield. Around Langport you can
get several viewing angles of the battlefield from Ham Down, Wagg Drove
and Pitney Hill. The ride finishes at the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm
Museum at Yeovilton.

Use Ordnance Survey Explorer 129. The battlefield is centred on ST
441276. If using a road map, the battlefield is located 15 miles east
of Taunton.

Book and Map Recommendations

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Battlefield Biking and the lack of Beer in Pennsylvania

I ran across this article and it reminded me of the bizarre (to me) beer situation in Pennsylvania when I rode through there in May 2007.
Battlefield Biker likes a beer or two (really just one or two when I am
on long rides) at night after 14-16 hours in the saddle. I tend to stop
at a convenience store and buy a couple to take back to the hotel room
or campsite. After a day of hard riding, I don't really like to sit in
a bar and drink. However, in Pennsylvania, one could only buy beer in
multi-packs or singly in bars. Luckily, I was able to buy singles from
a couple of bars who were willing to sell them to me unopened and watch
me walk out the door. Technically, this was illegal, I think, but it
certainly was more in the spirit of the law for someone like me. i.e.
it would not have been a good idea for me to drink 2 beers in a bar
when I was really tired then ride back to my hotel/campsite.

Here's to Pennsylvania... its roads, its historic battlefields, its nice people, its great beer (Yuengling, especially) and to Pennsylvania changing its beer distribution model.

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Pictures from My D Day / Battle of Normandy Trip

Here is a selection of photos taken during my ride to Normandy. I
covered mainly the British / Canadian area of operations on this trip
with the exception of the American Cemetery Omaha beach which has a
brand new interpretive center which worth anyone's time.

Normandy Mix

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Vietnam War Motorcycle Tours

Interesting tour with Off Road Vietnam following the Ho Chi Minh Trail. I've only ever ridden in Thailand in SE Asia, but this looks fun....and hard.

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North Carolina and the American Revolution

Besides being a great place to ride with mountains, country roads,
and seaside, North Carolina holds some of the coolest battlefield
riding in such a compact area. Check out A Student of History's dissertaion summary on North Carolina and the Revolutionary War.

Battlefield Biker rides; Moore's Creek Bridge, Guilford Courthouse and nearby in South Carolina, Cowpens.

And for those of you who only think of the Civil War, Fort Fisher.

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Motorcycle Medicine

Just like a soldier, every motorcyclist needs to carry his own First
Aid kit and basic medical advice. A new book for every saddle bag /
pannier is Blood, Sweat and 2nd Gear.

Hat tip: Carla King at Motorcycle Misadventures

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Andrew Jackson Strongarms Creeks to Sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson 9 August 1814

After the tough battles at Emuckfau/Emuckfaw and Enitachopco Creeks and the near total devastation of the Red Stick Creeks at Horseshoe Bend, Jackson ordered all of the Creeks to report to Fort Jackson
on 1 August 1814 to discuss terms of a comprehensive treaty. Jackson
was a new Major Genral in the U.S. Army due to the resignation of William Henry Harrison,
the hero of Tippecanoe, and was in no mood for compromise and stood
firm with all of the Creeks, including the US frendly White Sticks. He
took his new rank seriously and was intent on using his new power with
his heroic reputation to get what he wanted (and what the thought the
US needed).

What was to become the Treaty of Fort Jackson made several major demands, including;

  • Surrender the prophets (leaders) of the Red Sticks
  • The US would have free navigation of the waterways in the Creek areas
  • The US would have the right to build roads in the Creek areas
  • The US would control all trade in the Creek areas
  • The US could build military and trading centers in the Creek areas
  • The Creeks must cede over half of Creek held land to make good for the costs associated with the war

That last point was the one that caused the most consternation as it
it applied to all Creeks, not just the troublemakers. Jackson wanted
the majority of the existing Creek lands, including a strip that would
separate the Creeks from the Spanish Florida tribes and was adamant in
his demand. Old allies' concerns were cast aside by Old Hickory in the
name of national defense. Jackson wanted to break the communications
link between the northern and southern tribes and severely weaken the
influence of foreign powers from the Gulf of Mexico inland, namely the
British and their occasional alliances with the Creeks.

