Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Alexander II of Russia...

Source: Wikipedia
Protip: If you're the Czar of a repressive autocratic empire and someone tries to blow you up while you're out riding in your bullet (and evidently bomb) proof carriage, don't leave the carriage. Another tip, if the police and soldiers attending to the wounded and rounding up the nihilist terrorists tell you to get out of the area, listen to them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

HMS Dreadnought, the ship that literally changed the game

Credit: Wikipedia.
The HMS Dreadnought, lead ship of not only the Dreadnought class, but dreadnoughts themselves. Dreadnoughts were a beast of a ship - larger, heavier and better armed and armored than other ships of the time. In fact, the Dreadnought rendered every battleship of the era obsolete by its mere existence, they became known as pre-dreadnoughts. Launched in 1906, she was probably the most feared ship on the planet, yet never saw serious combat. No joke, the only ship the Dreadnought ever sank was an unfortunate German submarine that it rammed.

The Flying Squadron of the Spanish-American War

Credit: Murat Halstead/Wikipedia.
The Flying Squadron was the name given to a group of U.S. Navy warships that fought the Spanish fleet around Cuba during the Spanish-American War and operated in the Gulf, Atlantic and Indies. The squadron consisted of two battleships (Texas and Massachusetts), two protected cruisers (Minneapolis and Columbia, an armored cruiser (Brooklyn) and several other ships. The Squadron was commanded by Commodore Winfield Schley.

John Paul Jones and his return home

Credit: Wikipedia.
John Paul Jones was a famous naval officer who commanded the fledgling Continental Navy during the American Revolution and is regarded as the Father of the United States Navy. Jones is an interesting man and ballsy as all hell. During the war, he lead raids not only against English shipping, but two raids of British Isles themselves - first at Whitehaven, where he planned to burn all the ships in the harbor and anything else he could, followed by a raid against an Earl's estate on St. Mary's Isle, where he planned to kidnap and hold the Earl for ransom! Like I said, this guy was ballsy. He also participated in an attempted invasion of England by a combined Spanish and French force in 1779 and with several French ships under his nominal command, attempted to create a diversion to lure the Royal Navy's Channel Fleet away. The invasion failed, but in the subsequent battle between his ship, the Bon Homme Richard and the HMS Serapis, the legend of his famously proclaiming "I have not yet begun to fight!" was created. There is some doubt as to his saying that, but he did say "I may sink, but I'll be damned if I strike" in response to the captain of the Serapis asking for his surrender.

Did I mention that at the time, Jone's ship was sinking? And just to top it off, he won that battle and took the Serapis as his own. After the war, he decided to stay in Europe, first living in Paris, then moving to Russia and taking a job in their navy. He eventually left after political backstabbing a smear campaign directed against him by jealous Russian officers and returned to Paris, where he died on July 18, 1792. He was buried at St. Louis Cemetary, which belonged to the Royal Family of France. Unfortunately, the French Revolution hit not long after, the Revolutionary government that took over sold the land and I guess in the chaos, the everybody forgot "oh hey, there are bodies buried here, somebody might want to note that."