Monday, January 28, 2008

Wars you have never heard of.

My interest in military history being what it is, I have decided to do a series of posts on wars you have never heard of. This will be part one, and depending on how much zeal I can build up for this project, I will try and deliver a part two within months.

For part one, I thought I would mention a war that we, The United States of America, were in with Great Britain way back in the nineteenth century. No, not the War of 1812, but a little dust-up called, informally, "The Pig War".

The Pig War, properly called the San Juan Boundary Dispute, was a war that started because of boundary disputes between America and Great Britain over this little set of islands that sits between Vancouver Island and Oregon. You have probably never heard of the San Juan Islands unless you are from the Pacific Northwest, and there really isn't a whole lot to say about them past the fact that they are apparently a mountain bikers paradise.

Anyhoo, basically what happened is that an American shot a pig that happened to be owned by an Irishman who worked for the Hudson Bay Trading Company. The American offered to pay for the pig ($10.00), the Irishman asked for a ridiculous sum ($100.00), threatened to arrest the American and at that point US military forces deployed to protect American interests, which necessitated a reciprocation on the part of Great Britain.

There was a minor force buildup, and eventually the two combatant countries decided that going to war over a pig was stupid, so they just set up camp. For 12 years. For 12 years, two military forces camped out on the island, hung out with each other and got drunk together. Literally. Not a single person was ever killed as a result of this war. Finally, outside mediation in the form of Kaiser Wilhelm I decided in favor of the US and so the Brits left. End of war.

That, friends, is a short account of The Pig War, a war I am certain you have never heard of. Good day.

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