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10 Heroic Last Stands from Military History

To me, the “heroic last stand” is one of the most awesome of all the awesome footnotes of history. Sure, not all of them work out this way, but I can almost see the noble bunch of heroes looking at one another and saying, “This is it, gentlemen, we are royally screwed, surrounded, and the cavalry apparently ain’t coming so lets make this bunch pay dearly for our blood.” They are the brawniest bunch you can imagine and the ones the people back home are counting on to keep them safe.

Now, in my admittedly biased and prejudiced mind, not all Last Stands are created equal. So, for the purpose of this list, I’ve got five criteria in mind. Not every last stand here meets all five, but they must meet at least three.

1. If you are the aggressor, you can’t have a Last Stand because you are getting your just desserts. Simply put, you started it and if you hadn’t started it, you wouldn’t be getting wiped out to the last man, now would you? (Think Custer)
2. The odds are laughably against your team. We’re talking AT LEAST 3:1 against and the worse the odds, the burlier the last stand glory.
3. Everybody, or at least just about everybody, dies. It’s not a Last Stand if enough of you are left to make another last stand at some point.
4. Everyone EXPECTS to die. No surrender even if asked to. As one burly sergeant in a furball of a fight put it, “Surrender? Not bloody likely!” (Exception: You surrender on YOUR terms and it’s honored.)
5. The sacrifice has to mean something in the larger scheme of things. Otherwise, you should have bloody well retreated or something to try staying alive since what you did was get everyone killed for nothing.

So, with no further ado, and in no particular order, here are my suggestions for the burliest of the burly Last Stands.

1

The Last Stand at Thermopylae
circa 480 BC

Jacqueslouisdavidthermopylae

This was the stuff legends are made of and since Frank Miller’s film 300 came out, a whole new generation of people have been acquainted with the heroic sacrifice of Leonidas and his handpicked guard of 300 warriors, all of whom had mature sons who could carry on the family name. What a lot of people don’t seem to remember is that as awesome as Leo and his wild bunch were, they didn’t stand completely alone. Other city-states, notably Arcadia and Thespia, sent troops as well, so the force opposing the massive Persian army was closer to 6,000 than just 300. Still, that this group stopped those thousands cold in their tracks at the Hot Gates for three days and in the end were only dislodged by treachery is nothing short of amazing. The action scored a perfect 5 out of 5 on the criteria. The best legend, probably apocryphal – but maybe not, was one Spartan hoplite’s reply to a Persian envoy’s boast that, “Our arrows will blot out the Sun.” The hoplite replied, “So much the better, for then we shall fight in the shade!”


2

The Last Stand of the Swiss Guard
May 6, 1527

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Rome was sacked by the troops of the Holy Roman Empire under Emperor Charles V in 1527. When the troops, mostly rabble and mercenaries, of the empire breached the city, they immediately ignored the orders of Charles and pretty much everyone else in command and made straight for Vatican Hill intent on pillaging the richest treasures in Christendom. They also had murder on their mind and Pope Clement VII was high on the list of targets. The famous Swiss Guards, who used to do more than just stand around looking pretty for tourists, formed a fighting square on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica to face upwards of 20,000 bloodthirsty troops who were storming the city. Only 189 Guardsmen remained after the fighting to take the city, but these troops chose to make their stand in hopes of buying Clement time to escape the city through one of the warrens of tunnels under Rome. Clement made good his escape as the Guard managed to hold the porch of the church and prevent the doors from falling, but only 42 Swiss Guards survived and none of them were uninjured. Again, this one scores a 5 out of 5 and proves that when the Swiss decide not to be neutral, they aren’t a bunch to take lightly.

3

Battle of the Alamo
February 23 to March 6, 1836

Alamobattle

This one siege and especially its climactic pre-dawn final battle is the reason natives of Texas poke their chests out a little farther than most other Americans. It is a singular event in Texan history and it’s what lead directly to Texas becoming first a nation and later a state in the United States of America. Not only that, but “Remember the Alamo!” has rung down the years as a major battlecry for people who’ve never crossed the Texan border, but who feel a giddy sense of bravado in the face of utter annihilation.

At the old Spanish mission, 182 poorly armed Texas rebels faced upwards of 2000 crack Mexican troops under the command of the finest Mexican general, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The Mexicans had cavalry and a battery of cannon. The Texans had grit, determination, and cannons with very little ammunition. For 12 days, the Texans stood down Santa Anna, enduring bombardments daily. Finally, Santa Anna had enough and ordered a full assault on the mission in a surprise pre-dawn attack. Every defender of the mission was killed but Santa Anna did spare the women and children as well as sparing and freeing two African American slaves found in the fort. This last stand garners a 4.5 out of 5 because technically, the Mexicans were the “good guys” since the Texans were rebels against the lawful authority in Mexico City.


4

Battle of Camaron
April 30, 1863

Danjou1

This small engagement in Mexico while much of the world was focused on the American Civil War to the north, put the French Foreign Legion on the map and began a legend that persists today in the unofficial motto, “The Legion dies, it does not surrender.” Everything fell out because a group of 65 Foreign Legion troops, led by Capt. Jean Danjou were carrying supplies to Veracruz in support of the French campaign in Mexico under Napoleon III. Caught out in the open, the French troops managed to make a fighting retreat to the small hacienda of Cameron. There, surrounded and backs to the wall, the handful of Legionnaires fought like they were possessed. They repulsed attack after attack, cavalry charge after cavalry charge, until their ammunition began to run low.

Even after Capt. Danjou was felled by a bullet to the chest, his men fought on. Finally, only six of the men remained and they were out of bullets and powder. At this point, they have killed enough Mexicans to surrender honorably. After all, only six are left ALIVE, much less standing. But no, led by the highest remaining NCO, a corporal, the six men fixed bayonets and, with the cry of “Vive l’France”, charged the Mexican forces. Three were struck by rifle fire and killed outright. The remaining three were surrounded, wrestled to the ground and asked to surrender. Most men would have said fine and thanked their luck they were alive.

Not this bunch. One of the men looked up and said they would surrender only if they were allowed to keep their regimental Colors, keep their weapons, carry their dead with them, AND be given a safe conduct escort to their own lines. According to the accounts of eyewitnesses, the Mexican commander shook his head, laughed and ordered his men to comply with the Legionnaires’ demands. “After all,” he is supposed to have said, “What is one to do with devils like these?” To this day, April 30 is called Cameron Day in France and is celebrated by the Legion much as the Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated every November in America.

5

Battle of Shiroyama
September 24, 1877

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This battle would again only garner a 4 out of 5 on the criteria because Saigo’s samurai were technically rebels. BUT, they were rebels because the Emperor was destroying their way of life. Bushido and the sword had ruled samurai behavior for over a thousand years and now the nobility of the samurai and his training were being swept aside in favor of conscript troops with rapid firing weapons.

So, the samurai under their commander Saigo were retreating to their base of operations when they were caught and surrounded on the hill of Shiroyama. The 300 of them had their traditional bows and, of course, their matchless katanas. The 30,000 Imperial troops had rifled muskets and gatling guns.

The Imperial commander asked Saigo to surrender peacefully and be spared, but, being a samurai, Saigo couldn’t really do that. Instead, he spent the night of September 23 getting buzzed on sake and ready to die. At 3:00 AM, the Imperial troops began an artillery bombardment followed by a full frontal attack. Saigo was twice wounded before committing ritual suicide to avoid the dishonor of capture. The thirty men who survived the artillery barrage charged the Imperial lines and began laying about them with their katanas. They acquitted themselves well, but in the end, every one of them was killed and the way of the samurai was dead . . . at least until the start of World War II.


6

Battle of Rorke’s Drift
January 22, 1879

Defence-Rorkes-Drift

Okay, this is another slightly technical violation of my criteria. After all, if the Brits hadn’t been trying to take the Zulu’s land, Rorke’s Drift never would have happened. BUT, in my defense, these particular 139 soldiers weren’t invading anything. They were left behind while the “big boys” went off to get massacred at the Battle of Islawandha.

