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"Biggest Disasters in U.S. Military History" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2017 4:18 p.m. PST

"The United States has experienced its share of military successes over the years. But its armed forces have also suffered some terrible setbacks. Here are eight of the very worst.

Compared to many other countries, the United States has never really suffered a cataclysmic military disaster. The continental U.S. has never faced a significant invasion force, its government has never been supplanted by that of a rival nationfs, nor has its armies ever experienced a colossal collapse on a scale similar to what happened to the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad. Since its inception as a nation, however, the U.S. has involved itself in a number of foreign campaigns, both near and far. And, as such, it has not been immune to military defeats, misfortune, and humiliation…"
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robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2017 5:02 p.m. PST

Sloppy. Since when is the CIA (Bay of Pigs) the US armed forces? And the disbanding of the Iraqi army was a mistake, but scarcely a military setback. I'll grant you a civil war is a national disaster almost by definition, but I don't think it qualifies as a military disaster.

On the other hand, the author misses New York and Long Island 1776, Bladensburg in the War of 1812 and--well, we could start a long thread about whether Fredericksburg was more of a disaster than Second Bull Run. We've had our share of proper military disasters. Let's stick to them.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2017 5:09 p.m. PST

Bataan and the Surrender of 2/3 of the 106th Infantry Division in the Bulge.

rmaker04 Dec 2017 5:52 p.m. PST

The author clearly doesn't understand the meaning of the word "disaster".

The 1812 invasion of Canada wasn't a disaster, it was a fiasco.

Harper's Ferry wasn't a disaster, it was a case of the main enemy force falling on an isolated garrison.

Antietam wasn't a disaster, it was a hard fought action with poor leadership (on both sides).

The Pancho Villa Expedition wasn't a disaster, it was, essentially, a live-fire training exercise. And where else, one might ask, were US troops "desperately needed"?

As for Kasserine Pass, quoting arch Yank-hater Beevor as his only source invalidates this entry.

If we want to talk about American military disasters, both Harmar's Defeat and St. Clair's Defeat should be at the head of the list, with the Wyoming Valley Massacre close behind. All three had serious adverse consequences, unlike any of the eight the author picks.

NWMike04 Dec 2017 6:14 p.m. PST

I fail to see how Kasserine Pass could be described as anything other than a disaster.

peterx Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2017 7:38 p.m. PST

Yep. US military disasters:

1. Vietnam conflict
2. Laos invasion
3. Afghanistan conflict
4. Kasserine Pass. Poor preparation, poor leadership, outgunned and out maneuvered by the Germans.
5. Custer's Last Stand. Poor preparation, poor leadership, out gunned and out maneuvered by the Sioux and their allies.
6. The Battle of the Bulge. The beginning of the battle when the Germans overran two divisions who were not prepared. Poor intellegence, poor leadership, outgunned and out maneuvered.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian04 Dec 2017 7:40 p.m. PST

I did not see Savo Island on the list.

Glengarry504 Dec 2017 7:50 p.m. PST

What about the Battle of the Wabash? Worst defeat than the Battle of the Big Horn.

Neal Smith04 Dec 2017 9:11 p.m. PST

This is the first one that came to my mind when I read the title…

Operation Eagle Claw or Desert One

skedaddle Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2017 5:35 a.m. PST

No mention of Pearl Harbor or Korea?

Ceterman Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

PLEASE, stop enticing me to get kicked out of TMP again…

rmaker05 Dec 2017 2:53 p.m. PST

NWMike, what was the result of Kasserine Pass? The Germans did not reconquer Algeria. In fact, they were, in the end forced to retreat. And II Corps learned from the efeat and pressed the Germans all the harder. "Disaster" means more than just a lot of casualties, it means serious post-battle consequences,

In the Crusades, Hattin was a disaster, the slaughter of Peter the Hermit's ragtag horde was not, just an appalling loss of life.

What about the Battle of the Wabash?

AKA St. Clair's Defeat. See above.

RudyNelson05 Dec 2017 5:14 p.m. PST

Due to the scope, it would be Bataan and the Philippines in 1941-42.

Custer's last Stand would not be deadly enough.
Other notables FOR ME:
War of 1812 in the South would be the destruction of Fort Mims and the loss of life there.

American Revolution would be the disaster in South Carolina with the fall of Charleston.

Plains Indian Wars would be Custer at Little Big Horn. But this like most Indian Wars defeats, the numbers or delay to strategic plans were not significant.

21eRegt06 Dec 2017 8:30 a.m. PST

Seems to me that it is inherently flawed to put battles and campaigns in the same category. They inevitably will fail to meet criteria on some level. Battle disasters of the top of my subjective head:
Long Island (harsh pursuit could have ended the rebellion)
St. Clair's Defeat
Battle of the Crater
Pearl Harbor
Wake Island (won but didn't know it)
Savo Island
Kasserine Pass
Rapido River Crossing
Schweinfurt Raid(s)
St. Vith (106th Division)

mildbill06 Dec 2017 3:19 p.m. PST

Generally, the first battle of any war the USA is in. The US Army are poor starters but strong finishers.

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