Top 10 Military Mishaps
Script written by Kelly MacDonald. They were the little mistakes and huge oversights that altered the course of world history. For this list, we’re choosing our entries on those blunders, mishaps or actions that the military would most likely not have gone through with if they could go back in time. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten military mishaps. Special thanks to our users ibriers 1, Sean Ryan and cmoehrle for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.com/suggest
They were the little mistakes and huge oversights that altered the course of world history. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten military mishaps.
For this list, we’re choosing our entries on those blunders, mishaps or actions that the military would most likely not want to go through again if they could go back in time.
#10: The Battle of Little Bighorn (1876)Led by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, the 7th Cavalry Regiment set out to overthrow a small Indian village at Little Bighorn. Anticipating an opposition of no more than eight hundred men, American troops were ambushed by over 1500 Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors, and the entire regiment, including Custer, were killed. Though he was criticized for not using new technology to subdue his foes, this mishap is mainly attributed to Custer’s sheer miscalculation of Native American tactical savvy and military efficacy.
#9: The Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961)During the night of April 16th, 1961 and into the early morning of the 17th, over 1,400 American-sponsored paramilitary fighters launched an amphibian attack on Cuba. As an attempt to take over Fidel Castro’s communist regime, the operation was a total debacle. They were immediately overwhelmed by local militia and then soundly defeated by Castro’s army. After being captured and interrogated, the troops were sent back to the States. A costly embarrassment for the U.S., the Bay of Pigs Invasion only served to escalate tensions between the democratic superpower and the fledgling communist state.
#8: The Battle of the Alamo (1836)A critical moment in the Texas Revolution, the Battle of the Alamo highlights the importance of never letting your guard down. Unaware of the Mexicans’ close proximity to the Alamo Mission defence post, most of its garrison left for a fiesta. And since that meant it was now significantly undermanned, Mexican troops were able to scale the walls of the mission and kill all Texian defenders inside. Having learned from this mistake and emboldened by revenge, the Texians would defeat the Mexican army later that year, which ended the revolution.
#7: The Battle of Adwa (1896)Late to Europe’s scramble for Africa, Italy set its colonial interests on Ethiopia at the end of the 19th century. In the evening of February 29th, 1896 and into the early morning of March 1st, the Italians advanced towards the Northern town of Adwa. But with little understanding of the terrain and poor navigational tools, the troops were unintentionally split up. Totally disoriented, one Italian brigade advanced right into enemy hands. Out-manned and out-manoeuvred, the Italian troops were soundly defeated by Ethiopian forces. While it was a humiliation for the Italians, the Battle of Adwa is a celebrated moment in Ethiopian history.
#6: The Vietnam War (1956-75)In 1956, the U.S. deployed regular combatants to assist anti-communist forces in Vietnam. By the late 1960s, the number of American troops tripled. Despite their military advantage, the Americans had difficulty fighting in the tropics against the guerrilla tactics of the Viet Cong. With mass death and casualties on either side, this veritable stalemate was seen as atrocious and immoral by most of the American public. As it was several years before the end of the American military’s participation, the Vietnam War is considered a dark moment in U.S. history.
#5: The Gallipoli Campaign (1915–16)In April 1915, Allied forces sprang a naval attack and an amphibian invasion on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire as part of the First World War. The initiative failed, resulting in a drawn-out, eight-month battle that once again ended in Allied defeat. A myriad of reasons have been given to explain this catastrophe, but most experts agree that the Allies were simply underprepared, ill-equipped and inexperienced; a combination of mistakes that would cost the lives of over 100,000 troops.
#4: The French Invasion of Russia (1812)It was on June 24th, 1812 that Napoleon began his attempt to invade Russia with a coalition force of more than half a million troops. But after pushing his Grande Armée to Moscow, he found the city abandoned and burnt. The Russian opposition would neither fight nor surrender, forcing Napoleon to retreat. At this point, it was November and Russia’s brutal winter decimated the ill-prepared troops and reduced the French army to one-sixth its original size. Falling victim to Mother Nature, the Patriotic War of 1812 marked the beginning of the end for Napoleon’s Grand Empire.
#3: The Dieppe Raid (1942)In August of 1942, 6,000 allied troops, led by Canadians, swooped in on the French coastal city of Dieppe. Intended to be a rapid seizure of the German stronghold, this World War II battle lasted less than three hours and resulted in the deaths of more than half of the allied forces involved. No military objectives were realized, and while it was also meant to boost morale, Dieppe only showed the allied forces’ glaring vulnerability on the western front.
#2: The Iraq War (2003-11)Under the auspices that the Middle Eastern nation was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, a U.S. coalition force began occupying Iraq in March 2003. Despite the fact that they never found WMDs, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was ousted and a so-called democratic government was established. But growing insurgency against the American occupation later marred these initial victories. With increasing casualties and deaths, the U.S. finally exited the war in 2011. Though the loss of life is clear, what America gained from it remains ambiguous.
Before we unveil our pick for number one, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The Battle of Cannae (216 BCE)
- The Siege of Tenochtitlan (1521)
- The Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979-89)
- The Battle of Somme (1916)
- The Battle of Issus (333 BCE)
#1: Operation Barbarossa (1941)Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II bore an uncanny resemblance to Napoleon’s fateful blunder. Already waging a two-front war, his plans to invade the state were delayed by two months. Though German forces initially crushed resistance from the USSR, they were deep within opposition territory by November. Like the French before them, they were also ill prepared for the country’s brutal winter. Hitler’s loss in Soviet territory marked the beginning of his ultimate defeat and one of the deadliest military operations ever. It also showed the importance of knowing your history.
Do you agree with our list? What blunder in battle deserves more attention? For more historical top-tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.