Most Important Battles Challenge (7)
After a semester of college my friends I am finally on my winter break and with that I want to be active again. It is time for another battles challenge!
We will debate battles for different wars and time periods. What happens is that every round a battle will be placed by each debater. Whoever has the better battles (based on which battle is better each round) will get the most points from the voters and thus win. Sieges are not included in this. Just land and naval battles. It is encouraged that a simple overview of the battle is given then each side states their personal reasons why it was important. The voters then look at each round and will vote for who they think showed what battles were more important. These debates are intended to be fast and fun.
No semantics or trolling!
Round 1 is for acceptance!
No refutations! The winner of the debate will simply be decided by the voters!
A forfeit in a round is an automatic loss.
Too avoid any further confusion, here is a previous debate I did that people can use as a guideline: http://www.debate.org...
Ok then, first round, first battle. I actually found that this is my eighth battles challenge, not seventh.
Battle of Stalingrad
Year: 1942 to 1943
Armies: Germany and other Axis Nations (Freidrich Paulus) vs. Soviet Union (Vasily Chuikov)
What started a small battle led to the most important battle of World War 2. In 1942, the German 6th Army made up of 270,000 men was sent to attack Stalingrad, a Soviet city named after the nation's leader near the Volga River. The small amount of Soviet defenders did their best to stop the German army and soon the city was deadlocked for months. German and Soviet troops fought around the wreckage of the city. Soon the Germans and Soviets had millions of troops in and around the city.
By late 1942, the Soviets launched Operation Uranus which was an operation involving massive amounts of soldiers surrounding the Axis troops. The German commander, General Friedrich Paulus, asked Adolf Hitler allow a withdrawal, but Hitler refused. The Luftwaffe (German air force) tried to re-supply the 6th Army from the air, but failed. Two German Panzer divisions under the command of General Erich von Manstein were sent to try to breakthrough the Soviet troops, but failed. Eventually, the 6th Army was forced to surrender.
Every user with an interest in history knows about the Battle of Stalingrad. Had the Germans won and been able to stop the Soviet counter attack, they would have had a free hand in taking the oil fields in the Cacuses, which were of paramount importance. Hitler's oil reserves were running out and his Italian allies along with his Afrika Korps had been ground down in North Africa and were unable to take the British oil fields in the Middle East. This meant that taking the Soviet Union's oil fields was the last hope for Germany to continue the fight.
If Germany takes the oil fields, then Hitler can support his gigantic war machine as the Germans advance on all fronts into Leningrad, Moscow, and soon Soviet Central Asia. Chances are, the Soviets would be too demoralized to fight any longer even with their large population. Stalin would be very frustrated with the loss of his city. If the USSR surrenders, then the Americans and the British are stuck in a very dangerous position. Likely their best chance of victory would be to race use atomic bombs on Germany. An invasion into France with German reinforcements on the Atlantic Wall would be a total disaster. Keep in mind, that the Germans would accelerate progress on the their own V2 rockets and their jet fighters and bombers giving them a stronger advantage over the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force.
The primary reason the Allies would have a highly difficult time is because most German soldiers were overwhelmingly in the east. The two-front war was obviously Hitler's greatest blunder because the powerful German war machine was forced to fight in the east and in the west. This battle was critical in turning back the Germans. The Sixth Army and many other forces were forced into Stalingrad which could be considered a pit for German troops. Meanwhile the Soviets took advantage of the open flanks. Historian Max Hastings has written:
"The Germans lacked strength adequately to man their enormous front. There was a 300-mile gap between the Second Army at Voroneh on the upper Don and the Fourth and Sixth Panzer Armies southeastwards at Stalingrad. Short of manpower, von Wiechs, the army group commander, deployed Hungarian, Italian, and Romanian formations to cover the flanks of the Sixth Army: German intelligence failed to identify powerful Soviet forces massing against the Romanians. On 19 November Zhukov opened his offensive, hurling six armies against the northern Axis perimeter, followed by a thrust westward the next day by the Stalingrad front south of the city." 
1. Hastings, Max. Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Print.
The Walwal Incident
Year: November - December 1934
Armies: Ethiopian Empire (Haile Selassie) vs. Fascist Italy (Benito Mussolini)
A small arms battle over territorial boundaries leads to the worst policy failures in human history.
