Most Heroic Last Stand Ever

Discussions on other historical eras.
axe
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Post by axe » 24 Mar 2005 17:24

Alp Guard wrote:
Polynikes wrote:
David C. Clarke wrote:Come on guys, the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae!!!!!

Best Regards,
David

In this case I would like to mention "The thin Red Line"

400 Highlanders from the Argyll & Sutherland regiment under Col. Colin Campbell stood firm and fought down 10'000 Russian cavalry at the battle of Balaclava during the Crimean war. The Russians had to retire.

A most remarkable performance.
What about Turks who assisted strongly in that effort?

Peter Lyderik
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Post by Peter Lyderik » 25 Mar 2005 07:49

Examples of Christian knights fighting until the end.

Acre 1291 and fort St. Elmo in Malta in 1565.

Example of Muslims fighting until the end.

Cao Bang/RC 4 in French Indochina 1950. Completely surrounded Morroccans charged, singing a battle chant, Chehada, until they were all killed.

And don't forget the Spanish infantry at Rocroi in 1643.

Lars EP
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Post by Lars EP » 30 Mar 2005 04:22

Ahhh....

But I'll have to go with David on this one. Thermopylae. Because, everybody (well, everybody not ignorant) know about it. 2500 hundred year later, and we still talk about. It is the embodiment of the expression "Last Stand", and the definition of Heroism.

"What we do in life, echoes in eternity" - Gladiator.

"As long as one child remembers a song about you or a deed of yours, YOU ARE NOT DEAD!" - Mary Renault: The Last Drops of Wine.

"Beast dies, kin dies, you and I shall also die. One thing only, do I know, which do not die: Memory of Mans Deed!" - The Older Edda

Regards --- Lars

dragos03
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Post by dragos03 » 03 Apr 2005 15:51

In 1691, a small group of 18 Moldavian soldiers ("plaiesi") resisted in the Neamt stronghold for several days against the whole army of Polish king Jan Sobieski, the man who saved Vienna. The king believed that the stronghold was defended by a much larger force, he was so enraged when he saw the last surviving defenders that he wanted to kill them.
Finally, impressed by their bravery, the king spared their lives and left them to continue to defend the stronghold.

Ziemowit
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Post by Ziemowit » 07 Apr 2005 02:37

Id like to mention the Polish defence of Westerplatte in 1939...182 Polish soldiers against 3,500 Nazi's.The soldiers eventually ran out of ammo however, the Poles had to also fight off the German ships Schleswig -Holstein.
Image

Source: http://www.kampania.digimer.pl/

Another defense worht mentioning is a Polish-Nazi one both armies consisting of about 200,000 men, it was lead on the Polish side by Taduesz Kutrzeb and it was the only time during the nazi september campaign where Hitler's 8th Army were forced to retreat.

Of course there were others such as Kircholm was mentioned but I don't consider it as a "last stand" since the Poles won.... also with Kluszyn Poles of 6,500 cavalry, defeated a Russian army of 35,000. However Bzura and Westerplatte were "Last stads" cause they wer enot victorious but they put up a hell of a fight....One last thing the Polish AK (Armia Krajowa) and the uprising of '44 Stalin promised assistance to the rebels if they would last at least 2 weeks, they lasted about 2 months while Stalin's armies watched across the Vistula. Even after that the Ak still fought till around '47.

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Kurt_Steiner
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Post by Kurt_Steiner » 24 Apr 2005 18:40

what about the remnats of the tercios fighting till death in Rocroi?

And the defenders of the Reichstag?

And the French Foreing Legion at Bir Hackeim?

weiss
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Post by weiss » 24 Apr 2005 22:11

Actually, theres considerable archeological evidence that there was no 'last stand' at Little Bighorn.

Bullet casings, body locations and other artifacts found on the battlefield produce and interesting pattern of the site that indicate that Custer's force was being killed so fast that his soldiers quickly scattered into individuals and small groups and were slaughtered as they tried to flee, with no real final, climactic defense of any kind.

The mythical image of 'Custers Last Stand' is something so entrenched in american mythology that I doubt the story of what really happened will ever replace the schoolbook one.