No, this was a group of cooks, supply clerks, Royal Engineers, and other guys who could fight if they had to, but hadn’t really been called upon very much. They were the prime example of the “in the rear with the gear” soldiers. Unfortunately, all their buddies were wiped out at the aforementioned Battle of Islawandha. To make matters worse, a whole crap load of Zulus didn’t get to take part in the battle because everyone was dead before they got there. So, those bored Zulus decided to take out their frustrations on the supply depot at Rorke’s Drift.

The Zulus had numbers, surprise, the high ground, and knowledge of the terrain. The defenders had bags of grain, Martini-Henry rifles, and bayonets “with some guts behind them”. The Zulus attacked in massive waves all through the afternoon of January 22 and through the night and early morning of January 23. They were gathering for another assault when their scouts spotted the British relief column complete with cannon and decided to retire.

The defenders gained a new respect for the Zulus and in the process garnered 11 Victoria Crosses, the most ever awarded for a single engagement. True, they weren’t wiped out, but when they looked up and saw every surrounding hill bristling with Zulu warriors, no one thought he was getting out alive.

7

Battle of Pasir Panjang
13 February 1942

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1,400 Malay, British, Indian and Australian soldiers faced off against 13,000 Japanese troops in an attempt to save Singapore or at least give the civilians time to evacuate. Soldiers from the Royal Malay Regiment, The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, the British 2nd Loyals Regiment, the 44th Indian Brigade and the 22nd Australian Brigade made a futile attempt to stop the advancing Japanese towards the centre of Singapore. The majority of the defenders fell in the battle. Those that did not became prisoners who would later be pressed into service on the Thai-Burma Railroad where they would be forced to built a famous bridge over a famous river.

In the final hours of battle, a Malay soldier, 2nd Lieutenant Adnan Bin Saidi, led a 42-man platoon against thousands of invaders, leaving himself as a sole survivor. The Japanese suffered a disproportionately high number of casualties because of these men’s bravery so as punishment for being burly and courageous they tortured Adnan before executing him.


8

Siege of Bastogne
19 December 1944-December 26, 1944

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Early in the Battle of the Bulge about 12,000 under-equipped and exhausted US Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division seized the town of Bastogne to defend this strategic crossroads from the German Advance. They were promptly and completely surrounded by roughly 15 Divisions of Germans. The 101st could only be sustained by airdrops from C-47s and things looked suitably grim. Seeing the hopelessness of the American position, German commander, General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz asked the 101st’s acting commander, Captain Anthony McAuliffe to surrender, McAuliffe’s famously terse reply was “Nuts!”.

Under their impetuous commander, the unit held off multiple German Panzer attacks, until eventually relieved by George S. Patton’s US Third Army on December 26. One of the units of the 101st to take part in the battle was the legendary Easy Company immortalized in the TV series “Band of Brothers.”

9

The Saxon Housecarls at Hastings
October 14, 1066

Housecarls

On January 6, 1066, Harold Godwinson became King Harold II following the death of his brother-in-law, Edward the Confessor. By late summer, he was faced with two imminent attempts to invade England. The first came in the northeast from his traitorous brother, Tostig, and King Harald Hardraada of Norway. While celebrating his defeat of Hardraada at a victory feast, Harold received word that Duke William the Bastard had landed at Pevensey in the south with 7,000 men. Harold gathered his forces, marched south to London, and by the evening of October 13, deployed his forces along Battle, or Senlac, Ridge near Hastings.

The battle developed into a deadly engagement between the Saxon infantry and the Norman cavalry and archers. Initially, Norman arrows were harmlessly deflected by Saxon shields, and Saxon axes and spears shattered the first Norman charge. Overcome by confidence, the Saxon infantry unwisely followed the retreating cavalry in reckless pursuit and were cut down by the Norman reserve. Harold reformed his forces and the Saxons braced for additional charges. The battle evolved into relentless pounding on the Saxon line by the Norman cavalry. The Saxons more than held their own and inflicted heavy casualties. Just before evening, William feigned a general withdrawal and many Saxons again broke ranks to pursue. The knights wheeled round and destroyed the Saxon infantry in the open field.

Harold and his housecarl bodyguard remained intact and just as formidable on the ridge. William ordered a final charge. This time he first had his archers aim not at the Saxon shields but release their volleys into the air so the arrows would fall on the Saxons from above. The tactic worked, but the Harold and his housecarls fought on until an arrow struck the king in the eye. As Harold struggled to pull it free, four Norman knights (one of whom may have been William) attacked. One speared Harold in the chest, and a second nearly decapitated him with a sword. As he fell, the other two Normans delivered additional blows. With Harold’s fall, the Saxon forces panicked and retreated into the nearby woods except for the housecarls who fought to the death around the body of their dead king.

10

The Battle Off Samar
October 25, 1944

Yamato Battle Off Samar

The Battle Off Samar (also known as “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors) has been cited by historians as one of the greatest military mismatches in naval history. It took place in the Philippine Sea off Samar Island, in the Philippines. It all started when Admiral William Halsey, Jr. was lured into taking his powerful U.S. Third Fleet after a Japanese decoy fleet. He thought this fleet was the main Japanese battle group and if he could catch them, he could destroy what was left of the Japanese navy.

To defend his rear, he left behind only “Taffy 3,” a light screen of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and three escort “baby” carriers. A powerful Japanese surface force of battleships and cruisers thought to have been defeated and in retreat earlier had instead turned around unobserved and came upon the tiny force of tiny ships. With nothing else he could do, Admiral Spruance in command of Taffy 3 gave the order, “Small Boys (meaning destroyers and escorts) attack.”

With that order Taffy 3’s destroyers and destroyer escort desperately charged forward and attacked with 5 inch guns which could not penetrate even the thinnest armor of the Japanese armada and torpedoes, while carrier aircraft dropped bombs and depth charges, then out of bombs, strafed the bridges of the Japanese heavy ships. While the Americans suffered more losses in ships and men than were lost at the Battle of Midway, they caused so much damage and confusion to convince the Japanese commander, Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita thought he had stumbled upon the lead element of Halsey’s main fleet. Fearing for his forces, he ordered his ships to regroup and ultimately withdraw rather than advancing to sink troop and supply ships at Leyte Gulf. Taffy 3’s bold defense in the face of overwhelmingly superior firepower saved the invasion of the Phillippines.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • kiril

    cool topic page

    • PabloZ

      good page, but can any1 tell the guy that made it that he forgot the boy heroes of chapultepec in mexico. Six of those boys stopped the USA from invading mexico city by defending a military academy outside of mexico city.
      Thank you

      • Víctor

        They didn’t stop the americans from invading mexico city. They were murdered. Their heroism is based on their early age to defend the city. And it’s very doubtful, though

        • Carlos Baeza

          Both have some truth…The USA soldiers were at the outside of Mexico city, The “Castillo de Chapultepec” was the militar academy of the time, that day, was a no labor day, only 6 soldiers (from 13 to 16 years) were there because they did not get back to their home (Some say that they did not have money, some because the were in detention) but they were the only infantry personal available (1 medic, 1 handy man and 1 kitchen assistant were there too) so they managed to hold for 8 hours the take of the academy, the last one standing took the flag so the invaders could not make any profanation and heavily wounded he jumped from the roof of the castle. Is not doubtful, even the General Winfield Scott gave the chance to make them a proper funeral, presenting his honors. Despite the age, that pure HEROISM

    • Ortega&Gasset

      Good list, but where are Saragossa and Numantia? The first one lost about 90% of it’s population defending the city from the napoleonic troops,who had to take street by street and house by house…
      Numantia resisted 10 years before falling to the Roman domain, only after having most of it’s defenders suicided.

  • Shagrat

    VERY, VERY good list Shannon – Master Frater, take heed THIS is what an historical list is supposed to look like – accurate and well researched.

