Friday, January 20, 2017

Balaclava*

The Relief of the Light Brigade by Richard Caton Woodville (Source)
While many of the online dictionaries will make reference to it as a woolen knit cap or hat which covers the head and neck with an opening for the face, it's also referred to as "headgear" or a "balaclava helmet." So obviously it's meant to protect the wearer from cold weather. So I wonder, would you also wear a cardigan while wearing a balaclava? And yes, just where am I going with all of this...

The Crimean War.

What, like when Putin took Crimea away from Ukraine? No, not that one. (Which wasn't really a war, but tell that to the folks who lost their lives over there!) I'm talking about the war which began in 100 BS. (Which means 100 years Before Sarge, i.e. 1853.)

Now the Crimean Peninsula ("the" Crimea to some) juts into the northern part of the Black Sea, for those of you deficient in geography and not having a map to hand, here ya go -

(Source)
From the map you may understand why Ukraine thinks they should "own" the peninsula as it's not attached to Russia via land. But see that darkish blue piece of real estate to the upper left on the map? Yeah, that's part of Russia, not attached at all, but in the old Soviet Union days it was. Of course, that also used to be the northern part of East Prussia. In case you didn't know, real estate in Europe tends to switch hands from time to time. In the old days, that happened a lot. But during the time period of the Crimean War, Crimea belonged to the Russian Empire.

Now in those olden times (100 BS) there was a bit of a squabble over the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land (plus ça change...). Now the French (then under the nephew of the great Napoléon, known as Napoléon III, yes, I know, there was a Napoléon II but that's not on today's menu and... I digress) supported the rights of the Roman Catholics whereas the Russians supported the rights of the Eastern Orthodox Church (which in my day we called the Russian Orthodox Church to distinguish them from the Greek Orthodox Church, but again, I digress).

Well, at that time the Holy Land was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, or Ottoman Turks as some might say. (On the map Turkey is that bit along the southern part of the Black Sea.) As you might imagine, the Ottomans were Muslim. So there we have a religious "cause" which in actuality had more to do with the weakening of Ottoman power and the desire of the Russians to have a warm water port which wasn't obstructed by someone else's land. In this case the Ottomans. (Think of the outlet of the Black Sea to the Mediterranean which is the Bosporus, a narrow channel which runs past Constantinople Istanbul and is, as you have no doubt guessed, owned by the Turks. Or Ottomans back then.)

Anyhoo.

The Russians began pushing the Turks around and the French and their plucky British allies leapt to the defense of the poor Turk against the nasty Russian bear. Yes, of course it was much more complicated than that, it always is, but in essence that's what it boiled down to. After all, no one wants a Russian fleet in the Mediterranean. (What's that? We have that now? I know, and that is a much longer story which I won't go into now, perhaps not ever. Who knows?)

So there's Johnny Turk, harassed and harried by those mean Russians, so France and Britain declare war on Russia. No one thought at the time just where they would fight Russia until someone at White Hall broke out a map and said, "Oh look, the Crimea. It's just north of our buddies the Turks and it's right there on the water so the Royal Navy can just drop off the Army there. Bloody good!"

No, it wasn't that simple. Actually the allies initially landed near Varna (in modern day Bulgaria) where the facilities weren't that great and while near Russia, didn't really give any support to the Turks. Then everybody caught cholera and began dying. (Yes, I am exaggerating.) Most unhealthy climate, so they all climbed back aboard their transports and headed towards Crimea. At first they landed at a spot north of Sevastopol. where the Russians had (and still have) a naval base. Advancing south they had a battle (The Battle of the Alma) where they defeated the Russians who then fell back to Sevastopol. Advancing, the allies discovered that the northern approaches to the base were pretty strongly fortified. Far stronger than they cared for. So back to the ships and then down to a place south of Sevastopol.

Down to the little town of Balaclava (Balaklava today) which had a pretty decent harbor and was not far from Sevastopol. Time for another map methinks.

