Overlooked But Important Battles
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Some of these battles are well know to historians of their respective periods, but each of these may come as a shock to those who are not exactly in the know. I selected them either because when first reading about them I wondered why I hadn't heard of the battle beforehand, or I saw more in the fight than other historians have revealed. The fact that my search for images of each battle was difficult, and that their seem to be few games covering many of the engagements, reinforces the neglected nature of each battle presented.

Of course Cannae, Agincourt, Waterloo, Gettysburg, and Normandy are not on this list!

I left the list open for others to add battles that they feel fit the criteria.
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1. Board Game: Battles of the Ancient World Volume II [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:10558]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Metaurus 207 BC

The Battle: Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal had just crossed the Alps and was set to unite with his brother, creating a large army under one of history's greatest commanders. The current Roman commander, Gaius Claudius Nero, fought Hannibal to a draw at Grumentum and then marched to meet Hasdrubal, who in turn tried to retreat across the Metaurus river. Unfortunately his guides had betrayed him, which left him out of position as he looked for a ford. The resulting battle was tough, but in the end the Romans triumphed and Hasdrubal died leading a desperate charge.

The Importance: Metaurus was the turning point of the Second Punic War. With no prospect of reinforcement from Carthage, and his capable and loyal brother dead, Hannibal's chances of sucess dropped.

Why it is Forgotten: Metaurus is a famous battle, but it gets overshadowed by two other engagements of the Second Punic War. The first is Cannae, which could be titled "Every General's Dream" because it was such a complete and crushing victory, and while not decisive it allowed Hannibal to operate for years in Italy and prepare the way for a possible victory. This possible victory was in turn denied at Metaurus. Afterward the two greatest generals of the age, Scipio Africanus and Hannibal, would meet at Zama, which was essentially the Waterloo of the ancient world. Once again Metaurus is famous, but it tends to get lost between Cannae and Zama.

I have always liked Lord Byron's thoughts on Nero:
"The consul Claudius Nero, who made the unequaled march which deceived Hannibal and deceived Hasdrubal, thereby accomplishing an achievement almost unrivaled in military annals. The first intelligence of his return, to Hannibal, was the sight of Hasdrubal's head thrown into his camp. When Hannibal saw this, he exclaimed, with a sigh, that 'Rome would now be the mistress of the world.' To this victory of Claudius Nero's it might be owing that his imperial namesake reigned at all. But the infamy of the one has eclipsed the glory of the other. When the name of Claudius Nero is heard, who thinks of the consul? But such are human things."


Hasdrubal
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2. Board Game: Barbarians [Average Rating:5.03 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Aquae Sextiae 102 BC

The Battle: The Cimbrian War, fought between the Romans and the German tribes called the Cimbri and Teutons, was a long hard slog for Rome, with many defeats. After the disaster at Arausio, Gaius Marius, one of the rising stars in Rome, was ordered to defeat the Germans. Marius instituted many reforms in Roman organization, tactics, and the way in which soldier's were paid. At Aquae Sextiae Marius took up a defensive position and defeated a Teuton attack. Marius's counterattack made the battle a complete victory.

The Importance: The battle did not end the war, but Marius's reforms had remade the Roman army and these reforms were solidified by the victory at Aquae Sextiae, which was also the turning point in the war. At Vercellae the Cimbri were crushed and the war was over.

Why it is Forgotten: Details of Aquae Sextiae are relatively scant and the battle seems like a forgone conclusion. In fact many histories paint Marius's reforms as the real decisive moment of the war; the rest was clean up. There is some truth to this, as Marius's battlefield skill and reforms made his army a superb force that was by this time facing a weakened German incursion. Nonetheless, the completeness of Marius's victory at Aquae Sextiae strengthened his political position and reaffirmed his military reforms. In turn the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire was set in motion.


A Roman Coin Celebrating the Victory
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3. Board Game: Clontarf [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:14164]
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Clontarf 1014

The Battle: Brian Boru was High King of Ireland and had been fighting for years to unite his people and defeat the Vikings through a mix of diplomacy and force of arms. In 1012 a coalition of Irish and Vikings rose aganist Boru but by 1014 Boru had driven to the outskirts Dublin, where the Vikings made a surprise attack using longboats. Much of what happened is shrouded in legend but Boru triumphed due to a charge he led, the stubbornness of his viking allies, and the death or flight of several enemy leaders. The Vikings were driven to the beach and most were killed, but Boru was felled by a lone Viking just after the fighting, although how remains in contention.

The Importance: The Irish won and lost the battle, for the power of the Vikings had been broken, which had repercussions throughout the Viking world. Ireland had long since been a Norsemen's playground, but Clontarf ended that. The fact that so many Vikings from different factions had been there only added to its effect on morale. The Irish though lost Boru and soon fell into the fractured in-fighting that would cripple the nation for centuries and make them easy pickings for the British.

Why it is Forgotten: Probably because no one truly won. Clontarf is like Bannockburn if Robert Bruce had died or Hastings if both contestants for the crown had fallen. The Irish defeated the Vikings, but the best chance to unite the nation was lost. This makes Clontarf seem less decisive, but that would be taking the view that for a civilization the most important battles are the most clearly decisive, a view that is inherently wrong.


The Initial Viking Attack
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4. Board Game: Devil's Horsemen [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:3884]
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Liegnitz 1241

The Battle: There is a lot of dispute about the course of the fighting, the composition of the armies, and the results of the battle. I for one go with the pro-Mongol view so be wary. A coalition of Poles and Germans, which might have included the feared Teutonic Knights, met a roughly equal Mongol army in Silesia. The result was almost a massacre, with the European cavalry chasing a false Mongol retreat, which in turn allowed the Mongols to surround and destroy the infantry and cavalry separately. Finding the knight's armor too strong, the Mongol took to using their arrows on the horses and then riding in to kill the unhorsed rider. The end result must have been a grisly sight.

The Importance: The Mongols soon retreated south. Many Europeans read into this as a sign that they had suffered too many losses at Liegnitz to continue, but this was part of the Mongol plan all along. The Mongol intention was not conquest, but to destroy the European army in Silesia and then return to the main invasion effort in Hungary. The sudden departure of the Mongols from Europe after the conquest of Hungary had to do with the death of Ögedei Khan and the resulting power vacuum. Liegnitz proved that any European army using European tactics would be destroyed and that if not for the Khan's death, then all of Europe probably would have been conquered.

Why it is Forgotten: I think for centuries European historians had a lot of problems with the Middle Ages. They painted them as backwards times and mostly they were right, but they also wished to show how the seeds of later "greatness" were sown. Liegnitz was used to show that Europeans, unlike the Arabs and Chinese who had more advanced civilizations at the time, had stopped the Mongols, but the fact that the entire Christian army was destroyed always cast a long shadow on this appraisal. Now in our age where, after two world wars and the horrors of Hitler, people question European "greatness," Liegnitz is used to show that Europe of the Middle Ages was a weak place. Europe could have been conquered if not for circumstances beyond their control and not because of some noble sacrifice on the plains of Silesia. While not espcially decisive, Liegnitz is interesting for what it tells us about Mongol vs. European tactics and how history is interpreted.


A Medieval Painting of the Meeting Between Mongol and Knight
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5. Board Game: Fontenoy 1745 [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:13819]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Fontenoy 1745

The Battle: Maurice de Saxe had outmaneuvered the Anglo-Dutch army and was laying siege to Tournai, which compelled the Duke of Cumberland to confront Maurice, who prepared himself with a strong position. The resulting battle was hard fought but saw Maurice victorious through a judicious use of reserves in a counterattack. It was the bloodiest battle of the mostly indecisive War of the Austrian Succession.

The Importance: Fontenoy allowed the French to conquer even more territory in Holland, while the defeat, combined with the Jacobite uprising in Scotland, took much of the British army out of the war. For Maurice de Saxe it was his greatest victory and illustrated his approach to warfare.

