The American Civil War is one of the most famous events in the history of the United States, but that wasn’t the only time there were armed confrontations in the country. Back in the 1830s there was a border dispute between Iowa and Missouri, because unclear wording in a variety of documents made it difficult to figure out just where the hell the border actually was. The issue eventually went to the US Supreme Court, which decided in Iowa’s favour. But rather than simply wait patiently for the results of the court case, militiamen in the two states decided they needed to have a retarded standoff.
The trouble started when tax collectors from Missouri headed down into Iowa to try to gather some taxes, because to them they were just going into another part of their own state. The Iowans expressed their disagreement by chasing the taxmen off with pitchforks, a tactic which many Americans still try today. In response, the collectors chopped down three trees with beehives in them (apparently taxmen of that period carried around axes for situations like this) and took all the honey contained in them as a substitute for actual tax money. Would that substitute be accepted today? We suspect that the IRS wouldn’t say no to a big jar of delicious honey, but we digress.
Anyway, the Iowans responded to the loss of their precious honey by forming an unruly mob that captured and imprisoned a Missourian sheriff. The governor of Missouri then called in the state militia, which headed to the border and had a standoff with the mob from Iowa. Thankfully, no actual fighting occurred, hopefully because everybody realised how stupid the situation was. The sheriff was released, no more tax collection attempts were made, and nothing interesting ever happened in Iowa again.
Every country has at least one embarrassing chapter in their military history, because when you fight enough battles you’re bound to lose one eventually. But Australia is the only country that can make the dubious claim of losing a conflict against a bunch of unarmed, flightless birds.
This embarrassing incident occurred in 1932, when the government attempted to address public concern over the large number of emus living in parts of Western Australia, which were apparently running rampant and causing adorable havoc on farmland. The farms they were damaging were owned by World War I veterans, and their suggested solution to the problem involved a weapon they were all very familiar with: the machine gun. The government agreed that machines gun could be used, but only on the condition that active soldiers would be the ones using them. So three soldiers, two machine guns, and 10,000 bullets shipped out to the heart of the emu problem, where their combined combat training proved to be pretty much useless against the birds.
At first they tried to herd the emus into an ambush, but the birds were too smart to fall for this so the soldiers resorted to taking ineffective shots from long range. A second attempt at an ambush gathered 1000 emus up close, but a gun jam ruined the attack. Things got worse after that; an attempt to mount a gun on a truck failed hilariously when the vehicle proved unable to keep pace with the emus and the movement made it impossible for the gunner to aim anyway. The soldiers withdrew after a week of combat, 2500 rounds of spent ammo, and just 50 birds killed. The emus continued to gobble up farmland, and while a later attempt, along with the implementation of a bounty system, eventually solved the problem, the initial failure was never lived down thanks to mockery from the media. On the plus side, no matter how embarrassing Australia’s future military endeavours might be they can rest easy knowing their ancestors fared worse.
- - Serbian Pig War: http://islamfinland.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/pork_steaks1.jpg
- - War of Jenkins’ Ear: http://www.topnews.in/files/Right-Ear.jpg
- - Honey War: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/Med_u_sacu_karlovic1.jpg
- - Emu War: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/Emoe.jpg