Logistics! The secret to winning wars! (It’s cool, trust me.)

Zach – Welcome to another exciting episode of Minimum Wage Historian! Today we have what at first glance isn’t a very exciting episode. But rest assured ye seekers of knowledge, it will be quite thrilling!
Anna – Zach, stop being weird.
Zach – Okay.
Anna – Today’s topic is the history of logistics, the science (or art to some) of moving enough men and materiel to the right place at the right time. Believe it or not but this is really what wins and loses wars. The mightiest battles are decided not on the field of battle, but on the roads with the supply trains.
Zach – To discuss this topic we have my co-host, Anna Komemne, first female historian and Byzantine princess. Then we have Hua Mulan, woman soldier of ancient China. Then we have Roman general, Scipio Africanus, defeater of Hannibal. Next up we have Boudica, awesome British barbarian woman general who led a revolt against Rome.

Boudica is here to talk history and kick butt. Not necessarily in that order.

Zach – Then we have Gaspar Correia, conquistador and “historian.” And finally we have Napoleon. Well, he bought us pizza if we allowed him to come.
Napoleon – That is absurd! You bought me pizza for the privilege of gracing your presence!
Zach – And Josephine talked me into it. I don’t know why I keep agreeing to her requests. Maybe because unlike certain Corsican generals, she is charming and quite nice.
Napoleon – Ha! Josephine has no power over my affairs!
Boudica – Why is that? Because she’s a woman? ( Reaches for sword. )
Napoleon – No, because she is stupid.
Zach – I’m telling her you said that.
Napoleon – No! Please don’t!
Zach – Too late.
Scipio – Enough! Let us begin, shall we?
Boudica – I do not take orders from a Roman!
( Boudica and Scipio draw swords. Mulan holds Boudica back and Gaspar taps his 10mm 1911 and everyone sits back down. )
Zach – Who scheduled Boadica and a Roman together?
Anna – You did. When I asked you about it you said you were too busy playing Skyrim and that you’d deal with it later.
Zach – Oh, dear. Did I say that? I must have meant I was too busy researching today’s topic.
Anna – No, you said Skyrim.

Zach – Sorry! I couldn’t resist!
Boudica – I must play this game. It looks like my home!

Zach – Agree to disagree. So….Logistics. When you look at all the wars fought in human history all but a rare few come down not to soldier’s weapons, armor, or even training. Those are all important and can play huge roles in a war, but in the big picture, what wins wars is logistics. Let’s start at the beginning…or near to it.
Anna – The Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittite’s and Egyptians used large baggage trains of wooden carts loaded with everything the army would need. There were as almost as many baggage people as fighters. The horses needed to graze and that took time and space. They also carried feed when grazing wasn’t an option, so that took up space and weight. They also needed to carry extra wagon parts because wooden wagons are prone to break, so that’s more space and weight. Then there’s the driver who also takes up space and weight and also needs to eat. There were also hosts of camp followers, family members, blacksmiths, washerwomen, etc.
Scipio – Ah! But let us move on to Alexander the Great. That man knew how to fight. His reformation of the classic phalanx was pivotal to his success, but he never would have made it as far and as fast if he hadn’t reformed completely his logistics. Instead of huge baggage trains, he had each soldier carry their own food and resupply was by ship. Once he captured the Persian ports he kept his army near the shore and constantly supplied by boat.
Mulan – Interesting how such a small change can effect everything down the line. No carts meant no horses which meant no feed which meant no spare parts which meant no drivers and so on. Sun Tzu in his mandatory “Art of War” talks a great deal about logistics, though he does not use that word. He said that there were five necessary parts of winning a war: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline. Method and discipline are what we would call logistics. Basically this was how to get an army where it needed to go with what it needed to have.
Zach – The first four parts are what we in the modern US army call, METTC, Mission, Enemy, Time, Terrain, Civilians.
Gaspar – Well, Sun Tzu did of course have aliens helping him transport Wu soldiers from place to place so I don’t know how much stock we can put into what he says.
Boudica – Who let him in here? Ignore him. I know I will. When I fought the Romans, I learned that to face them in open combat was undesirable. On the field they were undefeatable. So my forces would attack their supply lines. We’d attack at their weakest points, trying to starve them and demoralize them.
Scipio – I do say that the mindless barbarian does make a point. Starve an army and it cannot fight. When Hannibal invaded Italy, we Romans could not defeat him in battle, so my good friend General Fabian avoided fighting head on. He led Hannibal around Italy for years. He would have been annihilated if he had fought, so instead he let Hannibal’s army run out of food, local support and made them crawl back through the Alps to Spain. Meanwhile we attacked Carthage, but that is another story.
Zach – That is one way the Romans used logistics. Hannibal was so far from home that he had a hard time being resupplied. That wasn’t the only way the Romans used logistics. They also built many roads, roads of such high quality that many are still in use today. Now they didn’t build these roads out of the goodness of their hearts.

