REAL SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE – Richard Harding Davis

REAL SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE - Richard Harding Davis
Home » Biography » REAL SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE – Richard Harding Davis
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Notoir books (March 1, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 190 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8379364663
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5 x 0.43 x 8 inches

They ended up with zero skills in civilian fields, but they could kill other people, and getting paid was a bonus.

Whenever in any part of the world a military conflict raged, the procedure of mercenaries invariably was the same. As adventurers with a fondness for violence, hairy situations, and thrill-seeking, they experienced face-to-face battle, sword-fights, duels, assassination attempts, and imprisonment. Sometimes they should have died several deaths, each of a nature more unpleasant than the others.
After one too many a sword slash, knife puncture, or bullet wound it was little wonder that often they became convinced that they had an angel on their shoulders, and a hotline with the gods.

In this collection you find the stories of six of these larger-than-life gung-ho mercenaries. It is the forgotten lore of the red-blooded male, and it revives an era, circa the 1900s, with life-or-death tales of danger, of the unknown. These men did not have the luxury to feel anything, other than the occasional adrenaline boost.

War-journalist Richard Harding Davis is not judging anyone here. The mercenaries he writes about were mostly nice fellows. These are the stories of Major-General Henry Ronald Douglas Maciver, Baron James Harden-Hickey, Winston Spencer Churchill, Captain Philo Norton McGiffin, General William Walker, and Major Burnham, Chief of Scouts.

Major-General Henry Ronald Douglas Maciver

A reputed Soldier of Fortune, who claimed to have served in some 18 different armies, he was born on board a ship on its way to Virginia on Christmas Day 1841. MacIver spent the early years of his life in Virginia, learning to ride and shoot. When he was 10 years old, he was sent to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be educated under the guardianship of a family friend. It was intended that MacIver would return to America and enter the United States Military Academy at West Point, but instead, he got himself into the British East India Company’s army where he began his military career. His first campaign was very nearly his last, when his head was sliced open by a sword.

MacIver was described as tall, around six feet, an erect figure, weather-bronzed face, clean shaven, except for military mustache and grey-tinged hair, close cropped to the well-set head, keen grey eves with quiet resolution stamped on every feature.

He was allegedly involved in some of the major conflicts of the 19th century such as the Indian Mutiny and the American Civil War, the Serb -Turkish War of 1875-76 and insurrections by Cuban nationalists against the Spanish. He was also allegedly involved in the Carlist wars in Spain, and served the Khedive of Egypt, the Argentine and Brazilians in the War of the Triple Alliance, and with Maximilian in Mexico.

Books and stories about him say that during his long career, he won medals and collected wounds, diseases, and notches on his bedpost, yet little more was really known about him.

Baron James Harden-Hickey

(1854 – 1898) was a Franco-American author, newspaper editor, duellist, adventurer and self-proclaimed Prince. Apart from the fact that this guy wrote a book with the uplifting title “Euthanasia: The Aesthetics of Suicide”, he also acquired a life-long liking to adventure. During boyhood he was taught in Belgium by the Jesuits and later studied law at the University of Leipzig. He entered the French military academy, Saint-Cyr, at 19. In 1875, he graduated with high regard; shortly after, his father died.

Three years later, Harden-Hickley married the Countess de Saint-Pery and fathered two children. By then he had mastered French, was accounted a master swordsman and began writing novels. He began an interest in Buddhism and Theosophy. This was a turning point in his life, and he took the opportunity to travel around the world. He stayed a year in India, to learn Sanskrit and Buddhist philosophy.

He returned to Paris and married a Standard Oil heiress. Traveling to Tibet before his marriage, his crew made a stop in the South Atlantic. There he proclaimed himself King of Trinidad. Or, more correctly, James I, Prince of Trinidad, since very few maps even marked it as an island. He wanted an independent state with himself as military dictator, and later in 1893, he got just that.

Over the next two years, Harden-Hickey fell into deep depression. His vision for his island was easily realizable, and it had become the core of his existence. Despite the validity of his claim on Trinidad and his seriousness at realizing his dream, he received little real support, only receiving such from his family and friends. After all of his attempts at restoring his claim had failed, the world laughed at him for even trying.

… Hickey had once written a book called “Euthanasia: The Aesthetics of Suicide”, showing that suicide was a powerful artform and “a privilege.”

As mentioned, James Harden-Hickey had once written a book called “Euthanasia: The Aesthetics of Suicide”, showing that suicide was a powerful artform and “a privilege.” He wrote that life wasn’t so important or even worth living if one was to suffer, and left vaguely that “it is of greater moment to live well than to live long, and that often it is living well not to live long.”

Destitute and depressed, he lived up to his ideology by living and dying as a strong proponent of suicide: James I, Prince of Trinidad, Baron of the Holy Roman Empire, took an overdose of morphine on February 9, 1898, in an El Paso, Texas hotel. Found among his effects were a suicide note to his wife and his memorabilia from his glory days …including his hand-made crown.

In conclusion …

This is an interesting read. You will find four more of these true stories of larger-than-life men, including one about a certain Winston Churchill in his younger days. He appeared to be quiet a rascal.