When a big project needs doing, you will always hear the builders bitching about the amount of time and manpower it’ll take to finish such a ‘massive’ job. Here are three cases which prove what could potentially happen if they stopped complaining and actually did some work once in a while...
George Washington Smacks Down The British
In March of 1776, the Americans were early into the Revolutionary War. The colonies had not yet signed the Declaration of Independence and the American Navy were generally outgunned and outnumbered by the English Navy at every turn. The city of Boston had been under siege since the previous April.
To win back the city of Boston and rally the American patriots with a win, Washington needed heavier cannons. He sent Nathaniel Greene to the lightly guarded Fort Ticonderoga. There they took both the fort from the British and their supply of heavy cannons. Washington then ordered the British cannons to the front lines outside Boston as part of his masterpiece, presumably entitled "Operation Stop Hitting Yourself".
The original set up of the cannons failed to accomplish much. The English and Americans were stuck in a stalemate. Washington decided a new placement was necessary.
Washington had troops at Cambridge and Roxbury fire at the British as a diversionary tactic, while he had other troops move the cannons. To block the noise of the moving cannons, Washington had hale bales erected as a sound buffer, a plan which luckily worked out well. Overnight, the Americans positioned the cannons, as well as cutting down trees and fortifying themselves in position. At dawn, the British looked upon the Dorchester Heights and saw the Americans had taken the hill.
British General William Howe, upon seeing this, said: "My God, these fellows have done more work in one night than I could make my army do in three months." Realizing he had to retake the hill or be wiped off the face of the earth, he prepared for a counter-attack. His attack was then thwarted by a snowstorm. Seeing the futility of attacking a high fortified position in deep snow while wearing bright red coats that could only camouflage against the blood of fallen men, General Howe abandoned Boston. To conclude, in one all-nighter Washington set himself up in a position that would free Boston for the rest of the war and relegate General William Howe to a mere footnote in history, whilst the most we did during our last all-nighter was attempt to understand two semesters of confusing classnotes and play Farmville.
Amish Man Smacks Down Lack of Educational Facilities
So, English, you've gotten the whole town together and put up another barn. You're impressed with yourself, and rightly so. When a small group of what might be pretty young ladies under those bonnets meanders by, you lean proudly against your freshly-erected masterpiece as if to say, “Hey, ladies. Check out my barn door.” (You had hoped to come up with a more clever euphemism, but you didn't have a lot of time to prepare and, well, let's face it. You're Amish. Dirty talk is not your forte.)
Much to your dismay, they scoff.
“Oh, a barn,” says one, “I've never seen one of those before.”
“Yes,” chimes another, “How original.”
A third asks, “For sooth (more Amish talk) how many strong, strapping young men help you achieve this... erection?”
They giggle to each other as they wander off, leaving you to wallow in their emasculating wake. Sadly, you realize that they're absolutely right. A barn may be an impressive feat for a single day's work, but barns have already been done to death. And, let's face it, you did assemble a veritable swarm to get this thing together, and you all worked nonstop from the moment the sun came up. Anyone can raise a barn like that, but what if you could build something new? What if you did it with less help, and what if it was done in far less time? And while you're at it, why not build something that serves the community, advertises your love of children and generally paints you as a sweet, sensitive yet highly-capable guy? The ladies will totally go for that.
So you brood, you contemplate and you ponder the possibilities. Eureka! You'll build a school! That'll prove your worth, so you recruit a small number of your friends and family. You find a spot and you go to work.
Or, rather, you don't. Instead, you loiter around for most of the day because anyone could start a school at sunrise and have it done by night. Slow and steady may win races, but it doesn't help with the edgy image you're trying to project. Those bonneted beauties will never go for it. If you really want to impress them, you've got to prove you're a rebel first, so you refuse to do any work before two in the afternoon. You can just picture their swooning as you wait around refusing to toil. Oh, you're trouble, alright. If you had a radio, you would totally listen to Marilyn Manson.
You hold out against the urge to toil for as long as you can, but eventually you give in. Zeb, Amos and Eli show up at two and you all get to work. By four, nine other men have joined you and, by six, you've assembled a standing building. The walls, roof and sheeting are in place, after just four hours, and the schoolhouse is ready for use. Sure, it could still use some shingles and drywall, and an outhouse or two wouldn't hurt, but you don't want to throw away all that slacker cred you earned today, so you take a break.
Leaning against the wall of your new schoolhouse, you spot another group of unescorted young ladies approaching, so you rehearse your new pickup lines as they draw near. Don’t tell them though that buildings without power or plumbing are especially to put up, mind. That won’t help.
US Shipyard Smacks Down... Everything
War is a lot like cramming the night before a college final— out of necessity, you get more done in less time than you could have ever imagined. This would be the story with the USS Ward, though probably with fewer near-fatal doses of Monster.
At the time, World War I was a pretty big deal, seeing as how the whole world was at war. By the time the United States got around to joining the rest of the world, it needed weapons. Specifically, it needed specialized ships that would destroy enemy torpedo boats, whose speed and size made them dangerous to battleships. These torpedo-boat destroyers were aptly titled “torpedo-boat destroyers”, later shortened to “destroyers”.
Seeing as how most of United States’ pre-WWI destroyers were mostly ineffectual, the US pushed work on a new class of destroyers called the Wickes class. This new class was supposed to be able to combat newer torpedo boats designed by the enemy. One of its offspring was the USS Ward.
The USS Ward was laid down (that means they started building it, pervert) on May 15, 1918. Seventeen and a half days later—bam! New ship. This broke any standing record for shipbuilding at the time; most Wickes class destroyers took between six to 12 months to build.
From the moment it was named, you could tell that the Ward would go on to be awesome. It got its namesake from the late Commander James Harrison Ward, the first US Navy officer to be killed in the American Civil War.
The Ward was put into action in July that year and went on to fight until 1921, when it was decommissioned. However, that didn’t stop it from making history once again as it went on to be recommissioned for World War II, where it was positioned at Pearl Harbor. On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, it encountered a Japanese submarine and sank it, firing the first American shots of World War II.
The Ward would fight on until exactly three years (to the day!) after Pearl Harbor, when it was hit by kamikaze while moving on Japan.
The ship suffered enough damage from the attack that they chose to have it scuttled by another nearby ship, whose commander, coincidentally, had been in command of the USS Ward on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack. Freaky.