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Thread: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

  1. #21
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar Sixth Heaven Demon Lord
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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Actually I was referring to the Fall of Tenochtitlan where it seems that there were a huge deal of civilians. Although that was a damn good description of events you gave if I may say so myself.

    @ Huang Caesar more modern scholars doubt that Cortez truly had 100,000 natives, where it was already mentioned that many of his allies died of the same diseases afflicting the Aztecs and the warriors that these peoples had most likely didn't number that many. Newer and more believable sources put Cortes' army at 60,000 max with the Aztecs only ever using up to 100,000 men at one time against Cortes (rather than the traditional number of 300,000). About Otumba I saw one estimate give the Aztecs about 30,000 men in that battle, which I suppose sounds decent enough (the Aztec army that invaded the Tarascans was purportedly the same number and this wasn't considered very large).

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Although the Spanish won mainly due to disease, it is not to say Cortez was brilliant or the Spanish good fighters. The Spanish at the Battle of Otambu defeated a massive Aztec force with only 1,000 men. If anything the Spanish had cavalry, at that battle they lured them on to a plain battlefield and the cavalry charges all day long broke them.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Wall of text warning!

    @saxdude. I agree that Diaz's account must be considered to fall well short of accurate, but it can't be dismissed out of hand and embellishments can be adjusted for. Other contemporary accounts agree on issues such as the size of the Mexica (Aztec) forces and of Cortez's allied forces, the sequence of events, who won, who lost, who died, who didn't, etc. and the story in general, specifics aside, is accepted as historically as reliable an account as any first hand account from antiquity is.

    Moctezuma's belief that Cortez might have been an incarnation of Quetzalcoatl indeed worked in Cortez's favour and he exploited it brilliantly, gaining access to the centre of Tenochtitlan, the Mexica centre of power (and some believe one to the world's largest cities at that time) and access to Moctezuma himself, which he also exploited - that act had mixed results at the time but ultimately may have been one of the deciding factors. It should be remembered that Moctezuma was a Priest King and that as such for him religion, politics and war all served the same purpose and had the same goals. The capture of Moctezuma is certainly the tactic that Pizarro most surely borrowed from Cortez in capturing The Inca, Atahualpa.

    It is worth noting that when Cortez and the conquistadors seized Moctezuma they were isolated from their allies in the centre of Tenochtitlan. At this point the conquistadors were on their own. The consequences of the capture of Moctezuma were that the Mexica turned up with so much gold that all the conquistadors found new resolve and enthusiasm for their expedition, while obversely the Mexica realised that Moctezuma was not the man for the job and probably no longer enjoyed the favour of the gods - which allowed other, more competent and combative leaders to come forward to organise the Mexica forces, including the incitement of the city's massive civilian population.

    When Moctezuma was killed - most accounts agree this happened during the first assault on the conquistador compound - the whole city rose against the Spanish. The flight of the conquistadors out of Tenochtitlan is a remarkable feat of combat in itself and perhaps the most exciting passage in 'The discovery and conquest....'. It was now that their alliance with the Tlaxcalteca paid off, as the surviving conquistadors found refuge there and were able to eventually recover and reorganise.

    @Sharpe. I have some difficulty with your assertion that the Mexica empire was decimated by European disease before the time of Cortez's arrival. While this was certainly the case in subsequent years, their is no mention of such in Diaz's account and the Indies subject Kingdoms of the Mexica that Cortez allied to his cause are also not reported as being decimated by disease. There was little understanding of the epidemiology of disease in Cortez's day and they would have had no reason to believe it was their fault so also no reason not to record it. In the Caribbean on the other hand, the indigenous population had been devastated by disease and the African slave trade was yet to emerge. The indigenous population had been the labour resource of the colonists and it was the crisis posed by this rapidly declining source of slave labour that instigated the expeditions to the west. The second expedition of Juan de Grijalva which sailed from the Yucatan up the coast to present day Vera Cruz reported "a large settled monarchy.

    * A quick check on wiki has informed me that smallpox most probably arrived with Narvaez and was definitely a factor after the flight from Tenochtitlan and the battle of Otumba. So, I'm not certain where that leaves me with my above assertion.

    As for luck and opportunistic exploitation, what can I say? Cortez was clearly a very good pro-active General!

