Best Military Tactics In History.

Dec 2009
969
UK
They were defeated in a few pitched battles by European kingdoms, and in the 14th century the Golden Horde was defeated repeatedly and pushed out of Europe for good, and this was before gunpower became a big factor. It was only the initial wave of Mongol invasions in the mid-13th century that were devastatingly effective and hard to counter.
......... do you mean when the main aristocracy of the Golden Horde left with a bulk of the Mongol army to settle the Mongol wars of succession back East?

The Golden Horde minus their Mongol overlords were just the same Kipchak Turks they were before they were absorbed.

They weren't so much kicked out of Europe it was more that they melted away when Mongol advancement ceased due to political issues.

When the big battle occurred against the European Kingdoms of Hungary, Germany and their allies the Europeans were defeated as is well documented, this was best of the best vs each other, two full armies at full strength in a stand off.

The Mongols were victorious.

The hordes of Eastern Steppe nomads never advanced again since the end of the Timurid's in 1507 AD and were resigned to no further than the Russian steppes in the era of Pike & shot.

It was the pike & shot era which in the 16th & 17th Century where no Turkic army dared to come West, even the Safavid's of Persia who are the closest to Far East and Central Asia were relatively free of East Nomad invasion

If you believe otherwise then what military advancement was it that halted the Horse Archer hordes before Pike & Shot?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,785
The attack without mercy.
But it can also encourage the opposition to fight to the last man. Greatly increasing casualties, or even defeat.

There is no tactic which is universally successful. tctics are only sucessful ina context analysis outside of any context is pretty fruitless.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,078
Navan, Ireland
But it can also encourage the opposition to fight to the last man. Greatly increasing casualties, or even defeat.

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Good point example from WWII

February 1942 the British base/city of Singapore humiliatingly surrenders with 80,000 soldiers



Would they have done so knowing what awaited them?

Two years later the Japanese counter attack a attempted BIA attack their plan is to take the supply base and use those supplies to further their attack, it consists of one defence company, a squadron of cavalry (crucially tanks) and 'base', troops they are ordered to form a 'box' that is prepare for all around defence. Its given the name 'Admin'. The Japanese arrive and one of the first thing they do is over run the aid post-- killing the patients, doctors and orderlies, except those patients they use as sand bags for their MG posts. They then of course call upon the British to surrender with assurances of good treatment!

What choice do these 'second rate' troops have? they defend the supply dump to the end, denying it to the Japanese .

Same thing happens in Kohima and Imphal all because they 'attack' without mercy.
 
Oct 2018
1,868
Sydney
Good point example from WWII

February 1942 the British base/city of Singapore humiliatingly surrenders with 80,000 soldiers



Would they have done so knowing what awaited them?

Two years later the Japanese counter attack a attempted BIA attack their plan is to take the supply base and use those supplies to further their attack, it consists of one defence company, a squadron of cavalry (crucially tanks) and 'base', troops they are ordered to form a 'box' that is prepare for all around defence. Its given the name 'Admin'. The Japanese arrive and one of the first thing they do is over run the aid post-- killing the patients, doctors and orderlies, except those patients they use as sand bags for their MG posts. They then of course call upon the British to surrender with assurances of good treatment!

What choice do these 'second rate' troops have? they defend the supply dump to the end, denying it to the Japanese .

Same thing happens in Kohima and Imphal all because they 'attack' without mercy.
This problem that comes with giving no quarter is why e.g. the Athenian general Iphicrates advocated always giving the enemy a way out of the slaughter. As far as he was concerned, it was better for the enemy to flee the battlefield than die where he stood. I think Sun Tzu suggested the same. Aurelian notably undermined support for Zenobia through a policy of clemency, and Hannibal sought to undermine Rome's system of alliances by showing clemency to their allies. Hamilcar Barca had had similar success during the Mercenary War against mercenary and Libyan rebels, but when the rebel leaders realised they were hemorrhaging soldiers through defections they conducted the savage mutilation and killing of 700 Carthaginians. Hamilcar responded with atrocities of his own, ordering captives to be mangled by his elephants. This had the desired effect for the rebels, that rebel soldiers would cease defecting to Carthage. The war evolved into what Polybius termed the Truceless War.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,099
Some clever tactics by the fourth-century BC Athenian general Iphicrates, who was evidently a big fan of deception:

Frontinus, Stratagemata 1.4.7: When the Athenian general Iphicrates was engaged in a campaign against the Spartan Anaxibius on the Hellespont near Abydus, he had to lead his army on one occasion through places occupied by enemy patrols, hemmed in on the one side by precipitous mountains, and on the other washed by the sea. For some time he delayed, and then on an unusually cold day, when no one suspected such a move, he selected his most rugged men, rubbed them down with oil and warmed them up with wine, and then ordered them to skirt the very edge of the p31 sea, swimming across the places that were too precipitous to pass. Thus by an unexpected attack from the rear he overwhelmed the guards of the defile. (See also Polyaenus, Stratagemata 3.9.33)

2.1.5: Iphicrates, the Athenian, having discovered that the enemy regularly ate at the same hour, commanded his own troops to eat at an earlier hour, and then led them out to battle. When the enemy came forth, he so detained them as to afford them no opportunity either of fighting or of withdrawing. Then, as the day drew to a close, he led his troops back, but nevertheless held them under arms. The enemy, exhausted both by standing in the line and by hunger, straightway hurried off to rest and eat, whereupon Iphicrates again led forth his troops, and finding the enemy disorganized, attacked their camp. (See also Polyaenus, Stratagemata 3.9.53)

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Are not some of these romanticized ?

