3 The Last Battle Between Sailing Vessels Was in World War II
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Before people discovered how to build ships that ran under their own power, naval battles from the dawn of civilization had always been decided on the whim of whichever direction God decided to blow wind on their sails. Considering that we've had boats powered by actual engines since the Industrial Revolution, you'd assume that by the time World War II rolled around that nobody was out there fighting Master and Commander style. This was, after all, a conflict featuring tanks, stealth bombers, and goddamn nuclear weapons.
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And missiles from outer space.
But Actually ...
Not only did history's last battle between sailing vessels happen in World War II, but it was actually the final naval battle of the war, occurring shortly after the Japanese had surrendered but before all of the Japanese had received the memo. It was late in August 1945, and having been given notice that the war had ended, U.S. Navy Lieutenants Livingston Swentzel and Stuart Pittman were on their way home via China. They weren't making the journey by battleship, but instead commanded two Chinese junks.
If you haven't seen Pirates of the Caribbean, a junk looks like this:
"Junk" is being kind.
On August 20, the two were probably wondering what they did to get stuck with this shitty assignment on their measly sailing ships when suddenly they came across yet another sailing ship that was acting suspiciously. It turned out to be a Japanese vessel, and when it saw the Americans very slowly approaching, they gradually turned around and, after several minutes of slow motion suspense, opened fire, kicking off the last sailing battle the world will probably ever see until Kevin Costner's Waterworld becomes real.
Pittman, realizing that his day just got much more exciting than expected, responded by opening fire with all weapons he had on board, to which the Japanese responded in kind. Discovering he had a bazooka, Pittman ordered his ship within 100 meters to fire it onto the enemy ship. Three bazooka hits later, the Japanese still continued to fight on, and Pittman ended the battle as any movie-quality sailing battle should end: with a hostile boarding. He maneuvered his ship next to the Japanese one and gave the one order all Navy officers secretly hope to yell: "Prepare to board!"
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A controversy later arose as to whether the lack of rope swinging constituted a proper boarding.
Pittman personally led the charge onto the enemy ship for vicious hand-to-hand combat with guns, bayonets, and a freaking meat cleaver. The battle continued until the Japanese surrendered, with 43 dead and 39 captured. And as of yet, Hollywood has somehow still neglected to make a movie out of this whole thing.
2 Negro Leagues Baseball Was Played Until the 1980s
Baseball's Negro Leagues are an artifact from that awkward period in America after white people decided that African-Americans were allowed to participate in society but before they were comfortable being near them. The segregated leagues lasted from the late 1800s until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier right after World War II, at which point white America graciously decided to allow some of the greatest baseball players on the planet to join them on the field.
But Actually ...
Dark-skinned Americans stopped being forced to play in the Negro Leagues after 1947, but that didn't mean the Negro Leagues teams packed up their bats and stopped playing. In fact, they continued playing ball right past the Civil Rights Act, up until the 1960s. It was something of a sore topic among Negro Leagues managers that the Major Leagues were suddenly stealing all of their best athletes, and they actually campaigned to stop the white folk from taking away their best players.
"Sorry, but the chance to make racists rage-shit their pants is too good to pass up."
Even after the 1970s ended, a team known as the Indianapolis Clowns refused to buckle to the pressures of integration and continued to play under the Negro Leagues banner. They became the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball, but instead of always winning rigged matches, they almost always lost to junior college teams practicing for the upcoming season. It wasn't until 1989, the year of Tiananmen Square, the Berlin Wall, and the B-52s' "Love Shack" release, that they finally ran out of backing. Still, a league started by segregation lived on right until the Seinfeld premiere episode.