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How is it possible for an army to:

  • go to some place
  • be ambushed
  • repel or see the attackers falling back
  • Go to a place and fight
  • retreat and be ambushed at the first place

It is the battle of Changsa that raises the issue: I do not understand how the Chinese could have maintained their forces near the river during the fight at Changsa, and why the Japanese did not secured their lines?

  • 9
    Two friends were watching a western when one turned to the other and said: "I bet you $10 the horse stumbles here." "Deal!" said the other friend. The horse promptly tripped, and the $10 was handed over. A bit later, the first friend said, "I have a confession...I've seen the movie before, so I knew it would trip there. Here, take your $10 back" The second replied, "That's OK, you keep it. I've seen it before too. I just thought the horse would know better than to stumble there again." – T.E.D. Jun 8 at 22:23
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    The winner is the one who makes the next to the last mistake. This question is effectively "How is it possible to make a mistake?" Answer is simple - humans make mistakes. The ability to make mistakes is probably even more defining of humanity than 46 chromosomes or featherless bipedalism. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 10 at 14:50
  • @MarkCWallace I'm guessing your dog has never encountered a porcupine. – Spencer Jun 10 at 16:59
  • I don't understand the downvote – totalMongot Jun 12 at 20:30
2

What is an ambush?

A surprise attack by a concealed force.

What does it take to ambush the same enemy force twice?

Either two separate ambushing forces, or one ambushing force that has broken contact after the first ambush.

What does it take to ambush in the same place twice?

Nothing special, actually.

There are plenty of reasons why a force might have to relinquish control of the battlefield after the first ambush (retreat & regroup, lack of manpower or supplies to establish control of the area, strategic needs, ...).

There are also many reasons why and how two hostile forces might lose contact with each other.

All it takes, then, is

  1. a tactical advantage to be had from setting an ambush in the same spot (geography, predictable enemy movement, ...), and

  2. an opportunity to get to that spot undetected.

There is no specific disadvantage to setting up ambush twice in the same spot.

1

If you believe you have secured the location, it's fair to assume there won't be an ambush there when you come back some time later.

If there is, it means you did something seriously wrong suppressing the first ambush and securing your rear (assuming you didn't do what the Americans did in Vietnam which was to secure a site, then draw back from that site for no reason, leaving it to the enemy, and then attack it again some time later, surprised there were once again enemies there).

As to being ambushed in the same location multiple times, usually it happens because the ambush was a success and no word of it happening gets back to the commanders of the forces that were ambushed, leading to a situation where a second patrol can be ambushed at the same spot. An alert patrol, knowing an ambush likely took place, will be looking out for places ambushes are likely of course and possibly detect the existence of one (or at least be prepared for one when it happens because they know as well as you do that a place would make a nice one to set up an ambush).

To generalise: what makes it possible to be ambushed in the same location twice is a breakdown of command and control, possibly combined with lack of skill of the forces involved.

  • thank you for your hindisghts, but according to the link in my question to the battle of changsa, the Japanese did repel the first ambush so parts of your explanation is out of scope (but still interesting :) ) that's why I chose the second answer – totalMongot Jun 12 at 20:31
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Maybe the naval battle in Surigao Strait fulfill the request.

During WWII, near Leyte Gulf. In this battle, two japanese forces went directly to an ambush in a strait.
The first japanese force went to the strait and a combination of american battleships, cruisers, destroyers and PT boats almost destroyed them.
The second japanese force went to the strait, they saw ships on fire of the first force, and despite of that they went to engage as well, even though the second force was smaller than the first one.

  • could that also not be read as assisting their own side who were in trouble ? Getting their own back by putting in a few hits of their own ? – bigbadmouse Jun 12 at 14:46
  • Thank you for the example, but @bigbadmouse according to what I recall the second force of Japanese ships did enter the strait without a good knowledge of what happen, only that the first fleet was beaten – totalMongot Jun 12 at 20:29

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