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Old 08-14-2011, 10:29 PM   #26
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Battle of Yorktown in 1781 has to be up there, ensuring the independence of the United States, without which today's geopolitical map would look very different indeed.

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Old 08-14-2011, 10:38 PM   #27
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Battle of the Atlantic (41-43 specifically)

underrated but extremely important.
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:41 PM   #28
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Battle of Moscow as well. If barbarossa had happened 6 weeks earlier (skipping operation marita), they could have very easily took Moscow during the initial push and drastically changed the outcome of the war. Supply lines would have been cut, Soviet HQ would have dissolved creating a chain reaction etc etc etc
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:41 AM   #29
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Battle of Moscow as well. If barbarossa had happened 6 weeks earlier (skipping operation marita), they could have very easily took Moscow during the initial push and drastically changed the outcome of the war. Supply lines would have been cut, Soviet HQ would have dissolved creating a chain reaction etc etc etc
Yes, but as it was, the Battle of Moscow does not qualify. Given the circumstances of what actually happened, the Nazis still likely to lose the Eastern Front even if they took Moscow (when they actually attempted to).

So, to go along with your premise, I suppose you might cite the Battle of Elaia-Kalamas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Elaia-Kalamas and the Battle of Pindus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pindus. Depending on your perspective, you might require the addition of the Battle of Crete. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Crete

If you are arguing the failure to take Moscow as a turning point, these battles are why Barbarossa started 6 weeks late.

If you agree with von Bock (and most of the Generals on the Eastern Front) then you might point to the Battles of Leningrad and Kiev as the primary factors depriving the Nazis from taking Moscow. After the Battle of Smolensk, von Bock was convinced Moscow could be taken if Army Group Center was allowed to press on. Hitler was not so convinced and diverted troops from Army Group Center to aid the Battle of Leningrad as well as Kiev. After a few weeks, it was clear Leningrad was only going to be taken by siege and the Army Group Center's troops were recalled to resume the push towards Moscow. The diversion resulted in an additional 4 or 5 week delay.

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Old 08-15-2011, 03:04 AM   #30
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Yes, but as it was, the Battle of Moscow does not qualify. Given the circumstances of what actually happened, the Nazis still likely to lose the Eastern Front even if they took Moscow (when they actually attempted to).

So, to go along with your premise, I suppose you might cite the Battle of Elaia-Kalamas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Elaia-Kalamas and the Battle of Pindus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pindus. Depending on your perspective, you might require the addition of the Battle of Crete. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Crete

If you are arguing the failure to take Moscow as a turning point, these battles are why Barbarossa started 6 weeks late.

If you agree with von Bock (and most of the Generals on the Eastern Front) then you might point to the Battles of Leningrad and Kiev as the primary factors depriving the Nazis from taking Moscow. After the Battle of Smolensk, von Bock was convinced Moscow could be taken if Army Group Center was allowed to press on. Hitler was not so convinced and diverted troops from Army Group Center to aid the Battle of Leningrad as well as Kiev. After a few weeks, it was clear Leningrad was only going to be taken by siege and the Army Group Center's troops were recalled to resume the push towards Moscow. The diversion resulted in an additional 4 or 5 week delay.
Well yes, technically I'm advocating that the failure to capture Moscow was a turning point of the war (and of history) since it was the first large German defeat where they never recovered. I'm aware of the diversion of troops after Smolensk to the north and south. However, Moscow was still a battle that could have been won by the Germans. I won't get into the logistics (there's lots of material out there) but they were numerically superior for one and could have approached the battle differently (perhaps with more emphasis on the frontal assault and less on the pincer movements).

Had they captured Moscow, there's no telling what kind of a logistical and psychological effect this would have had on the Soviets. Leningrad could have fallen soon after with the northern soviet front collapsing and all soviet resources/men being diverted to the south to defend the caucases/stalingrad. In turn, this development would have led to german troops being free to attack the south in a more pronounced effort in the summer of 42.

Of course, this is all hypothetical but it highlights the importance of the german defeat at moscow.

edit: not to mention that for the first time it showed the germans could be defeated.

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Old 08-15-2011, 08:47 AM   #31
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.



