The Pig War: Japan and China and an island dispute from long ago.

While watching Zulu for about the bajillionith time, I was curious about the British military strength back in the 1800s worldwide. I did a quick search of Wikipedia and came across a list of all British military engagements over the centuries. One of them sort of stuck out, primarily due to the random name:  The Pig War

San Juan island lays inbetween the US and Canada just up from Seattle.  In 1859, an American farmer shot a roaming pig that was owned by an employee of the Hudson Bay Company. The farmer offered $10 in compensation, but the owner demanded $100.

And this led to military action.

US troops (including George Pickett of Pickett’s Charge fame) landed on the island, and British navy sent in ships.  The US sent in more canons and the British prepared to deploy some Marines.  The orders from the Canadian governor was to a British Rear Admiral was to “engage the American soldiers” but the Admiral refused.

“Two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig” would be foolish he is quoted as saying.

Troops from both sides occupied the islands, exchanging insults and occasionally swapping alcohol and other goods. When word got back to Washington and London the leaders were flabbergasted that something like this was about to go to military action.  They agreed on binding arbitration which was eventually decided in favor of the US.

Now, 150 odd years later, we have China and Japan fighting over another silly little island, this time not about pigs but about oil. So as to avoid the braindead QQ puppets and Japanese nationalists who pummel any posting about the islands with moronic jingoistic claims, I’ll forgo delving into the underlying claims of either country. But I will point out that a British Rear Admiral at the time had more sense than any number of politicians to keep things sane and under control rather than risk a battle between two superpowers over something as silly as a tiny island. Sadly I don’t think the players in either country in today’s battles has half as much sense.