History is one of the most interesting subjects because what it tells us often reflects what is going on in our world today. Of course, different people will try and hide or change things about history, and as a result, some of the most interesting facts and stories are never taught - even though it is obvious they should be. Here is a collection of 50 of the most interesting and bizarre historical facts which you won't believe you didn't already know.
1. Amputation Was The Most Common Medical Procedure During The Civil War
Not many people know that the most common treatment for severely wounded or broken limbs was amputation during the American Civil War.
It is because doctors couldn't do time-consuming procedures (e.g., mending damaged flesh or removing broken bone parts) on too many wounded men. As a result, over half of leg amputations at the knee or thigh ended up being fatal.
2. Russians Used Booby Trapped Dogs To Destroy Tanks
Believe it or not, the Russians had a unique strategy to deal with enemies’ tanks during WWII. They trained dogs by strapping bombs to their backs so that they could run under German tanks and destroy them.
Given that the Russians trained the dogs with their tanks from the beginning, the dogs ended up running under the Russian trucks instead.
3. Robert E Lee's House Was Confiscated After The War
Robert Edward Lee was an American Confederate general. So the Union confiscated his Virginia estate (named Arlington House) and turned it into a cemetery during the war. Even Lincoln supported that idea because they wanted Lee to “have to look at these graves and see the carnage that he had created.”
In 1877, the son of Robert E. Lee, George Washington Custis Lee, successfully sued the government for illegally confiscating Arlington. He was awarded the estate back. What to do with an estate that had so many dead bodies in it? Well, he eventually had to sell it back to the government for $150,000.
4. A Grand Party During The Bolshevik Revolution
The Russian Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace in 1917 after overthrowing the provisional government.
But their revolution was halted for a few days for the most unexpected of reasons. The Bolsheviks found the wine stored in the Winter Palace and got super, super drunk.
5. Stonewall Confederate General
Confederate General Thomas Jonathan Jackson became one of the best-known Confederate commanders. He got the nickname "Stonewall" during the First Battle of Bull Run.
The soldiers stated that the brave confederate general "stood like a stone wall" during the battle. Unfortunately, he was accidentally shot by his own men. He died a few days later.
6. Time Before The Use of Anesthesia In The Battlefield
Anesthesia interrupts nerve signals in the brain and body, which is how the brain doesn't focus on processing pain. Thanks to anesthesia, you don't feel any pain during surgery or medical procedures.
However, the lack of availability of anesthesia on the battlefield meant that soldiers were sometimes given chloroform. But in most cases, they just drank a glass of whiskey before biting down on a bullet while their limbs were being amputated.
7. Scaring Off The Enemy
Chinese King Goujian of Yue (reigned 496–465 BC) is sometimes considered the last of the Five Hegemons. He was known for conquering his rivals with brute force and sometimes scary tactics. For instance, he used to place a row of convicted criminals at the front of his army. What purpose did it serve him?
Well, the criminals would start the battle by cutting off their own heads which must have given nightmares to King Goujian’s enemies.
8. An American Civil War Miracle
You may find it hard to believe, but a man named W.V Meadows became bulletproof during the American Civil War. He was shot in the eye during the Battle of Vicksburg.
He survived and went on to live a long life. But the miraculous part is that he coughed the bullet out of his mouth 58 years later.
9. Human-Chimpanzee Hybrid Attempt
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was a Soviet biologist who specialized in the interspecific hybridization of animals and artificial insemination.
In the 1920s, he conducted controversial experiments in which he tried to create a human-ape hybrid. He did it by inseminating three female chimpanzees with human sperm.
10. Anne Frank's Diary
The father of Anne Frank edited the diary of his daughter because he didn't want some of the content in it to be published.
For instance, he edited out content about Anne Frank's periods, her journey to discovering herself, how she learned about boys from a younger guy that was staying with them, and also her father's short-lived interest in fart-jokes.
11. Mercury Side Effect
The man who fatally shot John Wilkes Booth (an American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham) became insane from handling mercury as a hatter.
Many years before shooting Booth, he didn't hesitate to castrate himself with scissors.
12. Body Parts As Souvenirs
Did you know about the propaganda that was created to dehumanize the Japanese during WWII?
It became so common and successful that American marines started to keep body parts of Japanese soldiers as – yes, you've guessed it right – souvenirs.
13. Extinct Silphium
Ancient Romans loved a plant called a silphium that had a heart-shaped seed (the same one which we recognize as a symbol of love).
However, the Romans started to harvest it so much that it eventually went extinct. So, now we don't even know anything else about the plant except for how its seeds looked.
14. What Nero Did During The Great Fire Of Rome
Nero (emperor from 54 AD – 68 AD) was the fifth Roman emperor. Although his reign is infamous for tyranny and extravagance, there seems to be one false allegation against him. Allegedly he sang and played the fiddle during the Great Fire of Rome while most of Rome was burning to the ground.
In reality, it was a false accusation created by the next emperor. The reason why it is not true is that the fiddle wasn't even invented at that time. Moreover, Nero was not in Rome during the great fire as well.