    There was one minor flaw Shannon – though a forgivable one – "Battle of Islawandha" is a poor interpretation of the actual name: To the British it was Isandula; to the Boers it was [sic] Isandwana and to the Zulu it was Isandlhwana:

    I once wrote a thesis on the History of the Ambulance Service and Ambulance Officer Education and in the process had to research various editions of First Aid Manuals produced by the St.John Ambulance Association – I was fortunate in being able to handle and copy an original 'First Edition' which was written by Surgeon-Major Dr.Peter Shepherd; who died at Isandhlwana

    Anyhow – bloody good list

    • thegreek

      Don’t forget that the number of ships at the Battle off of Samar was three Destroyers, four Destroyer Escorts and Six Escort Carriers against the largest battleship ever constructed along with at least two other battleships, several cruisers and a number of destroyers

      • thegreek

        I said escorts

  • Luce

    Love Historic lists :)

  • blitz17

    good job on including the technicalities of the battles and pointing out who the good/bad guys really were. especially in the alamo one. nice list too. enjoyed reading it.

  • blitz17

    People always seem to forget who the good guys at the alamo really were, i mean hell, the mexicans actually spared the women and children, spared AND FREED the slaves.

  • Harry

    The Battle of Marathon is one of my favourite last-stands.

    • john

      but it wasn't really a last stand. it was a fair fight that the greeks won because of their superior training and weapons and armor.

  • writersblockdiary

    Another awesome list. Great job! All I’d add would be a little episode from the history of WW2 in Poland — the battle of Wizna ( wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Wizna). The Polish troops were outnumbered 60 to 1 (42’000 German troops vs 720 Poles), and yet managed to resist the German onslaught for 3 days…

  • jake ryder

    Very well done. I always like the historical lists.

  • big al’

    Nice list. How about one with unlikely victors in war? I’m thinking the Winter War with the Fins against the Russians.

  • Ru

    awesome list, really detailed and not biased towards those involved.

  • lostyank2009

    Truly great list!

    I have to say that #1 is by far my favorite. I was greatly disappointed with the movie 300. A much better account is the book Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I spent may sleepless nights in the Greek state of Sparta with this book. I must read for Last Stand fans!!!

  • Sharkey

    It should be noted that after the Battle of Pasir Panjang ridge, the British, Malay, Indian and Australian soldiers who were captured were marched through Singapore to Changi prison. This was meant to embarrass the troops and civilians. Instead, the marching soldiers were met with tears and cheers from the civilian population of Singapore…

  • ImElvis666

    I deserved at least an honourable mention here. I was the last one standing at my cousins wedding recently after fighting off about twelve pints and ten rum and cokes!!

    Seriously though, wonderful list. Well researched and very informative. I really enjoyed it and learned some too. Great job bud.

  • Sharkey

    Harry (5) The Battle of Marathon was not a Last Stand type affair. It was simple warfare.

  • JUNQUEMAN

    14 SHARKEY DOH!!!! They were all conventional warfare until someone got their ass handed to them on a plate.

  • BiggieRoxXx

    This is a pretty good list… Then again I do like historical events lol. Maybe the next list we read about is an aerial battles list? Or great odds in aerial battles like the story of “Old 666” 1 B-17E bomber against 17 Japanese Kaza Zeros…

  • icarusfoundyou

    A very well written list I thought, nice one! :)

  • Sharkey

    @JUNQUEMAN (15) Point taken, but “Last Stand” would generally mean outgunned, outnumbered, and poor odds on survival. The Battle of Marathon doesn’t really fit the bill, does it? It was simple, open plains warfare, where an invasion force was stopped and routed.

    In other words, read the introduction to the list.

  • nuriko

    I like this list since Philippines is included! :P

  • Doghouse Riley

    Very good list. The only entry I would add is the stand of the British paratroops at Arnhem Bridge….

  • Brian The Adequate

    Great list.

    Technically though Patton did not relieve the 101st Airborne as the 101st did not come off the line after the Third Army broke through. The 101st was resupplied by the Third Army, but not relieved.

  • Trapper439

    Very well researched, and as others have said it’s unbiased as well. Nice work, Shannon. Nice work indeed.

  • Anna12

    It should be ‘Vive la France!’
    Sorry, sorry i’ll get back to my reading…excellent so far though

  • Harry

    @Sharkey (18):

    Although I take the point that the Battle of Marathon doesn’t quite fit your description of a last stand, I’ve always considered it as such. Mainly because if the Athenians and Plataeans didn’t meet the the Persian army at Marathon, the Persians would have had a clear march to Athens, meeting little resistance on their warpath. In a sense it was the only possible plan of action, where surrender or refusal to fight in this case, would have led to the Persian conquer of Athens.

    Now, while numbers are heavily debated, it’s historically agreed (mostly, haha) that the Greeks numbered 9 – 10 thousand, while the Persians had 25 thousand infantry and 1 thousand cavalry, outnumbering the Greeks by about a 5:2 ratio (just slightly less than the requisite 3:1 you described). Funnily enough, the Persians got their behinds thoroughly spanked by the Greeks and I can see that that there is where the battle falls short of the illustrious last-stand status, but the overwhelming necessity for the Greeks to meet the Persians while they knew they were heavily outnumbered and may possibly suffer severe casualties I think credits it as a “Penultimate Stand” – a term I happily coin.

  • juanjux

    One from spanish history, for the next list:

    Battle of El Caney (Spanish-American war)

    500 spanish soldiers with no machine guns or cannons against 8000 americans with artillery and two machine guns for 12 hours. 300 spanish died.

  • sdave

    not sure if this qualifies (based on your criteria):
    Battle of Blood River (bloed rivier):
    Odds: 21 to 1
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blood_River

  • reggie5N

    REMEMBER THE ALAMO!

  • Iain

    Lostyank2009 – good call on ‘Gates of Fire’. One of my biggest gripes about ‘300’ is that it undoubtedly stopped dead the plans to make a movie of ‘Gates of Fire’ – a far superior story.

  • Lola

    I really enjoyed your list and thought it was very well written.
    It was good that you put the criteria in and said where it did/didn’t adhere to it.
    Sometimes, when I read snippets of battles, without knowing much about it, I get really confused about what’s happening. But you made this very clear and it made sense to me :)
    Great list!

  • Sharkey

    @Harry (24) I understand what you mean now. It’s good to get a different perspective.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on the terminology.

    I would argue that had the German defences routed the Allied invasion fleet on D-Day, it would not be called a Last Stand.

    And for the record, I didn’t make the rules (3:1 ratio). I was just refering Junqueman to them…

  • Techstyles

    Cool list – what about Dien Bien Phu though ?

  • Ru

    @20

    although Arnhem was a famous WW2 battle and a very heroic feat. It doesn’t meet the last stand requirement since they had to retreat at some point, although it where only about 800 man out of thousands…

  • oouchan

    Great list, Shannon! I usually don’t like the war stuff, but I got interested inspite of myself. :)
    Number 10 on the list, I have heard of before. I always thought that was truly funny how misconceptions can turn a battle.
    Got a last stand to share with you. It was from the Vietnam War. A couple of soldiers were locked in a barn while they were getting shot at. One was a very large Norweigan (sp?) man. They were running out of supplies, weapons and bullets. ….. He had a double bladed battle axe that he carried with him. When they ran out of bullets and knew they were going to die, he grabbed the axe and jumped onto a bale of hay and started yelling like a beserker. Needless to say, he scared the crap out of the enemy since he was so big and they ran for it. Friendly reinforcements showed up about an hour later.
    I always liked that story. :)

  • lee

    So happy to see our local hero, 2nd Lieutenant Adnan Bin Saidi, is mentioned here at number 7.

  • MacDimples

    Bannockburn? We were outnumbered and starving and if we’d lost a whole country would have been wiped off the map. Robert the Bruce’s brothers were dead and his sisters were English prisoners, but he lead Scotland to victory and smashed the English army.

    Can’t realy argue against the choices which were mostly against far greater odds, just wanted to mention Bannockburn and I hope it makes a list somewhere.

    The Swiss Guard story was fascinating, and having been to St Peter’s Square the image of a fighting square of the colourful Swiss Guard fending off 20,000 soldiers charging through the gate is a very exciting one.

    All of the stories were very interesting, and I didn’t realise that the Normans beat the Saxons by fleeing, regrouping and throwing reserves on the stretched Saxon forces. I hate myself for nitpicking this awesomely well-researched list but I’ve always understood that battle to be evenly matched and the fact that only the Harold’s Housecarl were left standing has more to do with the rashness of his own troops and Norman tactics than anything else.