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Victor
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Post by Victor » 25 Apr 2005 19:08

DUring the night of 28/29 May 1453, the troops of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II storm Constantinople for the last time. In the morning, the Genoese mercenary captain Giovani Giustiniani is wounded and his men retreat. Emperor Constantine XI Dragases dies while fighting in the middle of his few remaining men. He had previously rejected the sultan's offer to surrender and save his life and receive the Principality of Moreea.

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Alp Guard
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Post by Alp Guard » 26 Apr 2005 07:51

axe wrote:
Alp Guard wrote:
Polynikes wrote:
David C. Clarke wrote:Come on guys, the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae!!!!!

Best Regards,
David

In this case I would like to mention "The thin Red Line"

400 Highlanders from the Argyll & Sutherland regiment under Col. Colin Campbell stood firm and fought down 10'000 Russian cavalry at the battle of Balaclava during the Crimean war. The Russians had to retire.

A most remarkable performance.
What about Turks who assisted strongly in that effort?
Well, I don't know. I simply refer to what I read on (british) sources in books and on internet sites. The Turks were placed at the right flank of the 93rd, next to Balaclave harbour. It is written:

"The Highlanders, meanwhile, were drawn up at a distance of about half a mile from the Russians, who halting to enable the rear squadrons to close up, prepared to charge and annihilate the gallant 93rd. Brave old Colin Campbell never altered their formation, but received that tremendous onslaught in line, to use the world famous phrase "with that thin red line tipped with steel". The Russians were simply mown down, and the survivors fled. Another body of Russian cavalry, pursuing the flying Turks, surged up to the ridge which concealed our cavalry. The Heavy Brigade was drawn up in two lines. The first consisted of the Scots Greys with the Inniskillings; the second was composed of the 4th Royal Irish, 5th Dragoon Guards, and 1st Dragoons. As the Heavies were moving from their position in order to cover the approaches, the enemy's cavalry came after them over the ridge. Lord Lucan saw the danger, galloped after his men, wheeled them round, and ordered them to advance. The first Russian line was composed evidently of some corps d'elite, clothed in a gorgeous light blue uniform glistening with silver. A large body of Lancers came up behind them, and the rear was brought up by a body of Dragoons in grey."

I don't want to insult anybody. But according to these sources thy weren't of much help.

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KalaVelka
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Post by KalaVelka » 26 Apr 2005 11:48

182 Polish soldiers against 3,500 Nazi's
Were all German soldiers in this incident nazis? Please back up your statement.

/Kasper

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R-Bob The Great!
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Post by R-Bob The Great! » 28 Apr 2005 04:10

I would also like to point out the Soviet soldiers holding out at Brest-Litovsk for a good part of the Summer after the Germans had bypassed them in June 1941, if that hasn't already been mentioned.
I am in favour of Thermopylae because it fits the bill as greatest being the one absolutely every can call to mind first.

