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Ltlabner
02-01-2007, 04:52 PM
Just picked up "50 Battles that Changed the World" at the book store. There's a lot of these types of books out there. I've got a bunch of these books on my shelf and they all seem to come at it from a different angle.

So, in the winter doldrums (and because I'm sick of arguing over who sucks worse, Marty or Dunner) I pose this question...

In your opinion, what millitary battle has has the greatest impact to the course of history?

I'll also throw out a friendly reminder that religion and political debates are verboten so please consider this when disussing the effects a particular battle may have had on religions and political systems. This is intended to be a discussion of history not a debate about either one of those subjects.

Razor Shines
02-01-2007, 05:01 PM
I have to say Gettysburg. I know it didn't end the war but it was the most important battle of that war, which changed our country for the better. And the Rebels never recovered.

Redsland
02-01-2007, 05:06 PM
For us? The Battle of Hastings has to be pretty high on the list.

Among more recent dustups, the Battle of Midway kept Imperial Japan from dominating the land and resources of the entire Pacific, and helped pave the way for the United States to become a superpower.

durl
02-01-2007, 05:07 PM
Wow. Tough question. Each battle that would qualify meant something different in their own time. Many wars have been pivotal in the course of history and specific battles within those wars turned tide one way or another.

I would vote for something from the past 200-300 years...probably within the Revolutionary War. That would end up being the Battle of Trenton. The social, political, and economic landscape of the world changed drastically because of America's victory. Major battles long, long ago had huge impacts, but with the speed of communication and growth of technology in the past 200-300 years, I believe the impact of wars within this time have had a faster, more widespread impact on the world as a whole.

And I'm completely open to being challenged on this one. There are a LOT of good choices out there.

paintmered
02-01-2007, 05:07 PM
The Battle of Midway immediately comes to mind.

Edit: I second the battle of Trenton as well.

pedro
02-01-2007, 05:10 PM
I have to say Gettysburg. I know it didn't end the war but it was the most important battle of that war, which changed our country for the better. And the Rebels never recovered.


I tend to agree. Had the Confederacy endured and institutional slavery continued into the 20th century the world would be a very different place.

Puffy
02-01-2007, 05:20 PM
The Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812. A lot of people forget we fought the Brits a second time but that battle allowed us to become a power and not just a bit player on the world stage. If we didn't win it the US might look very, very different today.

Puffy
02-01-2007, 05:22 PM
The nation knew a vastly powerful British fleet and army had sailed for New Orleans, and most expected the worst. The news of victory, one man recalled, "came upon the country like a clap of thunder in the clear azure vault of the firmament, and traveled with electromagnetic velocity, throughout the confines of the land." (Ward p 5) The news turned a frustrating war into a triumph and created a surge of American nationalism.

Andrew Jackson won the reputation that propelled him to the White House. A federal park was established in 1907 to preserve the battlefield; today it features a monument and is part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

pedro
02-01-2007, 05:22 PM
The Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812. A lot of people forget we fought the Brits a second time but that battle allowed us to become a power and not just a bit player on the world stage. If we didn't win it the US might look very, very different today.

the war was technically already over when the battle was fought. the peace treaty had been signed but notice hadn't made it back to the states yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_New_Orleans

westofyou
02-01-2007, 05:25 PM
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, kept the olive eaters out of our shrines.

Puffy
02-01-2007, 05:27 PM
the war was technically already over when the battle was fought. the peace treaty had been signed but notice hadn't made it back to the states yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_New_Orleans

Yes, but if the US didn't win that battle Britian still would have had control of the Mississippi port, and they wouldn't have given it back. Not to mention this battle was important not just because they kept the port, but because of the nationalism it spun (before this event the US merely held its own - most even said they lost almost all the battles) and this turned it into a victory. Finally, it turned Andrew Jackson into a force and made him President and he did more in his 8 years as President to change American history as any president before Abe.

pedro
02-01-2007, 05:30 PM
Yes, but if the US didn't win that battle Britian still would have had control of the Mississippi port, and they wouldn't have given it back.

good point.

still think being under british control (who had already outlawed slavery) might not have been as world altering as the union splitting and slavery staying in force.

westofyou
02-01-2007, 05:31 PM
Battle of Little Big Horn - A final trumped up excuse for genocide and westward expansion.

Puffy
02-01-2007, 05:35 PM
good point.

still think being under british control (who had already outlawed slavery) might not have been as world altering as the union splitting and slavery staying in force.

Yeah, but the South was really never gonna win that war. The economic disparities were just too great. They did so well in the beginning because they had a cause while the north didn't truly have one (succession and slavery wouldn't have changed their day to day lives in the 1860s). But the longer the war dragged on the South has less and less chance to win.

In short, in reality the North was always going to prevail - they were more industrialized and richer.

pedro
02-01-2007, 05:39 PM
Yeah, but the South was really never gonna win that war. The economic disparities were just too great. They did so well in the beginning because they had a cause while the north didn't truly have one (succession and slavery wouldn't have changed their day to day lives in the 1860s). But the longer the war dragged on the South has less and less chance to win.

In short, in reality the North was always going to prevail - they were more industrialized and richer.

The south could have never invaded the north and won, but they came pretty close in the early years of the war to winning their independence due to lack of will on the part of the north. so really, maybe by gettysburg it was already over, but things surely could have ended up quite different.

Roy Tucker
02-01-2007, 05:40 PM
Battle of Midway was the first one that came to my mind. Frankly, the US got lucky, sank 4 Japanese carriers, and swung the balance of the Pacific War. And always remember the men of Torpedo 8.

Battle of Stalingrad chewed up the German army badly. If Hitler hadn't made the fatal mistake of turning east, I don't think we could have bolstered the UK to resist. Germany would have taken over all of Europe.

I always thought Cowpens was the real turning point of the Revolutionary war. The British pretty well had the Colonists on the run till the war swung to the South. Cowpens is when we finally won a real battle.

And Gettysburg swung the balance of the Civil War. 20th Main, Little Round Top, and Joshua Chamberlain was the tipping point of that battle.

Puffy
02-01-2007, 05:50 PM
The south could have never invaded the north and won, but they came pretty close in the early years of the war to winning their independence due to lack of will on the part of the north. so really, maybe by gettysburg it was already over, but things surely could have ended up quite different.

But thats my point - Lincoln was NEVER going to give up and as long as the war dragged on the south had no chance. They were people who lived on little plots of land that produced cotton - while they fought no cotton was being made cause there was no one to make it. The south just had no economy to win that war. A short war - yes, but not a drowned out one. Gettysburg was important for sure - just saying that war was always going to end with the North winning. Unless Lincoln got shot first, then maybe it could have come out different, but he was not going to allow any state to sucede, and nothing would have caused him to stop fighting

Puffy
02-01-2007, 05:56 PM
This is from Wikipedia (and from Ken Burns Civil War)

Could the South have won? A significant number of scholars believe that the Union held an insurmountable advantage over the Confederacy in terms of industrial strength, population, and the determination to win. Confederate actions, they argue, could only delay defeat. Southern historian Shelby Foote expressed this view succinctly in Ken Burns's television series on the Civil War: "I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back.… If there had been more Southern victories, and a lot more, the North simply would have brought that other hand out from behind its back. I don't think the South ever had a chance to win that War."[108] After Lincoln defeated McClellan in the election of 1864, the threat of a political victory for the South was ended. At this point, Lincoln had succeeded in getting the support of the border states, War Democrats, Republicans, emancipated slaves and Britain and France. By defeating the Democrats and McClellan, he also defeated the Copperheads and their peace platform. And he found military leaders like Grant and Sherman that were a match for Lee. From the end of 1864 on, there was no hope for the South.

The goals were not symmetric. To win independence, the South had to convince the North it could not win, but did not have to invade the North. To restore the Union, the North had to conquer vast stretches of territory. In the short run (a matter of months), the two sides were evenly matched. But in the long run (a matter of years), the North had advantages that increasingly came into play, while it prevented the South from gaining diplomatic recognition in Europe

Ltlabner
02-01-2007, 06:09 PM
I always thought Cowpens was the real turning point of the Revolutionary war. The British pretty well had the Colonists on the run till the war swung to the South. Cowpens is when we finally won a real battle.

I'd vote for Bunker Hill over Cowpens. Bunker hill was the first time the colonial militias stood toe to toe with the attacking British millitary and held their ground. It was only due to a short supply of ammo that they fell back. So the British, arguably the best army in the world took twice the number of men to battle, and took twice as many casualties from a bunch of farmers all to capture a meaningless hill.

Had they been crushed at Bunker Hill the momentum from Concord/Lexington and the spirit against the king, which was by no means universal, might not have solidified and the revolution may well have petered out. Concord & Lexington would have been relgated to "isolated uprising" status instead of the beginings of a new country.

Ltlabner
02-01-2007, 06:11 PM
My vote for most influental battle on the course of histroy would be the Greeks over the Persians at Marathon in 490BC.

Had the Persians destroyed the Greeks that wacky experiment known as democracy would have ended, perhaps for good.

IslandRed
02-01-2007, 06:18 PM
It's easy enough to look back now and see that Southern defeat was inevitable because of Lincoln's doggedness, the North's determination, greater manpower and industrial resources, and Grant's understanding of how to bring those advantages to bear by fighting what's been called the "first modern war" (as opposed to the era's more typical war of set-piece battles that was ended by a treaty when one side got tired of fighting or conceded on points). But none of those things were clearly obvious in 1860 except for the "resources" part, and anyway, wars have been won against longer odds. After all, the South didn't have to win -- they had to not lose until the North gave up. Up until Lincoln's re-election in fall 1864, there were plenty of scenarios that could have led to the North giving up the fight. Lincoln himself was pretty sure, up until Sherman took Atlanta, that he was going to lose the election. (And to his mind, losing the election meant the war would have to be won before the next president was inaugurated, because the people's mandate would preclude it being won afterwards.)

After Lincoln was re-elected, the South was toast. Up until then? History happened the way it did, but that wasn't the only way it could have played out.

UKFlounder
02-01-2007, 06:20 PM
Antietam - and the events that happened around it - was perhaps more important than Gettysburg, though the latter gets the attention.

One hope the South had was for foreign recognition and intervention, yet once that battle happened and the North won a strategic victory (tactically, perhaps a draw, but the North certainly won on the bigger picture), Lincoln was able to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Some may argue that this document did not do much - freeing slaves in areas not under government control - but it was a radical change for the Union, and it, combined with the actual battle, discouraged (at the least) England from giving the Confederacy recognition (and France & Russia would have followed the British lead).

Going after slavery was the ultimate weapon the North had - to attack the South's basic economic and social structure - and the victory in Maryland gave Lincoln the chance to play that card and show his determination to carry out the war (he had consistently avowed not to touch slavery where it existed, but by this time in the war, he realized how serious things were and now nothing was off limits, even a policy that might potentially have scared the border states out of the Union)

If you also consider that at a similar time, Braxton Bragg, Kirby Smith & their rebel troops had invaded Kentucky in the western theater, September & October 1862 take on more import. Not only did the Rebels attack Northern soil only to be beaten and to retreat, but both Lee and Bragg were disappointed in the actions - or lack thereof - of citizens in Maryland and Kentucky. (And not many people realize that about 8,000 Confederates were within a few miles of Cincinnati, near where current Turfway Rd and Dixie Hwy meet. If you wonder how Ft Wright and Ft Mitchell got their names, both came from events in September 1862 when the "siege of Cincinnati" took place, but that's a different story.)