Not quite 100% on topic for this thread but here are the 7 tipping points that this book covers:

1. The defeat of the Assyrians in their quest to destroy the kingdom of Judah
2. The victory of the Greeks over the Persians at Thermopylae and Salamis
3. Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity
4. The defeat of the armies of Islam at Poitiers
5. The failure of the Mongols in their effort to conquer Europe
6. The discovery of the New World
7. The Battle of Britain in World War II

Charles the Hammer's win at Tours has to be up there.

Hannibal's defeat in Zama may have been the most decisive battle in history. Rome would have ceased to exist had Hannibal won. Imagine no Julius, Augustus, Constantine, Jesus, etc.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:52 AM   #32
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Well yes, technically I'm advocating that the failure to capture Moscow was a turning point of the war (and of history) since it was the first large German defeat where they never recovered. I'm aware of the diversion of troops after Smolensk to the north and south. However, Moscow was still a battle that could have been won by the Germans. I won't get into the logistics (there's lots of material out there) but they were numerically superior for one and could have approached the battle differently (perhaps with more emphasis on the frontal assault and less on the pincer movements).

Had they captured Moscow, there's no telling what kind of a logistical and psychological effect this would have had on the Soviets. Leningrad could have fallen soon after with the northern soviet front collapsing and all soviet resources/men being diverted to the south to defend the caucases/stalingrad. In turn, this development would have led to german troops being free to attack the south in a more pronounced effort in the summer of 42.

Of course, this is all hypothetical but it highlights the importance of the german defeat at moscow.

edit: not to mention that for the first time it showed the germans could be defeated.
Well, I disagree with you then. Under what "actually happened" even had the Germans taken Moscow, they were doomed because of the delays in their attempt.

After Smolensk, the road to Moscow was virtually open, there were relatively little forces to defend Moscow. At the start of the war, Stalin constantly made the mistake of committing most of his troops on the line without adequate reserves to plug holes. Also, due to Stalin's purges, Russia was quite short on quality officers.

As early September came around, Russia had almost all of its combat troops committed on the front lines and it had not yet pulled troops from its Eastern Border (despite having a non-agression pact with Japan, Japanese troops were still heavily deployed in Manchuria).

The tactics were not the problem once the attack was initiated. For example, you mention more emphasis on frontal assault might have made a difference. Emphasis on frontal assault plays away from the strengths of the German army for one, and two (as proven in later engagements, Hitler's very insistance on ... ) frontal assault resulted in wars of attrition that guaranteed loss, and crippled chances for stalemate.

The primary problem was maintaining supply lines. Had the Germans started their final push on Moscow earlier, this may not have been such a huge problem as the infantry could have remained active in mopping things up and securing lines as supplies came forward for the mechanized troops. Instead, not only did the Germans allow 4 extra weeks for the Soviets to construct fortifications and defenses of Moscow in September, it gave them time to bring up troops from the east (1,000 tanks and 1,000 airplanes).

Once the October push started, supply lines quickly became the issue. Indeed, despite the extra preparations, the Germans were still advancing at a regular clip - until they started running short on supplies. At the end of October, the entire operation was halted for over two weeks to allow for reorganization of the army and its supply lines. During this time, the troops from the east finally arrived and Stalin was able to pull together additional divisions from scattered remnants.

That's the ballgame, imo. By the time the Nazi's restarted the attack in Mid-November, Moscow was well fortified and the Russians were prepared to engage the Nazi's in a war of attrition. The deteriorating weather proved to be the final nail in the coffin.

Had the Nazi's actually taken Moscow after they resumed the assault in Nov., they would have still lost most of their army doing so. Meanwhile, the Russian's numbers were growing every day, and the production advantage was beginning to become exponential. The writing was on the wall.

Leningrad should have been bypassed from the beginning. Eventually, it would not have been sustainable IF the initial push focused on Moscow, effectively cutting of the Northern cities. At the time the push on Moscow was actually attempted (and assuming it was taken) Leningrad was already in the midst of a seige. It held out for a year. So, your argument that the whole soviet northern front collapsing is unavailing. In fact, there really was no such front - it was just a city holding out from a siege. The real front was from Moscow to the South.

The entire issue when it comes down to "what, when, where, how, why" turned the tide of the war against the Nazis is TIMING. Every single scenario contemplating a Nazi battle victory must consider when it could have been accomplished as the relative strength of the Germans v. whatever forces were opposing them is paramount.

