25 Worst Military Decisions Ever Made

Overconfidence, carelessness, and momentary mental breakdowns can have pretty bad consequences in every day life. Imagine for a moment though what sort of catastrophes they can lead to on the battlefield. With millions of lives on the line one little mistake can literally change the world. From Word War II to Thermopylae these are the 25 worst military decisions ever made and how they affected the course of history.

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The French Invasion of Russia (1812)

french invasion of russia

Yet another epitome of sheer overconfidence would be Napoleon Bonaparte’s winter invasion of Russia. Not surprisingly the weather took its toll on the French and as they suffered a long and freezing retreat back to their home country.


The Battle of New Orleans – War of 1812 (1812 – 1815)

battle of new orleans

General Edward Pakenham, the commander of English forces in North America made a fateful decision during the battle of New Orleans that his troops should hold their fire just a little longer than what was necessary. At the end of the day, at the age of 36, it cost him his life.


The Battle of Waterloo – Last Napoleonic War (1815)


In the middle of a battle, Napoleon took the time to nurse his illness and delegated the responsibility of winning the battle to Marshal Michel Ney. Unfortunately for Ney after the British where able to stop his first attack, it wasn’t enough to convince him that his strategies needed some adjustment.  He proceeded to launch the same attack which was countered again by the British. In fact, he repeated the same attack numerous times and in no small way contributed to the high French casualty count.


The Battle of San Jacinto – Texas Revolution (1835-1836)

san jacinto

In an almost unbearably poor lapse in judgement General Antonia Lopez de Santa Anna of Mexico vastly outnumber the 910 Texans he was fighting, but in the end suffered massive defeat. Why? All because the general ordered his men to take a siesta. It was a costly nap as he lost 630 men while the Texans only lost 9.


The Battles led by General Gideon Pillow – Mexican American War (1846-1848), The American Civil War (1861-1865)

General Gideon Pillow

It can be difficult to elbow your way through the ranks to become general.  Then again  maybe you don’t have to, that is if your college friend is the President of the United States of America.  Such was the infamous case of General Gideon Pillow whose several mishaps in battles during the Mexican American War and the American Civil War resulted in thousands of lives being lost. To make matters worse, at one point he was even found hiding behind a tree to avoid leading his men into battle.

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