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Napoleon’s ill-fated Russian campaign could have been far worse

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Napoleon watches Moscow burn during his campaign in 1812. (Public domain)

In the summer of 1812, Napoleon launched his famous invasion of Russia. Despite trepidation on the part of his generals and staff about pushing into Russia so close to the cold weather months, he proceeded anyway and was met with initial success. His confidence had been boosted by a string of past military successes and he felt that his Grande Armée was capable of quickly subduing the ill-organized Russians.

The campaign would end up ultimately being a failure, partly due to the unforgiving Russian winter and largely due to a little known coup that was unfolding back west, in Paris.

Napoleon’s disastrous march through the snow which led to the collapse of his famous Grande Armée was driven by the terror that all of his hard-earned military and political gains would be undone by a coup back home. …


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Before Tiger King, there was the Rattlesnake King

Clark Stanley proclaimed himself the Rattlesnake King in 1897 in a self published pamphlet that detailed his journey from disgruntled cowboy to miracle medicine man. In his pamphlet, he describes how he spent years with the Hopi tribe learning their secrets, being bitten by dozens of rattlesnakes (with the scars to prove it) and developing a liniment that could cure nearly everything. The problem was, his cure was a fraud and his besmirched the good name of snake oil forevermore.

Real snake oil

The snake oil craze that swept the United States at the tail end of the 19th century was actually brought on by legitimate snake oil. Tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants began to pour into California in the early 1800s before trickling west to work on major construction projects. …


H.H. Holmes claimed to have killed 200 people in his castle during the Chicago World’s Fair

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A photo of the infamous “Murder Castle” (Public domain)

The Chicago World’s Fair kicked off on May 1st, 1893 to great fanfare. It was a remarkable economic and scientific opportunity for countless Chicago natives who were eager to showcase their city’s progress after the devastating fire that decimated the city in 1871. The fair drew twenty-seven million visitors during its six-month runtime but not all of those people would make it home.

In the jubilation, massive crowds, and chaos that consumed Chicago in 1893, a man by the name of H.H. …

About

Grant Piper

Political scientist. Hobbyist historian. Story teller. grantapiper.com

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