View Full Version : Fascinating Wars?

April 9th, 2002, 11:05 AM
War has been a very unfortunate recurring theme in our world. However, it still manages to capture our fascination. Which historical wars fascinate you the most?
Or what Battles?

The ones which fascinate me the most, are the American Civil War
Specifically, the battles of Ghettysburgh, Anteitam, and Bull Run. I think that the Civil War captures my interest because of the nature of brother against brother warfare. So many families were torn apart because of this war.

The American Revolution because of the nobility of the cause. IMO. I'm specifically fascinated by the Burning of Danbury because that was my hometown :) I'm also fascinated by all of the "Spy" stories, and the story of Swamp Fox.

The Scottish Wars of Independence. This has become a recent fascination of mine. During my family research, I found out that my Great Grandmother's Family Crest (Torrence), said on the shield..."I saved the King"..and that this came about because the Torrence Ancestors apparently helped Robert the Bruce to flee to safety in one of the battles.

April 9th, 2002, 06:37 PM
The Easter Uprising, D-Day, Sherman's March To The Sea, the battles between the British and the different NA Nations during colonisation, the Brits VS the Zulu Nation, the Alamo, the US and Mexico VS the Apache people, both "Incidents" at Wounded Knee, Little Big Horn, Boudecia(sp?) VS the Romans, the Cattle Raid of Cooley, the Trogan War, Battle of Jericho, the Battle over the Boston Harbor, War of 1812, the Crusades....

April 9th, 2002, 07:28 PM
The Second Punic Wars fascinate me immenesly. In that war, Carthage fought the Romans. This war fascinates me, since I consider Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, to be such a clever commander.

I know that war is so brutal and awful; nevertheless, I loved to read about this war. For some reason, I always hope for Hannibal to win, since I consider his strategies, particularly at the battles of Lake Trasimene, Trebia, and Cannae, to be so cunning. However, no matter how many times, I read about the war, Hannibal always loses. :( It's kind of like watching Top Gun. No matter how many times that I have seen it, I always think that Goose will live, but he never does.

April 9th, 2002, 08:23 PM
Mnemosyne, you beat me to it!
i love studying the art of war. it's too bad that people (especially young people) have to suffer and die.
but the Second Punic War s what i was going to say too. i did a lengthy term paper on Hannibal Barca in school (shortly after the event!). brilliant thinker, until his unfortunate defeat at Zama.
i collect coins of that period, and the coinage of Zeugitana (Carthage) is one of my favorites.
the American Civil War is a interesting subject too, since it's a unique conflict. technology was outdating tactics at a much greater rate than ever before. this probably culminated in the bloody and hopeless battles of WW1. legion thinking in an unlimited war, a recipe for disaster.

a bit off topic, but has anyone seen the early Stanley Kubrick movie 'Paths of Glory'? Kirk douglas and Adolphe Monjou in WW1 France.

April 10th, 2002, 12:44 AM
No, Greenman, I haven't seen the "Paths of Glory." Is it a good film? I am super impressed with the fact that you collect coins from that period. I have a friend who has done a lot of research on coins in ancient Rome. I too wrote a lengthy paper on Hannibal back in the day. He's such a fascinating historical figure. I remember that Livy wrote that Hannibal's father, Hamilcar, had Hannibal swear an oath at a young age stating that he would attempt to conquer Rome.

In Greenman's post, Greenman wrote how he likes to study the art of war. "The art of war" words made me automatically think of Machiavelli's work "The Art of War." Has anyone read that work by chance?

April 10th, 2002, 01:05 AM
i have the 'Art of War' by TsunTzu, if that's the one you're thinking of.

legend has it that when Hannibal's father made him swear to defeat Rome, he also gave him a poison ring. this he kept until he 64th year, when he had been chased to the East by a false rumor in Rome that he was mounting against them again. they were STILL afraid of him in his old age! he took the poison after being betrayed by the King of... (i think, it's been along time) Bithynia (i have coins from there too!).

jeeez... elephants over the Alps!

