10 Greatest War Tactics Ever Performed in History

A general with great tactics can turn the tide of a war no matter how massive the opposing army is. Below is a few example of military tactics that were used by men to change the outcome of their battles. So here is a list of 10 Greatest War Tactics Ever Performed in History.

10Illness Manuals

Illness Manuals

During World War, British army dropped manuals into enemy lines, which contained instructions on how a soldier could fake illnesses to get himself off active duty or a worker out of the munitions factory. These ingenious manuals which were disguised as sports manual had step-by-step instructions to fake a wide range of illnesses and ailments from a simple throat infection to a life-threatening disease such as Tuberculosis.

Once the Nazi leadership caught wind of this, they stopped sending their troops home who claimed to have said illnesses. Not only did this get healthy enemy troops sent home, it eventually ended with genuinely ill troops being sent back into combat spreading real disease among their ranks.

9Scipio Africanus’ Tactics

Battle of Ilipa

Scipio Africanus used a great tactic against the Carthaginians at the Battle of Ilipa. Both the Romans and the Carthaginians had armies composed of their well-trained, homegrown soldiers and not-so-reliable Iberian allies, roughly half/half for each. For a few days the two armies were camped close to each other and would come out during the day, form up, and dare the other to attack, but no one attacked.

Scipio always put his legionnaires in the center and positioned his Iberians on the wings. Carthaginians thought that made sense and did the same with their army. This same routine went on for a few days.

On the day of the battle, Scipio had his men eat well before dawn, get ready and form up outside the camp, but this time he reversed his formation and put the weaker Iberians in the center and the legionnaires on the wings. Then he signaled for the attack, and the surprised Carthaginians ran out of their camps and automatically made the same formation as they had for the last few days, assuming that Scipio was up to his usual shenanigans.

By the time anyone saw the change in tactics, it was way too late, and the legionnaires tore through the weaker Carthaginian wings and turned on the enemy center before the Roman center had even closed with its counterpart. The Carthaginians were all routing and surrounded before their generals could do anything to save the day.

Scipio Africanus went on to be the only general to defeat Hannibal in a land battle.

8Flooding the Land

Landscape

Flooding your own land, so that enemy can’t push forward. The Netherlands has done it for hundreds of years, until World War II.

China did that too with the Yellow River while the Japanese were invading in the late 30s. An estimated 800,000 Chinese drowned, displaced ten times that number, and barely affected the Japanese.

7Project Fugo

Project Fugo

During WWII Japan launched 6000+ paper balloons attached to incendiary bombs, in hopes that they would float across a Pacific airstream and catch American forests on fire. Quite a few made it here (they found one in Canada in 2014), but they didn’t do a lot of damage.

This information was kept very under secret by the U.S. government so very few people know about it, except a few hundred people in the Pacific Northwest who spotted the mysterious “jellyfish in the sky” slowly floating by. One of them landed in Oregon and killed 6, leading to the only deaths from World War II inside the contiguous United States.

6Empty City

Zhuge Liang

Zhuge Liang was a military and political genius by historic accounts and by fictional accounts a wizard to boot. He once had to defend a town against 150,000 troops with just 100 men. He told his men to hide, flung open the gates and sat on the wall playing lute. The opposing general, certain it was a trap, ordered a retreat.

The Empty City tactic was one of his most famous, but there were many ploys and schemes he employed, many romanticized. Another time, before an important naval battle, with his side short of supplies, Zhuge set sail on a little boat with huge sails and gaudy fabrics. He sat on the boat prominently, generally being as pompous and arrogant as possible, and goaded the enemy force to attack.

They did, and fired many arrows at him, many of which were caught in the fabric that protected Zhuge. He simply sails back to shore with a boat laden with thousands of enemy arrows, ready for his side to use for the real battle to come.

Generally speaking, Zhuge was just a smart badass. He went so far beyond what most stratagems entailed, the bluffs and double bluffs just meant nothing. By the end of his career inaction was often the best defense, though this too Zhuge famously used against his rival Sima Yi in their Northern campaigns (pretending to be dead, sending women’s clothing, getting officers to defect, all sorts.)

5Caesar’s Tactics

Double circumvallation

Julius Caesar’s victory at Alesia, after which Vercingetorix famously surrendered and all of Gaul (all of Gaul? no!…) became a Roman province, was actually pretty crazy.

