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Overrated Battles

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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Overrated Battles
    Posted: 21-Oct-2005 at 15:19
and what exactly have Normans got to do with that? are you saying the british empire was created by Normans?
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  Quote Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2005 at 05:16
Originally posted by Temujin

and what exactly have Normans got to do with that? are you saying the british empire was created by Normans?


When Normans conquered England they brought many things like vassal and sengnior relationships. There weren't and knights in Anglo-Saxon England before Normans conquest. Kings of Norman England inherited many lands possesions in France, which later led to the Hundred Years War.
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2005 at 13:50
what has feudalism and the hundred years war got to do with the British empire?
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  Quote Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2005 at 20:30
Originally posted by Temujin

what has feudalism and the hundred years war got to do with the British empire?


I just wanted to say in previous posts that if the Normans lost the battle in Hastings 1066, there won't be any Hundrey Years War and later royal dinasties and of course there won't be any British empire like you know it from history now. It was really decisive battle.
If the Anglo-Saxons won that battle, maybe there would be an Anglo-Saxon empire not British. And this Empire could be quiet different.
Some battles change the history of countries for long time period.  So I think that Hastings is among them.
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Oct-2005 at 14:57
the hundred years war was fought between the Anjou-Plantagenet dynasty and the French crown, not between Normans and French. and you can't say the Brits created an empire just because Normans once conquered them.
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  Quote Jonathan4290 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 01:27
Originally posted by Alkiviades

Normandy: By that time, the outcome of WW2 was practically decided. Everybody was working for "the day after". USA-UK did not want USSR to gain too much power, so they stalled for almost a year the opening of the western front Stalin was begging for. Out of a dozen different locations, they picked Normandy and landed an overwhelming force, impossible to be stopped by the forces the Germans had in France at the time. How was this "decisive" or whatever, escapes my mind. If you are looking for "decisive" in WW2, try Midway, El Alamein, Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk. Normandy was a great (and bloody) show.
 
I'm not trying to argue that the Battle of Normandy had any effect on World War II but its effect on the post war world was huge. The Soviets clung to every piece of land they got, hence East and West Germany and if the Soviets had been able to take as much as they wanted or even invoke Communist movements in the Western countries history would've been much different.
 
Even if the Soviets played nice and gave Western Europe back, the lack of a second front would've prolonged the war and preoccupied their armies long enough so that they couldn't invade Manchuria, help the Red Chinese and install a Communist government in North Korea.
 
The Battle for Normandy is overglorified but in the context of history it was still very important.
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 03:04
I would have to say that there is one battle that conforms to this - Salamis. I've been doing some reading up on this battle by famous military historians, and frankly I can see their point when I read the primary sources.

Firstly, Herodotus's account of the amount of ships that Xerxes actually had was completely overrated and implausible for the tactical situation - had Xerxes 1'200 ships, he would have left around 500 at Salamis to hem in the small number of Athenians ships and used the remainder to proceed with his flanking action upon the Greek defenses at the neck of the Peloponnese. Moreover, wreckage is told in sources to have floated south towards a small island which the Persians had garrisoned in order to pick off any Greek boats attempting to escape or pursue - the direction of this wreckage implies storms in the vicinity before the battle, and we thus have two reasons why Xerxes' forces could not have been as large and well-equipped as Herodotus states that they were. Moreover, after the Persians had sacked the acropolis and the rest of Athens, they beached their vessels - according to Herodotus - in the various small bays in the area, and these bays - even if we allocate the ships the smallest space that they need to be beached, and even if they are in combat positions (the stern in the water, ready to move out quickly), there is nowhere near enough space to allow for this Persian fleet to be beached around Salamis. Xerxes was no fool, and frankly after he had sacred the acropolis and had made it unsafe for the Athenians to return to Attica from Salamis for the time being, there would have been no need to send his entire fleet against the small Athenian and mixed Greek force around Athens.

