Most Decisive Battles of History

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by CarpeDiem, Jul 24, 2007.

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  1. The thread on history buffs made me think of this.

    In 1851, Sir Edward Creasy, Prof of History at London University, published his list of the 15 most decisive battles of human history.

    The Battle of Marathon, 490 BC
    Defeat of the Athenians at Syracuse, 413 BC (known as the Battle of Syracuse.)
    The Battle of Gaugamela, 331 BC (also called the Battle of Arbela.)
    The Battle of the Metaurus, 207 BC
    Victory of Arminius over the Roman Legions under Varus, 9 AD (known as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.)
    The Battle of Chalons, 451 AD (also called the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields or the Battle of the Catalun.)
    The Battle of Tours, 732 AD (also called the Battle of Poitiers.)
    The Battle of Hastings, 1066 AD
    Joan of Arc's Victory over the English at Orléans, 1429 AD (known as the Siege of Orléans.)
    Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 1588 AD
    The Battle of Blenheim, 1704 AD
    The Battle of Pultowa, 1709 AD (also called the Battle of Poltava.)
    The Battle of Saratoga, 1777 AD
    The Battle of Valmy, 1792 AD
    The Battle of Waterloo, 1815 AD

    In 1964, Lt Col J B Mitchell (USARMY) added the following

    The Vicksburg Campaign, 1863.
    Battle of Sadowa, 1866.
    First Battle of the Marne, 1914.
    Battle of Midway, 1942.
    Battle of Stalingrad, 1942-43.

    So what do ARRSE history buffs think? Do you agree with Creasy's first selection? Are those battles included in the second set worthy of their illustrious company? Which battles should be there and aren't?
  2. Come on Carpe - no mention of Trafalgar?.
  3. Kursk/Zitadel?

    German army smashed, no more reserves, Berlin here we come Comrade.
  4. Battle of the Bulge?
  5. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    I think "decisive" needs to by clarified - does it mean "important" and if so in what context, or a clear winning side?

    How could we classify Kursk?
  6. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    I agree with Kursk, from that point on the Russians had the initiative and the jerries were on the back foot and just delaying the innevitable.

    Battle of the Bulge was not really a decisive battle in the sense that it would have changed history had the Germans won it. They may well have split the Allies down the middle and perhaps caused some mayhem but they simply didn't have the men or materiel to compete with the Allies. The Germans were always going to lose.
  7. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Decisive, I think, has to mean it would have had a significant impact on history had it gone the other way.
  8. the 2nd Battle of Ypres when the Germans were within a whisker of breaking the British line. If they did the Germas would have captured Ypres and cut our army in half and the road to the channel coast undefended, and quite possibly brought a German victory to WW1
  9. Battle of the Boyne 1690? In that it was decisive in shaping the future of the British constitutional arrangement without which there is a good chance the British Empire may never have existed....
  10. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    Depends on your definition of 'decisive' I think. All of those listed were decisive in ending/massively shortening their respective campaigns rather than being just important battles or total annihilations.

    I can only imagine that's why there’s no mention of Cannae – one of the most decisive wins in history to my mind.
  11. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Well the repercussions of that one have certainly echoed through history. Although I don't really know enough about it to know what the results at the time would have been had it gone the other way. Anyone round here know their Irish history :D
  12. Good point Alsacien.

    "Decisive" would imply that the battle would effect the `course of history`either on the greater scale of a campaign or the political issues surrounding it.

    Eg, German defeat in Zitadel meant that the war was all but over (strategically) for the Germans, regardless of the pending Second Front, or the vast Allied air armada over Germany.

    Of course 20x20 hindsight will cloud our judgement.
  13. Id have said Le Cateau and Mons in 1914, rather than Ypres or the Marne, the importance of Le Cateau has been overlooked, and the Battle of Britain is certainly up there, though Dowding and Park were shite on after that.
  14. Personally, I'd add

    Plataea 479BC - finally stopped the Persian dream of conquering Greece
    Cannae 216BC - Probably Rome's greatest defeat
    Hattin 1187AD - Saladin defeats the Crusaders and retakes Jerusalem
    Trafalgar 1805AD - Establishes British naval dominance and paves the way for the Empire
    Battle of Britain 1940AD - stops the threat of invasion and allows the use of Britain as a launch pad to take on the Third Reich

    Also rans? Plassey 1757AD - established British military adn political dominance in India
  15. Cannae wasnt decisive, though certainly one of the most decisive wins, it only delayed the inevitable due to the posturing after.
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