Why it is Forgotten: While decisive, and certainly famous it its own time and in many circles, Fontenoy and Maurice have been overshadowed by Frederick the Great and the fact that France did not come out with a clear victory in the War of the Austrian Succession. In fact diplomatic blunders and the loss of Louisbourg in Canada did much to overshadow Maurice's triumphs in Flanders. Given that France was later trounced in the Seven Years War, Fontenoy seems like a hollow victory in the long run. Nonetheless, the victory, and more importantly Maurice's thoughts on military matters, would effect the development of the French army during the Revolution and Napoleon.


Scottish Prisoners After the Battle
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6. Board Game: Savannah [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:6191]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Savannah 1779

The Battle: The American Revolution saw more swings in fortune than any other war. For every British or American triumph, there was a major defeat not far off. 1778 saw the British take Savannah in a surprise attack that bolstered their sagging fortunes. In 1779 the Americans and French, in the first real cooperative operation between the two, laid siege to Savannah. When both sides made an assault upon the city it ended in disaster, with a causality raitio of 8 to 1 in Britain's favor.

The Importance: The battle ended America’s best hope to spoil Britain’s southern effort. A victory here would have been a major blow to the British, possibly decisive as British will to fight was wavering at the time. Instead Savannah became a base from which the British launched their invasion of South Carolina, prolonging the war and causing serious damage to the American cause. In addition Franco-American military relations became strained; not until 1781 did the French and Americans launch a successful coalition effort.

Why it is Forgotten: Savannah is the kind of defeat where nothing was gained and in Revolutionary War histories a common theme is how the Americans gained something, whether it be salvation or confidence, from defeats like Long Island and Germantown. You can't say anything like that about Savannah; we gained nothing. It also doesn't help that the disaster at Savannah was one-sided and set up a series of humiliating British triumphs in South Carolina. Many histories basically gloss over the battle because it lacks drama and did America no favors.


Americans assault the British
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7. Board Game: La Bataille de Ligny [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:3977]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Ligny 1815

The Battle: Blucher had occupied Ligny and was awaiting Wellington only to be told that the duke was himself out of position (he had been "humbugged" to quote Wellesley). Napoleon caught the Prussians out of position and hammered them with frontal attacks that while costly were successful in chewing up their formations and making Blucher commit his reserves, which would permit I Corps to make a devastating flank attack, but French command confusion allowed Blucher to escape from Ligny. Napoleon and Grouchy then proceeded to botch the pursuit.

The Importance: Ligny presented Napoleon with a golden opportunity for a decisive victory during the campaign. He won the battle, but botched the pursuit. As the hours wore on Napoleon's best chance to beat Wellington and Blucher before they could unite, slipped away.

Why it is Forgotten: Simply put Napoleon didn't finish the job and of course Waterloo, the most famous battle in history, was fought two days later and decided the entire issue. Ligny is sometimes painted as a prelude to the big show although it almost was the big show. It also leaves one with the impression that the Waterloo Campaign was decided more by French blunders than any mark of genius by Wellington and Blucher, which I suppose suits French nationalism better than British and German nationalism.


Fighting in the Streets of Ligny
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8. Board Game: Lee vs. Grant [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:3815]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Petersburg 1864

The Battle: Grant's Overland Campaign was bloody and while the Union had come close to dealing Lee a decisive blow, it wasn't enough. After the horrible defeat at Cold Harbor, Grant and Meade pulled off a brilliant flank march that put them in a position to take Petersburg, a heavily fortified city and rail-hub south of Richmond. For three days the heavily out-numbered Confederates held out until Lee arrived on the fourth day of fighting. Over the course of that time the Union made many attacks but failed, with command bungling, from Grant all the way down to brigade commanders, being the main cause.