In Italy many modern roads are the exact same paths the ancient roads took and some Roman roads are still in use today.

Boudica – Romans have no goodness.
Anna – I must forcibly object! We Romans were trying to bring light to the world and make it a place of peace and prosperity.
Boudica – And instead you brought misery, enslavement and death.
Zach – Let’s save that for a later time, okay? As I was saying, the Roman roads weren’t to help weary travelers or large families going on vacation to Ceasar World, they were built so the armies could travel the breadth of the empire quickly. They had threats from all sides so they had to be able to move legions to where they needed them the most. This was the true reason for the success of the Roman legions. They could move whole armies with everything they needed to where they needed to be. They even invented granola as a way of having nutritious but transportable food.
Napoleon – Even I must admit that the Grande Armee’ used Roman methods and professionalism to move from victory to victory.
Zach – But then the Roman Empire fell and…
Anna – Excuse me!
Zach – Sorry, but then the Western Roman Empire fell and western Europe declined in the arts of war…among other things. But when the Crusades happened the Western Europeans were forced to learn quickly. At first their squabbling herds of smelly barbarians looted and pillaged their way to the Holy Land. This often led to starvation and lack of necessary supplies. When close to the coast the Pisans could keep them supplied by ship, but that wasn’t very regular or often. As the Crusades…
Anna – Crusaders were nothing but uncivilized ruffians: without organization or morality.
Mulan – I don’t like barbarians.

Matilda of Tuscany – Don’t listen to them. They’re prejudiced against us Western Europeans. Besides, we had more style.

Zach – ( My, we have a lot of ill feelings here today. ) So, during the course of the next few crusades, we have rapid advancements in the art of logistics. They became professional at moving large numbers of men and supplies over large distances.
Anna – In history books we read that most armies stopped campaigning during the winter months. This was because of logistics. In winter, the roads were either too muddy or too covered with snow to allow large armies to move through. Spring and summer were called the “campaigning season” for this reason.
Mulan – Now, bear in mind that we do not discuss winning battles. We are talking about winning wars. In battle victory or defeat can come down to one moment of chance or luck, such as Hastings or Sinking the Bizmark. Wars are different.
Gaspar – Or when the Emperor of Mankind fought the heretic Horus aboard his battle barge. It came down to the smallest of moments that determined victory or defeat.

Gaspar – Okay, I love the Horus Heresy books. So sue me.

