Top 10 Military Catastrophes

Bad decisions or practical errors have led to some of the most well known military catastrophes in history. These errors were mainly to do with believing wrong information and making use of shoddy equipment. The following are some of the top 10 military catastrophes.


1. The “Battle” of Karansebes


Karansebes is a unique catastrophe in which a drunken army defeated itself. In 1788, the Austrian army fought the infantry using actual gunfire just because they demanded some liquor. Hearing the squabble the remaining army started fighting at what they thought were Ottoman Turks. The fact was they had actually fired at Austrians only and the Turks arrived there only two days later and discovered that 10,000 Austrians were dead in an abandoned town.


2. The Battle of Pliska


Ignoring the entreaties for peace, Nikephoros I, the Byzantine emperor landed on Bulgaria in 811 with over 75000 men and ransacked Pliska, the capital. He looted Khan’s treasury who was forced to admit defeat. Later he was defeated shortly after he left Pliska in a confrontation that crushed his whole army.


3. The battle of the Teutoburg Forest


In the Teutoburg disaster; 3 Roman armies were defeated by German tribes. In this battle some 25000 Romans lost their lives.


4. The Battle of Agincourt


In the Battle of Agincourt, it is believed that the French were extremely indecisive in spite of being eager to mark a victory. They charged on the pikes till the English were completely fortified and ended up protecting the longbows of the English. The extent of loss of lives among the French was more men than the English in this worst military catastrophe.


5. The Spanish Armada


During the 16th century, Spain was a great superpower. The Spanish army thought of undertaking a sea combat that was outdated. Due to utter disorganization, most of the ships did nothing also owing to the bad weather conditions. Without engaging the English in any way, Spain lost more than 15000 men due to shipworms and storms.


6. The Battle of Bannockburn


Edward II marched into Scotland in 1314 with an impressive and a large English army. An unsystematic crossing took place over the Bannockburn River by Edward. As the English army was extremely disorganized, Bruce’s army inflicted tremendous losses on that army. Edward lost a major part of his army men in this worst catastrophe.


7. The Battle of Adwa


In 1896, General Oreste Baratieri defeated the Italian army by marching into Ethiopia. His army was improperly organized and they used shoddy equipment including inferior maps. However the Italians faced defeat and Ethiopia which became an independent state.


8. The Battle of Issus


Darius III, in 333 B.C met Alexander in a small war field which ended in favor of Alexander the Great. The Persian forces and vantage points were crushed by Alexander who made Darius flee very quickly. The family of Darius was left behind. This was the foremost defeat of the Persian army led by a King.


9. The Fall of Tenochtitlan


Several factors that were non military in nature such as disease, politics and in fighting were all advantageous to the Spanish fighters. In 1519, over 300 Spaniards went to Mexico and the Aztec Empire was crushed within 2 years following this incident.


10. The Battle of the Wabash


The American force was defeated by natives in the Wabash battle which can be called the worst defeat of the U.S. troops. The army led by General Arthur St. Clair was defeated close to the Wabash River owing to discipline problems. There was complete disaster because many of the troops just fled or hid themselves. Out of the thousand something army, only a little over 40 people survived.

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