12 Of The Weirdest War Tactics Ever Used.

Though most people would agree that war isn't the best way to solve our problems, it has had a significant presence in recorded human history. Like most other opponent-based combat game, it requires strategy. Leaders would obsess over their strategies, refining and adapting as the battle progressed. But sometimes, they came up with crazy ideas. Ideas so crazy, they just might work.

This article is a collection of the best answers from a Reddit thread in which user __Sanctuary__ asked, "What was the most interesting war tactic ever performed in history?" A big thank you goes out to everyone who contributed.

1. Cyrus the Great realized that Lydian horses were afraid of camels, so he routed their forces with camel-mounted warriors.

2. Harold hardrada pretended to die when injured during a siege. Then, he had his men ask for permission to bury their leader inside the wall of the enemy city. The city capitulated, so long as the men didn't bring weapons inside.

Harold climbed into a coffin in full armor, was carried through the gates, and when the time was right, burst out of his own coffin, fight his way back to the gates, open them and take the city.

3. The UK air dropped matchbooks into enemy lines which contained instructions on how a soldier could fake illnesses to get sent home. Once the Nazi leaders caught wind of this, they stopped sending their troops home who claimed to have said illnesses. Not only did this get healthy enemy troops sent home, it eventually ended with genuinely ill troops being sent back into combat, to spread real disease among their ranks.

4. The capture of the Dutch fleet at Den Helder might be one of the most ridiculous and effective attacks of all time. A large number of Dutch warships were docked at Den Helder during a particularly cold winter. Suddenly, the dock froze over. The ships were trapped. A French cavalry regiment saw this and decided that they would charge the ships. They wrapped cloth around the hooves of the horses to soften their blow against the ice and charged the Dutch as they slept. They took every ship with no casualties.

This is the only instance in history of a cavalry charge against a naval fleet.

5. Flooding your own land, so that enemy's can't push forward. The Netherlands has done it for hundreds of years, until WW 2.

6. Scipio Africanus used a great tactic against the Carthaginians at the Battle of Ilipa. Both the Romans and the Carthaginians had armies composed of their well-trained, homegrown soldiers and not-so reliable Iberian allies, roughly half/half for each. For a few days the two armies were camped close to each other and would come out during the day, form up, and dare the other to attack.

Scipio always put his legionnaires in the center and positioned his Iberians on the wings. The Carthaginians were like 'that makes sense' and did the same with their army. So they stared at each other like that for a couple of days.

On the day of the battle, Scipio had his men eat well before dawn, get ready and form up outside the camp, but this time he reversed his formation and put the weaker Iberians in the centre and the legionnaires on the wings. Then he signaled for attack. The surprised Carthaginians ran out of their camps and automatically formed up the way they had the last few days, assuming that Scipio was up to his usual shenanigans.

By the time anyone saw the change in tactics, it was way too late. The legionnaires tore through the weaker Carthaginian wings and turned on the enemy center before the Roman center had even closed with its counterpart. The Carthaginians were all routing and surrounded before their generals could do anything to save the day.

Scipio Africanus went on to be the only general to defeat Hannibal in a land battle.

7. The Romans lit pigs on fire to scare Hannibal's elephants.
On the other hand, Hannibal had the guts to march across the alps with elephants.

Ballsy all around.

8. At the battle of Cannae, Hannibal took on an army nearly twice the size of his (50k v. 85k), and using a genius battle formation, actually encircled the Romans, and for hours afterwards several hundred Roman soldiers were cut down every minute.

The defeated army was literally driven insane by what was happening, being systematically killed by these madmen who crossed the Alps in winter, that some of them dug holes in the ground and suffocated themselves rather than wait for hours, as the Carthaginians slaughtered their way inward, and their comrades died around them until the same inevitably happened to themselves.

9.This is a tactic the Gurkhas used in Afghanistan (in the recent conflict there). If they were to attack a Taliban outpost, they'd sneak ahead and kill the outer perimeter guards. Then they'd cut off the guards' heads, and reattach them with sticks.

When the guard change happened, the new guards would tap their friends on the shoulder and crap themselves as their friends' heads would fall off. Generally they didn't put up a fight after that - meaning the Gurkhas avoided having to do an assault that could cost lives.

10. My Uncle was on active service in New Guinea in WWII. He told me when they were on night patrol they would sometimes feel a hand come from behind and feel for the badges the Aussie soldiers had on the collar of their uniform. If the badge was found, the hand would disappear. No badge would mean a cut throat. He said it happened to him a couple of times, he had the badges, yet he never heard or saw the Gurkhas who were doing it.


War is nothing more than organized insanity. That's why crazy and unexpected tactics work most of the time. When they don't, we won't live to tell about it.

R.G. Risch, Beyond Mars: Crimson Fleet

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