It would be naive to say that the military is not mistaken. Only the wrong orders of generals and marshals take thousands of lives. Being a military in general is quite a dangerous profession. Often the risk is generated not only by enemies, fire, weather or illnesses, but also by one’s own commander. History has left us many cases when stupid orders brought glory to the commanders. Only certainly not about such fame they dreamed of.
“Build fortifications backwards!”.
This order belongs to General Gideon Pillow. It was uttered during the American-Mexican War in 1846. Pillow became a general thanks to his friendship with then-President James Polk. Together they once engaged in legal practice. Such a non-army specialty seemed to imply an increased likelihood of awkward military action. The most famous mistake of Pillow occurred when he was with the troops in the Mexican village of Camargo. There, the general ordered to build trenches. However, these structures were built extremely unsuccessfully, because the defense was carried out in a completely opposite direction. So the troops became defenseless against the enemy. The incident was a pretty strong blow to his career, it seemed, Pillow quietly retire. Nevertheless, the general decided to take on all the glory of the winner of that war, although in fact it belonged to General Scott. For spreading false and treacherous rumors, Pillow was even arrested. But the loser-general again appeared in the battle arena during the Civil War. Fortunately, he fought for the southerners. Pillow also distinguished himself here, losing in 1862 the fortress of Donelson. And in the course of the battle for the Stone River in 1863, his subordinates saw how the brave general instead of leading his troops into battle hides behind a tree.
“Machine guns? No, thanks!”.
During the Great Sioux War in 1876, the Battle of Little Big Horn stands alone. After all, then the 7th Cavalry Regiment of Americans under the command of brave Colonel George Custer was completely defeated by the Indians. All the soldiers were killed, and their military leader. Americans were in the minority, they were almost 9 times smaller than the Indians. The only advantage of the military was the element of surprise in the attack on the Sioux camp. Another advantage would be the presence in the regiment of three machine guns. Gattling’s guns could have fired several hundred rounds per minute. However, it is known that Custer personally rejected this light and reliable weapon. Perhaps the machine guns would not have brought victory automatically, but it was absolutely certain that they would only strengthen the effect of the attack of the Americans. And so parts of Custer were crushed and broken. Those events entered the history of America, the country reveres its heroes, who fought to the last. About that battle films are made, books are written. Only now the outcome of the battle could be quite different, if not for the self-confidence of Custer.
“You can not cross the river!”.
During the Civil War, the battle of Antietam in 1862 is often highlighted in the United States. After all, it was she who caused the subsequent signing by Abraham Lincoln of the document on the release of slaves. However, during the battle there was one very important event. 12 thousand soldiers of General Ambrose Burnside opposed only 400 southerners. Separated their creek with a stone bridge. The general was ordered to stay in place. He searched for other fords, but he never found them in 3 hours. As a result, it was decided to go across the bridge. However, in a narrow space, Southerners were able to defend themselves well. They repulsed thirty assaults and detained the northerners for another three hours. During this time, I was able to help myself. As a result, the battle did not become decisive, and in fact the Civil War could end two years earlier. Terrible bloodshed was the most brutal one-day event in the history of the country. The most surprising thing was that the stream in that place was rather small. One local native subsequently said that there was only a waist-deep water.
“There is no other way than to fight.”
There was the First World War, 1916. One of the most striking pages of her was the Battle of the Somme. The troops of the British commanded Marshal Douglas Haig. For a week the Allies bombarded the well-fortified positions of the Germans. And on July 1 an order was given for the offensive. Most of the soldiers who spoke were newcomers. They were given a command to go through the treacherous calm landscape of “no man’s land” in a neat order. However, the machine-gun positions of the Germans were hardly touched by the shelling. As a result, the British have become an excellent target. That day the British army lost about 60 thousand people. In total, during the battle, they lost 10 times more. Then special damage was received by officers, whose form was different from the soldiers. The tactics of a frontal attack on a well-fortified line of defense failed. But the Allies had a two-year experience of such battles. The soldiers were buried in the evening right on the battlefield, so that it turned into a cemetery. Haig himself for his actions is still parodied in British editions, having received the nickname Black Viper.
“Infantry perform after the riders!”.
In 54 BC. The Romans invaded the Parthian Kingdom. Mark Crassus commanded them. He was a famous military leader. He defeated the army of slaves of Spartacus, became the richest man in Rome. But Crass craved even more fame, hoping to get it through spectacular victories on the battlefield. To invade the Parthian Kingdom, the Roman gathered an army of 40,000 soldiers. However, most of them were infantrymen, who were fatigued by heavy shields, armor and weapons. And there were only 10,000 enemies. But these were trained horsemen on horses who fired from the bow, punching the armor of the infantrymen. Nevertheless, Crassus ordered to pursue the enemy. Parthians constantly retreated, but periodically making bold and unexpected sorties. The Roman cavalry numbered only two thousand people. In addition, they carried heavy spears and could not really confront the elusive enemy. In the course of the decisive battle at Carras, the Romans suffered a heavy defeat. It became one of the greatest in the history of Ancient civilization. The Parthians used a false retreat and lured the cavalry of the Romans. The horsemen were surrounded and completely defeated. And then came the turn of defenseless infantry. As a result, out of 43 thousand soldiers half were killed, the rest fled and were captured. Crassus himself was brutally executed. His mistake on the battlefield turned into death – the consul poured molten gold into his throat.