    ** In general, I feel that some aspects the of tech difference gets overplayed a bit, but also agree that it was one of the deciding factors. The relatively small force of conquistadors and enormous numbers of massed combatants they found themselves engaged with, nullifies to a large degree any advantage gunpowder small arms gave them. Their greatest advantage was in their steel edged weapons, steel armour and horses, their armour perhaps being the most important as it surely played a role in their surviving to be reinforced. Their training in European warfare and any previous military experience would rate them the status of military elite and is also a significant factor.

    It's hard not to emphasise that in the initial stages of this campaign, until before the Tenochtitlan phase, we are talking about a band of 400 to 500 men against an established empire - and that they ultimately prevailed.

    @Sharpe, again. Do I really have to define 'great' or 'greatest'. they're pretty common words in everyday usage and don't have a singular definition. - they're used in every second ad on TV. You can take it to mean whatever you like. Scale, achievement, outcome.... whatever.
    Last edited by Spear Dog; October 02, 2013 at 09:01 PM. Reason: removed factual errors, corrected chronological errors, added new info

  4. #24
    The Bold Burgundian's Avatar Hastatas Posterior
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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    The invasion of the Sea Peoples.
    "I have a burning desire to cross the channel and slaughter those frogs" - Pietre de Montblanc, English sellsword and womanizer.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    I wouldn't really say that this was an invasion so much as a series of raids and migrations. We don't even really know who the Sea Peoples were or where they went, supposedly they went to Palestine while others ended up in the North of Egypt (Alexandria-Libya areas) and maybe some others went from Western Anatolia to Central Anatolia, maybe some of them went into Greece as well. Or the Sea Peoples were Greek and these new guys kicked out the Achaeans and the Achaeans were actually the Sea People. Although the secret in figuring this out is finding Hittite sources, I guarantee that if there exists any records on Sea Peoples, Achaeans and Trojan wars then it will be a Hittite source and no other country's. Strangely enough the history of the Hittite Empire from this exact period is also missing as is the information about Ahhiyawans (Achaeans?).

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Quote Originally Posted by Condottiere 40K View Post
    The Germans were unlucky in Russia: it could have gone their way if they weren't distracted by Mussolini's Mediterranean meddling, and Hitler's headstrong hubris.
    Unlucky?

    The Nazis were incredibly lucky that Stalin was in the middle of a major military-structure cleansing that made it almost impossible to react to their invasion. A few (at least 2 I know) of the leading commanders of the soviet assault on Berlin were encamped in Gulags when Hitler declared war. The entire campaign was designed for a win by November - large numbers of soldiers were completly unprepared for the tundra swamps or the increasing frost.

    Its really problematic to blame Mussolini for Rommels losses or Hitlers disregard for tactical retreat. Italy had, at least after January 1941, no primary interest in north africa and were mere auxilia.
    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    Gengis Khan. I doubt anyone ever conquered more land ....
    According to studies, 8% of north asia descend from him (if you can call Y-chromosom your genetical identiy) too, 0,5% of the world population
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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Caesars civil war. The whole thing was one giant roll of the dice after another and Caesar beat all the odds consistently in that campaign. Of course, he was helped by Pompey being pressured by his republican supporters.
    Quote Originally Posted by Papay View Post
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  8. #28
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar Sixth Heaven Demon Lord
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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Apparently though these descendents are actually from Genghis' uncles, brothers and sons and not so much from himself.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spear Dog View Post
    Wall of text warning!

    @saxdude. I agree that Diaz's account must be considered to fall well short of accurate, but it can't be dismissed out of hand and embellishments can be adjusted for. Other contemporary accounts agree on issues such as the size of the Mexica (Aztec) forces and of Cortez's allied forces, the sequence of events, who won, who lost, who died, who didn't, etc. and the story in general, specifics aside, is accepted as historically as reliable an account as any first hand account from antiquity is.

    The problem is that first hand accounts from antiquity are unreliable at best, especially when the text itself is meant for a royal probation where you have to make clear your part in the campaign. While the sequence of events is largely accurate, the numbers, to which Bernal Diaz had no reason to have access to and Cortez no reason to honestly give, are exaggerrated to portray spanish courage and force of arms against the natives to the King. And even then the sequence of events is largely a product of heavy biases and propaganda, case in point the massacre at cholula and Tenochtitlan (which are curiously censored in works from Diego Duran), and the assassination of Motecuhzoma and Cuautemoc, the lord of Tacuba and the priest that objected to his murder.
    You really have to read between the lines in some of these works and compare and contrast the data from all points, including ideology and reason for writing.

    Moctezuma's belief that Cortez might have been an incarnation of Quetzalcoatl indeed worked in Cortez's favour and he exploited it brilliantly, gaining access to the centre of Tenochtitlan, the Mexica centre of power (and some believe one to the world's largest cities at that time) and access to Moctezuma himself, which he also exploited - that act had mixed results at the time but ultimately may have been one of the deciding factors. It should be remembered that Moctezuma was a Priest King and that as such for him religion, politics and war all served the same purpose and had the same goals. The capture of Moctezuma is certainly the tactic that Pizarro most surely borrowed from Cortez in capturing The Inca, Atahualpa.

    It is worth noting that when Cortez and the conquistadors seized Moctezuma they were isolated from their allies in the centre of Tenochtitlan. At this point the conquistadors were on their own. The consequences of the capture of Moctezuma were that the Mexica turned up with so much gold that all the conquistadors found new resolve and enthusiasm for their expedition, while obversely the Mexica realised that Moctezuma was not the man for the job and probably no longer enjoyed the favour of the gods - which allowed other, more competent and combative leaders to come forward to organise the Mexica forces, including the incitement of the city's massive civilian population.
    The allies were distrubted directly outside of the compound that the Spaniards where in.

    When Moctezuma was killed - most accounts agree this happened during the first assault on the conquistador compound - the whole city rose against the Spanish. The flight of the conquistadors out of Tenochtitlan is a remarkable feat of combat in itself and perhaps the most exciting passage in 'The discovery and conquest....'. It was now that their alliance with the Tlaxcalteca paid off, as the surviving conquistadors found refuge there and were able to eventually recover and reorganise.
    Just barely though, there were factions inside of Tlaxcala that were weary of the spaniards, had they lost at the battle of Otumba and had Cortez managed to escape, I doubt he would have found an ally in Tlaxcala. The escape itself was a massacre though, and a good portion of the Tlaxcalan army that was in tenochtitlan was terminated, while the spanish forces were greatly diminshed.

    @HuangCaesar. It is only at this point that Cortez's conquistador army was substantially increased. The Governor of Cuba, Velasquez, sent Panfilo de Navarez with "sixteen ships, fourteen hundred soldiers, ninety cross-bowmen, seventy musketeers and eighty horses" (from Senor Don Genaro Garcia's introduction to '..History and Conquest...', 1904) to arrest Cortez and 'punish' his followers as traitors on the spurious charge that they had rebelled. However, on seeing the wealth Cortez's force had already accumulated they quickly ignored the orders of Velasquez joined with Cortez.

    Funnily enough, the cavalry was quickly forgon after the Noche triste, a number of 25 horses are described to have been used in Otumba, the rest having died in Tenochtitlan or not been available.

    @Sharpe. I have some difficulty with your assertion that the Mexica empire was decimated by European disease before the time of Cortez's arrival. While this was certainly the case in subsequent years, their is no mention of such in Diaz's account and the Indies subject Kingdoms of the Mexica that Cortez allied to his cause are also not reported as being decimated by disease. There was little understanding of the epidemiology of disease in Cortez's day and they would have had no reason to believe it was their fault so also no reason not to record it. In the Caribbean on the other hand, the indigenous population had been devastated by disease and the African slave trade was yet to emerge. The indigenous population had been the labour resource of the colonists and it was the crisis posed by this rapidly declining source of slave labour that instigated the expeditions to the west. The second expedition of Juan de Grijalva which sailed from the Yucatan up the coast to present day Vera Cruz reported "a large settled monarchy.

    The thing is that there was steady commerce between the carribean and mesoamerica, desease reached the continent well before the spaniards did, not to mention that the campaign itself took 2 years, it was not immediate.

    As for luck and opportunistic exploitation, what can I say? Cortez was clearly a very good pro-active General!

    ** In general, I feel that some aspects the of tech difference gets overplayed a bit, but also agree that it was one of the deciding factors. The relatively small force of conquistadors and enormous numbers of massed combatants they found themselves engaged with, nullifies to a large degree any advantage gunpowder small arms gave them. Their greatest advantage was in their steel edged weapons, steel armour and horses, their armour perhaps being the most important as it surely played a role in their surviving to be reinforced. Their training in European warfare and any previous military experience would rate them the status of military elite and is also a significant factor.

    I think the biggest technological advantages was the armor and the horses rather than than swords or small arms, while the armor helped them survive the strikes of Aztec weapons, besides the fact that they were aiming to maim and not kill, they also served as a ideological factor, shining in the sun in the midst of battle would have given the Spaniards a more godly appearance to the warriors, enfasizing there status as warriors of the light and the heavens, which always won against the forces of the underworld and the night. Ideology is very important in these types of conflicts, and the spaniards, wittingly or not, used it brilliantly.
    Warfare with horses on the other hand, was quickly understood by Aztec forces and adapted accordingly, avoiding plain set piece battles for ambushes and quick skirmishes, however their part in the battle of Otumba was decisive, I doubt they would have managed to get anywhere near the Cihuacoatl had they not had them.

    It's hard not to emphasise that in the initial stages of this campaign, up until the well after the flight from Tenochtitlan, we are talking about a band of 400 to 500 men against an established empire - and that they ultimately prevailed.

    But they had a force of Totonacs and Tlaxcalans at there disposal well before their arrival to Tenochtitlan, they had been planting alliances and rebelion from the very moment they set foot on Zempoala, the band of 400/500 men just marching into tenochtitlan is greatly exagerated by the probanza.

    @Sharpe, again. Do I really have to define 'great' or 'greatest'. they're pretty common words in everyday usage and don't have a singular definition. - they're used in every second ad on TV. You can take it to mean whatever you like. Scale, achievement, outcome.... whatever.
    Last edited by saxdude; October 02, 2013 at 09:34 PM.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    @saxdude. Thanks for all that mate, I'm learning a lot here. +rep.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spear Dog View Post
    @Sharpe. I have some difficulty with your assertion that the Mexica empire was decimated by European disease before the time of Cortez's arrival. While this was certainly the case in subsequent years, their is no mention of such in Diaz's account and the Indies subject Kingdoms of the Mexica that Cortez allied to his cause are also not reported as being decimated by disease. There was little understanding of the epidemiology of disease in Cortez's day and they would have had no reason to believe it was their fault so also no reason not to record it. In the Caribbean on the other hand, the indigenous population had been devastated by disease and the African slave trade was yet to emerge. The indigenous population had been the labour resource of the colonists and it was the crisis posed by this rapidly declining source of slave labour that instigated the expeditions to the west. The second expedition of Juan de Grijalva which sailed from the Yucatan up the coast to present day Vera Cruz reported "a large settled monarchy.
    Why are you using Diaz's account as a valid source. If you knew anything about this conquistadors you would know these probanzas were utter embellishment. Diaz was bare-face lying to make Cortez and his men seem godlike. Self written probanzas and the letters of his contemparies promoted their own deeds and belittled those of rivals. Comparing him to the great men of the Classical era built up an aura of heroism, though Cortes himself had yet to prove himself. Cortes most likely never burned his ships, this was referred to by Cervantes de Salazar almost thirty years later. The ships were most likely grounded or scuttled. Many of the men of the expeditions were Free agents, emigrants, settlers and general opportunists who had made an investment to make the trip and hoped to claim some of the riches of Mesoamerica for themselves. Not an organised band of soldiers.

    Even Cortes alludes to disease in his third letter “(I) went that day to spend the night in the city of Cholula, for the inhabitants desired my presence, as many of their lords had died of smallpox” and “the chiefs of the city and province (of Tascalteca) came to speak with me and told me how Magiscanin, who was their overlord, had died of smallpox.

    ** In general, I feel that some aspects the of tech difference gets overplayed a bit, but also agree that it was one of the deciding factors. The relatively small force of conquistadors and enormous numbers of massed combatants they found themselves engaged with, nullifies to a large degree any advantage gunpowder small arms gave them. Their greatest advantage was in their steel edged weapons, steel armour and horses, their armour perhaps being the most important as it surely played a role in their surviving to be reinforced. Their training in European warfare and any previous military experience would rate them the status of military elite and is also a significant factor.
    The effect their weaponry had was minor. They didn't have the numbers, it was more psychological - especially on Montuzema. Weak leadership under Moctezuma II gave dissidents under his rule an opportunity to support the invaders and crumble the empire.


    Disease was their weapon, up to as many as 40 million died in the century after the first expeditions arrived, mostly due to disease. Large cities meant the spread of disease was rapid.


    * A quick check on wiki has informed me that smallpox most probably arrived with Narvaez and was definitely a factor after the flight from Tenochtitlan and the battle of Otumba. So, I'm not certain where that leaves me with my above assertion.

