Most Heroic Last Stand Ever

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lwhite
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Post by lwhite » 11 May 2005 00:45

I believe that Custers Last Stand, was the most heroic last stand ever! I don't place too much faith in the archaeological evidence -pointing to a complete fear crazed rout. The evidence collected was after souvenir hunters had 100 years to pick the field clean. As an example go to Gettysburg Battlefield -and just try and find evidence of major action taking place on Little Round Top.Thus on Last Stand Hill who knows what was removed over the years. Also remember Custer faced hostile Indians estimated (by authors Robert Utley and Jeffery Wert at 2000) with around 208 men.Fighting dismounted 1 man in 4 held horses,thus at least 50 men were removed from the firing line. In The Custer Companion book by Tom Hatch he states
It has been estimated that as many as 50 per cent of the 7th Cavalry mounts were newly aquired. The reaction of thses animals to the sounds, smells, and other chaos of battle also may have had an effect on the ability of troopers to fight.,s
I can imagine the battle was at times hard fought ( Calhoun Hill and Last Stand Hill) and fear induced panic at Capt Keogh's position. Do doubt horses were breaking loose-men running for their lives ( Indians took no prisoners that day) but even Sitting Bull was quoted as saying
I tell no lies about dead men. Those men who came with the "Long Hair" were as good men as ever fought.

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Post by AZCarl » 11 May 2005 06:41

lwhite wrote:I believe that Custers Last Stand, was the most heroic last stand ever! I don't place too much faith in the archaeological evidence -pointing to a complete fear crazed rout. The evidence collected was after souvenir hunters had 100 years to pick the field clean. As an example go to Gettysburg Battlefield -and just try and find evidence of major action taking place on Little Round Top.Thus on Last Stand Hill who knows what was removed over the years.


The best book I have read on the subject of Custer's Last Stand was "Sixty-six Years In Custer's Shadow," by Henry Weibert; Billings, Mont.; Bannock Pub.Co.; c1985. 174 pages, with maps and photos.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon a copy of this apparently self-published book in my local library (!) (signed by the author, no less) just a few months ago. Written by a man who spent most of his adult life ranching on Reno Creek, literally just off the actual battlefield.

A longtime serious scholar of the battle, Weibert spent countless hours puzzling out the routes of the Gibbon, Reno, and Custer columns as probably only a man on horseback could do. In addition, he was a patient and dedicated geiger counter operator, one of the first in the area. And a logical thinker, able to extrapolate field positions and actions from the hundreds of recovered shells, as well as spurs, bits of leather, and, if I recall correctly, the last undiscovered skeleton found, down in a ravine. Plus over the decades he kept a lively discourse with local (Crow) Indians on the subject as well as a stream of notable scholars in the field.

One of his conclusions was that Custer was attacked before he attacked the Indian village, and that basically he and his troops lost their lives very quickly in a strung out running (fighting, but largely panicked) retreat.

A fascinating read all the way through, quite technical and minute in detail, of the entire actions of the day in all three columns. Out of print, just 1000 copies extant (I believe), but second hand copies available from a number of fine sources. Google it!

Carl

lwhite
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Post by lwhite » 11 May 2005 07:09

Thanks Carl for the lead on the book. I am going to visit Little Bighorn Battlefield later this month and I'll look for the book there.I also read "Archaeology,History,and Custers Last Battle" by Richard Fox.It was one of those books that you hate to put down--great read and he does have interesting insights into this famous Last Stand.My only complaint with his work is that people do gravitate to an area which played the dominate role --Last Stand Hill--and I'm sure through the years they picked that site clean. I visit many Civil War battlefields and you can often see ground finds ( bullets and other items)-but the well known areas you see nothing. I think you are correct in that it was a running fight after Calhoun's position was over run. There were 42 bodies collected on Last Stand Hill-so some did make a stand.Its just an interesting battle and we will never know just what happened.It has often been stated that the Plains Indians were the best light cavalry in the world,and on June 25 1876 they proved how good they were.

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Post by Nebfer » 18 May 2005 04:07

I saw a program that went over Little Big Horn and thy came up that it was a rout.


as for the Battle of Balaclava the pore Turks get the bad rap, when thy where defending the place 2 hours before the Brits got there.

