Missed opportunities in military history

Jan 2015
5,076
Ontario, Canada
#81
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.
Thought about this but, how would Garibaldi hold onto Triento if the Austrians sent more troops? They Austrians won in the Veneto so really what was stopping them?
 
Nov 2009
3,849
Outer world
#82
Thought about this but, how would Garibaldi hold onto Triento if the Austrians sent more troops? They Austrians won in the Veneto so really what was stopping them?
Well, the victory at Custoza was a small one against a small portion of the poorly-led Italian armies and after Sadowa the Austrian Army began to withdraw from Northern Italy and send an entire corp to defend Vienna, so after Sadowa the Austrians had basically no opportunity to crush Garibaldi.
Trento was not that much fortified at the time, the Trento-stellung would be build from 1880s onwards to counter the threat of the Italian army, so in theory Garibaldi could have pressed on.
Had he done so and had he obtained the support from the government, then he would have been quite formidable as he was pretty adept at that kind of guerrila-mix-regular warfare style.
Could he menace the Austrian heartland? Doubtful, but most of Tyrol indeed. After all, at the end of July two Italian columns were marching on Trento from the west (Garibaldi) and the east (Medici) and Kuhn was preparing to retreat thus abandoning Trentino: it was indeed possible, had Italy not been led by the usual moronic leaders, to press on and obtain at least Trentino, if not even more.
This would translate into a whole different WWI: Italy would have been less interested in waging war against Austria and it could have been a steadfast ally of Germany in 1914, leading to potential unforeseen changes.
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
12,278
#83
It seems to me that many of the "opportunities" listed here , were no such thing....

Quite often they require a good dose of hindsight and information not available to the commanders of the time, and do not take into account some practical limitations (such as troop fatigue or logistical breakdowns for example - which go a long way to explain the famous "missed opportunity" of Hannibal not marching on Rome after Cannae among others) that the real life commanders had to deal with.

So as far as I am concerned, a "real" missed opportunity was one where:

  • the then commanders had the information at their disposal but failed to act upon it AND
  • conditions actually made it possible for them to act upon it

I am hard pressed to think of any at the moment.... except perhaps the extremely silly soviet deployment in June 1941
 
Oct 2015
312
Belfast
#84
Many, many times during the American Civil War, <1861-65>
the Union armies, lead early on by overly cautious
and incompetent generals, could have defeated the Confederates
only if they followed up certain engagements. The
CSA always seemed to slip away just in time.

One missed opportunity at Gettysburg.

Culp's Hill, which overlooked the Taneytown Road and faced Cemetery Ridge, held by General Meade. Isaac Trimble could see an advantage in taking the hill which was undefended. But General Ewell pulled rank and wouldn't listen. So, I don't blame Trimble for throwing down his sword in front of General Lee in protest at Ewell's inaction.
 
Jan 2015
5,076
Ontario, Canada
#85
Well, the victory at Custoza was a small one against a small portion of the poorly-led Italian armies and after Sadowa the Austrian Army began to withdraw from Northern Italy and send an entire corp to defend Vienna, so after Sadowa the Austrians had basically no opportunity to crush Garibaldi.
Trento was not that much fortified at the time, the Trento-stellung would be build from 1880s onwards to counter the threat of the Italian army, so in theory Garibaldi could have pressed on.
Had he done so and had he obtained the support from the government, then he would have been quite formidable as he was pretty adept at that kind of guerrila-mix-regular warfare style.
Could he menace the Austrian heartland? Doubtful, but most of Tyrol indeed. After all, at the end of July two Italian columns were marching on Trento from the west (Garibaldi) and the east (Medici) and Kuhn was preparing to retreat thus abandoning Trentino: it was indeed possible, had Italy not been led by the usual moronic leaders, to press on and obtain at least Trentino, if not even more.
This would translate into a whole different WWI: Italy would have been less interested in waging war against Austria and it could have been a steadfast ally of Germany in 1914, leading to potential unforeseen changes.
You make some good points. But one has to wonder if this is all true why would the Italian command order Garibaldi to withdraw? Can't imagine that they were so dumb as claimed. Is there something that we are missing. What was their reasoning?
 
Jul 2018
187
London
#86
You make some good points. But one has to wonder if this is all true why would the Italian command order Garibaldi to withdraw? Can't imagine that they were so dumb as claimed. Is there something that we are missing. What was their reasoning?
The reason was that peace negotiations were ongoing. Since a settlement in which Italy would acquire Veneto but would relinquish Trentino was acceptable for both parties, all the Italian forces there were ordered to withdraw before the official end of the hostilities.

In Italy Garibaldi's answer has become a popular expression. The 9th of August 1866 he replied:

"Ho ricevuto il dispaccio n. 1073.
Obbedisco. G. Garibaldi "

I received the message No. 1073
I Obey. G. Garibaldi

"I Obey", with no other words, in Italian, is an expression used when you are doing something that you don't agree with.
I used to say that a lot to my ex wife...
 
Jan 2015
5,076
Ontario, Canada
#87
The reason was that peace negotiations were ongoing. Since a settlement in which Italy would acquire Veneto but would relinquish Trentino was acceptable for both parties, all the Italian forces there were ordered to withdraw before the official end of the hostilities.

In Italy Garibaldi's answer has become a popular expression. The 9th of August 1866 he replied:

"Ho ricevuto il dispaccio n. 1073.
Obbedisco. G. Garibaldi "

I received the message No. 1073
I Obey. G. Garibaldi

"I Obey", with no other words, in Italian, is an expression used when you are doing something that you don't agree with.
I used to say that a lot to my ex wife...
So then Garibaldi taking Triento wouldn't have changed anything... Right?
 
Jan 2015
5,076
Ontario, Canada
#90
Nope, the bargaining chip would have gone away and the Austrians could have been forced to agree to worse terms.
Having trouble understanding this. Was there not an armistice already in place? Surely there was a reason to agree to an armistice. Be it an inability to carry out more operations or the unwillingness of the Prussians to fight further.
 

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