    As for luck and opportunistic exploitation, what can I say? Cortez was clearly a very good pro-active General!
    It's hard not to emphasise that in the initial stages of this campaign, until before the Tenochtitlan phase, we are talking about a band of 400 to 500 men against an established empire - and that they ultimately prevailed.
    Don't forget his 200'000 Tlaxcalan allies. It's arguable that the Tlaxcalans fabricated the downfall of the Aztec empire and simply used Cortez as a mask for it.

    What you a describing is the myth of the "Invisible men" There is massive lack of recognition for the “Invisible Warriors” The most prominent of these allies were the Tlaxcalans, who saw the arrival of the Spanish as a chance to destabilize the Aztec Empire and bring about Civil war. The first encounter with the Tlaxcalans in 1519 almost spelled disaster for the expedition with a series of confrontations. Without a mutual goal the Spanish would have been forced to retreat. These native allies outnumbered the Spanish by far and there could have been no viable conquest without them. Ross Hassig claims that during the final assault of Tenochtitlan Cortes reputedly had 200,000 allies. Greatly differing culture of war between the sides. Spanish went to conquer, pillage and destroy. Aztecs followed the practice of “Flower/Garland Wars” Which involved the capture and subsequent sacrifice of prisoners.

    The Spanish mode of conquest was brutal, to decimate a completely subjugate a foe was to be victorious, a stark contrast to that of the ritualistic Aztecs. One could argue that this paradoxical approach to warfare played into the hands of the Spanish and that their bloody methodology gave them a great advantage due to the fact that a defeat inflicted by the Spanish would not only be religious, but economically, strategically and logistically crippling. That said, it could be argued however that though success in mainland Europe had brought wealth and prestige to Spain and their abilities proven, the effectiveness of their warriors in Mesoamerica was limited at best. Hassig argues that the Aztecs were “quick learners” and that the Spanish weapons, though initially terrifying, were nullified by Aztec counter tactics , again breaking the Probanza-driven fašade that the Aztecs were primitive and savage, and easily defeated by “superior” Spanish soldiers. Contrary to what the “Probanzas” of the Conquistadors may imply, one could say the Spanish conquest was hardly a martial one. It is highly unlikely that a band of six hundred men could topple an empire of millions regardless of how ruthless or effective the Spanish methods of warfare were. Ross Hassig states “It is true that cannons, guns, crossbows, steel blades, horses and war dogs were advances on the Aztec weaponry. But the advantage it gave these few Spanish soldiers was not overwhelming” and this is indicates the massive Spanish numerical inferiority and to assume that such a paltry force, regardless of superior technology, could and did conquer a militarily successful Empire of millions is irrational. However, the Siege of Tenochtitlan in 1521 was an important military operation and greatly assisted in destabilising central authority in the empire so it could be argued that though Spanish military power was not a primary reason for the collapse of the empire, it played an important supporting role, but was ultimately superseded on a much larger scale by the coming of disease.

    Matthew Reystall argues that the true weapon of the Spanish conquest was disease. Isolation from the Old World and the diseases it harboured such as smallpox, flu and measles meant that the inhabitants of the New World had little or no immunity to them. Even as early on as the expedition of Cortes, natives were reputably dying of diseases the Spaniards had brought with them. Cortes alludes to this in his third letter “I went that day to spend the night in the city of Cholula, for the inhabitants desired my presence, as many of their lords had died of smallpox, which also affects those of the mainland as it does the islanders” Though clearly trying to emphasize his influence and prestige amongst the natives here, the fact that many indigenous inhabitants were already dying of smallpox in 1520-1521 and is a clear indicator in a primary account of how quickly the disease could spread. Smallpox epidemics ravaged the populace of Tenochtitlan, and limited the Aztec manpower, preventing a full resistance to the siege.



    @Sharpe, again. Do I really have to define 'great' or 'greatest'. they're pretty common words in everyday usage and don't have a singular definition. - they're used in every second ad on TV. You can take it to mean whatever you like. Scale, achievement, outcome.... whatever.
    Also dude, don't use Wikipedia in any historical debate - it's laughable. People using wiki in the VV is why I stopped posting.
    Last edited by Sharpe; October 02, 2013 at 09:30 PM.

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    A bit more on the importance of the other natives. Straight from an old essay of mine.

