It takes genuine gut courage to plan, fight, and lead in wartime, no matter what level of military you work in. There are times when things don’t go as planned, because after all, the first casualty of war is the plan.
When the going gets tough and the situation calls for dramatic action, it takes real nerve to be able to make the tough decision to make a total but unexpected move on the battlefield. Some of them are successful some are not, but when they do, victory can resonate through the ages.
These are just a few of those victories.
1. The invasion of Mexico (1846)
In the late 1840s, the US Army was not the mighty Army of One we know today. In January 1845, the United States had just over 3,000 troops along the border with Mexico. But its greatest weapon was its unity and prosperity. Mexico, on the other hand, was divided and weak as a result of a civil war. Yet both the army and the navy were very small.
So when war broke out, General Winfield Scott decided to invade Mexico through Veracruz, going outnumbered and among a hostile population with stretched and uncertain supply lines. Yet despite all the odds and facing more battles than expected, Scott succeeded in capturing Vercruz and marching on Mexico City, forcing the surrender of Mexican General Antonia Lopez de Santa Anna.
2. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign (1863)
Then-Shift. General Ulysses S. Grant wanted to take control of the Mississippi River by implementing a daring plan that required his army to live off the land and capture enemy supplies until it could split the Confederate army in half. and occupy the heights overlooking Vicksburg.
Any loss in battle, shortage of food or ammunition, or cessation of movement for any reason would have been a disaster for the campaign. Union troops were able to land unopposed gunboats in the river, capture the capital of Mississippi, cut Confederacy in two, and besiege Vicksburg in less than three months.
3. The Doolittle Raid (1942)
After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor left Americans in shock and shaken by their losses, the US military and navy wanted to remind Japan that they were getting the war they wanted and not getting. there was no safe place on Earth against American retaliation. To accomplish this, Lt. Col. James Doolittle planned and led the most daring air raid ever – possibly to date.
At the time, carrier operations in the middle of the ocean were still relatively new, so the idea of launching fully loaded B-25B Mitchell bombers from the deck of a single was virtually unthinkable. But Doolittle understood this and launched a raid that affected Tokyo, Honshu, and other major cities. The raid only killed around 50 people and had a negligible effect on the Japanese war effort, but it boosted morale at home and reminded the Japanese that they had woken up a sleeping tiger.
4. Operation Overlord (1944)
On June 6, 1944, the Normandy invasion was still the largest and most complex amphibious landing by an army in history. There were so many moving parts that even General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, was unsure if it would work. The Allies would push inland into Hitler’s Fortress in Europe or be driven back into the sea.
We know today, of course, that the plan worked. British, American, and Canadian-led landings on five different beaches in Normandy established a hold in Europe that was tenuous at first, but soon formed a unified front that liberated all of Nazi-occupied Europe.
4. The landing of Inchon (1950)
American and South Korean troops were fighting for their lives at the foot of the Korean Peninsula in 1950. The surprise invasion of North Korea had pushed a demobilizing US army away from the border of the 38th parallel to a small piece of land around the port city of Pusan (now Pusan). As they took up a position in what is now known as the Pusan Perimeter, General Douglas MacArthur landed a punch that changed everything.
In just four days, UN forces led by MacArthur landed 40,000 troops in Inchon, far behind the North Korean front line. The Communists were caught so off guard that an escape from Pusan completely knocked them down and they withdrew in disorderly haste. The North Koreans collapsed so quickly that UN troops were able to follow them to Pyongyang, capturing the North Korean capital and pushing the Communists to the North Korean border.