Google Maps

So the army went ashore near Balaclava. They moved cannon and siege equipment up and began to bombard the port. No, the Russians did not like that. Not at all. So they moved troops down to that plain just north of the town of Balaklava. Which brings me to the point of this tale. (I know, took me long enough didn't it?)

How many of you have heard of the Charge of the Light Brigade? You know, the one commemorated by one Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem of the same name...

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Yes, that one.

Plucky British cavalrymen charge to the guns and get wiped out. Not quite but near enough, they got battered pretty badly. All due to mismanagement and crappy commanders. There has been a lot of ink spilled over that battle and the charge of the Light Brigade is the only bit people know. Many have no idea that it took place in the larger context of the Crimean War and that two other notable incidents occurred during the same battle. Only one of which was ever commemorated in a way similar to that of the Light Brigade's famous charge. That, dear friends, was the Thin Red Line, commemorated in the following painting which I also used yesterday, though for different purposes.

The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb (Source)
What I didn't mention yesterday was that that thin red line of Scotsmen (in bonnets and skirts, er, kilts) were equipped with rifled muskets very similar to those used in our own Civil War (which started seven years later). Rather than adopt the standard square formation to present a solid wall of bayonets to advancing Russian cavalry, the commander on the scene (one Sir Colin Campbell) felt that a two deep line and volley fire from those rifled muskets should prove sufficient to stop those mean Russians.

I should also mention that those Scotsmen of the 93rd Highlanders were the only troops (aside from a few assorted Turks) between the Russians and the harbor of Balaclava. Most of the army was off besieging Sevastopol.

Suffice to say, Sir Colin was correct and the Russians had to withdraw, precipitously. Not all of 'em mind you, just the ones who survived the volleys from those Scottish rifles.

(Source)
You can see on the map where the 93rd repulsed the Russian cavalry (B). Now the other incident I alluded to is the charge of the Heavy Brigade (C). Now in that part of the battle, the heavy cavalry accompanying the British army to the Crimea were commanded by a general named Scarlett (his last name, stop that giggling back there) who was notorious for being very near sighted. Now a large mass of Russian cavalry advanced on their position. The Russians were surprised by the presence of British cavalry in front of them, they hadn't seen them because of the vagaries of the rolling terrain. (Which comes into play later as well.)

The Russians halted. General Scarlett ordered his troopers forward. (He allegedly had no idea just how many Russians were facing his unit.) Much has been written of this incident but I have my own theory. Here it is...

The overall commander of the British cavalry was Charles Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan. In the parlance of the day, he was called "Lord Lucan." To the army deployed on the plain north of Balaclava, he was known as Lord "Look On." For you see, at an earlier battle there was an opportunity for the cavalry to attack and perhaps do great damage to the Russians. But they did not advance. They sat on their horses and "looked on" as the rest of the army fought. This was primarily because of the orders of FitzRoy Somerset, Baron Raglan (Lord Raglan) who had been on Wellington's staff at the Battle of Waterloo and had lost his right arm there. He had a distressing tendency to refer to the Russian enemy as "the French," being more used to fighting the French than being allied to them.

So at the Battle of the Alma, where the cavalry had wanted (desperately) to advance, Lord Raglan refused to allow it. Well, and you know how soldiers are, the rest of the army mocked the cavalrymen (who were often looked upon as dandies, especially the light cavalry) so when Scarlett ordered an advance, the Heavies pitched into it with rather a will. The Russians, still wondering "Where the Hell did they come from?" now had these pissed off guys with swords attacking them. Uphill. Outnumbered three to one.

The Charge of the Royal Scots Greys, as part of the Heavy Brigade, at Balaclava, 25th October 1854: Engraving by Augustus Butler (Source)
After a short and not very bloody fight the Russians retreated. Not long after that incident, Lord Raglan on the Sapoune Heights had it pointed out to him that the Russians were hauling off some cannon which they had captured from the Turks along the Causeway Heights. It was pointed out that perhaps the Light Brigade (who were cooling their heels in the valley below) might advance and stop those nasty Russians from hauling off those stolen guns. The order was given and a staff wienie volunteered to take the message down to the commander of the Light Brigade, one Thomas Brudenell, 1st Earl of Cardigan.