The Importance: The fall of Petersburg would have made the position at Richmond impossible. Such a victory would have secured Lincoln's reelection beyond a doubt, validated the heavy losses of the Overland Campaign, and been a major strategic blow to the South. Instead the long bloody grind of trench warfare began and the South lived on. In fact I'd say the missed chance at Petersburg prolonged the war by at least a few months and was in essence the final Southern strategic victory of the war. The battle did have one good side-effect: Grant decided to stop relying on frontal assaults and instead sought a slow but sure approach aganist the Confederates that was successful.

Why it is Forgotten: Possibly because the attacks lacked the quick carnage of Cold Harbor; this battle was more like a series of small scale Cold Harbors strung out over four days. Another is that given the Union advantages this ranks as a truly embarrassing defeat. Another reason is that for many the battle simply blends into the siege of Petersburg, but to me this fight seems more like the last act of Grant's Overland Campaign and a grim reminder of its overall failure to destroy Lee and/or capture Richmond. Keep in mind that this was an embarrassment to the winning Union command team and Grant later on conveniently blamed William F. Smith for the defeat although at the time he was praising Smith for his actions at Petersburg.


Union Troops Overwhelm the Dimmock Line
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9. Board Game: The 1916 Brusilov Offensive / Gorlice-Tarnow Breakthrough [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Brusilov Offensive 1916

The Battle: Following the disastrous Russian offensive near Vilna, Aleksei Brusilov convinced the Tsar and others to support his attack on Austria-Hungary. Bursilov used surprise, infiltration, and quick hitting small units to achieve breakthroughs, essentially creating the basis of modern infantry tactics, which is a miracle considering Russian incompetence during the war. The Austrian army was nearly destroyed and the Germans were forced to send troops east to save their ally. The Russians took hard losses but made real gains.

The Importance: The battle stands as one of the bloodiest in history, and one of the few Russian victories of World War I, since it broke the back of the Austrian army and further stretched the resources of Germany. There was some negative fallout though, as the victory convinced Romania to enter the war, which led to disaster, while the heavy losses had a negative long term impact on Russia's situation. In terms of doctrine and tactics Brusilov's innovation was a stroke of genius that would come to define future infantry tactics, beginning with the Germans, although the other armies would continue to use the human wave assaults that led to heavy losses with little gain.

Why it is Forgotten: The Germans took a lot of credit for improving Bursilov's tactics. Given the lionizing of the German military and latter day Cold War it is easy to see why many without a background on the eastern front of World War I, a too often ignored theater of the war, have forgotten or marginalized this struggle.


Brusilov
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10. Board Game: Warszawa 1920 [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Warsaw 1920

The Battle: Recently independent Poland was involved in the Russian Civil War, but by 1920 the Russians were poised to conquer Poland. Józef Piłsudski planned a risky counterattack, that many were unsure about. The Soviets, who got a copy of the plan, were in disbelief and thought it was a ruse. Nonetheless, the attack went forward, with the Poles using trucks to move infantry with speed upon the battlefield. The result was a crushing Russian defeat.

The Importance: The invasion was called off and Polish independence was secured. Piłsudski's plan of maneuver predates the mobile warfare of World War II.

Why it is Forgotten: Polish and Russian history are not well known in many western circles and given the lionization of the German military, it isn't surprising that the Polish contribution to mobile warfare has been too long forgotten. Also while Polish independence was secured, a more common motif in history is the dismemberment of Poland. The victory at Warsaw secured Polish sovereignty, but 19 years later Germany and Russia would invade and conquer, with the Germans using mobile tactics to achieve a breathtakingly quick victory.


Captured Soviet Flags
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11. Board Game: Iron Bottom Sound 2 [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Cape Esperance 1942

The Battle: Late 1942 saw a string of carrier and surface naval battles for Guadalcanal, where Japanese and American troops fought for control of the jungle island. In October 1942 a small Japanese fleet of cruisers and destroyers was sent to cover a convoy to Guadalcanal and shell the airfield called Henderson Field. Instead they ran into a larger American fleet and proceeded to fight a confused night action. Both sides made mistakes, but the Japanese had the misfortune of being taken by surprise and losing Vice-Admiral Goto, the fleet commander, early in the action. When all was said and done the Americans succeeded although the convoy did make it through.