The post World War I Italian–Ethiopian Agreement of 1928 stated that the political boundaries between Italy's colonial possessions and the borders of the Ethiopian Empire in Africa were to be separated by exactly twenty-one leagues (73 miles) and that future border disputes were to be settled by the League of Nations (1). But by 1930, Italy's population had exploded, and fascist Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini was ever eager to please the people by promising them access to new raw materials and industrial commodities that were to be found by exerting Italian influence in far away places. One direct result of Mussolini's dire quest for prestige and political power of course, was the secret construction of a small Italian army outpost at the Walwal oasis, firmly in violation of the agreed 73 mile line between the Italian-Ethiopian border.
Between November and December 1934, for reasons which were never historically identified, inevitable saber rattling between the Ethiopian border guard and the Italian garrison at Walwal resulted in armed skirmish. According to Ethiopian soldiers, Italians attacked them first after unreasonably refusing to abandon their redoubt. According to Italian officials, the outpost was in an "undefined area" per the 1928 framework, and that Ethiopians had invited conflict by aggressively surrounding the outpost and refusing LON negations. In the end, neither side did anything to avoid the fighting(2); the poorly armed Ethiopians were repulsed, and Mussolini subsequently used the incident to launch his opportunistic Invasion of Ethiopia.
Italy's invasion and involment at WalWal (in addition to the 1928 agreement) came in direct violation of Article X to the League of Nation's Charter, and Ethiopia's government quickly appealed to the League's council for redress. Article X stated that the League of Nations must "undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence" of all member countries (3). What happened next by the League's founding members however, -with the soon to be Axis Powers carefully spectating- was what Sir Winston Churchill called the "final destruction of the League of Nations" and all world government factors that "could alone" wield together the forces necessary "to control the might of a resurgent Germany" and prevent World War II (Churchill, p167).
Britain and France, fearing that Mussolini might align himself with Germany, and not wanting to go to war over a weak African country, both balked at their collective defense commitments and settled for economic sanctions and the now infamous Hoare-Laval appeasement deal instead. The Royal Navy, still overwhelmingly powerful in 1934, was discreetly withdrawn from the Mediterranean, allowing Italy easy access to Ethiopia through the Suez Canal; whereas France and other League members (despite sanctions) continued to provide the Italian military with oil and expensive war-mineral resources. Within a year, Ethiopia was completely subjugated by the Italian military, and enough political discord had blown in Europe that still convinced Mussolini to align with Hitler.
By 1936, with the credibility of the League of Nations destroyed, and France and Britain both revealing to belligerent nations that they would soon rather make appeasement deals with the devil than declare war, Hitler proceeded to remilitarize the Rhineland and annex the Sudetenland terrirorites - in what would become known as the greatest sequence of policy failures in human history.
"Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment." - Haile Selassie, Address to League of Nations, 1936 .
2)Churchill, Winston, The Gathering Storm, page 167.
3)Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations http://www.iilj.org...
The Battle of Salamis
Year: 480 BC
Fleets: Greek City-States (Eurybiades and Themistocles) vs. Achaemenid Empire (Xerxes I)
At this battle, a fleet from the Greek City-States (most ships from Athens) commanded by Eurybiades and Themistocles fought off the Islamic Achaemenid Empire fleet (Persia) commanded by Xerxes I. The Persian fleet was much more larger than the Greek fleet (some say it was 1,000 Persian ships vs. 378 Greek ships). In fact, the Persian crews were even better than the Greek crews. Most of the Greek ships (specifically the ones from Athens) were new and just built with inexperienced crews. However, the Greeks made tactics specifically to conquer the Persian fleet. When the Persian ships entered the Straits of Salamis in cramped conditions, they were easily defeated by the Greeks.
The primary issue for the Persians was that their tightened formation offered little room for manuver and so the Greeks easily defeated the Persians with smaller, but faster ships. By using a small space, the Greeks turned the Persian numercial advantage as a problem. Had the battle occured in open water there would have been a big problem for the Greeks because they would have surely lost as a result of less numbers.
