11 September 2006

11th of September

The Hungarians and Protestant dissidents under the leadership of Imre Thököly initiated conflict along the Austrian Militargrenz (Military Border District) in the early 1680s. They really couldn’t get anywhere substantial, and applied to the Turkish patrons for assistance. Grand Vizir Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha managed to convince Sultan Mehmet IV to permit him to raise an army and operate against the Austrian forces. A declaration of war was dispatched to Vienna in 1682, but the inefficiencies of the Ottoman administration delayed the assembly of troops. The offensive began with the first units leaving Edirne in Thrace on 1 April 1683.

Now, Kara Mustafa had previously fought a successful war against Poland in which he had initially defeated Poland and added the province of Podolia. The Poles under the leadership of Grand Hetman Jan Sobieski won another battle which allowed them to modify the peace treaty and avoid paying any tribute, but did not recover the province. So when the Army began marching, there was a question as to where it was headed. Poland, now under the leadership of King Jan III Sobieski (also Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Ducal Prussia, Masovia, Samogotia, etc, etc, etc) initiated conscription.

Now, Jan is an interesting fellow in his own right. His father, Jakub Sobieski was a Ruthenian voivod, and his mother was Zofia Teofilia nee Danilowicz, granddaughter of the Hetman Stanislaw Zalkiewski. He was a graduate of the Nowodwory College in Krakow, and the philisophical school of the Jagiellonian Academy. He also travelled in Western Europe and learned French, German, Italian, and Latin. In 1648, he raised a banner of cavalry and fought in the Chmielnicki Uprising, ending with the rank of pulkownik (colonel, more or less). He served as an envoy to the Ottomans at the behest of King Jan II Casimir and there learned Turkish. During "The Deluge" (invasion of Poland by Sweden) his unit was among the units that were forced to capitulate at Ujscie and swore allegiance to Carl X Gustav of Sweden, but less than a year later he returned to the Polish side. In 1656, he commanded a regiment of Tartars during the Battle of Warsaw and was awarded the title of Standard-Bearer of the Crown. He remained loyal during the Lubomirski Rebellion. He married Marie Casiire Louise de la Grange d'Arquien, who although French had arrived in Poland at the age of 5 as a lady in waiting to Luwika Maria Gonzaga, who was Queen of Poland from 1645-1672 (Originally as wife of Wladyslaw IV, but his death wasn't going to slow her down, as she married his brother who succeeded him). This was her second marriage, but she managed to produce 13 children, of whom 4 survived to adulthood.

Another diversion: Not only was this marriage extremely beneficial to Jan's career (corresponding to his appointment as Great Marshal of the Crown that same year) but was apparently a true love match, as shown by the publication after both of their deaths of their love letters, composed while he was out of the country fighting. He often wrote to her discussing decisions that faced him as King and she was a big part of the decision making process. To this day, in Poland she is often known as Marysieńka, which was the King's fond diminuitive for her.

On May 19th, 1674 Jan was elected as the new monarch of Poland after the death of Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki, who died on the 10th of November 1673, the day before Sobieski's victory at Chocim referred to above. He danced the dance of all Polish kings, dealing with rebellious Tartars and obstinate magnates, as well as Brandenburg, Sweden, and Austria who all wanted to aggrandize themselves at the cost of the Commonwealth. He also managed to reform the military, dropping pikes in favor of infantry who used large battleaxes as musket-rests and close combat weapons as well. He also reorganized the regiments and standardized them, and introduced dragoons into Polish cavalry. He standardized and reformed the famous winged hussars as well. For those whose military education focuses on more recent events, the term 'hussar' brings to mind extravagantly dressed light cavalrymen armed with saber. The Polish pancerny huzara wore armor, often 3/4 plate (plate armor down to the knees, with thick leather knee-high boots), and armed with lance, sword, saber, a variety of ranged weapons (composite bow, carbine, pistols in great profusion), and possibly a warhammer or mace. Their most distinctive visual signature was the pair of large frames covered in feathers which were secured to their backs.

Emperor Leopold I Hapsburg soon discovered that the Ottomans were marching on Vienna. He fought some desultory skirmishes, and then fled Vienna. He dispatched envoys, reinforced with a papal nuncio, to beg King Jan III Sobieski to send a relief force. The Turks invested Vienna on the 14th of July. Graf Ernst Rudiger von Starhemberg commanded about 11,000 troops and 5,000 civilian volunteers who refused evacuation refused to capitulate. I wonder if any European city today could find 5,000 citizens willing to defend their homes, and with the weaponry to do so. Several target shooting clubs did excellent work as snipers, for instance. They had demolished houses outside the walls to clear fields of fire. The Ottomans had some 300 cannon, but the Viennese fortifications were too modern to be greatly bothered by the obsolete pieces. The Pasha ordered his men to begin digging saps. The Ottomans had the troops to overwhelm the walls in an assault, but the caution of their commander prevented this eminently logical course. By early September, the Turks had managed to dig to the city walls and blew up portions of the walls, the Burg bastion, the Lobel bastion and the Burg ravelin. The Burg ravelin and the Nieder wall were occupied on 8 September. The defenders prepared for the end, and began planning to fight the Turks street-by-street.

