December 8, 2023 | Miles Brucker

Facts About The Strangest Battles In History


People are strange, and our battles are even stranger. Here are some of the weird, bizarre, and odd battles we've waged with each other.


1. Blinded by Bravery

Over the last decade of his rule, John of Bohemia was blind—but this didn’t stop him from participating in battles. During the Battle of Crecy in 1346 AD, John, blind and boisterous, tied himself to his horses and a squad of his knights before riding into battle. His body was later discovered among the fallen on the battlefield.

strangest battles

2. That’s My Bucket!

In 1325, the Italian town of Modena seized a bucket from the town of Bologna, instigating the Conflict of the Oaken Bucket. The Battle of Zappolino was fought and won by Modena, who still hoist this bucket in their main bell tower.

Strangest Battles In History factsWikimedia Commons, Marzia58

3. Great Ball of Fire

The Third Mithridatic conflict took place between the Roman Republic and the Pontic Kingdom from 73-63 BC, resulting in Roman predominance over Anatolia. During one of its earliest major battles, as forces were on the brink of combat, a large meteor blazed through the sky and struck the battleground forcefully, prompting each side to retreat from the battle. Goodness gracious.

Greek Gods factsPixabay

4. Beverage-Induced Strength

The phenomenon of liquid courage has always existed: During their attempt to seize the Persian City of Halicarnassus, Alexander the Great's army became restless due to the lengthy siege. One day, two bunkmates were emboldened and decided to lead the attack themselves. What started as drunken courage resulted in a full-scale battle, with the drunks (now joined by some friends) almost capturing the lightly guarded wall. Alexander the Great's forces ultimately lost the battle, but Halicarnassus almost fell to two uncoordinated individuals.

Strangest Battles In History factsPixabay

5. God’s Wind

The Battle of Frigidus between the Western and Eastern Roman armies is seen as the last attempt to contest the Christianization of Europe, and the way it was won doesn’t hurt the Christian boast of God. During the climax of the battle, a massive windstorm blew through and disrupted the Western Army, even throwing their spears back into them, leading to their defeat.

Strangest Battles In History factsWikimedia Commons

6. The Breton Super Bowl Conflict

During the Breton conflict, a peculiar confrontation occurred on a pre-designated field, known as The Combat of the Thirty. It pitted 30 of the highest knights from the French and English forces against each other, and ended up more like a macabre version of a modern football game, with spectators and even a halftime.

Close up of Medieval Knight HelmetЕгор Белов, Pexels

7. The Desperation Run

 The Battle of Marathon was a decisive turning point for the Greeks, displaying their fierce ability to fight the powerful Persians. The outmanned army of the Greeks was able to pull off a massive upset with unprecedented strategy: charging! While this may seem an old-hat tactic nowadays, no one had ever done it before. By maniacally running straight into the enemy, the Greeks caught the Persians off guard and ultimately defeated them.

Strangest Battles In History factsGetty Images

8. Confusing Thunder

Armed with only 168 conquistadors and outnumbered by the thousands, Pizarro’s Spanish army arrived at the Inca capital of Cajamarca to meet the Emperor Atahualpa. As things turned for the worse, the originally terrified Spaniards quickly realized their advantage of gunpowder, as it was still foreign to the Incas. They used its wildly baffling and violent effects to capture Atahualpa and assert command over the empire. Not a heart-warming underdog tale.

Strangest Battles In History factsGetty Images

9. An Ear for an Ear

Even though the British undeniably had various other motivations, the conflict—known as the Jenkins' Ear incident—was sparked by them against the Spanish in 1739. This was eight years after Spanish guards boarded British captain Robert Jenkins' ship, culminating in the severing of his ear.

Strangest Battles In History factsShutterstock

10. Walking on Water

Unless you can walk on water, it’s almost impossible to charge a fleet with calvary. But what if the water is frozen? In 1795, as the French Revolutionary Army was advancing towards what is now the Netherlands, a fleet of Dutch ships attempted to flee, but the harbor was frozen and they got stuck. The French simply surrounded the ships and captured the Dutch by a cavalry charge.

Strangest Battles In History factsWikipedia

11. You Sunk Our Battleship

On June 22, 1893, a new flagship British Fleet was embarking on a journey into the Mediterranean. In an attempt to show off this beautiful new fleet, the Vice Admiral George Tryon ordered the ships to synchronize and turn 180 degrees while exiting the port. There wasn't enough space, and calamity struck: one ship sank, another was badly damaged, and half of one ship's crew tragically lost their lives.

Strangest Battles In History factsWikipedia

12. Flying Cheese

During a 1865 navy battle between Uruguay and Brazil, an Uruguayan ship exhausted its supply of cannon projectiles and resorted to using stale cheese as cannonballs. Even stranger? It worked. The dairy proved disastrous for the Brazilians and they were forced to retreat.