Had the Persians won?
They would have likely changed history by defeating the Greeks here. As it would have effect Greek progress in civilization and thus change progress in the western world. Chances are, the Greeks would not be able to expand through colonization if they were under Persian rule they would be giving taxes and looking to a Persian emperor. Chances today we would be looking at a different kind of democracy, likely from Scandanavia which founded its own democracy. So instead of learning and following Hellenistic democracy we would we learning and following pre-Harald in Norway. This would have an impact on all democracies across the world in the future.
Its important to remember that victory was almost certain for the Persians because Xerxes I, the Persian commander, planned to build a pontoon bridge into Athens, but because the Greeks now significantly controlled the seas, this was impossible.
After Salamis, the Greeks were permanently safe from conquest. Many historians believe that if the Greeks lost at Salamis, history would have changed as we know it. This is because most of the ideals we get are from Ancient Greece. The celebrated blossoming of influential Greek culture only happened after Salamis. If the Persians won at Salamis, then they would be able to build their pontoon bridge and enter Athens. Based on the numbers of Persian troops it is unlikely that the troops defending Athens could hold out. This means that Athens (and Greece on a further extent), the heart of Greek education and culture, would be under Persian rule leading to a lack of Greek expansion of culture and education in Europe.
Greek philosophy, personal freedom, and democracy have always played a major role in the building of many nations and modern governments today. Just look at the United States or the French Republic. These are two major examples of the building of democracy which was no doubt influenced by the Greeks. Rationalist philosophers that were major in the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment would have not had this information from Ancient Greece that helped influence them in making major works. [1,2,3]
When we think of Greece, we are right to think of a region that caused the birth of western ideals. These ideals continue through centuries of world history. Had they not been there the western world would have been a very different place.
1. Discussed by Green (The Year of Salamis), p xxiii and Holland, pp xvi–xxii
2. Holland, ppxvi–xvii.
The Battle Of Gettysburg
Union Army of the Potomac (George Meade) vs. Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (Robert E. Lee)
Year: July 1863
Bloodiest battle ever fought in American history - Government of the United States is preserved.
After triumphing at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee risks it all by leaving his base of operations in Virginia and invading the Union States. His hope is for a decisive victory on Union soil that will either destroy the Union Army and leave the road open to the capture of the Union capital at Washington, or be decisive enough so as to convince other governments in Europe to join the rebel cause.
What early on starts out as a light cavalry battle at a little unknown Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg, quickly evolves into one big brawl as both sides madly try to races forces around the town in a desperate attempt to take the high ground that lies south of it. But in the end, Union General George Meade gets their first.
After attempting to drive the Union from their high ground by attacking both their flanks, Lee, on the third day of the battle, again decides to risk it with a decisive all-out attack on the Union center. The Union line, however, is protected by a stone wall, and confederate forces are mowed down by grapeshot and long range rifle fire. Lee's fateful charge ends in a drastic defeat, and after three days of heavy fighting, a record 56,000 confederate and union soldiers lie dead.
President Lincoln, in his now famous Gettysburg address, compared the Union victory as a triumph for all democracy, ensuring that the original US Constitution would survive and that North American slavery would be ended forever. Had the Union Army lost at Gettysburg, given the Union Army's depleted manpower & material reserves for its eastern armies and loss of national morale after suffering traumatic loses at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, their is a good chance that Lee could have in fact marched on Washington and decisively ended the Civil War. There is also the intriguing possibility that powerful European countries, such as Great Britain and France, could have been swayed enough by a Union defeat to join the Confederate cause. The participation by Great Britain for instance, would have been disastrous for the North, with a dual front opening in British Canada and the Royal Navy to break the Union blockade over the seas.
In the end, the decisive defeat of the Confederate Army at Gettysburg ensured an eventual Union victory over the South, preventing a divided United States of America and a record number of fateful consequences for the entire world.
