Monday, February 14, 2011

one thing leads to another

So we are going to Europe in late May for two weeks in Belgium and France. The bike-and-barge trip covers the area of Belgium that the Germans entered in the first 2 weeks of WWI, so I had to read up on that.

Mention was made there of France's self-confidence about its technological advances, so I had to go back a few years and read about that. Mention was made there that France wanted to make a big splash at the 1889 Fair, to get beyond the shame of the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, so I had to read about that.

At that point, I expected to have reached the end of my current historical research, but, of course, the Germans were itching for a fight in 1870 over lingering hostility over the territorial ambitions of Louis XIV and Napoleon - does that mean I need to go read about that stuff, too? I don't want to.

Every war seems to be a reaction to bad memories of the prior war, which has bad implications, going forward.

Most interesting factoids that I had not previously known: Both Phil Sheridan and Ambrose Burnside (Union generals in the American Civil War) were in Europe in 1870, 'observing' the Prussian army as it steam-rolled into France. Sheridan had also been in Mexico when it successfully booted out the French, so he already had a bias against the French. He seemed to thing the Prussians were on to something, military-wise.

Wonder what he would have thought about 1914, not to mention 1940.

No comments: