Up and at ’em

When we were kids, my father used to wake us up by clapping his hands and calling out, “Up and at ’em!  Up and at ’em!”.  Later, I wondered why he expected us to jump out of bed and attack.  It seemed funny.

I have an on-and-off interest in miltary history.  I’m currently re-reading The Fall of Berlin,1945 by Anthony Beevor.  It’s about the Russian army’s advance through Germany to take the capital.

I once read a few books about the Battle of Waterloo.  The weather was against Napoleon.  The British had the advantage of a fairly new and terrifying weapon, the shrapnel shell, named after its inventor, the British artillery officer, Henry Shrapnel.  Napoleon used battle strategies he had successfully employed before.  The Duke of Wellington had studied them closely and prepared to counter them.  Napoleon directed his army from a command post with a view of the battle.  Wellington courageously rode through the smoke and artillery fire, re-directing troops in the field.

1,500 British Foot Guards were positioned behind a crest, lying on the ground to avoid artillery fire.  They were waiting for their signal to attack.  As the French Imperial Guard advanced towards them, Wellington rode up and gave the command that later became famous among the British public.

“Up, Guards and at ’em!  Up and at ’em!”


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