Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Today In History: Huh?

The Second Schleswig-Holstein War ends, answering the Schleswig-Holstein Question and giving rise to one of my favorite amusing quotes:
"Only three people understood the Schleswig-Holstein Question. The first was Albert, the Prince consort and he is dead; the second is a German professor, and he is in an asylum: and the third was myself - and I have forgotten it." -Lord Palmerston
As best I can tell, it proves (along with the Futbol War and the War Of Jenkins' Ear) that people will always be able to find a reason to gather in large groups and shoot hell out of each other.

11 comments:

comatus said...

You're kidding, right? In the middle of a list to prove that this was one of the more consequential wars of the period, it dawned on me that without the Second Schleswig-Holstein, the superiority of breech-loading rifles would not have been proven (the Prussians used the "needle gun"). That ought to be enough for you right there. But we can come back to the salient points later (it's a "salient," see?) if that turns out to be fun. Let's see, 1864; anybody else having whimsical, just-for-the-hell-of-it wars about then?

On Robert Southey and Jenkins' Ear: It's only funny if you're not Jenkins.

Tam said...

Interesting Dreyse factoid: When you see period illustrations of Prussian troops shooting their rifles from the hip, that's not artistic license; the Dreyse leaked gas like a sumbitch.

comatus said...

Sorry, can't resist: I've noticed that about Prussians in general.

I'll go away now.

ianargent said...

My amusement from that period of firearms design comes from teh quirk of fate that led me to find the term "needle gun" in sci-fi before I found it in history...

BobG said...

People need a reason to shoot each other?

John Stephens said...

Prussians don't fart. Ever. That's why they all have that look on their faces in the old photos.

Bavarians on the other hand...

Anonymous said...

I'd expect the Dreyse to leak gas badly. Modern firearms depend on the cartridge casing to expand under gas pressure and seal the breech. The Dreyse had a paper cartridge that was good only for holding the ball and powder together, and I can't think of any other sealing material available back then that would hold up to more than a few shots.

And that was the gas from black powder, not cordite. There were chunks of unburned carbon and sulfur in it, not at all what you'd like in your eyes...

staghounds said...

Two other great statesman war quotes-

"All of the Balkans are not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian Grenadier"- Bismarck.

(Alright, it would be better without "grenadier".)

And, "A Balkan war is like two bald men fighting over a comb"-Churchill

comatus said...

stephens, funny that should come up:

http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article10240701.aspx

Bavarian, hmm.

Anonymous said...

As a Danish Partisan

I STILL think Germany ought to do the right thing and give it back, and by the way Sweden should give Scania back to Denmark too, and while we're at it there are some important baltic bits and parts of Coastal "Poland" missing too!

Hey, the Danes worked hard for their little empire, smiting Heathen in the Baltic east and slavic south, smiting Germans for general principles and generally have the nicest part of what is now southern Sweden to themselves.

comatus said...

...and smote the sledded Polack on the ice.

And yet, you sold your Virgins. To us, of all peoples. Whaddup?