Now this fellow Cardigan was the brother-in-law of Lord Look On, I mean Lucan and the two heartily despised each other. Cardigan felt himself to be the premier expert on cavalry in the British Army (why no one knows) but was considered by most of the army as a disagreeable ass. He was also rather known to be, shall we say, "not the brightest bulb on the tree."

Now the staff wienie, one Captain Nolan, actually was something of a cavalry expert and he despised both Lucan and Cardigan. When he delivered the message to advance the Light Brigade, Lord Cardigan remarked that he couldn't see which guns he was supposed to prevent being carried off. (The terrain obscured his view of the Causeway heights, which were perfectly clear to Raglan on the Sapoune Heights above the Light Brigade.)

"What guns?" queried Cardigan.

"Attack, sir!" Captain Nolan cried.

"Attack what? What guns, sir?" Cardigan petulantly asked.

"There, my Lord, is your enemy!" Nolan allegedly exclaimed as he pointed vaguely to the other end of the valley, where the bulk of the Russian Army was posted.

And with that the Light Brigade rode into legend. Out of approximately 670 troopers and officers present, 110 were killed, and 161 fell wounded, a loss of 40% of their strength. Many more horses were also lost. (After all, they are bigger targets and a smart gunner will aim for them anyway. Guys on foot with swords aren't half as scary as guys on horseback with swords.)

The allies eventually won the war. However, much was revealed about the maladministration of the British Army and many reforms were undertaken to fix those things. The troops had suffered greatly and for the first time many newspaper correspondents went into the field with the army. And reported on all the stupid things which went on.

Much could also have been learned from the Crimean War which could have been applied in the Great Unpleasantness of 1861 to 1865. But, in an early example of "well, those were Europeans, doesn't apply to us," we had to learn those lessons over again, particularly the deadliness of the rifled musket.

On the bright side we got to read Tennyson's poem in high school (or earlier) and we got the balaclava "hat/helmet/head covering" and the cardigan sweater. Yes, the sweater is named after that Lord Cardigan, commander of the Light Brigade, though he didn't invent it. It was simply a knitted vest popular with British officers in the Crimea. Because of the Charge of the Light Brigade (which Cardigan survived) and due to Tennyson's poem, Lord Cardigan became a celebrated figure in Britain after the war.

Unbeknownst to me prior to doing the research for this post, Rudyard Kipling had also written a poem about the Charge of the Light Brigade. Nothing glorious about it though, in his poem he bemoans the fact that years after the Crimean War, many of the common soldiers of the Light Brigade were living in poverty, and the British public didn't care. His poem, The Last of the Light Brigade, starts like this -

There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;

They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

Seems to me that poem might apply today as well. Just sayin'...

You can read the whole thing here.

And here (or there, if you will) endeth the lesson.



Captain Steve, those hussars in the first painting? They're wearing busbys.

*Not to be confused with baklava, the sweet Turkish pastry. 

I should also mention that Lord Tennyson wrote a poem about the Heavy Brigade as well. That's here.

48 comments:

  1. Well, to quote an old Friend....I had no ideer! Most Excellent Post, Sarge.

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  2. What makes heavy cavalry heavy, and light cavalry light? They don't seem any differently equipped, based on the paintings.

    Maybe they just have fat horses?

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    1. They are similarly equipped, though typically the heavy cavalry used a straight, fairly heavy sword (I know, I have one) whereas the light cavalry used a lighter, curved blade. Also the heavies used bigger horses and larger men, they were intended to be used in battle, charging a nearly broken enemy to put them to flight.

      The light cavalry were smaller horses with smaller, more active men, they were intended for scouting and skirmishing along the edges of the army. They could be used in battle like the heavies but weren't quite as effective in shock value. (If you've ever been around big horses, they can be intimidating just by their size!)

