Whether diplomatic or mathematic, any problem can be solved by violence. This was best proven when we defeated the Dodo menace, driving those monsters to extinction. But Dodo aren’t the only animal humans have declared as the enemy. In 1932 the Australian government went to war with a group of 20 thousand Emus. After eight days of conflict Australia cancelled the operation.
The emus were victorious in their first, and for our sake, hopefully last war. This really happened and today it’s generally seen as the strangest war of all time. But there are many more unusual wars from history, some of which against other species of animal. Although less known today they are just as ridiculous as the emu war. Here are the ten most strange wars from human history.
The Goat War
As mentioned before, emus are not the only species to make war with humans. For centuries the small nation of Ecuador has been terrorized by the most dangerous animal of all: goats. Part of Ecuador is Galapagos, a group of islands known for having a number of unique species. It was here Charles Darwin once studied natural selection. But by the 1990, the same species he studied were now under threat of going extinct. 250 thousand goats called the islands home. But as a recent introduction they were devastating the natural environment. Eventually the Ecuadoran government decided to destroy the goats.
Trained sharp shooters were sent in on helicopters and told to kill every single goat. In one year 90 percent of them were dead. But there was a problem. The remaining ten percent were intelligent. They had learned that the sound of nearby helicopters was an omen of death and started hiding from it. This prolonged the war for years. So the military captured one goat alive, implanted a tracking divice, and released it again. After they simply followed the goat until she led them to other populations, and killed all they could find. This tactic proved successful and before long Ecuador was able to declare victory. At long last humanity had redeemed itself.
In the mid 19th century there was a lot of confusion over where the border between the united states and British Colombia was. No official agreement stated the border so it was up for debate and no one new. As a result there were some areas where British and American society overlapped. One of such areas was the San Juan islands, claimed by both sides. In 1859 an American farmer living on the island found a seemingly wild pig eating his crops and shot it. Turns out the pig was owned by a British citizen, who demanded 100 dollars in compensation.
The American protested, apparently saying “It was eating my potatoes” the Brit replied: “It is up to you to keep your potatoes out of my pig”. Where I come from, those are fighting words – and apparently they agreed as the situation soon evolved into a war. When British authorities tried to arrest the farmer, American soldiers came to the islands to defend him. The British sent 3 warships and soldiers of their own too. A state of war had now descended on them. Luckily it was a bloodless war since neither side were willing to kill or die over was pig. Yet still it took several months for the pig war to be resolved.
War of Jenkins’ Ear
In 1731 a merchant ship leaving the Caribbean was boarded by Spanish authorities, suspecting smugglers were on board. The ship’s captain, Robert Jenkins, was tied to the mast and had his left ear cut off. But he was no smuggler and soon returned to England. Jenkins assumed the British government would find his story EAR-resistible but no one seemed to care. However the situation 7 years later was very different. For various reasons many in Britain were now itching for an excuse to declare war on Spain.
Suddenly his EAR-regular story had value. Jenkins was invited to address parliament and tell members all about how he lost his ear. It was the excuse they had been waiting for and in 1739 Britain went to war with Spain. After nine years of conflict, hundreds of ships destroyed, and thousands of lives lost. It went down in history as the war of Jenkins’ ear, one of the most neglected and strange wars in our history.
Austria Vs Austria
Two centuries ago, Austria went to war with itself… sort of. At the time Austria was already at war with the Ottomans, two great empires wrestling from each others land. One night an Austrian scouting party was sent out to search for the enemy. But instead of Ottomans they found a band of gypsies, who sold them alcohol. After a while another group of Austrian soldiers came across the now wildly drunk scouts. Somehow the two groups of Austrians began shooting at each other. In the confusion, the scouts fled back to the main Austrian camp. The other group followed after, with the shooting continuing the whole time.
And then things got really bad. Officers at the camp thought they were an Ottoman force charging towards the camp, and opened fire. Artillery reigned down on them and the entire camp now believed they were under attack. After a while of every one shooting at themselves, the whole army was forced to retreat. According to some sources, Austria lost ten percent of their army that night. Other sources suggest no one died. Either way something very strange happened that night.
Battle of the Frogs
In 1758 something very strange happened in the small town of Windham, Connecticut. Lack of records from the time leave it’s exact nature unknown but it’s remembered as “the battle of the frogs”. According to the story it was a June night of that year. Everyone in the town were inside their homes sleeping peacefully. But they were suddenly awoken by a great sound coming from outside the town. They heard a sea of thumping roaring and screeching getting closer and closer. It immediately caused mass panic among locals. Some thought it was the start of judgement day. But most thought it was an approaching native army, which was possible considering this was during the French and Indian war – a conflict that saw both Britain and France employ native forces.
