The Weird Tale Of Jenkins’s Ear

Governments looking for a pretext to justify a predetermined course of action will undoubtedly find one.  Some outrage can be seized upon, some barbarity can be dangled before the public, or some looming danger can be created to whip up support for a policy.  It is an ancient stratagem, and an effective one.  A convincing casus belli needs only the correct manner of its deployment. 

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Epic Journey: Lord Roberts Marches From Kabul To Kandahar

The late 19th century saw an intense competition between the British and Russian empires for influence in central Asia.  Once act of this “Great Game” was the Second Afghan War, which was fought between 1878 and 1880.  Britain’s goals were two-fold:  to keep tsarist forces out of Afghanistan, and to create a friendly buffer state between the British Raj and Russian territory. 

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A Fire Destroys H.M.S. “Bombay”

Fire both fascinates and terrifies man.  It has nurtured man’s ascent from savagery to civilization by cooking his food, keeping him warm, and smelting his metals for war and agriculture; and yet nothing else so triggers his instincts of panic and terror when trapped in its presence.  Fires in large buildings and aboard ships at sea are especially terrible because the victims of these fires often have nowhere to flee.

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Carry All By The Sword: Stephen Decatur Burns The “Philadelphia”

We have noted elsewhere that the young United States went to war against the Barbary principalities of northern Africa in 1801.  President Jefferson found the continued payment of tribute to these piratical opportunists to be obnoxious, and resolved to punish the corsairs militarily.  Tripoli returned the favor by declaring war on the Americans.  Sword and bullet would now settle the matter. 

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Stephen Decatur Personally Fights And Kills An Enemy Captain

Stephen Decatur ranks as one of the greatest of America’s early naval commanders.  His only equal in bravery and fighting prowess was John Paul Jones.  He was the kind of man who could not sit by the sidelines and watch a fight play out; he had to be in the thick of the action, issuing commands, and inhaling the sulphurous smoke of battle.  Yet he was no rash hothead; his decisions, while bold and daring, were always based on a sound consideration of military realities. 

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Memory Of The Fallen: The Work Of Fabian Ware

Continental Europe is dotted with serene and beautiful cemeteries from the First and Second World Wars.  They are also found in the Dardanelles, holding the fallen of the Gallipoli campaign.  They are ordered, serene, well-kept, and dignified with the solemnity that supreme sacrifice confers.  Tourists now visit them frequently, strolling among the chiseled headstones that sprout like white flowers amid seas of green.  

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A Chivalric Duel Transcending Death: The “Constitution” Clashes With The “Java”

William Bainbridge ranks among the very greatest of the early American naval commanders.  Born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1774 to a father who was a prominent physician, he was apprenticed to the sea at the ripe age of fifteen.  Even as a teenager, his actions and deportment marked him as fated for great things. 

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The “Constitution” Escapes Certain Capture

The fabled USS Constitution is still the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy.  Just the sight of her in Charlestown drydock is enough to quicken the pulse of any man entranced by feats of heroism and valor.  A relic from an era when warships circled each other at sea like snarling dogs, she tallied an extraordinary list of accomplishments during her active service life.  We will here relate the tale of her escape from almost certain capture by a squadron of British ships during the War of 1812.    

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Perry Captures The British Fleet At Lake Erie

A glance at a map of Lake Erie quickly reveals its strategic importance to the belligerents of the War of 1812.  The lake sits atop what was then the western boundary of the United States.  The British were in control of Canada; with the waters of Lake Erie at their disposal, they would be able to ferry armies into positions allowing them to launch attacks on western Pennsylvania and New York, and proceed from there to America’s east coast cities. 

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