So this one’s possibly apocryphal, but it’s not going to stop me from telling it.
1788. The Austrians — really, a coalition of European nations — are preparing an army against the Turks at the town of Karánsebes, an army 100,000 strong.
It will be defeated on this September night by prostitutes and a barrel of schnapps.
Let me explain.
So there’s a river where they make camp, and they send the Austrian hussars over to go scouting. What they find is a group of gypsies offering… well, prostitutes and shcnapps to the wealthy cavalry officers.
Being cultured and refined gentlemen, they overindulge for hours without reporting back.
The light infantry is sent over to go find out what happened to the hussars, and so away they go until they follow the sound of drunken revelry. An exchange goes something like this;
“Get your bloody asses back to camp”
“Fine. Well, at least share.”
“You heard the man, lads.”
And so the light infantry start sniping at the officers, trying to get them to share the booze and whores. The officers make a barricade and defend their god given right to go derelict of their duties in peace.
One of the light infantrymen has a brilliant idea, and he shouts; “The Turks are coming! The Turks are coming!”
The spooked officers flee back to camp. Unfortunately there’s, like, 8 different languages among the light infantry since they’re scraped together mercenaries, so they’re not in on the plan. They start running in terror too.
The hussars tell the camp the Turks are coming. The light infantrymen flee after them and, in the dark of night, are shot at by their own side, thinking they’re Turkish skirmishers. So they start firing back, thinking it’s the Turks in the camp.
The German officers figure out what’s going on and ride around on horseback screaming: “Halt! Halt!” This is misheard by the troops, who were not German, as; “Allah! Allah!” so they’re all promptly shot.
This causes such a civil war in the camp, men shooting their own in the night, that the artillery division on the next hill thinks the whole thing’s lost and opens fire, dispersing everyone and everything left. Three cannons and the chest containing the army’s payroll went missing.
When the Turks show up two days later, the army has disbanded, and there are 1,200 corpses to pick through.