List of military disasters


A military disaster is the defeat of one side in a battle or war which results in the complete failure of the losing side to achieve their objectives. It often, but not always, involves a high and disproportionate loss of life. The causes are varied and include human error, inferior technology, logistical problems, underestimating the enemy, being outnumbered, and bad luck.[1][2][3][4]

Battle of the Little Big Horn known as Custer's Last Stand.

Entries on this list are those where multiple sources dealing with the subject of military disasters have deemed the event in question to be a military disaster (or an equivalent term).

Ancient era


Medieval era


16th century


The fall of Spanish Armada in 1588
  • Spanish Armada (1588).[30][28][page needed] An English fleet sent fire ships into the Spanish invasion fleet destroying some and scattering the rest effectively ending the invasion threat. The Armada would later run into storms and almost half the ships never returned to Spain, as well as more than half the troops.

18th century


Surrender of General Burgoyne; this painting hangs in the United States Capitol Rotunda

19th century


20th century


First World War

Second World War

Surrendering British troops held at gunpoint by Japanese infantry in the battle of Singapore

Cold War era

See also


References


  1. McNab 2005, pp. 4–11.
  2. Chrystal, Paul (2015-11-30). "Introduction". Roman Military Disasters: Dark Days & Lost Legions. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-4738-7395-7.
  3. Withington, John (2016-09-23). "Introduction". Britain's 20 Worst Military Disasters: From the Roman Conquest to the Fall of Singapore. History Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-8127-9.
  4. Spilsbury, Julian (2015-04-02). "Introduction". Great Military Disasters: From Bannockburn to Stalingrad. Quercus. ISBN 978-1-78429-215-7.
  5. McNab 2005, pp. 24–26.
  6. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Marathon". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  7. McNab 2005, p. 28.
  8. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Salamis". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  9. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Syracuse Expedition". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  10. Spilsbury, Julian (2015-04-02). Great Military Disasters: From Bannockburn to Stalingrad. Quercus. ISBN 978-1-78429-215-7.
  11. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Gaugamela". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  12. McNab 2005, pp. 32–34.
  13. McNab 2005, p. 38.
  14. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Cannae". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  15. McNab 2005, p. 42.
  16. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Zama". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  17. McNab 2005, p. 46.
  18. Chrystal, Paul (2015-11-30). "The First Century: the Social War, Spartacus, Mithridates, Crassus, the Parthians, and the Gauls". Roman Military Disasters: Dark Days & Lost Legions. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-4738-7395-7. Carrhae was the worst Roman disaster, and Rome's darkest day, since the catastrophic Battle of Cannae in 216 BC some 163 years earlier.
  19. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Teutoborg Forest". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  20. McNab 2005, pp. 54–56.
  21. McNab 2005, p. 58.
  22. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Adrianople". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  23. McNab 2005, p. 72.
  24. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Tours". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  25. McNab 2005, p. 82.
  26. Kuehn, John T. (2020-01-16). "Hattin". The 100 Worst Military Disasters in History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-6269-4.
  27. McNab 2005, p. 106.
  28. Parragon (2012). Great Military Disasters. Parragon. ISBN 978-1-4454-6436-7.
  29. McNab 2005, p. 123.
  30. McNab 2005, p. 136.
  31. McNab 2005, p. 174.
  32. Withington, John (2016-09-23). "The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854". Britain's 20 Worst Military Disasters: From the Roman Conquest to the Fall of Singapore. History Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-8127-9.
  33. McNab 2005, p. 206.
  34. McNab 2005, p. 210.
  35. McNab 2005, p. 214.
  36. McNab 2005, p. 228.
  37. Withington, John (2016-09-23). "Gallipoli, 1915". Britain's 20 Worst Military Disasters: From the Roman Conquest to the Fall of Singapore. History Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-8127-9.
  38. McNab 2005, p. 256.
  39. Withington, John (2016-09-23). "The Fall of Singapore, 1942". Britain's 20 Worst Military Disasters: From the Roman Conquest to the Fall of Singapore. History Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-8127-9.
  40. Sandler, Stanley (2001). World War II in the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. Garland Publishing. p. 947.
  41. McNab 2005, p. 262.
  42. McNab 2005, pp. 260–262.
  43. Willmott, H. P. (1983). The Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and Allied Strategies, February to June 1942. United States Naval Institute Press. pp. 396, 518. ISBN 978-1-59114-949-1.
  44. McNab 2005, p. 268.
  45. McNab 2005, p. 292.

Works cited

  • McNab, Chris (2005). The World's Worst Military Disasters: Chronicling the Greatest Battlefield Catastrophes of All Time. Rochester: Grange Books. ISBN 978-1-84013-808-5.

Further reading