Benjamin Hawkins, a civilian advisor at the talks, tried to help the
Creeks bend Jackson with well reasoned pleas that they had been strong
allies of the Americans against the Red Sticks and, although they had
once sided with the British, they would promise not to do so again in
the future. They had brought up this point, because they knew that it
was this threat of foreign intervention and its threat to block access
to the Gulf that was causing the pragmatic Jackson to demand total
severance from the temptation. No, General Jackson would have total
capitulation or the resisting Creeks would be banned from the area

Hawkins pleaded with Washington to apply pressure on Jackson to
relent a little, but Washington had a man who wanted what they wanted,
even if he was the type to forego diplomatic niceties of compromise.
Finally, the old warrior, Selocta, who had fought with Jackson during
the hard times in eastern Alabama asked for just the area west of the
Coosa River as a concession. One can almost feel the chill in the air
today when thinking of the old soldier saying "no" to one of his
comrades-in-arms one final time.

Jackson's only slip of will (if it can be even be called that) was
that he would allow the Creeks who disagreed with the Treaty to go to
the Florida panhandle. The Creeks had little choice. The Treaty was
signed on 9 August 1814.

Motorcycle Ride

Check out the "Figure 8" ride
starting at Fort Jackson Park and taking a big chunk of the historical
Creek homeland in eastern Alabama. Go outside of Summer, unless you
like sweating like a whiskey salesman in a Woman's Christian Temperance
Union hall.

Book Recommendation

Jackson's Way by John Buchanon

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Military History Carnival Edition Four, July 8th, 2007

Welcome to the July 8, 2007 edition of military history carnival.

Being the height summer in the northern hemisphere gives the
Battlefield Biker the honour of hosting the Military History Carnival
during the anniversaries of many great battles. So, let's mount up and

Now for a few post that did not fit neatly into my "Anniversary Edition" theme.

That concludes this edition of the Military History Carnival.
Thanks for taking time to romp through history with me. Submit your
blog article to the next edition of military history carnival using our carnival submission form.

The following edition will be hosted by Jennie at American Presidents

Blog ( on Thursday 16th August.

Submission address is £coppertop67£@££ (without the GBP£ signs)

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our

blog carnival index page.

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Hopton Takes Waller at the Battle of Lansdown Hill 5 July 1643

The Royalists had been gathering strength throughout the west in
early 1643, but there were still several Parliamentary strong points
that needed to be neutralised, before the Royalist rear would be secure
enough to mount an all out assault on London. With this aim, Sir Ralph
Hopton set out to draw his old friend William Waller out to battle, so
that the Royalists could take the Parliamentary town of Bath. The two
met north of Bath on Lansdown Hill.

Sir Bevill Grenvile's monument near the ancient quarry and site of main fighting

Waller had had time to prepare, so had used the existing
Saxon-times quarry pits and embellished them into a formidable network
of trenches and gun emplacements. Seeing Waller on top of a nearly
impregnable position, Hopton thought better of the situation and
retreated in good order. However, Waller wasn't having it and sent a
substantial amount of cavalry down the hill to maul the Royalists as
they retreated. The Parliamentary cavalry did a good job and almost
broke the retreat, but Hopton held on and rallied his forces to reverse
the attack and flank the attacking cavalry some ways back up the hill.

With their blood up, Hopton's infantry made their way up the hill and
eventually took over the crest from Waller's infantry. Unusually,
Hopton had sent the infantry up the hill to protect the cavalry flanks,
but his cavalry had been pushed back and the infantry had to carry the
attack. Hopton lost one of his troops' most beloved leaders in the
melee, in Sir Bevill Grenvile. The Royalists now held the breastworks
on top of the hill but could not really secure their flanks and were
running low on ammunition. Waller's troops had reformed behind a stone
wall about 400 yards south on the plateau. With darkness falling,
neither side had the strength to close the battle.