April 10th, 2002, 07:14 PM
I haven't seen "Paths Of Glory" either. I'll have to look for it.

I've always loved "The Best Years Of Our Lives". It starred Fredric March, Dana Andrews, and Harold Russell and told the story of what happened to the vets after they came home. I think it was so honest it was called un-American by some critics...

April 10th, 2002, 07:24 PM
What war was the film, "The Best Years of Our Lives" based on? For some reason, I immediately thought of the Vietnam War when I heard that the film is so honest that it could be considered "unAmerican." Also, the vets weren't treated too well when they came home after that war.

No, Greenman, I haven't heard of Tsun Tzu's Art of War. I've only read Machiavelli's Art of War. I'm a fan of the Florentine writer, Machiavelli, because he is so brutally honest at times. (of course, he is just kissing up to the Medici at other times.) Thanks for reminding me the story about Hannibal and the poison ring. I haven't heard that story in years.

Yeah, elephants over the Alps, what a wild idea! Actually, I feel kind of bad for the elephants. So many of them died (and Hannibal's men also) and the area is not well-suited for big elephants.

April 13th, 2002, 02:35 AM
The Goddess!


April 13th, 2002, 11:57 AM
Pretty cool link, Greenman. How did I know that the link would probably be about coins in the ancient world? :) I could never get into studying coins in antiquity for some reason. Perhaps I have to blame that scholar Michael Crawford for that. Michael Crawford wrote the book The Roman Republic. In the book, he makes many references to coins. However, the book is so dreadfully boring that I now do not associate coins with excitement. After reading your posts about coins, I got out that book. Guess what's on the cover? That's right; a third century b.c. plate with war elephants on it. The plate made me think: did the Romans use war elephants as well then?

April 13th, 2002, 07:49 PM
In my studies of the Art of War, I certainly enjoy studying wars that demonstrated tactical skill on the highest level...

Like the Second Punic War...Hannibal Barca was indeed one of the brightest generals ever. Cannae is a classic, textbook battle.

I happen to like the Napoleonic Wars, the Second World War, The Second Gulf War...

The First World War was just slaughter and stupid generals. The American Civil War presaged most of those horrors, as did the Russo-Japanese War. But the European generals didn't bother to study these conflicts, and ended up making the same mistakes.

Also I study wars of great importance in the development of the world...like the American Revolution, the Persian Wars, the Roman Civil Wars, the Gallic War, and the battle of Chalons.

Lets see, as far as texts, I would love to read Machiavelli's The Art of War . I have read Sun Tzu's book, and Clausewitz, as well as Napoleon's Maxims.

Hmm...as far as coins go... I find ancient coins and monetary systems quite fascinating.

One of the more interesting set ups was in Alexandria. As in most of Egypt, coins were not used, as grain was the coin of the realm, so to speak. Since lugging large volumes of grain around was difficult, the Ptolemys developed banks with a giro system similar to what is used in Europe today (Europeans didn't use checks like the Americans and British until recently) to transfer balances between accounts at the bank.

April 13th, 2002, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by Mnemosyne
What war was the film, "The Best Years of Our Lives" based on? For some reason, I immediately thought of the Vietnam War when I heard that the film is so honest that it could be considered "unAmerican." Also, the vets weren't treated too well when they came home after that war.

I'm sorry. I thought I mentioned it was about WWII. Excellent film, shows the flipside of what the heroes had to deal with after the war.

My great uncle had a friend who married a Japanese woman during WWII. She was spit on and insulted everywhere she went. I believe she ended up divorcing him and going home.

My dad served during Vietnam but was one of the lucky few who were stationed elsewhere so when I think of the horrors of war I tend to think of WWII. My grandfather served under Patton and not only saw action but also worked at the concentration camps.

I've never really paid that much attention to Vietnam. I know my mother lost several friends but she doesn't really talk about it.

April 13th, 2002, 08:50 PM
I got to hear a lot of cool Patton stories from my Granddad who fought under Patton in North Africa.

Yeah, he mentioned several of the horrors of war from him, and he was permanently stuck with shaking hands from the shell shock.

My uncle went to Vietnam, in the Army Corps of Engineers, and what he saw was so horrific he refuses to talk about Vietnam at all; and almost strangled my mother in his sleep while having a flashback nightmare.

April 13th, 2002, 09:01 PM
Have you ever seen "A Bill Of Divorcement"? It's a really old movie with John Barrymore* and Katherine Hepburn. He's plays a WWI vet with shellshock. It's hard to find but worth it.

My grandfather would try to climb the walls and sleepwalk when he had horrible nightmares. He would never, ever talk about the war until one day my dad was visiting and turned the tv to Hogan's Heroes. My mom and granndma held their breath but he really liked the show. After that he began to talk a little but he never says much. I don't know if he still has nightmares but I know he finally stopped sleepwalking.

*Drew's grandfather

April 13th, 2002, 10:57 PM
Has anyone out there read a book called "Shrapnel in the Heart"?

We read excerpts of it in Highschool, for my American History and Literature class. It is a collection of stories about soldiers from the Vietnam wall, and the memories attatched to some of the paraphanalia left at the Vietnam War Memorial. The Book is highly moving, it had my entire class in tears. I highly suggest it.

Here is a link to the website:


P.S. It is very rare that a book comes along, that moves you so deeply, that you refer to it on a message board, some eight years later! lol.

April 14th, 2002, 12:15 AM
I'll look for it. Next time I visit my sis in PA I want to make a loop and stop by the Wall and convince myself to go to the Holocaust musuem. It won't be easy but it's something I need to do.

April 14th, 2002, 12:23 AM
welcome back DT!

April 14th, 2002, 02:30 AM
Thanks Green :) Easing in gradually. lol.

April 14th, 2002, 12:04 PM
The book "Shrapnel in the Heart" sounds very moving. I'm really sensitive though, so I don't know how I will handle it. When you mentioned that book, Danustouch, I immediately thought of Eve Bunting's The Wall. This book is about a grandfather who takes his grandson to see the Wall. Like "Shrapnel in the Heart," The Wall mentions the paraphanalia left at the wall and the emotions linked to the wall. The main contrast of the two books is that The Wall is meant for kids to read. The book is about thirty pages and geared towards the six to nine year old group. So basically, I am recommending the book for those of you who have kids.

April 14th, 2002, 01:11 PM
Thanks for the reccomendation, Mnemoysne.

April 17th, 2002, 10:54 AM
I was a big Civil War buff as a kid because I had ancestors in the GAR. When I was a kid my parents would take us camping all over the country & if we were near a Civil War battlefield, we had to stop there. I can't remember why, but at each one, I wanted to have my picture taken with a cannon.

Put me down as a student of the Scottish Wars of Independence, too. I've been to Glencoe, Stirling Bridge, etc. I have to be dragged, kicking & protesting, out of Edinburgh Castle at closing time because the place is historically fascinating (& I want to live there!).

Recently, I've become interested in Poland's long struggle for independence, though I am annoyed the practice of ignoring the country's pagan past. Polish history books mostly start with the establishment of Christianity there, as if nothing happened before then, but that seems to be the norm all over Eastern Europe.
I like to read about the attempts of Queen Boudicca & the Iceni tribe to drive the Romans out of Celtic Britain.
I read a lot about the Holocaust, too, & have a collection of 'I survived the Holocaust' bios.

Phoenix Blue
April 17th, 2002, 11:23 AM
I think Machiavelli's famed work is called "The Prince," actually. . .

