4 Real Battles That Ran on Pure Looney Tunes Logic

Sometimes, when the war is done and the noble have fallen, you say, 'Eh Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-That’s all Folks!'
4 Real Battles That Ran on Pure Looney Tunes Logic

Not everyone knows this, but 10 days after Memorial Day is a secondary celebration known as Silly Memorial Day. Having already honored those who died as part of the armed forces, we take this next holiday as an opportunity to remember military engagements that made us laugh. The history of war is filled with stories of people running into walls and dropping anvils on each other’s heads. 

In their memory, we solemnly say, “Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-That’s all folks!” 

The Old Snake-in-a-Can Trick

Handing someone a fake can of nuts, and having a fake snake pop out, is a pretty dumb prank. It happens so quick that the springing motion alone scares your victim, so they never actually get a good look at the snake until afterward, by which point they can see it’s fake. That’s if they even obey your instructions and unscrew the can, which they probably won’t, since you’ve already betrayed their trust so many times.  

A far better version of this trick would use an actual snake, that can kill your victim. Also, instead of relying on your target to open the snake container, fling a jar full of snakes at their feet, where it will smash open and release its contents. That’s what the Carthaginian general Hannibal did in 184 B.C., back when his navy was facing off with the kingdom of Pergamon. His men launched pots at the enemy, pots that didn’t contain any kind of explosive (as none had been invented) but contained snakes, perhaps the venomous Bothrops insularis. The snakes landed on the opposing king’s ship, so he noped out of there, and the other ships followed.

Historians looking back at this account wonder if Hannibal’s men really could have gathered all those venomous snakes in the short time frame available before the battle. The answer, apparently, is yes, they could have. However, it would have been even easier to have gathered thousands of harmless snakes, such as the dice snake.

Payman Sazesh

This cutie right here.

That’s what makes this story so cartoonish instead of simply being biological warfare. It seems likely that the danger noodles Hannibal pelted King Eumenes II with weren’t really dangerous at all but just spooked him into fleeing. 

Speaking of people getting scared over nothing…

The Spanish Got Scared by Their Own Weapons and Fled

In 1809, the French occupied Madrid. The Spanish were ready to take the city back, with help from the British, who are always up for killing Frenchmen.

The 3rd Foot Guards at the battle of Talavera

via Wiki Commons

Here are the British at this battle, who are somehow the least silly ones there.

After a day of fighting, during which the French stubbornly proved better at killing than being killed, the Spanish saw French calvary approaching and firing. No specific plan stood in place for responding to this, but the Spanish now fired their muskets at the approaching riders — riders who were too far away for the guns to hit. So, the muskets didn’t hit any targets, but they did create a terrifying level of noise, for which the Spanish were completely unprepared. 

Convinced they had to being the middle of a massive storm of bullets fired by the French, the Spanish now dropped all their weapons and retreated. The French then slowly approached, confused, and looted all the abandoned weaponry. It’s not fair that the French have a reputation for running away. Sometimes, it’s the other side who do that, too. 

The Scotsman Who Just Wanted to Watch One Specific Guy Die

This is the story of a Scottish fighter named Wallace. Not William Wallace — it turns out there is more than one Wallace in the history of Scotland — but James “Quaker” Wallace. In the 1850s, he requested to join the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, for unclear reasons. In time, he became eligible for a promotion, but he refused, saying he had some private purpose for remaining a part of the 93rd. 

Also in the 93rd was a man whose full name has been lost to history, whom we simply know by the nickname “Hope.” Hope seemed brave to the point of foolishness. During one battle in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the captain considered sending him to the rear for being “drunk and riotous in the presence of the enemy,” and Hope responded by leaping onto a wall, making himself an easy target. The enemy fired at him, and a bullet hit his belt buckle.

That certainly sounds like a crazy bit of good luck. Except, even though it bounced off that buckle, the bullet still killed him. All the buckle did was ensure that bullet took a slightly different path when slicing his bowels open. Quaker Wallace now approached the dead Hope and said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the Lord. I came to the 93rd to see that man die!”

Interior of the Sikandar Bagh after the slaughter of 2,000 rebels by the 93rd Highlanders and 4th Punjab Regiment in November 1857

Felice Beato

“And instead of killing him, I killed all these unrelated people, who were trying to kill him! It was the perfect plan!”

Yes, the two men had had some epic rivalry, the exact details of which were as lost to history as Hope’s real name. Wallace figured he couldn’t kill Hope himself, but he could join the army and see someone else do the job. And now that Hope was lost, he threw himself at the enemy, while singing hymns, no longer feeling any need to go on protecting himself, since he’d succeeded at his goal. If he died minutes later, that would have been a fine enough punchline to this story, but he survived, guarded only by fearlessness and song.  

A Chinese Army Got Distracted by Sexy Dancing

In the year 623, the armies of the Tang dynasty were facing attack from the nomadic Tuyuhun peoples. The Tang army made a base on a mountain in the providence of Gansu, where they wouldn’t last too long, since the mountain didn’t seem to have a good supply of water. 

Khiruge/Wiki Commons 

Thirst is one of the top seven ways war can kill you. 

Close to the mountain, overlooking the Tuyuhun forces, was a hill. The Tang sent two people to the top of this hill, within sight of the Tuyuhun. These weren’t scouts. They were “singing girls,” who now performed “curious and obscene dances.” The Tuyuhun broke formation and approached the hill to get a better look. This gave the Tang a chance to get down from the mountain, approach the Tuyuhun from a surprise direction and get them to retreat. 

The moral of the story, the way people would later tell it, is: “It is most unwise, in the midst of battle, to let the mind dwell on the delights of peace.” But you might also point out that it was most fortunate that the Tang should have brought some singing girls with them as they prepared for this mountain siege. Perhaps, were these “singing girls” secretly just the Tang emperors Shenyao and Wenwu, wearing sexy dresses and with veils covering their facial hair? 

In our hearts, we all know the answer to that question. 

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