Overconfidence, carelessness, and momentary mental breakdowns can have pretty bad consequences in every day life. Imagine for a moment though what sort of catastrophes they can lead to on the battlefield. With millions of lives on the line one little mistake can literally change the world. From Word War II to Thermopylae these are the 25 worst military decisions ever made and how they affected the course of history.
25. The Battle of Thermopylae (480 B.C.)
This was the epic battle of 300 Spartans who fought against thousands of Persian troops in a historical event that has gained even more attention from Gerard Butler’s swashbuckling historical movie simply titled 300. Thermopylae is arguably the most famous battle in European ancient history and has been cited as an example exemplary valor, courage, strategy and heroism. Although the Greeks lost the battle, it set the stage for them to eventually defeat the Persians and win the war.
24. The Battle of Carrhae (44 B.C.)
Just because you’re rich and war hungry it doesn’t mean you’ll win all the battles moving forward. General Crassus of Rome should have learned this truth before confidence got the best of him. The battle of Carrhae was the first battle fought between the Roman and Persian empire resulting in a crushing defeat for the Romans. In spite of their overwhelming number and heavy infantry the Roman army was outdone by the Parthian cavalry led by Spahbod Surena.
23. The Battle of the Red Cliffs (208 or 209 A.D.)
Spies have mostly been the trump cards in armed conflicts. You’d be lucky if they’re caught before the damage is done. Chinese warlord Cao Cao found this out the hard way when a spy disguised as an adviser convinced him to chain his ships together to prevent his soldiers from getting seasick. This error eventually contributed to the fall of the Han Dynasty.
22. The Battle of Hattin (1187)
There’s a couple things that anybody about to wage war in the desert will probably need. One is water and the other is common sense. Unfortunately, King Guy of Lusignan of the Crusaders lacked both and his enemy, the legendary Muslim leader Saladin, knew it. Conveniently, the latter trapped the king’s men on a water-less plateau and the rest is history.
21. The Defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588)
Like the usual attitude of most notable names in war history, the Duke of Medina was supremely confident that Spain would have England on her knees because of their amazing fleet and long string of victories. Little did the Duke know that their famed armada would be destroyed by the smaller and more maneuverable English ships.