Countless sieges in history but few have had such profound story or impact on the future of empires and nations. This is a list of the top 10 sieges in history.
1. Petersburg, 1864-65
Though not exactly a classic siege, but the elaborate trench warfare which took place around the city gives the battle a spot in history. Lee’s Confederate army of 50,000 faced the Union army of more than 100,000 led by Ulysses S. Grant. The defeat and retreat from the siege of the confederate forces, led to their surrender, bringing the civil war to an end.
2. Tenochtitlan, 1521
Tenochtitlan, present-day Mexico City, and the capital city of the Aztec Empire was under Spanish control before a massacre by them led to their being ousted from the city. The Spanish Conquistadors under the infamous Hernan Cortes recaptured the city by slowly starving it and taking it block by block. Thousands of Aztecs died in the face of well-armed European troops. The fall of Tenochtitlan signalled the fall of the last indigenous empire in South America.
3. Sevastopol, 1941-42
The siege tied down a vast German force for eight months, delaying its operations in southern Russia for nearly a year. The German forces fielded more than a thousand artillery pieces, including the monster 800mm “Gustav” railway gun. Sevastapool was the most fortified city in the history of mankind.
4. Baghdad, 1258
The Mongols laid siege to the city Baghdad. It was the capital of the Abbasid Emirate. They employed Chinese siege engineers and quickly captured parts of the city, leading to a weeklong massacre of its population. The Mongols killed almost the entire population of the city and the surrounding regions. Between a hundred thousand to a million people were killed and the city razed. Baghdad remained in ruins for centuries.
5. Delhi, 1857
The 1857 rebellion was one of the direst moments in the British Empire’s history. The native rebels had captured Delhi. The British force of 10,000 men stormed the heavily fortified city after days of bombarding the walls. It took another several days of heavy street fighting until the city was finally secured. It was one of the rare cases when the besieging force was smaller than the one besieged, and yet manage to capture its objective.