    One such tribe, the Tlaxcalans, though surrounded by Aztec protectorates managed to keep their independence up to the arrival of the Spanish, and after initial hostilities, formed an anti-Aztec alliance with the invaders[1]. It is doubtless that without the Tlaxcalan allies the Spanish would have never been able to conquer Tenochtitlan and were of great use to their expansion, but it could be construed that that the Tlaxcalans used the Spanish assistance to assist in their war against the Aztecs. Prescott states “the Tlascalans were sorely pressed by their long hostilities with a foe far superior to themselves in numbers and resources”[2] This gives a firm impression that the Tlaxcalans were fighting a losing war and the opportune arrival of the Spanish could provide them with a catalyst for victory. This functional, almost cynical approach to the invaders by a “native” people contrasts greatly with the accounts of the Conquistadors who depicted them as a backward, simplistic people, needing to be enlightened by European intervention. Ross Hassig states that there were “200,000” native allies at the battle of Tenochtitlan “even though they went virtually unacknowledged and certainly unrewarded”[3] This could be refuted however, as no nation would go to war without a motivational element, and though apparently not compensated by the Spanish, the conquest and defeat of the Aztecs would have been the reward the Tlaxcalans desired, Gerard Chaliand writes about these in allies, “There were numerous Indian allies, they hoped both to use the Spaniards to free themselves from the Aztec yoke and to take part in the sack of the city”[4]. Chailand reinforces the argument that the Spanish were assisting the native allies and vice versa. There can be no doubt that without these native alliances the conquest of Tenochtitlan or even the survival of the Spanish expeditions would not have been possible, as the natives from Tlaxcala, Huexotzinco, Cholula performed essential logistics work and maintained the supply of food and materials, which a campaign depends on[5].


    [1] Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp 46-47


    [2] W.H Prescott, The Conquest of Mexico, New York, 1843


    [3] Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp 46-47

    [4] Gerard Chaliand, Mirrors of a Disaster, Blue Crane Books, 1994, pp 85

    [5] John Pohl and Charles M Robinson, Aztecs and Conquistadors, Osprey Publishing, 2005, pp 107

  13. #33
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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Now I wouldn't go so far as to dismiss Conquistador reports and texts as invalid either, Its clear that the sequence of events it presents are accurate if biased and misrepresented. The style of documentation suggests that Bernal Diaz del Castillo based his text of his own reports written during campaign, probably embellished in some parts and from his, a soldiers perspective. But he was no historian, his mannerisms are coloquial, and his reliabilty debatable.
    Many of the men of the expeditions were Free agents, emigrants, settlers and general opportunists who had made an investment to make the trip and hoped to claim some of the riches of Mesoamerica for themselves. Not an organised band of soldiers.
    I dare say they were, opportunists maybe, but a band of soldiers nontheless, they were mercenaries and men that had been participating in the endless wars in Spain and the carribean, and they were no doubt experienced fighter. Velasquez has financed the operation, and Hernan Cortez and the men no doubt invested in it, so there is no reason to believe the wouldn't be armed with some of the best weaponry around.

    A bit more on the importance of the other natives. Straight from an old essay of mine.
    ...
    Tlaxcalans were rewarded though, even as second class citizens under the spanish empire, they established several communities and were one of the main forces to assist the Spaniards in the conquest of Michoacan and the warfare against the Chichimecs. There are a number of recorded nahua towns and settlements all the way up north in Sinaloa and Zacatecas, and down south to Guatemala, Product of the nahua groups like the Tlaxcaltecs that had participated in these campaigns. Thats why you get all these cities and locations with names in Nahuatl all around the Mexican republic, even in places with no Nahua (indiginous) majority.
    They were edited out from the Conquistador chronicles, but they were not forgotten for their assistence in the conquest. Check out the history of Tlaxcala Codex by Diego Mu˝oz Camargo for a Tlaxcalan point of view of the conquest.

    Not to say that all natives weren't eventually screwed over in the end.
    Last edited by saxdude; October 02, 2013 at 09:52 PM.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    @sharpe. wiki's quick and readily at hand when on line, and not totally discredited. It's proving more reliable then my memory atm. I'll use it if I chose, and you're free to disregard it. btw, you're still posting. ; )

    As to Diaz's account being a probanza and invalid; Diaz's account was written late in his life by his grandson and never published in his life time. I know that doesn't dismiss the probanza issue as the family could have sought to benefit from the exploits of their ancestor, but I chose to regard it as a biographical history of a remarkable man's remarkable and historic military exploits. The Discovery and Conquest of New Spain is a primary source, from which many subsequent studies flow and to which all studies of the history of Spanish dominion of the new world must refer, whatever the conclusion. As such it is an historical document of world significance and IMO a valid source for this story.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    Yeah your probably right, but there is a difference between being a soldier and an idealistic dog-of-war character, even if they have the same weaponry.

