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Thread: History's Greatest Military Defeats

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by globaltracker View Post
    the defeat of alexander the great in the hands od the Great Chandragupta Maurya ended his campaign in Asia. I don't know more details as i read this long back.
    Uhmm no, Alexander was never beaten, and Chandragupta had to reconqueror a great deal of territory under the domnion of Seleucus, finally gaining back mos tof the land between the Indus and Bactria in 303 BCE. Alexander died in 323

  2. #17
    New Member globaltracker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Uhmm no, Alexander was never beaten, and Chandragupta had to reconqueror a great deal of territory under the domnion of Seleucus, finally gaining back mos tof the land between the Indus and Bactria in 303 BCE. Alexander died in 323
    ya i have readthe same thing today i was awed by my misconception of this part of history. But as i was searching in the net for confirming this i found a small article
    " Learning about Alexander. The great????

    Recently, watched the movie Alexander. The fact that the movie showed Alexander being defeated by Porus(or was it???... nevertheless, it showed a man on an elephant with tribal/warlike markings so inconsistent with anything that can be associated with Indian culture). That surprised me. The story that we were exposed to as children was one of chivalry and friendship between Alexander and Purushottaman(Porus). Alexander, as per our school text books and Bollywood, defeated Porus but was more impressed by the defeated King's bravery and let him be. "

    http://archaeoptrix.blogspot.com/200...der-great.html

    I am not saying this may be true or not. But this definitely making me think twice on interpretion of western history writers.

  3. #18
    New Member globaltracker's Avatar
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    more on Alexander's indian conquest

    Alexander's Waterloo in Sindh

    EVEN MORE than the Vedas and the Epics, Sindh figures very prominently in, of all places, the annals of Sikander that is Alexander.

    British historians used to talk of Alexander as ``the world conqueror'' who ``came and saw and conquered'' every land he had visited. He is still advertised in Indian text-books as the victor in his war with India's Porus (Puru). However, the facts as recorded by Alexander's own Greek historians tell a very different tale. And Marshal Zhukov, the famous Russian commander in World War II, said at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, a few years back, that India had defeated Alexander.

    Alexander fared badly enough with Porus in the Punjab. Indeed, Porus put him on the spot when he told him: ``To what purpose should we make war upon one another. if the design of your coming to these parts be not to rob us of our water or our necessary food, which are the only things that wise men are indispensably obliged to fight for? As for other riches and possessions, as they are accounted in the eyes of the world, if I am better provided of them than you, I am ready to let you share with me; but if fortune has been more liberal to you than to me, I have no objection to be obliged to you.''

    Alexander had no reply to the questions posed by Porus. Instead, with the obstinacy of a bully, he said: ``I shall contend and do battle with you so far that, howsoever obliging you are, you shall not have the better of me.'' But Porus did have the better of Alexander. In the fighting that ensued, the Greeks were so terrified of Indian prowess that they refused to proceed farther, in spite of Alexander's angry urgings and piteous lamentations. Writes Plutarch, the great Greek historian: ``This last combat with Porus took off the edge of the Macedonians' courage and stayed their further progress in India.... Alexander not only offered Porus to govern his own kingdom as satrap under himself but gave him also the additional territory of various independent tribes whom he had subdued.'' Porus emerged from his war with Alexander with his territory doubled and his gold stock augmented. So much for Alexander's ``victory'' over Porus. However, what was to befall him in Sindh, was even worse.

    In his wars in Iran. Afghanistan, and north-west India,. Alexander had made so many enemies that he did not dare return home by the same route he had come. He had, therefore, decided to travel via Sindh. But in Multan the Mallas gave him hell.