For example "warmed them up with wine" ? really ? I dont really remember being warmed up by wine....

And 2.1.5 seems strange... I cant believe an army would stand a whole day without eating when there is no fighting going on...... at minimum they would organize a "sandwich run" .... either sending a few soldiers to bring food to their comrades in rotation (since typically they would be set up in several lines, sending a few guys from the last line would not be noticed by the ennemy nor create any havoc) or using the numerous followers that often came with the army to play the role of "uber eats" (and he mentions slaves and followers in another point... so these guys WERE available to bring food to the soldiers as required)
neither would they "stand" the whole day... they would take turn resting while nothing was going on
 
Oct 2018
1,868
Sydney
Are not some of these romanticized ?

For example "warmed them up with wine" ? really ? I dont really remember being warmed up by wine....

And 2.1.5 seems strange... I cant believe an army would stand a whole day without eating when there is no fighting going on...... at minimum they would organize a "sandwich run" .... either sending a few soldiers to bring food to their comrades in rotation (since typically they would be set up in several lines, sending a few guys from the last line would not be noticed by the ennemy nor create any havoc) or using the numerous followers that often came with the army to play the role of "uber eats" (and he mentions slaves and followers in another point... so these guys WERE available to bring food to the soldiers as required)
neither would they "stand" the whole day... they would take turn resting while nothing was going on
Maybe. They are certainly quite unusual stories, and I don't know enough about scholarly opinions on Frontinus and Polyaenus, or the strategemata genre, to judge their reliability. It is worth me noting that the idea that one warmed their soldiers with a bit of alcohol and oil does appear in the Second Punic War as well, but I can't remember the context. Possibly the Battle of Trebia? Certainly the oil appears in the case of the Trebia. As for the food trick, Polynaeus' version of the story claims that they weren't simply standing, but that Iphicrates' light troops kept the the enemy occupied in a state of indecisive skirmishing. Perhaps there is exaggeration or invention at play, but curiously the Trebia again provides a point of comparison. In the case of Hannibal at the Trebia, he made his troops have breakfast early, and then had his Numidian cavalry draw the Romans into a battle before they had had breakfast. But ultimately I'm no expert on these writers, so I'm not going to attempt to defend their historicity. The stories struck me as being sufficiently eccentric and entertaining to be worthy of inclusion, and at least in the case of the false-confidence-through-the-presence-of-a-fleet story, this at least does receive a more detailed account in the Hellenika of Xenophon, a contemporary history that exists outside the strategemata genre. In any case, Xenophon, Diodorus and the biographer Nepos all regarded Iphicrates as an exceptional tactician, as do Frontinus and Polyaenus, but I suppose such a reputation could encourage colourful stories less grounded in reality.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
And 2.1.5 seems strange... I cant believe an army would stand a whole day without eating when there is no fighting going on...... at minimum they would organize a "sandwich run" .... either sending a few soldiers to bring food to their comrades in rotation (since typically they would be set up in several lines, sending a few guys from the last line would not be noticed by the ennemy nor create any havoc) or using the numerous followers that often came with the army to play the role of "uber eats" (and he mentions slaves and followers in another point... so these guys WERE available to bring food to the soldiers as required)
neither would they "stand" the whole day... they would take turn resting while nothing was going on
Breakfast was often a prepared meal, it involves cooking it with fire. There were not unit cooks, individual tent sections cooked their own food. If there isn't enough time to eat breakfast before forming the army up to leave the camp, then the likelihood of getting fast food delivered by camp followers is nil. An army can't send one man from every tent group, or camp servants, to get everyone food. At that point they just have to suck it up.

It might not make sense to the modern reader, but that is just how it happened, and its why NUMEROUS writers of the ancient period put so much emphasis on ensuring their armies ate a good breakfast before forming for battle.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,099
Breakfast was often a prepared meal, it involves cooking it with fire. There were not unit cooks, individual tent sections cooked their own food. If there isn't enough time to eat breakfast before forming the army up to leave the camp, then the likelihood of getting fast food delivered by camp followers is nil. An army can't send one man from every tent group, or camp servants, to get everyone food. At that point they just have to suck it up.

It might not make sense to the modern reader, but that is just how it happened, and its why NUMEROUS writers of the ancient period put so much emphasis on ensuring their armies ate a good breakfast before forming for battle.
Perhaps.... but any seasoned soldier would also have some minimal food with him (like bread and olives and such)...... and there is a difference between not being distracted by food needs during action (hence the need for a strong breakfast to give the men 4 to 6 hours without need for food - though some may have needed to take dumps pretty badly), and standing around all day and not doing anything to get food..... Plus all these slaves and camp followers must have had some use even during battle, not to mention during idle time

What the Ancient Greeks Ate (and How They Ate It) - Greece Is

According to Aristophanes, soldiers likewise ate simple meals, sometimes comprising only cheese and onions.