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Battle of Beerwolde (Napoleon's World)

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The Battle of Beerwolde was a battle in the Boer-American War on November 20, 1950, when American soldiers attacking the village of Beerwolde were outflanked and had to withdraw in a disastrous retreat across open space under heavy artillery bombardment, air raids and sniper fire. In all, 73 Americans were killed and 104 were wounded, against 14 Boers killed and 31 wounded. It was the lone blemish for the Americans in an otherwise overwhelmingly successful campaign. The majority of American casualties were incurred by members of the 5th Marine Battalion who made up the vanguard of the retreat and were tasked with fighting off attacking Boer infantry directly.


The battle is important in the popular culture of both the United States and in the Boer Republic. Future Boer Prime Minister Willem Wonda fought at Beerwolde, and the poem The Victory at Beerwolde is regarded as one of the seminal works of mid-20th century Boer literature. In the Boer Republic, its notoriety as the lone victory over the Americans is a point of national pride. In the United States, the battle was commemorated in singer Charles Manson's song Falling Back, in the film The Last Stand on the Plains (1957), a patriotic work starring Jack Kennedy, and due to the later political rise of Hugh Veinklasser, an Army Medical Corps officer who dragged seven men, six of whom survived, off of the plains at Beerwolde to safety and was injured in doing so.

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