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#4438777 - 09/13/18 06:17 PM Famous battles where the much smaller army won!  
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I've been doing quite a bit of reading on military history recently and I've come across some famous battles where the much smaller army managed to win the battle out of a sheer superiority in tactics and leadership.

Here are five that I've recently read about:


1. Battle of Chancellorsville 1863

winner: Confederacy

Union army size: 133,000
Confederate army size: 60,000



2. Battle of Fredericksburg 1862

winner: Confederacy

Union army size: 122,000
Confederate army size: 78,000



3. Battle of Austerlitz 1805

winner: France


Austrian and Russian combined army size: 95,000
French army size: 65,000



4. Battle of Leuthen 1757

winner: Prussia


Austrian army size: 66,000
Prussian army size: 33,000




5. Battle of Crecy 1346

winner: England

English army size: 14,000
French army size: 30,000


Alea iacta est.
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#4438786 - 09/13/18 07:09 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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I think we can include all the battles involving only Italy on the Axis side in early WWII. Battle of the Alps (1940), Greece (1940-41), Lybia (1940-41).

Last edited by Roudou; 09/13/18 07:10 PM.
#4438789 - 09/13/18 07:31 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Battle of Aquae Sextiae (Roman Republic, 101 B.C)
Teutonic army: about 120,000 warriors
Gaius Marius' legions: 40,000 legionaries

Roman victory.

followed by:
Battle of Vercellae (ROman Republic, 101 BC)
Cimbri army: about 200,000
Roman army: 52,300

Roman victory.

Battle of Alesia (Gaul, 52 BC)
Julius Caesar: 75,000 troops
Gauls: 328,000 troops

Roman victory

Battle of Pharsalus (Greece, 48 BC)
Julius Caesar: 34,000 troops
Pompey: 57,000 troops

Caesar won.

Battle of Gaugamela (Persian Empire, 331 BC)
Alexander the Great: 47,000
Darius III: 1,000,000

Greek victory.

#4438792 - 09/13/18 07:34 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Originally Posted by PanzerMeyer
I've been doing quite a bit of reading on military history recently and I've come across some famous battles where the much smaller army managed to win the battle out of a sheer superiority in tactics and leadership.

Here are five that I've recently read about:


1. Battle of Chancellorsville 1863

winner: Confederacy

Union army size: 133,000
Confederate army size: 60,000



2. Battle of Fredericksburg 1862

winner: Confederacy

Union army size: 122,000
Confederate army size: 78,000



Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were a formidable pair.


“Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.” - Milton Friedman
#4438803 - 09/13/18 08:42 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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1. Rorke's Drift 1879
British ~ 150
Zulus ~ 2,000+

Winner British

2. Cannae 219BC
Carthage 50,000
Rome 85,000

3. Watling Street 60 or 61AD
Roman 10,000
Britons 200,000+**

Winner Romans

* Those numbers also counted all the camp followers and civilians that came with them. Still it was a huge difference in numbers against only a legion and a half and some auxiliaries.

Granted Rorke's Drift and Watling street had a large imbalance in equipment and training.

I tried looking up some others that I though would be more lopsided than they were. Turns out I was wrong on the numbers. Some of those included:
Siege of Vienna 1683 - that relief force was enormous and almost evened out the numbers.
Battle of Warsaw 1920 - I though the Poles were a huge underdog here, but when I look it up they seem about equal in numbers to the Russians.

#4438805 - 09/13/18 08:53 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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The Battle of Britain

RAF Strength : 1,963 serviceable aircraft
Luftwaffe Strength : 2,550 serviceable aircraft.

Winner : RAF

#4438828 - 09/13/18 09:53 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Beat me to it Khai!
Could be said about the Battle for Malta too, both due to the tactical genius Keith Park!