Mulan – You got that from Warhammer 40k.
( Gaspar thinks while trying to come up with something. )
Gaspar – Okay, so I did, but you have to admit it was pretty cool.
Zach – Thank you, Hua, let’s look at the American Revolutionary War. How did General Washington defeat the mightiest army in the world? He managed to stay in the field and keep his army together. It’s that plain and simple. Washington was able to keep his troops fed (sort of ) and bullets in their muskets. He kept the supply chains going so he never surrendered. It was the British supply lines that were breaking down.
Anna – Now let us go to your American Civil War. The Confederacy continually defeated Federal armies time and time again. So, how did they lose?
Zach – They ran out of bullets, beans and blankets. When they marched into Appomattox they were tired, starving and almost out of ammunition. Few of them had a complete uniform left and all could use some good food. It was their lack of supplies that compelled Robert E. Lee to surrender.
Scipio – Sure, but how did the Confederacy reach this point of defeat?
Zach – Simple, the North strangled them. They blockaded Southern ports and captured the Mississippi. The Mississippi was like the super highway of the time. Once the North captured it, the South couldn’t use it to rapidly transport all manner of supplies. The North won because they deprived the Confederacy of the means of continuing the war. The South had far fewer railroads and many of those railroads weren’t standardized. For example: Florida had only a few railroads but they didn’t connect to any other state and if they had, they’d be different rail sizes so the trains couldn’t use them. Up North they had more than twice the mileage of the South and had standardized before the war started. They were able to move troops and supplies all the way from Main to D.C. in a short period of time. The South had no such option.
Anna – Also, throughout history, sieges were examples of winning by logistics. The side that couldn’t stay fed would leave or surrender. Often a besieging army was the side that couldn’t stay fed or warm while the people inside the city were happy, fed and warm. (See the Venetian History III for an example. )
Boudica – We must also discuss asymmetrical warfare or guerrilla warfare. The guerrillas often don’t have to worry about logistics in the same way. They fight for brief periods of time and then fade back into the population. Meanwhile the large conventional army struggles to keep armed and fed. Guerrillas will attack supply lines and steal food and ammo and deprive the conventional army of what they need to fight. It comes down to a matter of who gives up the will to fight first and not about winning battles.
Mulan – I was reading about you, Napoleon.
Napoleon – Oh? I assume you read how brilliant and undefeatable I am.
Mulan – No, I read about how you invaded Russia. ( Looks around room for Olga. ) The Russians retreated and left nothing for your troops to forage. Scorched Earth, I believe they call it. And Russia is such a vast, desolate place that by the time your army arrived in Moscow your lines were too thin. The Russians left nothing for you along the way and you found Moscow an empty collection of buildings.

Olga – Ha! Look at Frenchies running away! Enjoy the lovely weather!

Napoleon – Well…I…
Mulan – So, left with nothing, you turned back and marched back toward France. When winter hit, you did not have winter clothing or enough blankets. Your army froze to death and starved. Meanwhile the Cossacks were hounding you the entire way.
Scipio – I do say that invading Russia is never a good idea. Did you not read Zach’s post about Alexander Nevsky or the Teutonic Knights?
Napoleon – Shut up! All of you! We speak no more of this!
Boudica – That’s what you get for invading someone’s home.
Gaspar – That invasion of Moscow is a stroke of genius compared to 90% of the Crimean War 1853. It had been forty years of peace without a major battle in Europe and the officers had lost much skill in the art of war. They not only didn’t know how to keep armies supplied or read maps, but they actively scoffed at the notions! They viewed it as unmanly and beneath them.
( Zach sits there utterly stunned that Gaspar said something that wasn’t just coherent but actually true. Anna recovers from shock first. )
Anna – Indeed you are correct Mr. Correia. During the Crimean War, both sides failed in organizing their chain of supplies. We go now to the First World War. Unlike previous wars which were fought for objectives such as cities, rivers, forts or land, this was a war about attrition: the wearing down of the other side. This was a war about who would run out of men, money, food and bullets before the other side. The Germans used U-boats to strangle England and might have succeeded if the Americans didn’t keep them resupplied.
Zach – And during the First Wold War 2.0, also called WWII, its much the same. It was a war about destroying the other side’s means of keeping the three B’s flowing.
Mulan – Three B’s?
Zach – Beans, blankets and bullets. Again, Germany used U-boats to strangle England and the Americans used large convoys of rapidly made cargo ships to send the 3 B’s. These convoy ships that could be made in a hurry were called Liberty ships and were similar to what the Venetian Arsenal made. During the North African campaign, Rommel didn’t leave because he lost too many battles, he left because…(we promised never to use the “H” word.) …the ‘leader of Nazi Germany’ refused to keep Rommel’s army supplied. The American’s bombing campaign was to destroy the factories that kept the German war machine going. They went after Germany’s ballbearing factories and oil refineries. Also, Germany’s famed Panzer and Tiger tanks were very awesome and the Germans boasted that their Tiger can take out 10 American tanks…but there always seemed to be 11. Though the Sherman tank was kind of crappy by anyone’s standards, we were able to make them like potato chips. Crunch all you want, we’ll make more. Meanwhile, those Panzers and Tigers were very hard and complicated to make and they trickled out of the factory while the American tanks pored.

