Monday, March 21, 2022


This is coolbert.

"For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."

This time not a nail. Not a horseshoe. Not a rubber tire. This time a button! Tin buttons to be precise.

"Science Xplained: Napoleon's Buttons"

"Science Xplained: Napoleon's Buttons.  A major wardrobe malfunction in December 1812 helped cause Napoleon's army of 600,000 to return from Russia with only 10,000 men. Up until that time, Napoleon's army was unbeaten. What happened? They had to fight the elements—the cold Russian winter as well as the element tin (Sn). Tin was a major ingredient in the buttons used to hold up the soldiers' pants. Tin changes from shiny metal to gray dust when the temperature drops, in this case, causing their clothing to drop as well." 

Temperatures lower than -30 C. [-22F.] and tin turns into dust.

"On 6 December [1812] the temperature fell even more, reaching -37.5 deg. C according to Dr. Louis Lagneau."

Even beyond your pants falling down I can well imagine too that buttons as used to fasten an all-wool greatcoat disintegrated due to the extreme cold. Unbuttoned the greatcoat no longer a barrier against the numbing cold of a Russian winter.

See my prior blog entry the ability to sleep in the open with only a greatcoat an essential skill and task as taught to the Russian soldier.


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