The 8 Greatest Comebacks in Military History

H/T War History OnLine.

A military comeback is an opportunity rarely given to commanders. The chance to switch the tide of battle to one’s favor is incredibly rare, and equally difficult to do, often requiring the alignment of random factors like weather, or significant external help.

This list features 8 important comebacks that had major implications on their respective wars or political climates.

Battle of Stirling Bridge

Battle of Stirling Bridge
A Victorian depiction of the battle. The bridge collapse suggests that the artist has been influenced by Blind Harry’s account. (Photo Credit: C Hanley, History Of Scotland / Wikipedia / Public Domain)

On 11 September 1297 Scottish forces defeated the English near the River Forth, during the First War of Scottish Independence. Scottish King John Balliol had recently surrendered to the English and was undermined by King Edward I of England. Scottish nobles overthrew Balliol and allied with France, resulting in King Edward invading Scotland.

In 1297 William Wallace and Andrew de Moray led a revolt against the English, who battled each other over a bridge near Stirling. The outnumbered Scots managed to defeat the British forces, the first major Scottish victory in decades.

Battle of Saratoga

Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga. General Arnold was wounded in the attack on the Hessian Redourt. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

The Battle of Saratoga is considered to be a pivotal moment in the American Revolutionary War against the British. The British planned to cut off New England from the mid-Atlantic colonies by sending large amounts of surplus troops into Albany. While the three British armies were en route to Albany, one of them, led by Sir William Howe, abandoned the plan and instead attempted to invade Pennsylvania.

The army led by General John Burgoyne battled Continental forces at Freeman’s Farm and Saratoga, suffering heavy losses while waiting for reinforcements from an army that would never arrive. The defeat of British forces led to France officially becoming America’s ally.

The Defeat of the Spanish Armada

Spanish Armada Defeat
Contemporary Flemish interpretation of the launching of English fire-ships against the Spanish Armada, 7 August 1588 (Photo Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich Collections / Public Domain)

In 1588 Spain sent their formidable Armada to Great Britain with the hopes of invading the country and overthrowing Queen Elizabeth I to remove Spain’s then-rival. However, Britain’s faster ships were able to successfully battle Spain’s Armada along their southern coast.

The Armada was devastated by Britain, with Spain losing 15,000 troops. The victory solidified Britain as a global force to be reckoned with.

Prussia during the Seven Years War

Seven Years War
The Battle of Fehrbellin was a battle at Fehrbellin of the Seven Years’ War between Swedish and Prussian forces fought on 28 September 1758, historical illustration. (Photo by: Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In 1756 Prussian King Frederick the Great invaded Saxony, kicking off the Seven Years War, which saw Prussia and Great Britain face off against Austria and France. The Anglo-Prussian alliance was outnumbered by the combined forces of Russia, France Sweden, and Austria.

Just as it looked like Prussia would be defeated, Russia switched sides when Tsar Peter III ascended to the throne in 1762, sending reinforcements to Frederick. The war ended shortly after Russia’s change of allegiance.

Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg
July 1863: US Civil War 1861-65. A wide view of a portion of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1-3 July 1863. An 1884 color illustration. (Photo by Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images)

The Battle of Gettysburg was part of the Confederate’s invasion of the North which was hoped would earn the South recognition from foreign nations. The battle was fought between June 1 and June 3 1863 and came just weeks after the Confederate success at Chancellorsville in Virginia. The Confederate forces, led by Robert E. Lee, clashed with Union troops at the town of Gettysburg, with the battle initially leaning in the South’s favor.

But after a few days of savage battles that claimed thousands of lives, Union forces held their ground and emerged victoriously. Overall, the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in over 35,000 casualties.

Battle of Thermopylae

Battle of Thermopylae
The Battle of Thermopolye. Leonidas attacks. BPA 2 #2274 (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

The Battle of Thermopylae is one of the most famous battles in history, fought in 480 BC between King Leonidas I of Sparta and the Achaemenid Empire of Xerxes I. Leonidas was massively outnumbered by Persian forces, so he utilized a bottleneck that the Persians were forced to pass through. Days into the fight, a local resident betrayed the Greeks when they revealed a path that could be used by the Persians to outflank the Greeks.

Realizing they were about to be attacked from the rear, Leonidas instructed his forces to retreat, while leaving a small group of Spartan warriors who fought to the death.

Battle of Midway

Battle of Midway
Mikuma cruiser during the midway battle, japan, second world war, 1942. (Photo by: Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Battle of Midway took place between June 4 and June 7, 1942, and just like the Battle of Saratoga, it was a turning point for the belligerents involved. The Japanese aimed to lure US aircraft carriers into a trap and knock these powerful assets out of the war while capturing Midway, which would allow Japan to extend its reach across the Pacific.

If successful, the trap would be another in a series of Japanese victories in the early stages of the Pacific War.

However, US cryptographers had cracked Japanese communications weeks before, so the US knew where and when the Japanese would strike. The ensuing clash claimed four Japanese aircraft carriers, 3,000 men, and 300 aircraft. In return, the US lost 360 men and 145 aircraft. It has gone down as one of the greatest naval battles ever.

Battle of Waterloo

Battle at Waterloo
Center of the British army in action at Waterloo 18 June 1815, the last battle of the Napoleonic Wars. After W Heath. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

This battle took place on 18 June 1815 and brought about the end of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1814 Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne after butting heads with powerful European countries. However, Napoleon briefly returned to power in 1815 and began the Hundred Days campaign. A large coalition of European nations formed to stop Napoleon, although he still emerged victorious over them a number of times.

