|British Royal Navy commander William Hoste chased Napoleon's forces from the Adriatic.|
In other words, mostly, we climbed steps.
While cannons were important, it's clear that holding the high ground was the key element of warfare when these forts were new.
The walled cities of Dubrovnik, in Croatia, and Kotor, in Montenegro, fired our imaginations as much as they taxed our legs.
Oddly, these two cities introduced me to one amazing man: Capt. Sir Willam Hoste, Royal Navy.
This was the guy who captured both cities in January, 1814, within days of one another. He took both cities the same way: by seizing the high ground.
This is the stuff of fiction, and, indeed, novelist Patrick O'Brian, author of "Master and Commander," borrowed Hoste's accomplishment for his fictional Captain Jack Aubrey in another in his series of naval adventure novels.
The real Hoste was only 33 when he took the cities, but was already one of the great frigate captains of the age, a friend of Lord Nelson, and the victor of one sensational naval battle after another.
With a fleet of only four frigates, Hoste had taken control of the Adriatic Sea from the French. Now British ships could transport forces from city to city, evicting Napoleon's soldiers.
The French had made themselves unpopular guests in the region. (Our guide in Kotor told us that the French had turned public buildings into stables.)
Hoste would have the fighting support of Croats, Montenegrins and Serbs as well as the British Royal Army and Marines and his Sicilian and Austrian allies.
But it was his technique of using block and tackle to pull big guns to mountain tops above the stone fortresses that would ultimately take Kotor (then called Cattaro) and force the surrender of Dubrovnik (then called Ragusa).
|Dubrovnik's walls are immense but the city is vulnerable from above.|
A cable car sweeps today's tourists to the heights above the city.
In 1814, stairs were the least of worries for the peoples of Ragusa and Kotor. Hoste's victories would give the Congress of Vienna the power to decide the fate of the two cities. They were put under Hapsburg rule, where they would stay until another war, a century later.
|There is no cable car for visitors to Kotor's walls.|
The stairs stretched on and on. We only made it half the way up.
Today Dubrovnik and Kotor are tourist destinations, subject only to peaceful invasions from legions of cruise ship passengers.
But the walls tell an older story.
|Dubrovnik's modern invaders come by bus and cruise ship.|