The Importance: A veteran of the battle claimed "Cape Esperance was a three-sided battle in which chance was the major winner." The battle was widely publicized and created a false impression that out-dated American surface tactics could defeat the Japanese, which would in turn lead to heavy losses in later battles. But the battle did show the way for American victory in surface actions: radar controlled gunfire. Also the battle was the first time the Japanese had fought a surface action and failed to win a lopsided victory. It was a harbinger of things to come.

Why it is Forgotten: 1942 saw such famous battles as Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. Java Sea and Savo Island, while not as famous, were certainly important in their consequences. Cape Esperance was a small and fast battle without decisive strategic results, although its impact on doctrine has been long neglected in many histories.


Cruiser Aoba After the Battle:
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12. Board Game: Ici, c'est la France! The Algerian War of Independence 1954 - 1962 [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:4404]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Agounennda 1957

The Battle: After Vietnam the French found themselves in a colonial war in Algeria. Lieutenant Colonel Marcel Bigeard was ordered to use his parachute regiment to destroy a local unit of the Algerian National Liberation Front that had been successful at Agounennda. After much maneuver, Bigeard managed to inflict heavy losses, but failed to destroy the Algerian force, which escaped.

The Importance: The use of helicopters by the French would inspire American tactics in Vietnam, and the victory showed that the French could win tactical fights. However, that a renowned commander like Bigeard, leading elite troops, could not win a great victory was disheartening to many. The Algerians decided to avoid such battles, with lethal consequences in the future.

Why it is Forgotten: The battle was not decisive in a strategic sense beyond the Algerians avoiding such battles, but like Cape Esperance it had a major impact on tactical doctrine. It was to France's detriment that they didn't learn from this battle, and that America would fail to heed these lessons in future conflicts. Once again the small nature of the battle, and a general disregard for the French military, perpetuated ignorance about this battle and its consequences.


Marcel Bigeard
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13. Board Game: The Inmost Sea: The Battle of Lepanto 1571 [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Mark Mahaffey
United States
Columbia
South Carolina
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Lepanto (1571)

The Battle: The Pope assembled a Holy League and sent a fleet fleet to contest the Sultan in the Mediterranean. Ali Pasha's fleet was defeated and destroyed, in the rout that galley battles were wont to become. From a historical perspective, the battle is a fascinating intersection of tactical, technological, and human factors.

The Importance: The Catholic victory put an end to the intense climate of fear in Christendom surrounding their Eastern neighbors, and squelched the myth of Ottoman invincibility. The strategic importance is less obvious as the Ottomans quickly rebuilt their fleet, but only at a massive cost, and after the loss of nearly their entire pool of skilled naval personnel.

Why it is Forgotten: As John Guilmartin ably argues, it was forgotten due to a Mahanian misunderstanding of the battle's importance... as well as being overshadowed by the Ottomans' land campaigns in eastern Europe and even by the Armada.

Venetian galley:
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14. Board Game: Battle Cry of Freedom [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:8846]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
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24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
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Battle of Black Jack (1856)

The Battle: On May 21st 1856 750 pro slavery men led by Henry Pate sacked Lawrence Kansas which was a strong abolitionist town. In retaliation an abolitionist named John Brown killed (executed might be a better word) five pro-slavery men with broadswords at Pottawatomie Creek. Pate then captured 3 of Brown's men including two of his sons. On June 2nd Brown along with 30 other men he organized attacked Henry Pate's camped with a group of his men near a small town called Black Jack. The battle lasted 5 hours until Pate surrendered. Pate and his men were later exchanged for Brown's sons and the other man.