The Gauls had been doing relatively well this far in the war and played to their strengths, but were finally cornered in a little fortified hill-top town called Alesia. Caesar knew that Vercingetorix would run out of supplies pretty quickly, so instead of attacking the town, he laid siege to it, by building a wooden wall, complete with towers and ditches and traps around the entire town, about 18 km in total.

Vercingetorix, knowing he would lose if he didn’t get help, managed to send messengers out to his allies. Soon enough, a Gaulish army outnumbering the Romans was marching on Alesia, and now it was Caesar’s turn to lose.

But instead of giving up on the siege, he ordered another wooden wall to be built around the entire first wall. So now he had the Gauls surrounded in Alesia and was himself surrounded by more Gauls.

What followed was a couple of days of intense fighting, with the Gauls almost managing to break through the wall in several places. Marc Antony (who would go on to bang Cleopatra) led a charge to save one section, and Caesar himself took command of the last reserves, personally threw himself into the melee, and turned the tide of battle. Apparently, he grabbed his own fleeing men by the collar and hurled them back into combat, and his personal bravery inspired his legions to endure.

Eventually, the Gaulish reinforcements routed and fled the field, and Vercingetorix, out of supplies and still surrounded, threw his shield at Caesar’s feet.

I think the double circumvallation must be the craziest tactic that actually worked.

4Gurkhas

Gurkhas

In the recent conflict with Taliban in Afghanistan, this is one of the tactics the Gurkhas used. If they were to attack a Taliban outpost, they’d sneak ahead and kill the outer perimeter guards. Then they’d cut off the guards’ heads, and reattach them with sticks.

When the guard change happened, the new guards would tap their friends on the shoulder and crap themselves as their friends’ heads would fall off. Generally, they didn’t put up a fight after that, meaning the Gurkhas avoided having to do an assault that could cost lives.

In one recorded incident, a Gurkha named Dip Prasad Pun defended his outpost alone against up to 30 Taliban. He used 400 rounds, 17 grenades, and a claymore. When he was out, he bludgeoned the last attacking Taliban with the tripod of his MG. He managed to save his 3 friends.

3Cats

Battle of Pelusium

In the Battle of Pelusium (525 B.C.), Persian leader Cambyses II used cats to defeat an Egyptian army. He had his soldiers paint cats on their shields and brought hundreds of cats and other animals that the Egyptians held sacred to the front lines. The Egyptians regarded certain animals, especially cats, as being sacred, and would not injure them on any account, and they refused to fight the “cat army” and were easily defeated because of it.

2Inflatable Tanks

Inflatable Tanks

I’ve always been fond of inflatable tanks. They’re brilliant and silly at the same time.

The best use of inflatable tanks has to be by the Allies during their preparation for the D-Day Landings at Normandy. The most logical point for an attack on France was from Calais, however, the Germans knew this and focused most of their defenses at this point. To convince the Germans they thought the same the Allies built a massive base there, but it was pretty much all fake. Here are a few of the tactics they used to throw the Germans off:

They used a lot of inflatable tanks and airplanes, as well as a bunch of wooden ones as well, painted to look like tanks, boats, and airplanes from the air. They used some Hollywood set designers to build an elaborate looking military base, that was again totally fake.

There were other smaller pieces of details leaked, like disciplinary notices for imaginary soldiers. The best example of this was when they took the body of a soldier, dressed him up as a high ranking officer, and filled his pockets full of fake orders, but also included a bunch of love letters and pictures from a fake girlfriend, letters and pictures from a fake family, and then floated him out towards the Germans, hoping they would find him and think they got lucky.

101. Flaming Pigs

Flaming Pigs

Hannibal was courageous enough to march across the Alps with elephants to fight against the Romans. He climbed the alps with elephants during winter in 218 B.C., giving the Romans no rest and no time to train new legions So what did the Romans do? They lit pigs on fire to scare Hannibal’s elephants.

Flaming pigs were also used in sieges. You’d dig a tunnel under the castle, then herd a load of pigs set on fire into the tunnel. They’d set fire to the supports and cause the tunnel to collapse, bringing down the castle with it. King John of England (of Magna Carta and Robin Hood fame) used this at the siege of Rochester Castle.

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