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"Favorite Historical Eccentric?" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian26 Mar 2012 5:04 a.m. PST

Gideon Welles, Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, was known for his unusual wig.

He bought the wig when his hair was brown, but continued to wear it when his full beard was snow white. (Yankee thrift?) He also pushed the wig back when working at his desk, and it ended up crooked at other times.

Who is your favorite eccentric figure from the annals of military history?

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2012 5:10 a.m. PST

Geoffrey Spicer-Simson. How can you not love a guy who managed to drag two gunboats to Lake Tanganyika and then appeared on the bridge of one wearing a dress?

Toy Soldier Green26 Mar 2012 5:10 a.m. PST


Sane Max26 Mar 2012 5:15 a.m. PST

Lee – given the option to fight a defensive war on his own ground against a vastly superior enemy, despite the succesful example of the American War of Independence, goes all out offensive for a win instead.

Gotta love that. Mad, or what?


Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2012 5:33 a.m. PST

I'd vote for Spicer-Simpson as well. A nice read about these exploits is: Mimi and Toutou's Big Adventure: The Bizarre Battle of Lake Tanganyika by Giles Foden.


John the OFM26 Mar 2012 5:50 a.m. PST

First person I thought of was Spicer-Simpson when I saw the title.
I guess I have to just say "Me, too!" on this one. grin

Ambush Alley Games26 Mar 2012 5:52 a.m. PST

Cochrane. He was an advocate of a steam-powered navy ahead of the curve (not to mention aerial bombardment and chemical warfare) but had the political acumen of, well, something with very little political acumen!


boy wundyr x26 Mar 2012 5:52 a.m. PST

Geoffrey Pyke, creator of golfing spies and pykrete/Habakkuk, and a lot more ideas, some of which even worked.

epturner Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2012 5:57 a.m. PST

John The OFM.

Sorry, but he's older than me…


Sumo Boy26 Mar 2012 6:38 a.m. PST

Orde Wingate.
"Wingate proved a short-lived protegé: closer acquaintance caused Churchill to realise that he was too mad for high command."

21eRegt26 Mar 2012 7:21 a.m. PST

Got to be Georgie Patton. War-lover, devote Christian, barracks foul-mouthed, reincarnated people, poet and historian. An incredible package of oddities or things that just don't go together.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2012 7:36 a.m. PST

Military: Jack Churchill.

General History: I've always rather liked Nikolai Tesla.

AlbertaAndy26 Mar 2012 8:17 a.m. PST

Frederick Burnaby:

Griefbringer26 Mar 2012 8:21 a.m. PST

I will have to second John the OFM.

Yesthatphil26 Mar 2012 8:24 a.m. PST

Rupert and his dog ….

… 21st Regt.

Got to be Georgie Patton. War-lover, devote Christian, barracks foul-mouthed, reincarnated people, poet and historian

… you forgot 'Bleeped texting in the Rhine' grin

But some might say that's just rude.

Tommy2026 Mar 2012 8:29 a.m. PST

Emperor Norton

Roderick Robertson Fezian26 Mar 2012 8:31 a.m. PST

Norton I, Emperor of These United States and Protector of Mexico


redbanner414526 Mar 2012 8:45 a.m. PST

"Old Blue Light" aka Jackson. I can just picture him sitting on a fence as his troops march by sucking a lemon with one arm stuck up in the air.

cavcrazy26 Mar 2012 10:08 a.m. PST

Murat….Did anybody dress any better?
Custer maybe……He was once described as a circus performer.
In both cases the clothes made the man…..or at least covered them.
They say Patton was a bit eccentric as well.

skippy000126 Mar 2012 11:14 a.m. PST

Theodore Roosevelt-There's a scene in 'The Wind and the Lion' where he is target shooting…and the targets were portraits of European heads of state…I'm hoping that is true.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2012 11:35 a.m. PST


Or maybe Fredrick Townsend Ward (the Devil Soldier)

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian26 Mar 2012 12:30 p.m. PST

I'll support his Highness, Norton as well

Altius26 Mar 2012 12:45 p.m. PST

I was fascinated when I read about Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, aka "The Mad Baron", but that may be a little beyond eccentric. I would not want to meet him, but fascinating, nonetheless.

DeanMoto26 Mar 2012 3:07 p.m. PST

William Walker

ancientsgamer26 Mar 2012 4:06 p.m. PST

Mad King Ludwig of course….

Louis XIV wasn't exactly well balanced either. I heard he liked an audience to applaud for him when he finished his duties in the loo.

Peter the Great and Catherine the Great have their interesting points as well.

If you are talking military commanders, Patton definitely belongs on the list. I would bet that our Russian gaming friends have a few WWII generals that weren't on an even keel either :o)

1815Guy26 Mar 2012 4:48 p.m. PST

Blucher has to be on the list!

elephant impregnated/garlic and gin medicated/Boney hating/pont de jena blowing/wenching and hard drinking septugenarian!

flooglestreet26 Mar 2012 4:57 p.m. PST

Braxton Bragg. He put himself up on charges, which has to make him the ultimate disciplinarian. He also did a lot to help the Union cause during the Civil War. The reality behind Jubilation T. Cornpone. I hope he never discovered how ridiculous he was, and I wonder why there is a fort named after him. Oddly enough, it is the center of the airborne army.

Etranger26 Mar 2012 6:01 p.m. PST

Mad Jack Churchill. Anyone who fights in WWII with a longbow and sword has to be high on any list of military eccentrics.

ratisbon26 Mar 2012 8:51 p.m. PST

Dan Sickles.

When attending Princeton at 16 he got the college president's teen daughter pregnant.

As a congressman, he shot Francis Scott Key's son six times in the groin in public in D.C. for having an affair with his wife, even though he was sleeping with almost every married woman in D.C. While being held in jail he was regularly visited by the good women of D.C. Stanton got him off with the first use of Temporary Insanity after which he went on with his philandering and his wife died of mortification.

He advanced his corps at Gettysburg and while it got wrecked it absorbed the Confederate blow and saved the Union position. In the process he lost a leg which he saved and sent to the Army medical museum.

Grant appointed him ambassador to Spain where he promptly entered into a not so secret affair with the queen leading him to be declared personna non grata.

On election night 1876, returning from a play he stopped by Republican HQs which was almost vacant on the assumption the Democrat had won. He examined the returns and ordered Florida be wired to "hold their returns." This advice threw the election into the House and led to a Republican victory.

Oh yes, even though he was a former Whig and good Republican from NYC he was a member of Tamany Hall, the most corrupt and powerful political organization of the era.

And that's only half of his story.

Bob Coggins

Anton Ryzbak27 Mar 2012 1:52 p.m. PST

Most decidedly Spicer-Simson, madder than most but he got the job done in style.

If you are emphsising the "eccentric" bit then Lord Erskine, Wellington thought him quite odd (and that was amongst Peninsular British Generals, who were a pretty odd lot to start with). If I remember the quote properly he stated (while complaining to Horse Guards about Erskine) "a certain maddeness accompanies everything he does"

OSchmidt29 Mar 2012 9:21 a.m. PST

Frederick William I, Frederick the Great's Father. A much better king and a person who built Prussia from a third rate to a 2nd rate power so that Frederick the Great could move it to the first rank.

J Womack 9430 Mar 2012 8:58 a.m. PST

His IMperial Majesty, Norton I

and Stonewall Jackson. Imbalanced arm. What a kook.

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