I do like Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," though. . . and I like reading about all the battles that took place in World War II, on both fronts. What's more interesting to me is the strategic blunders both sides committed during the conflict. It carries over to my enjoyment of strategic board games and computer games. . . :) especially the Avalon Hill games like Diplomacy and Fortress America, and FASA's BattleTech, which is heavily sci-fi but still enjoyable.

April 17th, 2002, 07:34 PM
I sure used to love playing strategic board games when I was younger. Of course, I would love to still play them, but none of my friends want to play board games with me anymore. :( I completely agree that reading about the strategic elements of battle is helpful in problem solving type tasks. What other strategic games do you guys like to play?

Yes, Phoenix Blue, Machiavelli's famed book is The Prince. He also wrote the Art of War, and he even wrote a History of Florence in which he tries to win back the Medici's favor.

April 17th, 2002, 07:39 PM
Monopoly..guess you can figure out what problems in MY life need to be solved. LOL.

April 17th, 2002, 07:44 PM
lol. You too want a hotel on Boardwalk? Oh Danustouch, Monopoly takes forever to play. Hopefully, if you play long enough, everything will work out for you. hmmm. I'll try to think of a strategic book that will help you with your matters.

April 17th, 2002, 08:23 PM
Heh..maybe something by Donald Trump?
;) :p

April 17th, 2002, 10:58 PM
Don't forget Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy ... a more accurate picture of Machiavelli's political views than the Prince which was written to suck up to the d'Medici.

Well I like Chess, and used to play Risk as a kid.

Now I play many strategy/tactical computer games such as Age of Empires I & II, Starcraft, Civilization (I, II, and III, and CTP), Master of Orion, er...and I used to play computer versions of Avalon Hill style wargames like Gulf Strike, Aegean Strike, Patton vs. Rommel (one of my favorites), and a few naval simulators.

April 17th, 2002, 11:18 PM
Incidently, both Sun Tzu's and Machiavelli's The Art of War are available at the following URL:


Clausewitz's On War is here:


April 18th, 2002, 12:45 AM
How could I forget Machiavelli's Discoursi? I studied historiography in the Italian Renaissance. In order to understand Machiavelli's historical writings, I compared his History of Florence to the Discourses on Livy. I'm still debating whether I am a Machiavelli fan. Oh, thanks for the links, Calixto. So Calixto, what is Aegean Strike? Based on the title, it sounds like something that I would like.

April 19th, 2002, 08:48 PM
Aegean Strike was a wargame where you command allied ground, air and sea forces defending against Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion of the region.

Gulf Strike was similar, where Iraq, USSR, and Afghanistan (Soviet units there) invade Iran (presumably the Shah's, not Ayatollah) and the Gulf States...and you command NATO and associated forces.

April 19th, 2002, 08:49 PM
I'm a pretty big Machiavelli fan m'self. :)

April 19th, 2002, 09:07 PM
as a kid, i used to play the Avalon Hill games with my Dad.
we would commandier my Mom's dining room table for about three weeks at a time!
D-Day, Waterloo, Blitzkrieg, Bismarck. ahhhh... long happy evenings wiping out the masses.

April 19th, 2002, 09:26 PM
I never got to play these games as a kid. Hey, does the card game War count? lol. Actually, I never liked that game, since I was never quick enough to win.

Since this thread is on fascinating wars, I feel compelled to mention the Trojan War. From reading the Iliad, that war sounded so fascinating. Yep, gods and goddesses get to fight; men sail to a distance land to win glory. Perhaps they did want lovely Helen to come back to Greece. Reading about that war in the Iliad has changed my life for the better. I realize the importance of honor and glory. I now that you are probably thinking that this war is probably fiction. But if I recall, Henrich Schliemann read the Iliad so many times that he used the clues in it to find Troy. So perhaps the war really did happen. And if it did happen, I should be able to write about it in a historical forum.

April 19th, 2002, 11:55 PM
You can write about it in History, all you want :) Whether it WAS a real war, or not :) It is still a Historical issue, since it is dealing with a Historical Period :)

April 20th, 2002, 01:51 PM
IMHO the Trojan War did occur...

