We have had wars since we started quarreling with others, and we had enough people on both sides who were willing to fight for it. Although warfare has changed dramatically since its inception, the basic rules have always remained the same. It is usually the side of conventional numerical and technological superiority that wins, regardless of other factors. Well, usually.
In a few cases, armies without clear advantage on the battlefield (or even with a complete disadvantage in some rare cases) have prevailed against their numerically / technologically superior enemies because they are in the air smart military tactics. While some of these combat maneuvers are still studied in history lessons around the world, some have been forgotten due to the larger consequences of their respective wars.
. 8 The Matchbook Tactics
World War II was full of creative military tactics on both sides, though only a few proved successful. One of them was Britain, which convinced German soldiers to give up their posts and be sent off for medical reasons. Since they could not exactly approach them and tell them about it, they decided that the best way to do it was to print it on matches and throw them behind enemy lines.
The matches contained specific instructions on how to feign illness, such as dermatitis and lung problems. They also expected that German soldiers would follow the plan, because almost everyone would sit somewhere in a hospital bed because of a war. To everyone's surprise – admittedly a rather far-fetched plan – they were largely successful, though probably not as they had intended.
The German commanders came up with the idea and refused to send someone to quarantine or to the medical care … except that some German soldiers were really sick since wars tend this to humans inflict. These soldiers were forced to stay and fight and spread real diseases under the German army. This tactic also led to mistrust between the German soldiers and their commanders.
. 7 Fake Your Own Death
If you know something about the history of Norway, you know from Harald Sigurdsson (also known as Harald Hardrada). Perhaps the most famous Norwegian king was known for his military successes in Eastern Europe after his brother had been usurped by Cnut (popularly known as Cnut the Great). He spent some time in the East before he ascended the throne, and worked as a mercenary for the Byzantine Empire. He was also good at what his skillful tactics and victories on the battlefield prove.
A particularly striking example was the siege of a small settlement that simply did not want to give up. While most people were frustrated and went home or stormed into battle, he had a brilliant plan.
He asked his men to put him in a coffin and tell the besieged powers that he was dead. In a spectacular loss of judgment, the citizens believed them and even buried it within the city walls. Not surprisingly, except for the villagers, he and a few of his men exploded with a sword from his coffin as soon as they were within the city walls. He could conquer the city with just a handful of soldiers, probably pointing at his enemy and laughing at him.
. 6 Operation Uranus
There was enough talk about the German defeat in the Second World War, albeit mainly in connection with the fighting in the West. Most of us know from their campaign in Russia that it was brutal and that you should never try to invade Russia during the winter. However correct that is, we forget that the Nazis were actually on the right path to success in the beginning, and if Stalin and the Soviet leadership had not thought dynamically, the war would have ended quite differently.
The focal point of the Eastern Theater was the Battle of Stalingrad, which, by sheer numbers, was by far the largest confrontation in the history of war. For the Russians, however, it was not always good, because the Germans were quite satisfied, as long as their supply lines remained intact. Stalin knew this and urged his generals to take a risky but clever maneuver to surround the Germans.
Known as Operation Uranus it redirected the supplies needed by the Russian forces in the city to two forces from the north and south of the city. Their goal was to get behind the German flanks, cutting off their supply lines and then orbiting them in a classic tongs maneuver. Maybe it was love for the motherland or fear of what Stalin would do to them if they failed, even though it turned out that the Russian forces were successful. They broke the German supply chain and had them surrounded, which turned out to be a turning point in the battle.
Again, we can not emphasize the importance of this maneuver, as the German forces that won Stalingrad would have been catastrophic to the Allies (and the world).
. 5 The "Empty City" Tactics
What do you do when a troop of 150,000 troops marches on your city and you only have to defend a lost unit of about 100 men? If you want to believe an ingenious old Chinese military commander, the correct answer is, "Open the gates and sit on the walls and play your lute."
The feat was accomplished by Chuko Liang (also Zhuge Liang) Commander of the Armed Forces of the Shu kingdom against the Wei forces in the war of the three kingdoms. Now the situation on other fronts was not so bad anymore, as the Shu commanded a considerable army of their own. They simply had not expected a march in this city, as Liang had already sent most of his troops to fight elsewhere. Given the full power of his enemies, he had to come up with a plan.
What he did in the end was referred to as the Strategy for Empty Forts which since then has been used with great success in a single time few other battles in history. He reckoned with his reputation for cunning and military strength (he was also credited with some military inventions, including a crossbow named after him) and asked his men to take off the city flags and retire. Then he climbed onto the walls and began to play his lute.