In both east and west, the Confederacy hoped, even expected, to pick up thousands of volunteers who wanted to free their states from the "tyranny" of the North, only to be bitterly disappointed. In both states, the vast majority of men refused to sign up for the Southern cause, which did not help the south replinish its armed forces, nor did it show widespread support for their cause. Perhaps loyalty to the Union was a bit stronger than Southerners realized, and the realization that their "fellow Southerners" would not join them painted a bleak picture.

If I've hijacked this thread, my apologies, but I like the Civil War, and I used to belive that Gettysburg was its true turning point but the argument that Antietam was the actual key battle is one I find fascinating. I'm not sure I believe it 100%, but I think the combination of defeat in both East and West, the lack of response to the southern call to arms, the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and the refusal of foreign countries to recognize the South (they never would, once the appearance that this was a war for slavery reared its head) make a strong case that late 1862 was the key point, from which the South did not recover. (Also, it was after Antietam when Lincoln finally removed George McClellan from the army. Though his successors were not great, the passive, conservative viewpoint Little Mac used to lead the army was now gone.)

MWM
02-01-2007, 07:50 PM
I would have said one of the American Revolutionary battles, but like some have said about other battles, American independence was inevitable. It was just a matter of time. And I don't think the American Civil war has the same level of global relevance as others.

Personally, I think World War Two was the most relevant military event in the history of human kind, so I have to go there for the answer. When I first read the question, Stalingrad and Normandy came to mind. To take it a step further you could say that Hitler's decision to launch Barbarossa was the most important military decision ever made. But even that didn't seal his fate completely. Were it not for his arrogance and belief he could waltz into Moscow, he would not have diverted resources south and the German Army might have captured Moscow in the fall of 1941.

As it stands, the winter came early. The early winter of 1941 might have been the most important factor in WWII. That prevented the Wermacht from taking Moscow and probably forcing Russian capitulation. But that winter along with Stalingrad decimated the German army and they were never able to recover.

But even moreso than Stalingrad and the Russian winter holding up Germany, I'd say D-Day is the most important battle in the history of warfare. I really believe June 6, 1944 was as important a day as the world has ever seen. Once the Allies secured a beach-head, it was just a matter of time. Now you could argue that once the USAAF and the RAF gained completel control of the sky, Nazi defeat was inevitable, but had D-Day not succeeded it would have completely changed the face of the war and the sacrifice it would have taken to defeat Germany would have been exponentially higher than it was.

But I could talk for hours on end about WWII. It's one of my biggest passions. And I've had conversations about when the result in WWII became inevitable and we could fill pages on end on that topic alone.

But that entire discussion becomes somewhat moot when the Atomic Bomb is brought up. No matter what happened, no matter how much you dig into the minutia of that war, the development of the A-Bomb ends the discussion. No matter what, come August of 1945, the war was going to end in favor of the allies. So the best answer might not even be a battle itself, but a single bobm over Hiroshima. I don't think anything has had the impact on the world that dropping the bomb on Hiroshima had.

As for Midway, that definitely deserves some consideration. But I just can't picture any scenario where Japan could have defeated the US. They never had a prayer. Sure it required great sacrifice and struggle, but Japan did not have what it would have taken to defeat the US. I honestly believe Germany could have reached its objectives were it not for the military idiocy of Adolf Hitler. They had the resources to win the war (although maybe not once the US was brought into it.) Hitler declaring war on the US is the dumbest military decision EVER.

Ltlabner
02-01-2007, 08:00 PM
As it stands, the winter came early. The early winter of 1941 might have been the most important factor in WWII. That prevented the Wermacht from taking Moscow and probably forcing Russian capitulation. But that winter along with Stalingrad decimated the German army and they were never able to recover..

Along the same lines of "non-battle war outcome changing event" I'd throw in Germany's stragic error of never developing capabile middle to long range bomber aircract. By focusing so much on tactical aircraft they eliminated a long range weapon that would have changed the outcome of the Battle of Britian.

Without England you have no stageing base for the Americans. We may well have still won (I believe they would have) but the difficulty factor would have increased by a factor of 10. Even if the Brits didn't surrender staging the US forces would have been much harder with regular bomber attacks.

The Russians and Americans may well have reacted differently if their industrial bases were able to be attacked from the air on a regular and sustainable basis.

MWM
02-01-2007, 08:12 PM
Along the same lines of "non-battle war outcome changing event" I'd throw in Germany's stragic error of never developing capabile middle to long range bomber aircract. By focusing so much on tactical aircraft they eliminated a long range weapon that would have changed the outcome of the Battle of Britian.

Without England you have no stageing base for the Americans. We may well have still won (I believe they would have) but the difficulty factor would have increased by a factor of 10.

The Russians and Americans may well have reacted differently if their industrial bases were able to be attacked from the air.

No question, had the Germans won the battle of Britian, the US probably could not have defeated Nazi Germany and they probably could have conquered Russia. That was his plan all along, but he got impatient with wanting the Soviet Union. That was the crown jewel he wanted all along. Had he been willing to wait, who knows what would have happened. And I think they could have won the battle of Britian had Hitler not been so irate about the single bombing run on Berlin. He was so pissed he started focusing his efforts on London just to get even. Had he continued his focus on disabling the RAF, he might have been sucessful. Even with the Luftwaffe experiencing a much higher casualty rate, the RAF didn't have much left in the tank when the Germans called off the dogs. I'm not sure how much more they could have withstood. But I think a cross channel invasion (operation Se Lion) would have been incredibly difficult to pull off, even for the Germans.

One of the reasons I'm so fascinated with the ETO of WWII is that you can really see scenarios where the Nazis could have succeeded. And they're not that far-fetched. They're very realistic and had they been wiser, I'm not sure there's much Europe could have done to stop him. But Hitler's ego and impatience doomed them, even from the start. When Hitler first came to power in 1933 and began to rearm within the next few years, his military experts advised him that Germany would not be ready for a successful full scale war with Europe until something like 1942 or 1943. Had he been willing to wait a few years, they might have been unstoppable. And had he not chased his best scientists out of the country because of his anti-intellectual ideology, there's little doubt, he would have found himself inpossession of Nuclear weapons. And THAT is a scary thought. Hitler - just one great big dumbass. It's a good thing as well. Had he succeeded, the world would be a different place today.

Yachtzee
02-01-2007, 08:21 PM
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, kept the olive eaters out of our shrines.

Ooh, that's a good one.

Ltlabner
02-01-2007, 08:34 PM
Hitler declaring war on the US is the dumbest military decision EVER.

I don't know if I'd say dumbest military decision ever, but certinally in contention for the title.

You were dead on in your other post, however. If it wern't for the idiocy/evil of the Nazi leadership they very well could have acomplished all of their goals. It still would have been difficult without a stragic bombing force or real Navy of any significance to defeat America However, the might of their groundforces, the coupling of aircraft in ground support for the first time and technologically superior weapons (at least in the begining before they squandered everything on "wonder weapons") means that Russia, the middle east and Africa would likely have been under German rule, perhaps to this day.

MWM
02-01-2007, 08:42 PM
I don't know if I'd say dumbest military decision ever, but certinally in contention for the title.

You were dead on in your other post, however. If it wern't for the idiocy of the Nazi leadership they very well could have acomplished all of their goals. It still would have been difficult without a stragic bombing force or real Navy of any significance to defeat America However, the might of their groundforces, the coupling of aircraft in ground support for the first time and technologically superior weapons (at least in the begining before they squandered everything on "wonder weapons") means that Russia, the middle east and Africa would likely have been under German rule, perhaps to this day.

Oh, I agree. I don't think the Germans could have defeated the US even with long range bombers. That would have required them to come over here to do it, and the Atlantic is just too big an obstacle. Now, we couldn't have defeated the Germans from over here either. But Hitler didn't have the US as his top priority in the near term. If Hitler was smart, he could have kept america out of the war long enough to finish of England. He then could have turned to the east and ran roughshod over Russia. He did see America as Germany's ultimate opponent, but he didn't see that happening until after he was gone. I think he predicted the 1980s as when the "ultimate battle" would have taken place.

GAC
02-01-2007, 08:42 PM
This is from Wikipedia (and from Ken Burns Civil War)

Could the South have won? A significant number of scholars believe that the Union held an insurmountable advantage over the Confederacy in terms of industrial strength, population, and the determination to win. Confederate actions, they argue, could only delay defeat. Southern historian Shelby Foote expressed this view succinctly in Ken Burns's television series on the Civil War: "I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back.… If there had been more Southern victories, and a lot more, the North simply would have brought that other hand out from behind its back. I don't think the South ever had a chance to win that War."[108] After Lincoln defeated McClellan in the election of 1864, the threat of a political victory for the South was ended. At this point, Lincoln had succeeded in getting the support of the border states, War Democrats, Republicans, emancipated slaves and Britain and France. By defeating the Democrats and McClellan, he also defeated the Copperheads and their peace platform. And he found military leaders like Grant and Sherman that were a match for Lee. From the end of 1864 on, there was no hope for the South.

The goals were not symmetric. To win independence, the South had to convince the North it could not win, but did not have to invade the North. To restore the Union, the North had to conquer vast stretches of territory. In the short run (a matter of months), the two sides were evenly matched. But in the long run (a matter of years), the North had advantages that increasingly came into play, while it prevented the South from gaining diplomatic recognition in Europe

Man I love that series by Burns. I'm a huge Civil War buff. I love visiting Civil War battle fields.

McClellan was one of the most inept military commanders that I have ever studied. A "thorn" in Lincoln's side who was one of the South's best weapons.

As far as battles - Gettysburgh always intrigued me. You had two armies that basically "fell on each other" and two commanders who made HUGE tactical and strategic blunders during that battle that could have swung it either way. Lee was never the same after that battle.

Others....

Normandy (D-Day).... make or break for the Allied forces.

The Ardennes Offensive (called Unternehmen: Wacht am Rhein (Watch on the Rhine), officially named the Battle of the Ardennes (and known to the general public as the Battle of the Bulge).


How about notable miltary leaders?

Always impressed with

William Tecumseh Sherman
Stonewall Jackson
George Patton
Douglasa MacArthur

reds1869
02-01-2007, 08:42 PM
The battle of Pharsalus deserves a mention. Had Caesar not defeated Pompey, the western world may have taken shape very differently.

MWM
02-01-2007, 08:46 PM
BTW, for those of you who like Ken Burns, he's been working on a WWII documentary for the past 6 years, and it will start airing in September of this year. It's supposed to be 14 hours long. I, for one, cannot wait. But I also own the "World at War" collection, which is fantastic, so it will be tough to top that one.

marcshoe
02-01-2007, 08:46 PM
Antietam - and the events that happened around it - was perhaps more important than Gettysburg, though the latter gets the attention.

One hope the South had was for foreign recognition and intervention, yet once that battle happened and the North won a strategic victory (tactically, perhaps a draw, but the North certainly won on the bigger picture), Lincoln was able to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Some may argue that this document did not do much - freeing slaves in areas not under government control - but it was a radical change for the Union, and it, combined with the actual battle, discouraged (at the least) England from giving the Confederacy recognition (and France & Russia would have followed the British lead).

