Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't Fire Till You See the Whites of Their Eyes!


I admit a certain interest in great quotes from bygone days.  Who among you can read the account of Captain John Parker telling the Minutemen on the green at Lexington "Don't fire unless fired upon but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!" without getting goose bumps.  Or of someone (the accounts vary as to who) at the Battle of Bunker Hill giving the brave American defenders the command "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!"  Reading those quotes makes me want to jump up and fight redcoats or sign a Declaration of Independence.  Sadly, perhaps, my only relatives fighting in the American Revolution did so on the other side as they were Irishmen who "took the King's Shilling."  One of them is famous!  His name is Lord Edward Fitzgerald and he served in the British Army until he resigned after the Revolution and worked to free Ireland just as the Americans managed to do for themselves.  That eventually cost him his life.

History is full of famous quotes.  Nowadays, historians like to go back and say that no one really said those things or that someone other than the person it was attributed to said it.  You know how the revisionist historians are.  I think they should leave the quotes alone and just let us remember them as they are, even if they may be a little off.  So here are a few of my favorite quotes from history:

"Double canister and give them hell, Bragg!"  General Taylor to Captain Braxton Bragg at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War.  Too bad for the Confederacy that Bragg didn't do more of that during the Civil War!

"I was not defeated, but only foiled in my intentions." General Earl Van Dorn following the Battle of Pea Ridge.  Too bad for Van Dorn that in 1863 his other intention, having an affair with Mrs. Peters, would be fatally foiled by her husband!

"If this be treason, then make the most of it!" Patrick Henry, May 29, 1765.  I actually like this one more than Give me liberty or give me death.

"Take your damned regiment back to Ohio!  There is no enemy nearer than Corinth!" said General Sherman the night before the Confederates launched their surprise attack that started the Battle of Shiloh.  After the war, Sherman would claim in his memoirs that he was not surprised at Shiloh!  Sure Uncle Billy....

"They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace!" Patrick Pearse's oration at the funeral for O'Donovan Rossa.  I am a proud descendant of some of those very Fenians of whom he spoke.

"Nuts!" General Anthony McAuliffe's response to the German demand that he surrender his men and the town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.  I'm wondering how exactly they translated that into German!

These are only a few of my favorite quotes from the past.  What are yours?  Feel free to share them!

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian who has no great quotes associated with me, other than the time I had a student ask me how many enlisted sailors left the US Navy and went to the Confederate Navy and I said "Only a handful of seamen."  Not my finest hour to be sure!

"If they mean to have a war, let it begin here!"

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