(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘military history

“The fog of war”*….

McKinley Valentine (in her wonderful newsletter, The Whippet) on a fierce battle “between” a single army…

The battle happened on the night of 21 September 1788, in what is now Romania. The Habsburg and Ottoman empires are Austria and Turkey (but bigger, because empires).

I’m just going to give you the bullet-point summary:

• The vanguard (part that goes ahead of the regular army) of the Austrian army crosses Timiș River to scout for Ottomans. They are ‘hussars’, light cavalry. The hussars don’t find any Ottomans, but they DO find some Romani people who sell them some barrels of schnapps.

• Some Austrian infantrymen cross the river, see the other soldiers getting drunk, and ask them to share.

• The (very drunk) hussars refuse, and set up makeshift fortifications around the schnapps barrels.

• The argument escalates until eventually shots are fired.

• Someone shouts “Turks! Turks!” Both groups think the Ottomans are attacking and try to run away – it’s enormously chaotic. An officer shouts “Halt! Halt!” to try and restore order, but the troops (who are from a bunch of different countries and don’t understand German) think they hear “Allah! Allah!” and the Ottomans are definitely attacking.

• The hussars flee on horseback back through the main army camp. The General of Artillery thinks it’s an Ottoman cavalry charge and orders the cannons to fire on them.

• Entire army camp wakes up and goes into a terrified panic.Holy Roman Emperor (head of the Habsburgs) orders the whole army to withdraw and get itself together.

• Ottomans turn up two days later, discover only some dead and wounded Austrians and no army, and easily capture the city of Karánsebes.

There are some who suggest that the account is apocryphal (e.g. here, source of the image at the top), But as Valentine observes…

Did this really happen? Some of it is a bit too neat, too story-like – esp the Halt/Allah thing – which ought to make you suspicious. But Wikipedia reckons there are a lot of contemporary accounts of it (I can’t read them because they’re in German, French and Italian), so at the very least it’s a story that sprang up at the time, rather than being internet-era misinfo. And certainly Karánsebes is a real city that the Turks captured in 1788 (you’d be amazed how many internet-era historical myths fall at 1-inch hurdles like that). My guess is: in broad strokes, yes; the specifics probably added for colour.

The Battle of Karánsebes: possibly history’s dumbest skirmish,” from @mckinleaf.

* a paraphrase of Clausewitz (“War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty.”)

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As we promote peace, we might recall that it was on this date in 1781 that that French Navy defeated the British Navy in the Battle of the Chesapeake (AKA the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes). The French victory kept supply lanes open for the Franco-American army, providing them siege artillery and French reinforcements which were decisive in the Siege of Yorktown, which in turn effectively secured victory in the American Revolution and independence for the Thirteen Colonies.

The French line (left) and British line (right) do battle

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“Museums are places of worship for those whose faith dwells in human stories”*…

 

museums

This map displays almost 26,000 museums, historical societies, and historic preservation associations in the United States

 

There are twenty-four history museums and historical societies in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Even within the confines of downtown, a visitor could peruse the stately home of a nineteenth-century shipping merchant or the much more modest home of an eighteenth-century furniture maker. There are museums dedicated to the history of Charleston, of South Carolina, and of dentistry. And in 2020, the city that once imported and sold more enslaved people than any other city in the United States will be the site of the International African American Museum.

Across the country, museums explore the histories of all kinds of things—stateslocal communitiesreligious sectsmusicsteam enginesthe Tuskegee Airmen.

The proliferation of museums of all sizes means that in the United States, one is never very far from history: the average distance between two history museums is only 2.6 miles. Because there tend to be more museums in cities than in rural areas, the “history museum density” of the country is one museum for every 147 square miles (an area about the size of Fayetteville, North Carolina)…

Read more and explore the interactive map at: “Public History.

* anonymous

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As we ruminate on roots, we might recall that it was on this date in 1775 that, at the request fo the Second Continental Congress, the U. S. Marine Corps was founded, as the first two battalions of Marines were requested at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia.  (Tun Tavern was quite the convening spot in that period: among other “foundings,” Benjamin Franklin raised the Pennsylvania militia there and it is regarded as the “birthplace of Masonic teachings in America.”)

