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Old October 28th, 2017, 11:41 PM   #1

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The least impressive victory in history?


What battlefield do you think is the equivalent of throwing a rock at the ground and being unable to miss? A battle where victorious side had such an overwhelming advantage that it would have taken an absolute moron of a commander to achieve anything less than total victory.
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Old October 28th, 2017, 11:49 PM   #2
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Omdurman 1898?

I recall the Swedish historian Peter Englund, who as a PhD student really like military boardgames, actually decided to make one, Isandlwana. And he approached a major UK games company, who like it and wanted to publish it. BUT, they wanted to make it a combo, a British defeat and a major victory from the colonial wars period. So they wanted Omdurman.

He made it, but that was, as testified by Englund, a bit of a hellish proposition to even begin to make a viable game out of. At Omdurman no Sudanese got closer to the Anglo-Egyptian lines than 300 yards, before being cut down in a hail of fire. Churchill gave them props for the size of their stones, since regardless the Sudanese kept coming. But still, never closer than 300 yards... The British losses to the infantry were incurred when walking over the battlefield, post-battle. (There was a more even, but insignificant, cavalry action that Churchill took part in, but it mattered not for the outcome.)
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Old October 28th, 2017, 11:54 PM   #3

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A controversial answer but I will go with the Battle of Issus. While the battle is often regarded as one of Alexander's great victories and was no doubt a display of Alexander's tactical flare it was never the less one of the absolute dumbest battles ever fought. I say this for the simple reason that both Darius and Alexander bumbled into each other like complete amateurs with no apparent regard for operational finesse, zero proper use of scouting or any sort of strategic reasoning. The real kicker is that Darius actually had the opportunity to catch Alexander off his guard but because he was so incapable when applying the methods of a commander he completely squandered it and chose to attack some unimportant encampment instead. The only competent decision that Darius made in that entire campaign was where he chose to deploy his army, which gave him a slight positional advantage over Alexander. Which of course he squandered as well with his poor conduct during the battle itself.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 12:53 AM   #4

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Probably an unpopular opinion but: fall of Constantinople. The Ottomans outnumbered the Byzantines and their allies at least 10:1 on land and 3:1 on sea. The Ottoman force had more men than the entire city had inhabitants at the time. Also, huge parts of the city were in ruins and abandoned, and the Byzantines didn't even have their old weapon, the Greek fire. The famous city walls had also been neglected for centuries after the Latin sack and, despite John VIII's best efforts (which included help by the Serbian despot Đurađ Branković), weren't in a good shape because by 1453 Byzantium didn't have enough resources to fund the renovation and because there was rampant corruption which led to many officials taking the money meant to fund the renovation for themselves. It was a big moment for the Ottoman Empire without a doubt, but it was not impressive by any means. The efforts of the defenders were impressive, but the Ottoman victory not so much.

Last edited by Maki; October 29th, 2017 at 01:23 AM.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 01:22 AM   #5
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The invasion of Poland. Brave Poles trying to defend themselves against an invasion from both Germany and Russia. 7000 tanks vs less than 1000, 5000 planes vs less than 500; they never stood a chance., and its credit to the Poles that it lasted as long as it did.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 01:46 AM   #6

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Probably the “annihilation”of Zanzibar. Forget the year (1880-1900ish) but it lasted 36 minutes before they surrendered.
3 cruisers and 2 gunboats vs 4 guns, a shore battery and a poorly armed Royal Yacht.

Any 1806-1815 victory against Neapolitan troops.