There is a place called Wilusa in the Hittite diplomatic archives, and they mention that the Hittites and the Ahhiwajans (who are likely the Achaeans) went to war over the place...since the Hittite Empire was a federation of Anatolian kingdoms that would explain the various Trojan allies...and some point out that the Hittite uniform may well resemble what Greeks would call feminine, and they wore their hair long, and could be the Amazons mentioned in the Epics.

The return of the Heroes, including their raids on Egypt (Menelaos's experience in the Odyssey) and the chaos they come to at home could be memories of the Sea People's invasions.

Plus the town of Troy was destroyed at the right time for possible Mycenean invasions of the place. Also, here's the kicker: The king of Wilusa in the Hittite records is Aleksandrus (Alexandros in Hellenic)...the same name as Paris.

But the story has obviously been garbled. :)

An interesting book that lays out the evidence pro and con (and tends towards the Pro POV) is: In Search of the Trojan War by Michael Wood. It is an old BBC series with a nice book, that played here in the US on PBS back in the mid '80s, which influenced my view of the story extensively. He issued a new edition laying out new evidence just recently. Very readable...and I'd love to get a copy of the TV series, as he literally walks the plain of Troy, like Heinrich did and shows were Homer got stuff right.

Homer got something else right too...He mentions (in old versions, as we know from marginalia in the oldest surviving version) a Stromalion, or lake between the Greeks and the City. Recent excavations between the likely base at Besik Bay and the City was a low lagoon :)

April 20th, 2002, 01:53 PM
Yep fun times, those :)

I went to Avalon Hill's website recently, and found them bought out by Hasbro, and most of their games are gone. :(

April 20th, 2002, 02:07 PM
that is sad news indeed. tactical (ie; no dice) board games are a fine way to develop reasoning skills, and the ability to recognize options.
and they don't have to be war-oriented either.
ah well, it must be hard for a company like that to keep up with the 'X Box' and 'PS2'. just not enough flash, i guess.

i actually bought an AH game just a few years ago. it's called 'The Republic of Rome', and it allows you to become a Senator. you build your factions and increase your powerbase through public speaking, influence peddling and assination. quite good, if a bit complicated. but i can't find anybody to play with me

April 20th, 2002, 04:19 PM
Thanks for posting all that interesting information about the Trojan War, Greenman. I think that when I have more free time, I will look into studying the Trojan War from a more historical point of view.

How sad! No one will play the "Republic of Rome" with you. I would love to play a game like that since I am a big fan of ancient Rome. Too bad we live so far apart or else I would play.

April 20th, 2002, 04:39 PM
yea, that would be fun (but you'd better watch your back!).
i love the Roman Republican period too.

and that was Calixto that provided all that wonderful information regarding ancient Troy.
thanks C.
it is time for me to dive back into that period as well, although i just lent out both my Illiad and my Odyssey.
we have an elder in our group who (for special occasions) will recite the entire ist chapter of the Illiad. RECITE!
it's a wonderful thing to see, as he dresses the part as well. the last time i saw him do this was at the fund raiser for our stones project. he alone raised over $100!

April 20th, 2002, 05:23 PM
Silly me! I read through the replies so quickly that I thought that Greenman wrote about the Trojan War. Sorry Calixto! Once again, you have posted some brilliant information about the ancient world.
Greenman, yeah, you should definitely delve back into the periods of the Odyssey and the Iliad. Cool, that you know someone who can recite the entire first chapter of the Iliad. Once upon a time, I used to have most of the first chapter memorized. lol. I find it so amazing that the Greeks had the entire epics of the Odyssey and the Iliad memorized. In fact, most scholars believe that Homer did not write the stories. He probably heard these stories loads of times, since they were passed to one another through the oral tradition. After hearing these stories, he/she? was the first to write them down.

