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Old 12-30-2011, 07:00 AM   #76
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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More than Gettysburg though, the battle of Shiloh would be the civil war battle that could have changed the war the most. Grant's Union army was on the verge of collapse against a river, had reinforcements not been forthcoming, the entire Civil War may have changed. The west would have been secured for the confederacy and the career of Grant and Sherman permanently ruined. 1862 was the best year for the Confederacy to break free, before the Union fully mobilized for war. And Shiloh was a very near thing, could have easily ended in total Union defeat. ( where as Lee could have never won at Antietam )
But Antietam allowed Lincoln to issue The Emancipation Proclamation which changed the whole nature of the war. So even though the battle was essentially a tactical draw, it not only affected the nature of the war, but had worldwide implications as well.

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Old 12-30-2011, 11:19 AM   #77
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

I don't think anyone has mentioned it but the Battle of Valmy in 1792 was perhaps the most important battle of the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. I would argue more important than Leipzig

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Valmy

If the Prussians had won, they would have taken Paris and likely put down the French Revolution for good. With their loss, the Revolution was made stronger and Europe would be in near constant war until 1815. Goethe was at the battle as a Prussian observer and famously said of the loss: "We are witnessing a new era in world history."
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:15 PM   #78
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Instead of not using the Maginot Line at all, French forces follow De Gaulle's defensive plan by placing several of France's armies in reserve instead of on the Line itself. When Germany invades France through Belgium, these reserve armies are sent to stop the German blitzkrieg effectively stopping World War 2 in 1940.
I don't think this would have made a difference.*

The main element at work was the surprising speed in which the German mechanized troops could exploit a breakthrough. Until it happened, most of the German brass were highly skeptical that the initial attack would lead to anything beyond a stalemate.

However, Guderain understood French military doctrine quite well and he was banking on the fact that the French would not move positions until they had perfect information. Indeed, the French held to the philosophy that they would maintain a continuous line and insist that the attack came to them. Eventually, once the offensive wore itself out, they would consider a counter attack. However, the French would only advance 1500 meters at a time, allow their supporting artillery to resight and then move again. After 3 or 4 such movements, the guns had to be brought up.

Everything was slow, slow, slow. Preparations for a battlefield exercise that was to run two days, took eight to set up. The French simply had no concept of what the Germans were capable of (especially since most of the Germans were not such aware, either) and could not fathom the speed of attack and minute-by-minute changes to the battle field conditions.

Guderian saw beyond all of this and realized that before the French would even react properly, the Germans would be all the way to the coast. Of course, he was correct - but so much so that it scared the German brass who tried to restrain his progress (fearing a trap, counter-attack, or other movement that would breach the flanks).

Indeed, the most compelling decision regarding the Invasion of France was the German decision to move from Halder's "Case Yellow" invasion plan which essentially would operate into a planned stalemate with enough ground gained to allow air operations against the British Isles, to von Manstein's plan which produced the first proper use of the Blitzkrieg.

Unless the French decided to completely rewrite their military doctrine, what they did, or didn't do, is irrelevant.

* The French, still weary from WWI also did not want the "next one" to be fought on French soil. Accordingly, whether De Gaulle's plan was better (if not sound) he could have not overcome the popular sentiment to keep the war in Germany or at least near the border.
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Old 12-30-2011, 06:09 PM   #79
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Re the above post, I think the fact that the Wermacht allowed their officers in the field so much control and freedom to make decisions also played a big part in the speed of their advances.
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Old 12-30-2011, 11:19 PM   #80
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Re the above post, I think the fact that the Wermacht allowed their officers in the field so much control and freedom to make decisions also played a big part in the speed of their advances.
Perhaps.

I agree that "officers in the field" were allowed control - but such really varied depending on a lot of factors.

Most of the top field generals had to fight red tape in Berlin throughout the war. Hitler was a nitty control freak and in many cases took command of entire battle zones. He also had the last word on placement and deployment of Panzer divisions.

More than once, German field commanders had to resort to subterfuge to countermand terrible "iron-clad" commands from Hitler. For example, after the battle of Sedan, Hitler "monstrously nervous" at the speed of the campaign ordered Rundstedt to cease the armies and not to drive toward "boundless shores.". In turn, Rundstedt ordered Kleist to cease and Kleist passed the order down to Guderain.

Guderain talked Kleist into letting him go for another day to "enlarge the bridgehead.". After another smashing advance, Kleist was dressed down by his superiors; Kleist passed it down to Guderian who asked to resign. After getting it all sorted out, with the help of Colonel General List, Guderian continued on to make "reconnaissance in force" so not to defy Hitler's order.