For example, the entire western front could have been a non-starter from the get-go if the initial assault bogged down and allowed French troops to establish a proper defensive position. That things could quickly revert to a WWI-like stalemate was Germany's main concern. At that time, their army was not large enough to defeat the Allieds on the Western Front by sheer numbers.

The key to the initial invasion was that the French troops were actually drawn out of position and could never recover as the mistake was completely exploited. Accordingly what was considered to be the best army in Europe at the start of the war was relegated to being a non-factor.

That dynamic was also in play with Russia with a key exception: Taking control immediately would not allow Russia to exploit their superior resources (by giving them time to organize and convert said resources to war assets). Had the Germans focused the initial thrust on Moscow and (say) occupied it by the end of August, yes, Russia may have been check-mated right then.

However, by December/January, things were quite different.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:37 PM   #33
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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4. The defeat of the armies of Islam at Poitiers
"armies of islam"

that expression alone is enough for me to not trust that book


the thesis that this has been an important battle in the struggle between orient and occident is rather controversial among english-speaking historians and rejected among german and french ones (who are the #1 when it comes to the frankish empire).

a friend of mine had the carolingians as one of his topics in an oral exam and when he claimed that this has been one of the most important battles against the muslim expansion he was told that "citing theories of the 19th century is not the level we require from our students".

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Hannibal's defeat in Zama may have been the most decisive battle in history. Rome would have ceased to exist had Hannibal won. Imagine no Julius, Augustus, Constantine, Jesus, etc.
well the battle ended the 2nd war against carthago - but even if the romans had lost the battle, what would have been the consequences?

1. spain had been lost years before and there was a roman army there to defend it - the way to rome by land was blocked.
2. the numidians had changed sides and hannibal would have had to lead a war in africa before even thinking of returning to italy - enough time for the romans to recover.
3. his army at zama consisted of "greenhorns" and merchants and didnt have a cavalry to speak of (the numidian cavalry was his main weapon in his victorious battles)
4. even with the loss of the scipio-army the romans would have been in a better shape than a few years before when they basically didnt have a single legionary left.
5. and last but not least he didnt have much political support in carthago and was a little short on money - and war has always been expensive for empires.

the more decisive battles of this war probably were those hannibal´s brothers lost in 207(no reinforcements for hannibal --> no chance to take rome)and 206 (the loss of the iberian peninsula) - after that the momentum of the war had shifted too far towards the romans.

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Old 08-15-2011, 07:10 PM   #34
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Well, I disagree with you then. Under what "actually happened" even had the Germans taken Moscow, they were doomed because of the delays in their attempt.

After Smolensk, the road to Moscow was virtually open, there were relatively little forces to defend Moscow. At the start of the war, Stalin constantly made the mistake of committing most of his troops on the line without adequate reserves to plug holes. Also, due to Stalin's purges, Russia was quite short on quality officers.

As early September came around, Russia had almost all of its combat troops committed on the front lines and it had not yet pulled troops from its Eastern Border (despite having a non-agression pact with Japan, Japanese troops were still heavily deployed in Manchuria).

The tactics were not the problem once the attack was initiated. For example, you mention more emphasis on frontal assault might have made a difference. Emphasis on frontal assault plays away from the strengths of the German army for one, and two (as proven in later engagements, Hitler's very insistance on ... ) frontal assault resulted in wars of attrition that guaranteed loss, and crippled chances for stalemate.

The primary problem was maintaining supply lines. Had the Germans started their final push on Moscow earlier, this may not have been such a huge problem as the infantry could have remained active in mopping things up and securing lines as supplies came forward for the mechanized troops. Instead, not only did the Germans allow 4 extra weeks for the Soviets to construct fortifications and defenses of Moscow in September, it gave them time to bring up troops from the east (1,000 tanks and 1,000 airplanes).

Once the October push started, supply lines quickly became the issue. Indeed, despite the extra preparations, the Germans were still advancing at a regular clip - until they started running short on supplies. At the end of October, the entire operation was halted for over two weeks to allow for reorganization of the army and its supply lines. During this time, the troops from the east finally arrived and Stalin was able to pull together additional divisions from scattered remnants.

That's the ballgame, imo. By the time the Nazi's restarted the attack in Mid-November, Moscow was well fortified and the Russians were prepared to engage the Nazi's in a war of attrition. The deteriorating weather proved to be the final nail in the coffin.

