Battles are usually named after some feature of the battlefield geography, such as the name of a town, forest or river, commonly prefixed "Battle of...". Occasionally battles are named after the date on which they took place, such as The Glorious First of June.
In the Middle Ages it was considered important to settle on a suitable name for a battle which could be used by the chroniclers. For example, after Henry V of England defeated a French army on October 25, 1415, he met with the senior French herald and they agreed to name the battle after the nearby castle and so it was called the Battle of Agincourt.
In other cases, the sides adopted different names for the same battle, such as the Battle of Gallipoli which is known in Turkey as the Battle of Çanakkale. During the American Civil War, the Union tended to name the battles after the nearest watercourse, such as the Battle of Wilsons Creek and the Battle of Stones River, whereas the Confederates favoured the nearby towns, as in the Battles of Chancellorsville and Murfreesboro. Occasionally both names for the same battle entered the popular culture, such as the battle of Antietam, which is also referred to as the battle of Sharpsburg.
Sometimes in desert warfare, there is no nearby town name to use; map coordinates gave the name to the Battle of 73 Easting in the First Gulf War.
Some place names have become synonymous with the battles that took place there, such as the Passchendaele, Pearl Harbor, the Alamo, Thermopylae, or Waterloo. Military operations, many of which result in battle, are given codenames, which are not necessarily meaningful or indicative of the type or the location of the battle. Operation Market Garden and Operation Rolling Thunder are examples of battles known by their military codenames.
When a battleground is the site of more than one battle in the same conflict, the instances are distinguished by ordinal number, such as the First and Second Battles of Bull Run. An extreme case are the twelve Battles of the Isonzo—First to Twelfth—between Italy and Austria-Hungary during the First World War.
Some battles are named for the convenience of military historians so that periods of combat can be neatly distinguished from one another. Following the First World War, the British Battles Nomenclature Committee was formed to decide on standard names for all battles and subsidiary actions. To the soldiers who did the fighting, the distinction was usually academic; a soldier fighting at Beaumont Hamel on November 13, 1916 was probably unaware he was taking part in what the committee would call the "Battle of the Ancre".
Many combats are too small to merit a name. Terms such as "action", "skirmish", "firefight", "raid" or "offensive patrol" are used to describe small-scale battle-like encounters. These combats often take place within the time and space of a battle and while they may have an objective, they are not necessarily "decisive". Sometimes the soldiers are unable to immediately gauge the significance of the combat; in the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, some British officers were in doubt as to whether the day's events merited the title of "battle" or would be passed off as merely an "action".
Read more about this topic: Battle
Famous quotes containing the word naming:
who am I to reject the naming of foods
in a time of famine?”
—Anne Sexton (19281974)
“The night is itself sleep
And what goes on in it, the naming of the wind,
Our notes to each other, always repeated, always the same.”
—John Ashbery (b. 1927)
“See, see where Christs blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soulhalf a drop! ah, my Christ!
Ah, rend not my heart for naming of my Christ!
Yet will I call on him!O, spare me, Lucifer!
Where is it now? T is gone; and see where God
Stretcheth out his arm, and bends his ireful brows!
Mountains and hills, come, come and fall on me,
And hide me from the heavy wrath of God!”
—Christopher Marlowe (15641593)