The 10 Greatest Uses of Trash Talk in the History of War

#5. Pierre Jacques Etienne Cambronne, the Battle of Waterloo

Via Wikimedia Commons

The Situation:

When the Battle of Waterloo turned into a giant clusterfuck for Napoleon and France on June 18, 1815, England called upon the surrender of Pierre Cambronne of France and the remnants of Napoleon's Imperial Guard.

Via Warrfarr.co.uk
In return, they guaranteed the safety of his wicked sideburns.

Cambronne knew that no matter what his reply would be, it was guaranteed to be repeated far and wide in the annals of military history. So he made his answer count.

The Quote:

"Bullshit!"

(Or in the original French, "Merde!")

In 1815, "merde" was a bit of a super-swearword so defiant and ungentlemanly that in today's jaded terms it would be like the French having their answer delivered with a 10-minute rant by a coked-up Dave Chappelle and a 1980's Eddie Murphy, then projecting a giant dong in the sky. Hell, even Ernest Hemingway was impressed.

Via Orbit-mag.com
Well-educated in the art of cursing.

The Aftermath:

Sure enough, Cambronne was forced to surrender the Old Guard at Waterloo, but his immortal insult to the English went down in history as "the word of Cambronne." "Merde!" would go on to appear in popular culture, the most famous example being Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, and the word even got etched onto Cambronne's statue in Nantes. That's the kind of legacy most of us can only hope for.

Via Wikimedia Commons
And a neck we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

#4. Sparta, the Third Sacred War

Via Wikipedia

The Situation:

Sometimes the best trash talk is uttered in reply to someone else's trash talk.

Which brings us to Philip II of Macedon, the Sith-lord-like father of Alexander the Great, who possessed such an insatiable appetite for war and conquest that the Fates cursed his legacy by having Val Kilmer play him in Alexander.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Look, it's Batman!

After maxing out his army's tech tree and throwing his enormous weight around in the Third Sacred War, Philip turned his eye toward the oiled abs of Sparta. So, in 346 B.C., he decided he would do a little smack-talking of his own to the Spartans:

"You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army on your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people and raze your city."

Via Wikimedia Commons
"And I shall make little coins with my head on them and place them in the thongs of your strippers."

The Spartans answered ...

The Quote:

"If."

As in, "That's the only relevant word in all your tough talk."

The Aftermath:

Sure enough, it never happened. Both Philip II and his son Alexander ended up spending the remainder of their military careers fighting as far away from Sparta as humanly possible.

Via Lib.utexas.edu

#3. Joan of Arc, the Siege of Orleans

Via Wikipedia

The Situation:

Prior to her arrival at the Siege of Orleans during the Hundred Years' War, the Maid of Orleans Joan of Arc dictated a message for the English to let them know what they were in for. The letter from Joan to the Duke of Bedford, leader of the opposing forces, reads like a curious mix of flowery ranting and religious zeal. That is, right up until the end -- where Joan suddenly gets down to business:

Via Wikimedia Commons
Creepy face and all.

The Quote:

"The Maid and her soldiers will have the victory. Therefore the Maid is willing that you, Duke of Bedford, should not destroy yourself."

Note how smoothly she enters Captain America mode, using her code name for effect while delivering her enemy matter-of-fact statements about certain defeat.

Via Wikimedia Commons
"The Maid is about to pop your siege cherry."

The Aftermath:

Alas, the duke, he did not listen. And whether or not Joan was schooled in warfare by the same archangel who uppercutted Lucifer to the Pit, she and her troops were the battlefield equivalent of the Konami Code, tearing the English new ones in more places than syphilis in one of the most decisive battles of all time.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Mostly because they were all ridiculously huge.

#2. William T. Sherman, the Battle of Atlanta

Via Wikimedia Commons

The Situation:

In May 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman was given the task of invading Georgia with three federal armies with the objective to take Atlanta. With Grant stuck in the mud outside of Richmond and Lincoln's presidency on the line, the outcome of the Civil War and thus the fate of the United States hinged on how effectively Sherman could wreak havoc.

Luckily, Georgia ranked very high on Sherman's personal "things I want to punch in the face" list. He proceeded to take the state apart in the exact manner that could be expected from a man that even in official portraits manages to look like this:

Via Wikimedia Commons
He's either reaching for a giant handgun or tweaking his nipples.

When Sherman finally had Atlanta within reach, Mayor James M. Calhoun sent Sherman a letter begging that his city be spared from the Union attack. Sherman's response was a letter of orders that said the shit about to go down on Atlanta is inevitable, with the definitive line:

The Quote:

"You might as well appeal against the thunderstorm."

Photos.com
Wait, you can't appeal to a thund- oooooohhh.

Or, to quote it in full, "You might as well appeal against the thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war." He did also mention that he's only doing this out of duty, and "... when peace does come, you may call on me for any thing" -- but shockingly, they weren't too keen on this offer from the guy standing on their doorstep with an angry army.

The Aftermath:

Sherman managed to work Atlanta into such a pants-shitting evacuation frenzy that a chunk of the city had actually blown itself up by the time he got there. Out of principle, he wrecked the rest up nevertheless.

Via Monkeymindonine.blogspot.com
There's no reason you shouldn't enjoy your job.

#1. Philip Sheridan's Drinking Is Best Left Uninterrupted

Via Wikipedia

The Situation:

The Battle of Missionary Ridge is one of those odd pages in Civil War history that should be required reading in every classroom, but tends to end up a minor footnote because it's just too awesome.

It all got started when Union General Philip Sheridan was instilling confidence in his men while keeping a flask of some liquid confidence of his own close by. Suddenly, he spotted some Confederates peeking down on him from their higher ground at Missionary Ridge. So, being an officer and a gentleman, he raised his flask to them and calmly toasted: "Here's at you!"

Photos.com
Sweet, sweet liberty.

The Confederates, pissed off at this display, responded with a volley of gunfire that splattered the Irishman and his Union officers with dirt. Sheridan, his toast so rudely interrupted, turned at his assailants and roared ...

The Quote:

"That was ungenerous! I'll take your guns for that!"

His army promptly mistook this outburst as an order and stormed up the slopes toward the Confederates on Missionary Ridge, along with the seething Sheridan himself -- while Sheridan's bewildered superior, General Ulysses S. Grant, was left wondering what the hell was going on.

Via Wikimedia Commons
"I've won entire campaigns drunker than you'll ever be."

The Aftermath:

The Confederates fled in panic, with angry Sheridan in hot pursuit. He didn't stop until he realized that they had won ages ago and he was in fact the only Union general who was still fighting.

Via Wikimedia Commons
And because he'd most likely run out of booze and sobered up by that point.

The Battle of Missionary Ridge was a spectacular victory that cost the South the war in the West and elevated Grant to command of all Union armies (which in turn didn't hurt his future election as the President at all). As Grant would later remark: "To Sheridan's prompt movement the Army of the Cumberland, and the nation, are indebted .... Except for his prompt pursuit, so much in this way would not have been accomplished."

So, yeah. Sheridan and his hip flask helped shape the nation.

If you would like to read more about famous instances of trash talk, see Jacopo's book "Go @#$% Yourself!" -- An Ungentlemanly Disagreement, by Filippo Argenti and check out its topic page.

For more awesome quotes, check out The 11 Most Badass Last Words Ever Uttered and The 10 Most Devastating Insults of All Time.

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