Agincourt; St. Crispin's Day 1415, numbers vary but at least 4 to 1 advantage to the French


"Don't mention Cobbaton! I did once, but I think I got a way with it!!"
#4438833 - 09/13/18 10:09 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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More reasonable numbers for Agincourt are around 8000-9000 English, roughly 1:3 men at arms and longbowmen, and around 12,000-14,000 french and allied troops, roughly 2:1 or slightly more ~5:2? men at arms to crossbowmen or archers.

An overly large French vanguard (around 50-60 % of the total engaged the whole English force, and was defeated decisively in detail, the main battle and rearguard saw little or no action.

The actual fighting thus was closer to 1:1 or even a slight English advantage. It is also notable that the fighting started with an advance from the English army from it's defence of the early morning, catching the French somewhat out of position, and most of the (small number of) Cavalry supposed to be arrayed on the French wings doesn't appear to have been present.

(Research by Anne Curry, and not read in her original form, but summarised in an interesting 'chronological' history of the campaign "1415 Henry's Year of Glory. The Bodley Head 2009, Ian Mortimer).

#4438844 - 09/13/18 10:46 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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French countryside
Hundred Years War... Sorry but I need to make french Kingdom army on a par with English one. biggrin

Battle of Saint-Omer 1340

winner: France

France: 3,000
English and Flemmish: 10,000 to 16,000

Battle of Poitiers 1356

winner: England

England: 6,000
France: 11,000

Battle of Patay 1429

winner: France

France: 1,500
English: 5,000

Battle of Formigny 1450

winner: France

France: 4,500 to 5,000
England: 5,000 (english sources) - 7,000 (french sources)

Interestingly, english sources said par on strentgh.... But french and english sources agreed on the amount of english casualties, something between 4,000 and 6,000. It is hard to believe that some english units didn't succeed to escape the battle.

#4438848 - 09/13/18 11:37 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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This is one of the most lopsided victories in history:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Myeongnyang

13 Korean ships vs 330 Japanese ships

30+ Japanese ships lost, no Korean losses.

Korean victory.


You're only young once, but you can be immature forever.
#4438850 - 09/13/18 11:43 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Battle of Auerstedt 1806

French - 27,000 under Marshall Davout. 4,350 KWM.
Prussians - 53,000 under Hohenlohe. 18,000 KWM plus 115 guns taken.


The road less traveled is filled with fewer needy people.
#4438853 - 09/13/18 11:58 PM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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I wouldn't call Rorkes Drift a British victory. More of a survival against great odds.


"We do not fear Death. Where death is, we are not, and where we are, Death is not."
#4438855 - 09/14/18 12:00 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Couldn't resist posting this:

AT Flores, in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay,

And a pinnace, like a flutter’d bird, came flying from far away;

“Spanish ships of war at sea! we have sighted fifty-three!”

Then sware Lord Thomas Howard: “’Fore God I am no coward;

But I cannot meet them here, for my ships are out of gear,
5
And the half my men are sick. I must fly, but follow quick.

We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty-three?”


II

Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: “I know you are no coward;

You fly them for a moment to fight with them again.

But I’ve ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore.
10
I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord Howard,

To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain.”


III

So Lord Howard past away with five ships of war that day,

Till he melted like a cloud in the silent summer heaven;

But Sir Richard bore in hand all his sick men from the land
15
Very carefully and slow,

Men of Bideford in Devon,

And we laid them on the ballast down below:

For we brought them all aboard,

And they blest him in their pain, that they were not left to Spain,
20
To the thumb-screw and the stake, for the glory of the Lord.


IV

He had only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to fight,

And he sailed away from Flores till the Spaniard came in sight,

With his huge sea-castles heaving upon the weather bow.

“Shall we fight or shall we fly?
25
Good Sir Richard, tell us now,

For to fight is but to die!

There’ll be little of us left by the time this sun be set.”

And Sir Richard said again: “We be all good Englishmen.

Let us bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the devil,
30
For I never turn’d my back upon Don or devil yet.”


