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  • Were There Really Arrow Storms? February 10, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Were There Really Arrow Storms?

    There are a number of antique and medieval references to massive numbers of arrows creating arrow storms in battles. Some readers will remember, for example the arrows blotting out the sun at Thermopylae: ‘Good, we shall fight in the shade etc’. But did these arrow storms really take place? Just how many arrows could an […]

    Chinese Artillery Outside Baghdad January 20, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Chinese Artillery Outside Baghdad

    The Mongol armies of the thirteenth century were among the most multi-ethnic in history. Koreans, Africans, Europeans and Persians fought together under the ‘prince of heaven’: a thuggish horse thief from the Steppes. Beach was recently particularly struck by one example of this that could stand for many less dramatic instances. When in 1258 Hulegu […]

    Mandans’ Arrows Feat January 13, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mandans' Arrows Feat

    Here is an extraordinary description of George Catlin (obit 1872), American painter and ethnologist (before his time) among the Mandans, with the matching image above. The game is basically this: how many arrows can you shoot into the air before your first arrow hits the ground. What Beach finds extraordinary are the number of arrows […]

    Death by Oak January 10, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Death by Oak

    Beach has recently been having nightmares about narrow corridors. This story is a form of reverse therapy. It also taps into other stories told in this place of men and women who get into trees and can’t get out afterwards. It is well known that during the French Revolution, the wood Kusel, near Deux Ponts […]

    Swiss Girl vs German Army December 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Swiss Girl vs German Army

    In 1499 the Swiss fought their last great war in the north. Their battle-hardened democratic armies proved superior to the pitiful Habsburg forces and by Autumn, the end of the campaigning season, the Germans were begging for peace. Here is a lovely episode from the middle of the war that gives some sense of the […]

    Romanian Military Make-Up December 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Romanian Military Make-Up

    An oft quoted fact about the Great War is that the Romanian Army in 1916, when it bravely but foolishly entered that conflict, ordered its soldiers not to wear makeup. But is this unlikely sounding detail true? Did Romanian soldiers routinely wear mascara and the like? And did their generals try and control the practice? The claim about Romanian […]

    Mongolian Ear Cutting September 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mongolian Ear Cutting

    If you are going to carry out massacres then it is important to be able to count how many soldiers (and all too often civilians) that you are killing. From scalping in the American west to the Einsatzgruppen tally sheets on the Eastern Front in the Second World War military organizations have come up with all […]

    Super Swimmer Shoots Arrow Down September 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Super Swimmer Shoots Arrow Down

    Here is a remarkable feat of arms recorded as a poem on an inscription, put up in AD 118 on the banks of the Danube by a Roman soldier, Soranus. Given that this is a public statement of the feat, we can assume that it actually happened. This is I, once the best known of […]

    Reprieve? June 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Reprieve?

    This weird war tale comes from a rather suspect book, Thrilling Stories of the Great Rebellion (1865), about the American Civil War. Note the almost total lack of details here: we are not even told whether this was a Confederate or Union regiment, though given the author’s loyalties we should presume the latter. This could […]

    White Man at Daratoleh May 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    White Man at Daratoleh

    22 April 1903 a British column was attacked at Daratoleh (Somali) by dervishes: the British, as so often happened in Africa, were vastly outnumbered and the Imperial troops did the only sensible thing they could in these circumstances. They formed into a square and put their maxims to best use. Superior weapons did for superior […]

    When God Spoke in a Wind: the Battle of the Frigidus March 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    When God Spoke in a Wind: the Battle of the Frigidus

    The Battle of the Frigidus 394 was one of the most important clashes as the Western Roman Empire was winding down: Honorius, the loss of Britain, Gerontius in Spain all just above the horizon… 5 and 6 September of that year, two enormous armies, perhaps as many as 150,000 men, took to the field under, […]

    The Battle of the Three Kings November 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Battle of the Three Kings

    The Battle of Alcácer Quibir (the Battle of the Three Kings), fought in Morocco in 1578, was a freaky melee. It involved Sebastian of Portugal (obit 1578) and his Arabic patsy Abu Abdallah Mohammed II Saadi (obit 1578), the old sultan of Morocco, who both fought against Abu Abdallah’s uncle, the new sultan of Morocco, […]

    Tojo’s Teeth: Remember Pearl Harbor November 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tojo's Teeth: Remember Pearl Harbor

    There is a post to be written and perhaps, when his file is big enough, Beach will attempt it of puerile acts of revenge carried out against defeated nations. Limiting ourselves here to the Second World War there is, for example, Hitler’s insistence that France’s surrender be signed in the same railway car, where German […]

    Rabbit Death at Manassas July 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Rabbit Death at Manassas

    In 1863 some Confederate troops had a horrific experience at Manassas: this is important for understanding the rabbit incident that follows. So steel yourself, reader. On the morning of July 21, 1863, our regiment, the 5th North Carolina State Troops, under Col. Duncan K. McRae.  ordered to double-quick across Bull Run and charge a  Battery […]

    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans June 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans

    You’ve all had that awful sinking feeling. You’ve prepared your masterful attack with a vast army across the entire front and then some fool goes and misplaces the map: and next thing you know the scrap of paper ends up in the hands of your opposite number, in the enemy  high command. There must be […]

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