Neither side had won a decisive victory. The Royalists had taken a
tactical stronghold from the Parliamentarians by force, but they had
lost their ability to threaten Bath, so strategically it had hurt them.

Rides Recommendation

This ride
really comes into its own when all of the steep, curvy farm tracks are
taken around the battlefield itself. Note, try to avoid Bath during
heavy traffic and watch the debris on the farm tracks around the
battlefield. It finishes off with a scoot over to the next
(chronologically) battlefield of Roundway Down.
Use Ordnance Survey
Landranger 172. The battlefield is centred on ST 723703. If using a
road map, the battlfield is located north of Bath, near the racecourse.

Book Recommendation

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Cromwell Delivers Decisive Defeat at the Battle of Marston Moor 2 July 1644

Having relieved the siege at York by out manoeuvering the
Parliamentary Army, Prince Rupert wanted to engage Parliament's Allied
Army. Rupert believed (controversially) that he had orders from the
King to do so. The Parliamentary backed Allied Army of the Eastern
Association, local Yorkshire forces along with the Scots under the Earl
of Levin accommodated him between York and Knaresborough. Rupert was
outnumbered, especially, because he could not get the siege-relieved
forces at York to get the lead out until the last minute. The Marquess
of Newcastle, who had held York through the siege, was against offering
battle at Marston Moor, going so far as to remind Rupert of one of his
past failures due to hasty decisions. Rupert prevailed, but even with
the mainly infantry forces from York, Rupert mustered only 18,000 to
the Allied Army's 28,000.

Goring's approximate view into the battle area (his horse had a little less horsepower)

The two forces squared off late in the midsummer's day after having
had spent the better part of the afternoon so close to each other that
insults were being traded across the lines. Persistent rain showers and
the lateness of the day had convinced Rupert that battle would not
begin that day. However, for debatable reasons, the allied front surged
forward around 7 PM and the fight was on.

Rupert could have felt vindicated to choose battle at first as Goring's
cavalry on the Royalist left broke through and routed Sir Thomas
Fairfax's right of cavalry and infantry. Goring's forces pushed on and
took the Allied Army's baggage train behind the southern ridge. The
Allied Scots' infantry, however, doggedly held the line in the centre.
Meanwhile, a wounded Cromwell pushed Rupert's cavalry back in the
vicinity of present day Kendal Lane on Tockwith*s eastern edge. After
winning the cavalry engagement, Cromwell's disciplined forces turned
right and flanked the Royalist infantry. This envelopment turned the
tide and the Royalist forces were reduced to the last stand by
Newcastle's best infantry, the Whitecoats, who defied Cromwell, until
Scottish Dragoons came to finish off the battle near White Sike Close.

Ride Recommendation

This ride
runs right through the battle area, which is centred on grid SE 491522
in between Long Marston and Tockwith. (Ordnance Survey Landranger map

Book Recommendations

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King Charles I Rebuffs Waller at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge 29 June 1644

Just three days before the disaster of Marston Moor for the
Royalists, King Charles himself directed a rebuff to a prowling
Parliamentary army under William Waller at Cropredy Bridge, near

Waller had been observing the King's movements for some time when he
spotted an opportunity to strike over the River Cherwell near the
present day Oxford Canal as it passes through the village of Cropredy.
The King had allowed a gaping hole to develop between his lead / centre
elements which were near Hays Bridge and his rear which was more than a
mile behind. Seeing his chance to bite off a whole chunk of the King's
rear end, Waller pounced.