Sima Yi, the general who commanded the Wei forces, recognized him and ordered him to withdraw his own forces. He believed that Liang had an ambush, since he was not known as a man who would be caught unprepared without his own plans. It worked and the Wei army left her alone.
. 4 Battle of Ilipa
The success of the ancient Roman Empire can largely be attributed to the competence of its military leaders. Some of the most famous military maneuvers in history were executed by ancient Roman commanders, and students of war history still study them today. One of them was Scipio Africanus in his victory over Hannibal's forces at the Battle of Ilipa in Spain.
Both forces consisted of Iberian mercenaries and their own well-trained forces. While Scipio did a lot of things right in this battle, one of his best decisions was to reverse the order of his formation, just when the Carthaginians did not expect it.
Under the command of Hannibal's brother Mago and one of his best commanders, Hasdrubal Gisco, the Carthaginians, their lines had initially been arranged like the Romans. They had their well trained soldiers in the middle and the mercenaries on the flanks, as this was the best course of action. As the fight continued for a few days as the stalemate continued to change, Scipio suddenly decided to reverse the order and place his mercenaries in the middle. They did a great job in keeping the center of the Carthaginian forces, while the Roman flanks bothered their flanks and eventually broke.
Despite the excess of about 10,000 men and a kind of bad luck against Hannibal In the recent past, the Roman forces have prevailed. The battle was a turning point in the Roman War against Carthage and is still hailed as one of the best military maneuvers of all time.
. 3 Battle of Hydaspes
Alexander was by far one of the most brilliant commanders in history. Because of his skills on the battlefield, he regularly dealt with numerically superior opponents and won. He never lost a battle and brought Macedonia from a tiny city-state to one of the largest empires in human history.
What we do not know, however, is how close he came to his defeat during his Native American campaign. Defeating Persian and Greek kingdoms was one thing, though it was a very different game to march on Indian kingdoms – which at that time commanded the largest armed forces in the world, including the war elephants most soldiers in the West had never seen, let alone had fought altogether. This did not deter him, and he marched on the troops of King Porus of Punjab near the river Jhelum .
With the clearly outnumbered enemy army on the other side of the river blocking his way, he had to come up with a plan, and he did so promptly. In one of the best maneuvers in history, he left part of his forces to Porus and took the majority of his army to cross the river at a distance of about 27 kilometers. Porus got wind of this plan and moved his position to face the mass of Alexander's forces. He did not know it then, but he had already prepared for a possible defeat. Alexander marched his characteristic phalanxes on Porus' forces (including 200 war elephants) and sent cavalry to overtake him.
While Alexander lost in the beginning, the flanking maneuver – including the arrival of the remaining forces from earlier – completely routed the massive army of Porus.
. 2 Taking advantage of one's own bad reputation
Ancient China was a particularly bloody time in world history in which many independent states and large factions fought for control of the vast territories. One of these independent states was Chi, who faced the mighty Wei forces. The Ch'i forces were known for their incompetence, since they were not particularly trained, were much deserted, and generally were bad soldiers. The Wei troops commanded by Mr. Chuan knew this and probably did not think much about the advancing army after the declaration of war between the two.
What he did not realize was that the Ch'i troops had a particularly brilliant military tactician for this war, Sun Bin, on their side. Sun Bin, a descendant of probably the best strategist of all time, Sun Tzu had an old rivalry with Chuan, which is why he probably wanted to help. He developed a brilliant strategy to give the impression that his forces had been abandoned by reducing the number of nocturnal fires in his camp during the advance. The Wei troops, suspecting that they were classic deserters of Ch'i, did not think much of it, waiting for the advancing army.
As you might have guessed, the Ch'i-i forces easily overpowered the Wei army because they had no idea that they were facing a full army of 100,000 men. Chuan even committed suicide by slitting his throat in the end.
. 1 Inventing a whole new formation on the fly
Napoleon can certainly be placed on any list of the best military tacticians of all time. It is a particularly notable achievement, as all the armies he fought were equal to him in terms of technology and military experience, unlike others like Alexander and Genghis Khan.
With a long list of impressive military maneuvers in front of him To mention here, we will focus on his Egyptian campaign. The Mamluks had an impressive cavalry that surpassed its own cavalry by at least two to one. Where most other European armies would have suffered defeat, Napoleon won because of its sophisticated square formation.
He placed artillery, cavalry and baggage in the middle of the square, which represented more rectangles than squares than twice the number of soldiers on their length as width. The formation was incredibly manoeuvrable and difficult to flank, as it could respond to flank tricks from almost all sides. He barely lost soldiers, and in the end all Mamluk forces had been transferred to Cairo on his successful march.
More articles you might like