Going after slavery was the ultimate weapon the North had - to attack the South's basic economic and social structure - and the victory in Maryland gave Lincoln the chance to play that card and show his determination to carry out the war (he had consistently avowed not to touch slavery where it existed, but by this time in the war, he realized how serious things were and now nothing was off limits, even a policy that might potentially have scared the border states out of the Union)

If you also consider that at a similar time, Braxton Bragg, Kirby Smith & their rebel troops had invaded Kentucky in the western theater, September & October 1862 take on more import. Not only did the Rebels attack Northern soil only to be beaten and to retreat, but both Lee and Bragg were disappointed in the actions - or lack thereof - of citizens in Maryland and Kentucky. (And not many people realize that about 8,000 Confederates were within a few miles of Cincinnati, near where current Turfway Rd and Dixie Hwy meet. If you wonder how Ft Wright and Ft Mitchell got their names, both came from events in September 1862 when the "siege of Cincinnati" took place, but that's a different story.)

In both east and west, the Confederacy hoped, even expected, to pick up thousands of volunteers who wanted to free their states from the "tyranny" of the North, only to be bitterly disappointed. In both states, the vast majority of men refused to sign up for the Southern cause, which did not help the south replinish its armed forces, nor did it show widespread support for their cause. Perhaps loyalty to the Union was a bit stronger than Southerners realized, and the realization that their "fellow Southerners" would not join them painted a bleak picture.

If I've hijacked this thread, my apologies, but I like the Civil War, and I used to belive that Gettysburg was its true turning point but the argument that Antietam was the actual key battle is one I find fascinating. I'm not sure I believe it 100%, but I think the combination of defeat in both East and West, the lack of response to the southern call to arms, the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and the refusal of foreign countries to recognize the South (they never would, once the appearance that this was a war for slavery reared its head) make a strong case that late 1862 was the key point, from which the South did not recover. (Also, it was after Antietam when Lincoln finally removed George McClellan from the army. Though his successors were not great, the passive, conservative viewpoint Little Mac used to lead the army was now gone.)

If you haven't read it, David Donald's Lincoln is an excellent biography that traces the evolution of Abe's stance on slavery. The book makes the connection between the Emancipation Proclamation and eventual abolition clear-from the time of the proclamation on, the death of slavery was inevitable. I'd highly recommend the book (which I picked up at Gettysburg a few years back, btw).

I am one of those who believes that Gettysburg really was as significant as it's been made out to be, although I know there's a strong school that leans the other direction. Up until then, the Army of the Potomac had floundered while the Army of Northern Virginia seemed to be driven by providence. It's very possible that if Lee had won and marched on toward Philadelphia, the Union public would not have had the will to continue the fight. Gettysburg combined with Grant's taking Vicksburg the same weekend reversed this notion. The road to eventual victory began on July 4, 1863, imho.

Ltlabner
02-01-2007, 08:50 PM
Had he continued his focus on disabling the RAF, he might have been sucessful. Even with the Luftwaffe experiencing a much higher casualty rate, the RAF didn't have much left in the tank when the Germans called off the dogs.

Not to get totally off the original topic, but I'm not sure I agree with you there. Britians aircraft production rates were increasing during the time period of BoB and the RAF is generally considered to have more aircraft at it's disposal after the BoB than before. I've seen numbers all over the place, in some cases claiming as many as 500 Spitfires/Hurricanes per month were being produced. Pilot loss rates were far lower than the Luftwaffe's.

The Germans, meanwhile, were producing far fewer aircraft and losing pilots at a faster rate than the RAF. Add to this that only the BF109 was capabile of going head to head with the Hurriances and Spitfires. And it's operational capabilities were greatly hampered by the distances they had to fly. BF110 were a failure as a fighter against a real opponent, the Stukas got slaughtered and the HE-111's weren't a real picnic to fly in either.

Hap
02-01-2007, 08:57 PM
Antietam - and the events that happened around it, etc.

And on another level, it caused the military leaders on both sides to comprehend the need for the military tactics to catch up with the modernization of the weapons. For example, both armies were more or less fighting a Napoleonic style with formations, drums, kneeling, firing, and other various commands. Antietam taught them that the modern cannonballs and bullets for both North and South could rip large holes completely through several people at once if they are in a old-school bunched-up formation.

Falls City Beer
02-01-2007, 09:03 PM
Forget war.

Inventions make history.

paintmered
02-01-2007, 09:07 PM
And on another level, it caused the military leaders on both sides to comprehend the need for the military tactics to catch up with the modernization of the weapons. For example, both armies were more or less fighting a Napoleonic style with formations, drums, kneeling, firing, and other various commands. Antietam taught them that the modern cannonballs and bullets for both North and South could rip large holes completely through several people at once if they are in a old-school bunched-up formation.

Which is also why Battle of Antietam is the bloodiest day in American history. (Gettysburg was the battle with the highest number of casualties in American history, but it wasn't a one-day battle)

Puffy
02-01-2007, 09:45 PM
I'm gonna change my vote and vote for the battle of Rosie v. Donald.

Two. biggest. countries. evah.

MWM
02-01-2007, 09:49 PM
Not to get totally off the original topic, but I'm not sure I agree with you there. Britians aircraft production rates were increasing during the time period of BoB and the RAF is generally considered to have more aircraft at it's disposal after the BoB than before. I've seen numbers all over the place, in some cases claiming as many as 500 Spitfires/Hurricanes per month were being produced. Pilot loss rates were far lower than the Luftwaffe's.

The Germans, meanwhile, were producing far fewer aircraft and losing pilots at a faster rate than the RAF. Add to this that only the BF109 was capabile of going head to head with the Hurriances and Spitfires. And it's operational capabilities were greatly hampered by the distances they had to fly. BF110 were a failure as a fighter against a real opponent, the Stukas got slaughtered and the HE-111's weren't a real picnic to fly in either.

I'm not a total expert on the battle of Britian, and i can't remember whether it was something I had read or a documentary I watched, but my my statement above was more about pilots and airfields than aircraft. Casualty rates were much higher than on the German end, but they had more experienced pilots. Towards the end the RAF was sending pilots in the air with very little training. They had the aircraft, but they didn't have the pilots. And even with the higher casualties, I believe the Germans always retained superior numbers in total aircraft.

I should go read up on this because this is all from memory and the majority of my studies have been pre-1939 or post 6/6/44. But I do remember reading or hearing that the German tactic of destroying the RAF on the ground was working, but the Germans didn't know it. RAF airfields were being pummeled, but the German high command didn't realize just how much they had crippled the RAF. Hitler was running out of patience with Goering and didn't understand why the bombing hadn't "worked." And IIRC, they had only been bombing for a few months. He was spoiled by his quick defeats over France and Poland. Hitler got tired of the casualty rates and became incensed after a single bombing run on Berlin (Hitler had sworn to the German people that no enemy could drop a bomb on berlin). He then decided in favor of the night bombing of London, another tactical mistake on Hitler's part. But it's also fair to speculate just how much more the Luftwaffe could have withstood as well.

Some experts believe that the RAF couldn't have withstood another month of the tactical bombing from the Luftwaffe. I don't know how true that is, but the lack of reliable intelligence doomed the Germans in this battle as they didn't know how much damage they were causing. Lack of reliable intelligence was a decisive factor throghout the entire war for Germany.

But even had the Germans defeated the RAF, I doubt they could have ever taken Britain.

Cyclone792
02-01-2007, 10:00 PM
Man I love that series by Burns. I'm a huge Civil War buff. I love visiting Civil War battle fields.

I stopped in Gettysburg two years ago, and that's an interesting place.

Here's a few pictures ... if anybody wants to see a few more, just let me know. I'm thoroughly enjoying this thread though, and I absolutely do not want to hijack it at all.

http://img366.imageshack.us/img366/7117/phillygetty008bt8.jpg

http://img382.imageshack.us/img382/4149/phillygetty010ky2.jpg

http://img382.imageshack.us/img382/6554/phillygetty031we9.jpg

Hoosier Red
02-01-2007, 10:04 PM
I've read a lot about the revolutionary war recently and I think you'd have to consider a number of battles in the Battle of 1812 as most important.

The battle for Baltimore stands as important in that the US Navy was able to stand toe to toe for large part with Britain. This cleared the way for the US to emerge as its own nation.

No nation was going to be able to come to America and defeat our army(really no matter how pitiful) on its own land. There were just too many disadvantages.

But to be able to be put on equal footing in the high seas meant alot for the United States development. It meant countries would have to trade fairly with the US(no more looting our ships.)

Along with the Battle of New Orleans, these set the United States up as an actual country.

paintmered
02-01-2007, 10:08 PM
I've read a lot about the revolutionary war recently and I think you'd have to consider a number of battles in the Battle of 1812 as most important.

The battle for Baltimore stands as important in that the US Navy was able to stand toe to toe for large part with Britain. This cleared the way for the US to emerge as its own nation.

No nation was going to be able to come to America and defeat our army(really no matter how pitiful) on its own land. There were just too many disadvantages.

But to be able to be put on equal footing in the high seas meant alot for the United States development. It meant countries would have to trade fairly with the US(no more looting our ships.)

Along with the Battle of New Orleans, these set the United States up as an actual country.

If I remember correctly, the Navy was able to convince local merchants to scuttle their ships outside Baltimore harbor to create an artificial reef. This prevented the British from penetrating into the harbor while Ft. McHenry survived an overnight bombing inspiring some guy named Francis Scott Key to write a poem.

IslandRed
02-01-2007, 10:17 PM
Here's a few pictures ... if anybody wants to see a few more, just let me know. I'm thoroughly enjoying this thread though, and I absolutely do not want to hijack it at all.

Why not start a thread? I'd like to see them. I've been to several battlefields and always enjoy the visit.

reds1869
02-01-2007, 10:22 PM
If I remember correctly, the Navy was able to convince local merchants to scuttle their ships outside Baltimore harbor to create an artificial reef. This prevented the British from penetrating into the harbor while Ft. McHenry survived an overnight bombing inspiring some guy named Francis Scott Key to write a poem.

You are correct. The War of 1812 is one of the most fascinating periods in our nation's history; it's a shame so few people are aware it even happened.

marcshoe
02-01-2007, 10:24 PM
Why not start a thread? I'd like to see them. I've been to several battlefields and always enjoy the visit.

I'd like to see that as well. I've been to Gettysburg several times, as well as Anteitam, Appomatax Court House, Perryville and a few others. I sometimes end up in Gettysburg when I'm intending to go somewhere else. There's just something about the place.

Ltlabner
02-01-2007, 10:41 PM
Casualty rates were much higher than on the German end, but they had more experienced pilots. Towards the end the RAF was sending pilots in the air with very little training. They had the aircraft, but they didn't have the pilots. And even with the higher casualties, I believe the Germans always retained superior numbers in total aircraft.

But I do remember reading or hearing that the German tactic of destroying the RAF on the ground was working, but the Germans didn't know it. RAF airfields were being pummeled, but the German high command didn't realize just how much they had crippled the RAF.

But it's also fair to speculate just how much more the Luftwaffe could have withstood as well.

