You are currently browsing the daily archive for January 22, 2011.

For her birthday, one of the youngest gel’s little friends gave her a larger than life-sized cardboard cut-out of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter today.   It’s sitting in the front hall even as I type, giving all the rest of us the creeps.   

Thus, the dilemna:  Either throw it away directly, thereby driving the gel to tears and no doubt insulting her friend (and, more importantly, her friend’s hyper-touchy mother), or else putting it in the gel’s room (which is absolutely the only place I will stand having it in the house) and waiting for the inevitable nightmares to kick in.  

Sometimes I really wonder what other people can possibly be thinking……..

The first few years of the French and Indian War proved to be catastrophic for the English colonies, with successive disasters at Fort Duquesne, Oswego and Fort William Henry, plus a full-scale Indian terror attack all along the western frontiers.  However, in 1757, William Pitt the Elder came (back) into power in a coalition government in Britain with the Duke of Newcastle which basically gave the Duke control of domestic politicking and Pitt control of the war.  (I’ll spare you the details of the parliamentary maneuvering.) Within the year, thanks to Pitt’s strategy of pinning down the French at home while aggressively hammering their forces in Canada and elsewhere abroad, the entire balance of power had changed, and it was only a matter of time until England emerged dominant on the world stage.  Parkman has nothing but praise for Pitt.

As regular port-swillers will know already, I am much more familiar with William Pitt the Younger, one of my political heroes, who likewise held the line against the French in latter years and pulled off a stunning triumph.  It occurs to me that I would like to read up on the Elder somewhat more.  If anyone has any suggestions for a good biography, I’d like to hear of them.

In a break from my French and Indian War posting, I would note that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Isandlwana, fought this date in 1879, in which an army of about 10,000 Zulus overwhelmed a British column of under 2000, virtually wiping it out.

The more I think about it over the years, the more I am impressed with the similarities between Isandlwana and Little Big Horn.  (Hardly an original thought, I know, but fascinating nonetheless.)  For one thing, both were not so much “battles” as heavy skirmishes.  For another, in both instances the smaller but better-armed force was crushed primarily because of poor leadership and bad deployment.  (Here, the Brits were strung out on a long, non-mutually supporting battle line with poor communications and doubtful command.  At Little Big Horn, Custer stormed blindly into the Sioux camp without first reconnoitering it and the surrounding terrain.)  And, it should be said, in both instances the native armies were unusually well-disciplined and cunningly led. 

It is also interesting how in both cases, where the surviving Anglo and American forces were properly led and deployed, training, discipline and superior technology (and, if I may say, the Western military ethos underlying them – read Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture to get what I mean) reasserted themselves and beat off the mob.  Again, witness Major Reno’s defensive stand as well as that of Lt. Chard at Rorke’s Drift, also fought this day in 1879 and really an extention of Isandlwana, in which 150 Brits held off about 4000 Zulus.

Incidentally, in case you are interested in detailed accounts of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, I would strongly recommend to you How Can Man Die Better and Like Wolves on the Fold by Mike Snook.


Blog Stats

  • 474,398 hits
January 2011