1. Let's start off with the one that leaped to mind when I saw the title. In 1757, the Empress Maria Theresa created an Order named after herself. While not actually awarded for disobedience to orders, the Order could only be won by "successful military acts of essential impact to a campaign that were undertaken on [the officer's] own initiative, and might have been omitted by an honorable officer without reproach," which certainly includes a clever disobedience to orders. The Order was awarded until 1918, when the empire that awarded it collapsed. What country honored its officers with the Military Order of Marie Theresa? Your Answer: Austria I first learned of this order through "Ripley's Believe it or Not," and was seriously disappointed to learn that it was not, in fact, awarded for disobeying an order. Although, since "Swords Around a Throne" describes Austrian generals as a "feather-pated bunch" who often "furbared" situations, I bet that most of the time the recipient did act against orders. One of the people who won the award in the First World War was Georg Ludwig von Trapp, who inspired "The Sound of Music." For the record, Belgium, France, and Sweden did not have empires that collapsed in 1918.
2. In 1801, the British and Danish fleets fought the Battle of Copenhagen. The British were commanded by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, with Vice-Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson as second-in-command. As the battle heated up, Admiral Parker gave Nelson the order to withdraw, an order he expected Nelson to disobey. Nelson did disobey the order, but claimed he could not obey the order because he could not see it. What fact gave Nelson's claim some plausibility? The correct answer was Nelson was blind in one eye.. Nelson had lost the sight in his right eye in 1793 in a shore engagement in Corsica. According to Tom Pocock's biography, Nelson said "'You know, Foley, I only have one eye â€” I have the right to be blind sometimes,' and then holding his telescope to his blind eye, said "I really do not see the signal!'". Nelson also lost his right arm in 1797
3. One of the most famous cases where orders should have been disobeyed, or at least questioned, is the Charge of the Light Brigade. The Charge, made famous by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem in 1854, involved both a misinterpreted order and personal animosity. In which war did the Charge of the Light Brigade occur? The correct answer was The Crimean War. The general in charge of the Cavalry Division, George Bingham, the Earl of Lucan, loathed his subordinate, James Brudenell, the Earl of Cardigan, and the feeling was
mutual. The British commander, Lord Raglan, had ordered the Light Brigade to seize some Russian guns, but the order was misconstrued to a near-suicidal charge against other Russian guns. The Earl of Cardigan questioned the order, but the Earl of Lucan, possibly prompted by personal dislike, refused to change the orders. As Tennyson said, "Theirs not to reason why,/Theirs but to do and die" (Not "do or die," as often misquoted). Of the 600-some who made the charge, about 238 became casualties
4. Of course, the most extreme examples of orders that should have been disobeyed concerns the Holocaust. The defense of "I was just obeying orders" was used at the Nuremberg Trials (even though it was specifically barred) and is now known as "The Nuremberg Defense." At a lower level, though, there's another defense, that if the party had disobeyed the order, they would have been killed for their insubordination. Approximately how many German soldiers were killed for refusing an order to participate in the Holocaust? The correct answer was Approximately none. In "Hitler's Willing Executioners," Daniel Goldhagen points out that not only is there no record of anyone being executed for refusing to carry out the acts of mass murder that constituted the Holocaust, there are records of people refusing the orders and being transferred to other duties rather than punished. Moreover, Goldhagen points out that some German units considered an order to sign a pledge that they would not loot to be a stain on their honor and refused, but raised no protest against the order to kill unarmed civilians. I acknowledge that Goldhagen's book is controversial, but to my knowledge, no one has ever produced a case of a person refusing such an order and suffering punishment.
5. While we're on the subject of Nazi War Crimes, one of the more repugnant (like mass murder isn't repugnant enough) events was a set of medical experiments performed by doctors with more interest in answering questions than any shred of human decency. Which one of these acts was NOT performed in the name of science? The correct answer was People were deliberately infected with AIDS.. There were a whole bunch of horrible experiments. I've only referenced the ones that were easiest to make into answers. Rather than go into the disgust I feel for doctors using people as experimental animals, I'll point out that the fact that some of these experiments were performed poses an ethical dilemma today. It seems that the Nazi hypothermia experiments provide almost all of the support for what we know about humans freezing and the methods of warming them. The question then, is whether we can ethically use data that was derived from the torture and murder of people.
