Colonel Haviland's Clever Device
Born in 1718,
William Haviland joined the British Army as an ensign in 1739, and first
tasted combat in 1741 during the unsuccessful British attempt to capture Cartagena de las Indias, in what
is now Colombia,
during the War of Jenkins’ Ear. Haviland later served during the (third
or fourth or fifth) Jacobite Rising in 1745, and in 1752 was promoted to
lieutenant colonel and commander of the 27th Foot in 1752, the colonelcy
being a sinecure held by a senior officer,.
In 1757, shortly after the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War,
Haviland and his regiment were transferred to North America, and took part in
an unsuccessful campaign to wrest Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, from the
French. Transferred to New York, late
that year he was given command of Fort
Edward, on the upper
Hudson, the northernmost British outpost in the colony. Haviland commanded a column during the
disastrous British attempt to take Fort Carillon [Ticonderoga], in July of
1758, and again in Jeffery Amherst's successful operation against the place the
following summer, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general and command
of a 10,000 strong column that moved up Lake Champlain to help capture Montreal
in September of 1760, a campaign in which he demonstrated considerable
The following year, Haviland was transferred to the West Indies, and later commanded brigades in the capture of
Martinique and of Cuba in 1762, leading to a promotion
to major general. In the years of peace
following the end of the Seven Years’ War, Haviland rose to lieutenant general
in 1772. Considered rather old for
active duty during the American Revolution, he commanded troops assigned to
coast defense operations in England. Promoted to full general in 1783, he died
late the following year.
Haviland, who had been born into a military family, had one
son, who also served, as did various grandsons, thereby maintaining the family
Although a rather successful officer, Haviland’s principal
claim to fame has to do with an invention rather than his battlefield expertise. While commanding the 27th Foot in the wilderness of
northern New York during the Seven Years’ War, Haviland invented a little pocket
slide-rule device that permitted an officer to quickly determine the number of
men to be detached from each company of a regiment, if a draft was made against
it. The device, about three inches
across, consisted of two circular ivory wheels, one rotating inside the other, with
numbers etched into their faces, so that by rotating one against the other, the
number of personnel of each company who had to be detached could be determined,
including rank. The reverse of the
device was etched with useful information on regimental organization.
the first mechanical administrative aid ever invented for officers serving in
the field, Haviland’s device was found so “Suitable for Gentlemen of the Army”
that variations of it continued in use until well into the nineteenth century.
Note: Haviland’s 27th
Inniskilling Regiment dated back to 1689.
In 1881 the regiment was merged with “The 108th Regiment of Foot (Madras
Infantry)” to form “The Royal
Inniskilling Fusiliers” In 1968
this was incorporated with “The Royal Ulster
Rifles” and “The Royal Irish Fusiliers,” to form “The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th),” which in
1992 merged with “The Ulster Defence Regiment” to form today’s “The Royal Irish
Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment).”
The average age upon appointment of the 63 colonels was 37. Over 20 of them were lawyers, and eight were former
members of Congress.
Curiously, President Polk, a Democrat, found fellow-party
members eminently more qualified for command than their political rivals the
Whigs; of 52 colonels with a known political affiliation, 36 were Democrats and
only 16 Whigs. Polk would this same
criterion when appointing generals, which explains why dolts like David E.
Twiggs could receive promotions to brigadier general; General-in-Chief Winfield
Scott, himself a Whig, would write of Twiggs, ". . . not qualified to command an army either in the
presence or in the absence of the enemy."
The "Order of the Scar"
During the early nineteenth century, European travelers in
southwestern Africa recorded an interesting
military ceremony among the Bechuana.
After a battle, those warriors who had killed an enemy during
the fighting assembled for a nocturnal ceremony.
In preparation for this ceremony, a low fence was erected
enclosing a wide area, in the center of which a large fire was made. As the people of the tribe assembled outside
the fence, the tribal shamans and eligible warriors passed into the
enclosure. To prove eligibility, each
warrior had to provide evidence of his prowess, in the form of a small piece of flesh with
the skin attached, cut from the body of the slain foeman.
proof of a man's eligibility, the shaman would take a sharp spear and make a
long cut on the man's leg, from the hip to the knee for each slain enemy. The cut was then rubbed with ashes.
man would then lay his trophy on the glowing coals, and after it had been
properly cooked, would eat it, a ritual form of cannibalism symbolizing the
passage of the slain man's courage into the body of the man who killed him.
done, the warriors would begin a dance that continued until dawn.
the ceremony left the men with scars on their upper legs, and particularly
noted warriors were heavily scarred.
strong warrior tradition of the Bechuana helped them maintain their
independence against the most powerful "tribe" in southern Africa during the nineteenth century, the Boers. But by the latter part of the century, the
threat from the Boers, not to mention pressure from German settlements in what
is now Namibia,
and the ambitions of Cecil Rhodes, prompted the tribe to reach an accommodation
with the British, it passed under the protection of the Crown until 1966, when
the Bechuana became a parliamentary republic as Botswana.
the years of British control the Batswana, as the people are properly known,
continued to maintain their warrior traditions, providing troops in support to
imperial defense, notably during World War II.
the only post-colonial African state with a continuous history of democratic government, still maintains its
military reputation. Contingents from Botswana have
served with distinction in a number of peace keeping missions; reportedly during
operation in the mid-1990s, Batswana troops were cited for outstanding services
by the U.S. Marines.