People Share History's Best Examples Of "Don't Pick Fights You Can't Win"
Pick and choose your battles... that is one of life's best pieces of advice. And know what you're fighting for because every hiccup, dollar and significant other is not worth going to war over. Also it's good to observe and and survey the scene. Nobody id a mind reader when it comes to the finale but at least know you're fighting with a chance of victory. Why shed blood "in hopes" of winning? That's a whole lot of sacrifice.
Redditor MidnightQ inquired thoughts on.... What are historical examples of "don't pick fights you can't win?"
THE BRITISH ARE COMING! THE BRITS ARE COMING!!
The British expedition to Abyssiniais a good example. The emperor had grabbed about 6 people as hostage and the British replied with 13,000 British and Indian soldiers, 26,000 camp followers and over 40,000 animals, including the elephants. The expedition ended up using nearly 300 ships, building a port from scratch, a railway and then a long road.
ADULT MEN ARE ALWAYS A PROBLEM!
Paraguay vs. Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Paraguay lost almost 70% of its adult male population, according to some estimates.
38 MINUTES AND DONE!!
The Anglo-Zanzibar war of 1896. Which lasted 38 minutes.
The small island of Zanzibar was a British colony at the time. The Sultan died, and the British had a hand-picked successor. But before this successor could arrive, the previous Sultan's cousin declared himself in charge instead and barricaded himself in the palace.
Britain sent 5 ships and a thousand men. The would-be Sultan had only his palace guard, his slaves, and whatever civilians he could gather. With one volley, the British forces completely disabled Zanzibar's only artillery batteries. They then marched for the burning palace, meeting only ineffectual potshots on their way.
All told, there were 500 casualties on the Zanzibari side, and 1 wounded on the British side.
THE STORY OF KHAN!!
The shah of the Khwarezm empire humiliating and killing Genghis Khan's diplomatic envoys.
A few years later, there was no Khwarezm empire anymore.
WHEN IN ROME.... RUN...
Mithridates (and family).
Mithridates was the king of Pontus. (As a side note he was so afraid of being poisoned that he dosed himself with small amounts to make himself immune, this will come in to play later on) he was exasperated at the Romans ruling over what he viewed as his rightfully kingdom, so when the Romans back was turned he attacked the Roman towns in the area. Well Rome wouldn't stand for it so they sent an army and quickly beat them. Then a few years later, he tried it again, he even ended up beating a poorly trained Roman Legion, but there were more important problems back at Rome that they didn't think he was important enough to deal with right now, and basically told him to stop where he was or they would be back.
Well he didn't stop. A few years after that he was at it again. Only this time Rome sent Pompey who wiped the floor with them and then chased him to capture and return him to Rome. Well Mithridates didn't want that so he tried to kill himself, but remember how he tried to build an immunity to poison? Turns out it worked. He needed a servent to stab him.
Well a few years after that, Pharnaces, Mithridates' son though "you know what we haven't done in a while? Go to war with Rome! I'm sure it will work this time" It didn't. This time Julius Caesar was in charge, and he beat then so hard and quickly that he said his famous line "Veni, Vidi, Vici." I came, I saw, I won. (Well he didn't actually say that then, he wrote it later when talking about the battle) So here's to Mithridates, the guy that was really good at starting a war with Rome, but not so good at finishing them.
I'd say the ancient Greek city of Thebes embodies this pretty well. Thebes kinda had a history of being the squeaky third wheel in Greek affairs. It was just kinda their thing. Persian War: Athens and Sparta defeat Persia. Guess which city state allies with the Persians? Yup: Thebes. So Sparta responds by tanking Thebes' economy, but renegs once Spartan/Athenian relations begin to sour.
They go back and forth in an alliance with Sparta during the Peloponnesian War. So after that war, there was a huge power vacuum, which ends up sort of accidentally being filled by Thebes (it really meant there wasn't anyone to say no.) But soon after that, the Greek economy absolutely shat itself (another recurring theme) and Thebes didn't have the military presence to maintain its economic empire.
Flash forward to 335 BC. Macedon controls most of Greece and has a huge army. Alexander comes to power. Thebes, not knowing they were dealing with, 'Great, Alexander the', elects to rebel against Alexander's newly-inherited kingdom. Alexander responds as Alexander does: he takes the city, sells the population into slavery, and burns Thebes to the ground. The other Greek states saw this squeaky third wheel get put down and realized Alexander meant business, so they remained loyal to Macedon.
Don't be like Thebes.
BRING ME SOME WATER...
The Battle of Hattin when the crusaders marched an army across the desert without any water to go fight Saladin, by the time the two armies met the crusaders were already dying of thirst.
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL...
The Franco-Prussian War (Also known as Franco-German war)
It can be argued that the Germans provoked the attack but France attacked and six months later the Northern German Confederation won. This then led to German unification and the crowning of the Kaiser. As the ultimate insult, they crowned William I in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, France.
LEAVE RUSSIA ALONE!
All the European powers a the time who declared war on Napoleon's France, it took 6 coalition wars just to get rid of him (7 if you include Waterloo). He pretty much was wiping the floor with every empire, he even dissolved the Holy Roman Empire in the process which had existed for 1000 years.
Then amusingly, he picked a fight with Russia, a fight he couldn't win.
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS ONER AMBITIOUS....
Custer's Last Stand (The Battle of the Little Bighorn).
The Battle of the Little Bighorn was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The US 7th Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion (a force of 700 men led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer) suffered a major defeat.
Five of the 7th Cavalry's 12 companies were annihilated and Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew and a brother-in-law.