      There was also another type of cavalry sort of midway between heavy and light, the dragoon. Originally they were intended to be mounted infantry. They rode to battle then dismounted to fight. Our Civil War cavalry, on both sides, were, in essence, dragoons. In the British Army the dragoons were used and equipped as heavy cavalry. Some armies heavy cavalry still wore armor in the form of helmets and cuirasses (steel breast and back plates). The modern British mounted guards, who wear helmets and cuirasses, are heavy cavalry.

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    2. So, fat horses, then. :) (Well, and some doctrine.)

      I'm not terribly impressed by all this horsing around. (Would an attack by hungry bears be the charge of the bite brigade?)

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    3. Hahaha, yup, obese ponies and doctrine.

      Now those are bears!

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    4. Light and Heavy goes a little further than that. Light horse are meant to scout, to harass and pursue, and cavalry are mounted on quick, long endurance horses designed for extremely mobile warfare (Old Nat Bed Forrest would approve.) Light horse don't charge troops, except to do a caracal (a wheeling maneuver meant to bring cav gunfire close to lines of infantry.) Arab cavalry is an excellent example of this. Fighting between 2 opposing light cav units is like watching fencing, lots of swishy swishy poky poky and run-away movement. Light horse is soccer. Light horse RAID.

      Heavy horse really means a heavy horse. In medieval knight speak - a charger. Big, heavy boned war horse designed to charge, charge hard, run over stuff (meaning people)(one of the reasons iron horse hooves are such an important item on a good warhorse) and knock other horses to the ground, and smash the enemy. Think knights on horseback here, solid line of charging heavy lance just flattening everything they come across. Heavy horse are not quick in maneuver warfare, they go in pretty straight lines or majestic wheeling maneuvers (like watching a battleship turn, vs a destroyer.) Heavy horse vs heavy horse is a smashing, balls-to-the-wall collision of two unstoppable forces, with men, horses, small towns, whatever crushed beneath the hooves, men hard fighting with each other and the opponent's horses (just watch all the crazy maneuvers the Lippizaner stallions do, all those tactics are for killing (especially that 'cute' maneuver where they walk forward and strike out with their forelegs - meant to crush and disembowel troops.) Heavy horse is US football. Heavy horse CONQUER!!!

      By the way, all the ribbon swag on a cavalry jacket is actually a very effective armor. Try cutting rope with a single slash of a dull machete. And the fact that most jackets were 2-3 layers of wool with a tight linen liner, double-breasted on the front, over a linen (or silk shirt for those rich enough) and you have a reasonable facsimile of a Level II armor jacket. Add a leather or steel breastplate and you can jump up to level III or above. Still crap against rifle or close musket shot, but reasonable against pistol or musket from a distance, and very effective against edged weapons (but not pike, lance or bayonet point, unfortunately.)

      Medium horse was kinda 'neither fish, nor fowl, nor good red meat.' Able to go the distance, but not quick of movement, not heavy enough to survive a charge, these guys were the flankers and the emergency reserve 'o-horsedung we need support here now' guys who jumped in, plugged holes and, more often than not, died to hold the line while the heavy horse eventually got there to save the day. Dismount if necessary. Speedbump on the battlefield. Flank, move in, attack hard, retreat if there is resistance, repeat. Custer was a medium-horse type of dude. Unfortunately he ran across way too many aficionados of the cult of the Light Horse. Medium horse is Lacrosse, run, gun, smash, run away. Medium horse CONSOLIDATE the battlefield (yeah, no glory there, no raiding, no conquering, just cleanup work, yada yada yada.)

      For those armor enthusiasts out there, go look up "PLAN 1919" as to the ultimate use of light, medium and heavy troops (works with infantry, cavalry, naval ships, planes, tanks, whatever.)

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    5. An IOWA, with it's two huge rudders, placed right in the propeller race of the inboard screws, can actually turn sharper than a FLETCHER of a SUMNER class DD. There were DDs that got bumped, when they were along side an IOWA, and could not turn as fast as the BB.

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    6. Ships turn by having the rudders force the rear end of the ship around, unlike a car, where the steering wheels push the front around. DDs were instructed, when alongside to pass messages by high line, or to fuel from the BB, to never drop behind amidships of an IOWA.

