Humans went to war against other countries for countless reasons. There were wars fought over border disputes, wealth, agricultural land, and other conflicts. But can you imagine a war in history fought over a pastry? …or a dog? As absolutely absurd as it sounds, these were real. Many wars in history have been fought for silly reasons. Here are some such ridiculous reasons that people of the time felt were enough to put their men, wealth, and lives at stake.
1. Caligula, an ancient Roman emperor labeled as mad by everyone, once declared war against the sea. The events that followed are proof of why he was the mad emperor. He originally intended to fight against Britain but got cold feet when it was time. Caligula asked his clueless army to collect shells from the shore as rewards to show when they came back in the city as proof that they conquered the sea.
Caligula intended to conquer the little green island of Britain. He didn’t plan on marching straight towards the place and fighting for the land.
Caligula was planning to attack from all sides and bring it under the power of Rome. He marched from Italy through France and reached the coast. The King of Britain was ready to fight him once he heard the news.
Caligula didn’t expect this and took a step back as he was afraid. He took his soldiers near the shore. He asked his soldiers to row him into the sea. After that, he asked them to row him back to shore.
The emperor came back, climbing onto a high pulpit, asked to sound a trumpet, and asked soldiers to proceed as if he was asking them to charge into the battle. There was nothing but the blue sea and the beach covered with shells but nothing else to fight.
He asked the soldiers to pick up shells from the shore instead of traveling to fight with the enemies. He even made a lighthouse at the seashore to mark the victory. The ruler thanked the soldiers for their service and rewarded them for their bravery.
The clueless Roman army did what they are taught to do the best – obey the emperor. After they collected enough shells, they marched back. He told the soldiers that he had conquered the sea, and the shells they collected are spoils of war. (Source)
2. In 1859, a war was declared over a pig being shot and killed. A big war declaration was sent out for a pig getting killed for crossing the boundary. Later records say a crisis was already ongoing regarding the border between Americans and British, and such minor skirmishes were also getting intolerable for both parties.
The incident happened in the San Juan Islands which is disputed land between the British, Americans, and Spain. The delegation sought military protection when British authorities threatened them.
The San Juan Islands were under Spain, but they abandoned control by 1818. Americans felt British control over the lands uncomfortable, and this led to mounting tensions between both parties. Tensions increased when an American shot and killed a pig in a garden.
Even though there are different versions of this story, the one with the pig made it one of the most talked-about wars and hence the name. British threatened to arrest and evict other American countrymen from the area.
America responded by ordering an infantry unit headed by Brig. Gen. William S Harney, who later became famous during the US Civil War. Sixty-three men landed on the island.
The British also countered by bringing soldiers to the island to discourage clashes. The parties refused to take any action against each other as it all started over a pig getting shot. (Source)
3. Failing in soccer matches might have led to some small conflicts, but have you ever heard of two countries declaring war against each other after a football match failure? A war started over a soccer match between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. The playoffs led to small riots and then a war.
El Salvador had a population of three million in 1969, and Honduras was five times larger. Since there are more opportunities, the Salvadorans moved to Honduras. The elite landowners appreciated this, but this was not accepted by Honduras. The county’s landowners began pushing the government for military action. It was in the midst of all this the football match happened.
In 1969, the two nations were opponents for the playoffs for the World Cup. In the first match, Honduras didn’t win. This made them feel like they have been robbed of the title in their homeland and led to several riots against the people from El Salvador.
In the second match, Honduras won by making sure none of the team members were able to get a good night’s sleep. People camped in front of the hotel where the team was staying and shouted which made everyone unable to sleep.
This led to them not being able to perform the next day and fail. Three weeks after that, peace treaties were withdrawn, and the two countries were at war with each other. They say in Latin America people are really into football for good and bad. It became the symbol of war between the neighboring countries. (Source)
4. The military fought a war against flightless birds in Australia. The Great Emu War, also known as the “Emu War” was started to control the emu population of Australia. The military was deployed in the area and what followed was nuisance wildlife management by the military.
Military involvement in the Campion District to reduce the emu population that was destroying agriculture started around 1932. The emu is a flightless bird, but the large population was turning out to be a problem for the farmers. Crop destruction was a major concern and the government decided to send the military to solve the problem.
The soldiers were armed with Lewis guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Even though this move killed some birds, the population of emu in agricultural land persisted.
The troops were deployed when rains stopped, and their order was to collect hundreds of emu skins for making hats. Perhaps more than a couple of dozens were killed in the first few days. The emus then split into small groups and the military had to fall back for a month. (Source)
5. The Taiping Rebellion in China started because of an absurd claim by a disappointed civil service exam candidate who didn’t qualify. During 1850-1864, the rebellion took almost 20 million lives. He claimed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ who was sent to reform China.
The rebellion started over a claim by a failed civil service exam candidate who was influenced by Christian teachings and said that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ.
Hong Xiuquan also claimed to have a series of visions from God. He and his friends later formed the God Worshipper’s Society which quickly attracted impoverished peasants of Guangxi Province.
In three years of rebellion, he proclaimed a new dynasty and took the title of “Tianwang”, which translates to “Heavenly King”. (Source)
Also read: 10 Lesser-known Stories From World War 2