For the longest time that humans had been battling each other, we already know by now that it was not just about physical strength. More than just bringing with you the strongest men in the team, proper planning and strategizing are more important in winning these battles and wars. Sometimes, strategizing involved bluffing the enemies and tricking them into thinking that they already knew your next move, only to find out later that you played them. The next thing they knew, they were on the losing side. That’s exactly what happened in these three instances of military bluffs:

The Road Not Taken

Way long before Robert Frost wrote his poem of that same title in 1915, “The Road Not Taken” best describes Pharaoh Thutmose’s strategy that led to the Battle of Megiddo in 1457 BC, which was probably the earliest recorded battle with reliable details. Here’s what happened.

Model of Tel Megiddo
Model of Tel Megiddo (Drahnier (Diskussion), Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons)

A coalition of rebellious Canaanites(aren’t they always?) wanted to free themselves from the vassalage of Egypt, and they occupied the city of Tel Megiddo, an essential area at the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley, a portion of the main trade route from Mesopotamia to Egypt. It was a walled city with considerable fortifications. And so Pharaoh Thutmose III marched with his army from Egypt to Yaham to show them who was still boss

From Yaham, they had three routes choices that they could take: via Taanach in the south, north via Yoqneam, and Aruna, which was the central one. Both southern and northern routes would take them longer to reach Megiddo but were safer. The central one, however, was quicker, like a short cut but risky in the sense that the route was full of narrow ravines, and his army would have to march this route in narrow columns, which would make them very vulnerable to ambush and make it hard to get them into formation for battle if attacked. The middle path would be suicide to the rest of us, but to Thutmose, it was the ideal choice, and for counter-intuitive reasons. He guessed that the rebels would not expect him to take the obviously more risky route thus, would leave it unguarded. Thutmose’s forces took the gamble on the central one, and he was proved right, it was unguarded. Because he took the shorter route it also meant that when the Canaanites figured out their error their forces would be delayed in returning along the longer route back to Tel Megiddo.  The Egyptians arrived at Megiddo sooner than expected, and they caught the Canaanites off guard resulting in their victory.