As most people know, this worked until Hitler personally ordered his Panzers stopped ouside of Dunkirk.

Scenarios like this happened over and over again with the Germans as there was an ongoing game to defy orders from the top without making it objectively obvious.

So, battlefield commanders and officers did not operate freely by design; when they did, it seems it was in defiance of orders.
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Old 12-31-2011, 01:13 AM   #81
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

At the time, France had their standing forces protecting their borders agaisnt Germany split into 12 groups. 4 groups in North France, 4 at the Maginot Line and 4 in the South. This basically doesn't use the Maginot Line at all. The entire point of the Line is so that fewer armies are needed there to defend it. De Gaulle wanted to actually utilize the line by pulling 3 of these armies out of the Maginot Line (the Maginot Line itself would make up for these 3 armies) and put these 3 armies in reserve.

This still keeps with the French doctrine of trying to prevent the Germans from attacking them, and not really counterattacking. If instead of meeting only four defensive armies, the Germans actually met seven then the Germans would have been bogged down, their blitzkrieg failed and other countries would have been called in to help defend France.

This isn't a huge overhaul of French fighting doctrine, it's simply using the massive amounts of resources spent on the Maginot Line, instead of letting them go to waste. De Gaulle's plan keeps the Germans on the German side, and creates a stalemate which allows a proper landing zone for English reinforcements and completely nullifies the German Blitzkrieg which made their WW2 gains so quick and efficient.



Edit: That's not to say that De Gaulle didn't want a complete overhaul of French military tactics, he did. However this plan of his was simply Military tactics 101 and would have been enough to completely change the war.
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Old 12-31-2011, 05:34 PM   #82
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Perhaps.

I agree that "officers in the field" were allowed control - but such really varied depending on a lot of factors.

Most of the top field generals had to fight red tape in Berlin throughout the war. Hitler was a nitty control freak and in many cases took command of entire battle zones. He also had the last word on placement and deployment of Panzer divisions.

More than once, German field commanders had to resort to subterfuge to countermand terrible "iron-clad" commands from Hitler. For example, after the battle of Sedan, Hitler "monstrously nervous" at the speed of the campaign ordered Rundstedt to cease the armies and not to drive toward "boundless shores.". In turn, Rundstedt ordered Kleist to cease and Kleist passed the order down to Guderain.

Guderain talked Kleist into letting him go for another day to "enlarge the bridgehead.". After another smashing advance, Kleist was dressed down by his superiors; Kleist passed it down to Guderian who asked to resign. After getting it all sorted out, with the help of Colonel General List, Guderian continued on to make "reconnaissance in force" so not to defy Hitler's order.

As most people know, this worked until Hitler personally ordered his Panzers stopped ouside of Dunkirk.

Scenarios like this happened over and over again with the Germans as there was an ongoing game to defy orders from the top without making it objectively obvious.

So, battlefield commanders and officers did not operate freely by design; when they did, it seems it was in defiance of orders.
I disagree with your last statement. Battlefield commanders, and by that I'm referring to officers well below the rank of general, were encouraged to use their initiative by design and this worked to their advantage in the early stages of the war. Now there's a strong argument that this changed in the latter years, especially when the Wermacht were on the defensive but in the early blitzkreig days it was definitely the case.

Last edited by Husker; 12-31-2011 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 02-07-2012, 06:44 AM   #83
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Most of my list of decisive battles have already been mentioned, but an important one that I didn't see listed is the Battle of the Virginia Capes, the french fleet defeating the British fleet for control of the Chesapeake Bay during the American Revolution. It completed Cornwallis' encirclement at Yorktown, led to his eventual surrender, and guaranteed the creation of the United States.
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:16 PM   #84
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Most of my list of decisive battles have already been mentioned, but an important one that I didn't see listed is the Battle of the Virginia Capes, the french fleet defeating the British fleet for control of the Chesapeake Bay during the American Revolution. It completed Cornwallis' encirclement at Yorktown, led to his eventual surrender, and guaranteed the creation of the United States.
I think the more significant point here is how strongly the defeat swung the opinion of Parliament, particularly in the Whig faction, leading to a collapse in support for the war. But it's worth remember that there was still a two-year gap between Yorktown and the Treaty of Paris.
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Old 02-09-2012, 10:24 PM   #85
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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I think the more significant point here is how strongly the defeat swung the opinion of Parliament, particularly in the Whig faction, leading to a collapse in support for the war. But it's worth remember that there was still a two-year gap between Yorktown and the Treaty of Paris.
That didn't really have much to do with the U.S. The French and Brits continued to fight over the Caribbean and larger Atlantic. The Americans simply became spectators after 1781.
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Old 02-11-2012, 05:06 PM   #86
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Yeah, I can't recall a single major action fought after Yorktown. Heck, I can't even recall a minor one, although I guess there could have been some.