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    7. The IOWA class was freaky in its maneuverability and speed. I was thinking of the earlier WWI and Post WWI dreadnaughts.

      Sidenote: After watching a very inspirational speech on the teewee today, I went shopping and ran into a guy wearing a USS New Jersey hat. Dude served from '68 to 69. Wow, what a fantastic chance to talk to a, yep, main-gun gunner from an Iowa class. Wow. I swear I heard him clank as he walked away.

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    8. @Andrew - Great, detailed description of cavalry tactics. Very nice descriptions of the types of cavalry as well. Thanks!

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    9. @Scott - good battleship stuff, as always.

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    10. I saw the New Jersey (probably in Yokuska, Japan) in '69, tied up down the dock from my end of war WWII carrier (CVA 31). Amazed at the sight, even on that IMMEDIATELY! AFTER! TYING! UP! first liberty, I had to walk down and with awe, leisurely scope it out. Much to the chagrin of my steaming buddy who after a 40 day line period, was in the desperate stages of involuntary beer withdrawal (involuntary celibacy probably was also a factor) and needed a Sapporo fix-- 2-3 of those dern funny big bottles (to start with). This desperate social behavior begs the comment, paraphrasing an old "Hallmark moment" axiom: "EVERYTHING I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW, I LEARNED IN THE NAVY."
      F^@&ing USN f^@&ing taut a f^@&ing dum@ss squid frum B%&f^@& Egypt like me how to f^@&ing talk reel f^@&ing good two! Ah, f^@& it anyway! Gimme another f^@&ing beer.
      ==Creative overuse of 1 word throughout the linguistic spectrum: noun, verb, abverb, adjective and even some types I don't know about probably. Not exactly the syntax and vocabulary you would use in church asking someone to pass the collection plate but it DID get the point across, I guess. Things you don't mention in reply to "What did you do in the war, Grampa?

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    11. Hahaha!

      I've been aboard a couple of battlewagons and seen two others from fairly close. Impressive beasties they are!

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  3. One of my favorite authors, George MacDonald Fraser, describes the battle in, "Flashman At The Charge". His humor may not be to everyone's taste but his understanding of history seems outstanding.

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    1. Mr Fraser is also a favorite of mine. His Flashman series is brilliant and extremely funny in parts. It's also obvious that the man knew his history!

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  4. Your take on history is really appealing.
    The best part is that we already know what happened.
    Not at all like Coke/Pepsi

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    1. Thanks Skip.

      Knowing how things turned out keeps me honest, I can't make stuff up. (There is no truth to the rumor that the Russians drank Pepsi in those days. None at all.)

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    2. Hey! Easy there Big Fella! The Russian's lost didn't they? Therefore, they couldn't have been drinking Pepsi. My Tweet IP, also a Texan, quoting Richtofen,m said "A burrito and a Pepsi before 6AM ensures one can not be defeated in aerial combat." Who was I to argue?

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    3. Well, if Richthofen said it, it must be true.

      :)

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    4. I hear that Boelcke was a Diet Coke man. Which, incidentally, is about the same noise I make if I accidentally get a swig of that dreck.

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    5. Hahaha!

      With a slice of lemon.

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    6. Now THIS is a bizarre thread! Somehow, it immediately put me in mind of an early '60s movie with Jimmy Cagney and ?Horst Bucholz? where Cagney is a Coke executive running ops in West Berlin. SEE, an American bastion of capitalism pushing Coke and poisoning the filthy Russian peasants. Or something!
      I had to search "jimmy Cagney Horst Bucholz east berlin" to even remember the story. It was named "One, Two, Three" and was a typical dopey early '60s comedy about Capitalist hero/Commie swine interactions on the frontlines of the cold war. There was lots of of running around the two Berlins in funny little cars in the age of the American muscle car with Commie Bucholz hitting hard on Cagney's daughter.
      Dear God, why are you people doing this to me! Dredging up nagging trivial minutiae from my less than sordid past. Help me stop before I google again!