Some experts believe that the RAF couldn't have withstood another month of the tactical bombing from the Luftwaffe. I don't know how true that is, but the lack of reliable intelligence doomed the Germans in this battle as they didn't know how much damage they were causing.

In your first para, when you say "but they had more experienced pilots" are you refering to the Luftwaffe or RAF?

I'm also working from memory here so I'll be currious to get back to my office and be able to get some better facts. The Germans were losing a lot of pilots to death, injury or being captured after bailing out. The RAF pilots had the option, if physcially able, to bail out over home lands and be able to fight again in some capacity. Then again, the RAF was losing huge amounts of pilots due to being killed by the inexperience you mentioned.

You are right that their tatics of focusing on airfields was working, however, the RAF did have the option to fall back to bases further inland and operate from them. This would minimize their sortie times in the combat area, but not as much as the Luftwaffe who was already at their limit to reach the general London area. The RAF had options, the Luftwaffe had none. The replacement issue for the RAF would still have been a challenge.

Had the war of attrition continued however, the RAF had inland airfeilds that still provided acceptable time over target, radar, far greater aircraft replacement rates but a dwindling pool of pilots. The Luftwaffe, had barely any time over target, no radar, far lower aircraft replacement rates and a dwindling pool of pilots. I give the advantage to the RAF.

You are right about the lack of intelligence. Whether it be about the radar system, the amount of aircraft at the begining of BoB or being produced durring it, or the status of RAF. The Luftwafe was definatley flying blind in that regard.

I did find this bit on wiki FWIW... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_britain)


The theories of strategic bombing, which hinged on the collapse of public morale, were undone by British defiance in the face of the day and night Blitzes. The switch to a terror bombing strategy allowed the RAF to recuperate and to defend against the attacks. Even if the attacks on the 11 Group airfields had continued, the British could have withdrawn to the Midlands, out of German fighter range, and continued the battle from there. Post-war records show that British aircraft were being replaced faster than those of the Germans; the RAF maintained its strength even as the Luftwaffe's declined. In losses of aircraft and experienced aircrew the battle was a blow from which the Luftwaffe never fully recovered.

I found this here (http://www.battle-of-britain.com/).

Total Losses for the period (aircraft)
RAF: 902
Luftwaffe: 1598

And this here (http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/bobhome.html)

'The Few' were 2353 young men from Great Britain and 574 from overseas, pilots and other aircrew, who are officially recognised as having taken part in the Battle of Britain. Each flew at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm during the period 10 July to 31 October 1940. 544 lost their lives during the period of the Battle, and these are marked by an asterisk

I definatley encourage you to dig into the BoB further. It was, as you noted, the first big turning point in the war and a facinating study of millitary history and air combat.

Cyclone792
02-01-2007, 11:20 PM
Why not start a thread? I'd like to see them. I've been to several battlefields and always enjoy the visit.

Done. :)

http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=54341

vaticanplum
02-01-2007, 11:55 PM
Battle of Stalingrad chewed up the German army badly. If Hitler hadn't made the fatal mistake of turning east, I don't think we could have bolstered the UK to resist. Germany would have taken over all of Europe.

I haven't read this whole thread yet, but I just want to reiterate that the Battle of Stalingrad was a freaking schlep of a battle. I truly believe that most Americans don't know the enormity of it because of the Cold War and how proud/sympathetic Americans might have felt toward Soviets if they realized exactly how bad and important it was. Many historians believe it was the worst single battle in human history. There were something like 100,000 German POWs alone and tens of thousands of civilian deaths.

Up north, the Siege of Leningrad was going on, and this I think was just as crucial if not quite as bloody. Hitler was quite keen on Leningrad because the city is really the gateway from Europe to Russia (very far up north, originally and now St. Petersburg). It's also a relatively new city for the country, built by Peter the Great for specifically that purpose, as the "gateway to the West," both industrial and cultural, and Hitler really felt like he needed it, plus he hadn't been successful in Moscow. The Germans were not really prepared for the conditions (ie. the cold) that they encountered there, but still this battle went on for three and a half years. It has always sounded like pure hell to me. Transportation to the city was cut early on, there was very little food and they went through months at a time with NO POWER. I think one of the reasons this battle has always struck me is because the effect on civilians and civilian casualties were so bad. People burned their houses so they could stay warm. The WINNING side of this battle lost one million civilians to starvation. That doesn't even count the troops. And it was a turning point, I think, even though it dragged on for so long. Some people think that if Hitler had stayed in Leningrad and focused all his efforts there instead of sending some to Stalingrad, the Germans would have won the war.

The amount of Soviet deaths (military + civilian) in World War II is insane. Conservative estimates put them around 18-20 million; many historians believe that the real number is around 25-27 million. I can't even fathom how many people 25 million is. By contrast, America lost between 300,000-350,000 in WWII. Allied civilian deaths actually account for over half the deaths of WWII. There's some crazy stat about the Siege of Leningrad and the Battle of Stalingrad each producing more Soviet casualties than the Americans suffered in World War I, World War II and the Civil War combined (don't quote me on that but I think it's right).

MWM
02-02-2007, 12:43 AM
In your first para, when you say "but they had more experienced pilots" are you refering to the Luftwaffe or RAF?

I'm also working from memory here so I'll be currious to get back to my office and be able to get some better facts. The Germans were losing a lot of pilots to death, injury or being captured after bailing out. The RAF pilots had the option, if physcially able, to bail out over home lands and be able to fight again in some capacity. Then again, the RAF was losing huge amounts of pilots due to being killed by the inexperience you mentioned.

You are right that their tatics of focusing on airfields was working, however, the RAF did have the option to fall back to bases further inland and operate from them. This would minimize their sortie times in the combat area, but not as much as the Luftwaffe who was already at their limit to reach the general London area. The RAF had options, the Luftwaffe had none. The replacement issue for the RAF would still have been a challenge.

Had the war of attrition continued however, the RAF had inland airfeilds that still provided acceptable time over target, radar, far greater aircraft replacement rates but a dwindling pool of pilots. The Luftwaffe, had barely any time over target, no radar, far lower aircraft replacement rates and a dwindling pool of pilots. I give the advantage to the RAF.

You are right about the lack of intelligence. Whether it be about the radar system, the amount of aircraft at the begining of BoB or being produced durring it, or the status of RAF. The Luftwafe was definatley flying blind in that regard.

I did find this bit on wiki FWIW... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_britain)



I found this here (http://www.battle-of-britain.com/).


And this here (http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/bobhome.html)


I definatley encourage you to dig into the BoB further. It was, as you noted, the first big turning point in the war and a facinating study of millitary history and air combat.

Good information! That's the thing about playing "what could have been." There's not always a clear cut answer. I know that I saw once that Hermann Goering was asked what he needed in order to defeat the RAF and he answered a few squadrons of Spitfires. There's no doubt that the RAF aircraft were superior and it's very possible they could have held out and completely outlasted the Luftwaffe. I just don't know enough to give a concrete opinion.

But I did just go and check out wiki and found a few tidbits.


These were desperate times for the RAF, which was also taking many casualties in the air. Aircraft production could replace aircraft but replacement pilots were barely keeping place with losses, and novice flyers were being shot down in droves. Most replacements had as little as nine hours flying time and no combat training.


And yet, the Luftwaffe was winning this battle of the airfields. Another fortnight of this pounding and the RAF might have been forced to withdraw their squadrons from the south of England. This was not clear to the Luftwaffe command, which had watched its bomber force start to waste away and had grown desperate to deliver on the original timetable. They could not understand why the RAF hadn't yet collapsed, or how they were always able to get fighters to the place they were needed, no matter how many raids were sent. Something needed to be done to force the RAF into a decisive battle.

So it sounds like they probably could have just moved north and regrouped. Ultimately, the purpose of the bombing of Britain was to weaken the coastal defenses and the RAF enough for them to attempt an amphibious assault. That was destined to fail and would have significantly fractured the German military. Hitler came ot his senses in this regard, one of the few times you could say this.

Admittedly, once the war started, I focus more on the things the Americans were involved in (I've read extensively on Market Garden). I'm more fascinated with the events leading up to the war than the war itself, so I have done a lot of reading on non-US events in that regard. I keep staring at "The Rise and Fall of Third Reich" on my book shelf, but I see 1,200 pages and just can't force myself to start. Right now I'm reading "Threshold of War" by Waldo Heinrichs. He's not the best writer in the world, but the book is the best I've seen dealing with the events in 1941 that pulled America into the war.

Ravenlord
02-02-2007, 03:25 AM
this really needs divided up between continents and possibly ages.

avoiding American History i'm going to say one of: Marathon, The Battle of Stamford Bridge, and i can't remember the name of the battle, but it's where Japan became unified in the 16th century.

dman
02-02-2007, 05:44 AM
Outstanding thread Abner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm a big WWII buff, so I'm going to go with battles from that time period.

First, a mjor turning point also, but not much mention: El Alamein
The next few will be obvious choices: Guadalcanal, Midway, Normandy, The Ardennes, and Iwo Jima come to mind for me.

When you read about the European encounters, you find out how fortunate that the Allies were that Hitler was such a micro-manager of his resources and staff. I'm not saying we would have lost that campaign in Europe, but had Hitler let his generals (especially Rommel) use their forces the way they saw fit, plus the fact that Germany had the ME-262 and wanted it used strictly as a bomber, I believe that the war in Europe would have continued possibly another 2 years or so.

reds1869
02-02-2007, 06:45 AM
and i can't remember the name of the battle, but it's where Japan became unified in the 16th century.

Sekigahara.

Ltlabner
02-02-2007, 06:49 AM
Lechfeld in 955AD also was pretty significant to history. It marked the end of regular and ongoing attacks on western Europe by different groups from the eastern steppes (Huns, Mygars, etc).

It allowed western Europe to start to form into the civilization we have today.

RedsBaron
02-02-2007, 07:07 AM
Interesting topic that almost certainly has no definitive answer. Many of the battles I thought of have already been mentioned. Ravenlord mentioned Maranthon. In the same series of wars between Persia and Greece, Salamis in 481 B.C. may have been as important, as the destruction of its fleet ended Persia's invasion attempt. Had Persia conquered Greece, the last 2500 years of Western civilization would have proceeded extremely differently.
WOY mentioned the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D., which ended Roman efforts to conquer Germany. Had Rome conquered Germany, the development of the German people over the centuries would have been greatly different. No Hitler perhaps?
The outcome of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 changed how England developed and its integration with Europe.
The American victory at Saratoga helped bring France into the American Revolutionary War, a war we may not have ever won without French help; the Battle of the Capes sealed off the hope that Cornwallis's army had of escaping from Yorktown by the sea, and the Battle of Yorktown itself in 1781 persuaded the British to finally sue for peace.
Had Lee defeated McClellan at Antietam in 1862, Britian and France may have intervened on behalf of the Confederacy to force a settlement that would have resulted in an independent C.S.A. What would have then happened? Obviously a slave holding Confederacy would have then gone on into the Twentieth Century. Wholly apart from the huge effect in this nation upon its between torn asunder and the continuance of slavery, would a divided America have intervened in World War I, or would the USA and CSA stayed out of the war, with the result that Germany's 1918 offensive would've won it the war? Would both the USA and the CSA have fought against Hitler in World War II?
Had the South won some of the battles in the west, such as Shiloh or Perryville, or had it won more battles in the east such as Antietam or Gettysburg, weariness with the war in the North may have resulted in Lincoln's defeat in 1864 and a negotiated peace.
Had Germany won the First Battle of the Marne in 1914, Germany would have captured Paris and perhaps won the First World War.
Stalingrad, Kursk and Normandy were all huge battles, but the German defeat at Moscow in December 1941 may have sealed Germany's fate in World War II. Midway in June 1942 was the turning point in the Pacific theater of the war.

flyer85
02-02-2007, 09:26 AM
My vote for most influental battle on the course of histroy would be the Greeks over the Persians at Marathon in 490BC.or Gaugamela in 331 BC, when Alexander vanquished the Persians and Darius. Assured the supremacy of Greek culture.

flyer85
02-02-2007, 09:33 AM
IF you want to look at WWII, IMHO the most importan was the Battle of Britain. I think the pilots/aircraft issue was a big one but you cannot overlook that Churchill had by then won the intellectual battle with the appeasers and made it crystal clear there would be no Vichy in Britain.