The Importance:For the first time two organized armed forces in America met on the field of battle over the issue of slavery. It would have a ripple effect across the nation that would ultimately result in the firing on Fort Sumter. For many the Battle of Black Jack was the first battle of the American Civil War. Also it was at this moment that John Brown crossed the line from avid abolitionist to vigilante culminating in his raid on Harpers Ferry. In effect the country went to war in Kansas. It just took a few years for the rest of the country to catch up.

Why it is Forgotten: In the grand scheme of things the battle was quite small compared to the carnage that was to come and not nearly as dramatic as the Harpers Ferry raid Brown attempted several years later which also benefited from being in the east rather than on the Kansas frontier.
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15. Board Game: Scramble for Africa [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Jasper
Netherlands
Leiden
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The Battle of Adwa:
Over 100.000 Ethiopians (80.000 with guns) under Emperor Menelik II managed to defeat 17.700 well armed Italians commanded by Baratieri. Greatly outnumbered and hindered by bad maps the Italians where soundly defeated and had to abandon all hopes of colonization. This assured that the ancient empire of Ethiopia remained the only uncolonized country of Africa.

Why it is important
The battle has significant psychological importance for Africa. It showed that the Europeans where not invincible and was a sign of hope and inspiration for other Africans in the struggle for independence.

Why it is forgotten:
Because Europeans were defeated. Because there was no America or England (so no Hollywoood movies). Because right before WO2 the Italians tried again and succeeded; thankfully this only led to a couple of years occupation and not permanent colonization.


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16. Board Game: Rocroi 1643 [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:11085]
Barton Campbell
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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Battle of Rocroi May 19th, 1643

The Battle: Some 23,000 French soldiers organized with the lighter musket and deployed in linear formations defeated a Spanish force of 27,000 Spanish, German, Walloon and Italians equipped with pike, sword and arquebusiers' and organized in the traditional "tercios" or squares that had prevailed before.

Importance: Before this battle the standard military garb, munitions and tactics of the day were of the Spanish model. For example, English settlers at Jamestown wore the Spanish light armor and siege helmet made popular by the conquistadors. Though the English continued to use tercios or so-called "musket and pike" formations and arquebusiers during the English Civil War, the French had already proven the superiority of the wheellock musket and linear tactics at Rocroi (the word "musket" in the phrase, "musket & pike", refers to the matchlock musket which is technically an arquebusier or arquebus). It was also the first defeat of the Spanish in a major battle in over 100 years signaling the end of Hapsburg and Spanish supremacy and the rise of France with her new arms and battle formations that would dominate warfare well into the 19th century.

Why It Is Forgotten: I could give you a bunch of reasons but really historians have nothing better to do than research forgotten history. When everything becomes more or less common knowledge, we go out and find some more "new" old stuff. It pays the bills.

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17. Board Game: The Ottomans: Rise of the Turkish Empire [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:12771]
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Vienna, September, 1683

The Battle: The Ottoman Turks had laid siege to Vienna in their effort to break the Habsburgs rule in Eastern Europe. The strategic importance of the Austrian capital would secure their gains, and allow their influence to penetrate Northern and Western Europe by controlling the Danube and the major trading routes from the East. The overthrow of the Habsburgs would also allow for the return to power in the region of the Magyars in Hungary.

A coalition of Northern European nations formed an army to lift the siege. Led by King John Sobieski of Poland, this "Holy League" was also motivated to rid Europe of Islamic influence. Because of the timing of the siege, and the movement of the relief army, the battle was not prepared until late in the campaign year.

The Polish-led army arrived just before Turkish sappers could finalize their attempts to breach the city's walls. The relief army's arrival rushed Grand Vizier Pasha into an ill-advised frontal assault on the city. That attempt failed, and the subsequent flanking maneuver from the Holy League forces routed the Turkish forces, raiding the invaders' baggage train and capturing ALL of their heavy cannon. The Ottomans were forced to lift the siege, and Vienna was liberated. Pasha would be deposed and executed for his failures.

