These Wars were Started Over… Food

These Wars were Started Over… Food

Larry Holzwarth - September 13, 2021

These Wars were Started Over… Food
Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm I arbitrated the border dispute in favor of the Americans. Wikimedia

20. The Pig War remained a standoff for over a decade

Scott and Douglas agreed to reduce the military presence of both sides to about 100 men each. The resolution over ownership of the island was deferred to diplomatic discussions. So was the ultimate resolution over the disputed pig. For the ensuing twelve years, American and British troops occupied their respective ends of the island. The troops intermingled socially conducted athletic events with each other and helped each other consume their liberal rations of alcohol. In 1871, after years of diplomatic futility, both sides agreed to submit the dispute over the islands to international arbitration. Kaiser Wilhelm I agreed to act as arbitrator. Wilhelm assigned the issue to a three-man commission, who struggled with their decision for just over a year while meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Ultimately, they decided in favor of the Americans.

Subsequently, both sides withdrew their troops, having faced each other on the island for thirteen years without ever firing a shot. General Harney earned an official rebuke for escalating the situation to near warfare. Captain George Pickett served the Confederacy as a general and division commander. He gained lasting fame for his ill-fated assault on Union positions at Gettysburg, known to posterity as Pickett’s Charge. Whether Cutlar ever received compensation for his lost potatoes, or Griffin for his murdered pig, remains unknown. The Pig War was, to date, the last time forces of Great Britain and the United States stood toe-to-toe on the verge of war. It was averted because a British Admiral, a veteran of the British campaigns in North America during the War of 1812, decided to ignore his orders. Such are the vagaries of history.

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo”. Article. National Archive. Online

“Guadaloupe Mountains”. Article, National Park Service. Online

“Salt War of San Elizario”. C. L. Sonnichsen, Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas. June 1, 1995. Online

“El Paso Salt War”. Kathy Weiser, Legends of America. April, 2019. Online

“Spice Wars in the Banda Islands”. Susi O’Neill, Pilot Guides. Online

“Dutch East India Company, Trade Network, 18th Century”. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, The Geography of Transport Systems. Online

“The Pastry War: Mexico vs France 1838”. Article, Yucatan Times. April 17, 2020

“The Pastry War – 1838” Jed Graham, History of Yesterday. May 20, 2020. Online

“French Intervention in Mexico and the American Civil War, 1862 – 1867”. Article, Office of the Historian, US State Department. Online

“The Lobster War”. Anne-Sophie Grollemund, The National Archives (UK). February 21, 2019. Online

“The Cod Wars and Today: Lessons From an Almost War”. Walker D. Mills, Center for International Maritime Security. July 28, 2020. Online’

“Iceland vs Britain: the Cod Wars begin – archive, September, 1958”. Compiled by Richard Nelsson, The Guardian. September 7, 2018

“The Cod War”. Andrew Herd, The Fishing Museum Online (UK). 2011

“What were the Cod Wars?” Grant Piper, Exploring History. December 22, 2020

“Life of Harney: Controversial peak namesake was both killer and peacemaker”. Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal. June 28, 2015

“Baynes, Sir Robert Lambert”. Biography, Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Online