The 5 (Greatest) Military Defeats in All of History

    James Holmes

    History, North America

    We break down the biggest, baddest defeats—with a twist.

    It is common to write lists ranking everything from history’s greatest victories to the best and worst ships or planes. This article attempts to rank history’s best defeats- something that hasn’t been done before because historians and strategists tend to focus on the victors.

    And so it should be. No self-respecting combatant could be grateful for losing, right? General George S. Patton himself assures us that ordinary folk “love a winner” and “will not tolerate a loser.” But that’s not strictly true. It may be, that everyman despises generals, admirals, or civilian officials he holds culpable for losing wars. And sometimes losing an individual battle does spell doom in a larger struggle. For instance, few would argue that Carthage benefited from being razed to the ground at Roman hands and seeing the victors salt the ruins. But few engagements have Carthaginian results, rather oftentimes armed forces can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and learn from war—the harshest of teachers.

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