15. The Mistake of Not Trusting an Agent
The FBI made the mistake of ignoring convincing evidence of the attack on Pearl Harbor only because they didn't trust Dusan Popov, a Serbian double agent. It was because of his gambling and drinking problems.
The agent was given the nickname "tricycle" because he really loved to have threesomes. By the way, Dusan Popov was one of the inspirations for Ian Lancaster Fleming's James Bond.
16. The Angel Of Death
If you ever search for the evilest people, we are quite sure Josef Rudolf Mengele (aka The Angel of Death) will be on the list. The heartless doctor performed inhumane and deadly experiments on his prisoners during the holocaust.
He took Jewish kids and did some unspeakable experiments on them. He even sewed twins by the length of their spines and their mother had no option but to kill her children because she couldn't see them in constant agony. The monster doctor broke a child's leg with a baseball bat and just when it was about to heal, he broke it again. He kept on doing it until the leg stopped healing anymore.
17. Thomas Edison Killed a Circus Elephant
One of the most famous animal executions ever is the killing of Topsy, a female Asian elephant. She was killed by electrocution at Coney Island, New York.
There are claims that Thomas Edison organized the killing, but what is certain was that Topsy became the first animal whose death was filmed. Topsy had killed three men previously, including a really abusive trainer.
18. Spartans Killed Slaves
One of the primary reasons why many Spartans were so focused on war was their need for lots of slaves slavery. Since every single Spartan male was a soldier, the slaves were needed to do every other task.
The Spartans used to beat and even kill slaves in a coming of age holiday in which young Spartan men would try to murder as many slaves as they could.
19. Using Fat of Enemies To Kill Enemies
Mongols had many strategies to defeat their enemies. One of those strategies included lighting the fat of enemies they killed on fire and then shooting it with catapults onto other enemies.
Genghis Khan eventually used this tactic (among many others) to build the largest empire in history - which resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of the Earth's population.
20. The Egyptian Creation Myth
Not many people know about the Egyptian creation myth that states that the universe was created as a result of god Atum's ejaculation.
That's why some Pharaohs honored Atum by ejaculating into the Nile.
21. Half-Blind Leading The Blind
Do you know about "the blind leading the blind" idiom? Well, a Byzantine emperor, Basil, decided to set an example of a half-blind leading the blind.
He captured 15,000 Bulgarians in a battle. He sent 100 men back home but blinded 99 of them and left the 100th guy with just one eye so he could guide the others.
22. Fused Livers
Chang and Eng Bunker (Siam natives) were American twins joined at the sternum. In an attempt to settle in 1839, they decided to buy 110 acres of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
In 1865, the American Civil War happened and Union General George Stoneman raided North Carolina to draft locals. He used a lottery wheel to decide who got drafted. While Eng's Name was drawn, Stoneman could not do anything as the two brothers had fused livers as well. So, the twins didn't serve in the war.
23. Harriet Tubman's Bravery Is Not Fully Taught
Harriet Tubman was the first woman to lead a raid during the Civil War. During the war, she freed slaves with Union Colonel James Montgomery. They stormed into the Confederate interior with about 300 black Union soldiers. They burned down plantations, homes, and barns.
They freed over 720 slaves, including women and children. The number of slaves she released during the Civil War was ten times the number of slaves she had freed in 10 years on the Underground Railroad.
24. Vlad The Impaler
Vlad III, most famously known as Vlad The Impaler or Vlad Dracula, used to impale his enemies through the torso with large stakes.
After doing it, they simply erected those stakes in the ground. He would order the impaling of thousands of prisoners in a day. Those impaled would live in extreme pain for days before dying.
25. A Horse Fact
You have noticed that we haven't been horsing around with our facts, so here's another fact that is quite interesting.
In the American Civil War, about 1 million horses were used. So, it means that their urine in one day would be enough to easily fill 12 standard-sized swimming pools.
26. Get Mistakenly Killed
During the American Civil War, the short supply of clothes was an issue that didn't seem like a big problem.
Soldiers from both sides started to wear enemy colors and that's why some of them were mistakenly shot at and killed by their own friends.
27. A Crappy Disease
Believe it or not, Diarrhea not only made the lives of soldiers miserable during the Civil War, but it was also the deadliest disease there.
In fact, it killed more soldiers than the ones who died in battle. It took the lives of one in every forty cases.
28. Professional Foot Ticklers
In the Muscovite courts and palaces, foot tickling was a common means of arousal. It was so popular that there were professional eunuchs and women hired as fill-time foot ticklers.
By the way many Czarinas, including Catherine the Great and Anna Ivanovna, loved it.
29. The Rubber Hater
Anthony Comstock started to confiscate many sex toys that belonged to people in the 1880s. It is because he believed that they were "immoral rubber goods."
If you think sex toys became common a few decades ago, well, you'll be surprised to know that he confiscated over 64,000 pounds of illicit material.
30. A Sailing Fact
Not many people know that Christopher Columbus wasn't the first person in history to propose that a person could reach Asia by sailing west from Europe.
Well, in reality, the idea first originated as far back as Ancient Rome. We bet you didn't know about it.
