Anecdotes I

It's hard to find good help nowadays
During the battle of Königgrätz in Austria during the Seven Weeks War of 1866, Austrian General Festetics had his foot ripped off by a wayward Prussian shell fragment.   His weeping batman attended to the mangled leg.   General Festetics, observing the hysterics, remarked "Look at this hypocrite, whining like a mutt, yet he'll have only one boot to polish from now on."

Lombard Command Guy of Spoleto at one point descended on Benevento to demand the surrender of Benevento's current Arab-mercenary leader, called "Apolaffar" in [ninth century] south Italian sources.   Radelchis [ruler of Benevento] was ordered to go wake Apolaffar (who was apparently sleeping in a wing of the palace) in order to deliver him to Guy's troops.   And what seemed most to distress Radelchis, for which he apologized profusely to Apolaffar, was that he could not even allow the mercenary time to find his shoes.   Apolaffar's understandable rejoinder was, "Why are you worrying about my feet?   What about my head!"
---Barbara M. Kreutz

How to sack a divisional commander: Tewksbury, 4 May 1471.
Lord Wenlock not having advanced to the support of the first line, but remaining stationary, contrary to the expectations of Somerset, the latter, in a rage, rode up to him, reviled him, and beat his brains out with an axe.
----Richard Brooke.

...Henry Francis Mellish [a captain of the 10th Hussars] was ADC to Sir Ronald Ferguson, one of Wellington's generals.   It was reported one day that Mellish had been taken prisoner but when Wellington heard of it he said, "They'll not keep him long."   Sure enough, the next day he was seen riding into the British camp on a donkey.   Everyone laughed at his mount and said it was not worth £5.   He retorted, "I'll soon make it £35."   He then rode it towards the enemy lines, had it shot from under him, and returned to claim £35 from the government for the loss of his mount in battle.
---Philip Warner.

Charming local customs
[Manuel II Palaeologus, Emperor of Byzantium, led the Byzantine army to its final victory over his rebellious archons in the Morea in 1415]   Among the abuses which Manuel strove to curb was a barbarous custom... dating back to antiquitity, among the Maniotes of southern Laconia, of cutting off the fingers and toes of defeated enemies and dipping these trophies in the cups from which they drank their toasts.
---John W. Barker.

The Iron Duke had a rather sound understanding of human nature: and he was being realistic, rather than cynical, when, during the Peninsular campaigns he set a limit of forty-eight hours for his officers' leaves in Lisbon, or behind the lines.   This, he said, was as long as any reasonable man could wish to spend in bed with any woman.
---Lesley Blanch

Haig - Man of Vision

A Military Visionary

"The machine gun is a much over rated weapon..."
---Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, 1915

"...I am all for using aeroplanes and tanks, but they are only accessories to the man and the horse, and I feel that as time goes on you will find just as much use for the horse - the well bred horse - as you ever have in the past."
---Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, 1925.

Calling a halt,[the Byzantine Catapan] sent a messenger across to them, offering the choice: either they could leave Byzantine territory peaceably and at once, or they must face his own army in battle on the morrow.

The Normans had heard communications of that sort before, and knew how to deal with them.  During the harangue one of the twelve chiefs, Hugh Tuboeuf, had approached the messenger's horse, and had been stroking it approvingly; now, as the man finished, he suddenly turned and struck it one mighty blow between the eyes with his bare fist, laying the luckless animal unconscious on the ground.  At this, according to Malaterra, the messenger in a paroxysm of fear fainted dead away, but the Normans, having with some difficulty restored him to his senses, gave him a new horse, better than the first, on which they sent him back to the Catapan with the message that were ready.
---John Julius Norwich

Around Allatoona, October 5, 1864.
[to] Commanding Officer, United States Forces, Allatoona
I have placed the forces under my command in such a position that you are surrounded, and to avoid a needless effusion of blood I call on you to surrender your forces at once, and unconditionally.

Five minutes will be allowed for you to decide.   Should you acede to this, you will be treated in the most honourable manner as prisoners of war,
I have to honour to be, very respectfully yours,
S.G. French
Major-General commanding forces Confederate States.

General Corse replied immediately;

Allatoona, Georgia, 8:30 a.m. October 5, 1864.
[to] Major General S. G. French, Confederate States etc.
Your communication demanding surrender of my command I acknowledge receipt of, and respectfully reply that we are prepared for the 'needless effusion of blood' whenever it is agreeable to you.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John M. Corse,
Brigadier-General commanding forces United States

Rank hath its privileges
When Rumania declared war in August 1916, it is said that one of the first army orders, after mobilization, was that only officers above the rank of major were allowed to use make-up.
---Ronald Lewin

Famous Last Words
During the morning, after a conference with Grant, [General John] Sedgwick rode forward to an elevation near the center of his position, found that his men were a little nervous because of Confederate sharpshooters, assured them that there was nothing to worry about because "they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance...", and then fell dead with a sharpshooter's bullet in his brain.
---Bruce Catton

German General von Hulsen died suddenly of a heart attack while performing a pas de ballet in front of the Kaiser.   Von Hulsen was dressed as a ballerina at the time.

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