[Daily article] September 23: Sieges of Taunton

The sieges of Taunton (23 September 1644 – 9 July 1645) during the
First English Civil War were a series of three blockades of the town and
castle of Taunton in Somerset. During all three, Robert Blake commanded
the Parliamentarian defences of Taunton, which straddled the main road
from Bristol to Devon and Cornwall. The first assault, by Royalist
troops from local garrisons, initially drove Blake and his troops into
the castle, before settling into a siege intended to starve the town
into submission. The defenders were relieved by a force under James
Holborne in December. The Royalists began the second, and bloodiest,
siege in late March; in May, after five days of intense fighting, a
Parliamentarian relief army led by Ralph Weldon forced a retreat. Lord
Goring renewed the blockade in mid-May, after engaging Weldon’s
departing army and forcing it back into Taunton, but the siege was
ineffective. The Parliamentarian defence tied up Goring’s troops, who
missed the decisive Battle of Naseby. Historians believe those troops
could have tipped the battle in favour of the Royalists.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:


Anglo-Spanish War: At San Juan de Ulúa (in modern Veracruz,
Mexico), Spanish naval forces forced English privateers to halt their
illegal trade.


American Revolutionary War: John Paul Jones led a Franco-
American squadron to victory in the Battle of Flamborough Head, one of
the most celebrated naval actions of the war.


Ramón Emeterio Betances led the Grito de Lares, a revolt
against Spanish rule in Puerto Rico.


In one of the first political uses of television to appeal
directly to the populace, Republican vice presidential candidate Richard
Nixon delivered the “Checkers speech”, refuting accusations of
improprieties with contributions to his campaign.


A bomb placed by the Abu Nidal organisation destroyed Gulf Air
Flight 771, flying from Karachi, Pakistan, to Abu Dhabi, UAE, killing
all 110 people aboard.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

1. A structure made of scaffolding for workers to stand on while working on
a building.
2. An elevated platform on which a criminal is executed.
3. (metalworking) An accumulation of adherent, partly fused material
forming a shelf or dome-shaped obstruction above the tuyeres in a blast

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  I have not yet begun to fight!  
–John Paul Jones

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