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Great Battles Through History

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Crecy...1346 AD.



Though one could say Poitiers or Agincourt...the outcome was the same. The English longbow defeats the mounted knight...or dismounted knight (Poitiers). 

The Scots were the only ones that managed to develop a bit of a defence  to the longbow in the form of the schiltron formation...pikes & shields...that were disciplined enough to open & close ranks as needed...dulling the English arrow barrage. 





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Breitenfeld...1631 AD


The surprise victory by the unlikely Gustavus Adolphus against the HRE/Catholic League led to a great rallying of the Protestant states. This set the Thirty Year War on a new...final course. Well...as final as possible in some of the most convoluted ways possible. Not a good time to alive for many...witches burned...heads rolled.



30 Year War Playlist

Quite the war!


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Quatres Bras...June 16, 1815




This was a run-up battle to Waterloo on the 18th. But had Marshal Michel Ney shown some brains, he'd have rolled over the (at first) tiny force gathered at this famous crossroad. As it was, Wellington and Prince of Orange William II managed to rebuff Ney's forces numerous times preventing any coordination between the two French wings. Allied reinforcements poured-in.  Napoleon...to Ney's distant right at Ligny, smashed the Prussian Army into headlong retreat....but had heard literally nothing out of Ney the entire day.

This was the battle where Wellington apparently took a nap under a newspaper by a tree...waiting for Ney to get his collective sheet together.


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The Battle of Tannenberg....August 26th-30th, 1914.


A miracle on some levels as well as a display of tactical brilliance by the Germans and strategic incompetence by the Russians. While not fully decisive, it did allow the Germans to...

a) Support their Austro-Hungarian allies who were busy botching all their attacks on the Russians.

b) More or less ignore the mighty Russian bear for a good chunk of the war...allowing full attention be paid on the Western Front.

The German 8th Army under Von Prittwitz...and later Hindenburg/Ludendorff/Hoffmann was barely a corp sized formation...a few infantry divisions and cavalry formations. But it was an elite group...and made full use of the modern tools of the time. Radio...trains...aircraft...the machine gun. They managed to smash two large Russian armies...that weren't cooperating due to the two generals, Samsanov and Rennenkampf hating each other.



Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote a very good book on the battle called August 1914.



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June-August, 1944

Operation Bagration: The Destruction of Army Group Center.


This was pretty much it for the Germans...the biggest Soviet Offensive yet crushes the once mighty Army Group Center into dust as it tries to hold the line. The Allies had smashed ashore earlier in June at Normandy, drawing much of the remaining armor reserves westward. A fatal move...


Army Group North pretty much ceased to exist already, while what was left of Army Group South was forced towards the Balkans.


With the shattered remnants of AGN and AGC fleeing towards Konigsberg & Warsaw, nothing much remained between the Red Army and the Greater German border.

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Unconditional Surrender

The twin Battles of Fort Henry & Fort Donelson

February 6th-16th, 1862.






This is where the famous term originates...

Grant...a bit of a disliked upstart...was sent West to command the Union Army of the Tennessee where Union high command figured he's be well out of the way. The two following engagements cemented Grant as one of the Union's top generals. Basically, these twin forts guarded the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers...they had to go. Ironclads and riverines ruled the day...

Very detailed videos... 

Warhawk has other good accounts of the US Civil War...worth a look.






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Harfleur & Agincourt, 1415 AD

Band of Brothers we...

Henry the V demonstrates why you should have just forked over Flanders and the big dowry for the babe.



Touch and go, though...Henry nearly lost it all a few times...to dysentery in particular. 

Hollywood...and others...have given Agincourt in particular a good going-over. Most are barely accurate. But what it amounted to was the swan song for the knight...not just the mounted knight...but knights as a military force unto themselves. The French knights were nothing less than brash & stupid at the same time. Plus, I understand, hungover from the all night party prior to the battle they felt sure to win. It didn't work out as I'm sure you're aware...

It wasn't like the French hadn't ever encountered the English (okay Welsh) longbow in battle before. From Sluys to Poitiers, the longbow had thrashed them decisively before. But the French nobility and gentry had nothing but utter contempt for the longbowman...tactically ignoring them in battle in preference to English knights & men-at-arms...very well ensconced English knights & men-at-arms.  

This to their demise...


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The Battle of Sedan

May 12th-15th, 1940



Guderian and his Enigma machine


One of those moments in WW2 where things could have gone either way had the Allies thought differently...however, they were firmly entrenched in the tactics of 1918...not 1940.

Sedan was Heinz Guderian's big gambit during Case Yellow. He exploited the Ardennes section of the front as it was precisely where the Allies said it was impossible for him to come from. Too rough & forested...too few narrow roads...too few bridges across the unfordable Meuse River. Thus, it was poorly guarded by territorial units...old guys. The Maginot Line wasn't even continued into this area...ending about 20 miles to the south-east.

Guderian had his Blitzkrieg though...he literally wrote the book. So while he knew he couldn't count on his various motorized divisions' artillery for support (they'd be stuck in column), he devised a plan where the 1,400 aircraft of Luftflotte 3 would be continuously available in small flights for dedicated/organic ground support work...flying artillery. The higher-ups of both the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe tried to interfere...wanting one huge air strike to open the fight. But Guderian ignored that and pushed for the 'rolling air raid' plan he devised. He would attack along a very narrow front...expending MAXIMUM effort at a single point in the line... 

This method combined with the armor and infantry thrusts quickly smashed across the Meuse with few casualties. The French, often frightened to the point of panic by Stukas and large tank formations, fled at key defensive points. When French High Command (finally) learned that the Germans had crossed the river with ease and broke through, they also panicked. Instead of retreating westward to cover the BEF in Belgium/Northern France, they retreated SOUTH to cover the flank of the Maginot Line. This opened-up a huge hole in the Allied line and Guderian's Panzers poured though...Rommel & crew in the lead. All heading north-west towards the coast to trap the British in the Lowlands. Supply lines were quickly getting long for the Panzers. But since they were still mainly gasoline powered rather than diesel, they could fuel-up at French petrol stations that weren't set ablaze...and apparently did in enough numbers to keep the whole offensive thrust moving until supply could catch-up. Dunkirk lay ahead...


French Char B tank wrecks...




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