V

Sir Richard spoke and he laugh’d, and we roar’d a hurrah and so

The little Revenge ran on sheer into the heart of the foe,

With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick below;

For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen,
35
And the little Revenge ran on thro’ the long sea-lane between.


VI

Thousands of their soldiers look’d down from their decks and laugh’d,

Thousands of their seamen made mock at the mad little craft

Running on and on, till delay’d

By their mountain-like San Philip that, of fifteen hundred tons,
40
And up-shadowing high above us with her yawning tiers of guns,

Took the breath from our sails, and we stay’d.


VII

And while now the great San Philip hung above us like a cloud

Whence the thunderbolt will fall

Long and loud,
45
Four galleons drew away

From the Spanish fleet that day.

And two upon the larboard and two upon the starboard lay,

And the battle-thunder broke from them all.


VIII

But anon the great San Philip, she bethought herself and went,
50
Having that within her womb that had left her ill content;

And the rest they came aboard us, and they fought us hand to hand,

For a dozen times they came with their pikes and musqueteers,

And a dozen times we shook ’em off as a dog that shakes his ears

When he leaps from the water to the land.
55

IX

And the sun went down, and the stars came out far over the summer sea,

But never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty-three.

Ship after ship, the whole night long, their high-built galleons came,

Ship after ship, the whole night long, with her battle-thunder and flame;

Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her dead and her shame.
60
For some were sunk and many were shatter’d and so could fight us no more—

God of battles, was ever a battle like this in the world before?


X

For he said, “Fight on! fight on!”

Tho’ his vessel was all but a wreck;

And it chanced that, when half of the short summer night was gone,
65
With a grisly wound to be drest he had left the deck,

But a bullet struck him that was dressing it suddenly dead,

And himself he was wounded again in the side and the head,

And he said, “Fight on! fight on!”


XI

And the night went down, and the sun smiled out far over the summer sea,
70
And the Spanish fleet with broken sides lay round us all in a ring;

But they dared not touch us again, for they fear’d that we still could sting,

So they watch’d what the end would be.

And we had not fought them in vain,

But in perilous plight were we,
75
Seeing forty of our poor hundred were slain,

And half of the rest of us maim’d for life

In the crash of the cannonades and the desperate strife;

And the sick men down in the hold were most of them stark and cold,

And the pikes were all broken or bent, and the powder was all of it spent;
80
And the masts and the rigging were lying over the side;

But Sir Richard cried in his English pride:

“We have fought such a fight for a day and a night

As may never be fought again!

We have won great glory, my men!
85
And a day less or more

At sea or ashore,

We die—does it matter when?

Sink me the ship, Master Gunner—sink her, split her in twain!

Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain!”
90

XII

And the gunner said, “Ay, ay,” but the seamen made reply:

“We have children, we have wives,

And the Lord hath spared our lives.

We will make the Spaniard promise, if we yield, to let us go;

We shall live to fight again and to strike another blow.”
95
And the lion there lay dying, and they yielded to the foe.


XIII

And the stately Spanish men to their flagship bore him then,

Where they laid him by the mast, old Sir Richard caught at last,

And they praised him to his face with their courtly foreign grace;

But he rose upon their decks, and he cried:
100
“I have fought for Queen and Faith like a valiant man and true;

I have only done my duty as a man is bound to do.

With a joyful spirit I Sir Richard Grenville die!”

And he fell upon their decks, and he died.


XIV

And they stared at the dead that had been so valiant and true,
105
And had holden the power and glory of Spain so cheap

That he dared her with one little ship and his English few;

Was he devil or man? He was devil for aught they knew,

But they sank his body with honor down into the deep.