This would change at the Battle of Waterloo, which saw Britain and their allies finally stop Napoleon. They were aided by poor weather which slowed Napoleon’s movements. Napoleon abdicated four days later.

The Biggest Traitors In Military History

H/T War History OnLine.

I say if you are convicted of treason then you should be executed immediately.

Military traitors are some of the most despised historical figures, but they are also some of the most fascinating. It is mind-boggling to consider how one could betray their own country and comrades and directly bring death to what was once their own allies.

Over the course of history, traitors have come in many forms. Some do it for the money, others seek revenge, while there are those that do it just to satisfy their own narcissism. After changing sides they usually aren’t accepted because if they can do it to their own people, they can do it to anyone.

In this list, we have collected some of the most infamous military traitors of all time.

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold
Thi engraving depicts American army officer Benedict Arnold (1741 – 1801), seated at a table, as he hands papers to British officer John Andre (1750 – 1780) during the American Revolutionary War, mid to late 18th century. Arnold eventually formally switched sides and joining the British. (Photo by Stock Montage)

Benedict Arnold is one of the most well-known names on this list. Arnold was a brave and brilliant officer in the American Continental Army while fighting in the Revolutionary War. After proving his worth on a number of occasions and receiving brutal injuries, Arnold felt other officers in the Army were taking some of the credit for his achievements and being favored over him for promotions.

Even though he was highly trusted by George Washington, Arnold became disillusioned with the side he was fighting for. In 1780 he defected to the British after offering to hand over West Point in return for a position as a general in the British Army. The British never captured West Point, but Arnold did betray America, fighting against the troops he once led, now as a brigadier general in the British Army. In the US today, his name is synonymous with the word traitor.

Alred Redl

Alfred Redl Picture
1st October 1890: The spy, Colonel Alfred Redl. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Alfred Redl was the head of the counter-intelligence branch in the Austro-Hungarian Army and pioneered counter-espionage techniques. Between 1903 and 1913 Redl secretly worked as a spy for the intelligence service of the Imperial Russian Army, using his position in his own intelligence services to hand over extremely valuable documents.

Of the course of his spying career, Redl gave the Russians the entire Austrian invasion plan for Serbia, Austrian military plans, doctrines, tactics, and strength. He also used his position to provide the names of agents working as spies against Russia. Even worse, he sent spies into Russia, only to then inform Russian authorities.

Redl is believed to be responsible for the deaths of half a million Austrians and part of the reason for Austria-Hungary’s poor military performance during WWI. In 1913, he was outed as a spy using techniques he had developed. After this discovery, Redl committed suicide.

Harold ‘Paul’ Cole

Harold "Paul" Cole
Harold Cole arrested by the police and photo taken on 13 February 1939 (Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Public Domain)

A petty criminal, thief, and fraud, Harold Cole was one of Britain’s most notorious WWII traitors. He worked alongside the French Resistance in the early years of the war, helping soldiers and downed pilots return to England via escape lines from France. He was a prominent member of the organization, but would eventually betray them to the Gestapo in late 1941.

He handed over the names of about 150 people working on the escape lines or for the French Resistance. Around 50 of them were either executed or died in Nazi concentration camps. Over the course of the war, he was wanted by the British, Germans, and the French. He was killed in a gunfight with French police in 1946.

Robert Hanssen

Robert Hanssen
385795 01: FILE PHOTO: FBI Agent Robert Philip Hanssen is shown in this undated file photo, released by the FBI February 20, 2001. Hanssen was arrested two days ago and accused of spying for Russia, allegedly giving the KGB the names of three Russian intelligence agents working for the United States, the FBI said in a press conference today. (Photo courtesy of FBI/Newsmakers)

Described as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history,” Robert Hanssen is the most recent traitor on this list. He worked as an FBI agent from 1976 to 2001, but spent almost all of that time selling top-secret information to the Soviets and then the Russians. He leaked information about US spying equipment, like radar and spy satellites, and also revealed the names of US agents spying on the Soviets.

He famously informed the Soviets about a highly secret and expensive eavesdropping tunnel built under the Soviet Embassy by the FBI. On one occasion, he was tasked with identifying a mole within the FBI. The mole was actually himself, which made it easy for him to cover his tracks.

Hanssen remained anonymous throughout his spying activities. After a long investigation by the FBI, they discovered Hanssen was a spy and arrested him during a dead drop on February 18, 2001. Hanssen, who is now 77, is serving 15 consecutive life sentences at the ADX Florence supermax prison in Colorado.

Wang Jingwei

Wang Jingwei
Wang Jingwei led the puppet government of China during its occupation by the Japanese. Ca. 1940s. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

A Chinese politician, Wang Jingwei’s contributions to China are murky. He was a left-leaning politician in pre-communist China that often clashed with rival Chiang Kai-shek. Near the beginning of WWII, Jingwei made a deal with Japan to hand over Nanking in return for him being given a puppet government to run in collaboration with the Japanese empire.

Jingwei agreed to the deal.

He died just before the end of WWII. Once Japan had been defeated, Chiang Kai-shek’s government moved back to Nanking, where they proceeded to destroy Jingwei’s tomb and burn his body.