Battle of Teutoburg Forest
Year: 9 BC
Armies: The Roman Empire (Publius Quinctilius Varus) vs. Germanic Tribes (Arminius)
Agitated by the Roman Empire's attempts at romanization, Roman officer Arminius (a man of German heritage) set a trap and betrayed Varus, the commander of all Roman forces in Germania. Several barbarians tribes were assembled and numbered up to 32,000 men. Arminius convinced Varus to move out to deal with an uprising in Germania. The three Roman legions along with auxiliary troops and civilians, numbering up to 20,000 men marched their way to the uprising. They eventually started marching through Teutoburg Forest where the German barbarians were hidden.
The Roman line was very extended and is believed to be as long as nine miles. Many Roman troops did not have experience in dealing with Germans. Arminius had learned from Roman tactics on how exaclty his opponents preferred to fight. Roman legions were good in open fields and tight formations, but in the forest they were stuck between trees and a river. The Germans attacked and surrounded the Romans and their allies. The Romans were surprised and took many loses with the battle all day. They eventually started a night retreat, but found themselves still trapped and unable to breakout. Varus committed suicide. Almost the entire Roman force was destroyed.
This is the turning point in Roman expansion into Eastern Europe. The Romans will hold territory down into the Balkans, but were unable to gain a firm grip on Germania. Had the battle resulted in an unexpected Roman victory or had it no occured at all, the Romans who have no doubt held Germania and could expand further into Poland and possibly even Russia. With the Mongols moving west, these two great civilizations would meet and either agree to peace of have an ultimate war to see what ancient surpower was truly the best.
This information is very crucial. Roman civilization has been the primary influence over the western world and even greater than that. By halting Roman influence, certain nations would have a different impact and cultural influence than they would under Rome. This dramatically changed the direction of eastern Europe as well as halting Roman advance.
The Battle of Teutoburg Forest also contributed to the rise of German nationalism and the 1800s and the 1900s. This battle represented the power when Germans are united together and this nationalist spirit was key against Napoleon I and Napoleon III's France as well as Austro-Hungary. Without examples like this battle, the possibly of a united Germany may have never happened because the German people would never realize how poweful they could be when united. The battle was further popularized with the rise of Hitler and Nazism.
1. McNally, Michael, and Peter Dennis. Teutoburg Forest, AD 9: The Destruction of Varus and His Legions. Oxford: Osprey, 2011. Print.
Battle at Marcoing
British Expeditionary Forces vs. German Empire
British private and Victoria Cross winner spares the life of Adolf Hitler.
Posted from The Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk...
In the dying moments of the First World War 22 years earlier, (Prvt. Henry Tandey) had pointed his rifle at a wounded German soldier trying to flee a French battlefield. Their eyes met and Henry lowered his gun. The German nodded in thanks then disappeared.
In that moment of compassion for a fellow human being, Henry, then 27, let 29-year-old Corporal Adolf Hitler walk free.
Free to become the most reviled dictator and mass murderer of all time.
“I didn’t like to shoot at a wounded man,” he said in 1940. “But if I’d only known who he would turn out to be... I’d give 10 years now to have five minutes of clairvoyance then.”
Adolf Hitler later confirmed the story to Neville Chamberlain after he noticed a post-war painting Hitler had kept of Tandey that depicted his heroism at another key battle where Tandey had saved the life of another German soldier.
The effect of letting Hitler live at Marcoing remains one of the greatest "what ifs" of the 20th century. Hitler of course, would go on to contribute to the rise of the national socialist party in Nazi Germany, along with rearmament and a revitalized German economy. There is no other person that was more directly responsible for leading German Fascism in WWII, or more single handly at fault for the deaths of 12 million lives in that war than Adolf Hitler. The outcome of the Battle of Marcoing therefore, guaranteed the beginning of another World War and that Hitler would lead Germany's armies. For those reasons, Marcoing is among the most influential battles in history.
Battle of Waterloo
Armies: France (Napoleon Bonaparte) vs. Britain, Prussia, and their Allies (Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Blucher)
In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to power in France. He had been the emperor before, but was forced into exile during his failed conquest of Europe. Now back, the powers that had defeated him returned. Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia were all against him. Britishm Belgian, and Dutch troops commanded by the Duke of Wellington landed in Belgium and were suppose to meet a Prussia force commanded by Gebhard von Blucher. Napoleon decided to attack and take each army one at a time.