Perhaps the best tank of the war, but Germany just couldn’t build them fast enough because they were too complex and we kept bombing their factories.

Mulan – And the Russians were using the same rifle they used in WWI and had inferior equipment, but they were able to produce TONS of it and kept the supply going. They made so many Mosin Nagants that they still have warehouses full of them. They’re so common that you can find them still in used today. You can buy one for only $100. I own three.
Gaspar – I own one.
Scipio – I prefer the Enfield mkIV
Boudica – I like my Broadsword, and I don’t mean the sharpened iron sword on my hip.

The Broadsword in .308. Made by Crusader Weaponry. This pleases my inner historian.

Mulan – I love my Chinese SKS and AK-47.
Gaspar – I’m shocked that you prefer Chinese weapons.
Mulan – I’m a patriotic person. What can I say?
Zach – And now to fast forward to the first and second Gulf Wars, how was America able to defeat Iraq so easily? Simple, we were able to bring more guns and men to the fight than the Iraqis. Our logistics made the invasions possible assured a victory before a shot was ever fired. The logistics of the US military is astounding. We can move the bulk of our military from one end of the globe to the other. That’s how we can win conventional wars. ( Asymmetrical warfare is another issue altogether. )
Scipio – As the Romans were able to bring our armies to North Africa to defeat Carthage.
Anna – We Romans from Constantinople…
Gaspar – Byzantines.
Anna – Silence! We Romans fought more defensively than our Western Roman brothers and so our supply lines were internal and it made it easier on us.
Mulan – If there’s one thing China is good at it’s…
Gaspar – Food!
Mulan – …moving large numbers of people and supplies. Sun Tzu knew his business and he knew it well.
Napoleon – And what doomed Nazi Germany? Yes, yes, I know. He did not learn from my tragic mistake. What a world I could have made! Germany, once again invaded Russian and found vast wastelands and lethal winters. Logistics defeated Germany.
Zach – Good for you Napoleon. Get it off your chest. Well, I hope you all learned something about the nature of warfare. It’s not about who has the best gun, tank, plane, general or cool uniform. It’s about logistics, getting beans, blankets and bullets to the right place at the right time.

Teutonic Knights: Or, Germans are bad neighbors.

Teutonic might is put to the test today!

