Wars are one of life’s necessary evils. Sometimes they are justified, sometimes not.
Sometimes they are for freedom (USA, Mexico, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Algeria, Bangladesh etc)
Sometimes they are for human rights (US civil war, WWII, Afghanistan etc)
Sometimes they are for mucho dinero, plain and simple (Spanish invasion of America, East India Company etc)
Sometimes just for land (whole history of humanity right down to China and Tibet)
Sometimes for stupid ass religious reasons (whole history of Islam, centuries of Catholic imbecility, 30 years war in Europe etc)
And sometimes they are just clusterfucks of epic proportions (WWI, the Iraq and Syria debacle, the Balkans etc)
Whatever be the cause, throughout history there have been many many many wars – far too many one might say.
Some of these wars have witnessed incredible tactics, unbelievable strategies and/or the indomitable spirit of man – for example, The Battle of Longewala, Thermopylae, The Finnish against the Russians, Hannibal’s invasion of Rome, Battle of Sterling Bridge, Trojan horse, Erwin Rommel etc etc,
And then there is the Battle of Karansebes.
What happened at the Battle of Karansebes you ask?
The year was 1788. Russia and Turkey were bored and had been fighting for a couple of years. Austria decided that they wanted a piece of the action and declared war on Turkey.
The Austrian army started marching down to clash with an advancing Turkish army. The Austrian (or Hapsburg Empire) Army at that time was composed of Austrians, Czechs, Germans, French, Serbs, Croats, and Polish – a recipe for disaster if there ever was any.
On 17 September, they reached Karansebes, an since it was getting dark, they decided to set up camp. Some scouts on horseback went out to check the immediate countryside for any armed Turks. They did not find any Turks but came across a band of gypsies, who just happened to have mega quantities of alcohol with them. Naturally, the scouts bought the stuff and started drinking like there’s no tomorrow.
A load of Austrian infantry were also loitering and came across the group of scouts. They wanted to join the drinking. The drunk scouts refused.
Argument started. Brouhaha ensued.
Infantry and scouts started firing wildly at each other. The infantry began shouting that the Turks were attacking them. The scouts, even though it was they who were attacking their infantry, suddenly believed that there actually was a huge Turkish army just behind them. The copious quantities of alcohol they were guzzling may have played a part here.
Terrified, the scouts broke ranks and piled through the ranks of infantry. The infantry took this as a sign that the Turks were definitely there. They began a panicky withdrawal, all animosity forgotten in the face of the imaginary Turkish army.
Some dude once said never to underestimate the power of stupidity.
The Austrian army was made up of soldiers from several countries and they spoke different languages. So when the German-speaking officers started shouting “Halt! Halt!” in their own language, the non-German-speakers mistook it for cries of, “Allah! Allah!” The whole frantic group of soldiers finally arrived back at the main camp. An officer there, reasoned that the charging, shouting men must be a Turkish attack, and ordered an artillery strike.
The entire camp then awoke to the sound of an enormous battle and they all did what every disciplined soldier would do at a time like this: ran away in different directions, firing wildly.
The situation escalated until the army was called into a general retreat from the imaginary enemy.
Finally, not wanting to miss out on the fun, the leader of the whole operation, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, got knocked off his horse and landed in a stream.
The casualties were enormous, and amounted to about 10,000 Austrian soldiers dead and wounded. The Turkish Army arrived two days later, and found the town of Karansebes without defense.
So, there you go, in a history full of imbecility, these guys not only took the cake, but the whole goddamn bakery.