    Tlaxcalans were rewarded though, even as second class citizens under the spanish empire, they established several communities and were one of the main forces to assist the Spaniards in the conquest of Michoacan and the warfare against the Chichimecs. There are a number of recorded nahua towns and settlements all the way up north in Sinaloa and Zacatecas, and down south to Guatemala, Product of the nahua groups like the Tlaxcaltecs that had participated in these campaigns. Thats why you get all these cities and locations with names in Nahuatl all around the Mexican republic, even in places with no Nahua (indiginous) majority.
    They were edited out from the Conquistador chronicles, but they were not forgotten for their assistence in the conquest. Check out the history of Tlaxcala Codex by Diego Mu˝oz Camargo for a Tlaxcalan point of view of the conquest
    That's interesting, never read into it back then. Hence the whole "Invisible warriors" thing I mentioned.

    As to Diaz's account being a probanza and invalid; Diaz's account was written late in his life by his grandson and never published in his life time. I know that doesn't dismiss the probanza issue as the family could have sought to benefit from the exploits of their ancestor, but I chose to regard it as a biographical history of a remarkable man's remarkable and historic military exploits. The Discovery and Conquest of New Spain is a primary source, from which many subsequent studies flow and to which all studies of the history of Spanish dominion of the new world must refer, whatever the conclusion. As such it is an historical document of world significance and IMO a valid source for this story.
    Fair enough, I disagree.

    Please realize it becomes difficult to decipher the real character of any Spanish Conquest leader, as many primary sources were written by Spanish priests and Dominican Monks and their writing would be intrinsically biased towards Christianity and in turn the Spanish.

    Diaz compared Cortez to Caesar and Alexander even
    Last edited by Sharpe; October 02, 2013 at 10:00 PM.

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    saxdude's Avatar Centurio Primus Pilus
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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    That's interesting, never read into it back then. Hence the whole "Invisible warriors" thing I mentioned.
    Well to be fair they are invisible, to the general public that seems to forget the thousands of native soldiers that took part in the conquest of the Americas, anyway. But the conquest of Mesoamerica, right up to the last city in the Yucatan, and the final Chichimec war before assimilation through economy and asociation, is a lot more complex than Cortez stormed the Aztec empire and Mesoamerica fell.

    Sucks that I cant be bothered to take my time to write an actual well thought out response with no gramatical errors, I would love to go into the process more.

    You might also want to check out the Lienzo of Quauhquechollan, for nahua participation in the invasion of Guatemala.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    @sharpe. Thanks for all this information, +rep to you too.

    A couple of points I need to add:

    -European disease. The roll that the introduction of disease plays in any history of colonial conquest is not new to me. It needs to be noted however that emphasis of such is often a feature of later histories written by both the colonisers and colonising nations and exploited to exonerate war and massacre and justify subsequent settlement on the grounds of Terra Nullis - the contention that the pioneering settlers found the land empty of natives and unused. Therefore available to them for settlement as there was no opposition. The fourth world nations will point out that they are still with us, were not wiped out by war or disease and that the land was neither empty or unused.

    - The significance of allied Indigenous kingdoms in the outcome of Cortez's success. What language do they speak in the Mexican Parliament? The question must be asked, who was playing who?
    Last edited by Spear Dog; October 02, 2013 at 10:14 PM.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    [QUOTE=Spear Dog;13291968]@sharpe. Thanks for all this information, +rep to you too.

    A couple of points I need to add:

    -European disease. The roll that the introduction of disease plays in any history of colonial conquest is not new to me. It needs to be noted however that emphasis of such is often a feature of later histories written by both the colonisers and colonising nations and are exploited to exonerate war and massacre and justify subsequent settlement on the grounds of Terra Nullis - the contention that the pioneering settlers found the land empty of natives and unused and therefore available to them for settlement as no-one was there to oppose them. The fourth world nations will point out that they are still with us, were not wiped out by war or disease and that the land was neither empty or unused.
    Maybe it's justification - it's not true anyway. As with a lot of history, from Diaz to these guys there are agendas.

    Perhaps if Moctuzema was more aggressive initally towards the Spaniards the outcome may have been different, because he certainly had the power to defeat them early on, but I feel that the diseases brought from the Old World would have exterminated the Aztecs regardless, whether or not that was the Spanish intention. Even if the Spanish did lose the conflict, the disease and its endemic effect on the native population would have been the downfall of the empire regardless, for what is an empire without its people.