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    7. Juvat
      **quoting Richtofen ... "A burrito and a Pepsi before 6AM ensures one can not be defeated in aerial combat."**
      Quoting Dink Newcomb: "A burrito and a Pepsi before 6AM ensures a desperate run for the sanitary facilities by 9"! Most especially if the burrito is equipped with that extra 1-2 teaspoons of chilpotles in smoky adobo sauce.

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  5. Another most excellent post. Keep up the good work and we might put you in for a raise.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Why thank you Paul. I'd love a raise but I'm sure Juvat and Tuna would want a cut. (They deserve it, but don't tell them I said so!)

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    2. Ok, I can give them a cut. Where would they like to be cut? How deep? Inquiring minds want to know.

      Paul

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  6. And don't forget that the Crimean campaign brought 'modern' field medical equipment and personnel to the battlefield. By itself, the work of the new breed of doctor (vs barbers) and the introduction of real nursing (thanks, Ms. Nightingale!) saved the day. Helping fight all the diseases that normally destroyed armies (dysentery being a big one) and actually making hospitals places people could heal in, rather than die in, saved many British personnel from death, and gave a big moral boost to a horrible fight in a horrible place (Crimea is kinda like a combo of Buffalo, NY during the winter and a Georgia (USA) swamp during the summer, both crappy places to be in at the wrong time of the year, if you know what I mean.)

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    1. Yes, the medical services got better thanks to a number of hard working folks in that theater.

      Also, an excellent description of Crimean weather! I like that, sort of a combo of Buffalo when it's cold, Georgia when it's hot. Hahaha, nice!

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  7. Atleast you didn't go with "Crimea a river, I cried a river over you."

    Ref to Cavalry. Riding a 1 ton plus animal travelling at a 10-15mph for short distances before they tire.. plus the fact that the horse tends to shy away from sharp pointy things in their faces, and a saddle not being seat belt equipped. A rider can get tossed, can equal a one ton animal doing the '4-legged Riverdance' on his body...

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    1. Oh, I was sore tempted to go with "Crimea river..."

      Four legged Riverdance, I like it.

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  8. "...we had to learn those lessons over again, particularly the deadliness of the rifled musket...."
    I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the soldiers (on both sides) in the Second American Revolution were quite familiar with the Crimean dust-up. There were professional soldiers on both sides of the conflict; the anniversary of one's birth was yesterday.
    Something makes me think Longstreet and Hardee, in particular, would have been aware: also, Her Britannic Majesty had observers over here to see how we did what we did, in our quaint former-colonial way, & some, at least, may have been Crimea veterans.
    Hardee, of course, was a student and instructor of (among other things) tactics, & I've always believed that Longstreet has been seriously underrated. Those boys in blue had a couple of passable fighters as well--y'all won, somehow. Actually, I've heard how: the story is that we could have beaten you pasty mechanics with cornstalks & switches. Problem was that y'all wouldn't fight that way!
    --Tennessee Budd

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    1. Too bad Her Brittanic Majesty's observers didn't notice the horrors of trench warfare in the golden age of rifles that broke out in the latter parts of the Great Separation War. Might have saved some souls later on in the early years of the 1900's. Okay, you're right, nobody learns from anyone else, it seems.

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    2. Cornstalks & switches, I'll betcha our Midwestern farm boys could have fought that way. As to the pasty mechanics, well, we don't get out in the sun much 'cause we're lifting heavy things indoors.

      Longstreet was one Hell of a fighter and general. If Lee had listened to him at Gettysburg, who knows how things might have gone?

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    3. The Russo-Japanese War also offered a preview of trench warfare and now, machine guns.

      But wars fought between Colonials or against Asiatics don't really count. The European military establishment in 1914 was pretty much stuck in their ways. Heck, the Brits only narrowly beat the Boers, if they had lost that one it would have been Farmers - 2, British Empire - 0. They were lucky to go 1 and 1!

