Saturday, March 13, 2010

Indian Mutiny

In the mid-1800s the British Empire included vast areas of present day India,Pakistan,and Afghanistan. The British Army in India contained many native conscripts,Muslim and Hindu. Around 1859, a new rifle was issued to the army. The ammunition comprised a paper cartridge containing gunpowder and a bullet. The paper was greased with the fat of pigs and cows.Soldiers would bite and tear the tip of the paper cartridge and empty the contents into the rifle. But to a Hindu,the cow is sacred,and is never eaten.To a Muslim,the pig is unclean,and is never eaten. Soldiers of these religions refused to even touch these cartridges, touching off The Indian Mutiny.The British never subjugated Afghanistan,nor did Czarist Russia in their attempts. Soviet Russia failed utterly in conquering Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the USA in the present day is spending billions of $ on a land war against Muslims who would die before surrender.The geography of Afghanistan is conducive to small groups of fighters who constantly melt away into the terrain.Like the North Vietnamese in the 1960s-70s,the Afghans simply have to survive to win.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Washington never wounded

George Washington as a 22 yr. old aide to British General Braddock had 2 horses shot from under him and had his cloak and hat shot through in the French and Indian War. As leader of the Continental Army in the Revolution, he was exposed to musket volleys while on horseback multiple times and never hit. At the battle of Brandywine, a British officer, Major Patrick Ferguson , who invented an exceedingly accurate rifle , was on patrol at dusk on the last day of the battle.Ferguson, who was on foot spotted an American officer on horseback less than 100 yards away. Ferguson took aim with his rifle, and most certainly could have struck his target.But he did not shoot,as he recounted later,for the American officer looked at Ferguson and calmly and casually let his horse walk away.Ferguson said he simply could not shoot such a man.The American on horseback was Washington,who went through 6 years of war never wounded.He died in his bed at Mt. Vernon 18 years after the war ended.Ferguson was killed,on horseback, 2 years after he aimed at Washington, by American muskets and rifles at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alexander the Great's Horse

Alexander,the Greek conqueror,showed great grief when his horse died.Hephaestion,being ill,was put on a strict diet,but in the absence of his physician at the theater he ate a roasted fowl and drank a flagon of iced wine,in consequence of which he died.Thereupon Alexander decided upon a display of grief.He had the physician crucified.He ordered every horse and mule in Persia to be shorn,and pulled down the battlements of the neighboring cities.He prohibited all music in his camp for a long time,and,having taken certain villages of the Cusaeans,he caused all the adults to be massacred as a sacrifice to the manes of Hephaestion.Finally,he set aside the enormous amount of ten thousand talents for a tomb for his beloved horse.

Friday, August 8, 2008

German Brewery in China

In the late 1800s,the German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm II was searching the globe for additions to the empire.Latecomers to the imperial game,the Germans seized parts of coastal China.One such colony was the district of Tsing-tao.German colonists moved in and established trading stations,factories,and farms.They established a brewery to make the national German favorite,beer.The local Chinese took a liking to the fermented brew,and the brewery flourished until 1918,when after the German defeat in World War I Germany was stripped of all her colonies.The Germans in Tsing-tao left,but the local Chinese continued to run the brewery,which to the present day continues to produce genuine German lager beer.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Dutch Win Independence

In 1573,Holland was part of the Spanish Netherlands,ruled by the King of Spain,Phillip II.The Dutch,a Protestant people,revolted against the Catholic Spanish.Phillip sent an army under the Duke of Alva to crush the little country.Alva laid siege to the Dutch city of Alkmaar,and after a period of indecisive skirmishes,on Sept. 18,after a steady cannonade of 12 hrs,Alva ordered an assault.Two regiments from Lombardy stormed the walls.Every living man in Alkmaar was on the walls defending.The Spanish were assailed with cannon,musketry,pistols,boiling water,pitch,boiling oil,molten lead,and unslaked lime.Hundreds of burning hoops were skilfully quoited around the necks of the Spanish,while as fast as any of the invaders planted foot on the breach they were confronted with sword and dagger.Three times the Spanish renewed their assault,three times they were thrown back.Finally the trumpet of recall was sounded,and the Spanish retired,leaving over 1,000 dead in the trenches.The Dutch lost 37 men.Then the vast sluices called the Zyp were opened and the surrounding land began to flood.The Spanish left.Though Holland was not effectively independent until 1609,the Spanish after Alkmaar did not have the stomach to try to continue to subdue the Dutch.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ancient Greece

If the Greek classics are to be read with any benefit by modern men,they must be read as the work of men like ourselves.What we lose in reverence we gain in sympathy for that group of troubled,uncertain,and very modern men.The Athenian writers were the first of modern men.They discussed questions we still discuss.Their writings are our dawn.The early psychologist Carl Jung wrote on the differences between pre-Athenian thought and modern thought.The former was a thinking in images,akin to dreaming;the latter a thinking in words.The pre-Athenian was a world of subjective fantasies like the world of children.Myths,says Jung,are the mass dreams of peoples,and dreams are the myths of individuals.The work of hard and disciplined thinking by means of carefully analyzed words and statements,which was begun by the Greek thinkers was a necessary preliminary to the development of modern thought and science.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Captain Cook and Captain Bligh

William Bligh,of Mutiny on the Bounty fame,was sailing master on the last voyage of James Cook,who discovered New Zealand,Hawaii,and many Pacific islands.Bligh was on ship when Cook was killed by natives on Hawaii.Later,the idea was had by the British to sail to Tahiti to obtain breadfruit saplings to take to British-held islands in the Carribean to plant as a foodsource for populations working the plantations.The story is known of the Bounty,and how Bligh and some non-mutineers were cast adrift on the open ocean and survived to return to England.The men who took the Bounty found an uncharted island,Pitcairn Island,and burned the ship.Finally after 30 years after the mutiny an American whaling ship stumbled upon Pitcairn Island and found one man from the original mutineers,John Adams.