    When Alexander's hordes invaded Sindh with the novel war-cry ``Alalalalalai! `` the Sindhis were obviously scared. The rulers of Musicanus, Sindemana, and Patala --- identified by Dr. H.T Sorely I.C.S. author of The Gazeteer of Sind (1968), as Alor, Sehwan, and Hyderabad, respectively- fled. (``Patala'' is believed to be a Greek corruption of ``Patan'' which means river bank or sea shore). But before long they collected their wits and gave Alexander a very bad time. Notes H.T. Lambrick, a former commissioner of Sindh, and author of the Sindh before Muslim Conquest: ``There was a subtle power in Sindh which created the will to resist the foreigner, the influence of the Brahmins.'' Dushhala's settling of 30,000 Brahmins in Sindh had not gone in vain!

    Alexander confessed to his friends back home: ``They attacked me everywhere. They wounded my shoulder, they hit my leg, they shot an arrow in my chest, and they struck me on my neck with a loud thud.'' At one stage word had spread in the Greek camp that Alexander was dead --- and he had to be propped up and exhibited as alive!

    Alexander never excused the Brahmins for persuading the Sindhi king Sabbas to stand up and fight. To the horror of the local people, he had a whole lot of them slaughtered. However, he was so impressed with the quality and spirit of the Brahmins that he captured and kept with him ten of them. Plutarch's account of Alexander's questions and their replies makes interesting reading.

    ``The first being asked whether he thought the most numerous the dead or the living, answered, `the living, because those who are dead, are not at all'. Of the second he desired to know whether the earth or the sea produced the largest beasts, who told him. `The earth, for the sea is but part of it . His question to the third was, `which is the cunningest of animals?' `That,' said he, 'which men have not yet found out.' He bade the fourth to tell him what argument he used with Sabbas to persuade him to revolt 'No other,' he said, `than that he should either live nobly or die nobly.' Of the fifth he asked, what was the oldest, night or day. The philosopher replied, `Day was oldest, by one day at least'. And perceiving Alexander not well satisfied with that account, he added that he ought not to wonder if he got strange answers for his strange questions. Then he went on and inquired of the next, what a man should do to be exceedingly beloved. `He must be very powerful, without making himself too much feared.' The answer of the seventh to his question, how a man might become 8 god, was, `By doing, that which was impossible for man to do.' The eighth told him, `Life is stronger than death because it supports so many miseries.' And the last philosopher, asked how long he thought it decent for a man to live, said `till death appeared more desirable than life'.''

    The philosophers in turn posed him questions of their own. Dandamis (Dandamani?) asked Alexander why he undertook so long a journey to come into those parts. Kalanus (Kalyan) refused to talk to Alexander until the latter stripped himself naked and then heard him with humility and attention. Kalyan then conveyed to Alexander that his roaming far and wide was not good either for him or for his country. Reports Plutarch: ``Kalanus threw a dry shrivelled hide on the ground and trod upon the edges of it, to show it would not straighten out that way. He then stood on it in the centre, to show how it straightened out immediately.'' The meaning of this similitude was that he ought to reside most in the middle of his empire, and not spend too much time on the borders of it.

    However, life in Sindh for Alexander was something more than these encounters with Brahmin philosophers. And the worst was yet to come. When he saw the mighty Indus, he thought he had found the source of the Nile! The presence of crocodiles in the Indus only confirmed him in this belief, since they were also present in the Nile. With much relief and great fanfare, his army sailed down the Indus in hopes of reaching Egypt. But they soon found themselves at sea, literally. Here the monsoon and the tides --- both unknown to his native little land-locked Mediterranean country --- bewildered him to no end. He split his army into two --- one half led by Alexander, to go by lower Sindh and coastal Baluchistan to Iran, while the other half, led by Nearchus, to proceed by sea. Soon the two halves lost contact, each thinking the other lost and dead! On the land route, the paucity of water drove many of them mad. As and when they found a pond, they would jump into it and drink and drink and drink until they bloated up dead! Of the 40,000 Greeks who had started out by land from Sindh, only 15,000 reached Iran. Writes Robin Lane Poole, the modern biographer of Alexander: ``All of them agreed that not even the sum total of all the army's sufferings in Asia deserved to be compared with the hardships in Makran. The highest officers were alive --- and so was Alexander --- but they had suffered a disgrace which was agonizingly irreversible. Alexander had known his first defeat''.

