August 2006

ASK THE SMART GUY: Monthly column by Dennis Latham.

Young Hero. The photo shows young Dennis Latham as a U.S.Marine during combat in Vietnam.

young Dennis Latham as a U.S. Marine during combat in Vietnam This month the Smart Guy ponders military history. We always read about heroic battles and the glory of war. Daily existence during any war can be full of oddities, most of which are never reported. The sample chapters below contain two examples of military history you will never find in the books.

The first is Chapter 14 of the novel Sissy Creek: The U.S. Civil War Battle No One Mentions

The second is Chapter 9 of the novel A Crappy War: Hannibal Crossing the Alps.

Dennis Latham and Far Sector SFFH posted the following notice in every issue of the magazine. Dennis, a genuine combat veteran, leaves the fun stuff aside and becomes totally serious here… he gave valuable info and counsel from his expert researches to thousands of U.S. military veterans. Any now-defunct links are of historical value only; contact info deleted in website renovation. [JTC 2021]

Having problems from combat? Visit [lost link] to get help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), VA Compensation, and more. Obtain The S-2 Report and other pamphlets from Dennis Latham Publishing. For real now: Having problems from combat? Visit [lost link]. "I'm always available at [lost phone number] to veterans and counselors when they have a question or just want to talk."—Dennis Latham.

Short Excerpts from Books You’ll Never Get To Read Or: War and Plumbing

Ed. Note: Literary buffs will recognize a literary technique used by the great Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Rather than write long works amid failing eyesight and other problems, Borges often wrote fictional short stories supposedly about encyclopedias that never existed, and other important gates of Virtual Reality. Mr. Latham here used a similar technique to good effect (humor). [JTC 2021]

From the novel Sissy Creek: The U.S. Civil War Battle No One Mentions

Chapter 14

Captain Thornwhistle checked his troops behind the barricade. Satisfied his men had stowed their weapons, he glanced over the wall as Rebel troops, also without weapons, came in perfect file toward his Union Regiment.

"Okay, men, get ready," Thornwhistle said. "We'll show these Rebs we can beat them even without firing a shot."

His men tensed, awaiting the assault. Thornwhistle raised his telescope and checked the rows of enemy troops. He saw his counterpart, Captain Wienerhauser. They had shared quarters at West Point and were Regular Army, not mere inductees. Wienerhauser had defected to the Confederate side. They would now have to face each other to see who was the best. Thornwhistle lowered his telescope, saluted Wienerhauser, and motioned his men up over the wall.

"Can I go pee, sir?" a trooper said.

"Stow it, private. I won't have any slackers. Up and over that wall, now."

Yelling and screaming, Thornwhistle's troops rushed toward the Rebels. Both Rebel and Union lines stopped mere inches from each other.

Then, the Rebels began the exchange.

"Yankees is big blue dummies," one Reb said, amid cheers from his regiment.

"Rebs got cotton balls," a Yankee sergeant cried, and the Union troops cheered.

Thornwhistle shook hands with Wienerhauser; a thrill rushed through his groin as their hands touched.

"Great way to fight a war, huh, Wienie?"

"You know it, Thorny."

"It's been a long time."

"Too long."

And they strolled off to be alone as their troops continued exchanging verbal blows.

"Rebel girls got southern bells in their heads."

"Is that your nose or a bayonet lug, Yank?"

Ed. Note: …and luckily, nothing further of note happened at Sissy Creek, which is why the event (more of a meeting than a battle) is not usually related in popular, non-technical or non-academic history books. Somewhat similar note for the story that follows. [JTC 2021]

From the novel A Crappy War: Hannibal Crossing the Alps

Chapter 9

The army had reached the snow line north of the Alpine Mountain range, on the way southward from Gaul into Italy, when suddenly the column stopped. Word of trouble was passed back and the General came forward. He yelled and swore and pushed his troops aside as he moved forward toward the source of the delay.

"Get that damn animal moving, soldier," the General yelled to the man perched on top of his mount.

"I can't, General. It won't budge."

Swearing, the General stepped behind the stalled pack animal and shoved. Suddenly, there came a loud, gushing, splat noise, and the General was covered with what could be described as a ton of runny, stinking feces.

The troops began laughing and the column had to make camp on the spot so the General could take a bath. He could be heard yelling as he moved back toward the rear of the column.

"I told that idiot back in Carthage that I wanted horses, not elephants."

For Hannibal, an elephant with a gastric problem created a logistical nightmare.

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