Churchill

Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

BTW, the above sends chills down my spine every time I read it.



We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!

cumberlandreds
02-02-2007, 09:40 AM
BTW, for those of you who like Ken Burns, he's been working on a WWII documentary for the past 6 years, and it will start airing in September of this year. It's supposed to be 14 hours long. I, for one, cannot wait. But I also own the "World at War" collection, which is fantastic, so it will be tough to top that one.


This is a great topic and very interesting opinions given by all. I'm looking forward to this series also. It should be really good. I'm feel the same that it will have to go a ways to top the "World at War" series. It was made by the BBC and has a definite British slant to it. But it is impeccable in its thoroughness of capturing the essence of WWII.

flyer85
02-02-2007, 09:47 AM
The Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more than political chicanery. Lincoln had no authority to actually do it and and it also didn't free a single slave. The proclamation was drafted in September and it was not to take effect until January 1st so that if any southern state wished to surrender before the new year the proclamation would not apply to them.

It was meant to keep the European powers at bay by bringing in the potential for the abolition of slavery as a war goal and it also had a chance to cause a slave insurrection.

In the end the civil war was fought to answer the Federalism/Centralism question. Our country has had two distinct periods, pre and post civil war, the war changed our republic from a federalist form of government to a centralist one.

cincy09
02-02-2007, 10:07 AM
I have seen it mentioned a few times , but the Battle of Hastings in 1066 was one of the major historical events of the last milenium. It was also the last time the island of England was invaded and conquered.

This battle changed and formed the English culture. The english language as we know it today is attributable to the French influeces of Norman culture. This battle also introduced the feudal system of government to England.

A lot of our culture today is attributable to this mark in world history.

marcshoe
02-02-2007, 10:18 AM
The Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more than political chicanery. Lincoln had no authority to actually do it and and it also didn't free a single slave. The proclamation was drafted in September and it was not to take effect until January 1st so that if any southern state wished to surrender before the new year the proclamation would not apply to them.

It was meant to keep the European powers at bay by bringing in the potential for the abolition of slavery as a war goal and it also had a chance to cause a slave insurrection.

In the end the civil war was fought to answer the Federalism/Centralism question. Our country has had two distinct periods, pre and post civil war, the war changed our republic from a federalist form of government to a centralist one.

The Emancipation Proclamation also began the process toward abolition and established a sort of precedent Lincoln used to push ending slavery. While there certainly were political goals, the document also acted as a policy statement that marked a turning point in Lincoln's attitude toward slavery.

At least according to David Donald, who's a a Pulitzer winner and one of the country's premier Lincoln scholars. Really, the whole thing's a lot more complicated than many people--me in particular--tend to make it sound.

fwiw, on the slavery question, while the North was slow to consider this a war goal, and did fight primarily to protect the Union, aka a central government, the initial secession was caused as much by the South's fear that Lincoln would eventually free their slaves--and the certainty that he would restrict their "rights" concerning their slaves--as it was anything else. The secession documents of South Carolina, Georgia and Texas (possible others--these come to mind immediately) and the statements of many of the leading secessionists (including Jefferson Davis and VP Alexander Stephens, who said that slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederacy) among others. Even the eventual failed push to free slaves to fight for the Confederacy by General Patrick Cleburne, cabinet member Judah Benjamin and others was accompanied by language that indicated that they wanted to free the slaves on their own terms rather than have the North do it for them. This way, they said, they could make sure that the freed slaves remained on the lower rungs of society, as low-paid servants. Chattel, basically.

But even this idea was rejected by the Powers That Be. Cleburne found himself suspect for even suggesting slaves should be freed, and his promising military career was stunted.

There's a lot of misinformation out there now that the South seceeded because of the tariff, but there are absolutely no contemporary documents that support this. This is simply part of a Lost Cause myth that was perpetuated after the war by ex-Confederates who wanted to make their efforts seem more noble.

flyer85
02-02-2007, 11:00 AM
aka a central government, the initial secession was caused as much by the South's fear that Lincoln would eventually free their slaves--and the certainty that he would restrict their "rights" concerning their slaves--as it was anything else. which is at its core a centralism/federalism question. Lincoln had no plans to abolish slavery, he had even pledged to uphold the Fugitive Slave Law

The South ceded based on issues, which were at there cores, issues about the scope and power of the Federal government. Election of a Republican president signaled that the North was moving in a different direction than the South in terms of the Federalism/Centralism question. Slavery was just the most convenient issue to get the people worked up enough to support secession. Lincoln was a disciple of Clay(who was a slaveowner himself), was for high tariffs, bonds for infrastructure and a federal bank. He was not an abolitionist. In the end the Emancipation Proclamation was about pragmatism and not idealism.

It is interesting that all of the European powers handled their slavery issues without a bloody war(there was a nasty insurrection in Haiti) and could have eventually been handled by compensating slave owners(as had been done in Europe). There was no need to fight a war over the slave issue but there ending up being one over the scope and proper role of the central government. It is also interesting that the North had much more restrictive "Jim Crow" type laws in effect than the South did. Freedmen (African-Americans of 1/8th blood or more) were not allowed to emigrate to Illinois and were denied the right to vote in almost every state.

marcshoe
02-02-2007, 11:23 AM
True, except the South was very selective in the way the applied the principle. Historically, the South didn't adhere as strictly to a state-rights philosophy as is popularly believed. The extent at which they respected States rights often depended on how the issue affected slavery.

One of the issues that drove secession was that the South refused to recognize the rights of states to prohibit slave-owners from traveling there with their slaves, and in the Confederate Constitution, all states, including all future states,were required to permit slavery.

There were several other issues that made it clear that slavery drove the States' Rights issue, not the other way around.

IslandRed
02-02-2007, 11:40 AM
The South ceded based on issues, which were at there cores, issues about the scope and power of the Federal government.

And exactly what was it that was threatened by the scope and power of the Federal government, enough to make them pick up guns to do something about it?

Bruce Catton probably said it best when he said that the war was about slavery for the simple fact that if slavery had ceased to exist in 1859, there wouldn't have been a war in 1860 or probably at any point thereafter. It was commonly couched in the language of "state's rights," but there was only one "state's right" at issue and everyone knew it. It was the indigestible lump (his words) at the core of it all.

But to say it was "about" slavery is a loaded question, because it inevitably leads to the (mostly correct) point that the North didn't go to war to abolish slavery and the Southerners were just fighting to defend their homes, so the war couldn't have been about slavery, and on we go. It leads to a point that is possibly the single most clarifying thing I've ever read on the Civil War:

Why the war happened, and why people went to fight, are different questions with different answers.

Most people who fought in the Civil War did not do it because they were defending their slaves or trying to take them away. But the war is simply inexplicable without reference to slavery, the same way World War II is inexplicable without reference to World War I.

marcshoe
02-02-2007, 11:55 AM
Why the war happened, and why people went to fight, are different questions with different answers.



Absolutely!

Hoosier Red
02-02-2007, 12:15 PM
On the WWII issue, I had heard that the Germans almost won the Battle of Britain. If it had continued for maybe even another week or month, Churchill planned on surrendering.

Is this just an urban legend or is there something to support this?

pedro
02-02-2007, 12:15 PM
Flyer85,

While it is true that Lincoln's primary goal was holding keeping the country whole and that the emancipation proclamation was politically motivated, I think you are underestimating both Lincoln's anti-slavery feelings and the role that the fear of losing slavery had in the drive towards the civil war. You are correct in that on one level it was a "state's rights" issue. However, it was a "state's right" to allow slaveholding that was central to that cause. Without the abolitionist movement and the "Missouri Compromise" the civil war likely would not have happened.

So while it is likely true that Lincoln had no plans to abolish slavery before the war started if he had thought he could have done so without causing a war, he almost certainly would have. He was on record publicly as being anti-slavery and this perceived affront to the southern way of life and the question of states rights that arose out of it was a prime mover in the decision of South Carolina to secede from the Union.

For anyone interested in the abolitionist movement and how it helped bring to a head the national tensions that led to the Civil War, I'd really recommend the book "Cloudsplitter" by Russell Banks, about the abolitionist John Brown and the events that led up to the raid on Harpers Ferry.

UKFlounder
02-02-2007, 12:23 PM
Slavery could have been ended with compensated emancipation - except that the South refused it. Before issuing the proclamation, Lincoln invited Border State representatives to the White House & offered such a plan (I believe he estimated the cost at $400 million), but they refused to consider it.

With that, Lincoln, who had previously been wary of being tough on slavery out of the fear that such a policy would drive Maryland, Kentucky & Missouri out of the Union, realized that if they were not cooperating with him, he did not have to let their possible departure control him so much, and a few weeks later he told his cabinet about the proclamation it would issue.

And in terms of the proclamations effects, one thing it absolutely did was allow the Union army to enlist black soldiers. It mentioned garrison duty specifically, but, by the end of the war, around 180,000 blacks were in the Union army, and this proclamation was the document that made that policy official, so even if you think it did not do much in freeing the slaves (and I still believe the slaves heard about the proclamation and that it encouraged them to run away when the union army came around), it did have this one concrete effect.

pedro
02-02-2007, 12:36 PM
Slavery could have been ended with compensated emancipation - except that the South refused it. Before issuing the proclamation, Lincoln invited Border State representatives to the White House & offered such a plan (I believe he estimated the cost at $400 million), but they refused to consider it.

With that, Lincoln, who had previously been wary of being tough on slavery out of the fear that such a policy would drive Maryland, Kentucky & Missouri out of the Union, realized that if they were not cooperating with him, he did not have to let their possible departure control him so much, and a few weeks later he told his cabinet about the proclamation it would issue.

And in terms of the proclamations effects, one thing it absolutely did was allow the Union army to enlist black soldiers. It mentioned garrison duty specifically, but, by the end of the war, around 180,000 blacks were in the Union army, and this proclamation was the document that made that policy official, so even if you think it did not do much in freeing the slaves (and I still believe the slaves heard about the proclamation and that it encouraged them to run away when the union army came around), it did have this one concrete effect.

I'm not sure that the south could have been equitably compensated for the amount of money they had tied up in slaves. IIRC, I saw something the other night that suggested that Slaves represented the highest monetary value as a "natural resource" during the 1850's.