Had the Nazi's actually taken Moscow after they resumed the assault in Nov., they would have still lost most of their army doing so. Meanwhile, the Russian's numbers were growing every day, and the production advantage was beginning to become exponential. The writing was on the wall.

Leningrad should have been bypassed from the beginning. Eventually, it would not have been sustainable IF the initial push focused on Moscow, effectively cutting of the Northern cities. At the time the push on Moscow was actually attempted (and assuming it was taken) Leningrad was already in the midst of a seige. It held out for a year. So, your argument that the whole soviet northern front collapsing is unavailing. In fact, there really was no such front - it was just a city holding out from a siege. The real front was from Moscow to the South.

The entire issue when it comes down to "what, when, where, how, why" turned the tide of the war against the Nazis is TIMING. Every single scenario contemplating a Nazi battle victory must consider when it could have been accomplished as the relative strength of the Germans v. whatever forces were opposing them is paramount.

For example, the entire western front could have been a non-starter from the get-go if the initial assault bogged down and allowed French troops to establish a proper defensive position. That things could quickly revert to a WWI-like stalemate was Germany's main concern. At that time, their army was not large enough to defeat the Allieds on the Western Front by sheer numbers.

The key to the initial invasion was that the French troops were actually drawn out of position and could never recover as the mistake was completely exploited. Accordingly what was considered to be the best army in Europe at the start of the war was relegated to being a non-factor.

That dynamic was also in play with Russia with a key exception: Taking control immediately would not allow Russia to exploit their superior resources (by giving them time to organize and convert said resources to war assets). Had the Germans focused the initial thrust on Moscow and (say) occupied it by the end of August, yes, Russia may have been check-mated right then.

However, by December/January, things were quite different.
I read your post although it was a little long. I mainly agree. Barbarossa/its timing/execution culminating with the battle of moscow definitly shaped the course of history is what im saying. We can agree that after moscow and the loss of initiative, the germans were done for.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:27 PM   #35
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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I read your post although it was a little long. I mainly agree. Barbarossa/its timing/execution culminating with the battle of moscow definitly shaped the course of history is what im saying. We can agree that after moscow and the loss of initiative, the germans were done for.
Sorry about the long post. In my experience, the best way to learn a lot about a subject is to read a lot about that subject. So, for example, if I was presented with a book that had, say 1,000 pages, I would not look at that as a deterrent as it is probably chock full of good information and detail that one would not get with a 200 page book.

Similarly, I can appreciate a two paragraph post as much as the next guy, but I guess some subjects and issues demand fuller treatment.

Anyhow, we do agree that capturing Moscow would have been a precondition for German success in Russia. I believe that precondition includes a separate time factor as well. By the time the Germans attempted to take Moscow in earnest, that time had already passed.

So, if I am looking for a proper point where the course of history was changed, it would have to exist prior to the battle for Moscow.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:46 PM   #36
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Sorry about the long post. In my experience, the best way to learn a lot about a subject is to read a lot about that subject. So, for example, if I was presented with a book that had, say 1,000 pages, I would not look at that as a deterrent as it is probably chock full of good information and detail that one would not get with a 200 page book.

Similarly, I can appreciate a two paragraph post as much as the next guy, but I guess some subjects and issues demand fuller treatment.

Anyhow, we do agree that capturing Moscow would have been a precondition for German success in Russia. I believe that precondition includes a separate time factor as well. By the time the Germans attempted to take Moscow in earnest, that time had already passed.

So, if I am looking for a proper point where the course of history was changed, it would have to exist prior to the battle for Moscow.
I don't mind the length really, your posts are well thought out and coherent.

Anyway, why must we conclude that the Battle of Moscow was a lost cause since "the time had already passed". Had the Germans reached Moscow earlier, they could have very well taken the city. However, many things occurred during the battle as it actually happened that could have caused a Soviet defeat.

For instance, Stalin was beginning to defer strategic decisions to his generals as opposed to his stubborn micromanaging during the first months of the war. Had he continued to make personal decisions on the defence of Moscow instead of deferring to Zhukov, the Soviet position could have been worse.

Furthermore, I recall reading that the temperatures fell drastically during the push on Moscow (to historic lows). This of course was advantageous only to the Soviets who were better equipped. Had the temperatures not gone so low, maybe the Germans could have had greater success.