Zach – Welcome back to Minimum Wage Historian! Today we’ll be looking at the Teutonic order of knights. These guys fought in the Holy Land, Poland, Lithuania and Russian. The legend of these face wrecking knights has gone on to inspire generations of Germans and H&K fans everywhere.
Anna – Barbarians playing at empire while pretending to do so in the name of religion. That’s us Romans’ job!
Zach – Now, now, Anna, let’s give them a fair shake. I know you Byzantines aren’t fond of Crusaders, but let’s see if we can sort out the myth from the fact and come to some kind of conclusion about these Germanic knights.
Anna – They’re still barbarians.
Zach – Let’s get started by introducing our panel. Today we have Countess Matilda of Tuscany: Northern Italian leader who earned respect by the edge of the sword. Next we have Julius Caesar, dictator of the Roman Republic. And we have Buffalo Calf Road, Cheyenne warrior woman. Then we have Tomoe Gozen, woman samurai and head taker. Next is Gaspar Correia: Portuguese conquistador and “historian.” Then we have St. Olga of Kiev, a saintly Russian woman with a talent for blood soaked, revenge fueled destruction. Alright, let’s get started.
Olga – We are talking about Germans, da?
Zach – I see you didn’t read the research again.
Olga – Too long. Too boring.
Tomoe – It is our honorable duty to research the topics at hand!
Olga – Then you read, darling. You read and I eat hot pockets.
Caesar – I told you they were simply divine!
Olga – You, Caesar, are right about so-called “hot pockets.”
Anna – Getting started… The “Teutonic Order” or Order of Brothers of the German House of St. Mary in Jerusalem has its beginnings in the city of Acre, a city the Crusaders captured during the 1st Crusade. Their purpose was to help pilgrims get to Jerusalem and to establish hospitals.
Caesar – Sound like the other knightly orders that started in the Crusades, the Hospitlars and the Templars.
Anna – Yes, they were the German version of the more famous Orders and organized along similar lines.
Tomoe – They are like the Sohei monks of Japan. They are monks but they fight. And like the Sohei, the Teutonic Knights are not very well behaved.
Zach – I guess that depends on how you look at it. They were no less or more moral than any other European Order of Knights. However, Acre eventually fell back into the hands of the Turks and when Outremar fell, the Teutons left and headed to Transylvania which then belonged to Hungary, to fight nomadic pagans such as the Kipchaks and Cumans. While there, the Teutons began to set up shop and try to declare themselves an independent state with a nod to papal authority. Well the Hungarians didn’t go for that so they kicked the Teutons out.
Buffalo – So, these German knights moved in like bad relations and started acting like they own the place?
Zach – Yeah, pretty much. This will become their Standard Operating Procedure for the next few hundred years. After Transylvania, they went up to the Baltic area and began a crusade against the pagans that lived in the area of northern Germany, Belarus.
Gaspar – Let us not forget that while in Transylvania, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order fought the Master Vampire and was bitten. Once he became a vampire he in turn made his whole order into vampires. That is the real source of the Teutonic power.
Caesar – Umm…they had crusades in Germany?
Anna – Indeed they did, my dear Caesar. The Holy Roman Empire (upstart barbarians pretending to be Imperial) was a relatively civilized area, the the Baltic Germans were still semi-nomadic pagans.
Caesar – I see not much had changed in the twelve hundred years since I fought them.
Matilda – Germany was not a barbarian nation, Anna. I myself am a descendant of Germans.
Zach – Northern and Eastern Europe were actually quite popular destinations for crusades that didn’t want to bother going all the way to Palestine to fight infidels. Here’s a short list of a few notable nobles that went to fight crusades in the Baltics. King Waldemaro of Denmark
King Luis of Hungary, Gaston Febo, count of Foix, Wilhelm IV, earl of Hainault, Thomas Ufford, earl of Suffolk, Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick.
Anna – Pagans and heathens are just as good to kill in the north as they are in the Holy Land I suppose.
Zach – It carried the same benefits. If you die fighting Turks or Germanic pagans, then you’ll be forgiven of your sins all the same. Well, the Teutons, being German and all, decided to try their hand at fighting pagan Prussians. Prussians at this time were somewhat isolated and backwards and were the most archaic of Europeans. Caesar would have probably recognized them.

here’s an idea of the land the Teutonic Order took over.