UKFlounder
02-02-2007, 12:44 PM
Good point. I think Lincoln had chosen $400 per slave as a figure for compensation, though I might be remembering that wrong. Slavery was so entwined in Southern politics, economy & society, that I am not sure anything but a bloody war could have eliminated it, especially with the level of racism existing in the country, North & South.

cumberlandreds
02-02-2007, 01:20 PM
On the WWII issue, I had heard that the Germans almost won the Battle of Britain. If it had continued for maybe even another week or month, Churchill planned on surrendering.

Is this just an urban legend or is there something to support this?

That is an urban legend that I have never heard or read about. Churchill would have never surrendered without a full scale land invasion and overwhelming defeat of the British Army. Churchill's dogged determination during the Battle of Britain kept the morale high for the British people when it would have been easy to give up. He would have been one of the last people to have surrendered to the Germans.

RedsBaron
02-02-2007, 01:24 PM
About 25 years ago I stayed overnight in Fredricksburg, VA. On the afternoon that I arrived, I visited the Chancellorsville Battlefield. A man was dressed as a Confederate soldier and acting as if we were in 1863. As part of his living history demonstration, he told everyone that he was a veteran of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, that he had been wounded in the battle, and that he therefore had been unable to accompany Lee's army on its invasion of the North, but he was sure Lee would soon win a great victory to end the war.
The next morning I visited the Fredericksburg battlefield. When I came to where the Union headquarters had been, there was the same guy, this time dressed as a Union soldier. I listened as he gave a demonstration for some other tourists. When the others left, he and I looked at each other. He recognized me and then laughed, realizing that I knew that he had "switched sides."
I then talked with him. He was a history professor at a college in Minnesota or Wisconsin; I forget which. He said that he spent part of his summers studying the Civil War and doing re-enactments.
I then asked him why did the common soldiers on each side fight. Obviously, any answer was a generalization, but he did tell me that he had studied the letters and other documents left by the soldiers and had come to some conclusions.
The typical soldier in Confederate gray was fighting to defend his home, because the Union army was perceived to be attacking him and his family, his way of life (which typically did not include holding slaves, though soldiers on both sides were certainly not lacking in racism).
The typical soldier in Union blue was fighting, not to free the slaves, but to preserve the Union itself, which had come to be regarded as almost sacred to many Union troops.

RedsBaron
02-02-2007, 01:25 PM
That is an urban legend that I have never heard or read about. Churchill would have never surrendered without a full scale land invasion and overwhelming defeat of the British Army. Churchill's dogged determination during the Battle of Britain kept the morale high for the British people when it would have been easy to give up. He would have been one of the last people to have surrendered to the Germans.

I agree. Had someone other than Churchill been leading Britain at that time, the British may have sued for peace. Not Churchill.

vaticanplum
02-02-2007, 01:31 PM
I love this thread. Can we have a different topic every week?

forfreelin04
02-02-2007, 01:45 PM
Antietam - and the events that happened around it - was perhaps more important than Gettysburg, though the latter gets the attention.

One hope the South had was for foreign recognition and intervention, yet once that battle happened and the North won a strategic victory (tactically, perhaps a draw, but the North certainly won on the bigger picture), Lincoln was able to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Some may argue that this document did not do much - freeing slaves in areas not under government control - but it was a radical change for the Union, and it, combined with the actual battle, discouraged (at the least) England from giving the Confederacy recognition (and France & Russia would have followed the British lead).

Going after slavery was the ultimate weapon the North had - to attack the South's basic economic and social structure - and the victory in Maryland gave Lincoln the chance to play that card and show his determination to carry out the war (he had consistently avowed not to touch slavery where it existed, but by this time in the war, he realized how serious things were and now nothing was off limits, even a policy that might potentially have scared the border states out of the Union)

If you also consider that at a similar time, Braxton Bragg, Kirby Smith & their rebel troops had invaded Kentucky in the western theater, September & October 1862 take on more import. Not only did the Rebels attack Northern soil only to be beaten and to retreat, but both Lee and Bragg were disappointed in the actions - or lack thereof - of citizens in Maryland and Kentucky. (And not many people realize that about 8,000 Confederates were within a few miles of Cincinnati, near where current Turfway Rd and Dixie Hwy meet. If you wonder how Ft Wright and Ft Mitchell got their names, both came from events in September 1862 when the "siege of Cincinnati" took place, but that's a different story.)

In both east and west, the Confederacy hoped, even expected, to pick up thousands of volunteers who wanted to free their states from the "tyranny" of the North, only to be bitterly disappointed. In both states, the vast majority of men refused to sign up for the Southern cause, which did not help the south replinish its armed forces, nor did it show widespread support for their cause. Perhaps loyalty to the Union was a bit stronger than Southerners realized, and the realization that their "fellow Southerners" would not join them painted a bleak picture.

If I've hijacked this thread, my apologies, but I like the Civil War, and I used to belive that Gettysburg was its true turning point but the argument that Antietam was the actual key battle is one I find fascinating. I'm not sure I believe it 100%, but I think the combination of defeat in both East and West, the lack of response to the southern call to arms, the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and the refusal of foreign countries to recognize the South (they never would, once the appearance that this was a war for slavery reared its head) make a strong case that late 1862 was the key point, from which the South did not recover. (Also, it was after Antietam when Lincoln finally removed George McClellan from the army. Though his successors were not great, the passive, conservative viewpoint Little Mac used to lead the army was now gone.)


If I could give you rep points I would! I was waiting for someone to say Antietam. It was the Union Victory Lincoln was waiting on to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. A document that economically crippled the Confederacy, kept Britain out of the war and not on the Confederate side, put the Union on the side of the angels (from a political to a moral war), and finally and most important legally freed a race of people who now were considered people instead of property.

Gettysburg is the most remembered of the Civil War but so is Carlton Fisk's (Guided HomeRun) in the World Series the Reds won!

There are many other battles that come to mind like the Marathon, Trafalgar, Battle of Nations, and Lexington and Concord. Not to mention their is a philosophy hidden in the Battle of Lectura, Sherman's March to the Sea, and the nuclear bombings in Japan.

UKFlounder
02-02-2007, 01:57 PM
In terms of why men fought, James McPherson's book "For Cause & Comrades" is an excellent study, and the title pretty much somes up the biggest motivations of the soldiers - to protect home/save the union (cause) and to, bascially, give in to peer pressure (comrades.) Companies, regiments & even brigades often consisted of friends & neighbors from the same town/area, so many of the men knew each other and had a natural bond that kept them fighting and living through terrible conditions and didn't want to be viewed as cowards for not fighting. That geographical makeup of units was a strong factor in soldiers joining the army, and then staying in, despite harsh conditions (hard marches, bad weather with little gear, poor meals, etc.)

Roy Tucker
02-02-2007, 02:19 PM
Probably a different discussion, but the planned invasion of Japan in WWII had the earmarks of a big one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Downfall

forfreelin04
02-02-2007, 02:49 PM
The Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more than political chicanery. Lincoln had no authority to actually do it and and it also didn't free a single slave. The proclamation was drafted in September and it was not to take effect until January 1st so that if any southern state wished to surrender before the new year the proclamation would not apply to them.

It was meant to keep the European powers at bay by bringing in the potential for the abolition of slavery as a war goal and it also had a chance to cause a slave insurrection.

In the end the civil war was fought to answer the Federalism/Centralism question. Our country has had two distinct periods, pre and post civil war, the war changed our republic from a federalist form of government to a centralist one.

Lincoln in 1858 well before the Emancipation Proclamation when asked his opinion on the instituiton of slavery:

"I hate it because of the monstorous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world... it enables the enemies of free instituions with plausability, to taunt us a hypocrites.....causes the real friends of freeom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty.....criticising the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest."

However, Lincolns own personal interest to abolish slavery was compounded by his authority to do so. Under the Constitution, before the Southern states seceded, there was no legitimate authority to do so. Lincoln hated slavery, but he was not about to rid America from it and destory the Constitution in the process. He must first be seen as a man of law before he is seen as a man of anti-slavery. Thus, thanks to the South's secession and then thanks to the proclamation of war, he was able to use his War Powers and emancipate the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation was not a Presedential mandate but actually a millitary edict. So in a sense, the Confederates sealed their own fates by seceding in the first place. If they had simply stayed in the Union, upon Lincoln's first presedential election, chances are slavery would not have been put on the path of ultimate extinction. Up until that point, the general consensus of legislators was compromise. But in 1854, the Kansas Nebraka Act ruined all this by acknowledging slavery was a choice rather then something swept under the rug. Many felt Lincoln would push for the abolishment of the Kansas Nebraska Act, and this is why many states seceded.

If anyone would like to know more, I point you no further than the most comprehensive study on the matter. Allen C. Guelzo's book "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America" is by far the best and the most recent. I did an extensive study of it during my Lincoln course last semester. Most people think that the Emancipation Proclamation did nothing because it only applied to Southern States who already were in rebellion. That being said, I do not blame anyone for thinking this considering in alot of schools this is how it is taught. However, teaching it this way is all together lazy and ill logical considering without the Proclamation, it is highly doubtful that slavery would have ended as soon as it did. No President until Lincoln acknowledged slavery as pure evil plain and simple. Most Presidents until Lincoln housed slaves themselves or merely thought of it as a necessary evil.

In case you are wondering, I am a Social Studies Education major and will be graduating in May. I do not consider myself a "History Buff" in any form yet, but I am thankful for people who are. They keep me on my toes and allow me to teach history the way it needs to be taught.

Ravenlord
02-02-2007, 03:26 PM
When: September 25 , 1066

Where: Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire

Who: Saxons under Harold, King of England vs. Norwegians under Harald Hardrada and Earl Tostig

Why: When Edward the Confessor died he left no direct heir, and the throne of England passed to Harold of Wessex. Harold's brother Tostig influenced the legendary Viking warrior, King Harald Hardrada of Norway to invade England.

While a second claimant to the throne of England, William of Normandy, labored to launch his own invasion fleet, the Norwegians sailed by way of the Orkneys and landed at Riccall, near York with a force probably numbering 10,000 men.

Harold had been well aware of the dual threats to his new kingdom, and he called out his levies. These were free men from the shires who owed two months of military service each year. By September the two months were up and rations were low, so Harold reluctantly released these irregular troops. This left him with a trained force of about 3000 mounted infantry known as house-carls. When the news came of the Norwegian landing, Harold quickly marched his men north by the old Roman road known as Watling Street.

The Earls of Northumbria and Mercia, Morcar and Edwin, advanced their men from York and met Harald Hardrada at Fulford on September 20. The experienced Norwegian commander completely routed the earls, depriving King Harold of valuable allies for the fatal battle with the Normans which lay ahead.

The Norsemen appointed Stamford Bridge as a meeting place for an exchange of hostages with the city of York. The confident victors of Fulford were relaxing in the meadows surrounding this crossroads 12 miles from York when to their shock they saw a fresh Saxon army streaming up from the South.

Well, perhaps "fresh" is too strong a word, for Harold had just pushed his men an amazing 180 miles in 4 days, and they were doubtless exhausted. The Norsemen were caught completely off-guard; most had discarded their mail shirts and helmets in the hot sun. They were soon to pay for their carelessness.

