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“The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but as A

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“The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but as A

Postby USM » October 17th, 2013, 12:53 am

Amusingly enough, you can still see references to this period popping up in modern publications. What I find interesting is that for the most part the public's awareness of the Napoleonic era has faded well into obscurity and yet you still see something like this.

A Royal Marine sergeant toasting his American counterpart of equivalent rank on the spar deck of a frigate (a carronade is seen in the background) Their two emblems are showing on the pitchers.

No such peaceful encounter ever happened. Lord knows the Leathernecks herded the Bootnecks into the ship's hold and watched them from across the muzzle of a Blunderbuss after the many squadron and frigate triumphs.
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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 22nd, 2013, 12:22 am

The ideal of war is a civilised disagreement in which no hard feelings are harboured. I guess that's what we're going for in this pic.

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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby USM » October 22nd, 2013, 1:47 am

Certainly, that's one way of looking at it.

Officers of this period were definitely convinced they were continuing on some chivalric tradition and would hail one another prior to an engagement. I read something that linked the Age of Chivalry to the 19th century and how the aristocratic/upper class officers wanted to see themselves in the same light.
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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby Student of 1812 » October 22nd, 2013, 1:55 pm

Or is this a case where a graphic artist is not 'semper fi'? [for those not aware, semper fidelis is the USMC motto]

My blood pressure rose recently in relation to a new statue of Gen Brock for Guernsey when the BBC reported the Canadian sculptress, Ms Alison, as saying "I only have to change a few things, such as the boots, I'm working with Peter Twist and Robert Henderson - they did Pirates of the Caribbean - they're really, really knowledgeable about costume."
Officers of the British Army did not and do not wear ‘costume’!
Rather than turn to Hollywoood, Ms Alison should be consulting military sources on uniforms such as The Canadian War Museum, which holds Brock’s bullet-holed coatee. Because there is thought to be only one, small, authentic picture of Brock showing his face, painted a few years before his death in 1812, capturing Brock’s physical likeness with any degree of accuracy is a major challenge in itself without recourse to deviating from the ‘knowns’ of military uniforms and accoutrements of the period.
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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 22nd, 2013, 3:06 pm

Leatherneck Gunner wrote:Certainly, that's one way of looking at it.

Officers of this period were definitely convinced they were continuing on some chivalric tradition and would hail one another prior to an engagement. I read something that linked the Age of Chivalry to the 19th century and how the aristocratic/upper class officers wanted to see themselves in the same light.


I agree, it's the officer and gentlemen bit, though was was beginning to change, customs and codes of conduct were as much a badge of rank as an eppaulette or a sash.
It was certainly true of the later stages of the peninsular war, indeed all ranks prefered the French to the Spanish, the picketts got very chummy, used to pop over for a chat during the night and swap booze, officers, especially aristocratic ones who could usually speak French likewise could separate professional and personal feeling, if you didn't walk the walk and talk the talk then you couldn't be a gentleman and as such, not a proper officer *affixes monocle*.
Any of that go on in America by the by?

Odd choice about that statue, student, all I can do is helplessly shrug.

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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby USM » October 23rd, 2013, 11:41 pm

Josh are you saying British officers used French as a leg up over the regular class of soldiers?
I've heard that being the case during the Hundred Years war but not as recent as 1810s.
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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 24th, 2013, 11:11 am

Leatherneck Gunner wrote:Josh are you saying British officers used French as a leg up over the regular class of soldiers?
I've heard that being the case during the Hundred Years war but not as recent as 1810s.


I more meant that it made it easier for them to talk to their enemy, their birth status, family lineage and breeding was what set them apart and indeed over their soldiers.
It wasn't an uncommon thing throughout Europe for officers of good families to be able to speak French as a second language, if you believe Tolstoy they were all at it, and used it as a common language, Wellington had to converse with his Spanish and Prussian allies in French for instance.

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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby USM » October 27th, 2013, 4:18 am

Very interesting, thank you.
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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby Shannon Selin » October 10th, 2016, 7:35 pm

Apologies if this misleadingly revives and changes the direction of this thread, but having searched the Forum in the hope of learning whether the Duke of Wellington could speak Spanish, I gather -- based on Josh's comment above -- that he could not. Did he pick up any rudimentary understanding of the language when he was in the Peninsula? Josh, if you (or anyone else) has come across a contemporary source that comments on Wellington's ability (or lack thereof) in Spanish, that would be hugely appreciated. The context - I'm wondering how much he might understand of what a native Mexican is about to fictionally say to him.

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Re: “The War of 1812: No More Will We Fight as Enemies, but

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 10th, 2016, 8:41 pm

Hi, Shannon.

Back in 2013 I laboured under the impression that Wellington couldn't speak Spanish to any high degree. However evidence uncovered in the past two years suggests he could do so fluently enough to write letters in the language and understand speeches.

Forum member Txapo alerted me to a book about General Alava written by Gonzalo Serrat which claimed to have used copies of up to 50 letters written to Alava by the Duke. Further, in the book, "Wellington's dearest Georgy" published this year by Alice Marie Crossland clarifies this even more by showing us the Spanish bible he is recorded as reading to practice (in Longford and Holmes), when he first sailed to the Peninsula. Apparently lady De Ross remembered him talking of how it was so accurate a translation that he was able to understand a speech given for him soon after he landed after reading it.

The NWF thread is here.
http://www.napoleonicwarsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=1535&p=16438&hilit=Alava#p16438

Now before we get carried away, all of this aside, we should remember that in his meeting with General Cuesta in 1809 he relied on an interpreter of Irish origin General O'Donjou who interpreted his or English into Spanish because Cuesta refused on principle to speak in French. Therefore we may gather that by 1812-14 Wellington had reached a certain fluency in Spanish, but since he had been partly educated in Belgium and France preferred to use that language for important matters. Though one critic said he spoke French the way he fought them.
Another interesting facet is the fact he was nearly sent to give aid to the South American revolutionaries instead of to Portugal. General Miranda had come to Britain to enlist support against the Spanish, at the time Britain was ostensibly at war with them. And Miranda thought the British were going to help. Unfortunatley for him, the Portuguese rebelled against France and Wellesley's force was directed there. Wellesley broke the news to Miranda on a London street, and the revolutionary gave a very loud and hot headed response, which embarresed Wellesley and forced him to break off the interview. I've never given much thought to what language this exchange would've been spoken in. I assume Miranda could speak English, but it's not out of the question that Wellington was already preparing some sort of langauge base.

This being the case I would think that so long as the Mexican is not saying anything to difficult, he would be able to understand most of what he is saying or at least the general thrust of it, though always bearing in mind Wellington's Spanish was Castillian.

And I'll be posting a review tonight or tomorrow of the Crossland book. I will further be writing a post about Wellington's language skills soon as well.

Hope this helps.
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