Caesar – I’d go, I’d see, I’d conquer.
Matilda – The Teutons had a mandate from the Pope to forcibly convert the pagans. They were invited by a Polish baron to come in and help with their crusader activity. Any land conquered would go to the Polish. At this time Poland was split into many duchies and baronies.
Anna – That was the same deal Constantinople had with the Crusaders and it didn’t turn out too well for us.
Matilda – It didn’t turn out well for the Polish either. The Teutons began taking over land and declaring independence from the Polish and Lithuanians. Keep in mind that the Teutons were Germans but they did not represent Germany. They were their own separate entity and also consisted of Polish and knights from other areas.
Zach – The Teutons then began a massive military campaign against the pagan Prussians and slowly began conquering their lands. As part of their deal with the Church, they began to “Germanize” the Prussians. They’d teach them German, how to act civilized and how to act not so pagan. At this time a military was only as good as the land that supported it, so the more land the Teutons conquered, the stronger they became. There were never many Teutonic knights, but they’d raise armies from the civilized Prussians and hire mercenaries.
Anna – It wasn’t just Prussians they wanted to convert, but any Pagan. They went on Crusades against the Lithuanians who were sort of still pagan but when the King of Lithuania converted, thus cancelling the legal reason for the Crusade, they continued on fighting anyways. The Teutonic Knights went so far as Russia in their zeal for land and power.
Olga – Ha! Yes! They invaded Russia but looked what happened! Alexander Nevsky! That’s what happened! Battle of the Ice! Alexander fought Germans on frozen lake. Lake ice broke and into water goes the Germans!

The Battle of the Ice ended the Teutonic war against Novgorod. (A Christian kingdom BTW, but that never really seemed to concern the Crusaders.) Learn more about Nevsky and the Battle of the Ice HERE.

Zach – Not content with peace keeping actions against Prussian insurgents, the Teutonic Knights began invading their neighbor, Poland. This didn’t make for friendly relations. But then the few Prussian states that hadn’t been conquered by the Teutons asked Poland for help. They promised Poland that they’d join their kingdom if they could just get rid of the Teutonic Knights for them. Poland agreed because they wanted Prussia and they hated the Teutons. Sometimes it pays to make friends with your neighbors, a lesson Germany hasn’t learned.
Anna – This became what we call, the “thirteen Years War.” Poland and Prussian allies against the Teutonic order. The Poles created their own Knightly Order, the Order of Dobrzyn. (Though technically under the same government, Poland and Lithuania were at war so Lithuania didn’t send any help…it’s a feudal thing. It’s complicated.)

A Polish Knight. Poland had a mixture of Russian and German arms and armor and were strongly Nationalistic before Nationalism was cool.

Zach – The Polish had had enough of their expansionist neighbor and began uniting into a single kingdom. Poland started getting stronger and stronger and began to march against the Teutonic lands. The Polish queen, Sophia of Halshany, pushed Greater Poland into this war. The Holy Roman Empire sided with the Teutons but didn’t offer too much support.
Buffalo – So the oppressed pagans started fighting back against the invaders. I know who I’m routing for!
Olga – Yes! Go get those foul Germans!
Matilda – Hey, I’m partly German!
Olga – But I like your Italian parts better.
Zach – Remember the Hussites? Well, they were down south fighting against their neighbors so Bohemia or Hungary weren’t going to interfere. France and England were still worn out from the Hundred years war and Sweden and Denmark were busy being neutral and not getting in the way. Polish armies consisted of Nobles’ private armies, city militia and Czech mercenaries. The Teutons had to hire a lot of mercenaries to come close to equaling the Polish numbers. The war started with a Prussian and mercenary army besieging the Teutonic order’s castle at Marienburg.

The headquarters of the Teutonic order. One of the largest castles (land wise) in Europe and surprisingly in great shape!

Anna – So, the land war started. The Poles, now having access to the Baltic sea, began arming merchant ships and hiring privateers to fight the Teutonic Order. The Poles learned from the Hussites and used armored wagons with lots of guns and crossbows. Things were going back and forth with no side gaining advantage over the others. There were many battles with no clear winner. Then the Holy Roman Empire sent an army of reinforcements to help the Teutons. This caused Poland to do a mass conscription. These two massive armies met at the Battle of Konitz and the Teutonic Knights slaughtered the Polish army. The Poles retreated from Prussia and the Teutons began to spread all over taking city after city. The situation was desperate but the Polish king, Casimir IV, called another mass levee and hired more mercenaries. The nobles offered to bring their private armies in exchange for economic and political privileges, which Casimir quickly agreed to.

Casimir thinking, “Ha! Those Germans will never try to invade Poland again!”

