How the Austrian army once accidentally managed to defeat itself
You know the old saying, “It takes two to tango?” Back in 1788, the Austrian army proved that that wasn’t necessarily the case when it comes to war. In a story so unbelievable some historians doubt it’s validity, a few bottles of booze and a prank gone horribly wrong may have been the spark that caused an army to accidentally defeat itself.
Joseph II gets his conquest on
It all began with Joseph II, who at the time was ruling what had formerly been known as the Holy Roman Empire. Perhaps due to the facts that it was neither all that holy or even Roman, it had also begun to be called the Austrian Empire instead. Anyway, Joseph had all these awesome ideas for helping get his kingdom up to date on all the newest fads the Enlightenment had to offer.
He decided that probably the best move was to go ahead and attack the Transylvanian Turks, you know, to spread the good news about Christ and all. So he pulled together an army and set out to show the Turks who was boss. Unfortunately, the army chose the worst campground ever, because soon everybody started catching malaria. Though 33,000 men were down and sick himself, Joseph refused to back down.
The calvary bogarts the booze
Things went from bad to worse one night when the army was passing this town called Karansebes. Along the way, some of the calvary guys spied some locals selling liquor. When some of the infantrymen wanted to get in on the action, however, the cavalry got all greedy and chased them off so they could keep all the booze for themselves.
So the infantry guys got this bright idea to mount a fake attack on the already buzzed calvary guys, pretending to be the Turks. When the cavalry guys caught on, they joined in the fun by returning the same cries and firing off a few drunken shots.
What didn’t occur to any of these guys was that no one else is the still large, booze-less army had any idea what the hell was going on. Assuming they were under attack, they began to return fire and basically mass panic ensued.
Though the army’s officers attempted to restore order, their orders were mostly mistaken for more battle calls and the firing continued. It was only when day broke that the horrible truth was revealed and the Austrians realized that they had defeated themselves. The moral of the story? Seriously, just share your booze.