Scorched earth

scorched-earthscorched earth policyscorched earth tacticsscorched-earth policyscorchedrazedscorched earth strategyscorched-earth campaignabandonedbombing run of Russian-occupied strategic structures
A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy while it is advancing through or withdrawing from a location.wikipedia
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William Tecumseh Sherman

William T. ShermanShermanGeneral Sherman
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
He served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861–65), for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the scorched earth policies he implemented in conducting total war against the Confederate States.

Sherman's March to the Sea

March to the SeaSavannah CampaignSherman's March
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
The campaign began with Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta on November 15 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 21. His forces followed a "scorched earth" policy, destroying military targets as well as industry, infrastructure, and civilian property and disrupting the Confederacy's economy and its transportation networks.

Military strategy

strategicmilitary strategiststrategy
A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy while it is advancing through or withdrawing from a location.
Early strategies included the strategy of annihilation, exhaustion, attrition warfare, scorched earth action, blockade, guerrilla campaign, deception and feint.

European Scythian campaign of Darius I

Scythian campaignScythian expeditionto defeat
The Scythians used scorched-earth methods against King Darius the Great of Persia, during his European Scythian campaign.
The Scythians managed to avoid a direct confrontation with the Persian army due to their mobile lifestyle and lack of any settlement (except Gelonus), while the Persians suffered losses due to the Scythians' scorched earth tactic.

Swedish invasion of Russia

invasion of Russiamarch on Moscow1707 invasion of Russia
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
The invasion was further complicated by the scorched earth strategy formulated by Peter and his generals.

Eastern Front (World War II)

Eastern FrontGreat Patriotic WarWorld War II
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
Stalin ordered the retreating Red Army to initiate a scorched-earth policy to deny the Germans and their allies basic supplies as they advanced eastward.

Pilėnai

Pilėnų kunigaikštis
In 1336, the defenders of Pilėnai in Lithuania set their castle on fire and committed mass suicide in order to make the attacking Teutonic Order's victory a costly one.
scorched earth).

Nazi Germany

GermanGermanyNazi
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
Hitler ordered the destruction of transport, bridges, industries, and other infrastructure—a scorched earth decree—but Armaments Minister Albert Speer prevented this order from being fully carried out.

Vercingetorix

CeltillosVercingétorix
The second case shows actual military value: during the Great Gallic War the Gauls under Vercingetorix planned to lure the Roman armies into Gaul and then trap and obliterate them.
He adopted the policy of retreating to natural fortifications, and undertook an early example of a scorched earth strategy by burning towns to prevent the Roman legions from living off the land.

Joseph Stalin

StalinJosef StalinJosif Stalin
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
In June 1941, he ordered a scorched earth policy of destroying infrastructure and food supplies before the Germans could seize them, also commanding the NKVD to kill around 100,000 political prisoners in areas the Wehrmacht approached.

Stephen III of Moldavia

Stephen the GreatŞtefan cel MareȘtefan cel Mare
Prince Mircea I of Wallachia used it against the Ottomans in 1395 and Prince Stephen III of Moldavia scorched the earth in his country as the Ottoman army advanced in 1475 and 1476.
Himself supported by troops sent by Corvinus, Stephen adopted a scorched earth policy, but could not avoid a pitched battle.

Gallic Wars

conquest of GaulGallic WarGaul
Two of the first uses of scorched earth recorded both happened in the Gallic Wars.
Recognizing that the Romans had an upper hand on the battlefield due to their panoply and training, he declined to give battle against them and instead fought a "scorched earth" campaign to deprive them of supplies.

French invasion of Russia

invasion of RussiaRussian campaignPatriotic War of 1812
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
As the Russian army fell back, scorched-earth tactics were employed, resulting in villages, towns and crops being destroyed and forcing the French to rely on a supply system that was incapable of feeding their large army in the field.

Julian (emperor)

JulianEmperor JulianJulian the Apostate
In the year AD 363, the Emperor Julian's invasion of Sassanid Persia was turned back by a scorched-earth policy:
This proved to be a hasty decision, for they were on the wrong side of the Tigris with no clear means of retreat and the Persians had begun to harass them from a distance, burning any food in the Romans' path.