At the battle, the British, Belgian, and Dutch occupied a ridge which stopped several frontal assaults that Napoleon launched. Soon Prussian troops from Blucher were on the field and Napoleon was being forced to split his army. French reinforcements under Marshal Emmanuel de Groucy did not arrive. After a failed attack by his elite Old Guard on the British and Dutch line, he withdrew and was eventually forced into exile again.
Napoleon would have likely been unstoppable. He had nearly conquered Europe before and he could have possible conquered all of it if he was given a second try. This is mainly because of the spreading apart of his allies. Wellington would have been forced back to the Belgian coast to evacuate with the British. The Dutch, Belgians, and Prussians would be left to fend for themselves. The Prussians would be in a very bad position because they would be stuck between Napoleon and his reinforcements. The Dutch and the Belgians could in no way stand up to Napoleon.
As for Napoleon's two other enemies, Austria and Russia, they would be stuck in the same position they were in 1805. The Austrians would have to either advance into France or wait for the Russians. The latter was a bad choice in 1805 as it led to defeat and loss of 45,000 Austrian troops at the Battle of Ulm while the former means than an outnumbered Austria would be taking on the power of Napoleon. The emperor would shift his army south along with reinforcements to Italy.
When Napoleon would defeat the Austrians and Prussians he would likely have greater France. This means Belgium and northern Italy. If he wished to continue his conquests as in 1805 to 1812, he could move into Europe, force Prussia and Austria into alliances while putting back in the Duchy of Warsaw and other satelittes. This time he would either learn from, or not make the mistake of invading Russia, leading to a Britain-France stalemate at sea. Napoleon could then possibly rule until the end of his reign and then give it to his child or other relative to maintain the French empire.
1. Black, Jeremy. The Battle of Waterloo. New York: Random House, 2010. Print.
The Battle of Leuctra (371 BC)
Thebes (Epaminondas) versus Sparta (Cleombrotus).
Epanminondas's Tactics at Leuctra pave way for the rise of Alexander the Great.
Historically, the Battle of Leuctra marks the end of Sparta’s military dominance in Greece and the rise of Thebes as the most dominant power up until Philip of Macedon. However, Leuctra’s real significant lies on the fact that it completely changed Greek warfare and revolutized western military thinking. Before this battle, Greek armies were typically always arranged in a solid straight line of men, usually about twelve infantry ranks deep with Greek or Mercenary cavalry placed on the wings. The idea of a solid line of course, was to bring all forces to bear down on the enemy in an attempt to simply overwhelm him on all fronts in a great Phalanx shoving match. But at the Battle of Leuctra however, realizing that he was vastly outnumbered by the Spartan hoplites, the Theban commander, Epaminondas arranged his troops according to an entirely new idea. He drew up most of his soldiers to the extreme left wing of his line and then proceeded to arrange them in ranks of fifty men deep. The center and right wings were subsequently reduced to eight ranks deep, whereas the overall line was then given an oblique curvature so as to only give battle with the Spartans on the overloaded left flank. Thus when the Spartans drew up their ranks in the typical twelve deep solid line; and when both armies indeed collided, Epaminondas's larger concentration of forces on the left wing of his line (along with diagonal point to avoid other points of contact) would overpower the enemy's right. This is exactly what happened, and the Battle of Leuctra became the first Western battle in history to ever feature comprehensive formation strategy, maneuver tactics, and a guide for attacking numerically superior enemies through the clever concentration of forces.
While a temporary hostage at Thebes, this battle was studied extensively by King Philip of Macedon. Among the things Philip copied from Epanminondas directly from the Battle of Leuctra were the oblique formations against numerically superior foes, the use of combined arms, the concentration of forces at decisive points, forced-marches, the use of tactical reserves, and the technological blueprints for the Sarissa two-handed pike - based on the Thebian model of the Phalanx over the Spartans. The result of Thebes military victories over the Spartans also had the added effect of making Greece overall weak for Macedonian invasion, as Greek armies were already suffering from attrition. Thus, Philip's conquest of Greece was virtually guaranteed, and the art of war that Philip learned from Epanminondas was passed on to his great son Alexander the Great, who in his wars against Persia, went on to become the most successful conqueror in history.
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