WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Kingdom Come

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Kingdom Come

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, the day when we honor those who gave their lives in battle while serving in the Armed Forces. It’s ones of the greatest sacrifices one person can perform for another, and should never be taken lightly nor forgotten.

I write romances set during the Regency, but this period overlapped with the Napoleonic Wars, and military casualties were great. Record-keeping was not as instantaneous as it is now, so losses have to be tallied in the estimates rather than specifics, but even when rounding low, the numbers are still staggering.

I’m one of those historians who believes in keeping the aggressor’s casualty numbers separate; though those fighting are not necessarily there by choice nor ideology, I’ve always felt there’s something disrespectful in placing the perpetrators alongside the defenders on the memorial sheets. It’s a personal preference only.

Battle of Borodino, 7th September 1812, by Louis-François, Baron Lejeune, 1822, Palace of Versailles. The Battle of Borodino, or Battle of Moscow, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars.

Kingdom Come

He is gone to kingdom come, he is dead.

Battle of the Pyrenees, July 28th 1813, by William Heath, between 1814 and 1815, Bibliothèques de Toulouse.

Coalition forces

  • 120,000 Italian dead or missing.
  • Russian: 289,000 killed in major battles.
  • Prussian: 134,000 killed in major battles.
  • Austrian: 376,000 killed in major battles.
  • Spanish: more than 300,000 military deaths
  • Portuguese: up to 250,000 dead or missing.
  • British: 311,806 dead or missing.
  • Killed in battle: 560,000–1,869,000
  • Total: 2,380,000–5,925,084

Duckworth’s Action Off San Domingo, 6 February 1806, by Nicholas Pocock, 1808,National Maritime Museum.

Royal Navy

  • Killed in action: 6,663
  • Shipwrecks, drownings, fire: 13,621
  • Wounds, disease: 72,102
  • Total: 92,386.

Defence of Smolensk, by Aleksandr Averyanov, undated.

British Army, 1804–1815

  • Killed in action: 25,569
  • Wounds, accidents, disease: 193,851
  • Total: 219,420

The Battle of Leipzig, by Vladimir Ivanovich Moshkov, undated. This battle involved over 600,000 soldiers, making it the largest battle in Europe until World War One.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Pluck

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Pluck

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, the day we remember and honor those who died in active service to our country. Lives that were given to safeguard freedoms and protect those who stayed behind.

Without detracting from or denigrating the sacredness of this special day, I still wanted to use a slang term appropriate for today’s observation. I also found quotes from perhaps England’s most celebrated military general, the Duke of Wellington. Please indulge me as I use the words from the early 19th Century to illustrate the timelessness of the effects of war.

Pluck

Courage, boldness, (1785). Perhaps influenced by figurative use of the verb in pluck up (one’s courage, etc.), attested from c. 1300.

“Up, Guards, and at them again.”

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, at the Battle of Waterloo, as quoted in a letter from Captain Robert Batty, 1st Foot Guards (22 June 1815).

The Battle of Waterloo: The British Squares Receiving the Charge of the French Cuirassiers, oil on canvas, Henri Félis Emmanuel Philippoteaux, 1874, Victoria and Albert Museum

“It has been a damned serious business… Blucher and I have lost 30,000 men. It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.… By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there.”

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington; quote documented by Thomas Creevey, from a series of interviews he had with the Duke of Wellington at his headquarters after the Battle of Waterloo. From Chapter X of his book Creevey Papers.

La Bataille de Waterloo 18 Juin 1815 (The Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815), oil on canvas, Clément Auguste Andrieux, 1852

“The history of a battle,” says the greatest of living generals, “is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance…. It is impossible to say when each important occurrence took place, or in what order.”

From Wellington Papers, Aug. 8, and 17, 1815, as documented in The History of England from the Accession of James II (1848) by Thomas Babington Macaulay, Volume I Chapter 5.

Am Morgen nach der Schlacht von Waterloo (The Morning After the Battle of Waterloo), John Heaviside Clarke, 1816

Sir Walter Scott documented these observations of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), in Paul’s Letters to His Kinsfolk (1815):

On another occasion, when many of the best and bravest men had fallen, and the event of the action seemed doubtful, even to those who remained, he said, with the coolness of a spectator, who was beholding some well contested sport, “Never mind, we’ll win this battle yet.” To another regent, then closely engaged, he used a common sporting expression; ” Hard pounding this, gentlemen; let’s see who will pound longest.”

All who heard him issue orders took confidence from his quick and decisive intellect, all who saw him caught metal from his undaunted composure. His staff, who had shared so many glories and dangers by his side, fell man by man around him, yet seemed in their own agony only to regard his safety.

Sir William Delancy, struck by a spent ball, fell from his horse—”Leave me to die,” he said to those who came to assist him. Also, the lamented Sir Alexander Gordon, whose early experience and high talents had already rendered him the object of so much hope and expectation, received his mortal wound while expostulating with the General on the personal danger to which he was exposing himself.

Lieutenant-Colonel Canning, and many of our lost heroes, died with the Duke’s name on their expiring lips. Amid the havoc which had been made among his immediate attendants, his Grace sent off a young gentleman, acting as aid-de-camp, to a general of brigade in another part of the field, with a message of importance. In returning he was shot through the lungs, but, as if supported by the resolution to do his duty, he rode up to the Duke of Wellington, delivered the answer to his message, and then dropped from his horse, to all appearance a dying man. In a word, if the most devoted attachment on the part of all who approached him, can add to the honours of a hero, never did a general receive so many and such affecting proofs of it; and their devotion was repaid by bis sense of its value and sorrow for their loss.

“Believe me,” he afterwards said, “that nothing, excepting a battle lost, can be half so melancholy as a battle won. The bravery of my troops has hitherto saved me from that great evil; but, I win even such a battle as this of Waterloo at the expense of the lives of so many gallant friends, it could only be termed a heavy misfortune were it not for its results to the public benefit.”

 

Over all our happy country – over all our Nation spread,
Is a band of noble heroes – is our Army of the Dead.
~ Will Carleton