Commemorating this event, the National Museum of the Marine Corps was opened in Triangle, Virginia (near the Quantico Marine Base) on this same date in 2006.

240px-Sketch_of_Tun_Tavern_in_the_Revolutionary_War

Sketch of the original Tun Tavern

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 10, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often”*…

 

bodleian

Interior of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, by David Loggan, 1675. Rijksmuseum.

 

In the nineteenth century some librarians became preoccupied with the morality or lack thereof displayed in some of their texts. Consequently a number of libraries created special shelf marks or locations for restricted books to ensure that only readers with a proper academic purpose might access them…

Take a tour of the restricted collections in remarkable libraries: “Do Not Read.”

* Mae West

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As we cover our eyes, we might consider censorship’s close cousin, misinformation: it was on this date in 1964 that Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.  A response to a reported attack by the North Vietnamese Navy on the destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, the Resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of conventional military force in Southeast Asia– a right that Johnson exercised vigorously.

In 1967, A senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation determined that the incident had not unfolded as earlier reported, and repealed the Resolution.  An NSA study of the incident, declassified in 2005, put it bluntly: “It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night.”

275px-Tonkin_Gulf_Resolution source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 7, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”*…

 

The Boeing airplane factory in Seattle got the “fake neighborhood” treatment. The women shown are walking on a suburban landscape made of chicken wire and planks, positioned over the roof of the factory. Underneath, B-17s were being built for the war effort.

Military forces have used camouflage of one sort or another since antiquity.  But with the advent of the airplane and the rise of aerial warfare, camouflage (to hide targets) and decoys (to draw fire away from real targets or to intimidate the enemy) became bigger and bigger: “Massive Wartime Decoys and Camouflage Operations.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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As we misdirect, we might send convincingly animated birthday greetings to Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen; he was born on this date in 1920.  A visual effects pioneer, he became a writer and producer of films featuring the stop-motion model animation technique, “Dynamation,” that he developed.  He is probably best remembered for the animation in Mighty Joe Young (1949, with his mentor, King Kong animator Willis H. O’Brien), which won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects; The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, his first color film); and Jason and the Argonauts (1963, which featured an amazing sword fight between Jason and seven skeleton warriors).  His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981).

Harryhausen and one of the skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens”*…

 

From Sunbelt seekers and snowbird retirees to economic immigrants and political refugees, folks flock to southern Florida.  And many of them chose to return home– if not during their lives, then afterwards…  So it’s no surprise that the Miami area is the U.S. capital of corpse repatriation:

The transnational city is a place to die for. Ironically, however, once established in the transnational city, few envision staying there until their last breath. For many, it is a temporary venue, whether as a place of exile, a springboard for upward mobility, or a playground until new opportunities beckon. Few imagine dying there and, as the moment draws near, many make plans to go home.

In the transnational city, which is home to a disproportionate number of the foreign-born and expatriates, death and repatriation are a steady business. The bodies of an estimated 20 percent of South Florida’s deceased are shipped out, more than from any other region in the USA. Most of the HRs (industry shorthand for human remains) going abroad depart from Miami International Airport. According to the CEO of Pierson, a leader in this business since 1964, around 80 percent of business is international, with the company shipping to a range of foreign destinations across Central and South America and a number of European countries as well…

Read more about this last arc in the circle of life (and find out what it costs) at “Miami Is the #1 Airport in America for Shipping Dead Foreigners.”

[TotH to friend PH for the pointer]

* Woody Allen

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As we wonder if there’s a discount fare, we might recall that it was on this date in 1914 that “Little Willie,” the first prototype of the British Mark I tank– thus, the first completed tank prototype in the world– rolled out of the shop.  It weighed 14 tons, required rear steering wheels (so got stuck in trenches), and managed only two miles per hour; still, it was the first step toward a technology that revolutionized battlefields.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

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