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Forum LockedMost embarassing defeat in history?

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Majkes View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Dec-2007 at 12:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sikander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Dec-2007 at 16:12
Although I particulary like Aljubarrota, my choice for the "the most ridiculous defeat" goes for the Italian invasion of Greece: the proud Italians go for "a walk in the park" and end up fighting for the control of Albania!!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sikander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Dec-2007 at 16:21
Huummm, now that I read about the battle of Karansebes, I think I'll have to change my vote... I've never heard of such an amount of stupidity before!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Dec-2007 at 18:06
forget that article, it is edutainment gone bad as usual...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Dec-2007 at 06:12
Temujin; you seem to be well informed as usual, could you point out how the battle actually went or just why the article is inaccurate?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Dec-2007 at 17:55
i don't dispute the event, just the way it is portrayed. first of all it was not a battle obviously, since we are lacking an enemy and no fightign took place, also the details and casualties are basically folklore tales.

Edited by Temujin - 29-Dec-2007 at 17:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Dec-2007 at 23:34
^^ Yes, that was my impression, that you simply disagreed with how it was portrayed not disputing something of the like never occured. 
 
So, are you of the opinion that the infighting did not occur, or simply the damage inflicted and description of the incident was exaggerated? 
 
If you do not mind me asking; can you recommend any books or online sources that deal with this incident?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Dec-2007 at 01:06

Well, there is always the 1525 battle of Pavia - in a nutshell, Francis I pursues some pro-Hapsburg princelings into northern Italy with a massive army as said princelings retreat. Most of them are defeated but the last one fortifies in the Italian town of Pavia. The French with their Florentine allies besiege this town which has a sizeable garrison, when a massive Hapsburg and Milanese force swoops down upon the French and Flortentine siegeworks. Francis I attempted to escape, before a Spanish musketeer detachment shot away his bodyguard and he was made a prisoner to Charles V and the French didn't come back to Italy for a while after this lesson...

 

I know it's a bit of a cliché to continue most embarrassing French military defeats, but I could not resist this one. It's from the same era, and perhaps I'm not actually putting this powerful French dynasty in the best light, but believe you me, despite all of these examples of the military failures of the house of Valois, they did manage to hold off the forces of the universalist Hapsburg empire for quite a while which says a little more than something about their military capabilities. This is the 1519 battle "of the spurs"/Guinegate. As one of his earliest martial successes, Henry VIII recaptured Calais in a lightning campaign and captured many of the surrounding fortresses in the area. The emperor Maximilian I - Charles V's paternal grandfather - also helped in the invasion, combining forces with Henry to smash the French army of Jaques de la Palice (who incidentally died at Pavia and was so well loved by the French that his troops after Pavia composed a poem for him). This they did, and supposedly the French knights pf the battle (who were some of the best in France) fled very quickly (hence the nickname "the battle of the spurs"). Sorry - that's all the information that I can find on it  but apparently it was pretty embarrassing for Valois France (especially when the flower of their knighthood all flees the battle pretty much at once...).

 

One of the other battles I have to recommend for this category that is from the same time period but from a very different area would be the battle of Chaldiran, 1514. Although this battle didn't really advance the campaign against the Safavids, as a self-contained tactical event it was a decisive victory. It recognized as one of the first and best representations of the technological superiority of the Ottoman empire in these stages over it's eastern rivals. A hint - what happens when Safavid cavalry come into contact with Ottoman artillery... The Janissary units were all equipped with excellent muskets, and there were supposedly around 200 cannon and 100 mortars with the Ottomans at the battle, and the Safavids had...horse..archers? I'm not sure about the numerical situation as most of the sources on it that I've read seem to be quite contradictory about the numbers involved, some say that Ottomans had superiority in numbers and others vice-versa. The Safavid Persian Shah, Ismail I, was almost killed in this battle, and retreated back to Persia. Although many more conflicts between these two empires would happen, for the period of the Ottoman "golden age", it was from this point onwards a sort of "cold-war" between the two states with a few violent skirmishes amongst the boarders. Shah Ismail attempted to try a new tactic against Selim I's dynamic young state by encouraging dissent in the various religious communities in eastern Anatolia, but not much came of this in the long run.

 

We've also got the battle of the river Zab, 750 between the new Abbasid dynasty with the support of many oppressed minorities of Umayyad Persia, which itself was crumbling from the inside for various reasons. The battle was fought between the Umayyad Sultan Marwan and the dynamic and brilliant Abbasid Caliph Abu 'Al-Abbas as Saffah. Although the Umayyads had a significant numerical advantage, this was offset by the amount of veterans in the Abbasid force (from the various battles with the Byzantine empire and others) and disloyalty in the Umayyad army and the general awareness that Marwan II’s state was crumbling. The battle itself was a quick and bloody affair- the Abbasid army took the defensive by forming a fortified phalanx locked in tight formation. The Umayyad cavalry and later infantry simply hurled wave after wave of attackers at the near impregnable wall of spears and (not surprisingly) getting cut down in swathes in the process. It is possible that, due to the veteran nature of the Umayyad army, they believed that they could break the wall by fighting experience alone, but this proved to be ineffective- the Umayyad army retreated; leaving the battlefield completely demoralized and attempted to retreat across the river Zab where they were either drowned or butchered by the Abbasid army in pursuit.