Last edited by Edric Streona; October 29th, 2017 at 01:56 AM.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 04:24 AM   #7

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Sinking of the Bismark.
Capture of the Revenge, 1591.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 04:49 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maki View Post
Probably an unpopular opinion but: fall of Constantinople. The Ottomans outnumbered the Byzantines and their allies at least 10:1 on land and 3:1 on sea. The Ottoman force had more men than the entire city had inhabitants at the time. Also, huge parts of the city were in ruins and abandoned, and the Byzantines didn't even have their old weapon, the Greek fire. The famous city walls had also been neglected for centuries after the Latin sack and, despite John VIII's best efforts (which included help by the Serbian despot Đurađ Branković), weren't in a good shape because by 1453 Byzantium didn't have enough resources to fund the renovation and because there was rampant corruption which led to many officials taking the money meant to fund the renovation for themselves. It was a big moment for the Ottoman Empire without a doubt, but it was not impressive by any means. The efforts of the defenders were impressive, but the Ottoman victory not so much.
You got the concept of "siege" wrong. If two sides had equal or near-equal men, the defender would not confront at the castle, but open field. Two important efforts are usage of big guns and transportation of ships via land. Unlike popular belief, Ottomans didn't face roll Byzantines. As far as I know, the army was highly exhausted at the end of 90-day-long campaign when the city finally fell.

If Byzantines had much stronger army, or had equal men. The battle would be fought on open field, somewhere else. You know, states with big armies do not tend to face armies with equal men/strength at the gates of their own capital cities, but possibly at the frontiers of their land against "invaders".

The factors you take in consideration are illogical. So, Byzantines being outnumbered, and giving hard time to Ottomans is not impressive, it is normal and expected outcome of a siege warfare of this kind. What would have been impressive is they successfully defending it.

Last edited by turing; October 29th, 2017 at 04:53 AM.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 05:34 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
A controversial answer but I will go with the Battle of Issus. While the battle is often regarded as one of Alexander's great victories and was no doubt a display of Alexander's tactical flare it was never the less one of the absolute dumbest battles ever fought. I say this for the simple reason that both Darius and Alexander bumbled into each other like complete amateurs with no apparent regard for operational finesse, zero proper use of scouting or any sort of strategic reasoning. The real kicker is that Darius actually had the opportunity to catch Alexander off his guard but because he was so incapable when applying the methods of a commander he completely squandered it and chose to attack some unimportant encampment instead. The only competent decision that Darius made in that entire campaign was where he chose to deploy his army, which gave him a slight positional advantage over Alexander. Which of course he squandered as well with his poor conduct during the battle itself.
Not quite agree with you on that. Alexander and Darius were going towards each other to fight head on. Alexander was planning that , but Darius advised by his subordinates also did the same thing. Than Darius got lucky to come to point where Alexander already wasn't and be able to cut off Macedonian. He wasn't planning that. Alexander upon hearing about news , turned back. Than Alexander moved towards Darius in caution , ready to give battle at any given moment and prepared for everything. Upon approaching Persian army he analyzed situation and quickly made adjustments like transferring additional cavalry to left flank of Parmenion so he would hold it , also leaving some greek mercenaries in reserve. Such things happen in war. I am not saying that nobody made mistake or Alexander was flawless here , no he wasn't , but I wouldn't call it dumb. Sometimes things like that happen.

Battle of Jena–Auerstedt also can considered dumb by same fashion. Napoleon just got lucky , really lucky because Prussians would've escaped if they would win against Davout , like they should have. Napoleon didn't even know that in front of him smaller Prussian force and main army is fighting Davout. Hell , when he got the news he said , that Davout needs to check his eyes , he didn't believe that Main Prussian army would be there. Prussians had great superiority over Davout but lost. However , people call it great battle , achievement and etc. Also not in exactly the same way , but something similar will happen to Napoleon in 1809 and he refused to believe it at first also , but than makes his Landshut maneuver , turning around and attacking flank and rear of Archduke Charles corps , forcing them to retreat on other bank of Danube.

Last edited by Gvelion; October 29th, 2017 at 05:39 AM.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 05:34 AM   #10

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Sorry, but an army of less than 10,000 withstanding attacks from a 80-100,000 strong army for months even with their very walls in pretty bad shape is impressive in my book. Why are my factors illogical? What factors should I have looked at? The Ottomans had absolute numerical superiority in pretty much everything, and they were facing what was basically an impoverished city-state at that point. Mehmed did have problems, especially internal issues, but that doesn't change the fact that the Ottoman victory was not that impressive.
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