April 20th, 2002, 06:20 PM
but the Greeks didn't have TV to distract them and lower their IQ!

i tend to agree with that view of Homer, and i think that also lends credence to Schlieman's theory that the wars took place as much as 500 years before Homer's time.

April 21st, 2002, 10:32 PM
I too believe that the Trojan War occurred about 500 years before Homer wrote about it. Perhaps you are also right that tv has caused us to lose some of our concentration. Remember that Millman Parry was a big advocate for bringing about that Homer's story were part of the oral tradition. He came up with that theory by tape recording (i think the Balkans) people who told long epic stories. These people were not distracted by technology; and thus, they could tell long stories of hundreds of pages aloud. The people seldom changed their stories. Wow!

April 21st, 2002, 10:50 PM
Robert Graves discusses this alot in 'The White Goddess'. the history of the Court Bards, as opposed to the wandering troubador type country bard.
the Court Bards (or 'Ollaves' in Ireland) were highly respected, and sat near the King at public functions. in Ireland they were permitted to wear more colors than anyone but the King himself. but their poetry was limited to propaganda, and their tales probably editted for this.
the country bards didn't enjoy the status and wealth of their courtly cousins, having to wander from town to town and literally sing for their suppers. but they were free to sing about things in their own way, and the histories were probably more accurate, at least at first.

April 22nd, 2002, 10:36 AM
Story telling, and singing are still a large part of Irish Culture :) So it doesn't surprise me!

April 22nd, 2002, 09:38 PM
Hmm other things that Homer got right...

It seems he lists the King's Demesne as the Temenos, something in the Classical period belongs only to property of the Gods (its the space the Temple sits in), which is confirmed by Linear B.

He also accurate describes the boar's tusk helmets of Odysseus and Diomedes in the Iliad, something obsolete by his time, but found in Mycenean tombs. The obsolete tower shield of Aias (Ajax) is also something authentic, and older even than the Trojan War...perhaps Aias is a memory of some ancient, early Mycenean hero...

What he didn't get was the bureaucratic nature of Mycenean society (highly centralized command economies, similar to, oh, the old CCCP in many ways).

Hmm, Republic of Rome would be a fun game to play, its one of my favorite periods (I have a soft spot for the Roman Republic, actually...too much Cicero ;).

I found a site once where some classics and music profs in Austria reconstructed what the sung Iliad would be like, with some audio files of it...very wierd sounding. Yep, like many bardic traditions, the Epics were oral traditions...and only put down in its "final" form in the time of Peisistratus in Athens of the 5th C BCE...with some Alexandrian editing later...

A guy studied the old Serbian oral tradition to understand the Homeric one...they memorized longer epics...and at one time the Mahabarata was total oral too...written down its something like 10 large volumes or something like that. Now, that's impressive.

Back to military history...I just thumbed my way through Osprey's books on Sparta and the Greek Hoplites, as well as some of their Roman stuff. Well researched (with plenty of photos of artefacts) and contain artistic renderings of the arms and uniforms of the soldiers of the period based on those artefacts.

April 22nd, 2002, 09:48 PM
i can't imagine submitting the entire Mahabharata to memory. it boggles the imagination!
hell, the movie was six hours!

April 23rd, 2002, 12:05 AM
And that was abridged...

Since its estimated the recitation of the Iliad or the Odyssey in full would take several days...and they're tiny compared to the Mahabharata

April 23rd, 2002, 12:27 AM
I could never conceive of anyone having the Mahabharata memorized. Can the mind really do that? Is there some special literary device used in the Mahabharata that helped people memorize it. I just ask since I know that the use of epithets make learning the works of Homer easier.

April 23rd, 2002, 07:57 PM
My guess is, they have stock phrases and epithets in Sanskrit too...and the whole thing is a rhyme, just like the Homeric epics, which acts as a mnemonic device as well.

But I don't know the details.