Lastly, we can't completely ignore little decisions that could have effected the outcome of the battle. For instance, the insistence by Stalin to boost morale with the annual parade in the Red Square and/or the refusal by Stalin to re-establish his HQ outside of Moscow with the impeding German advance.

This is all speculative and truthfully you are absolutely right in saying that timing was the primary factor in the German defeat at Moscow. I guess I'm just talking into the wind.
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Old 08-15-2011, 08:52 PM   #37
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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I don't mind the length really, your posts are well thought out and coherent.

Anyway, why must we conclude that the Battle of Moscow was a lost cause since "the time had already passed". Had the Germans reached Moscow earlier, they could have very well taken the city. However, many things occurred during the battle as it actually happened that could have caused a Soviet defeat.

For instance, Stalin was beginning to defer strategic decisions to his generals as opposed to his stubborn micromanaging during the first months of the war. Had he continued to make personal decisions on the defence of Moscow instead of deferring to Zhukov, the Soviet position could have been worse.

Furthermore, I recall reading that the temperatures fell drastically during the push on Moscow (to historic lows). This of course was advantageous only to the Soviets who were better equipped. Had the temperatures not gone so low, maybe the Germans could have had greater success.

Lastly, we can't completely ignore little decisions that could have effected the outcome of the battle. For instance, the insistence by Stalin to boost morale with the annual parade in the Red Square and/or the refusal by Stalin to re-establish his HQ outside of Moscow with the impeding German advance.

This is all speculative and truthfully you are absolutely right in saying that timing was the primary factor in the German defeat at Moscow. I guess I'm just talking into the wind.
No, by all means no. I agree with you completely that Moscow could have been taken even under the real conditions - but for a few things here or there. That is not a fanciful position.

My entire point is that given the time frame, even if Moscow was taken, the window had passed to really make use of it. In addition, the time factor resulted in the immediate result of wasting valuable troops and materiel that the Germans simply could not replace as quickly as the Russians.

The only chance was a quick strike and then an exploitation of the chaos surrounding a mass retreat. If the Russians never get a chance to get their bearings, the Germans would have rolled them.

I gave the example of the intial push West against the French. In hindsight, we all recognize how one-sided it was. However, given the relative strengths prior to the invasion, IT WAS NOT A GIVEN. If the Germans used the Halder plan, the war quickly would reach stalemate conditions. Obviously, such conditions would defy and thwart all of Germany's goals regarding the war. There was a good reason why almost a year passed between the invasion of Poland and the Invasion of Belgium, France, the Netherlands - the Germans did not have the forces for a frontal assault and they did not have a plan in place that could avoid it.

Once Von Runstedt and Von Manstien (with Guderian's input) developed the attack and exploitation thought the Ardennes which was designed to capitalized on the German's mobility, then they attacked. What resulted was a quick capitulation and elimination of an entire army from the war with minimal loss.

That could have happened in Russia. However, after the spectacular results in the West, Hitler fancied himself as a war genius and invincible. He defied what was proven to him during that campaign and was not hesitant to engage in frontal assaults and battles of attrition with the Russians - a fatal mistake.
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:55 PM   #38
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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The Battle of Britain certainly fits the bill. While more a strategic campaign than a battle, British air supremacy over Britain prevented total German domination of Western Europe. Had British leaders been more foolish, and Herman Goering not been a buffoon WWII and history would have been drastically different.
The non-Battle of Dunkirk may have effected this end more than did the Battle of Britain. The Germans didn't execute the final blow at Dunkirk after having had an easy joyride across the Ardennes.
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:01 PM   #39
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

How important was the Battle of Tokyo Bay - the one Commodore Perry won? Didn't it result in the Meiji Restoration, which turned Japan into a global military power that defeated Russia early 20th Century?
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:59 PM   #40
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Not quite 100% on topic for this thread but here are the 7 tipping points that this book covers:

1. The defeat of the Assyrians in their quest to destroy the kingdom of Judah
2. The victory of the Greeks over the Persians at Thermopylae and Salamis
3. Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity
4. The defeat of the armies of Islam at Poitiers
5. The failure of the Mongols in their effort to conquer Europe
6. The discovery of the New World
7. The Battle of Britain in World War II

Charles the Hammer's win at Tours has to be up there.