    Obviously Alexander's Indian trip was about as ``successful'' as Napoleon's invasion of Russia. He, however, consoled himself with the thought that Queen Semiramis of Assyria, who had invaded Sindh, had been able to get back with only 20 men --- and Cyrus of Iran, with only seven.''

    However, Alexander's Indian adventure was not entirely unproductive. He had introduced the Indian elephant to the West. He was so much impressed by the broad-bottomed boats carrying grain up and down the Indus, that he had them introduced in Greece. The Greeks now introduced five times more spices in the West. Sissoo (Sheesham) wood of the Punjab was used to build pillars for the Susa Palace in imperial Iran. He would, no doubt, have carried the mango also, but for the fact that its over-eating had given the ``God-king'' no end of loose motions. And so Alexander forbade mango-eating in his camp.

    Evidently this sweet-sour experience with the mango was not confined to Alexander alone. When G.D. Birla took a basketful of the choicest Alphonsos as a gift to Khrushchov, the latter declined them with thanks and said that that `strange fruit' did not suit the Russian stomach.

    The Greeks had many interesting things to say about Sindh. Admiral Nearchus, who had led the Greek retreat by sea, noted that Sindhis were tall and slim and wore white leather shoes with thick soles, to appear taller. Vanity is neither recent nor imported!

    Alexander had himself found Sindhis ``healthy and temperate and partaking of community meals.'' Obviously the Langar did not start with the Sikhs. He had also noted that the Sindhis ``hated war, and loved medicine'', the science of health and long life.

    There is one thing more the Greeks and the Sindhis have in common --- the Sindhi bhoonda or buja --- the peculiar Sindhi gesture of denunciation with an open, outstretched hand. When the Greek Cypriots wanted the British out of Cyprus, they had burnt the Union Jack with this ``handy'' denunciation. And when at the peak of the Pakistani people's demand for democracy Zia-ul-Haq toured Sindh in September 1983, he was greeted with the same gesture.

    According to Prof. Demetrios Loukatos, this gesture has been in use in Greece since ancient times and it had even spread to the Romans and the Balkanians, particularly the Albanians. In Greek, it is known as moudja. With `b' often changing into ``m'' in Greek, the moudja comes very close to the Sindhi Buja or bhoonda.

    Here is a good theme for a doctoral thesis --- to find out whether it was a gift from Sindh to Alexander or the other way round. Or whether it was carried to Greece by our Panis that is Phoenicians thousands of years before.

    http://yangtze.cs.uiuc.edu/~jamali/s...ory/node7.html

  4. #19
    New Member globaltracker's Avatar
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    Sify Home >> News & Info >> itihaas >> Fullstory

    Alexander, The Ordinary
    Alexander, The Ordinary

    Prof. Dinesh Agrawal
    Address: 156 Aberdeen lane, State College, PA 16801 USA
    Tel: (814)-234-3558 (Home), (814)-863-8034 (Office)
    The facts narrated below will expose the popular myth about the so-called world-conquerer "Alexander, The Great(?)". I am sure your readers will be interested to learn the truth about the mis-adventures of Alexander in India.

    Alexander did not win any war on the Indian soil, he in fact lost to Porus, the king of Punjab, and had to sign a treaty with Porus in order to save his diminishing band of soldiers who were grief-stricken at the loss of their compatriots at the hands of Porus`s army, and expressed their strong desire to surrender.

    Alexander after winning many battles and defeating the Persian king, invaded India and crossed Indus. Here he was joined by Ambhi, the king of Taxila. Ambhi surrendered himself to Alexander. He was enemy of Porus and wished to defeat Porus with the help of Alexander.

    The facts of Alexander`s miserable defeat and his shattered dream at Indian soil have been avoided consistently by Greek historians and the same was perpetuated during British regime. But the truth which is documented in many narratives of the Europeans themselves presents a totally different picture. The depictions by Curtius, Justin, Diodorus, Arrian and Plutarch are quite consistent and reliable in concluding that Alexander was defeated by Porus and had to make a treaty with him to save his and his soldiers` lives. He was a broken man at his return from his mis-adventures in India.

    In the Ethiopic texts, Mr E.A.W. Badge has included an account of "The Life and Exploits of Alexander" where he writes inter alia the following:

    "In the battle of Jhelum a large majority of Alexander`s cavalry was killed. Alexander realized that if he were to continue fighting he would be completely ruined. He requested Porus to stop fighting. Porus was true to Indian traditions and did not kill the surrendered enemy. After this both signed treaty, Alexander then helped him in annexing other territories to his kingdom".

    Mr Badge further writes that the soldiers of Alexander were grief- stricken and they began to bewail the loss of their compatriots. They threw off their weapons. They expressed their strong desire to surrender. They had no desire to fight. Alexander asked them to give up fighting and himself said, "Porus, please pardon me. I have realized your bravery and strength. Now I cannot bear these agonies. WIth a sad heart I am planning to put an end to my life. I do not desire that my soldiers should also be ruined like me. I am that culprit who has thrust them into the jaw of death. It does not become a king to thrust his soldiers into the jaws of death."

    These expressions of `Alexander, The Great!` do not indicate from any stretch of imagination his victory over Porus? Can such words be uttered by a `World Conquerer"?

    I am sure many readers will find in the history texts, an account of Alexander`s exploits and conquests which totally contradict what is quoted above. And most of us have been taught in the school that Alexander defeated Porus and he wept because he had no more worlds to conquer, and that is what made him `Alexander, The Great`. These myths and beliefs will receive a rude shock by these facts which show that Alexander was not that great after all, but in fact he was `Alexander, The Ordinary`.

    Another myth is propagated by the Western historians that Alexander was noble and kind king, he had great respects for brave and courageous men, and so on. The truth is other-wise. He was neither a noble man nor did he have a heart of gold. He had meted out very cruel and harsh treatment to his earlier enemies. Basus of Bactria fought tooth and nail with Alexander to defend the freedom of his motherland. When he was brought before Alexander as a prisoner, Alexander ordered his servants to whip him and then cut off his nose and ears. He then killed him. Many Persian generals were killed by him.

    The murder of Kalasthenese, nephew of Aristotle, was committed by Alexander because he criticised Alexander for foolishly imitating the Persian emperors. Alexander also murdered his friend Clytus in anger. His father`s trusted lieutenant Parmenian was also murdered by Alexander. The Indian soldiers who were returning from Masanga were most atrociously murdered by Alexander in the dead of night. These exploits do not prove Alexander`s kindness and greatness, but only an ordinary emperor driven by the zeal of expanding his empire

    http://sify.com/itihaas/fullstory.php?id=13225593

  5. #20
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    So Alexander was defeated by advancing? His army was never turned back sailed down the indus all the way to the sea. And everywhere he fled a greek satrap not a brahmin was left in charge.


    trying to devalue Alexanders achievments by having him retreat forward is silly.

  6. #21
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    It certainly is.

  7. #22
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Dien Bien Phu, Cannae, the first Gulf War... which military defeats do you think have been the greatest military defeats in history, and why?
    Some of the answers here don't seem to me to be great military defeats, because they decided nothing.

    Custer's Last Stand? Did the Sioux then go on to storm Washington, or at least preserve their lands?

    Six Day War? However completely the Israelis crush their enemies, it basically just holds the status quo. If it goes the OTHER way, though...

    Maybe we need to determine what is 'great' about one defeat or another. As far as consequences, I really like my answers, and there are some others that hold up well, also, such as Teutoberger Wald.

    If it's impact on the course of world events, we got three GREAT candidates.

    However, Cannae is held up as one of the finest tactical materpieces EVER. Tannenberg from the Eastern Front in WWI would be another, and from the American Civil War, Chancellorsville and Brice's Crossroads were simply spectacular defeats and battlefield disasters.

    So...what do we believe makes a defeat 'great'?

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    I thought of a new one, though it's more so a campaign, ie. a series of battles, not just a single battle: The Nationalists losing the Chinese Civil War immediately after WW2.

    Had George Marshall not convince the Nationalists to pause on their campaign against the Communists, the Communists would not had the opportunity to recuperate and receive Russian support in Manchuria. By the time the Nationalists decided to go against American advice, it was already too late, and the campaign against the Communists was a losing war from the first hour of engagement, and eventually the Nationalist government had to relocate the capital of the Republic of China to Taipei, Taiwan, where it still stands. That defeat was to be significant; the what-if scenarios are major ones had the situation been different.

    If the Nationalists picked up the civil war as soon as the Second Sino-Japanese War (China's involvement in WW2), we have two possible scenarios:

    1. The Nationalists win. China remains democratic (ok, that's up for debate, but a whole other topic). This means no Korean War, no war in Vietnam, and overall the Cold War with Russia would be totally different than what we know today since the US probably would have a strong military presence in China.

    2. The Nationalists and the Communists fought to a bitter draw, hence breaking up China into North China and South China, with the dividing line roughly at the borders of the puppet nation of Manchukuo during WW2. The Korean War that took place probably would be substituted by a much smaller conflict with a South Korean victory because of the Chinese involvement would be minimal. The North-South Korea standstill we experienced would become a standstill between North and South China. War with Vietnam would possibly be gone.

    I know I'm really getting into some big what-if scenarios, which is different than the topic of this discussion. However, it sort of shows that the Nationalist defeat in the Chinese civil war is a great defeat that had significant consequences in modern history.

  9. #24
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    Nicopolis
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    Adowa (Ethiopia was still run by Ethiopians)
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    Myriokephalon (mentally)

    Bach Dang battles
    Dong Da (defeat of the Qing)
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  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    ...So...what do we believe makes a defeat 'great'?
    IMO when the defeat has far reaching consequences that go beyond the loss of a “mere” (no disrespect intended) battle for; not only the defeated, but also in many cases for the victor.
    Take Vercingetorix’s defeat at Alesia, which cemented Roman hegamony over Gaul, and at the same time gave further impetus to Caesar’s grasp for power.
    It can only be guesswork to imagine what would have been the result of Vercingetorix’s winning this battle taken together with the demise of Caesar and his legions.
    But they would certainly have been far reaching.
    Therefore a great battle and a great defeat.
    Last edited by Amled; 29 Dec 06, at 22:14.
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  11. #26
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    As far as the whole glass half-empty/full thing, look at Pearl Harbor... it could have been considered a "great" victory for the Japanese at the time, but ultimately brought upon the ruin and total defeat of the nation. So no, I wouldn't really consider them to be just looking at it a different way.

  12. #27
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    Battle of New Orleans in January of 1815. Though technically the war had ended the month before by the Treaty of Ghent, if the British took the city (Jackson DID lose his right flank on the west side of the Mississippi) they wouldn't want to give it up and demand renegotiations.

    Instead, it took 170 years before a British warship dared to fire at an American target.
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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    Teutoburger Wald - Stopped the Eastwards expansion of the Roman Empire in Europe dead, for all time. Had Germany been Romanised, the subsequent history of the world would be unrecognisably different.
    Depends on how Romanised the tribes became. Britain was taken by Rome, but the Romans had little lasting influence there. If the tribes became highly integrated with the Empire, maybe Germans would speak a Romance language. Rome might have fallen a bit later, but the trends and forces that caused it to disintegrate were still there.
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  14. #29
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    War of 1812. A country of 10million, failed to defeat a country/colony of 100 thousand.

  15. #30
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canmoore View Post
    War of 1812. A country of 10million, failed to defeat a country/colony of 100 thousand.
    Heh I think there are a number of factors that can be considered as contributing to this failure in addition to flawed strategy, including logistics, military/civilian ratio, other fronts, etc.

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