Philip Sheridan

SheridanPhilip H. SheridanGeneral Sheridan
Under Sherman's overall direction, General Sheridan followed this policy in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and subsequently in the Indian Wars of the Great Plains.
In 1864, he defeated Confederate forces under General Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley and his destruction of the economic infrastructure of the Valley, called "The Burning" by residents, was one of the first uses of scorched earth tactics in the war.

Jujuy Province

Jujuyprovince of JujuyLedesma
In August 1812, Argentine General Manuel Belgrano led the Jujuy Exodus, a massive forced displacement of people from the present-day Jujuy and Salta provinces to the south.
The people of Jujuy had to endure the Jujuy Exodus, a massive evacuation with a scorched earth policy, led by General Manuel Belgrano.

Desmond Rebellions

First Desmond RebellionDesmond rebellion1st Desmond Rebellion
The Desmond Rebellions are a famous case in Ireland.
Together, Ormonde, Sidney and Humphrey Gilbert, appointed as governor of Munster, devastated the lands of FitzMaurice's allies in a scorched earth policy.

Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener

Lord KitchenerKitchenerHerbert Kitchener
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916), was a senior British Army officer and colonial administrator who won notoriety for his imperial campaigns, most especially his scorched earth policy against the Boers and his establishment of concentration camps during the Second Boer War, and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War.

World War II

Second World WarwarWWII
Notable historic examples of scorched-earth tactics include the Russian army's strategy during the failed Swedish invasion of Russia, the failed Napoleonic invasion of Russia, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War, colonel Kit Carson's subjugation of the American Navajo Indians, Lord Kitchener's advance against the Boers, the initial Soviet retreat commanded by Joseph Stalin during the German Army's invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and the subsequent Nazi German retreat on the Eastern Front.
In the East, the intended gains of Lebensraum were never attained as fluctuating front-lines and Soviet scorched earth policies denied resources to the German invaders.

Louis XIV of France

Louis XIVKing Louis XIVKing Louis XIV’s
Realising that the war in Germany was not going to end quickly and that the Rhineland blitz would not be a brief and decisive parade of French glory, Louis XIV and his War Minister Marquis de Louvois resolved upon a scorched-earth policy in the Palatinate, Baden and Württemberg, intent on denying enemy troops local resources and prevent them from invading French territory.
This military manoeuvre was also intended to protect his eastern provinces from Imperial invasion by depriving the enemy army of sustenance, thus explaining the pre-emptive scorched earth policy pursued in much of southwestern Germany (the "Devastation of the Palatinate").

Vlad the Impaler

Vlad TepesVlad DraculaVlad III
Vlad the Impaler retreated to Transylvania.
Outnumbered by the enemy, Vlad adopted a scorched earth policy and retreated towards Târgoviște.

Russian Empire

RussiaRussianImperial Russia
Ibrahim's scorched-earth policy caused much outrage in Europe, being one of the reasons the Great Powers (Great Britain, France and Russia) decisively intervened against him in the Battle of Navarino.
Although Napoleon's Grande Armée made its way to Moscow, the Russians' scorched earth strategy prevented the invaders from living off the country.

Peter the Great

Peter IPeter I of RussiaPeter
During the Great Northern War, Peter the Great's Russian forces used scorched-earth tactics to hold back Swedish King Charles XII's campaign towards Moscow.
Peter withdrew his army southward, employing scorched earth, destroying along the way anything that could assist the Swedes.

France

🇫🇷FrenchFRA
Ibrahim's scorched-earth policy caused much outrage in Europe, being one of the reasons the Great Powers (Great Britain, France and Russia) decisively intervened against him in the Battle of Navarino.
The ensuing repression of the French army and paramilitary forces (gendarmerie) took the form, during 1958–1960, of a scorched-earth policy, whereby entire villages of south-central and western Cameroon in the Bassa and Bamiléké areas were burned to the ground, resulting in between 60,000 and 100,000 deaths.

Great Northern War

Northern WarThe Great Northern WarGreat Nordic War
During the Great Northern War, Peter the Great's Russian forces used scorched-earth tactics to hold back Swedish King Charles XII's campaign towards Moscow.
Though his primary goal was Moscow, the strength of his forces was sapped by the cold weather (the winter of 1708/09 being one of the most severe in modern European history) and Peter's use of scorched earth tactics.