Hannibal's defeat in Zama may have been the most decisive battle in history. Rome would have ceased to exist had Hannibal won. Imagine no Julius, Augustus, Constantine, Jesus, etc.
I lol'd at "that saved the world".
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:42 AM   #41
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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No, by all means no. I agree with you completely that Moscow could have been taken even under the real conditions - but for a few things here or there. That is not a fanciful position.

My entire point is that given the time frame, even if Moscow was taken, the window had passed to really make use of it. In addition, the time factor resulted in the immediate result of wasting valuable troops and materiel that the Germans simply could not replace as quickly as the Russians.

The only chance was a quick strike and then an exploitation of the chaos surrounding a mass retreat. If the Russians never get a chance to get their bearings, the Germans would have rolled them.

I gave the example of the intial push West against the French. In hindsight, we all recognize how one-sided it was. However, given the relative strengths prior to the invasion, IT WAS NOT A GIVEN. If the Germans used the Halder plan, the war quickly would reach stalemate conditions. Obviously, such conditions would defy and thwart all of Germany's goals regarding the war. There was a good reason why almost a year passed between the invasion of Poland and the Invasion of Belgium, France, the Netherlands - the Germans did not have the forces for a frontal assault and they did not have a plan in place that could avoid it.

Once Von Runstedt and Von Manstien (with Guderian's input) developed the attack and exploitation thought the Ardennes which was designed to capitalized on the German's mobility, then they attacked. What resulted was a quick capitulation and elimination of an entire army from the war with minimal loss.

That could have happened in Russia. However, after the spectacular results in the West, Hitler fancied himself as a war genius and invincible. He defied what was proven to him during that campaign and was not hesitant to engage in frontal assaults and battles of attrition with the Russians - a fatal mistake.
Is your belief also that Stalingrad was a futile effort and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things (because the war was already lost in 41).
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:46 AM   #42
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Not quite 100% on topic for this thread but here are the 7 tipping points that this book covers:

1. The defeat of the Assyrians in their quest to destroy the kingdom of Judah
2. The victory of the Greeks over the Persians at Thermopylae and Salamis
3. Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity
4. The defeat of the armies of Islam at Poitiers
5. The failure of the Mongols in their effort to conquer Europe
6. The discovery of the New World
7. The Battle of Britain in World War II

Charles the Hammer's win at Tours has to be up there.

Hannibal's defeat in Zama may have been the most decisive battle in history. Rome would have ceased to exist had Hannibal won. Imagine no Julius, Augustus, Constantine, Jesus, etc.
lol the defeat of the armies of Islam and the discovery of the new world "saved the world". I hope he didn't actually word it that way.
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:57 AM   #43
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

mike ski and oski:

What if Hitler just got satisfied with the taking of Minsk, Smolensk, and Viasma and just chosen to take the Caucasus for the sake of raw materials but not go for Stalingrad and Leningrad at all?

What if he just stayed where he was at and strengthened his supply lines instead of pushing for it during the midst of winter? I don't think the Soviets could have made a counter-strike during winter. Hitler basically shot himself on the foot trying to do what Napoleon couldn't. And his young and homesick troops were forced to fight house to house against locals who had no choice but to fight while his tanks lost totally mobility (his primary and decisive edge) at the outskirts in thick snow.

How would you handicap a post-winter fight between the Nazis and the Soviets given a halt of attack against Stalingrad and Leningrad, but a capture of the Caucasuses for raw supplies?
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:58 AM   #44
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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lol the defeat of the armies of Islam and the discovery of the new world "saved the world". I hope he didn't actually word it that way.
That's word for word copied and pasted from the product description on Amazon.
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Old 08-16-2011, 02:57 AM   #45
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Is your belief also that Stalingrad was a futile effort and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things (because the war was already lost in 41).
For the most part, yes.

Invading Russia only from the West was a mistake. Germany should have taken the Suez Canal once its designs on the UK were scrapped. This would have opened the door to a wealth of opportunities culminating with occupation of the Middle East and the ability to also attack Russia fron the South.

As that did not happen, arguably it was a mistake to attack Russia. It was certainly a mistake to divide into three armies and go for Leningrad, Moscow, and the Caucauses region at the same time. At the point Barbarossa kicked off with Leningrad as a primary objective, the default position became "fatal mistake."

However, the Germans fought so well, they were presented with a chance (not a certainty) to overcome that mistake - the chance to take Moscow in September.