    Also does anyone else prefer having lists go from 10 to 1 rather than 1 to 10 as the list usually builds up to the biggest and best story as you read on?

    I really absolutely love this website.

  • MacDimples

    Also Stalingrad?

  • saber25

    Haha Great list! Thanks exactly for posting Philipppines in the list. I’m a journalist here. But what about Lapu-lapu and magellan?

  • InfearNO

    Screw last stands I much prefer the noble, venerable and above all, non-fatal tactic of running like the bejesus. I like breathing to much to make a last stand.

  • Nauplius

    Excellent job! I really enjoyed this list, and love your writing style. Nice work Shannon. :)

    • Emilio

      http://chessheroes.blogspot.com/2008/12/rememberi

      The Battle of Tirad Pass (December 2, 1899)

      Last Stand of 24-year old Gregorio Del Pilar's 50 barefoot Filipino soldiers against 600 Texas Rangers who successfully defended their position for more than 5 hours to ensure the delay of the American advance and the longetivity of the Philippine Republic during the Philippine American War (1899-1913).

  • astraya

    Famous last words:

    1) “Look at all those fucking Persians!”
    2) “Look at all those fucking Holy Romans!”
    3) “Look at all those fucking Mexicans!”
    4) “Look at all those fucking Mexicans!”
    5) “Look at all those fucking Japanese!”
    6) “Look at all those fucking Zulus!”
    7) “Look at all those fucking Japanese!”
    8) “Look at all those fucking Germans!”
    9) “Look at all those fucking Normans!”
    “I’d love to, but I’ve got something in my eye!”
    10) “Look at all those fucking Japanese!”

  • astraya

    I hate smileys. That’s meant to be “8”.

  • halo

    This list is so awesome. The Last Stand at Thermopylae (maybe I was brainwashed by 300) and Battle of Pasir Panjang (So happy to see our local hero, 2nd Lieutenant Adnan Bin Saidi, is mentioned here)

    @lee
    yup I agree with you..:D

  • mitchsn

    Important thing to note about #8 is that the Paratroopers weren’t trying to escape. Their orders were to hold there ground so when Patton broke through the lines, he didn’t rescue them, he (as listverse accurately states) releived them.

    #6 Zulu is a fabulous movie based on this battle.

  • alexman

    in history there are no good guys or bad guys so at the alamo neither side was good or evil or right or wrong.

    mexico was trying to hold on to its land and free slaves as was its right but the texans were trying to get independance which was their right too. its funny how america viewed the texans as having a right to independace if the people wanted it and so fought the mexican-american war in support yet years later fanatically attacked the confederates who peacefully voted to leave the union.

    • Keeb

      Mexican American war was fought over the border dispute plus US’s desire to be a two ocean nation.

  • kapss

    Heard of the Battle of Saragarhi anyone. Thermopylae had more than 6000 greeks who fought in a narrow pass. The advantage that the persians had in their numbers was robbed from them. But Saragarhi was real stuff. Go through this and your rankings might change.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi

  • Pyderz

    Good list i liked it.

  • mom424

    Excellent job Shannon. Informative, well written (I love the no copy/paste rule you adhere to), and enough background information on each battle to provide context and atmosphere.

    I was under the impression that The Alamo was a huge waste. Were the hold-outs not ordered to retreat? and didn’t?

    Thanks also to our regular contributors for the links to other notable last stands. Fascinating topic.

  • KDRockstar

    Rockstar list… hope to read more of your work, Shannon.

  • notorioustgb

    capital list! well written, well researched, liked the criteria you used.

    also happy to see respectful and intelligent debate returning to the comments : )

  • Tom

    Great list, have always been interested in this topic.

    Also, even though I am completely on the side of the American Marines, the Battle of Iwo Jima could be considered a last stand for the Japanese.

  • RobertN

    Great list. One minor correction, Anthony McAuliffe was a Colonel, not a Captain, at Bastogne.

  • MacDimples

    The Battle of Bannockburn 1314 saved Scotland from being wiped off the map. Sir William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland had been executed by the English in 1305. Robert the Bruce’s family were dead or in English dungeons. The country’s future lay on a knife’s edge.

    An English force of 2-3,000 heavy horse and 16,000 infantry marched up from Berwick-Upon-Tweed and eventually faced the Scottish army over the Bannock Burn. The Scots, led by Robert the Bruce, were starving and outnumbered by more than 3 to 1.

    Before the battle began, Henry de Bohun, a young English knight, broke from the English lines and charged towards Bruce, on a thundering warhorse, seeking immortal fame and glory. The Scottish army watched with nervous apprehension. If Bruce was killed, de Bohun would be a hero and he would have won the battle for the English single-handedly.

    Instead, Bruce turned de Bohun’s lance aside, stood in the stirrups of his palfrey, and split the young challenger’s helmet and head in two with his axe, which shattered with the force of the blow. Rebuked by his commanders for taking such a huge risk, Bruce expressed only regret for the loss of his favourite axe.

    Emboldened by this, the Scots surged forwards and battle began. The battle went on for two days, the English were almost wiped out, losing two-thirds of their troops while the Scottish suffered only light casualties.

    This consolidated Bruce as the King of Scotland and peace with the English followed 10 years later.

    I would hate to be considered a nationalist, and I love England as a country, but Bannockburn is an amazing story and the Scottish Wars of Independence are the most fascinating period of Scottish history.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bannockburn

    Anyway, love the list, just wanted to tell a story too, even if it doesn’t meet all the criteria. Is it still a last stand if they expected to die, but actually kicked ass?

  • ThomPayne

    psssst! Masada.

  • Sarah

    Um the fall of Singapore was not a brave last stand, the Japanese were actually outnumbered in the attack. It was poor British leadership and a lack of aircraft which lost it for the Allies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Singapore

  • ringtailroxy

    this list has been the most entertaining, educational, & accurate one i’ve read in a long while!

    i can’t believe i haven’t read one complaint yet…no “too European” or “this list sucks”

    kudos to Shannon!

    however, i do have to disagree with one statement…in #4, you state “To this day, April 30 is called Cameron Day in France and is celebrated by the Legion much as the Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated every November in America.”

    uhm…i’m American. the daughter of a Marine. the ex-girlfriend of 3 jarheads. & at no time, ever, have i been to, seen, or even seen a parade celebrating the Marine Corps Birthday. maybe it’s celebrated by those actively enlisted, but i’ve never heard of it before this morning.

    rtr

    rtr

  • aprilweather

    Super list Shannon-I had an uncle at the Battle Of Samar—And yes,you’re right-The Texicans were rebels against the lawful government but so were we Americans in 1776-

  • GTT

    @astraya (38):

    :lol: That was one of the funniest comments I´ve read in a while! “I´d love to but there´s somehting in my eye!” was absolutely priceless!!

    Shannon: Absolutely fabulous list! I love history lists and this one was a pleasure to read. I had heard of Thermopylae (anyone who hasnt seen 300 is obviously living in a hole) as well as most others but a couple of these were new. I had never heard of the Swiss Guard one for exmample. Two thumbs up! :)

  • Andres

    Awesome list, but you messed up BIG TIME by not making it a countdown (from 10 to 1). A list that runs from 1 to 10 is just not as riveting.

  • Me

    Fascinating list. Well presented.

  • bearded defender

    U.S navy didnt saved the “invasion of the Philippines”, in fact the Philippines was already invaded. And wouldve been BETTER left alone, than the americans bombing Intramuros and destroying the rest of what was the beautiful Manila into rubble.

    * sigh

  • Kay

    Great list. It was very interesting.

  • Adonis

    wheres the canadian love? :)
    second battle of ypres where 160 tons of chlorine gas were poured down on allied lines and the canadian forces where left alone to defend the line as british and french colonial forces fled. one in every three died during the attack.

    or the destruction of the 1st newfoundland regiment during the battle of the somme, of 801 men in the regiment only 68 men answered the roll call after the battle

  • Blogball

    Great list Shannon. I also liked the criteria you set up for yourself.

    astraya, I never thought I would enjoy a comment where the f word is used 10 times but I have to admit that was pretty funny.