In any event, however you describe to the chain of events after Yorktown that led to the creation of the US, it definitely started at Yorktown, and the Battle of the Virginia Capes made Yorktown possible.

History brag: Had I and the condo I used to live in existed at the time, I would have had a ringside seat for the battle from my balcony.
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:01 PM   #87
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Yeah, I can't recall a single major action fought after Yorktown. Heck, I can't even recall a minor one, although I guess there could have been some.
There weren't any major engagements, but at the time, it wasn't necessarily a done deal. In retrospect, it looks like Yorktown ended the war (and it's fair to say that), but Washington had still moved his troops to New York in the case the British chose to renew hostilities. This was a definite possibility, had opinion in Parliament not turned so sharply against further engagement in the war. Back in the States, the army was still active, and getting rather restive about their payments, making the stall before an official peace that much more anxious for Washington and the Congress.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:27 PM   #88
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

The last battle of the American Revolution was the Battle of the Saintes in April of 1782. It was a British victory and finally forced the French to come to peace terms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Saintes
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:37 PM   #89
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Blenheim-1704--British/Austrian army crushed French/Bavarian army and gauranteed that Louis IX would not have overwhelming power to dictate in Europe.

Read Churchill's description of Louis XIV in his Marlborough biography. For all Louis' outward fashion and grace, he was a nasty, bloodthirsty tyrant, a model for other European tyrants that followed.
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:34 PM   #90
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Read Churchill's description of Louis XIV in his Marlborough biography. For all Louis' outward fashion and grace, he was a nasty, bloodthirsty tyrant, a model for other European tyrants that followed.

I haven't read Churchill, but why does he label Louis XIV as a "nasty, bloodthirsty tyrant"? That seems way over the top. I've never seen any actual historian refer to Louis XIV as a "tyrant." It is true he thrust France and Europe into numerous disasterous, bloody, and costly wars, but that's by no means unique to Louis XIV. And many leaders have pushed their countries into wars without being tyrants.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:53 PM   #91
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Bump to remember this day in History, Battle of Waterloo
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Old 06-18-2015, 09:23 PM   #92
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Old 06-19-2015, 05:31 AM   #93
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Bump to remember this day in History, Battle of Waterloo
There's been a good 4 part documentary about Napoleon on PBS this week. Think the Waterloo episode should be tonight.
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Old 06-22-2015, 12:41 AM   #94
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

I'll throw a couple out there:

Battle of Mars-La-Tour: A risky attack by the 4:1 outnumbered Prussians against the French decided the Franco-Prussian war and thus the unification of Germany.

Battle of the Marne: If Germany gained a decisive victory over France here, WWI and the 20th century would have turned out much differently.
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Old 06-22-2015, 10:55 PM   #95
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

After watching about 10 WWI and WWII documentaries on youtube. I wonder if not the real reason for these wars was one world government. Yes there were alliances, but with all the new telecommunications, railroads, and planes a one world government was feasible. It was only the nuclear bomb that has stopped one world government.
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:13 AM   #96
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Battle of Trenton was important for Washington's Army, first real victory for the contental army. Took the Hessians right out of the war and gave much needed confidence to the army

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Old 06-25-2015, 02:30 PM   #97
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Cain KO Abel at Garden of Eden

Themistocles UD Xerxes at Salamis

Alexander TKO Darius III at Arbella

Scipio SD Hannibal at Zama

Julius KO Pompey

Constantine KO Maxentius at Milvian Bridge

Belisarius KO Gelimer at Tricamarum

Martel the Hammer UD Rahman at Tours

Genghis Khan KO Shah of Karismia at Bohkara/Samarkand


Duke of Wellington SD Napoleon at Waterloo

Washington UD Cornwallis at Yorktown

Sherman KO all of Atlanta

MacArthur TKO Yamamoto/Yama****a etc. at Southwest Pacific Theater WWII


Ronald Reagan KO Soviet Evil Empire in space
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Old 06-25-2015, 05:06 PM   #98
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Ronald Reagan KO Soviet Evil Empire in space
wtf?
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Old 06-25-2015, 07:01 PM   #99
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wtf?
A bluff that worked called SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative), also known as "star wars."
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Old 06-25-2015, 09:40 PM   #100
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

I know what it was. I'm just wondering how that brought down the Russians. It was just a small portion of the arms race between the two countries, one which the Russians couldn't keep up with.
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