Largest Naval Battle in History

Submitted by: wolladude 1 month ago in


The Battle of Ecnomus in 256 BC is arguably the largest naval battle in history with 680 warships and an estimated 290,000 rowers and marines participating!!! This monumental clash was fought during the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage along the coast of Sicily.

The Romans won the battle primarely because of the use of marine infantry and the corvus, a boarding device that allowed the infantry to easily board an enemy ship.

The battle marked the beginning of the end of Carthaginian naval superiority in the Mediterranian and indeed the beginning of the end of Carthage.
There are 25 comments:
Male 2,265
Number of ships is meaningless... tonnage is all important. 1000 tiny ships would get slaughtered by a single Japanese WW2 battleship...
So Jutland and a host of other battles both recent and ancient are at least equally important.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Jutland
"Only" 250 ships, but their tonnage and armaments are exponentially bigger than ancient times... 

Importance? Well that's entirely different! And the courage and fortitude of those ancient mariners is not to be questioned: they were men of iron!

This was a terrific video, it's a really important battle in human history.
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7,050
dont know. the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. had 1,500+ ships with 250,000 fighting men
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Male 2,345
dm2754 "Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. had 1,500+ ships"
800 Persian galleys against 370 Greek triremes. (Encyclopaedia Brittanica) That is larger. 
Comparing battles fought recently with battles fought over two millenia ago isn't really feasible. If Greece put 1% of its population into one battle, the US would need to put up 3.5 million to match it. Comparing relative firepower is not meaningful if the best technology available was in use in both battles. 
So sheer numbers of ships and combatants is as good a metric as any.
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Male 2,345
The first casualty of combat is your battle plan!

The Carthaginians were brilliant tacticians; the Romans were brute-force engineers.
At Ecnomus, brute force won the day.
At Cannae, tactics ruled.
Same countries, same tactics, different commanders, and different terrain.
Historical records are spotty, at best. I grew up 'knowing' what Cato the Elder said in every speech. I learned recently that there is no record of any of his speeches.

One of my uncles landed at Normandy on D-Day. He never talked about it, and if he knew anything that would help with this problem, he took it with him, but that battle seems to me to have been a brilliant tactical use of brute force. 

If you follow any sport, you know that a good team can lose on a bad day, and a bad team can win on a good day.

Is it possible that everything ever written about strategy in warfare is simply bullshit?
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Male 2,265
semichisam01 No plan survives first contact with the enemy. (Patton, and he was right!)
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 No, everything cannot be bullshit:
- What children are taught in school may be oversimplified bullshit
- How movies present history is largely bullshit
- As a result, much of what people know about history may very well be simply bullshit. For example, "Blitzkrieg" is Büllshit

I trust historians though, and that's why I love content like this! 
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Male 2,345
boredhuman "I trust historians though..."
I trust historians to get facts right to the extent they are able. My, possibly rhetorical, question was whether anything written about battle strategy is at all meaningful. 

(On another note: it is at least possible that everything is bullshit.)
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 Generals analyze battles after the fact, and report on what happened and why. What strategists write about warfare is certainly meaningful and useful to other strategists.
  It's not historians' job to evaluate battle strategy... Historians look through documents of people who formed and evaluated strategies, and report. At least that's what i saw in the "Blitzkrieg" is Büllshit video. 
  To understand the extent of how meaningful ancient battle strategy is, you'd need to look at the sources provided in the video description. 
  I'm neither historian nor strategist, so feel free to call my opinions bullshit :P
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Male 2,345
boredhuman "feel free to call my opinions bullshit :P"
If I am suggesting that everything is bullshit, that would include your opinions. It would necessarily include my own opinions as well, including the opinion that everything is bullshit.
I used to chase tail. Now I just chase my own tail.

What I was getting at is that possibly all the strategies are just a box of tools, and what really matters is the ability of the decision-maker in the field to know which one is best on this ground at this moment. 
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 Let's say Strategies and concepts are a 'box of tools' - Are you saying these tools are bullshit?
Both decision making and strategy matter... You need the right strategies and expertise to use them.

Whether the historians' analysis of ancient warfare is bullshit, depends on the sources... I think it's clear that studying battle tactics/strategy is deemed useful by the military. In that sense, strategy in warfare is not bullshit.

Oh, and to define bullshit:
"It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth, this indifference to how things really are, that I regard as of the essence of bullshit."
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Male 2,345
boredhuman "Oh, and to define bullshit:"

Merriam-Webster:

bullshit
noun
usually vulgar
: nonsense, especially : foolish insolent talk

intransitive verb
1 informal, usually vulgar : to talk foolishly, boastfully, or idly
2 informal, usually vulgar : to engage in a discursive discussion

transitive verb
informal, usually vulgar : to talk nonsense to especially with the intention of deceiving or misleading
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 OK, which one of these distinct meanings did you intend to use? 
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Male 2,345
boredhuman "OK, which one of these distinct meanings did you intend to use?"
Since I used the word as the direct object of the sentence, and a direct object must be a noun or pronoun, it's safe to assume that the definition of the noun is the one intended.
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 I'll take this journey with you, to see where it will lead...

I did not want to assume you intended the meaning of the noun only, because you chose to include the definition of the verb as well.

OK, which distinct meaning of the noun 'bullshit' did you intend: 'nonsense' or 'foolish, insolent talk'?

And if you intended "nonsense," what meaning of 'nonsense' did you intend?

