War is fun. Sh*t happens during war on such a massively stupid scale that said sh*t would be impossible to happen during peace. A lot of significant victories were not the result of charismatic leadership or hardened soldiers, but dumb luck and sheer coincidence. It is almost like an episode of Family Guy, where some weird happenstance advances the entire plot.
Charge of the Light Brigade, Crimean War
The year was 1854 and England and France were helping the Ottoman Empire (now known by the demeaning name, Turkey) fight the Russians.Â Overall in charge was a bloke called FitzRoy Somerset. He was sixty-seven and in the medically backward eighteen hundreds, that was like being a hundred-and-two. Ailing and near senile, he kept on calling the enemy “the French” when in fact, the French were on their side.Â Under him were Lord Cardigan and Lord Lucan, brothers-in-law and arch-nemeses. We can already see a storm of a sh*tfest brewing here.Â One day, FitzRoy (it’s actually spelled like that) sent Lucan this note:
“Lord Raglan (FitzRoy) wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front – follow theÂ enemy and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop Horse Artillery mayÂ accompany. French cavalry is on your left. R Airey. Immediate.”
Now, Lord Lucan was very confused. “What guns?”, “What French cavalry?”, â€œHorseÂ artillery?!!â€
In actual fact, FitzRoy wanted Lucan to stop the Russians from taking away TurkishÂ cannons, which were on a hill above the battlefield, a place where Lucan cannot see.
The only “guns” Lucan could see were Russian heavy artillery situated on both sides of aÂ valley. Charming befuddled in the typical British way, Lucan did the only thing sensible –Â he sent his brother-in-law into that valley.
So Cardigan led six hundred odd men (and horses too) straight into that valley and intoÂ enemy fire. As common sense would dictate, almost all were decimated. If not for theÂ timely arrival of the French, everyone would have died. Believe it or not, the FrenchÂ actually saved the day for once.
At the end of the whole debacle, only about a hundred men had horses.
In the usual stiff-upper-lip fashion, the embarrassment was brushed off as an “incident”Â and Cardigan returned home a hero. No sh*t. He even got promoted.
They also made poems about him, which were like the rock and roll of their day.
“Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
When can their glory fade?
Oh, the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made,
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!”
French General Bosquet had this to say, “It’s magnificent, but it isn’t war — it’s stupidity!”
Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire
In 1519, an ambitious Hernan Cortez set his sights for the Aztec empire. He only had fourÂ hundred men and upon arrival, he promptly burned his ships. In doing so, he ensuredÂ that conquest was the only way to survive and paved the way for many more dick moves toÂ come.
As Hernan Cortez made his way towards the capital, rumors started spreading that he wasÂ the godÂ Quetzalcoatl. His arrival coincidentally coincided with the year thatÂ QuetzalcoatlÂ was supposed to arrive. Being the absolute d**k-hole that he was, Cortez played up the godÂ card with no doubt a wicked smile and haunting laughter.
The Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma II, who was a religious and god-fearing man, welcomedÂ the Spanish with open arms. He was so gob-smacked that he even kissed Cortez’s hand. HeÂ gave them extravagant gifts and a very adept display of southern hospitality.
Even when Cortez started displaying ungodly behavior, Moctezuma II never onceÂ questioned his divinity. He just thought Cortez was a malevolent god.
Cortez took advantage of the emperor’s stupidity and kidnapped him, but not beforeÂ enjoying a few more months of Moctezuma II’s southern hospitality.
In the ensuing war, Cortez forced Moctezuma II to ask his people to back down.Â Moctezuma II did as he was told and his people stoned him to death for being such aÂ wimp.
Within one year, the entire Aztec Empire fell to the Spanish. They were treated like secondÂ class citizens and Moctezuma II’s descendants were converted to Christianity and marriedÂ off to conquistadors.Â The Aztecs would continue living under Spanish rule for decades. Their temples wereÂ destroyed and and a once great culture was literally razed to the ground.
Capturing of Singapore
During World War Two, the usually subtle Japan became a bit too obvious with theirÂ intentions and England correctly deduced where their cross-hairs were set at â€“ Singapore
Singaporean shores were then fortified extensively. Every cannon, ship and soldier wereÂ dumped onto the narrow strips of sand, because where else can the Japanese come fromÂ but the sea, right?
