This week, in 1565 on the island of Malta, the massive Turkish army (about 48,000 strong) attempted to take Fort St. Michael. The defenders, who had lost nearly half their original strength of 8,000 total soldiers, were divided as to strategy. The Council of Elders had voted for retreat, but Jean Parisot de Valette, Grand Master of the Order of Saint John, the Knights of Malta, vetoed the vote. The Turks made many minor assaults and sustained bombardment of Fort St. Michael (as well as other defenses). They finally brought in several siege engines and a massive siege tower.
In all cases, it was not the brave soldiers and knights who defeated these attacks, but thebut the clever Maltese engineers who tunneled out through the rubble. Using point-blank cannons filled with chain shot, the Maltese engineers destroyed the siege engines and defeated the Turkish hopes of seizing Fort St. Michael.
The massive Turkish army, demoralized by the brutal beatings they’d taken over the previous two months from defenders they’d been told would be swept away within days, were now faced with increasingly bad weather, and the threat of reinforcements.
The moral of the story? Engineering—it’s like math, but louder!