The Importance: This was the high-water mark for the Ottoman Empire in Europe. They would be forced out of Eastern Europe over the next several years, and would finally sue for peace at Karlowitz. Failure by the Holy League would have resulted in a vastly different Europe today.

Why it is Forgotten: Sieges aren't sexy, and neither are their relief efforts. I feel that the role of the Ottoman Turks in Europe is underplayed by many Western historians. Also, the rag-tag coalition of "lesser" European kingdoms draws away from the glorified histories of the likes of France, England, and Spain, who were busy pillaging the New World at the time.
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18. Board Game: Suleiman the Magnificent [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:8946]
Hungary
Budapest
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Mohács, 29th August, 1526

The Battle: 5 years after the fall of the last castles defending Hungary's southern borders, the Ottoman Empire launched a campaign against the country. The Hungarian treasury was on the verge on collapse and internal political struggles also hindered the organization of the defense. It is debated why was Mohács selected as the battlefield, since in late August at least 15-20 000 Hungarian and allied soldiers were only on their way from Bohemia, Slavonia and Transylvania. Nevertheless, the main armies meet on 29th August. The Hungarian cavalry of the right wing, possibly hoping that they could defeat the Rumelian armies first, launched an assault against the Turks, but their advance was halted because of the arriving fresh janissaries. The thin Hungarian front line was encircled by the Ottomans and about 14 000 soldiers were massacred in two hours, including several bishops and important nobles of Hungary. King Lajos II drowned later that day, when he was thrown from his horse to the creek Csele while fleeing to Buda.

The Importance: Mohács is considered as the end of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Though the Ottomans did not occupy the country in 1526, the following struggles between János Szapolyai and the Habsburgs (Ferdinand I)tore Hungary into two separate parts and the fall of Buda in 1541 marked the beginning of a 150 years period of wars between Royal (Habsburg) Hungary, Transylvania and the Ottoman Empire. Because of the political and demographic consequences of this period, the battle is perceived as one of the two biggest catastrophies in the history of Hungary, the other being the Treaty of Trianon. After the fall of Hungary, the Habsburg Empire became a direct neighbour of the Ottoman Empire.

Why is it forgotten?: I can only repeat earlier comments in this list: the European conquests of the Ottoman Empire and Central and Eastern European history in general are overlooked by most Western European historians.

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19. Board Game: Battles for Prydain: Heroic Combat in Dark Age Britain 450-650 AD [Average Rating:9.00 Unranked]
Eleazar Lawson
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Although they were slain, they slew; And until the end of the world will they be honoured.
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I'll add this one...my own design, because after a lot of searching, I couldn't find a single game on this topic, other than in very grand strategic or even generational terms. Includes my depiction of Badon, as well as Deorham (577) and Degsastan (603), all of which could be considered decisive battles in the early history of Britain.

Badon (516?) Britons under Ambrosius and Arthur ambush Jutes invading out of Kent, and stabilize the border in southern Britain for a generation.

Deorham (577) Ceawlin, King of Wessex, marches through the British kingdoms of Gloucster, Cirencester, and Bath. The affronted Kings array their combined armies in front of Hinton hill camp, athwart Ceawlin's line of march. In the ensuing battle, the British armies are smashed, the British kings are killed, and Wessex conquers the land all the way to the Severn estuary, defining the border of modern day Wales.

Degsastan (603) After the murder of Urien and the fall of Rheged, The English kingdom of Bernicia and the Scots of Aedan Mac Gabran clash in the resulting vacuum. Aedan gathers an army of over two thousand men (huge for the time), including Scots, Irish war bands, and various British stragglers, and invades Bernicia. The army of Bernicia splits into columns to locate Aedan's army. In possibly the most epic confrontation of the Dark Ages, Theobald's wing encounters Aedan at Degsa's Stone and, despite being severely outnumbered, fights a delaying action. Hering, son of Hussa, the leader of battles for Bernicia, marches with the main army to the sound of the battle, and arrives in time to destroy Aedan's army, but too late to save Theobald and all of his men, who fall in service to their king.
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