The above is basically a rejection of the terms of engagement for the battle, which is usually what makes people think it so impressive - yes, Themistocles' intervention was clever, as was the use of the small bay in Salamis to hide a detachment to hit the Persian flank, but on the other hand, the Phoenician and Persian sailors couldn't use their superior sailing skills because they were sailing right into the sun, and the course was too narrow to allow all of them to take evasive action quickly. Moreover, in the terms of the Persian war, it was one defense of one city in Northern Greece that had already been overrun, and yes, people will say "but that city is Athens" - that may be so, but the tactical situation doesn't change just because of the later glory of the city, and I believe that this has given the battle a disproportionate amount of credibility. The ultimate defense of Greece lay at Plataea and Marathon in many respects, and it was actually the weather and the sea battle of Thermopyle that reduced the Persian forces (admittedly this "sea battle" at Thermopyle was a small series of isolated engagements) enough to mean that they had to engage the Athenians in Salamis for their own sake - any larger a force and they wouldn't have needed to bother. If the Persians actually had a force exceeding 1'000 ships, why bother to engage and risk losing them by going into Salamis when they already have the citizenry isolated on the island, and the small navy sulking in the shadows of the Saronic gulf! These Persian war battles always get to me...people colour them with ridiculously too much tactical significance. It seems that, although the Greeks did have some excellent victories against the Persians, these had luck as a massive factor and the Persians suffered from extraordinary amounts of bad luck.


Edited by Aster Thrax Eupator - 14-Mar-2008 at 03:06
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  Quote Joinville Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 13:11
Originally posted by Decebal

I also disagree with Waterloo. Had Napoleon won the battle, things would have been different indeed.


How do you mean?

If Napoleon wins at Waterloo, the Russians are still en route and in force. There will still be cossacks patrolling the streets of Paris shortly.

It might have made a difference for Napoleon personally. No idea what the Russians would have done with him. Otoh Napoleon only gave himself up to the British in the mistaken belief that they would somehow treat him like the gentlemen he expected them to be. Boy, was he in for a shock!
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 15:39
Can anyone come up with a list of ten battles that aren't overrated?
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 16:58
Battle of Plassey. The Brits became a power in one part of one region in Bengal. Yet it is "the start of British rule in India". The conquest of India was a process not an event.
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  Quote Sun Tzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 17:10
IF this is not in here then Waterloo could be an overrated one, the battle was already decided before it even begun.
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  Quote Jonathan4290 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 17:25

Military enthusiasts tend to try and attach more significance to a battle or have it represent something it may not have been. The Battle of Plassey is a good example of this and I would assume this is done in order to draw attention to the field of military history.

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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 17:28
Originally posted by Paul

Can anyone come up with a list of ten battles that aren't overrated?


open a new thread! Tongue
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  Quote deadkenny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 19:27
OK, let's consider 'overrated' in terms of "historians tend to overemphasize the importance of many familiar battles".  I think there is a difference between what gets 'attention' in the more popular media vs. what historians say about it.  Regarding some specific battles mentioned:

Normandy -  in terms of it being the loss that in and of itself led to Germany's defeat, sure that view is 'overrating' it.  However, I'm not sure 'historians' hold that view.  If one considers the possible alternate history that might flow from a result in Normandy such as the Allies being 'crushed on the beaches',  one might see what importance it had, even aside from the defeat of Germany.  The British likely would have told the Americans "I told you so" and insisted on an 'indirect' campaign in the Med.  The Germans would have been 'freed up' to a significant extent to concentrate forces against the Soviets.  Perhaps the Germans may have inflicted a defeat on the Red Army.  Stalin felt that he had been left to shoulder the burden of fighting the war on land against Germany, and may have even suspected the west of arranging this deliberately so as to weaken the Soviets.  A Soviet victory may have led to Soviet domination of western as well as eastern Europe.

Stalingrad - sure it gets alot of 'press', but then it was one of the critical battles of the ETO.  The only sense in which Stalingrad is 'overrated', is if one believes that Germany was 'doomed' from the start and was going to lose no matter what happened.  In that case, none of the battles fought in or around Europe during WWII are 'important'.