Leopold was not disappointed. On July 16th, 1683, his envoys arrived, and on the same day the orders were issued for an assembly of the Polish Army at Krakow. By August 2nd, the entire force of 27,000 soldiers was assembled, plus perhaps twice as many non-combatant support personnel and they set out for Austria. Reinforcements from Germany were also being brought up to link up with the Polish forces. On September 3rd,the King held a council attended by hetmans Stanisław Jabłonowski and Mikołaj Sieniawski, the artillery general Marcin Kątski, Elector Jan Jerzy III, the Bavarian elector, and the emperor's generals participated in that session. King Jan III Sobieski assumed command of the allied forces. The plan of the relief submitted by the Polish king was accepted then. Sobieski's plan assumed crossing the Danube to the right bank. Having crossed the river, the allied forces were to make a careful reconnaissance of the enemy and then to march along the Danube through the mountain area of the so-called Vienna Forest. The most important role during the march was allocated to the infantry whose task was to prevent the army from being surprised by the enemy. The allied forces were to attack the enemy just after passing through the Vienna Forest and having crushed the enemy – pass on to the pursuit.

The night of 4/5 September saw the Polish and Austria forces cross the Danube on pontoon bridges. The allies formed three columns and marched until the 11th of September, when they took position across from the Turkish Army. Due to the failure to concentrate on the main effort, the Turks had dispersed much of their army and were left with 85,000 troops in the main army and 25,000 in the suburbs.

***

American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767-223 wide-body aircraft, crashed into the north side of the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) at 8:46:30 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767-222, crashed into the South Tower at 9:02:59 a.m., an event covered live by television broadcasters from around the world who had their cameras trained on the buildings after the earlier crash.

American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757-223, crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37:46 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757-222, crashed in a field in southwest Pennsylvania just outside of Shanksville, about 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Washington, D.C., at 10:03:11 a.m., with parts and debris found up to eight miles away. The crash in Pennsylvania is believed to have resulted from the hijackers either deliberately crashing the aircraft or losing control of it as they fought with the passengers.

No one onboard any of the hijacked aircraft survived.

There were 2,996 people killed, including 246 on the four planes and 125 at the Pentagon. The rest were in the towers or on the ground in New York. Among the fatalities were 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers.

1366 people were at or above the floors of impact in the North Tower (1 WTC): according to the Commission Report hundreds were killed instantly by the impact the rest were trapped and died later.

As many as 600 people were killed instantly or trapped at and above the floors of impact in the South Tower (2 WTC). Only about 18 managed to escape in time from above the impact zone and out of the South Tower before it collapsed. The captain of Flight 11, John Ogonowski, is said to have been killed by hijackers before the impact.

The fatalities included 8 children, 5 of ages 3, 8, 11, 11, and 11 on American 77, 3 of ages 2, 3, and 4 on United 175. Almost all the fatalities were civilians, except some of the 125 victims in the Pentagon.

In addition to the 110-floor Twin Towers of the World Trade Center itself, five other buildings at the World Trade Center site, including 7 World Trade Center and the Marriott Hotel, four New York City Subway stations, and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church were destroyed or badly damaged. In total, in Manhattan, 25 buildings were damaged and all seven buildings of the World Trade Center Complex had to be razed. Later, an eighth building, the Deutsche Bank Building across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center complex had to be demolished as well, due to the uninhabitable, toxic conditions inside the office tower. Communications equipment such as broadcast radio, television and two-way radio antenna towers were damaged beyond repair. In Arlington County, a portion of the Pentagon was severely damaged by fire and one section of the building collapsed.

Some passengers and crew members were able to make phone calls from the hijacked flights. They reported that multiple hijackers were aboard each plane. A total of 19 were later identified by the FBI, four on United 93 and five each on the other three flights.

The hijackers reportedly took control of the aircraft by using box-cutter knives to kill flight attendants and at least one pilot or passenger. Some form of noxious chemical spray, such as tear gas or pepper spray, was reported to have been used on American 11 and United 175 to keep passengers out of the first-class cabin. Bomb threats were made on three of the aircraft, but not on American 77.

In the fourth aircraft, black box recordings revealed that—after discovering on their phones that planes had been deliberately crashed into buildings—crew and passengers attempted to seize control of the plane from the hijackers, who then rocked the plane in a failed attempt to subdue the passengers. According to 9-1-1 tapes, one of the passengers, Todd Beamer, had asked for the operator to pray with him before the passengers attempted to retake the aircraft. After praying, he simply said, "Let's roll." (The 9/11 Commission stated that Beamer later said "Roll it," most likely referring to a drink cart being used as a battering ram. This was, however, a separate incident, which took place after he had hung up on the operator. It is evidenced by cockpit recorders) Soon afterward, the aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, at 10:03:11 a.m. local time. There is a dispute about the exact timing of the crash as the seismic record indicates that the impact occurred at 10:06 a.m. The 9/11 Panel reports that captured al-Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed said that Flight 93's target was the United States Capitol, which was given the code name "the Faculty of Law."

At the World Trade Center, faced with a desperate situation of smoke and burning heat from the jet fuel and ignited building contents, an estimated 200 people jumped to their deaths from the burning towers, landing on the streets and rooftops of adjacent buildings hundreds of feet below. In addition, some of the occupants of each tower above its point of impact made their way upward toward the roof in hope of helicopter rescue. No rescue plan existed for such an eventuality. Fleeing occupants instead encountered locked access doors upon reaching the roof. In any case, thick smoke and intense heat prevented rescue helicopters from landing.

Further information can be located at http://www.911digitalarchive.org/

3 Comments:

Blogger Zero Ponsdorf said...

First rate stuff. Thanks.

2:38 AM  
Blogger sophia said...

Thanks. That was such a good recap of all of the events. Your last paragraph really brings home the evil that was done that terrible day.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating! A v.good summary of Jan Skbieski's life and deeds. Have you heard that a movie on his figths at Vienna is going to be make. Another hero of this film will probably be an officer of his secfet service (a real character) who helped to gather information and then got, as an award for his service, a load of coffee and was the first person to start a cafe in Vienna.

Malgosia from Poland

8:29 PM  

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