31. A Lesser Known Fact About The Founding Father
Not many people know that Ben Franklin loved to visit brothels. When his house was being renovated into a museum in 1998, ten bodies were found in the basement. So there were speculations that he may have been a serial killer!
However, further analysis revealed that those bodies were cadavers used for the anatomical studies of one of Franklin's friends, William Hewson.
32. If You Don't Agree, You Die
Most of you have heard or read of the famous Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, who discovered the Pythagorean Theorem.
It is said that he killed those people who disapproved of him or disagreed with him. He also convinced people that it is a punishable sin to urinate while facing the sun. So he wasn't a total genius.
33. Lincoln's Luck
Most of you know how Lincoln was assassinated, but did you know that he was almost killed two years before his death? In August 1863, he went to his family's summer residence by horse. A private at the gate first heard a gunshot and then noticed a bareheaded Lincoln clinging to his horse. Lincoln later explained how the gunfire made the horse run so fast that it knocked his hat off.
When the soldiers went to retrieve the hat, they noticed it had a bullet hole in it. Lincoln didn't want his wife to worry about him, so he asked them to keep the incident quiet.
34. Another Stonewall Jackson Fact
Confederate General Thomas Jonathan Jackson, aka Stonewall, was one of the South's most successful generals during the American Civil War.
He felt that eating pepper would make his legs weak, so he refrained from eating it. He also believed that standing upright would help in aligning his organs.
35. Malcolm X Was Bisexual
There are claims and evidence that Malcolm X was a bisexual. Although his sexuality is not the most important thing that people need to know, it is something that does appear from time to time.
According to some evidence, he took part in sex acts with other males and also worked as a sex worker for about ten years.
36. The Youngest Soldier
Believe it or not, an 11-year-old boy was the youngest active soldier to fight during the Civil War.
And if you want to talk about the age gap, there was also an 80-year-old man who fought in the Civil War as well.
37. The Tour de Nesle Affair
In 1314, the daughter of King Philip IV of France, Isabella, Queen of England, apparently accused Philip's three daughters-in-law of adultery.
Most of the adultery occurred at the Tour De Nesle tower in Paris. Due to the accusations, the king imprisoned Margaret and Blanche and executed their lovers.
38. A Small Punishment For A Big War Crime
During the Vietnam War, about 400 unarmed civilians (including children and women) were killed by United States soldiers. After the My Lai Massacre, 26 soldiers were charged with war crimes.
Only one of them served time. At first, he was given a life sentence. However, he was freed after serving just four years of house arrest.
39. Cut In Half
During the Middle Ages, being gay was not accepted, and it meant torture and a horrible death.
One of the punishments for being gay was that they simply hung the person by his ankles and sawed him in half.
40. Wait, What? Really Mr. President?
So the 36th U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson gave a nickname "Jumbo" to his Johnson. Yeah, that is the nickname he liked.
Many reports indicate that he used to wave his Jumbo around during White House meetings and that he used to brag about its size as well.
41. The Role of Russian Barrier Troops
The Russians had special barrier troops that were set up behind the Russian army forces. You'd think that they must be there as an additional force, right?
Well, the primary role of the barrier troops was to shoot those soldiers who tried to desert from the front line.
42. Mozart's Obsession
You may find it hard to believe, but Mozart was obsessed with bathroom humor and feces. Yeah, that is true.
He even wrote letters to his family members, where he used to describe his farts in great detail.
43. A Confident Julius Caesar
Once Sicilian pirates kidnapped Gaius Julius Caesar and held him prisoner. They knew of his importance and asked for a ransom of 20 talents (that's over $600,000 today).
When he found that they asked for 20 talents, he scoffed at them and told them to ask for 50 talents.
44. Nikola Tesla's Property
Nikola Tesla died in 1943 and that's when the office of Alien Property came in to seize all of his possessions.
Although they returned most of his possessions to his family, there are still some that are classified. One wonders what Tesla invented that we still don't know about.
45. An Eye Gouging Wresting
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, citizens in rural America used to settle disputes with something quite violent: gouging.
Yeah, this is a violent form of wrestling where two parties would try to gouge out the eyes of their opponents.
46. When The Audience Is Royal
William of Orange consummated his marriage on his wedding night in front of a royal audience. Yeah, it was something that wasn't a big deal at that time.
Interestingly, Charles II watched it from the sidelines and even shouted for more encouragement.
47. A Painful Death
If a person killed one's father in Ancient Rome, the punishment was the death penalty but in a different way. It consisted of putting the killer in a sack along with a viper, a dog, a monkey, and a rooster.
It was a death penalty in which a fair fight was not an option at all. It is because the person was first beaten with blood-colored rods before putting them in the sack.
48. That's Brainwashing
Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu is known for patenting over 3,300 inventions in his life. But do you know how he came up with his ideas?
Well, the creativity came after he started sinking himself underwater for many hours. He described it as, “To starve the brain of oxygen. Zero-point-five seconds before death, I visualize an invention.”
49. What If: Newton Edition
The world would have been a lot different had Isaac Newton become a farmer. He was 17 years old when he came back from school and his mother insisted that he should go and tend the fields.
Luckily, he really sucked as a farmer. So, his uncle convinced Newton's mother to send him to Trinity College.