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Post by TISO » 19 May 2005 22:00

A few more candidates from WW2:

Last stand by starshy laytnant Katarina Ivanovna Zelenko bomber pilot and assistant commander of 5. flight of 135. BAP ( bombers Su-2) (part of 16.SAD):
On the battlefield since 22.06.1941 she made 40 combat missions and fought german fighters on 12 ocasions.
On 12. of september 1941 during return from her third recce mission of the day pair of bombers wes attacked by Me-109 fighters. Soon the other airplane (kapitan Lebedyev) was hit and has left the fight. Zelenko and her gunner were alone against 7 Me-109's. She managed to shoot down one but her airplane was hit. Both she and her gunner aviator-observer laytnant N.Pavlik were wounded. She ordered Pavlik to bail out and continued dogfight. Soon she ran out of ammunition. Then she preformed Taran ( ramming attack). She destroyed another Me-109, her airplane exploded on impact. She was killed. All this happened over vilige of Anastasevka in Sumy area.
She was posthumously decorated with order of Lenin ( December 1941) and golden star of Hero of Soviet Union (5. May 1990) .
http://aeroram.narod.ru/win/taran.htm - site is in Russian ( a very good site dealing with ramming attacks by soviet aircrews)

Battle of Raseiniai ( hope i wrote it wright) 24.-25-june 1941
Single KV-2 tank of 2nd tank Division of III mechanized corps managed to halt entire 6 Panzer Division for almost 2 days ( 24-25 of june 1941) near Lithuanian town of Raseiniai. Crew simply run over AT batery and destroyed one 88 mm gun from range of 900m. They positioned themselves so germans could not outflank them ( marshy ground). German tank attack failed. During the night sapers managed to put two demolition charges on the tank and managed to destroy one of the tracks, gun was undamaged. Next day a panzer company mounted mock charge to busy the soviet crew. A 88 was towed in position and fired 4 shots ( there is some difference in number of shots) to destroy the soviet tank. Unknown heroic crew perished.
http://www.fun-online.sk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1175 - forum about tanks
http://www.ontheway.us/gallery10/FrValerianKV-2.htm - this one is modeling link with few photos of real deal

Battle of La Horgonne 15.5.1940
3.e Brigade de Spahis defended town of La Horgonne with 2000 cavalery men against kampfgreppe of 1.Pz Div. Not exctly last stand but close to it.
http://www.fun-online.sk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1077 (by David Lehman)

Battle for Carpiquet ( Normandy):
Members of panzergrenadier regiment of 12.SS Pz.Gren.Div. defended airfield against superior allied forces until they were anihilated.

Defence of Brest-Litovsk June - August 1941
Defence of Westerplatte September 1939

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Post by g.l.s.h » 14 Jun 2005 10:10

David Koresh and his followers at Waco

Without getting into the question of what the hell they were doing, you must admire the fact that those people resisted and fought back the law enforcement and FBI agents. The fact that they could have surrendered and get away with reasonable punishments compared to their final end, is not that important since they definitely saw their struggle in fatalistic eyes. Since the "easy on the trigger" approach by the FBI was then already known, we could regard their choice to stay in the surrounded wooden farm, while tanks were approaching, an act of admirable last stand (even though there were helpless children locked there too).

Oh, and those were not even professional trained soldiers

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Post by Andy H » 16 Jun 2005 17:35

g.l.s.h wrote:David Koresh and his followers at Waco

Without getting into the question of what the hell they were doing, you must admire the fact that those people resisted and fought back the law enforcement and FBI agents. The fact that they could have surrendered and get away with reasonable punishments compared to their final end, is not that important since they definitely saw their struggle in fatalistic eyes. Since the "easy on the trigger" approach by the FBI was then already known, we could regard their choice to stay in the surrounded wooden farm, while tanks were approaching, an act of admirable last stand (even though there were helpless children locked there too).

Oh, and those were not even professional trained soldiers
I don't agree with that assesment in the context of this thread.