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    4. Sarge
      **"The Russo-Japanese War also offered a preview of trench warfare and now, machine guns"**
      I am not a great military scholar, just a history buff-- but I always questioned how the Brits could win so many wars yet be so really bad at waging them. I took away from my reading that it was the damnable aristocratic system that was most to blame since often, their families had a number of sons, of whom only the eldest would inherit while the lordly Fathers BOUGHT their sons a commission until the late 19th century. The commanders were often halfwits, but lordly gentlemen.
      Look at Isandlwana and Roarke's Drift. The regular army with lordly officers got their asses handed to them in the morning but when the word got to the work party at Roarkes Drift, THE ENGINEER IN CHARGE was senior to the commander of the troops. They were the same rank, commissioned the same day, but the engineer had been commissioned slightly earlier and his name came first on the lists of officers-- that gave him seniority to the aristocrat who spent his time away from camp, mostly hunting. The pragmatic engineer made a battle plan with hurried jury-rigged fortifications which saved the day for the small detachment. It did not change greatly, as I remember, until AFTER the slaughter of WWI.

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    5. Sorry for babbling so much tonight-- I am new to this site and maybe you know all this already.

      I read once that the folk wisdom just after WWI was that the perfect unit would consist of:
      ** Lower ranks-- Turks They had a rep for incredible endurance and bravery
      ** Non-coms -- Brits The Brit non-coms were often the only ones who could make operating plans and told the officers what orders to give (diplomatically, of course)
      ** Officers --Australians They seemed to have what officers should have and their men knew it

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    6. Rorke's Drift - did you know that Lieutenant Bromhead was stone deaf? He was also a popular officer in his company. The movie Zulu was excellent even with its historical flaws.

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    7. The perfect unit - Turks were (and are) tough. British non-coms are indeed top notch. As to the officers, have you seen the Netflix series Our World War? The first episode covers the first meeting of British and German troops near Mons in August 1914. One of the officers is Australian and is damn good.

      An excellent series (three parts) which I highly recommend.

      Oh and by the way, welcome aboard Dink, glad to have another history buff to keep me honest!

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    8. Sarge
      I am aware of "Our World War" but have not attempted it yet. I am retired with some health/physical issues and movies have a way of putting me to sleep, pronto-- it sucks massively to give a movie three tries and still never get to the point where the fat lady sings. I tend to save stuff I really want to see until I am pretty sure I can stay conscious. Maybe later I'll break out my phin and brew a double from that VietNam Highlands Moka blend that usually does the trick.
      Speaking of which, did y'all know that Vietnam is the world's second largest coffee exporter! Until the recent past, they mostly exported bulk lots for blending but in the last 10 years or so, they have come into the brand market hard here in the US with even coffee houses in Calif. Whatever else the commies did after we left there, they did not destroy the coffee production which has been in operation since the French set it up in the mid 19th century. They make astonishing varieties with amazing natural flavor overtones. my favorite is Moka (way better than the espresso I make at home)which can be bought here: http://heirloomcoffeellc.com/highlands-moka-blend/
      I hope it is ok to post a commercial link as a recommendation. I have no affiliation with this business beyond spending money there on one of my few remaining vices. Good coffee and they have been expanding to other countries varieties also.

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    9. My readers, I will wager, will, in many cases, like a new source for a good cup of coffee. I know I do.

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  9. Great post Sarge! And now I gotta go check out this flasher dude...

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    1. Excellent series of books. I highly recommend them.

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  10. Sarge
    While you were in haberdashery mode with explanations of balaclava hats and cardigan sweaters, you neglected poor ol' 1 armed Lord Raglan who name still exists here in the US in the form of a raglan sleeve which is a way of attaching a sleeve at the collar that binds less and is more comfortable. It was invented by Lord Raglan's tailor after Raglan lost his arm at Waterloo and others asked for "Raglan's" style sleeves. I first read this years ago (one of many books about the battle and I can not cite which one.

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    1. Oh wow, I had no idea. That is an awesome tidbit. Thanks Dink!

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  11. Sir James Yorke Scarlett was the commander of the Heavy Brigade.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Yorke_Scarlett

    distant relation of mine: I share two of his names IRL.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, yes he was.

      Nice nom de plume by the way...


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