When that failed, barring some stunning reversal of fortune, a German victory was impossible.

Stalingrad was a further mistake that existed within the circumstances making a German victory extremely unlikely. The decision (not the outcome) to attack Stalingrad eiminated that last slim chance. From there, only a draw was possible.

Win or lose, the costs involved made attacking Stalingrad a stupid choice. It was an insignificant military target. The last small hope lay with an operation that could have captured Russia's oil supply and cut off Allied supply routes to Russia through Iran. That possibility evaporated in the grinder of Stalingrad.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:18 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Alvin the Chipmunk View Post
mike ski and oski:

What if Hitler just got satisfied with the taking of Minsk, Smolensk, and Viasma and just chosen to take the Caucasus for the sake of raw materials but not go for Stalingrad and Leningrad at all?

What if he just stayed where he was at and strengthened his supply lines instead of pushing for it during the midst of winter? I don't think the Soviets could have made a counter-strike during winter. Hitler basically shot himself on the foot trying to do what Napoleon couldn't. And his young and homesick troops were forced to fight house to house against locals who had no choice but to fight while his tanks lost totally mobility (his primary and decisive edge) at the outskirts in thick snow.

How would you handicap a post-winter fight between the Nazis and the Soviets given a halt of attack against Stalingrad and Leningrad, but a capture of the Caucasuses for raw supplies?
Germany would have crushed them by remaining on the defensive and making counter strikes. This probably would have remained true without adding the Caucauses to that equation.

To keep it simple (on phone at the moment) the Germans only lost when ordered to engage in frontal assaults (leading to battles of attrition) and hold all gains at all costs (thus being exposed to large-scale counter attacks while in a poor defensive position).

After being held short of Moscow, most generals advocated retreat and construction of a proper defensive line. Hitler refused and basically flushed his entire army down the toilet.

Leningrad should have never been an initial target, Stalingrad was just an afterthought as Hitler was trying to save face for not taking Moscow.

The battle of Kursk is a telling example of how superior the German army was. Low on men, machines, supplies and fuel, they were ordered to attack into the teeth of the strongest fortified position in history. It was a suicide mission. Nevertheless, the Germans made surprising gains (initially) and inflicted huge numbers of casualties.

If that dynamic was flipped and the Russians were always forced to engage by attacking, the Germans would have mowed them down - despite Russia's numerical advantages.
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:40 AM   #47
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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I lol'd at "that saved the world".
This is pretty much all I need to know about this book.
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:09 PM   #48
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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If that dynamic was flipped and the Russians were always forced to engage by attacking, the Germans would have mowed them down - despite Russia's numerical advantages.
You just described 1942 in its entirety. That didn't and couldn't change outcome of that war.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:08 PM   #49
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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You just described 1942 in its entirety. That didn't and couldn't change outcome of that war.
Nonsense.

First of all, you are not correct that the 1942 realized a complete role reversal. It should have, but it didn't.

Hitler's generals were continually calling to fall back and establish a defensive line; Hilter refused. He continually enforced his "hold all ground at all costs" edict, and ordered more attacks. Indeed, the Germans were on the offensive throughout 1942. Aside from conducting counter-attacks (and at least two counter-offensives), the Russians were not on the offensive until August 1943. Even in the battle of Kursk, the Germans were on the offensive, not the Russians.

By the time Hitler realized that he should have allowed his armies to establish a defensive line, there was nothing left. Almost 100% of his available air and tank units were committed in that battle; a large percentage were destroyed, or damaged (and not recoverable due to Germans getting pushed back). After the opening push by the Germans, the Russians counter attacked. From there on, the Russians remained on the offensive until the end.

This is late 1943 we are talking about, not 1942. The hypothetical asked and responded to was set within a timeframe of mid-to late 1942. At that time, despite taking substantial losses, the Germans had more than enough to form an inpregnable defensive line. The Russians were in pretty bad shape themselves, but time was on their side as they were ramping up productivity and introducting new troops and those formerly on the Manchurian border.

Instead, the Germans remained on the offensive through the next two summers and depleted their armies to the point of no return.

Do you have anything else to add? It is pretty annoying to have to respond to an unsubstantiated, conclusory statement. It would be much more interesting to see you explain your opinions so that we might have a chance to learn something new.

Last edited by Oski; 08-17-2011 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:28 PM   #50
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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LOL
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