Edited by Aster Thrax Eupator - 30-Dec-2007 at 01:06
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Dec-2007 at 18:52
Originally posted by Justinian Justinian wrote:

^^ Yes, that was my impression, that you simply disagreed with how it was portrayed not disputing something of the like never occured. 
 
So, are you of the opinion that the infighting did not occur, or simply the damage inflicted and description of the incident was exaggerated? 
 
If you do not mind me asking; can you recommend any books or online sources that deal with this incident?


i'm not sure where to find detailed information about this event, maybe in the official war records in Vienna or so. at least it occurs to me that the event is more or less based on local folklore than real historical records. note that even wikipedia is inconsistent and the "battle" is not listed on the main page dealing with this war:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo%E2%80%93Turkish_War_of_1787%E2%80%931792

the only source for this event is this book about military blunders, hence my remark about edutainment
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The_Jackal_God Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Dec-2007 at 23:31
agincourt or any other of your typical french defeat   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:25
Originally posted by The_Jackal_God The_Jackal_God wrote:

agincourt or any other of your typical french defeat   
 
Would that include Valmy and Campoformio and Marengo and Austerlitz and Jena and Auerstadt and Wagram, and Smolensk, and even Borodino?  Or any of about 100 others?
 
French history goes back beyond 1940.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:30
Originally posted by The_Jackal_God The_Jackal_God wrote:

agincourt or any other of your typical french defeat   


The French defeat at Agnicourt has been hyped and exagerated over the centuries.   Crowd dynamics (soccer stampede style crush caused by French knights advancing to fight) and the execution of prisoners by the English caused more deaths than English arrows.

For embarassing French defeats, I would go with the total collapse of French  national resistance in 1940.  This is especially so since France was an industrial power with advance warning.   In fairness, however, the performance of the supporting British, Dutch and Belgian armies in 1940 was not exactly Napoleonic in nature either.

For  balance,  some embarassing American defeats could be
-  Custer's last stand (1876?)
-  Phillipines, 1941
-  North Korean and later Chinese advance in Korea.  Catastrophic defeat avoided by having thousands of 2 1/2 ton trucks for quick escapes and air strikes rather than fighting skills.   Of course there are exceptions such as Marine fire brigades and Marines stand at the Chosin Reservoir.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:31

hmmm...although battles such as Agincourt, Pointers and Crecy were pretty significant defeats for the French, I'm not sure that it can be classed as "embarassing". Yes, the English did have the longbow and some basic artillery, and the technological gap was a large factor, but I don't think these battles constitute as being "embarrasing" in that sense because the French knights and men-at-arms fought fairly well. Also, one of these battles - Crecy - wasn't so much due to the French, more their allies, the Geonese, who provided crossbowmen who caused a wide-scale rout when French knights tried to stop them from fleeing the battlefield from the English longbowmen and bombards. Moreover, at Poitiers, the English longbowmen and knights were mainly concealed - so it wasn't actually an embarassing defeat in that sense - the French had no idea.

hmm...on this basis some of my battles that I've posted above might need to be reconsidered as well...Embarrassed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:32
But weren't all those you mentioned Pike, French victories? And isn't Campoformio more of a treaty than a battle? The Jackal God was referring to French defeats.

Regardless of that minor technicality, it was quite an ignorant statement on his behalf, and I am completely behind you in disagreeing with it.

Yes, Jackal God, Agincourt would have been very embarrassing, but the "typical french defeat" was not nearly as humiliating as Agincourt.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tancrède Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:48
Poitiers Crecy Agincourt three great defeats but France won the hundred years' war.

So for French the worst is battle of may june 1940,
i'm agree with Cryptic

Edited by Tancrède - 31-Dec-2007 at 00:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:50
I think what needs to be understood is that there is a difference between "greatest defeat" and "most embarassing defeat". A large defeat that has disasterous consequences for a nation, for example, isn't neccesarily an embarassing defeat...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tancrède Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:57
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Originally posted by The_Jackal_God The_Jackal_God wrote:

agincourt or any other of your typical french defeat    

Would that include Valmy and Campoformio and Marengo and Austerlitz and Jena and Auerstadt and Wagram, and Smolensk, and even Borodino?  Or any of about 100 others?


Agnadel 1509 Marignan 1515 Cerisoles 1544 Rocroy 1643 Lens 1648 Dunes 1658 Turckeim 1675 Fleurus 1690 leuze 1691 Beachy Head 1690 Almansa 1707 Denain 1712 Fontenoy 1745 Carillon 1758 and many others
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 00:58
They can always be both, as well.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tancrède Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 01:01
Originally posted by Aster Thrax Eupator Aster Thrax Eupator wrote:

I think what needs to be understood is that there is a difference between "greatest defeat" and "most embarassing defeat". A large defeat that has disasterous consequences for a nation, for example, isn't neccesarily an embarassing defeat...


An embarassing defeat is a rout, or when the defeat is against a weak opponent.
In all greteast defeats, the defeated army is in rout at the end of the battle
A large defeat is always embarassing.

Edited by Tancrède - 31-Dec-2007 at 01:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Dec-2007 at 01:22

I agree with the routing aspect, but many battles are lost by tactical issues and other issues like that. I think that for it to be truly embarassing, the winner would have to have had a truly insignificant force. It can also be embarassing from an Ironic sense from our perceptive as well, I suppose...

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