Strangest Battles In History factsPixabay

13. A Civil Scrap

A duel during a battle may appear superfluous, but such an incident took place during the period of internal conflict in the country. At the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, a Confederate and a Union soldier came face to face in a gully. Instead of clashing privately, they chose to face each other in the middle of the battlefield, using only their fists and without any armaments.

Strangest Battles In History factsPixabay

14. The 40 Minute Conflict

The Anglo-Zanzibar conflict of 1896 holds the record as the shortest skirmish in history, barely qualifying as a battle. When the Zanzibar Sultanate declined to abdicate in favor of the British choice, the British launched an assault on the royal palace, causing it to catch fire, and targeted the royal yacht. After only 40 minutes a ceasefire was declared.

Strangest Battles In History factsWikipedia

15. Any Means Necessary

One of the most unusual confrontations during the first global conflict unfolded on Lake Tanganyika, the world's longest freshwater lake, located in Central Africa. A strategic location dominated by the German navy, the British did not have direct access to the lake. This forced them to transport their shipping vessels through the African interior variously by steam tractors, oxen, and log rolling. Their persistence paid off: the versatile British motor boats were able to defeat two German battleships.

Lake Tanganyika Sun SetEllyswema, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

16. Trick or Treat

Code names can be precarious—just query the US Marines involved in the Korean conflict. During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, the Marines had to call in a resupply of combat supplies by parachute, an operation that was coded as "Tootsie Rolls." Whoever prepared the package for the drop disregarded the instruction, and the Marines, expecting combat supplies, received a large supply of actual Tootsie Rolls instead.

Strangest Battles In History factsFlickr, Mike Mozart

17. Where The Dog Strays

During escalating tensions between the Greeks and Bulgarians in 1925, a Greek soldier was shot while chasing after his pet dog in enemy territory. This resulted in the Conflict of the Stray Dog, as the Greeks sought restitution, which was declined, initiated an attack, suffered defeat, and consequently had to make a "reverse" compensation payment. Life certainly can be tough.

Strangest Battles In History factsPixabay

18. Bathroom Break

In 1937, China and Japan were attempting to exert dominance in East Asia, and tensions were high. One night, the Japanese instigated action into a zone of conflict, and when a Japanese soldier went missing, they confronted the Chinese, accusing them of capturing their fellow soldier. Later in the night, the soldier arrived back to base, confused, as he had simply used the toilet. Too late! Both sides were eager for a confrontation, and the incident escalated into the second significant conflict between China and Japan, ultimately becoming part of WWII.

Strangest Battles In History factsGetty Images

19. False Alarm

With paranoia abounding after Pearl Harbor, 25 unidentified aircrafts were allegedly spotted above Los Angeles in 1942. In response, the Americans launched over 1,400 projectiles, resulting in total chaos and injuring several civilians. The incident was later dismissed as a false alarm. The event is now known as the Battle of Los Angeles, and there are still conspiracy theories that it was actually an alien invasion.

Aerial View Of The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard with visible Ford Island and AieaU.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons

20. Battling Yourself 

Before founding Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard was the commander of a sub-chasing ship during WWII. In May of 1943, he began a two day battle against an elusive enemy he spotted on his radar. It turns out that, after 68 hours of battle, Hubbard fought a battle against an enemy who did not exist: he was firing away at a magnetic deposit.

Cults FactsGetty Images

21. Potato Grenades

Patrolling the Pacific Ocean during WWII, the USS O’Bannon was confronted with a surfaced Japanese Submarine. As the ship pulled alongside the submarine, which was preparing for an attack on deck, the crew began pelting potatoes at the Japanese. The Japanese, distracted, scrambled to clear the “grenades” from the deck while the O’Bannon sailed away, opened up fire, and sunk the sub.

Strangest Battles In History factsPixabay

22. An Unlikely Communion

The Battle at Castle Itter was the only time American forces fought alongside Germans during WWII. The castle served as a detention center for the SS, and in the days following the demise of the notorious leader, SS forces came back to the fortress with the intent to eliminate their captives. However, upon arrival, they met with American servicemen who had now collaborated with 10 resistant Wehrmacht Germans and the very prisoners the SS intended to execute.

Strangest Battles In History factsWikimedia Commons

23. High and Dry

During the 1917 conflict in Jerusalem, the British decided to surprise the encircled Turks by dropping bundles of similar sized objects and propaganda leaflets. The Turks, appreciating the gesture, kicked back and enjoyed their smokes. Little did they know that the opium was concealed within the smokes, and the subsequent day, the British assailed a high and defenseless army.

Mysterious Burial Sites factsWikipedia

24. What’d A Seal Ever Do to You

In 1982, Argentina and the UK were involved in the Falklands conflict. As the British approached South Georgia, they noticed the Argentine army waiting for them atop a hillside, dressed in balaclavas. The Brits immediately hit their enemy with real force and charged without any return fire, only to realize that they’d just slaughtered a colony of elephant seals.

Strangest Battles In History factsPixabay

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


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