  • gatineau

    “This is SPARTAA!!”

  • ABrutalKind

    Great Job Shannon, I LOVE these history lists. They make me day!
    This is one of the best lists I have read here. You set up criteria and followed through with it, it helped us truly understand why you chose what you did. Fantastic and more history lists jfrat!

    peace and love

  • gatineau

    @Adonis (61):

    That is very true. I always thought that the Canadian efforts in both World Wars were always shunned to the side and have not been noticed.

  • General-Jake

    This has gotta be one of my favorites. I love these kinds of lists.

  • redcaboose

    Great list, well researched. I am very familiar with the history of the Alamo, as i have relatives in San Antonio and all over Texas, who never failed to tell be every tidbit about the battle. I have been to it several times, and it does have a reverent feel about it.

    I knew just a little of some of the other battles, but I now have a lot of fodder for research.

    @ringtailroxy (54): You are right. The way veterans in the US are honored should be changed. There are Veteran day parades, but not much else. A am a Veteran, and I have noticed that a lot of people just give mouth service to supporting the troops and vets. Sometimes they feel uncomfortable around us, and do not know what to say. Supporting troops and vets is not the same as loving or hating war.

  • necro_penguin

    @RobertN (50): i thought that was wrong. i knew he was a general but wasn’t sure if he was at that time or not.

    @Adonis (61): the british forces were the aggressors in the battle of the somme. that would make them ineligible for this list.

    i love this list. it’s quite possibly my favorite so far.

  • ben

    your point about the mexicans being the good guys is interesting but the mexicans had a dictator and the texans had a republic

  • ben

    ”your point about the mexicans being the good guys is interesting but the mexicans had a dictator and the texans had a republic” ben

    well never mind the mexican didn’t exactly have a dictator but they had banned the constituation and outlawed any religion besides catholcism and soon santa anna became the dictator of mecico

  • WiseMenSay

    the history lists are my favourites, and this is one of the best yet. :D

  • Ember

    Great list, had heard about anly half of them. Another suggestion would be the Battle of Long Tan. 108 Australian troops versus 2500-3500 Viet-Cong

  • PT

    Outstanding work Shannon a totally facinating list

  • diego

    guys, c mon, i´m from mexico, you cannot put the battle of camaron on the list, it does not apply as they were invading my fucking country, how can you defend and honor them when they were the aggresors. i hope you understand why im upset about it.

  • Mathilda

    This is really a great list, Shannon. Just really well done all around.

  • shaymm

    Awesome list…I like how thorough it was. kepp up the good work and think of something else to write about. 5/5

  • Kreachure

    Awesome list, thanks Shannon! Last stands are definitely one of the coolest topics in History. Very sober and fascinating choices. I loved how serious and dedicated you decided to be for this list, with your criteria and accuracy. It’s not only very informative, but also very entertaining. Good job! :D

    For those interested in these and many more historical last stands, you should check out the Wiki page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_stand

    Nuts! :P

  • tunes

    uh, McCauliffe was a Major General, Deputy Commander of 101st. Airborne Division, not a Captain as stated.

  • Lord Darth Mysterio

    The Alamo, the most damn overrated battle of all time and Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna The Mexican Hitler.
    I never like history as a “Science”, every damn year change and become what the guys in power need, the Battle of the Alamo its for the Mexican and the Americans, like a par tof a sacred book, like the most of sacred books its a history to make you feel good.
    To be honest i read about Mexican history this and 5 of May, for me are so damn overrated.
    Another thing, i could sound like i am a bad guy, but lets face it, when something its in every list, you know its not tha cool.

  • lowdog

    check out the battle of Mirbat. im vague on the info but i belive it was in around the 1960s in Omar(?) there was around 10 SAS men protecting a communications post when 300+ national guerilas (i really can’t spell that word) began to attack from the surrounding hills. the SAS held there ground with 30-1 odds and just one ww2 artillery gun that they shot almost horizontally at the attackers. in the end they held off and the geurilas retreated. i guess you could wikipedia the battle of Mirbat…i might not make it sounds interesting but it really is.

    very good list btw! i love the historical ones… especialy military history. MORE!

  • Looser

    great list. very well researched.

  • Alencon

    What the hell is wrong with being a rebel?

    As for Taffy 3, legend has it that when the Japanese fleet turned and began to withdraw, the event was announced by a recon pilot with the words “They’re getting away!!”

  • astraya

    I had a blood alcohol content last night. I don’t now. Thanks to those who responded positively and apologies to those who were offended. Somewhere on the internet there is a list of “Great uses of that word through history”. One of them (basically the sentence I appropriated) is attributed to General Custer (BTW the I can’t figure out why someone hasn’t said “What about” and “General Custer” in the same sentence so far).

    Seriously, despite their fierce neutrality (perhaps a contradiction in terms), the Swiss have mad quite an export industry of supply mercenary troops to whoever wants to pay for them. In Lucerne there is a monument of a wounded lion, in memory of Swiss troops who were killed in the French revolution.

  • to_sam_ja

    I just read the list on wikipedia and I was suprised to see battle of Dražgoše there. I’ve never heard anything about that. And I thought I knew every battle that took place in Yugoslavia during WW2 :D
    Just kidding, but honestly, I’m very surprised that this wasn’t in our history books.

  • astraya

    ” i guess you could wikipedia the battle of Mirbat”

    Some purists are horrified about the use of “to google” as a verb. This is the first time I have ever seen “to wikipedia” as a verb.

    BTW This could easily have been an ordered list – chronologically (backwards or forwards), by number of defenders, by ratio. Other than that, great list, as many have already said.

  • mo

    I thought that the spartans were holding of the persians so that the other city-states could reach there. Either way great list

  • Frushka

    It’s a great list. A great read, and very inspiring.
    Mad props @ Shannon.
    I couldn’t help thinking of the crew and passengers on United 93 on Sept 11, 2001. They also were an heroic and brawny bunch in their own way.

  • munro

    fantastic.

  • saber25

    Haha Great list! Thanks exactly for posting Philipppines in the list. I’m a journalist here. But what about Lapu-lapu and magellan? It was a battle between the natives and the Spaniaerds here

  • brosiusjb

    My grandfather fought in Bastogn and he returned there in his dreams many times over the decade or so after he came back home. I remember asking him about war and innocently asking if he’d killed anyone. He never answered just walked away. In times of Bravado he’d say “they had us surrounded the poor bastards” but I know from stories my grandmother told me that this battle took a large toll on him that took a long time to replenish.

  • undaunted warrior

    Not much to add, it been said over and over again – AWESOME list, well done Shannon.

  • Ninja_Wallaby

    Just a great list possibly the best one on this site. Keep them comming Shannon.

  • Jstar

    It seems that, at some point in the past, the French used to be pretty hardcore fighters. I bet Capt. Jean Danjou, from #4, would have been angry at his fellow Frenchmen around 10 May 1940 to 22 June 1940. That is Nazi Germany taking over his country so easily.

    • Magnumto

      I enjoy going to gun shows here in the U.S., and those shows usually have a lot of old military guns. The standard thing that is said when there is a French military rifle for sale is, "It's in great shape – never fired, and only dropped once!"

  • M Mac

    Great list

    Not sure if the battle of Mons Graumpus where the Ancient Caladonians fought the Romans would make it to this list but it was a last stand. While the Romans won overall they took such a hammering they retreated from the Highlands of Scotland never to return.

    • fizzure

      Sorry M Mac, it was no last stand, it was a pitched battle which the Roman's won. (and the Caledonians were Picts, the Scots were still living in Ireland at that time.) The Roman's beat the Picts but never managed to suppress them.

      The Emperor Semtimus Severus invaded again sometime later, but the Picts avoided a full-out rumble with him and wore him down on this occasion by just hacking at his supply trains.

  • a reader

    The group at Masada hold out a siege but didn’t really fight, only comit suicide in the end, so it doesn’t quite count as a [email protected] (53):

  • Donnie

    Nice List! Though there’s no Canadian last stands, there’s a few good ones.

