Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Lucky General

In November1822 during the Brazilian war of independence from Portugal there was a battle at Piraja in Bahia province. The Brazilian army, although numerically superior were very poorly equipped. As the battle progressed the Brazilian general became concerned that his troops were about to be overwhelmed and ordered the bugler to sound the retreat.

The bugler, whether from fear of incompetence I do not know, did not sound the retreat but rather sounded the cavalry's advance. The Portuguese, who up until then assumed that there were no Brazilian cavalry, were so dismayed that they broke and ran. The Brazilians did not have any cavalry worth the name.

So the unintended consequence of the bugler ordered to sound the retreat was a victory and one that led to the ultimate expulsion of the Portuguese from Brazil. As Napoloeon said about a general, " I don't care how good he is, but is he lucky?"

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