January 29, 2005
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
British Leaders of the late 19th Century v1.3
dum controversy? I don't know much about it, except that I do remember
hearing about this when I was in Grade 7 and all of us boys were fascinated
by war and sports. Our very popular teacher, Mr. Priest, a young man who
had just come all the way from England itself, may have introduced the
subject. Apparently, fragmenting bullets had been considered inhumane
by some people around the time of the First World War. Obviously, killing
someone with a bullet that didn't fragment was much more humane. (Some
days I find it difficult to understand why people can't understand such
simple things.) It is as hard to understand the Philippine
insurrection that followed liberation by the American liberators who
liberated Filipinos from the oppressive boot of the Spanish Empire so
their country could become a liberated satrapy in the American Empire,
like Puerto Rico. Why don't people just thank those who have nobly made
sacrifices to liberate them? After all, fair is fair.
As far as the machine gun goes, several were invented by Americans during
and after the Civil
War. Clever people, those Americans. Americans apparently have always
had a fascination with munitions. I remember reading that the rifle had
been invented by some Daniel Boone types before the War of Independence
and that they had demonstrated its superiority over the British standard
issue Brown Bess musket when invited to do so by the king, George III.
Civil War Gatling
Guns needed to be cranked to eject the spent round and load the next.
Maxim's gun used the gasses of the spent round to automatically do
that job. Obviously that would be an advantage to someone who had no hands.
Maxim was probably not as famous (and probably not as rich) as Samuel
Colt or Winchester. Perhaps Maxim didn't understand that his best customer
would always be the government of the United States. Maxim had to make
do with the British, French, and Germans who adopted his design but may
not have rewarded him, greatly. Maybe they did. He was not lionized by
Hollywood in any case. Everyone, even Germans, think the Germans must
have invented the machine gun. Not so.
Kitchener, as you will know if you saw the movie
starring Charlton Heston, went to avenge the murder of the British general
Gordon by the Mahdi
and his dervish army in the Sudan. General Gordon had been sent all alone
to put down the insurrection by people who, like the Filipinos, failed
to understand when they were liberated. People are so hard to understand.
When Gordon was unable to reason with the Islamic messiah and his mob,
Lord Kitchener was dispatched to teach them a lesson. One does wonder
if Gordon had not been sent to provide an excuse to teach them a lesson.
Kitchener was well prepared. He didn't go to the Sudan by himself. He
went with a small force of the best troops in the British Army who were
augmented by the Egyptian army and the Sudanese army. They had the latest
repeating rifles, machine guns, and modern artillery. They built a railroad
from Egypt to Khartoum and dispatched a fleet of gunboats up the Nile.
Lord Kitchener meant business. Had there been an air force, he would have
sent that too. (Reminds me of the liberation of Iraq, a century later.)
The Mahdi and the dervish army had only muskets, swords and spears. But
they believed God was on their side. They may have thought they would
be invulnerable when they charged into the blazing machine guns. Sadly,
a great many dervishes had to be slaughtered before they learned their
lesson. At the Battle
of Omdurman about ten thousand dervishes (that's them)
were killed, fifteen thousand were wounded, and five thousand were captured.
The British (that's us) lost a few dozen soldiers. Our heroes
congratulated themselves for their bravery and handed out Victoria Crosses.
The world was safe, until the Boer
War and then the
Great War (a.k.a. World War I).
If one looks at the Sudan campaign ones sees familiar faces: Lord Kitchener
was sent from Sudan to win the Boer War. He was then appointed Secretary
of War for the Great War. War, War, War. General
Haig, who commanded the British troops on the Western Front throughout
World War I, was also with Kitchener at Khartoum. Winston
Churchill was in Sudan too and also in South Africa as a news correspondent.
In World War I, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty. (In World War
II Churchill would become the leader and Prime Minister of Great Britain
and its colonies and Dominions.) The British Empire set matters straight
with the Mahdi, but had a great deal of trouble with the Boers and even
more trouble with the Germans, Austro- Hungarians and Ottomans. And whereas
the dervishes had learned their lesson not to charge into machine gun
fire and the Boers had always known not to do that, strangely, the British
and French commanders in WW I did not learn this lesson until over two
million French and British troops had been slaughtered charging into blazing
German Maxim guns and well over three million had been lost to the Central
Powers themselves. Yet more ironic still, the Americans always
too smart to learn from other people's mistakes followed the same
tactics which Douglas Haig and his subordinates had eventually abandoned
Jack Pershing lead the doughboys to France in 1917, eighteen months
before the conflict finally ended and the fateful armistice was signed.
The worst was yet
I'd like to blame the 20th century on somebody. The prime candidates today
are the people who were left standing at the end and are
causing all the trouble now. That would be the United States of
America as well as those who are currently celebrating the Auschwitz Festival.
They are, at the very least, not
as blameless as their friends have supposed for years.
mystic, General Gordon, sensed that cosmic forces would soon be unleashed
upon the world by Kitchener at Khartoum. They were.
leader of the band