Waterloo - this is an interesting one.  Naturally it gets alot of 'press', for being Napoleon's final battle if nothing else.  On the other hand, I believe that it is 'underrated' in some sense.  Many of those who have studied history a bit express the opinion that 'Waterloo didn't matter because Napoleon never had a chance'.  However, the French army in 1815 was in many ways actually better than the one that had fought so well in 1814.  Further, the British and Prussian had 'stuck their necks out' in Belgium, and Napoleon's opening of the campaign had successfully defeated the Prussians and 'separated' British and Prussians.  It was only the failure of Ney to understand his part that allowed the British to withdraw in good order from Quartre Bras and then Ney's role in 'bashing his head' against strong British position at Waterloo coupled with Grouchy's failure to effectively pursue the Prussians after Ligny that setup the vulnerable position the French were in at Waterloo with the reinforcing Prussians coming in on the flank.  In terms of the strategic situation, it is not completely obvious that the Tsar would be willing to mount another 'campaign to Paris', which he saw as being largely to the advantage of the Germanic powers.  Austria had been less than enthusiastic about their previous participation, and with control of the territory they coveted there is no reason to believe there would have been any more enthusiastic about another campaign against Napoleon. 

On the other hand, the Battle of the Bulge / Ardennes Offensive in 1944 really was the dying gasp of an already defeated Germany.  The only effect was probably to make the Rhine crossing easier and allow the Russians a bit easier time in the east, by draining Germany's remaining reserves to no good effect.  The net result didn't really change much, other than perhaps ending the war a few weeks earlier.

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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 19:34
Originally posted by deadkenny

However, the French army in 1815 was in many ways actually better than the one that had fought so well in 1814.


how so?
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  Quote Samara Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 21:26
Cameron is battle overrated.
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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 21:35
Tours and all subsequent battles in France.
 
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  Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2008 at 22:02
Originally posted by Temujin

the british empire was created by Normans?
 
well
 
Major-General Sir Norman Stewart, certainly had a hand in it.
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  Quote deadkenny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Mar-2008 at 12:27
Originally posted by Temujin

Originally posted by deadkenny

However, the French army in 1815 was in many ways actually better than the one that had fought so well in 1814.


how so?


In terms of numbers, morale and being 'rested'.  The core of the French army in 1814 had been campaigning continuously during the previous year's campaign.  To re-build the class of 1815 had been called up early, and still relatively small numbers were available.  After so many years of fighting the French had become disillusioned.  The 1814 campaign was viewed by many as having been 'caused' by Napoleon who didn't know when to stop, as opposed to previous invasions which had been 'forced' on France by the invaders.  In the end his own marshals, those who owed everything to Napoleon, turned against him.  The Allies didn't wait, but invaded France 'early' in 1814, giving Napoleon little time to prepare.

Contrast that with 1815, where the army had been 'rested' for a year.  The class of 1815 was 'recalled', but note not the class of 1816.  The Allies were slower in getting their act together in 1815, with the Russians and Austrians in particular being less enthusiastic.  The French had been 're-motivated' to fight by their brief experience with the Bourbon restoration.  In 1815 the French were invading Belgium rather than falling back into France. They were also fighting an enemy that they had a chance against.  This all meant higher morale.
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Mar-2008 at 15:10
well, there are two major reasons why the 1815 Army was only a shadow of its former glory:

first reason, many Generals refused to serve Napoleon again, amongst them the two best cavalry commanders France had left, Nansouty and Latour-Maubourg. one of the reasons we have Grouchy which became in 1815 the last Napoleonic French Marechal.

second reason: the Army wasn't consoldiated at all, the first curiassiers had no curiasses, the french army underwent a re-organization under the Bourbons and again after Napoleons return from elba, which caused some regiments to fight at Waterloo with Royalist insignia. also, after the 1814 campaign, not only generals but also individual soldiers had lost their faith in Napoleon, which caused the instant collapse of Napoleons Army of the North after Waterloo.
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