    The significance of allied Indigenous kingdoms in the outcome of Cortez's success. What language do they speak in the Mexican Parliament? The question must be asked, who was playing who?
    Intially it could have been either - both the invading natives and the Spanish got a positive outcome.

    Like most of Western Europe, soon after the conquest there was a huge exodus of European colonial settlers, this most likely co-incided with the decline of the native population due to poverty, illness, etc. Hence Spanish cultural hegemony but with distinct Mesoamerican elements.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    -European disease. The roll that the introduction of disease plays in any history of colonial conquest is not new to me. It needs to be noted however that emphasis of such is often a feature of later histories written by both the colonisers and colonising nations and are exploited to exonerate war and massacre and justify subsequent settlement on the grounds of Terra Nullis - the contention that the pioneering settlers found the land empty of natives and unused and therefore available to them for settlement as no-one was there to oppose them. The fourth world nations will point out that they are still with us, were not wiped out by war or disease and that the land was neither empty or unused.
    Well its not to say that it ended in barren wastelands, though it was the case in several northern Pueblo regions, after the arrival of the spaniards, and subsequentially when the British/american colonizers arrived, to find these places empty and abandoned, with most of the descendants living a nomad life encouraged by the adoption of horses. That said, it caused severe instability in these societies, severly effecting the manpool and the production status of several of these states. They were not wiped out, literally, they were left in a massive crisis that the spaniards expoloited accordingly. Though I have heard of the possibility of an American born desease taking a massive toll on the Mesoamerican population before and during the spaish intervention. If so, damn, thats bad luck.

    - The significance of allied Indigenous kingdoms in the outcome of Cortez's success. What language do they speak in the Mexican Parliament? The question must be asked, who was playing who?
    Man the issue of indigenous rights in Mexico in the late colonial period and in the early years of the Mexican state is pretty complex, by that time, the population of natives had already severly decreased by intermingling with the spaniards or dying of desease, and they were pretty underrepresented at the time. By that point any contribution the natives might have made to the forming of the New Mexican state had been well established and arguably long forgotten.
    The central Mexican armies were highly significant after the fall of Tenochtitlan, they were the brunt of many spanish expeditions into Oaxaca, Michoacan, Northern Veracruz, the Mayalands, and the Chichimec regions, and were used as a prime example of indian integration with the spaniards against these foes. They provided the large armies that beseiged and confronted these kingdoms and were rewarded with lands to form settlements and provide them with higher social status, allowing them to use horses and swords and even take up some political positions. All this was limited of course, only noble natives could access higher status, that could lead them to be on similar terms with the spaniards, and where actually integrated into the spanish nobility. These forces would eventually assimilate with the spaniards and/or integrate into the conquered regions, thus leading to Nahua communities in areas that previously had none, and the rise of Mestizos.
    Its rather obvious in the end who was playing and who got played, after all it was the natives that lost their cultural identity and would eventually get displaced by criollos and Mestizos.

    Of course its much more complex than this, but you know, in a nut shell.
    Last edited by saxdude; October 02, 2013 at 10:34 PM.

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    Default Re: History's Greatest Military Campaign.

    I would define "great" in this thread, not by magnitude of the scope, but rather the operational skill, speed and innovation displayed.

    From what I read about Genghis Khan's campaigns, especially in China was that they were far from perfect. He was often a hairstring from a victory, his army experienced constant logistical and tactical failures, and there were a number of close calls which put his entire historical expedition into question. He faced a very formidable opponent in the face of the technologically proficient and highly organized Chinese, from which he won every victory at a huge price and with very narrow odds.

    Manstein's spring campaign following the battle of Stalingrad prevented the collapse of an entire front, and his subsequent recapture of Kharkov was one of the most remarkable reversals in military history in my opinion, even though it availed to nothing in the long term. Consequently, relatively speedy and bloodless (for the Russians at least) Soviet invasion of Manchuria marked the high point of the successful Soviet application of combined arms and deep operations, especially when we compare it with the difficulty Americans faced seizing Okinawa.

    Another thing that recently struck me as absolutely brilliant, was Napoleon's conduct following the battle of Leipzig. Politically isolated, with his army crushed and close to collapse, he continued to inflict victory after victory on his opponents despite the hopelessness of his situation (even though once more, it availed him little).

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