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The Top 13 Military Adventures
A Man Question from Joel

“James, I saw your notes on A Conquest of New Spain. Where do you think Cortez’s invasion of Mexico ranks among all time military adventures?”

-Thank you, Joel

I’m going off the top of my head here, and defining a “military adventure” as a military exploration, not fighting over known territory. Caesar’s Gallic Wars, if not for his adventure over to Britain, might not qualify. I penalize Magellan for slipping in the surf and getting speared in the neck on the island of Mactan, where Soto would have turned that island into a graveyard. Overall, I give more points for the alien nature of the areas explored and the odds faced [like the Norse in America] than the military value of the expedition. Of the expeditions below only four were state of the art in military terms, Alexander's, Caesar's, Subotai's and Soto's.

13. Magellan’s Circumnavigation, 1521

12. The Mutiny of the H.M.S. Bounty, both Fletcher Christian’s actions and the survival of William Bligh and his men in an open boat over a 3,000 mile journey, 1789.

11. The expedition of Hanno of Tyre down the African coast in antiquity, 425 B.C.

10. The Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar, on Julius Caesar, 58-50 B.C.

9. Around 1700 [could be off by 50 years in either direction] a British navy ship stayed at sea for over a year preying on Spanish Commerce, eventually catching a treasure fleet bound from Manila to Acapulco—with rich women on board—who did not make it to their husbands with their virtue intact, should we say.

8. Soto’s Invasion of La Florida, 1539-43

7. Pizarro’s Invasion of Peru, 1524-41

6. Columbus’ Discovery of the Americas, 1492

5. The Sailing of the Chinese Starfleet in 1421

4. The Failed Norse Settlement of North America by Thorfinn Karlsefni, circa 1010

3. The Mongol Recon in force of Europe under Subotai, 1223

2. Alexander’s Conquests , 336-23 B.C.

1. Cortez's Conquest of Mexico, which ranks ahead of Alexander’s based on the totally alien territory and the lack of resources and relevant experience, 1519-21.

Add Comment
Berine HackettJanuary 12, 2016 2:56 PM UTC

How about the Anabasis of Xenophon?

Caesars Gallic Wars?
responds:January 12, 2016 5:11 PM UTC

The Anabasis is my favorite—period, love it, and hope to do an adaptation here.

I like Caesar more than most of my ilk, and wish to reread the Gallic Wars.