I really liked a description of Leonidas' Threehundred in Erik Durschmied's From Armageddon to the Fall of Rome , well written.
Meanwhile, Xerxes had been handed a message from Orontes recounting his successful circumvention of he Middle Gate. The Emperor ordered an increased frontal attack in order to divert the Spartans' attention, while his Immortals came up from the opposite direction. A Spartan rearguard was the first to die. The arrow took him in the chest na dhe tumbled down the slope. Before the rest of the Spartans knew what had struck them, a flight of arrows msmashed into the unprotected rear of their shield wall. A hoplite dropped his spear and piouetted slowly before he collapsed, his legs kicking convulsively. When the Spartans turned, they saw a mass of Immortals racing down from the high ground. SOme Spartans, armed only with their short swords, plunged into the advancing ranks, striking and hacking. But nothing would stop the thousands of Immortals. As the Spartans had turned their full attention to the attack from their rear, the Persian auxiliaries finally hurtled in their thousands over the Phocian wall, as murderous as hunting dogs. The Spartans kill with grim efficiency. The enemy was falling all over the ridge, for numerous as they were the warriors of King Leonidas held the advantage of both weight and muscle power. The Spartans were tossing the Persians aside as though they were mushrooms. Soon the ring of dead Medes around the hill was high. Ignorant of danger, and seemingly unconcerned about losses, many more climbed over the wall and rushed up the long sloped. However many the Spartans killed, there were always more hurtling over the wall, swamping the plateau like ants cutting a swath across the land they were invading.
Before the Cappadocians, Bactrians or Egyptians were given the chance to claim the victor's laurels, the Immortals launched themselves at the Spartans, for they were honourable warriors and they respected courage in others,The steel carapaces of their armours clashed, and then it was hand to hand, sword on sword, fist against fist. The flashes from polished shields, the streaks of dull btronze arrowheads in flight, blended with the rippling plumes on the helmets of warriors. Those who slipped stayed down, trampled underfoot. . Heaped bodies sprawled like discarded piles of blood-soaked rags. Neither the three hundred nor the Immortals gave an inch. THey fought and they hung on to each other in deat, pierced by each other's swords, uniting them on their final voyage. Lances pierced flesh and welded bronze breastplates to armour of polished fish scales. Xerxes, who observed the battle from a nearby rise, wondered for the first time about the cost of victory over Greece.
One after the other the Spartans fell. THe remainder staggered ont ot a knoll to prepare for their last stand.
Those of the Hellenes that could still stnad fought on despite their horrible wounds, until they were smashed to the ground by an overwhelming number of battle axes. 'Take prisoners only of the noble,' was their emperor's command. But the Persian auxiliaries were mad with blood and killing fever; in this final bloodbath, Persians and Hellenes annihilated each other in the most brutal manner. THe slope around their hillock looked like a charnel house. A big Greek, his fist wrapped around the throat of a Bactrian, throttled the man while his back was torn to shreds by shafts. Both men fell dead to the ground. It was the moment when each Spartan became a Hector.
The Threehundred were down to a few dozen. WIth no more protection than their body armour, they formed a human wall around their king, fighting off the hundreds of attackers. Orontes took charge and ordered the madly yapping satrap forcesto pull back. He wanted to reserve the final combat for his Immortals. Then he noticed the figure of Leonidas, framed by the sun like a human Apollo, raising his spear witha blood-sullied arm in a final gesture of defiance. Xerxes' specific orders had been to take the King alive. He wanted to make an example of the Spartan. But here was a brave man, proud in defeat, and Orontes wouldn't allow this noble king to be seen in chains. He placed a cane shaft in his bow, took careful aim and let the winged instrument of death fly. It struck Leonidas above his protective armour. The bronze arrowhead traversed his throat and came out by the neck. Mortally struck, the noble King let go of his lance and dragged himself to a shielf propped against a heap of bodies, trying to tem the dark blood pouring from the ghastly wound. With a cry of anguish, his shield-bearer dropped to his knees to hold his king in his arms. 'Fear they God, master of all Persians on this field of battle... ponder that a human avenger will step forward to vindicate our loss... not it is you that will become entangled in the knot of death...' the King whispered before blood spilled from his mouth and his voice broke. His eyes clouded over, and then his spirit was lifted into the Olympus of all the great Hellenic heroes. A dozen Spartans, still able to stand up, fought on like cornered lions. In a final charge, they tightened their grip on their swords and then plunged into the Persians with a kind of reckless despair. It was to be their last gallant charg. Far ahead was the giant figure of a warrior, wielding a blood-dripping blade; he rammed his way into the line of Persians, lifted his sword arm for the killing stroke and his blade flashed down, burying itself in flesh, again and again, before an axe smashed his skull and he pitched forward. THe last of the heroic Threehundred lay in eternal sleep wth his face against the blood-soaked earth. It was over.

Courage has been displayed as threehundred Spartans endured great suffering witout complaint. No outcry, no prayer - all died true to the principle of 'Conquer or die!' Sparta's bravesto of the brave went to the end like Homeric heroes., sacrificing their lives in a noble cause. Long before the Peloponnesian War came to an end, poets sang the praises of the Treehundred and their hoeroic stand at Thermopylae. Their sacrifice had boughtfor Greece the precious weeks necesary to prepare for the one battle that was to decide the future of the Occident. (Salamis)

weiss
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Post by weiss » 01 May 2005 21:39

I'd say Werner Voss's 'last stand' in his Fokker Triplane is about as epic as either last stands or dogfights get. It has to be either the greatest dogfight of all time or in the top three.

