Top 10 Historic Victories Against All Odds
Throughout History many battles were fought in the name of Conquest. Many were flawless victories to those posing the biggest armies; the sheer number of soldiers would force surrender on the opposing side less they were willing to face being slaughtered. There are however, exceptions to this rule. The following is a list of battles proving that sometimes honor, courage and superior military tactics bring the little guy a much deserved victory. After all, everyone likes to cheer for the underdog.
10. Defeat of the Spanish Armada
Some in-laws just never get along. However, the family feud between Phillip II of Spain and his sister-in-law Elizabeth I of England changed history. Phillip was married to Elizabeth’s sister, Mary I of England. When Mary I died and Elizabeth rejected his marriage proposal Phillip took it hard, really hard. He tried and failed to aid Mary Queen of Scotts in her attempt to overthrow Elizabeth. Then in 1588, 131 Spanish ships sailed for England with over approximately 25,000 men. Phillip planned to defeat his sister-in-law once and for all. The English navy had fewer ships and men, but the ships were smaller and more maneuverable. The English met them at Calais Harbor in France and sent in fireships, old ships set on fire and allowed to draft into the enemies fleet, which scattered the Spanish. Once they were scattered the English were able to sink many of them. The Spanish then regrouped and tried to sail for home but a gale drove them into the rocks off the coast of Ireland; destroying ships and drowning sailors. Elizabeth had won.
9. Battle of Issus
In 333 BC, in what is now modern day Turkey, Alexander the Great proved that sometimes it really is brains over brawn. Alexander, with 30,000 to 40,000 men defeated Darius III and his Persian army of approximately 100,000. He used part of his forces as a decoy; their orders were to hold Darius’ army, not try to defeat, just hold. While Darius was occupied with what appeared an easy win. Alexander personally led the rest of his army to Darius’ left flank, which consisted of younger inexperienced solders. Alexander’s more experience men, though far fewer in number routed the younger Persian troops giving Alexander access to the center of the formation where Darius was. Darius realizing his danger fled and the Persian troops were thrown into chaos. Alexander won the day his fame of continued to grow.
8. Battle of Bannockburn
Remember that last battle scene at the end of the movie Braveheart; well it was real. Sometimes, defeat is not an option. The Battle of Bannockburn was fought in 1314. Robert the Bruce of Scotland met the army of Edward II of England when Edward came to the aid of the besieged Stirling Castle. Edward saw an opportunity to regain Scottish land and destroy their army. He had approximately 18,000-20,000 men, Bruce’s had 6,000- 9,000. Bruce maneuvered Edward onto a carse, an area of bad terrain giving the English army nowhere to safely move. Confusion began to set in and Bruce seizing the opportunity rushed in with his smaller force. The Englishmen fell into disarray. Bruce’s camp followers thinking the English had already been defeated, grabbed banners and ran towards the battle. The English seeing the group of civilians coming thought it was reinforcements for Bruce and retreated. It was a decisive victory for Scotland and Robert the Bruce.
7. Battle of Carrhae
Money can’t buy everything, a lesson Marcus Licinius Crassus found out the hard way. Crassus was the wealthiest Roman citizen of his time and a member of the Roman Triumvirate. Having money, Crassus wanted fame and honor. His amassed a force to invade Parthia. Although he had no official right to do so, Crassus forged ahead, straight into the unmovable forces of a military leader named Surena. Surena outnumbered by 5 to 1 defended Parthia territory at a small town called Carrhae, This was the first battle between Rome and a Persian empire. Surena forces gave Rome one of the worst defeats of their history. As for Crassus, he was killed and his death sparked the civil war that followed between Pompey and Julius Caesar.
6. The Siege of Malta
In 1565 the Ottoman Empire invaded Malta and clashed with the defending Knights Hospitaller. Up until that time, the Ottoman military was famed as an unstoppable force. This last great battle involving real life Knights in shining armor changed that perception. Control of the Mediterranean and possibly the future of Christendom were at stake, when in May 1565 the Turkish fleet consisting of approximately 20,000 sailed to Malta. There were 550 knights waiting to defend the island plus other lesser trained men totally approximately 8,000. The battle stretched on for months. The Turks decapitated captured knights, nailed them to crucifixes and floated the bodies in the harbor. The Knights decapitated captured Turks and used their heads as cannon balls. This was not a shy group. By the end of September, the Turks had had enough and retreated. The Knights claimed victory, and all Christendom sighed in relief