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Why you should check the original

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Why you should check the original

Postby DaveH » October 20th, 2017, 2:27 pm

Much of the mythology (most recently here related to staffs) has involved an unfortunate effect of Chinese whispers and not checking the origins of material, while relying on more recent secondary works.

Just as an example of how things can be distorted in the telling, I think I have come across the answer to a discussion on TMP about the charge by Baden and Hesse Darmstadt cavalry at the Berezina in 1812, where the Badeners in particular were pretty well wiped out. Kevin (as Brechtel there) describes it as the "Death ride" and this was challenged on its origin. Kevin conceded that this was a name used in a more recent work and another poster suggested that it was originally "charge of death", saying it came from a Haythornthwaite Osprey MAA book.

That it is not on Google books, but Haythornthwaite's book on 1812 is and here we find that the expression for this episode is rendered: 'charge of death'. Note the single inverted commas as they mean it is just an expression, not a quoted name for the event. Ironically, in 1810, just 2 years before the event, an anthology of the works of the famous Dr Johnson was produced https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=bSw ... 22&f=false and there you can see at the start of the chapter a poem by Francis (someone) ending with "The trumpet sounds the charge of death'. So, there it is already in the common consciousness even before the event happened. It was quite possibly reinforced by Lord Tennyson's poem about the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea (also against Russian troops), famously including " Into the valley of Death, Rode the six hundred."

Okay, so maybe this expression of 'charge of death' has just been changed a bit to "Death ride", but still has the same meaning? Well, no actually - the "death ride" relates to a suicidal attack by German battlecruisers at Jutland. https://edmondbarrett.wordpress.com/201 ... ecruisers/

Oh well, i suppose they were german anyway .....
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Re: Why you should check the original

Postby jf42 » October 22nd, 2017, 1:37 pm

DaveH wrote:
Okay, so maybe this expression of 'charge of death' has just been changed a bit to "Death ride", but still has the same meaning? Well, no actually - the "death ride" relates to a suicidal attack by German battlecruisers at Jutland. https://edmondbarrett.wordpress.com/201 ... ecruisers/

Oh well, i suppose they were german anyway .....


The phrase "Death ride" would seem to predate the battle of Jutland by some 45 years, having been ascribed to an attack mounted by a Prussian cavalry brigade, under Major General von Bredow at the battle of Mars-le-Tour on 16th August 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war.

What the original German might have been in this instance, and when the phrase was first coined, I couldn't say.
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Re: Why you should check the original

Postby DaveH » October 22nd, 2017, 9:08 pm

No great surprise that this has been misused by Francophiles after the defeat of 1870!

There is a big painting of it here https://www.trinityhousepaintings.com/a ... g-16-1870/ and the expression seems to come from a poem commemorating the battle: https://de.wikisource.org/wiki/Der_Trom ... rs-la-Tour:

"Doch ein Blutritt war es, ein Todesritt" - "It was certainly a bloody ride, a death ride"
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Re: Why you should check the original

Postby jf42 » October 22nd, 2017, 9:35 pm

if the Baden cavalry was virtually wiped out in the action, as you say, the comparison with Mars-la- Tour seems appropriate. Nothing to do with ships. What is your objection again?
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Re: Why you should check the original

Postby DaveH » October 22nd, 2017, 11:40 pm

It is an argument about whether the Berezina was a French victory (as a large part of the French army got away) or a Russian victory (because they mauled the French badly and forced them to carry on retreating). As so often happens, material was being introduced which is essentially fairly recent secondary opinion being presented as fact. When you trace it back, this is what you find and so, it is not fact, just opinion. So, the "Death Ride" was mentioned but that expression has nothing to do with this event - it has been added in much later by those trying to pretend the Berezina was a French victory.

The origin is 1870, which is ironic given that much of the mythology comes from the Second Empire and 1870-1900 periods. It is then applied to Jutland at the time as a reference to 1870. A quick check would have shown that it has no relationship with 1812 and is just being used to push a particular line without checking the real origin. It wasn't Jutland, but I have no problem with being shown to be wrong - because it means someone has bothered to check further.
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Re: Why you should check the original

Postby Senarmont198 » October 23rd, 2017, 12:33 pm

Philip Haythornethwaite in his Uniforms of Napoleon's Russian Campaign, pages 140 and 142 refers to the charge of Victor's supporting cavalry brigade as the 'Charge of Death.' The brigade was composed of the Baden Hussar Regiment and the Hesse-Darmstadt Cheveau-Legers. I've seen numbers of the casualties for the brigade being 2/3s of the brigade (400 out of 600 present).

As for who won at the Berezina, the French executed an assault river crossing against a defending Russian army on the west bank of the Berezina river while simultaneously conducting a deception operation to keep the actual crossing point at Studenka from the Tshitshagov's army. The bridging operation and the deception operation were both successful as was the French defense of the west bank bridgehead. All of Tshitshagov's attacks were defeated.

On the east bank of the river Victor was successful against Wittgenstein's attempts to crowd in on the French bridgehead. Wittgenstein did defeat and capture Partenneaoux's French infantry division, but that was the only Russian success of the operation. Victor withdrew across the bridges when ordered in good order.

The entire operation lasted from 21-29 November 1812 and the French successfully crossed the river and continued their retreat. Losses were heavy on both sides, and at least 10,000 French stragglers and camp followers refused to cross and were captured and abused by Russian Cossacks.

Kutusov failed to arrive to support the other two Russian armies, undoubtedly on purpose, he telling Yermelov in effect that it was Tshitshagov's turn. Kutusov was probably tired of being beaten up by the Grande Armee.
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Re: Why you should check the original

Postby jf42 » October 23rd, 2017, 3:14 pm

So we can agree there was a good deal of blud and a considerable amountof tod as well as eis und schnee. Und wasser, nicht war?
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Re: Why you should check the original

Postby Senarmont198 » October 23rd, 2017, 5:51 pm

Agree. Then there was also the early thaw that hit before the bridges were built...along with freezing water in the river.
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