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15 Top Military Blunders in History

The Bahia Self-Attack

You’d think a huge goal for most warships would be to avoid sinking themselves, but it happens more than you’d think. As World War II drew closer, a Brazilian cruiser, called the Bahia, was stationed outside of Brazil to protect Allied convoys. The crewmembers were practicing an anti-aircraft drill when a gunner accidentally hit an entire row of depth charges. Naturally, the charges exploded, the ship sank, and all but a few dozen of the 350 crewmembers survived. 

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The Battle of Chilcheonryang

The Battle of Chilcheonryang should have never happened. It began when Koreans received news that Japanese fleets would be crossing the sea. King Seonjo ordered Admiral Yi Sun-sin to attack, but he refused, saying that the information was false. He was removed from duty and replaced with Won Gyun. Won Gyun also attempted to refuse the order, but eventually gave in and sailed straight into a trap. A total of 400 men and several vessels were destroyed.

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The Battle of Tsushima

If your enemy has better communication and better ships, should you attack? That was what the Battle of Tsushima boiled down to. Russia was once considered a top-tier navy, and they wanted to hold onto that title. Russia sent a massive fleet to attack the Japanese Navy. The Japanese Navy had faster ships with better guns, and they could communicate through the dense fog that clouded the lights-and-flags communications used by the Russians. Russia lost 28 ships while the Japanese lost three.

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Battle of Karánsebes

Friendly fire isn’t a unique occurrence, but this bad? The Battle of Karánsebes occurred during the Austro-Turkish war. The Austrian army was scouting for forces when they fired on each other by mistake. It isn’t clear how many soldiers were lost, but some records claim up to 10,000 soldiers died that day. Two days after the friendly-fire event, the Ottoman army arrived and easily took Karánsebes.

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The Münster Rebellion Cult Rush

The Münster Rebellion started when the city was seized from Anabaptist rule in 1534. One of the leaders, Jan Matthys, had a vision that he would destroy the invaders if they rode forth on Easter Sunday. He managed to round up 12 zealots, and the 13 of them charged into battle against an army of 8,000. Naturally, they were slaughtered. Matthys was dismembered, and his head was stuck on a spike. 

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The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Countries have been trying to invade Afghanistan for ages, and it doesn’t usually go too well. The Soviet Invasion attempted to invade the country in 1979, and the Soviets and Afghans battled it out for the next 10 years. The result was the death of 15,000 men and billions of rubles worth of equipment that was lost in Afghanistan. This war also led to the rise of the Taliban.

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The Battle of Little Big Horn

Also known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, this battle was a mess. General George A. Custer made some decisions that would go down in history as major mistakes. One of which was refusing to accept Gatling guns to aid in the battle. Another was him thinking he didn’t need an additional battalion when one had been offered. This overconfidence is what led to the fight being referred to as “Custer’s Last Stand.”

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The Musashi’s Existence

Bigger, better, stronger, faster! The Musashi was an attempt to make the best battleship out there. Unfortunately, it was too big—and I really mean too big. When the ship was ready to launch, the ship needed 570 tons of heavy chains to create dragging resistance that would slow and stop the hull once inside Nagasaki Harbor. Thanks to the chains and the massive hull, the Musashi caused a tsunami that reached almost four feet in height. It flooded homes and capsized small fishing boats.

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The Battle of Cajamarca

The Battle of Cajamarca was fought between the Incan Empire and the Spanish. The Inca had strong fortresses that were impregnable, and the landscape was in favor of the defenders, so the Spanish were at a disadvantage. That being said, Atahualpa was overconfident when he announced his convoy would be camping outside of Cajamarca. A Spanish conquistador led 180 of his men for an ambush as Atahualpa passed. The group was so densely packed that the Spanish could kill 2,000 and capture another 5,000 Incans, one of which was Atahualpa.

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The Alamo

The Alamo was a total blunder. First of all, Texans weren’t even supposed to defend the Alamo. They were told to destroy the Alamo and return with the men and artillery stationed there. Second, the Texans could have escaped because the Santa Anna army didn’t block the exits. Finally, the Santa Anna army took a total of 10 days to defeat the Alamo despite the military being much, much larger.

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The Attempted Invasion of Cádiz

Sir Edward Cecil, a commander, led an expedition into Cádiz. When they arrived, Cecil decided to assault the Spanish city, but it didn’t go well. Several ships escaped, and when Cecil landed his forces, they realized they didn’t have any food or drink. So, the commander let his men drink from the wine in the local houses. Naturally, they all got drunk. The Spanish army arrived not too long after, and it’s said they were so smashed the Spanish didn’t have to fire a single bullet—all were put to the sword. 

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The Battle of Goose Green

The Battle of Goose Green was one of the bloodiest land battles between the UK and Argentina. It was also a great example of the media being too involved with military intelligence. Here’s what went down: British soldiers were planning a surprise attack against Argentine forces in the middle of the night. Their plans were ruined when the BBC announced that British paratroopers were poised and ready to assault Goose Green before the actual attack. The Argentine forces thankfully thought it was a hoax, believing the British wouldn’t be that stupid.

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The Vietnam War

American involvement in the Vietnam War was a huge mistake. It was reportedly fought to keep communist power from spreading, but it just ended up bloody and ugly. It’s estimated that the United States lost over 58,000 soldiers during the war, and the country eventually fell to communism rule regardless. To make matters worse, it left people questioning if it was fought to crush the national liberation movement.

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Operation Barbarossa

Hitler and the Soviet Union didn’t really get along. He wanted to destroy the Soviet Union no matter what, and that’s why Operation Barbarossa went down. The biggest mistake Hitler made during this particular confrontation was delaying the attack on Moscow. This allowed the Soviets time to defend their capital. At the same time, the Russian winter slowed the German advance. The Soviets, who were used to the winter, attacked, and Operation Barbarossa became Hitler’s first defeat.

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The Battle of Gallipoli

The Gallipoli campaign followed Winston Churchill throughout his military career. Churchill believed the Allied forces could destroy the Turkish army if they attacked, and he spearheaded the operation. First, the Allied forces tried to attack by the sea, but Turkish fire and mines kept the ships at bay. A land invasion became the new tactic, but this ended with more than 250,000 Allied casualties, 46,000 of which were dead, and an evacuation. 

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