SHAKO: History Repeats Itself (Updated)

April 15, 2011 at 12:53 am 2 comments

SHAKO: Musings on Military History

Libyan Rebels, Like American Militia 200 Years Earlier

Your intrepid 4GWAR editor was at the Navy League’s 2011 Sea-Air-Space Exposition at National Harbor in Maryland earlier this week, writing for SEAPOWER magazine’s online coverage. Since SEAPOWER follows not only the Navy, but Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine issues, we ended our three-day stint well educated in all things nautical.

For example, we learned several new terms including “Underwater Ship Husbandry,” which is what Navy divers do when they repair ships and submarines below the water line at sea. We also were exposed to a whole new lexicon of naval acronyms like NECC, which stands for Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

To read what we wrote about Navy salvage divers, irregular warfare, V-22 helicopters, super-sized aircraft carriers littoral combat ships and unmanned aircraft please click on the SEAPOWER Expo website.

But that’s not our main reason for mentioning the Navy League Expo. While touring the exhibit floor, we came across the booth of the Naval Historical Foundation, which was promoting the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Over the next six months there will be a series of commemorations in places like New Orleans, Baltimore, Toledo, Buffalo, and Toronto (Yes, the Canadians have apparently forgiven us for burning the place down during the war when it was known as York).

The rockets red glare (Photo courtesy National Park Service)

“But nothing on the West Coast?” asked another visitor to the booth who, like your editor, was graying — but not gray. The friendly young lady intern explained that in 1812, that part of the country wasn’t even part of the country.

Your editor mentioned recently reading a book about the final events of the War of 1812 (in 1814-15 to be precise.) We opined that the unreliable military skills of the American militia at the Battle of Bladensburg in 1814, reminded us of the brave, but hapless, Libyan rebels we’ve been seeing on TV for the past few weeks.

“Well what do you expect. We hadn’t been a country very long,” protested the West Coast visitor. He noted the small size and inexperience of the U.S. military at the time going up against veterans of the Napoleonic wars. We agreed, adding that there might not even have been a United States of America by the end of the 18th century if the French king hadn’t joined the war and sent his well-trained and well-equipped troops to aid the American rebels.

That got us thinking that six years after the 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, the French monarchy — beggared by war with Britain —  raised taxes on the country’s poor and middle class. That led to a revolt by the over-taxed populace and another revolution that changed history.

Sound familiar?

Payback for the burning of York, Canada

BTW, for those who think Patrick O’Brian is the greatest writer since Moses penned the Book of Genesis, the USS Constitution Museum in Boston, has an on-line game that goes into great detail explaining naval life aboard the frigate in the age of sail and broadsides.

You can go there by clicking here or visiting

Entry filed under: International Relief, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training, Traditions, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (April 8, 2011) IVORY COAST: Now What? (UPDATE 4/18/2011)

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sean Meade  |  April 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

    after reading CS Forester (Hornblower), Patrick O’Brian was way too slow and pedantic 🙂


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April 2011


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