  • Rufus

    Was the movie “the last samurai” about number 5?

  • Nitroglycerin

    the battle of samar was a classic..tactical and naval warfare.

  • archangel

    Nice nice nice nice… love these tactical lists.

  • thermocline

    There are many from WWII, but the Warsaw ghetto stands out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Ghetto

  • velior

    Hi there! Very interesting article indeed but I have to mention that the actual name of the spot that Leonidas and his 300 gave that battle is actually called Thermopiles, which in free translation means hot gates. But this does not mean that anyone should be using the name ”hot gates” because the wright thing is to use the original name and not the translation. Thank you, and please excuse my english!

  • Oisín

    What about Achilles Last Stand

  • Jdaslay

    How about the Winter War between Russia and Finland? “Killer Hill” was where 32 Finns held off 4,000 Russians. It was kind of like Thermopylae except some of the Finns lived, still holding the hill too.

    “So many Russians, where will we bury them all?”

  • Yawyack

    Hmmm, how about the battle for “Pavlov’s House”? During the Battle of Stalingrad, a platoon commanded by Sgt. Yakov Pavlov defended an apartment block against repeated attacks by German forces (including tanks!) for 2 months.

    “In keeping with Stalin’s order of “not one step back”, Sgt. Pavlov was ordered to fortify the building and defend it to the last bullet and the last man. Taking this advice to heart, Pavlov ordered the building to be surrounded with four layers of barbed wire and minefields, and set up machine-gun posts in every available window facing the square. In the early stages of the defense, Pavlov discovered that a PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle he had mounted on the roof was particularly effective when used to ambush unsuspecting German tanks; once the tanks had approached to within 25 meters of the building, their thin turret-roof armor became exposed to AT rifle fire from above, but they were unable to elevate their weapons enough to retaliate. Pavlov reportedly personally destroyed nearly a dozen tanks using this tactic.”

    The platoon held out “during intensive fighting from 23 September until 25 November 1942, when they were relieved by the counter-attacking Soviet forces.”

    “Chuikov, the defender of Stalingrad, was later heard to comment that Pavlov’s men killed more Germans than were lost in the fall of Paris [to the Germans].”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlov's_House

  • Yawyack

    Copy and paste the link into your web browser. For some reason this site is ignoring the end of that link, so when you click on it it will send you to the wrong page.

  • Mr. Plow

    Great list!

    I would throw the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry’s heroic defense of a critical point in Union lines at the battle of Gettysberg. It’s 83% casualty rate is the highest of any surviving US military unit.

    http://www.1stminnesota.net/

  • mike

    what about stalingrad

  • Doc

    Actually, you are incorrct in a minor factual detail. Athens was the main partner with Sparta in the alliance. Also, while you are correct in saying tops there were about 6,000 Greeks units, however, the 300 were the only ones who had fought the battle as Leonidas had dispatched the rest of the army to defend their homes.

  • LilPixel

    Wrong about #1- you should do more research. The rest of the armies were actually sent back before the last stand. They knew they would all just die and the Spartans felt it was only their burden to hold. So it was 300.

  • Mr. Plow

    @mike (108): Agreed. The last stand of the German 6th Army?

  • me

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_longewala

    visit once and then inform if it deserves s place on the list

  • mr_e_m_t

    Nice list, however there are some inaccuracies about the Battle of the Alamo and the fight for Texas Independence.
    Santa Ana marched into San Antonio de Bexar with over 6000 soldiers. He and about 2000 survived to go fight Sam Houston. Yes Colonels Travis, Bowie, and Crockett and about 180 of their volunteers killed between 3 and 4 thousand Mexican soldiers.

    One of the incidents in the campaign of Santa Ana involved the Massacre at Goliad where Santa Ana ordered the execution of over 230 prisoners. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/GG/qeg2.html
    Santa Ana was taking no prisoners in his campaign and had no qualms about murdering and pilliging his own citizens. This is what lead to Texas fight for Independence because the citizens of the State of Tejas could not tolerate the tyranny oppressed on them.
    Trying to imply that Texans were the badguys is a grave injustice considering the brutal treatment every person suffered at the hands of Santa Ana, regardless of the color of their skin.
    This is why Mexico had it’s on revolution and overthrew the sawed off runt.

  • Yawyack

    @109 – Doc
    &
    @110 – LilPixel

    I believe the Thespians and Thebens were also part of the rearguard on the final day of Thermopylae. So it wasn’t just what was left of the 300 Spartans, but also what was left of the 700 Thespians, 400 Thebens* and probably the Helots** that accompanied the Spartans.

    *Although the Theben forces did surrender to the Persians that day, it is believed to have being after they had being surrounded and Leonidas’ death. So they did fight in the rearguard.

    **Who probably would have being fighting as peltasts.

  • Yawyack

    Oh, and that was just the last day of the battle. The previous 2 Days the 6,000-7,000 Greeks were fighting. The stand on the last day was so the remains of this army could retreat and fight another day, as they did at the Battle of Plataea.

  • TomJW

    Number 8 does not count. When paratroopers get surrounded they call it “Just getting started.” McAuliffe said Patton did not relieve them at Bastogne as they had thrown back everything the Germans threw at them, they were merely reinforced.

    As noted earlier, the paratroopers continued fighting on the line and were temporarily incorporated into Patton’s army.

    Still, I loved the whole list.

  • jay

    Curious that you automatically define anyone rebelling against an existing government as the “bad guys”. Wouldn’t the behavior of both sides be relevant to such a determination? I’ve never understood the philosophy that says that whoever is presently in power, no matter how they got there and how they rule, is automatically in the right and anyone challenging them is in the wrong.

    To take your Alamo example, I might point out that the Mexican government was created by a revolution just 30 years before. Were the Mexican the “bad guys” for rebelling against Spain? If so, then weren’t the Texans the “good guys” for striking back at these upstarts? And Spain itself had rebelled against the Moors 400 years earlier. You could follow that thinking around and around.

  • mojoe

    I’d like to add the British withdrawal from Dunkirk and the Japanese defense of Tarawa to your excellent list.

    It’a all about Taffy 3 though. “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” is one of the best books ever.

  • This is what you call a fucking awesome list. Great effort man, just great. Would love to see more like this.

  • DenzeLL

    good job with including the battle of Samar. (I’m from the Philippines)

  • rolltide

    the 509th at Sadzot in Belgium always fascinated me…

  • fender85

    Yeah. there are many myths regarding the Alamo. First of all, it was not just a mission. The Alamo had a church but it was actually a fort. It was actually considered the “best” fort west of the Mississippi. Furthermore, the fighters at the Alamo were not ill-equipped. The fort had 20+ fully functioning cannons while the Mexicans had 6 or 8. Also, the fight for independence from Mexico was US funded. The government was supplying the “rebels” with better rifles and supplies. For example, the range of the American rifles was greater than the Mexican rifles. Meaning that if the Mexicans wanted to kill they needed to get real close. Finally, those 2000 “crack” Mexican troops were actually Maya Indians who were forced to join ranks and were forced to march from Mexico City to Texas.

  • Bildo

    Read about the Battle of Tours in 732 AD. If not for the Frankish general Charles Martel the Muslims would have taken all of Europe.

  • Bildo

    #122 Fender85:

    Your “facts” are completely inaccurate. There is absolutely no evidence that the Texas War of Independence was “US funded”. The rifles used by the Alamo defenders were hunting rifles, not military grade. I’ve also never found any evidence that the Mexicans only had 6 or 8 cannon at the battle.

    The defenders were ill equipped enough that they ran out of cannon ammunition and had to fire door hinges and horseshoes out of them(with an unintended much greater effect).

    Most of the Mexican troops were indeed conscripts, but the Alamo defenders were merely farmers themselves.

  • fender85

    124- Bilbo:
    The evidence is there. Mexico was marked as a place for future expansion decades before the battle of the Alamo, Benjamin Franklin being one of the first to mark Mexico in that fashion. Now me saying that it was US funded is not as clear as I hoped it to be. The US government did not officially fund the war but they did make resources available to US nationals living in Mexico including weapons and ammunition. Furthermore, the government did nothing to prevent the further migration to Mexico despite the fact that Mexico closed its borders to American migration in 1830. Lastly, all these men were not “farmers”, many were speculators whose goal in Texas was to annex it and eventually make it part of the US as a slave state.