And they mann’d the Revenge with a swarthier alien crew,
110
And away she sail’d with her loss and long’d for her own;

When a wind from the lands they had ruin’d awoke from sleep,

And the water began to heave and the weather to moan,

And or ever that evening ended a great gale blew,

And a wave like the wave that is raised by an earthquake grew,
115
Till it smote on their hulls and their sails and their masts and their flags,

And the whole sea plunged and fell on the shot-shatter’d navy of Spain,

And the little Revenge herself went down by the island crags

To be lost evermore in the main.


"We do not fear Death. Where death is, we are not, and where we are, Death is not."
#4438861 - 09/14/18 12:34 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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battle of Trafalgar

British: 33 ships (27 ships of the line + 6 others)
France/Spain: 41 ships (Fr. 18 ships of the line + 8 others. Spn: 16 ships of the line)


What became of the 1000s killed in all these battles?


There was only 16 squadrons of RAF fighters that used 100 octane during the BoB.
The Fw190A could not fly with the outer cannon removed.
There was no Fw190A-8s flying with the JGs in 1945.
#4438862 - 09/14/18 12:41 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Nothing good I'm afraid. The dead were unrecovered, the maimed eaked out a beggar's existence in the gutters of Plymouth.


"We do not fear Death. Where death is, we are not, and where we are, Death is not."
#4438882 - 09/14/18 04:04 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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Second Battle of Sabine Pass.

September 8, 1863.

Union Forces: 5000 infantry soldiers, four gunboats and I guess 18 transports.

Confederate Forces: 50 infantry and 6 artillery pieces in a fort.

Confederate victory with over 200 Union casualties (killed, wounded or captured) and 2 gunboats sunk to no Confederate losses.

My Great Great Grandfather was a member of the Davis Guards, the Confederate forces that defended the fort.


The artist formerly known as SimHq Tom Cofield
#4438884 - 09/14/18 04:19 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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The Finnish counterattack during the Winter War in late 1939

Battle of Tolvajarvi

USSR: Full strength Division + Armour + Artillery
Finland: 4,000 men

Winner : Finland

Cheers,
Slug


"Major Burns isn't saying much of anything, Sir. I think he's formulating the answer..." - Radar - M*A*S*H
#4438906 - 09/14/18 10:31 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Posts: 106,699
PanzerMeyer Online centaurian
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PanzerMeyer  Online Centaurian
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Originally Posted by F4UDash4




Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were a formidable pair.



Absolutely. One of the best ever seen in the annals of military history.

Last edited by PanzerMeyer; 09/14/18 10:31 AM.

Alea iacta est.
#4438907 - 09/14/18 10:35 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: PanzerMeyer]  
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They were needed at Little Bighorn.


There was only 16 squadrons of RAF fighters that used 100 octane during the BoB.
The Fw190A could not fly with the outer cannon removed.
There was no Fw190A-8s flying with the JGs in 1945.
#4438910 - 09/14/18 11:05 AM Re: Famous battles where the much smaller army won! [Re: Lieste]  
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Originally Posted by Lieste
More reasonable numbers for Agincourt are around 8000-9000 English, roughly 1:3 men at arms and longbowmen, and around 12,000-14,000 french and allied troops, roughly 2:1 or slightly more ~5:2? men at arms to crossbowmen or archers.

An overly large French vanguard (around 50-60 % of the total engaged the whole English force, and was defeated decisively in detail, the main battle and rearguard saw little or no action.

The actual fighting thus was closer to 1:1 or even a slight English advantage. It is also notable that the fighting started with an advance from the English army from it's defence of the early morning, catching the French somewhat out of position, and most of the (small number of) Cavalry supposed to be arrayed on the French wings doesn't appear to have been present.

(Research by Anne Curry, and not read in her original form, but summarised in an interesting 'chronological' history of the campaign "1415 Henry's Year of Glory. The Bodley Head 2009, Ian Mortimer).


Ah interesting point of view and explanation , thanks.


"Anyone can shoot you down if you don't see him coming but it takes a wonderfully good Hun to bag a Camel if you're expecting him."
Tom Cundall.
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