200px-Hakkapeliitta-1940One of the reasons ol’ Robbo enjoys blogging – and especially enjoys commentary from friends of the decanter – is that he just never knows when the process is going to turn up some new, interesting-but-utterly-useless piece of trivia.  Such nuggets are little grace notes to me.

Por ejemplo, in comments to my post just below about driving in the ice and snow, regular swiller Captain Ned mentioned the name “Hakkapeliitta”.  Frankly, I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about.  A quick google-search reveals that this is, in fact, a brand of snow tire, which makes sense in the context.  But it also reveals that this was originally the name for a particular historickal Finnish Light Cavalryman.  I swipe a portion of the wiki entry for your amusement and edification:

Hakkapeliitta (Finnish pl. hakkapeliitat) is a historiographical term used for a Finnish light cavalryman in the service of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years’ War (1618 to 1648). Hakkapeliitta is a 19th century Finnish modification of a contemporary name given by foreigners in the Holy Roman Empire and variously spelled as Hackapelit, Hackapelite, Hackapell, Haccapelit, or Haccapelite. These terms were based on a Finnish battle cry hakkaa päälle (English: Hack on them; Swedish: hacka på), commonly translated as “Cut them down!”

The hakkapeliitta-style cavalry was first used during the Polish-Swedish Wars of the late 16th century. In the early 17th century the cavalry led by the Field Marshal Jacob De la Gardie participated in campaigns against Poland and Russia. The Hakkapeliitta cavalry men led by Field Marshal Gustaf Horn were vital to the Swedish victories in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War.

Finnish military march Hakkapeliittain Marssi is named after hakkapeliittas.

The Hakkapeliitta [….] excelled in sudden and savage attacks, raiding and reconnaissance. The greatest advantage of the fast and lightly armored Hakkapeliitta cavalry was its charge. They typically had a sword, a helmet, and leather armor or a breastplate of steel. They would attack at a full gallop, fire the first pistol at twenty paces and the second at five paces, and then draw the sword. The horse itself was used like another weapon, as it was used to trample enemy infantry.

The horses used by the Hakkapeliitta were the ancestors of the modern Finnhorse; despite their small size they were strong and durable.

So there you are.  The next time you’re at the tire store, suddenly yell “Cut them down!” and see what happens.  If the sales rep cottons on, you’ll know you’ve found a fellow loony spirit.

(Oh, and speaking of the Thirty Years’  War, if you’ve got a couple hours to kill one snowy day when you don’t feel like being out on the roads, you might check out an old Omar Sharif movie called The Last Valley.   It’s got Michael Cain and Brian Blessed in it as well and is almost a kind of Northern European Seven Samurai.)

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