Missed opportunities in military history


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
And how is Dunkirk a missed opportunity?
Gettysburg: Lee was allowed to cross the Potomac and reach Virginia with his army intact after the battle. The river was in flood and Lee was on the north shore for ten days before he could cross.

Dunkirk: Rundstedt halted his forces for two days before attacking the British positions allowing more time for the British to evacuate and prepare.
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Jul 2016
Falaise pocket. It would have been worth spending the lives to reduce that pocket to completely destroy Army Group B, instead of allowing a good number its personnel to escape to reform on the West Stellung lines in September. Everything should have been thrown at completely the encirclement.
Feb 2016
Battle of Long Island.
Howe could have pressed a final attack instead of settling down to build trenches.
Missed opportunity to inflict the crushing defeat, early enough in the campaign, that might have been the only way to end the rebellion. Possibly could have killed or captured Washington too.


Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
And how is Dunkirk a missed opportunity?
The Germans didn't have the forces immediately available to assault it from the south, and when they did they were repulsed
Initial British estimates were pretty pessimistic about how many troops could be evacuated form the pocket , 50,000 or so. They really did not think they would be able to get so many troops off. That's the British with a lot more naval experience. With the benefit of hindsight the clock was ticking and the Germans needed to act quickly., but atthe time the Allied forces looked pretty much doomed and teh need for quick action was not obvious.
Likes: Lord Fairfax
May 2018
Union incompetence during the first two years of the ACW. McClellan alone had so many missed opportunities, I stay my usual "don't judge generals in difficult situations too harshly" due to his almost criminal negligence to press advantage when able subordinates (who served with distinction throughout the war) urged him to attack.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
Had Marlborough been allowed to continue his campaign and not been dismissed, then the allies were all but certain to be in a position to march on Paris and force a favourable end for themselves. Marlborough had virtually cleared the string of Vauban fortresses, after capturing Bouchain. As it was , political machinations intervened.

Earlier on in the same war, after Ramillies, Louis was prepared to go to the negotiation table, but the allies were too greedy (much to Marlborough's chagrin) and turned down the proposals, hence fortifying Louis' will to win the war for the French, and resist.
Jul 2018
The order issued to Garibaldi's forces to stop the advance in 1866. If he didn't, he could easily have penetrated deep into Austrian Tyrol and the course of WWI might have been altered quite substantially on the Italian front.

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