Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Brecher on the War of 1812

The American/British version, not the Russian/French one.

Check it out. It starts here, and is up to part 9 so far. Do yourself a favor and read it.

Seriously, if you collected these into a short book, it would be by far the most entertaining account I've read of the whole thing. Brecher starts with the observation that very few people have a clear idea what the war was actually about:
We’ve got a soundbite for all our wars except 1812 and Korea. Try it and you’ll pop up the right cliché easy as spitting. American Revolution: three-cornered hats, redcoats falling in a line like chorus girls, cold feet at Valley Forge. Civil War: big beautiful tragedy that either was or wasn’t about slavery depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon line you live on. WW II: The Greatest Generation, and Nazis’r’bad, mmmmkay? Viet Nam: tur’ble, tur’ble shame, all them fine young men.
But those two, 1812 and Korea—we don’t talk about them much. For one thing, they both ended in a draw. And like coaches always say, a military tie is like bayoneting your sister. It’s a shame, because they were both wild, funny wars — much more interesting, if you ask me, than that overrated WW II.
Maybe the problem is that both those wars featured big bug-outs by American infantry—something we don’t much like to remember. But then both those wars also had moments of real glory: Inchon and Chosin in Korea, Baltimore and New Orleans in the War of 1812.
For a taste of the awesome, check out this description of the embarrassing American performance at the Battle of Bladensburg:
Like a lot of battles, this one was a matter of deployment; the few minutes of actual noise and smoke were one of those foregone conclusions, like a Raiders game. The Americans had a couple of decent artillery units, which delayed the inevitable, but a few of those Congreve rockets whooshing overhead was enough to send the civilians in uniform thinking of going home. Yeah, if Francis Scott Key had been at the Battle of Bladensburg instead of the Siege of Baltimore, the anthem would’ve had some different lyrics: “Oh say can you see, the rockets’ red glare?/Oh God, I sure can, and I’m right outta there.” The few units of regular artillery who’d stood their ground were deserted and exposed, and the whole American line gave way.
Ha! Comedy gold.

In other news, I'm now back in the US of A, and regularly scheduled blogging will commence shortly. Huzzah!

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