  • Mark

    Bonus, the German Third (?) Army at Stalingrad during the Second World War? It doesn’t meet criterion 1 or 5, and not just that, it fails about as badly as you can. But the sheer size of the “stand” is amazing and the calousness, the calculated brutality that Hitler employed when telling Paulus to stay put, that was absolutely gut-wrenching.

    It’s probably not the best examples of the “hero” stereotype, but they were Nazi Germany’s finest and a hell of a lot of people adored them – most likely due to propaganda. They were the deepest penetrating army group of the Eastern Front for the Germans.

    There’s also the Soviet troops that were killed because of another man’s cool, calculating mind…

  • IndianGuy

    Nice WESTERNIZED list…looks like you know your history well when it comes to western side of the world…

  • Mark

    @IndianGuy (127): The “Western Side” of the World??? Excuse me for living to your EAST, but isn’t Australia a “Western” nation?

    And sure, this is westernized, but why not? It’s for a Western audience. If this was written in Hindi I doubt they wouldn’t be the same.

  • sparky

    the correct spelling is Isandlwana

  • ben

    now this may just be naivety on my part, but what was the strategic advantage gained at the battle of Thermopylae. given that your fifth criterion is about requiring the stand to have meant something I don’t really see how that stand did anything. I mean it held for 3 days, which didn’t really do a whole hell of a lot, I mean athens still got sacked and the Athenian navy were the ones who really won the war. As a matter of fact all it seems like that battle accomplished was the useless sacrifice of 6000 crack spartans and a spartan king.

  • worldthreat

    ben, the battle was saying: “hey, we will NOT pay your taxes and except your way of life” to the persians…. therefore preserving the culture that eventually turned to “democratic” western civilization….

  • solon

    So many comments here are from people stating facts, having read the fact somewhere and assumed its the truth, the next person does the same with different information, resulting in confusion and cloudy history
    Never believe what you read, do your own research, quote your sources and please dont offer an opinion as if its factual, thats how disinformation starts and how we begin to forget our history.

  • KoalaUprising

    I would really like to see some links to your research! While this list and concept are super cool, the number of historical inaccuracies here kind of negate the value of the cool semi-fictional stories you’re sharing. History is always broad gauge gossip more than anything, but when posting a controversial or unknown version of history one must always CITE SOURCES so that other history nerds can see where you came up with the versions of history you’re sharing.

  • Chris

    Just a thought – three out of these ten are by American forces (If you include the Alamo and Texas in it). It makes me proud to be an American, to think that men are willing to lay down their lives to defend the cause of freedom. Thanks for making the list.

  • garethjddf

    what about any of the Irish revelution of 1798 battles?

  • magdalena

    Very interesting list. The determination and pride of human kind in desperate situations always fascinated me.

    Another heroic last stand is the sortie that occurred after the 3rd Siege of Messolonghi. It is a very interesting part of Greek history that is not very well known to non Greeks.
    You can read it all here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Siege_of_Messolonghi

  • Bella

    I don’t know about those samuri. Samuri were completely ruthless. they would randomly cut people down when they walked by just because they felt like it… cool list none the less.

  • tasha

    I’d add the Battle of Culloden to your list. Of course, the English wiped out the entire clan system there, not just an army. And depending on whose side you’re on, you might consider the Scots the aggressors.

  • ATaylor

    As somebody whose grandfather was at Leyte Gulf, I’m glad you saved the best for last :)

    Very good list
    kudos

  • mr_e_m_t

    Wow fender85, I didn’t realize till know how powerful the USA has been throughout history till you pointed it out.
    That in order to overthrow a nation, all the US had to do was send in 182 men in one of its covert forts that was so covert that the US had it built by the Spanish in 1724, about 50 years before the Deceleration of Independence, so it could later overthrow Santa Ana… AWESOME!

  • MENACE77

    wake island,dien bien phu?

  • Anonymous

    what about the battle of wan castle?

  • ben

    @worldthreat
    I understand the message, but I still argue that it was a pointless sacrifice, as the battle actually weakened the anti persian war effort. So while the idea behind it was all well and good it still seems to be in violation of the whole “The sacrifice has to mean something in the larger scheme of things. Otherwise, you should have bloody well retreated or something to try staying alive since what you did was get everyone killed for nothing.” I would argue that losing a bunch of soldiers and a king for a, in the larger scheme of things meaningless three day delay is an example of getting everyone killed for nothing. Heroic or not it seems to not fit the lists criterion. Unless you accept the overglorified 300 version of events.

  • Yawyack

    ben,

    I don’t understand how you could say it fails number 5. “The sacrifice has to mean something in the larger scheme of things” I would class a battle that was fought to protect the city-states above the Isthmus of Corinth as meaning something. And that is not even the big sacrifice! The big sacrifice was by the small forces that acted as a rearguard on the final day that allowed the army to retreat and not be routed. As was stated in my posts at number 114 & 115.

    And didn’t the stand solidify the Greek states’ belief that they could indeed resist Persia? Isn’t that why the Greeks themselves remember it more than Marathon, Salamis and Plateau, where the Greeks were victors?

    And the delay allowed Athens’ population to flee to safety btw.

    132 solon,

    Well my source for Thermopylae is Herodotus (‘The Father of History’) I can’t read ancient Greek, so I have to rely on translations. And he is really the only source anyway.

  • ben

    well for starters if memory serves the king died during that battle. Seems to me that a leadership change in the middle of a war would be a fairly large sacrifice.
    secondly i would argue that the victory at salamis was in no real way influenced by the thermopylae, the athenians had already clearly established their willingness to fight the persians if im not mistaken. Also what makes you think that thermopylae is more remembered than the other battles listed? It seems to me that all those battles have been deified to a point that they are all omnipresent in greek history.

  • ben

    and sorry for the double post, just because something is fondly remembered doesn’t mean that it is tactically sound.

  • Sistarose

    Nice list, I had been hoping for the fall of Constantinople, when Sultan Mehmed II laid siege with mammoth cannons, he brought down the end of not only an Orthodox Christian City, the 1,000 year old Byzantine Empire, last remnants of the Roman Empire and Christian influence beyond Asia Minor. To me this should have been number one. Emperor Constantine XI went down in the great siege, but it would seem history remembers little, when people are more concerned with CGI epics and the short breadth of American history.

  • Yawyack

    ben,

    I wrote a reply to you, but then somehow half of it disappeared off this site as I was writing it. So… maybe I will write it again in the next couple of days when I have more time. Not ignoring you or anything.

  • ben

    thats fine, to be honest, i doubt either of our opinions are going to change.
    And it looked like the discussion was going to devolve into a counterfactual causal chain anyways, so no harm done.

  • Kennoth

    Lovely list. Nicely written and researched

  • flamehorse

    Outstanding stuff. I agree with most of it. I would have put Iwo Jima on the list. From the Japanese perspective. They had nowhere to retreat, lest they watch their families being killed along with them.

    And on a more serious note, I think LEEROY!!! JENKINS!!!!! oughta be on here. Honorable mention, maybe.

  • Blacksmith8

    You’ve got your history borders out of sync with your timeline. The battle at the Alamo was fought for property rights pure and simple. The land grants were being usurped by the Mexican government. Today we’d call it eminent domain.

  • DPM3

    I’d nominate the “Last stand of the 44th Reg’t. of Foot at Gandamak on January 13, 1842 during the retreat from Kabul.

  • violet

    “The Military’s Heart and Soul” a stirring narrative brings much deserved honor to our military and their families.

  • name

    I offer a few others for your consideration.

    The Turkish Brigade at Wawon, Korea, November 26-30, 1950. They were cut to pieces but they never surrendered, and they fought so fiercely that the Chinese never again made a frontal assault against a position they knew to be held by Turks.