“Tie the ships together!”.
In 208 BC. in China there was a Civil War. One of the sides was commanded by the legendary for the country, General Cao Cao. This time, the general succumbed to the provocateur’s ploy, and not himself gave birth to a stupid idea. At that time, an uprising broke out in South China, and the general was sent with a 220,000 army to quell the riot. First Cao Cao was accompanied by success. But then his opponents moved to the ships. The army was forced to switch from a successful land war to a maritime campaign, without sufficient experience and knowledge. A traitor was sent to Cao Cao, who told the general that by linking all the ships together with a chain, it would be possible to avoid imminent seasickness. However, this was a big mistake. After all, the fire on the flagship quickly spread to all the rest, destroying the mighty fleet. A heavy defeat forced Cao Cao to abandon the conduct of hostilities.
“Retreat from height!”.
The hero of this story was General Joseph Hooker during the Civil War in the United States in 1863. This happened the day before the Battle of Chancellorville. The army of northerners numbered 134 thousand people, the southerners were only 60 thousand. They were almost surrounded by units of 75,000 soldiers. In addition, the northerners had heights and could effectively control the battlefield, easily destroying the enemy. Nevertheless, General Hooker lost his composure, ordering his soldier to retreat from the heights. As a result, Southerners were able to seize the initiative by placing their guns on the hills left by the enemy. Hooker himself was slightly wounded and ordered to retreat.In that battle, the northerners, despite their superiority, suffered a disgraceful defeat, which lies entirely with the conscience of their commander. Hooker got his portion of glory in that war. He was an excellent commander at the level of the corps, but it was beyond his power to think strategically and lead the army.
“Stop! We are beyond the range of shooting!”.
During the Anglo-American War of 1812-1814 there was a battle for New Orleans. Surprisingly, by the time the war was actually over, the Americans had defeated the British. December 24, 1814 the parties signed a peace treaty. But information about this to New Orleans came only two months later. The battle itself was that the British were trying to attack the positions of the Americans. The British suffered disproportionate losses. The most revealing story happened with the 93rd Scottish Regiment. He was going to storm the fortifications of the enemy, but the commander was killed. The lieutenant did not know what to do and preferred to stop his soldiers instead of retreat. The regiment fell under the deadly artillery fire of the Americans. It is worth noting the courage of the Scots, they stood firmly and immovably, like a brick wall. And other units were broken and fled in panic. Some Americans even cried, looking at the shooting of defenseless and still soldiers. In the end, an order was issued for the retreat. In that battle, three quarters of the regiment was destroyed, and the brave wounded Americans were treated in their hospitals.
“In the crater!”.
General Ambrose Burnside “showed” himself in another battle of the American Civil War in 1864. The second famous stupid order was given by the general during the Battle of Crater. The war was already ending. At that time, the main forces of the southerners and northerners were entrenched in trenches near Richmond, Virginia. Fortifications were created over a period of ten months, and neither side could gain an advantage. In the end, ingenious engineers offered an interesting solution. They decided to build a long tunnel to the positions of the southerners, load dynamite there and blow up. This was done perfectly, in the positions of the enemy there was a big gap. Instead of attacking enemy positions on the ground, Burnside gave an order to his soldiers to descend into the crater and go underground. However, the walls of the funnel were too high, the northerners simply could not climb up. During the wandering of soldiers underground, southerners were able to pull up reinforcements. They started shooting down, actually shooting the northerners. Instead of the team to retreat, Burnside sent help to the crater. The commander of the northerners, General Ulysses Grant, said that this decision to go down to the crater was the best way to help the enemy. Burnside was finally stripped of his rank and resigned. Perhaps at that moment the American army sighed with relief.
“Time to sleep!”.
In the Mexican-Texan War of 1836, Texas was not yet part of the United States. On April 19, a Mexican army of several thousand soldiers, led by General Santa Anna, was cut off from the main forces in the village of San Jacinto. The Texans destroyed the bridge behind enemy lines. Despite such a difficult situation, Santa Anna ordered to arrange a usual for lunch time siesta. This allowed the Texans, although there were less of them, to surround the enemy. Careless Mexican general even sentries did not bother. Only 18 minutes continued attack of Texans. During this time the enemy was completely defeated. Mexicans lost 630 people killed, another 730 was taken prisoner. The attackers themselves lost only 39 people. Santa Anna fled, changing into the uniform of an ordinary soldier. But he was caught, using the fact that the general wears silk underwear. The general was forced to sign a humiliating treaty for his country, withdrawing troops from Texas. But the traditional siesta was held.