Merriam-Webster:
nonsense noun
1a:
words or language having no meaning or conveying no intelligible ideas
b(1): language, conduct, or an idea that is absurd or contrary to good sense
(2): an instance of absurd action

2a:
things of no importance or value : TRIFLES
b: affected or impudent conducttook no nonsense from subordinates

You know, there's a reason I linked a book on the word "bullshit" and gave a definition of how I interpreted it. 
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Male 2,345
boredhuman "Are you saying these tools are bullshit?"
If that were what I was saying, I would have said that. I didn't. What I did was to ask a vague, open ended question about what has been written about those tools. It really applies only to what I have read.

I am neither a historian nor a military strategist. My interest in history started with my trying to find out what my uncles and cousins did in WWII. My father worked as a civilian at the Boston Navy Yard and talked about his work, some of which was frightening, but the combat veterans always changed the subject. 
I have tried to put together a picture of the sweep of human history and pre-history, which has to include decisive battles as well as inventions such as the horse collar.
So I am a historical dilettante, at best. But it has occurred to me, more than once, that outcomes depend less on the strategy used than on the person wielding the strategy. (or on luck)
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 "I would have said that. I didn't." Clearly, I misunderstood what you said. Thanks for trying to clarify.
Maybe I misunderstood how you use key terms. I understood 'bullshit' as something not concerned with truth - is that how meant it, too? What do you mean by 'strategy'

What do you think of SunTzu's The Art of War? Please explain how you would consider this writing "about strategy in warfare" bullshit.

"outcomes depend less on the strategy used than on the person wielding the strategy. (or on luck)" 
The strategic expertise of the "person wielding the strategy" matters. Sure, you could have a good plan, but poorly executed. By the same token, you could have a doomed plan that, no matter how skillfully executed, just could not work. 

A skilled strategist will account for luck, and plan contingencies. What appears like dumb luck to us (things like rain or moonlight), may be things the general intentionally uses to get an edge. 
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Male 2,345
boredhuman I had never read 'The Art of War'. I found a translation at my library, and it is in my queue for after the rainy season starts here. Until then, I have to be out on the land during daylight hours and cleaning and sharpening tools when I get back.
It looks to be only a few more days of good weather.
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 The Art of War is very short:
The entire book read in 1 hour.
Chapter 1: Laying Plans
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Male 2,345
boredhuman 'Please explain how you would consider this writing "about strategy in warfare" bullshit.'
I asked a question, which I thought might spark a debate. Even though I explained that, you insist on assuming that I have taken a position and are demanding that I defend it.
I can't do that. But I have stopped beating my wife.

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Male 1,540
semichisam01 "Is it possible that you don't want to talk about military strategy at all, and really just wanted to berate someone?" 

"you insist on assuming"
No, I do not insist, and I do not demand. I do assume, and I do misunderstand. Would you prefer to continue to berate me, or will you participate in a debate about strategy you have sparked? 
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Male 2,345
boredhuman "Is it possible that you don't want to talk about military strategy at all, and really just wanted to berate someone?"

I can only guess why you put that in quotes. Were you quoting someone else? pretending it wasn't you writing it? Nodding off because of the incredibly boring haggling we've gotten ourselves into? just not paying attention?

I haven't berated you. That verb presupposes anger. You may have been thinking of another word altogether.

It is true that "The Art of War" is short, though it is longer than the US Declaration of Independence. It is a fact that it can be read aloud in a bit over an hour. But you asked for an analysis and a possible refutation of a roughly 2.5 millenium old document. I've given up my first attempt at the original. I have read one translation that didn't seem to make sense, and I am waiting for a better translation from my local library.

One consequence of assigning homework to someone who left school before you were born is that we do the homework. We don't copy and paste from wikipedia.

I understand that you are in a hurry to get a response. You are all in a hurry, but I am not. If you are already haring off on another scent, that's alright. I'll follow this trail anyway.
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 "I can only guess why you put that in quotes." All very interesting guesses. The rhetorical question meant to mirror your "possibly rhetorical" question, to explain my assumption.

"I haven't berated you. That verb presupposes anger."
Ahh, you'd prefer discussing the meaning of words. I'm glad to hear your response wasn't angry, which is how I perceived it to be. Let's finish discussing "bullshit" first - I'm eager to find out what your intended meaning is. 

"But you asked for an analysis and a possible refutation of a roughly 2.5 millenium old document."
You're "neither a historian nor a military strategist". You're not in the position to do a proper analysis, let alone refutation.

"we do the homework. We don't copy and paste from wikipedia."
Good. While you wait for your book, I'll read the analyses by US General Petraeus and Japanese Admiral Fumio Ota
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Male 2,345
boredhuman "You're not in the position to do a proper analysis, let alone refutation."
Thank you for clarifying that. I had thought that you were asking my opinion. Now I understand that you were just bullshitting. (That's a verb, not a gerund, despite its form.)
Enjoy your reading.
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Male 1,540
semichisam01 "Thank you for clarifying that."
How did you interpret my clarification?
I did not ask you to provide a detailed examination of The Art of War or to prove it wrong. If you do, based on your lack of expertise, I wouldn't expect it to be high quality.  

"I had thought that you were asking my opinion."
Yes, that is exactly right. I value your opinion, and would be interested to hear it, especially because it appears to be contrary to mine. 

"Now I understand that you were just bullshitting"
I still have no idea what you mean by 'bullshit'.

Which distinct meaning is it this time?

Merriam-Webster:
bullshit
intransitive verb
1 informal, usually vulgar : to talk foolishly, boastfully, or idly
2 informal, usually vulgar : to engage in a discursive discussion

"Enjoy your reading."
I do. I enjoy reading analysis by experts in their field. 
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3,688
Great post, love this kinda stuff. 

The worlds largest air force is the USAF, the worlds second largest air force is the US Navy. Oh how times have changed. 
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