Gaspar – The Polish then hired professional vampire hunters of the Van Helsing Order of Knights and started a covert war. Supported by the Corvinus royal house of Hungary, who were secretly werewolves, the war continued on well into the 20th century.
Matilda – You got that from Underworld.
Gaspar – Did not.
Olga – I love those movies!
Zach – The Polish marched out again and this time they were better prepared. This speaks something of Casimir’s leadership. He turned around a disastrous situation. Also, with their buffet of cities the Teutonic Order was capturing, they were spread thinner than they had been. The war continued to drag on and on for years with no side gaining any significant advantage. The poles would kick but, then get beaten by the Teutons. The Teutons would gain a city and then have their navy wiped out. Eventually though, the Holy Roman Empire started sending less and less money: money they needed to hire mercenaries, the bulk of their armies. Eventually the Polish simply exhausted the Teutonic Knights and Poland gained a part of Prussia, giving them access to the Baltic Sea and the Teutons got to live. They managed their own little kingdoms until the protestant reformation when northern Germany went to the protestants. The southern areas that remained Catholic continued on being Teutonic until Napoleon said “enough of that” and ended them as a governmental and military power.
Anna – There are still parts of the Teutonic order floating about but they exist as charitable and ecclesiastic groups. No longer are they sword wielding warriors of God.
Buffalo – Religiously minded Europeans invading smaller countries for land and wealth. I am utterly shocked. That was sarcasm in case I didn’t lay it on thick enough.
Matilda – The Teutonic knights were aggressive and ambitious. Perhaps they were too ambitious.
Olga – They broke rule #1 of being a military power: Do not invade Russia. Why don’t people learn?
Zach – That’s a lesson for us all. Never, no matter how tempting, invade Russian or mess with the Polish. The Polish resistance during WWII had a motto, “One bullet per German.” They fought the Nazis tooth and nail during the battle of Warsaw. That’s a fascinating story for another time.

Templar – Hey, how you Teutons doing?
Teuton – Oh, you know, usual. Invaded a few countries. Converted some pagans. Now we just kind of sit around and give candy to orphans and pose for German propaganda posters. How about you guys?
Templar – Well, we sort of disappeared with all our treasure and might have had something to do with the founding of America.
Teuton – Oh, yeah, we uh…we did that too.

Zach – To sum up, this was an unedifying war with no real outcome, reason or great cause.  Throughout all stages of the war both sides kept trying to negotiate a peace that both sides wanted but each was too stubborn to agree to.  The Teutonic Knights were typical of Medieval European Knightly orders.  They fought hard, had some of the best military training of their age.  The northern German/Prussian culture comes from the Teutonic knights and their forced conversion of the Prussian pagans.  They shaped modern Germany in terms of culture and heritage.  They came from a much different world than ours and at times we are tempted to attach our own cultural baggage to their deeds.   That can be done for good and bad.

Happy 4th of July

Zach – Happy 4th of July from Minimum Wage Historian!
Anna – So, you’re celebrating a successful rebellion?

Zach – It’s a little more than that. It was men who chose to break away from their government in order to be free. They chose to fight for their right for representation, for an end of tyranny.
Anna – What tyranny?
Zach – Well, let me use the words of Thomas Jefferson to explain why we rebelled, why men risked their lives to fight for liberty. He can explain it much better than I can. Here is the full Declaration of Independence.


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Anna – Wow. Even I wish to join a revolution after hearing that. I’ve never seen such ideals before.
Zach – No, what those men fought for had never been done before. They were a small, rag tag group of rebels fighting against the most powerful nation on Earth. They had little to no chance of success, yet they fought anyways.
Anna – This is a great reason to celebrate.
Zach – But not as great a reason to celebrate as the fact that we still live in a free country where the idea of liberty, independence and freedom are still alive. As long as we have these things we will continue to celebrate every year.
Anna – And you guys use the eagle as your symbol. As a Roman I can respect that.

That’s very lovely, Anna, but I think I’ll take THIS eagle instead….


Now that’s a friggin’ eagle. THAT’S how you do it!