A lot of battles have been concerned with ownership. Sometimes ownership of ‘things’, other times ownership of people, and rarely ownership of ideologies. More often than not people are fighting over land. Such is the case with the Schleswig-Holstein question. Which was not a cow query but rather a rather bitter argument between Germany and Denmark.
It was, to put it mildly, a very complicated debate. During viking times Schleswig had been part of Denmark, and the Danish hadn’t really got past this. Ans in the fashion of those kind of exes who can’t quite get the “its over” thing pursued reintegration for centuries.
By the nineteenth century Germany had taken on the role of defensive friend, keeping the Danish at bay, in that way that sort of suggests they have other motivations. Germany’s protective role was less demonstrated with “its over, deal with it” statements, and more with cannons.
Indeed so in demand was little Schleswig that two wars were fought over it. The 18th April 1864 was the final day of the decisive battle in the second war, The Battle of Dybbøl.
The Germans entered the battle with eleven thousand men (and 26,000 spares) and 126 guns. The Danes had 5, 000, with 6,000 spares 77 guns and mortars and a ship. The Germans lost (to death, injury or capture) 3.2% of the men available for the battle, the Danish lost 48.9%.
Though the Danes seemingly had had an advantage in having command of the sea, they lost comprehensively. The war continued to October but the German win in Dybbøl set up the pattern for the remainder of the war; and the Danish surrendered.
The battle is also notable for being one of the early outings for the burgeoning International Red Cross as war observers.
If you do want to read more about one of the most complicated diplomatic questions in history there are plenty of resources. For a more amusing account we refer you to one of the bossman’s favoured series the Flashman novels, as Royal Flash is set in the throws of the problem, and a few other throws too…
According to Lord Palmerston only three people really understood the ‘Question’…so can you explain it?