The joy of â€œone-upping those sneaky orientalsâ€ soon got to England’s head. They startedÂ getting so cocksure that Singapore was impenetrable that a young army officer evenÂ complained, â€œI do hope we are not getting too strong in Malaya (Singapore plus theÂ Malaysian peninsula was call that at that time) because if so the Japanese may neverÂ attempt a landing.â€
British troops were also told that the Japanese were lousy soldiers with small d**ks andÂ could never amount to anything.
Little did they know, however, that the Japanese war machine would plough down throughÂ the Malaysian Peninsula on bicycles. In a matter of days, thirty thousand proud soldiers ofÂ the tiny willy descended upon tiny Singapore.
Northern Singapore was virtually defenseless and the British just shat their pants. InÂ fifteen days, the entire island fell. The Japanese, without any tanks or heavy artillery,Â ended up capturing a hundred and twenty thousand allied troops and killing nine-thousand-and-five-hundred.
England was driven out with their tails between their legs. The Japanese even renamed theÂ place and forced everyone to learn Japanese because f**k England.
Battle of Tsushima
Russians tried to surprise the Japanese by going half way around the world and enteringÂ the Tsushima Straits covertly, but somehow couldn’t sift through the vodka and get theirÂ heads around the concepts of â€œsurpriseâ€ or â€œcovertâ€.
In an utterly deplorable showcase of stealth failure, they went in with their lights blaring.
Now that would have been perfectly okay because the Japanese did not know who theyÂ were anyway. They merely thought the Russians were rouge vessels and approached them.Â But Murphy’s Law stipulates that one screw up begets another. The Russian ships swiftlyÂ signaled the Japanese to tell them that they were Russian and there were more RussianÂ ships. Apparently they thought the Japanese were Russian.Â Togo Heihachiro, the Japanese admiral, was notified and the Russians got owned.
4380 Russians were killed and 5917 captured. Of their twenty-seven ships, only three madeÂ it safely to Vladivostok. It was the first display of modern naval warfare and the RussiansÂ fared terribly.
At that time, Asia was relatively weak and Japan was far from its present day glory of bat-sh*t crazy technology. In contrast, the Russian empire was one of the largest around; it wasÂ both revered and feared.
The Battle of Tsushima marked the first time an Asian country defeated a Western powerÂ and paved the way for Russia’s humiliating defeat in the encompassing Russo-JapaneseÂ war
Massacre of Elphinstone’s Army
Yes, England again. The great British Empire seems to walk a road paved with failure.
In 1840, Kabul was under British Occupation. After one month of hard fighting, one wouldÂ think that they would do something to fortify their occupation, but the Brits were not goingÂ to conform to conventional dogma. They did no such thing. The first fort that would laterÂ be captured by the Afghans had its defenses one and a half miles away.
Even when Afghan leader Akbar Khan started mounting guerrilla operations, the BritishÂ were not riled. The governor sent all the troops back to their barracks and indulged himselfÂ in cricket matches and dinner parties, saying, “this is the usual state of Afghan society.”
This was not so much a case of a misunderstanding, but rather, blind stupidity.
Eventually, guerrilla warfare became actual warfare (now who would have thought of that?) and the British were overwhelmed. The governor tried to negotiate for a retreat, but wasÂ hacked down from his horse and killed. The British actually tried to surrender, but failed.
The commanding officer of the troops William Elphinstone tried again to do the sameÂ thing and somehow he succeeded. He probably thought of himself as a good negotiatorÂ and was pretty smug, but all historians would agree that he made insane concessions. HeÂ probably begged the Afghans to let him go.Â However, the Afghans did not honor their agreement and started killing them anyway. InÂ the middle of the carnage, Elphinstone stopped giving commands and just sat on his horse,Â no doubt contemplating something much more important.
Shortly after, Elphinstone surrendered and left his troops to themselves. The remaining troops were all killed and one lone survivor, with part of his scalp torn off, made it toÂ safety.
Capture of Guam, Spanish-American war
During the Spanish-American war of 1898, the island of Guam was hopelessly in the dark.Â With the last correspondence between them and civilization more than a month before theÂ war, the little Spanish territory had no idea a war was going on.Â When the American ship came to fire upon Guam, the Spanish though the Americans wereÂ saluting them and did the stupidest thing possible â€“ they sent a messenger to tell the shipÂ that Guam had no gunpowder and apologized for not being able to return the salute.
The messenger was promptly told that he just became Guam’s first prisoner of war.
All Spanish personnel on the island were captured and shipped off to the Philippines. TheÂ Americans hoisted their flag over Guam and began ripping off the natives who thought aÂ nickel was worth more than a dime. God bless capitalism.