great “fuck it” moments in military history: bayonet edition (with unrelated video)

now, i generally spend most of my time insulting the “fuck it” approach to one’s business, and mainly in terms of the great lack of success that Eddie Murphy’s latest bomb Meet Dave, which, incidentally, has made about $11 million from an estimated $60 million budget. oh, Eddie Murphy, your failures fill my heart with cheer. which really shouldn’t happen, because Delirious and Raw remain hilarious to this day. eh, talking about Eddie Murphy always starts off nice and funny, but then things get depressing.

ANYWAY, the point is that this “fuck it” concept might not work so well in terms of blockbuster comedy careers, but that it does actually pan out on occasion in terms of random incidents from military history, some of these involving the use of the finest retort to a guy with a rifle capable of shooting you from hundreds of yards away: a bayonet of significantly shorter reach. and this is what we’re discussing this week.

Joshua Chamberlain
with a mustache like that, it was only a matter of time before Chamberlain was directing people to give other people the sweet taste of bayonet

1865: Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

since the US Civil War is notorious for a) poor decision making by generals with FANTASTIC beards and b) lots of people charging into bullets in what HAD to seem like a bad idea (or ideas) at the time, it only stands to reason that at least once during its span, someone would declare “fuck it” and take after people with bayonets. though it probably would have made more sense for someone to attack Ambrose Burnside with one (sparing that sweet beard, of course) prior to a battle… but i digress.

at Gettysburg one such event would occur when, defending Little Round Top (a hill, not a circus), Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine would find themselves repeatedly attacked by guys from Alabama purporting to be some kind of military unit, all the while running out of ammunition and having to contend with a command staff that featured such excellent generals as… uh… George Meade? he was okay, i guess. anyway, Chamberlain would phrase in a more classy way than i – “at that crisis, i ordered the bayonet” – but the end result was the same: a bunch of Yankees in too many layers of wool clothing yelled “fuck it” and went swinging through said former residents of Alabama, causing them no great benefit.

later, the US would award Joshua Chamberlain its highest award: to be played in movies by actor Jeff Daniels. oh, he also got a Medal of Honor or something, but come on… we’re talking about Jeff freaking Daniels!

Daniel Daly (or, at least, his grave)
some say Dan Daly lies buried beneath this commemorative tombstone, but others say he died not, but rather, still goes wandering through the night, keeping up the fight, and so on

1918: Battle of Belleau Wood, France

by 1918, it was probably common knowledge to anyone familiar with World War I (or as it was then called, “the Great War” or “the War To End All Wars That Also Inadvertently Probably Started An Additional And Bloodier War”) that charging at people with machine guns wasn’t an especially successful strategy, something that gets exponentially more difficult when said guns are manned by Germans that have broken into your country and smashed shit up and are now afraid that YOU will break THEIR shit the same way.

but while the US was apparently willing to help out the British and French (mostly to gain 90+ years of bragging that “we saved your asses in WWI”), we apparently forgot to make a note of that whole “machine guns can be trouble” thing, and thus, a large amount of Marines found themselves charging across wheat fields and woods at, shockingly, Germans with machine guns. now, granted, this qualifies as a bad life decision, perhaps, but not a true “fuck it” moment… until we get to a little later in the battle, when Daniel Daly would urge a bunch of pinned-down Marines on with the notable quotable “come on, you sons-of-bitches! do you want to live forever?” the answer apparently being “not really,” said Marines would then go on to bayonet the fuck out of some Germans.

some years later, Harry Truman would make some salty remarks about the popularity of Marines, which really just makes one think that he should have said “fuck it” and bayoneted some Germans if he didn’t want to be solely remembered for being “that president that nuked Japan.”

British soldiers supposedly charging
uh… well, in lieu of a relevant picture, please pretend that these pictured soldiers are more “charging the enemy fiercely” and less “leaping through the air as if dancing, dancing, DANCING to victory”

2004: Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders bayonet charge, Iraq

one of the things about the bayonet that keeps happening is that people declare it’s been outdated since, say, the US Civil War, which then, apparently, prompts some British guys to go wild and stab the living hell out of people with them … or at least attempt to, anyway, because the evidence suggests that even in the modern age, people don’t like to catch a bayonet in the face or crotch or whatever. still, for some time there, even the British weren’t able to rush at people with bayonets anywhere except the Falklands, also known as “Britain’s Grenada.”

…until about 2004 or so, when those Highlanders were attacked by Sadr’s Mahdi Army near Amarah while attempting to rescue some colleagues and, when confronted by a lot of insurgents shooting at them and the like, these Scottish guys decided that the most appropriate course of action was to charge them with bayonets. because, as we all know, it’s not like the British military has any idea of what can happen when you charge at people who can shoot at you automatic weapons. somehow, however, this worked out, which, frankly, is just going to encourage them to do this again.

so that’s that: bayonets are awesome, if totally short-ranged and probably obsolete, and sometimes it works out when you just say “fuck it” and stab someone with them. next time we’ll try to theme this around something more exciting, like horses or planes or what have you.

bonus unrelated video

also, i don’t usually do the whole “post embedded YouTube videos” thing here because a) most everything i view has been on 13000 blogs already and b) like, you know, that’s not really the thing that i do … but what the fuck, this one achieves the rare goal of “making me smile.” now, a warning to the white people: if you have no love in your heart for M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” (or the ability to grow to love said song), this joke won’t make much humor happen for you.

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