Multiple strange wars often overlap, that’s not the interesting thing here. Several locals grabbed guns and fired in the direction of the noise. Others fled to seek help. Only the next morning did they discover it’s cause. Just outside the town, hundreds of bullfrogs lay dead – as if two armies of frogs had gone to war with each other. When word of this frog war got out the people of windham became a national laughing stock. And although largely forgotten by the outside world, the story has become an important part of local identity. The town seal even still depicts a frog.
War of The Golden Stool
In what is now Ghana once stood the Ashanti empire, an independent kingdom known for resisting European rule. But the British eventually incorporated it into their empire. Frederick Hodgson was appointed it;s governor and he immediately made a huge mistake. The Ashanti people had this stool. It was their throne, sat on by the monarch. The golden stool was more than a throne, it was the symbol of legitimacy. Whoever owned it could claim power. To the Ashanti people the stool represented everything they took pride in, it was even on their flag. Well one day Hodgeson demanded they give the stool to him, so that he could occupy it.
Clearly he didn’t understand the significance of the golden stool. The Ashanti people weren’t going to let this random European guy sit on their sacred symbol. When British forces came to hunt down the stool they were attacked and forced to flee to a nearby fort. From here the rebellion grew, and a force of 12 thousand Ashanti besieged the fort. The war only ended three months later when British reinforcements arrived. Although a British military victory, the Ashanti never lost the golden stool… So I guess they won?
This one might not strictly belong on a list of strange wars. It’s a simulated invasion, rather than an actual war but I find it too interesting to not include. In a cold February day in 1942 the Canadian military disguised themselves as German soldiers and invaded the city of Winnipeg. They shut down churches, local newspapers and schools – and rounded up city officials for arrest/ Swastikas were erected on public buildings and they even started to loot museums.
Many locals had no idea this was just a military exercise and thought German forces had really invaded Winnipeg. But when everything returned to normal the next day, they were probably fine with it… probably. The whole thing was basically a big publicity stunt to scare Canadians into buying war bonds.
War of The Stray Dog
By the early 19 hundreds Greece and Bulgaria were both independent countries. But thanks to decades of border disputes tensions were high between them. So their shared border was highly militarized. In 1925 a Greek soldier stationed at the border had a dog with him, who he loved very much. While on patrol one day, the dog ran across the border into Bulgaria without warning. On instinct he ran after his dog, into Bulgarian land where he was shot dead by Bulgarian guards. Soldiers on both sides began to exchange fire. The Greek officer intervened, trying to get everyone to halt fire.
But then the Bulgarians just shot him too. When the Greek government got word of this they went mental. Greece invaded Bulgaria, seizing control of the border town Petrich. Part of Bulgaria was now being occupied by a foreign army all thanks to a dog running across their border. Before long the international community forced Greece to leave Bulgaria. Strangely, no one knows what happened to the dog.
The Cod Wars
The Uk and Iceland have gone to war three times since 1958, and every time it was over some fish. That’s 3 strange wars in record time! The waters around Iceland are rich in cod, long attracting British fishing boats. But in 1958 Iceland passed a law extending it’s exclusive fishing zone from 4 to 12 miles off it’s coast. But the thing is, no one’s scares of Iceland. Not since medieval times when it was full of Vikings. So the British fishing boats just ignored Icelandic law and kept operating, causing the first of three wars.
At one point the British navy was ramming Icelandic ships. Eventually the matter was solved with diplomacy. But in following years Iceland would extend the zone twice more, causing a new war on each occasion.
The War of The Bucket
If you’re making a list of unusual or strange wars, you should do it properly and include this next one. It’s the law. 14th century Italy was home to various city states competing with each other for dominance. In 1325 two of these city states went to war over a bucket. One day, soldiers from the city of Modena snuck into the city of Bologna, where they stole a bucked from the central well. The theft of this bucket was too great an insult for the Bolognese to take. So they declared war.
Determined to reclaim the bucket at any cost, Bologna raised an army of 32 thousand to destroy the 7 thousand soldiers of Modena. But somehow the outnumbered Modena force defeated them in battle, winning the war. The bucket was theirs to keep. It is said that bucket is still held in the Cathedral of Modena today. That is how two thousand people once died fighting over a bucket.