I'll just quote from Wikepedia's description of the basics of the fight:
"He was finally shot down after single-handedly engaging in combat with up to eight Royal Aircraft Factory SE5s of 60 and 56 Squadrons of the R.F.C. on September 23, 1917, over the Western Front. Exploiting the triplane's superior rate of climb and its ability to slip turn, Voss outflew his opponents and fought bravely, before succumbing to an attack generally credited to Lieutenant Arthur Rhys Davids of 56 Squadron, R.F.C.."

Voss had come to the aid of a lone Albotross, who ditched him after things got really hairy, and his opponents said that because of the skill of his flying he had several chances to make an escape but chose to fight on instead. His fire forced two english planes to the ground and damaged the rest, not one SE5 came back without bullet-holes in it. I believe all of his english opponents were either aces at the time, or would become so later. Two of them, James McCudden with 54 victories and Arthur Rhys Davis with 25 victories, weres some of the R.F.C.'s best. What makes Voss's 'last stand' all the more epic in the anals of aviation history is'nt just the numbers he faced or the quality of his opponents, it's the deep respect those british pilots paid HIM after the fight:

"I shall never forget my admiration for that German pilot, who single handed, fought seven of us for ten minutes . . . I saw him go into a fairly steep dive and so I continued to watch, and then saw the triplane hit the ground and disappear into a thousand fragments, for it seemed to me that it literally went into powder." James McCudden

"His flying was wonderful, his courage magnificent and in my opinion he is the bravest German airman whom it has been my privilege to see fight." James McCudden

"If I could only have brought him down alive..." Arthur Rhys Davids to James McCudden

AZCarl
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Post by AZCarl » 10 May 2005 14:54

Other amazing stands:

Axis 6th army, Stalingrad 1942-43 : Cut off from supply except from air, over 200,000 men fought the bitter winter and the russians for another 2-1/2 months, till food, ammunition, and hope ran out. Only 10% (wounded and airlifted, or survivors of Russian captivity) would see their homeland again.

French rearguard under General Ney during Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. No one really knows how this rag-tag collection of frozen men managed to continually hold off superior Russian forces, protecting the disintegrating French columns for a thousand miles while scrounging for their next meal and survive the next blizzard.

The Japanese infantry holed up on any of a dozen Pacific Islands. With a warrior's code of "do or die," and little hope of victory or rescue, they were extinguished by the tens of thousands defending their pieces of rock against the American landings. Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Pelilu... all almost to the last man.

****

On another note, I would agree that Custer's Last Stand was not really a heroic stand, or a stand at all, but more of a hasty retreat by those who had stuck their heads, so to speak, in a bees nest. And, as one Indian later said, when asked how fast Custer's command was wiped out, "like a hungry man eats a meal."

And I simply can't regard the British stands against the Zulu "heroic". (Rourke's Drift; Isandhlwana). Instead, it was the Zulu who were heroic to charge into the British mass fire with nothing but spears and skin shields. Amazing that they even prevailed at Isandhlwana.

Carl

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Alp Guard
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Post by Alp Guard » 10 May 2005 15:19

I'd like to add a last stand of our Swiss history. Probably it is new for some of you. The battle of St. Jakob took place on the 26th of August 1444, at the place where now our football stadium is standing:

Charles, seeking to send away troublesome troops made idle by the truce with Henry VI of England in the Hundred Years' War, sent his son the Dauphin (later Louis XI of France) with an army of about 30,000 mercenaries into Switzerland. At St Jakob an der Birs near Basel they were stopped by a Swiss force of 1,600 soldiers. The Swiss were wiped out in the battle that followed, but inflicted so many casualties (8,000 killed) on the French that they withdrew.

(When the Armagnacs realized, that the next day another 30'000 Swiss warriors would arrive, they thought it would be wise to make it back to France.)

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Englander
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Post by Englander » 10 May 2005 19:30

AZCarl wrote: And I simply can't regard the British stands against the Zulu "heroic". (Rourke's Drift; Isandhlwana). Instead, it was the Zulu who were heroic to charge into the British mass fire with nothing but spears and skin shields. Amazing that they even prevailed at Isandhlwana.
Carl
Well, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and you have express yours. I have to say i don't agree, but that's my opinion. And yes, it was a good film.

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