Cannae/Gaugamela/Austerlitz of naval warfare?

#11
The Roman victories at Mylae (260 BC), Cape Ecnomus (256 BC) and the Aegates Islands (241 BC) are especially noteworthy achievements. Rome, a land-based power at the time mostly confined to Italy and with little naval experience, defeated Carthage, one of the great maritime powers of history, in a series of major naval battles. Mylae saw Rome employ the corvus for the first time, using the invention to turn naval battles into land battles, where they excelled, and Ecnomus was one of the largest naval battles in ancient history.

The Carthaginian victory over Rome at Drepana (249 BC) was a big deal. 93 Roman ships captured or sunk, and no recorded Carthaginian ships lost. The battle shows the Carthaginian fleet in top form, but it must also be admitted that the Romans shot themselves in the foot by approaching the Carthaginian position in a very clumsy manner.

I have used this quote about the First Punic War by the Greek historian Polybius many times in this forum, but it is worth repeating (1.63.4-7): '(The First Punic War) had lasted without a break for twenty-four years and is the longest, most unintermittent, and greatest war we know of. Apart from all the other battles and armaments, the total naval forces engaged were, as I mentioned above, on one occasion more than five hundred quinqueremes and on a subsequent one very nearly seven hundred. Moreover the Romans lost in this war about seven hundred quinqueremes, inclusive of those that perished in the shipwrecks, and the Carthaginians about five hundred. So that those who marvel at the great sea-battles and great fleets of an Antigonus, a Ptolemy, or a Demetrius would, if I mistake not, on inquiring into the history of this war, be much astonished at the huge scale of operations. Again, if we take into consideration the difference between quinqueremes and the triremes in which the Persians fought against the Greeks and the Athenians and Lacedaemonians against each other, we shall find that no forces of such magnitude ever met at sea.'
 
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Fiver

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,724
#12
It's not on the same scale as one of these others, but the Battle of Lake Erie on 10 September 1813 was very one-sided, with all 6 ships of the British Sqaudron being captured by the Americans.
 
Jan 2018
389
Sturgeon Lake Mn.
#14
It's not on the same scale as one of these others, but the Battle of Lake Erie on 10 September 1813 was very one-sided, with all 6 ships of the British Sqaudron being captured by the Americans.
I think it's the most important of all American naval victories in that it led to the British abandoning much American territory. Imagine a War of 1812 that ended with much of the American Old Northwest reverting to Britain.
 
Likes: Fiver
Mar 2019
1,465
Kansas
#16
An unpopular opinion but I consider the Nile to be tactically better than Trafalgar,
Thank you - I am glad there are two of us in the world that think this.

A little side note - I replayed this battle using the old Avalon Hill game "Wooden ships and Iron Men" First the Culloden ran aground at the entrance to the bay. Then - I kid you not, the L'Orient blew up. Admittedly a little earlier in the battle than in real life, but still a Twilight Zone moment lol
 

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