American West - Mountain Men
The life of the mountain man was hard and tough. Living in the wild, he was in constant danger from starvation, dehydration, freezing cold, burning heat, wild animals and Indians.
The fashion for wearing fur hats in the early nineteenth century meant that there was a great demand for animal fur. Men such as Jim Bridger were employed by Fur Trading companies to trap beavers and other animals for their fur.
The only contact they had with the outside world was at a number of rendezvous and trading posts.
Some mountain men were accepted by the Indians and lived with them,a few married Indian women.
By 1840, fur hats were no longer fashionable and many mountain men became guides for those making the journey across the Plains to the west.
Explorers and Guides
The mountain men were pioneers in charting the unknown territory west of the frontier. They found passes across the mountains and were familiar with the perils that could be found along the trails. After the decline in the fur trade, many mountain men became guides for those making the journey across the Plains to California or joined the army as scouts and guides. By the mid 1840s most of the routes to the west were well travelled and the guides' main role was to help travellers to survive the harsh conditions and handle encounters with the Indians.
Jim Bridger (left) is probably the most famous mountain man of the period. He worked as a mountain man - trapping beaver, trading fur and dealing with Indians. He found passes through the mountains and knew the land well. He is credited with discovering the Great Salt Lake in 1824.
He spoke many languages including English, Spanish, French and a number of Indian languages.
When the trade in fur fell into decline, Jim Bridger built Fort Bridger on the Oregon trail. The fort contained a shop and a blacksmiths forge and was a useful facility for travellers to restock and repair their wagons.
The Neo-Assyrian Empire used earthen ramps, siege towers and battering rams in sieges; the Greeks and Alexander the Great created destructive new engines known as artillery to further their sieges, and the Romans used every technique to perfection. That is to say, the Romans were not inventors, but they were superb engineers and disciplined, tough soldiers who fought against great odds and won, repeatedly.... Read More
Demetrius I, King of Macedon, invented many siege engines including battering rams and siege towers. For the Siege of Rhodes, he created the Helepolis, the Taker of Cities, a huge armored siege tower containing many heavy catapults.
The island city of Rhodes maintained its neutrality among the warring nations of the time, although it remained friendly to Ptolemy I of Egypt, the enemy of Demetrius of... Read More
In the first part of this series, we noted the siege equipment of the Assyrians consisted of complex battering rams, earthen ramps and a dedicated corps of engineers and sappers. Alexander the Great and the Greeks would take the next steps in the evolution of siege warfare. The Greeks had invented the catapult circa 399 B.C. Alexander innovated by fastening catapults and ballistas on the decks of ships to breach... Read More
While sieges had taken place earlier than the Neo-Assyrian Empire, such as that between Egyptian Pharoah Thutmose III and Canaanite rebels led by Kadesh at the Megiddo fortress in the 15th century B.C., the Assyrians perfected the art of siege warfare during the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 911 to 609 B.C.
Through war and conquest, Assyria became the most powerful empire the world had yet seen. After the... Read More
For one thousand years, chariots rolled through the Middle East, terrifying armies, destroying infantry lines and changing the face of war. Sumerians used heavy battlewagons with solid wheels drawn by wild asses around 2600 B.C. Until the innovation of spoked wheels, the weight of the battlewagons hindered their utility in war. The domestication of the horse inspired further chariot innovation as horses... Read More