The Battle: A desperate delaying action by the Norwegian outposts kept the Saxons from crossing the Derwent while the main army frantically donned their gear and took up position. One anonymous Norwegian held the bridge alone until he was stabbed from beneath the planks of the bridge with a long spear.

The Norse formed a shield wall in the shape of a triangle, to present a narrow front. The Saxons battered at the wall in a fierce hand to hand fight that lasted all day, before the legendary Harald Hardrada was felled by a Saxon missile. Earl Tostig tried vainly to rally the demoralized men, but the Norse resistance crumbled and the battle became a rout.

The Vikings fled, to be pursued all the way back to their fleet at Riccall. Only 24 ships out of an initial 200 or more made the return to Norway. Before the battle Harold swore that the Norse leader would get "only seven feet of English soil" for his invasion, and he kept the vow, though Harald's remains were later taken back to Norway. As for Tostig, he was buried in York.

The Results: Stamford Bridge ended the long Viking threat to England. Although Stamford Bridge was a great triumph for Harold and the Saxons, their strength was sadly depleted by the fight. And now they faced an even greater foe as news arrived that Duke William of Normandy had landed in Sussex. The weary Saxons turned south once more and marched back as quickly as they had come. They met the Normans at the fateful Battle of Hastings.

not mentioned in the articles that when William the Bastard (as he was known before the conquest) landed, he had two or three days to fortify London before King Harold led his exausted army back to the south of England.

how different would the world be today if the pagans had re-conquered England? what happens if England spends 1066-1093 as Norway's vassal?

the western world already has a mostly Viking view; what happens if the Vikings win?

MWM
02-02-2007, 07:55 PM
On the WWII issue, I had heard that the Germans almost won the Battle of Britain. If it had continued for maybe even another week or month, Churchill planned on surrendering.

Is this just an urban legend or is there something to support this?

Any notion that Churchill would have surrendered is just wrong.

The question is how much more could they have taken? And there's really no answer to this question. As Ltlabner metioned, the British casualty rates were much lower and their aircraft production was higher. But the Germans had more pilots and aircraft to begin with. Had the Germans known exactly how much damage they had caused, would they have continued? Probably, but maybe not. Hitler wasn't known for his patience. Had the Germans continued, would the RAF have removed itself from the southerly bases? Maybe. Could they have fought off the Luftwaffe based in more nothern bases? Who knows, but the German bombers did not have the range to reach central, western, or northern England. Could the Germans have succeeded at a cross-channel invasion? No way in hell with the strength of the Royal Navy.

And how much more could the Germans have even withstood. They had a very high casualty rate and they were losing pilots quickly as well.

Honestly, it seems like some believe the Germans could have won the battle, others say no way. We'll never know.

GAC
02-02-2007, 08:13 PM
I agree. Had someone other than Churchill been leading Britain at that time, the British may have sued for peace. Not Churchill.

Chamberlain would have rolled out the red carpet for Hitler and goose stepped down the runway to greet him. ;)

GAC
02-02-2007, 08:41 PM
I stopped in Gettysburg two years ago, and that's an interesting place.

Whenever I go to Gettysburg, which has been several years ago, it gives me goosebumps when I go up in the needle that gives you a panoramic view of the battlefield. There is also a enlarged pictures of the battlefield just days after the battle showing the carnage, and you look out and see the same scenery, trees and rock formations with the bodies of soldiers lying all over the place. It makes one shudder.

When the armies retreated they took a majority of their medical staff with them leaving little to care for the wounded and dying. That was left up to the people of Gettysburg and volunteers. Families were then coming in and searching the battlefield for their loved ones. But the town was completely overran. This small town of only 2,400 was left with a total (from both sides) of over 51,000 casualties. Over 172,000 men and 634 cannon had been positioned in an area encompassing 25 square miles. Additionally, an estimated 569 tons of ammunition was expended and, when the battle had ended, 5,000 dead horses and the other wreckage of war presented a scene of terrible devastation. To prevent the spread of disease the townspeople had to gather up and burn the animal carcasses. The stench permeated the town for weeks.

But Pickett's Charge really amazed me. 15,000 men charging at you over an open field. I wonder what was going through those Union soldier's minds seeing that surge coming at them. But it was a HUGE blunder by Lee. You're sending all those men, charging over an open field with no protection, whose assault was slowed up by fences they had to climb over. They were simply sitting ducks. 10,000 casualties from that charge....

http://www.civilwarhome.com/pickettscharge.htm

Ltlabner
02-02-2007, 09:35 PM
"The Last Great Victory; The end of World War II, July-August 1945" by Stanley Weintraub.

Highly recomended book covering the final months of WWII, the poltical manuvering of Stalin, Truman, and Churchill and various related subjects. 683pages, but still a fairly quick read.

Falls City Beer
02-02-2007, 10:31 PM
I have seen it mentioned a few times , but the Battle of Hastings in 1066 was one of the major historical events of the last milenium. It was also the last time the island of England was invaded and conquered.

This battle changed and formed the English culture. The english language as we know it today is attributable to the French influeces of Norman culture. This battle also introduced the feudal system of government to England.

A lot of our culture today is attributable to this mark in world history.

And finally doctors could stop relying on words like "gut."

Ltlabner
02-02-2007, 10:43 PM
Battle of Britain:


Luftwaffe:
Lost 1,733 aircraft total
Started with 1,130 medium bombers, 320 dive bombers, 800 single engine fighters and 250 twin engine fighters = total of 2,500 aircraft at start of BoB

RAF:
Lost 449 pilots and 600 aircraft
Started with 600 servicable fighters

Source, "Brasseys Dictionary of Battles", John Laffin, Barnes & Noble, 1995 pg 88

So the Luftwaffe had about 767 aircraft left out of 2500 at the end of BoB compared to the RAF that started and ended around 600 . I've not been able to find details about the breakdown of the surviving Luftwaffe aircraft types, pilot casualities or how many of the reamining aircraft were servicable.

The overall Luftwaffe aircraft counts were padded by the medium and dive bombers. In terms of fighters they only had 200 additional units at the outset. The twin engine fighters, the Bf110's were quickly found to be useless and shouldn't be considered in the Luftwaffe fighter totals. However, the RAF still had to shoot down all these aircraft while the Luftwaffe fighters could concentrate on the RAF fighters.


The RAF's frontline strength remained more or less constant at 650 fighters, but the number in reserve declined from 518 in the first week of June to 292 by September 7th - Pg 103(LTLABNER note: not sure if this is refering strictly to the number of servicable aircraft, or servicable aircraft & crew )


In the week of August 24-September 1, it [the RAF] lost 231 pilots killed, wounded or missing -more than 20 percent of its pilot strength in a single week. By the first week in September the average British fighter squadron had only sixteen pilots out of a normal complement of twenty-six. - Pg 104


Luftwaffe bomber units had lost 30 to 35 percent of their strength and the fighters 20 to 25 percent. According to General Galland, the overall combat strength of the Luftwaffe in the later part of October was only one quarter of what it had been when the battle began. - Pg 108

Source: "Eagles of the Third Reich; The Men Who Made the Luftwaffe" Samuel Mitcham Jr, Presidio Press, 1997, pgs indicated with each quote above

Suffice it to say both sides were pushed to the max in the BoB in terms of dwindling aircrew reserves. The "best and brightest" were killed in droves. While the RAF was pushed to the breaking point, they could fall back and at least had replacement aircraft. The change to attack cities, as MWM has noted, gave them the breathing room they needed to recover. The Luftwaffe had to jump right from BoB into the meat grinder of Russia and had no time to recover, thanks to the lunicy of Hitler. He frittered away the Luftwaffe in BoB when he had no real intentions, IMO, of invading England (Despite Sea Lion). He destroyed the Luftwaffe over Russia.

From strictly an aircraft production standpoint, however, Britain had the edge.


Production of figthers (Spitfire, Hurricanes & Bf-109).

1940 Britain Germany

June 446 164
July 496 220
August 476 173
Sept 467 218
October 469 144

Source: "Airforce Blunders". Geoffrey Regan. Carlton Books, 2002. Pg. 97

paintmered
02-02-2007, 11:41 PM
In 2002 I visited the battlefield of Chancellorsville (I also visited Antietam during that trip). This was truly an epic battle and probably Lee's greatest victory of the war. The battlefield itself is over 50 square miles in area.

Despite being outnumbered about 2 to 5, the Confederates under Stonewall Jackson pulled off one of the most famous (and risky) flank maneuvers of the war. 28,000 men marched four-abreast for 12 miles in complete secrecy through the night.

Wikipedia has a good read on the battle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chancellorsville

Yachtzee
02-02-2007, 11:45 PM
Chamberlain would have rolled out the red carpet for Hitler and goose stepped down the runway to great him. ;)

Way back as an undergraduate, I did an analysis of the build-up to WWII for a class I was taking. Imagine if the English and French had stood firm against Hitler in reoccupying the Rhineland. What if they had thrown more support to Dolfuss and Schussnig in Austria, or at least tried to stoke Mussolini's jealousy over Austria? At either point, while Hitler had seemingly popular support among the people, he had yet to solidify control over the military. Any show of resolve against Hitler's moves might have caused the Military to revolt against Hitler and and push him out. Once handed these "victories," Hitler was able to gain support within the military for his goals.

The worst though was the Munich Agreement. Chamberlain had grossly undersetimated his assets regarding Czechoslovakia. At the time of the Munich Agreement, Czechoslovakia had alliances with France, having the world's largest army, and Britain, having the world's largest navy. Add to that the fact that Czechoslovakia had an alliance with the Soviet Union, who had not yet signed the non-aggression pact with Germany. At the time, the Soviet Union had the world's largest air force. Czechoslovakia was also a member of the Little Entente and could expect support from Romania and Yugoslavia. At that time, Germany was not nearly strong enough to take on all of those countries and couldn't even count on Italy for guaranteed support. By convincing the other powers to sign onto a deal ceding the Sudetenland to Germany, Chamberlain not only emboldened Hitler, but convinced Mussolini and Stalin that Britain and France had no resolve to fight. The end result was a stronger alliance between Hitler and Mussolini and a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.

Finally, had Britain and France moved on Germany during the the Blitzkrieg on Poland, the war may have been very short. Hitler gambled in throwing the kitchen sink at Poland, hoping the French and British would sit and do nothing. Had they launched an invasion of Germany, they may well have overcome the meager defenses Hitler had left behind and thrown the German public into a panic. Instead Hitler was able to conquer Poland and then move his forces into position for the invasion of France through the Low Countries.

Tony Cloninger
02-03-2007, 02:36 AM
After the Germans failed to take Moscow due to the cold.......and before the German disaster at Stalingrad........they were in the Causcasus (spelling might not be correct, I am going on memory from reading about this year's ago)

If the Germans break through there......and capture these valuable oilfields....they are on the border of Persia....and able to control more oil.

Along with that battle....that leads to Stalingrad.....is Rommel trying to break through and capture Egypt...which would make it easier to hit all the Arab countries for their oil.

The British even occupied Persia to avoid this from happening.

A lot of small battles within this war.....that kept turning the allies way, thanks to Hitler overextending his armies. We all knew he was crazy....good thing he was stupid crazy.