6. On July 1, 1916, the British Army experienced the single bloodiest day in its history. By the end of the day, the Army had lost 57,000 men, virtually
destroying the formations involved. (The First Newfoundland Regiment, for example, suffered a casualty rate of 91%.) One of the reasons that the casualties were so high is that the British planners assumed that the German trenches and barbed wire would be destroyed by artillery bombardment. Had anyone checked, they would have notice that the fortifications were largely intact. What's the name of the battle? The correct answer was The Battle of the Somme. Here's what happened. After a week-long bombardment, 13 divisions went "over the top." Their tactics were flawed, and the bombardment hadn't done much to destroy the German fortifications. As a result, the British took enormous casualties and gained virtually nothing. By the time the Somme Offensive ended in November, the British would have recaptured 2 miles of France from the Germans and suffered 420,000 casualties. That means that three men became casualties for each inch of France recaptured. If that wasn't tragic enough, the British formations were made up of volunteers organized into battalions by region, so the losses hit the various communities especially hard. Basically, some communities lost an entire generation of young men on a single day. For the record, the Battle of Cambrai took place in 1917 and is considered the first tank battle, the Battle of Dunkirk took place in 1940, and the Battle of Jutland was a sea battle.
7. In 1992, the USS Saratoga fired two missiles into the bridge of the Turkish destroyer TCG Muavenet, killing five people. The launch occurred because the officers supervising a missile-firing drill failed to notice that the orders being issued by an operator indicated firing a live missile rather than a simulation. There's a term for this type of situation, where someone or something gets shot by their own side. (Some people cite it as an oxymoron, but it's still used.) What is it? Your Answer: "Friendly Fire" The biggest problem with this question was avoiding using "furbar" and "SNAFU" as wrong answers, because both of them are plausible as right answers. Friendly fire happens a lot, with "a lot" meaning "with alarming regularity, no matter what we do to prevent it." For the record, "LFRB" is the term for a small inflatable boat, with the initials standing for "Little F---ing Rubber Boat," "Military intelligence," while arguably an oxymoron, has nothing to do with making a mistake on an exercise, and "Maggie's Drawers" is slang for the red flag formerly waved on a rifle range when the shooter has completely missed the target.
8. In November 1942, the Russian Army closed a ring around the German Sixth Army, resulting in its isolation and eventual destruction in February 1943. The Russians were able to isolate the Sixth Army because Hitler had set his sights on
a particular city, leaving Sixth Army's flanks to be guarded by inferior Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian units. The Germans launched an offensive to relieve the forces trapped in the city, but the offensive failed, partially because General Paulus obeyed Hitler's orders to stand fast and did not attempt to break out of the city. What's the name of the battle? The correct answer was Stalingrad. Hitler was partially motivated by the propaganda use of capturing and holding a city named for Josef Stalin. Also, Hitler consistently issued "stand fast" orders, often stating that because of his troops' superior motivation, they would be able to resist. Hitler was basically a nut case on the subject, and many of his "stand fast" orders resulted in the destruction of major army formations. I highly recommend a book named "Hitler's Mistakes," which makes reference to these tendencies. It's also worth noting that Hitler was a veteran of World War I trench warfare, where holding the line was far more possible. The Germans and their allies lost a quarter of a million troops at Stalingrad.
9. Okay, the only chance we have of avoiding atrocities is if people refuse to obey certain orders. But we can't just let everyone vote on what orders they want to obey - after all, many orders go against the strong instinct for selfpreservation. So, in the US Military, orders are presumed to be lawful (and must be obeyed) unless they are "patently illegal." What's an example of a "patently illegal" order? The correct answer was An order to commit a crime.. The basic rule of thumb is that if it's a military duty, then it's going to be a lawful order. If it involves something that requires a crime, then it's patently illegal. The wrong answers are "wrong" for the following reasons. 1) A person ordered to destroy a bridge should presume that the destruction of the bridge is a military duty, and cannot lawfully disobey. 2) An order to kill or capture someone is a military duty, so long as the word "capture" is included. An order to kill someone might be legal if the President authorizes it (see the killing of Admiral Yamamoto in World War II and the West Wing episode "We Killed Yamamoto"). 3) Adultery is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (which therefore means it's a "crime" for a military person to do it) and therefore, an order to stop doing it is inherently legal
10. July 3, 1863. The third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. General Robert E. Lee, in command of the Confederate States' Army of Northern Virginia, is up against Major General George Meade and the United States' Army of the Potomac. Lee hit the Union left on the first day, he tried the Union right on the second, and now he's ordered a massed assault on the center. Despite a preliminary bombardment, the attack is a disaster. 12,500 men leave the
Confederate front, and 6,000 come back. What's the name for Lee's failed attack? The correct answer was Pickett's Charge. I am of the opinion that Lee is generally overrated, and Pickett's Charge is why. Not because it was a bloody failure, but because Lee had tried the exact same maneuver (uphill infantry assault into the teeth of prepared artillery and protected infantry) in July of 1862, as well as shattering a Union version at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862. Grant, for all his faults, never made the same mistake twice. Lee did, and it was a particularly memorable mistake