Waller sent Lieutenant General Middleton's cavalry (including
Battlefield Biker favourite, Haselrige's "lobsters") to make contact
with the King's rear. This was a raging success, but as so often
happened with successful cavalry charges of the time, the pursuit went
too far. The Royalist rear guard commander, the Earl of Cleveland, took
the opportunity to wade into the Parliamentary foot and guns which had
been left behind by Middleton at Cropredy Bridge. Middleton's cavalry
realised what had happened and returned to scatter Cleveland's cavalry,
but not until after they captured the Roundhead guns and their
commander Colonel Wemyss. Cleveland did not get all of his own way in
Middleton's absence as the Roundhead infantry stood their ground,
crucially keeping Cropredy Bridge.

In the meantime, Waller with cavalry crossed the Slat Mill ford and
attacked uphill near Williamscott and was promptly sent packing by the
Earl of Northampton's cavalry. Waller decided that discretion was the
better part of valour and retired to Bourton Hill to over-watch
continuing skirmishes around the bridge. Finally, the result was
Parliamentary forces staring down the King's forces from Cropredy
Bridge for the better part of two days. The King stole away when he
learned of reenforcements coming to Waller.

Although a tactical stalemate, the King kept most of his Oxford army to
fight another day and Waller's opportunity to hurt Charles
significantly was lost as Waller's army disintegrated with mutiny and
desertion soon thereafter.

Ride Recommendation

This ride
rides takes in battlefield area around the eponymous town and bridge
and then opens up into some great A roads to Daventry, Southam and
Banbury. Finally, I've included a short finish on the farm lanes around
the older battlefield of Edgcote, where a major battle of the War of the Roses was fought.

Use Ordnance Survey Landranger 151. The battlefield is centred on SP
477460. If using a road map, the battlefield is located east and
northeast of Cropredy Bridge.

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English Civil War Forces Display Stereotypical Tactics at Chalgrove 18 June 1643

The Battle of Chalgrove is famous mainly because one of Parliament's
main political figures, Colonel John Hampden, was wounded in the action
and died days later. Hampden was one of the "Five Members" that the
King had tried to arrest in Parliament, setting off the war.

The action itself was little more than a skirmish, but brings out the
differences between the two armies at this stage of the war. Royalist
cavalry commander Prince Rupert was establishing his reputation as a
leader of great daring. Rupert was also using newer cavalry tactics
that relied on the shock of rapid and decisive action with horse,
whereas the Parliamentarians were still relying on firepower and
tighter formations with their horse.

Rupert had surprised several Parliamentary encampments in the area
around Chalgrove overnight and in the early morning. As part of this
action, the main body of Parliamentarians had been alerted to Rupert's
presence in the area due to his flaming of the village of Chinnor. The
Parliamentarians set to finding Rupert and cutting him off from the
safety of Oxford. Rupert, realising that he was being trailed, sent his
infantry to secure the bridge at Chislehampton and place his dragoons
along the escape route, then turned to face the music with his cavalry.
As the Roundheads aligned for battle, Rupert feigned a retreat which
enticed the Parliamentarians into a chase. However, Rupert spun his
forces around and leapt a hedge to take to the attack. The
Parliamentary cavalry got off quite a few shots and Rupert's forces
took a significant number of casualties. However, in the melee, Hampden
was mortally wounded and the shock of the action drove the the
Roundheads from the field.

The Hampden monument in the foreground with the battlefield to the left rear (through the hedge)

Rupert's actions were characteristic of him and this time of the war
for the Royalists. The Royalists had fought in skirmishes and at least
one set piece battle at this point in the war and were coming off as
the better force in several of the engagements. Rupert's cavalry were
showing themselves to be of continental calibre in cavalry actions and
this confidence was leading Rupert to push for an early and final
assault on London to end the war. The young man did not get his wish,
but maybe he should have.

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

This map
runs to the actual battlefield and then takes a run at some of the
better roads in the area. Fox's Diner, near the Berinsfield Roundabout
on the A4074, is the local biker hang out. Ordnance Survey Landranger
164 is a good map of the area.

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3rd Military History Carnival Is Up

The 3rd Military History Carnival is up at Behind Antietam on the Web.

Enjoy. Battlefield Biker will host the 4th edition on 8 July 2007.