I know the Germans also tried to get Mexico into the war.....by promising to return California, Arizona and Texas back to them....if they invaded the US.
They had agents in Mexico trying to feel them out.

dman
02-03-2007, 06:47 AM
Had they launched an invasion of Germany, they may well have overcome the meager defenses Hitler had left behind and thrown the German public into a panic

Add to that, in 1939 Germany's industrial capabilities were still fairly new and sluggish. It likely would not have taken much to put a big damper, if not a stoppage of production on their tanks and aircraft that they were so well known for in WWII.

Ltlabner
02-03-2007, 08:11 AM
Add to that, in 1939 Germany's industrial capabilities were still fairly new and sluggish. It likely would not have taken much to put a big damper, if not a stoppage of production on their tanks and aircraft that they were so well known for in WWII.

I've always been amazed that Germany's industrail base never really kicked into high gear throughout the war. I woln't bore everybody with a lot of stats, but even in 1940-1943 German industry was producing meager amounts of aircraft, tanks and artillary pieces compared to what they were capabile of. It's like they never really got out of 1st or 2nd gear even when it was becomming obvious they needed to put out more production to keep up with the loss rates.

To make matters worse, much of the anemic industrial output was further diluted because of the large number of "wonder weapons" that sapped production of less glamourous but far more practical weapons systems. Instead of cranking out a few types of tanks in large numbers, for example, they produced small numbers of a lot of types of tanks, often because Hitler would interfear or the incompetance of some of the other higherups (Earnst Udet, for example).

Additionally all of these various weapons systems put further strain on the supply chains to provide the myrid of parts.

Ltlabner
02-03-2007, 08:24 AM
The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was pretty influential in terms of religon and who would dominate exploration in the new world. In a serries of naval battles the British were able to whittle down the Spanish fleet somewhat. In the battle of Gravelines the British were finally able to dissrupt the normally disciplined Spanish fleet and inflict some significant damage on them.

Then, as is often the case, fate struck and a huge storm pretty much wrecked the Spanish fleet.

UKFlounder
02-03-2007, 09:41 AM
In 2002 I visited the battlefield of Chancellorsville (I also visited Antietam during that trip). This was truly an epic battle and probably Lee's greatest victory of the war. The battlefield itself is over 50 square miles in area.

Despite being outnumbered about 2 to 5, the Confederates under Stonewall Jackson pulled off one of the most famous (and risky) flank maneuvers of the war. 28,000 men marched four-abreast for 12 miles in complete secrecy through the night.

Wikipedia has a good read on the battle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chancellorsville


I wonder how great a "victory" Chancellorsville was for the Confederates in the long run. Yes, they won it tactically, and Lee's audacity was at its zenith with the brilliant attack, but, they also lost 13,000 men (25% of the army) compared to 17,000 Union losses (only about 19% loss).

One of the Rebel losses was Stonewall Jackson, one of Lee's two best subordinates, certainly his most aggressive, and a man who proved to be irreplaceable.

Additionally, this victory helped convince Lee to invade the North again, and at Gettysburg, the Confederate forces suffered something like 23,000 casualties. That was about 32% of their strength. (The 23,000 figure comes from Wikipedia, but I had always heard 28,000 for the Confederacy. Either way, those are huge losses.)

On the actual field of battle, it was certainly a Confederate victory and a sign of Lee's greatness and boldness, but never again would Lee's army be the aggressor and win a major victory, and considering the long-term implications of the loss of Jackson and of so many soldiers, I am starting to wonder if the "greatness" of this victory is overrated, or, at least, somewhat exaggerated.

(Lee's army did win some battles in 1864, but it was Grant's army that had the initiative & did the attacking. Perhaps I'm forgetting something, but could Chancellorsville really be "Lee's Last Victory" at least in terms of his army being the attacker & aggressor?)

RedsBaron
02-03-2007, 09:44 AM
Lee was a great general, but his casualty rates were always very high, higher than the Confederacy could sustain.

Chip R
02-03-2007, 10:18 AM
Way back as an undergraduate, I did an analysis of the build-up to WWII for a class I was taking. Imagine if the English and French had stood firm against Hitler in reoccupying the Rhineland. What if they had thrown more support to Dolfuss and Schussnig in Austria, or at least tried to stoke Mussolini's jealousy over Austria? At either point, while Hitler had seemingly popular support among the people, he had yet to solidify control over the military. Any show of resolve against Hitler's moves might have caused the Military to revolt against Hitler and and push him out. Once handed these "victories," Hitler was able to gain support within the military for his goals.

The worst though was the Munich Agreement. Chamberlain had grossly undersetimated his assets regarding Czechoslovakia. At the time of the Munich Agreement, Czechoslovakia had alliances with France, having the world's largest army, and Britain, having the world's largest navy. Add to that the fact that Czechoslovakia had an alliance with the Soviet Union, who had not yet signed the non-aggression pact with Germany. At the time, the Soviet Union had the world's largest air force. Czechoslovakia was also a member of the Little Entente and could expect support from Romania and Yugoslavia. At that time, Germany was not nearly strong enough to take on all of those countries and couldn't even count on Italy for guaranteed support. By convincing the other powers to sign onto a deal ceding the Sudetenland to Germany, Chamberlain not only emboldened Hitler, but convinced Mussolini and Stalin that Britain and France had no resolve to fight. The end result was a stronger alliance between Hitler and Mussolini and a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.

Finally, had Britain and France moved on Germany during the the Blitzkrieg on Poland, the war may have been very short. Hitler gambled in throwing the kitchen sink at Poland, hoping the French and British would sit and do nothing. Had they launched an invasion of Germany, they may well have overcome the meager defenses Hitler had left behind and thrown the German public into a panic. Instead Hitler was able to conquer Poland and then move his forces into position for the invasion of France through the Low Countries.


All of this is true. However, it's hindsight. During this period, the people of England and France didn't want a war under any circumstances. They had elected leaders and the best way to get re-elected back then was to be against war. Churchill was out of power mainly because he was considered a warmonger. Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Rhineland were OK with Britain and France as long as they didn't have to get involved. And they didn't want to get involved with the USSR. While the French had a large army, their soldiers were unprepared for battle. France thought that the Maginot Line made them inpenetrable. You certainly had to admire Churchill for sticking to his guns - no pun intended. A lesser politician might have just fell in with the majority but Churchill remained steadfast even while public opinion was strongly against his stand. That may have been more courageous than anything he did while PM. Britain felt that by the time Hitler started invading countries that anything they did to make Hitler angry could lead to Germany attacking them. Even while Churchill was growing in popularity during the late 30s, the Government would not put him in the Cabinet for fear of angering Hitler. Hitler was a master bluffer and, really, he didn't have anything to lose. If his bluff had been called early enough, he would have been no worse off than he was before. So while it is accurate to say that if Britain and France had stood up to Hitler, at the time it would have been against the will of the people.

Yachtzee
02-03-2007, 11:58 AM
All of this is true. However, it's hindsight. During this period, the people of England and France didn't want a war under any circumstances. They had elected leaders and the best way to get re-elected back then was to be against war. Churchill was out of power mainly because he was considered a warmonger. Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Rhineland were OK with Britain and France as long as they didn't have to get involved. And they didn't want to get involved with the USSR. While the French had a large army, their soldiers were unprepared for battle. France thought that the Maginot Line made them inpenetrable. You certainly had to admire Churchill for sticking to his guns - no pun intended. A lesser politician might have just fell in with the majority but Churchill remained steadfast even while public opinion was strongly against his stand. That may have been more courageous than anything he did while PM. Britain felt that by the time Hitler started invading countries that anything they did to make Hitler angry could lead to Germany attacking them. Even while Churchill was growing in popularity during the late 30s, the Government would not put him in the Cabinet for fear of angering Hitler. Hitler was a master bluffer and, really, he didn't have anything to lose. If his bluff had been called early enough, he would have been no worse off than he was before. So while it is accurate to say that if Britain and France had stood up to Hitler, at the time it would have been against the will of the people.

Unfortunately, I don't think the leadership of any country has successfully defended itself by catering to public opinion. Once again, that falls to the failure of Chamberlain. When faced with a threat from abroad, it is the duty of the country's leadership to gather as much information about that threat, determine an appropriate course of action, and do what needs to be done to best defend that country. If you need public opinion on your side, then it's your job to educate the public on the graveness of the danger and obtain popular support. But you can't let an uninformed public make decisions of national defense for you. It can only lead to disaster.

Chamberlain had the information and the resources, but lacked the personal will to stand up to Hitler. IIRC, Deladier and the French government were willing to stand firm against Hitler, but did not think they could succeed without support from the British Navy. When Chamberlain talked to them about appeasement, they had serious concerns about British resolve and felt they had no other choice than to follow Chamberlain's lead. I think I remember reading that, upon returning home from Munich after reaching a deal on Czechoslovakia, while Chamberlain was proclaiming "peace in our time," Deladier referred to the crowds in Paris cheering the agreement as "fools."

As far as the Soviets go, while England and France were reluctant to deal with Stalin directly, Stalin was very much on the fence at the time as far as who he wanted to throw himself in with. While he knew that the western powers were ideologically opposed to communism, he also knew that Hitler's Nazism was even further opposed to the notion of the Soviet Union. It was well known that Hitler had blamed the Reichstag fire on communists and had used it as a means of outlawing communists and persecuting them. I think that, had England and France shown resolve against Hitler, Stalin would have rather sided with the enemy at a distance than the enemy on his doorstep. I think he agreed to the non-aggression pact merely as a delay tactic than out of any belief that it would mean peace between Germany and the USSR.

reds1869
02-03-2007, 12:41 PM
Lee was a great general, but his casualty rates were always very high, higher than the Confederacy could sustain.

Union victory was nearly inevitable as long as morale in the North would allow continuation of the war effort. Grant had much higher casualty rates in the eastern theater than Lee, but knew he could afford them; in a war of attrition there could be only one winner.

Ltlabner
02-03-2007, 12:48 PM
Here are a few websites that came up when I put "battles that changed history" in google.

Fact Monster (http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0769941.html)

Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fifteen_Decisive_Battles_of_the_World)

Some Iranian Website (http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_19259.shtml)

GAC
02-04-2007, 05:31 AM
One of the Rebel losses was Stonewall Jackson, one of Lee's two best subordinates, certainly his most aggressive, and a man who proved to be irreplaceable.

I am actually related to Stonewall Jackson (on my Mom's side). He 's a distant cousin. He was shot by his own men - which makes sense if you knew my Mom's side of the family. :mooner:

RedsBaron
02-04-2007, 06:29 AM
I am actually related to Stonewall Jackson (on my Mom's side). He 's a distant cousin. He was shot by his own men - which makes sense if you knew my Mom's side of the family. :mooner:

I figured you were going to tell us that you actually fought along side Stonewall Jackson. Didn't your military service start around then?;)

GAC
02-04-2007, 06:36 AM
I figured you were going to tell us that you actually fought along side Stonewall Jackson. Didn't your military service start around then?;)

Shhhhh. They've been trying to pin his death on me for decades. I was nowhere in the area at the time. Besides, all you southerners look the same, so how was I suppose to know? :mooner:

Chip R
02-04-2007, 10:13 AM
I am actually related to Stonewall Jackson (on my Mom's side). He 's a distant cousin. He was shot by his own men - which makes sense if you knew my Mom's side of the family. :mooner:


Makes sense to me and I've never met your Mom's side of the family. :mooner: