7

Has there been any historical battle which became so universally well regarded, that military academies from across the world would would study it? Or are most military academies inherently biased towards studying battles in their own national history?

closed as too broad by Semaphore, Travis Christian, Samuel Russell, Mark C. Wallace, Steve Bird Jul 10 '15 at 8:57

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Smart leaders in the military like to learn from the mistakes of others so their forces don't repeat them. Also the nature of warfare has continually evolved, influenced by technology. Battles in a flat hot deserts require different tactics to battles in cold mountainous terrain. The jungles of Vietnam were a lot different to the farmland and woods of Europe or Korea. – Fred Jul 10 '15 at 6:31
  • 1
    Why would "bias towards their nationals" (not really sure what the means) affect the definition of textbook battles? I don't think any respectable institution would define the greatness of a battle based on the ethnicity of who fought in them. – Semaphore Jul 10 '15 at 6:34
  • 1
    @Semaphore and still, I can totally imagine this can happen. People can be really stupid sometimes. – o0'. Jul 10 '15 at 8:28
  • Polling questions are a bad fit for the site. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 10 '15 at 8:33
  • Auerstadt, thought it is probably less thoroughly studied than it should. Outnumbered more than two to one and caught debouching from a wood, Davout's III Corps thoroughly defeated the opposing Prussians, driving them from the field and then into a rout as they encountered other survivors from the Jena battlefield. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 8 '16 at 2:41
6

One classical example would be the Battle of Cannae, when Hannibal annihilated a larger Roman army. His unreservedly successful double envelopment on that day have since been regarded as one of the greatest displays of generalship in history. In addition to Cannae, several ancient battles have a reputation for being still studied at military schools worldwide.

Modern military academies such as the École Polytechnique [sic] in Paris, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Frunze Academy in Moscow, and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst continue to study and analyze famous ancient battles (Marathon, Thermopylae, Plataea, Leuctra, Chaeronea, Gaugamela, Cannae, Zama, Pharsalus, and Adrianopolis) and sieges (Syracuse and Alesia).

- Grafton, Anthony, Glenn W. Most, and Salvatore Settis. The Classical Tradition. Harvard University Press, 2010.

Note: The Ecole Polytechnique does not aim anymore to train officers. The Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint Cyr in Brittany is the one responsible for it.

Since they were fought during antiquity, these battles have no real substantive link to most modern nations, but are nonetheless analysed as examples of tactical brilliance. A curriculum might very well be more focused on the national or regional history, but frankly it is a bit nonsensical to think that the nationality of the participants would define whether an engagement is or isn't a great (in terms of execution) battle.

In addition to examples from ancient history, many other battles have been very highly regarded. For example, Napoleon's career, including his greatest victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, was studied as far as as the Army Military Academy in China.

  • 1
    I originally voted to close the question because I assumed the answer would be trivial and obvious. However, after giving Google a try it seems that this is not that easy to find if you don't already know the names of reputedly "textbook" battles. – Semaphore Jul 10 '15 at 13:16
  • But it remains a polling question. Which answer is better, Cannae or Gettysburg? Which should be accepted? – Mark C. Wallace Jul 10 '15 at 13:26
  • @MarkC.Wallace H.SE has generally accepted question asking for any example of something, which requires no determination on what is better. – Semaphore Jul 10 '15 at 13:41
  • I thought we'd come to the opposite conclusion. If I'm wrong, I need to reverse some downvotes. I don't have time today, but could we record a decision on this in meta? Perhaps "how to ask an polling question and how to get good answers from a polling question?" – Mark C. Wallace Jul 10 '15 at 13:42
  • 2
    I honestly think this is a good answer. While yes polling questions raise the awkward question of which answer should be accepted, they'll also hopefully generate high quality lists backed up by references like this one. Other answers would get my upvote too. – Evil Washing Machine Jul 10 '15 at 16:30

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.