Part of the reason the 'held out' so long was because the various agencies were at first attempting to secure the compound while not causing any unneccesary casualties. I think that from off if the Agencies had been told, destroy it and kill everyone then, the stand wouldn't have lasted that long.

Regards

Andy H

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Two Litre
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Post by Two Litre » 19 Jun 2005 00:43

I saw on Tv about the English Royal West Kents holding out against the Japanese Hoardes in Burma for 13 days until a relief force rescued them

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Victor
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Post by Victor » 19 Jun 2005 21:25

Two Litre wrote:I saw on Tv about the English Royal West Kents holding out against the Japanese Hoardes in Burma for 13 days until a relief force rescued them
As far as I know, the Japanese Army was organized in battalions, regiments, divisions etc. similarly to other Armies. Also, to the best of my knowledge, the Japanese Empire wasn't a state created by nomads of the steppe. So please try to use more appropiate terms.

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Musashi
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Post by Musashi » 19 Jun 2005 23:01

Victor wrote:
Two Litre wrote:I saw on Tv about the English Royal West Kents holding out against the Japanese Hoardes in Burma for 13 days until a relief force rescued them
As far as I know, the Japanese Army was organized in battalions, regiments, divisions etc. similarly to other Armies. Also, to the best of my knowledge, the Japanese Empire wasn't a state created by nomads of the steppe. So please try to use more appropiate terms.
I did not like this term, either. However I was not sure if he meant what I supposed, because this word was misspelt and besides I am not a moderator on this forum [fortunately for everybody :wink: ].

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Post by Victor » 21 Jun 2005 19:19

Another famous last stand, although a little more different than others, is the defense of Masada by Eleazar and his handfull of Jewish fighters in 72 AD, i nfront of the entire X Legion + auxilliaries. When it became clear that they will not be able to withstand the final assault, the defenders killed themselves to not give the Romans the opportunity capture them alive.

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Post by g.l.s.h » 21 Jun 2005 20:50

Victor wrote:Another famous last stand, although a little more different than others, is the defense of Masada by Eleazar and his handfull of Jewish fighters in 72 AD, i nfront of the entire X Legion + auxilliaries. When it became clear that they will not be able to withstand the final assault, the defenders killed themselves to not give the Romans the opportunity capture them alive.
This case is more of a “theological madness” case, then a “heroic last stand” one (as that entire revolt was). Sure, if the story is true, those people were brave to get themselves surrounded by the massive Roman army, but then it was nature that made stand for that long, not military act. All the Romans did, was to get their army to the desert, build the siege wall and camps, put an amazing effort (probably through pow’s and slaves) in building the impressive siege ramp, and then once the battering ram’s tower was dominating the walls on the cliff, to clear the storm point from the defenders. These were all known Roman tactics we know from other sieges of that revolt, and from numerous other Roman wars. On this point, they could have given a show of last stand resistance, but then since the Romans had been in a position if ending the battle within a few hours (there was no possibility to stand on the plateau of the cliff, once the enemy had invaded), they allegedly chose to take their own life.

There are no special signs or stories about special acts they took to stop the Romans from completing the siege ramp, the way was done in other wars.

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Post by antoniop » 20 Jul 2005 16:08

What about Numantia in Spain.

Their inhabitants resisted roman troops during twenty years (153-133 b.C.), won a lot of battles, many generals and consuls had to abandon and at last, on year 133 bC Scipio Emilianus, after 9 month of final siege, took the town. But before this, most of its inhabitants commited suicide.

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Post by dragos03 » 20 Jul 2005 16:45

Another impressive last stand: the actions of the mixed Dutch-British-US-Australian fleet led by the Dutch Admiral Karel Doorman. They knew from the start that they have no chance against the Japanese. Almost all the ships were sunk trying to stop the Japanese invasion of Dutch East Indies. Admiral Doorman was killed when a Japanese torpedo hit his flagship De Ruyter.

The actions of the ABDA fleet, culminating in the battle of the Java Sea, were a heroic stand against overwhelming odds.

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Post by JonS » 27 Jul 2005 05:35

The Rifle Brigade at Snipe. Had a substantial effect on all that followed, too.

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