The Pig War
I doubt any of you ever heard of this… but as it’s in my back yard, and I was sailing through the straights yesterday, I thought I’d bring it to your attention.
Basically, it’s the 1850’s, and there are some disputed land claims over several Islands in the British Columbia, Washington State area…
To make a long story short, an Irishmen who let his pigs run wild, got miffed, when one of said pigs, ate an American’s potatoes.
Something to this effect:
Cutlar said to Griffin, “It was eating my potatoes.” Griffin replied, “It is up to you to keep your potatoes out of my pig.”) When British authorities threatened to arrest Cutlar, American settlers called for military protection.
Both sides petitioned for military protection, the British then outnumbering the Americans 5 to 1.
Years of Stand-off ensued, and the most dangerous thing on the island was Alchohol.
The cumulative years of dispute ended up being resolved decades later by no less than KAISER WILLHELM himself!
The governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, James Douglas, ordered British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes to land marines on San Juan Island and engage the American soldiers under the command of Brigadier-General Harney. (Harney’s forces had occupied the island since July 27, 1859.) Baynes refused, deciding that “two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig” was foolish.
Thank god for common sense!
Brigadier-General William S. Harney, commanding the Dept. of Oregon, initially dispatched 66 American soldiers of the 9th Infantry under the command of Captain George Pickett to San Juan Island with orders to prevent the British from landing.
For several days, the British and U.S. soldiers exchanged insults, each side attempting to goad the other into firing the first shot, but discipline held on both sides, and thus no shots were fired.
Thanks Garg. Enjoyed that.
Noticed these two interesting lines in the article.
You know my interest in the Civil War, so Pickett’s mention drew my attention. Forgot he was 9th Infantry.
The line about trading insults made me laugh too. Can just imagine it!
Thanks for sharing a funny story. I especially liked this part, after the initial unrest settled down:
During the years of joint military occupation, the small British and American units on San Juan Island had a very amicable mutual social life, visiting one another’s camps to celebrate their respective national holidays and holding various athletic competitions. Park rangers tell visitors the biggest threat to peace on the island during these years was “the large amounts of alcohol available”.
Ha Ha! I had not heard that I do remember Edward Porter Alexander was stationed their before the war and had some social interaction with british officers
I wonder what sports they played sounds like it was probably a drinking game:)
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