Online Encyclopedia

BOMBARDMENT

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 182 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BOMBARDMENT, an attack by artillery fire directed against fortifications, troops in position or towns and buildings. In its strict sense the term is only applied to the bombardment of defenceless or undefended objects, houses, public buildings, &c., the object of the assailant being to dishearten his opponent, and specially to force the civil population and authorities of a besieged place to persuade the military commandant to capitulate before the actual defences of the place have been reduced to impotence. It is, therefore, obvious that mere bombardment can only achieve its object when the amount of suffering inflicted upon non-combatants is sufficient to break down their resolution, and when the commandant permits himself, to be influenced or coerced by the sufferers. A threat of bombardment will sometimes induce a place to surrender, but instances of its fulfilment being followed by success are rare; and, in general, with a determined commandant, bombardments fail of their object. Further, an intentionally terrific fire at a large target, unlike the slow, steady and minutely accurate " artillery attacks " directed upon the fortifications, requires the expenditure of large quantities of ammunition, and wears out the guns of the attack. Bombardments are, however, frequently resorted to in order to test the temper of the garrison and the civil population, a notable instance being that of Strassburg in 1870. The term is often loosely employed to describe artillery attacks upon forts or fortified positions in preparation for assaults by infantry.
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