    The final last-ditch defense of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, on the night of October 26th, 1942. Two understrength “scratch battalions” of Marines and Army National Guard cooks and file clerks were shelled all day, then an entire Japanese division–a crack Imperial Marine unit, too–made a massive banzai charge under cover of darkness and a driving thunderstorm. The defenders are outnumbered ten to one. Men fight in the muddy trenches with bayonets and swords and grenades, and in some cases bare hands. The line nearly cracks, but the defenders maul the Japanese so badly that the elite Japanese division is thrown reeling back. The next day it cases its colors and disperses its few survivors as replacements for other units.

    The last stand of the ARVN 18th Infantry Division at Xuan Loc, Vietnam, May 1975. Saigon had already fallen, but lacking orders to the contrary, and knowing that the North Vietnamese had a nasty habit of torturing prisoners or just murdering them all en masse, they fought on. They held out for two weeks, hoping that the US would honor its treaty obligations and reenter the war, or at least offer the military aid it was likewise obliged to provide. Surrounded by two mechanized armies with the latest Soviet tanks, bombed and shelled continuously, starving, they made their last stand with ten rifle cartridges and one hand grenade per man. Their doctors and medics had been washing and re-using bandages for months. They were overwhelmed, but it took the NVA weeks and they made the NVA pay in blood for every inch of ground. Very few surrendered.

    Company C, 1st Battalion, 13th Kumaon Regiment, at Rezang La, during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. A single infantry company held the mountain pass against repeated Chinese attacks carried out by two reinforced regiments. The defenders were outnumbered more than twenty to one. One hundred and eighteen Kumaons arrived to dig in on November 17th. By the cease-fire on November 21st, the Chinese had taken five prisoners, whom they tortured and killed. Four wounded Kumaons were left alive in the pass. The other hundred and nine Kumaons had fought to the last bullet and the last drop of blood, attacking with bayonets and knives and their bare hands when they ran out of ammunition. They are estimated to have killed over a thousand Chinese. The Chinese never did take the pass, nor the airfield at Chushul just behind it.

  • pearse

    Siege of Szigetvar 1566, 2300 croats and hungarians vs 100000 ottoman turks, lasted just over a month, head of garrison plus last 300 survivors make one final charge, all killed. when the ottomans marched into the citadel, the castles gunpowder was set alight by an unknown survivor taking herself and 3000 turks with her, delayed the turks and stopped them going onto vienna

  • Anakajaib

    Umm… In the Battle of Pasir Panjang, there were survivors. It was Lt. Adnan who stayed behind alone to buy time for them to retreat.

  • ishwarjot

    read about
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi
    Battle of Saragarhi

  • ishwarjot

    The Battle of Saragarhi was fought during the Tirah Campaign on 12 September 1897 between twenty-one Sikhs of the 4th Battalion (then 36th Sikhs) of the Sikh Regiment of British India, defending an army post, and 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen in a last stand. The battle occurred in the North-West Frontier Province, now a part of Pakistan, which then formed part of British India.

    The contingent of the twenty-one Sikhs from the 36th Sikhs was led by Havildar Ishar Singh. They all chose to fight to the death. Sikh military personnel and Sikh civilians commemorate the battle every year on 12 September, as Saragarhi Day.

  • ishwarjot

    Situation
    Saragarhi is a small village in the border district of Kohat, situated on the Samana Range, in present day Pakistan. On the 20th April 1894, the 36th Sikh Regiment of the British Army was created, under the command of Colonel J. Cook.[5] In August 1897, five companies of the 36th Sikhs under Lt. Col. John Haughton, were sent to the North West Frontier Providence, stationed at Samana Hills, Kurag, Sangar, Sahtop Dhar and Saragarhi.

    The British had partially succeeded in getting control of this volatile area, however tribal Pashtuns attacked British personnel from time to time. Thus a series of forts, originally constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Ruler of the Sikh Empire, were consolidated. Two of the forts were Fort Lockhart, (on the Samana Range of the Hindu Kush mountains), and Fort Gulistan (Sulaiman Range), situated a few miles apart. Due to the forts not being visible to each other, Saragarhi was created midway, as a heliographic communication post. The Saragarhi post, situated on a rocky ridge, consisted of a small block house with loop-holed ramparts and a signalling tower.

    A general uprising by the Afghans began there in 1897, and between 27 August – 11 September, many vigorous efforts by Pashtuns to capture the Forts were thwarted by 36th Sikh regiment. In 1897, insurgent and inimical activities had increased, and on 3rd and 9 September Afridi tribes, with allegiance to Afghans, attacked Fort Gulistan. Both the attacks were repulsed, and a relief column from Fort Lockhart, on its return trip, reinforced the signalling detachment positioned at Saragarhi, increasing its strength to one Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and twenty troops of Other Ranks (ORs).

    On September 12, 1897, 10,000 Pashtuns attacked the signalling post at Saragarhi, so that communication would be lost between the two forts.

  • ishwarjot

    The battle
    Details of the Battle of Saragarhi are considered fairly accurate, due to Gurmukh Singh signalling events to Fort Lockhart as they occurred.[5]

    Around 9.00am, around 10,000 Afghans reach the signaling post at Saragarhi.
    Sardar Gurmukh Singh signals to Col. Haughton, situated in Fort Lockhart, that they are under attack.
    Colonel Haughton states he cannot send immediate help to Saragarhi.
    The soldiers decide to fight to the last to prevent the enemy reaching the forts.
    Bhagwan Singh becomes the first injured and Lal Singh was seriously wounded.
    Soldiers Lal Singh and Jiwa Singh reportedly carry the dead body of Bhagwan Singh back to the inner layer of the post.
    The enemy break a portion of the wall of the picket.
    Colonel Haughton signals that he has estimated between 10,000 and 14,000 Pashtuns attacking Saragarhi.
    The leaders of the Afghan forces reportedly make promises to the soldiers to entice them to surrender.
    Reportedly two determined attempts are made to rush the open gate, but are unsuccessful.
    Later, Fort Lockhart is breached.
    Thereafter, some of the fiercest hand-to-hand fighting occurs.
    In an act of outstanding bravery, Ishar Singh orders his men to fall back into the inner layer, whilst he remains to fight. However, this is breached and all but one of the defending soldiers are killed, along with many of the Pashtuns.
    Gurmukh Singh, who communicated the battle with Col. Haughton, was the last Sikh defender. He is stated to have killed 20 Afghans, the Pashtuns having to set fire to the post to kill him. As he was dying he was said to have yelled repeatedly the regimental battle-cry “Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (He who cries God is Truth, is ever victorious).
    Having destroyed Saragarhi, the Afghans turned their attention to Fort Gulistan, but they had been delayed too long, and reinforcements arrived there in the night of 13-14 September, before the fort could be conquered.[1] The Afghans later stated that they had lost about 180 killed[6] and many more wounded[4] during the engagement against the 21 Sikh soldiers, but some 600 bodies[7] are said to have been seen around the ruined post when the relief party arrived (however, the fort had been retaken, on 14 September, by the use of intensive artillery fire,[8] which may have caused many casualties). The total casualties in the entire campaign, including the Battle of Saragarhi, numbered at around 4,800.

  • ishwarjot

    Reception
    [edit] British parliament
    When the gallantry of Saragarhi was recounted to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the recitation drew a standing ovation from the members. The saga of Saragarhi was also brought to the notice of Queen Victoria.

    “ “The British, as well as the Indians, are proud of the 36th Sikh Regiments. It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war” – Parliament of the United Kingdom[5] ”
    “ “You are never disappointed when you are with the Sikhs. Those 21 soldiers all fought to the death. That bravery should be within all of us. Those soldiers were lauded in Britain and their pride went throughout the Indian Army. Inside every Sikh should be this pride and courage. The important thing is that you must not get too big-headed it is important to be humble in victory and to pay respect to the other side.” – Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim[9] ”

    [edit] Commemorative tablet
    The tablet (pictured right), inscription reads;

    Tablet commemorating Saragarhi, raised by the British Empire“ “The Government of India have caused this tablet to be erected to the memory of the twenty one non-commissioned officers and men of the 36 Sikh Regiment of the Bengal Infantry whose names are engraved below as a perpetual record of the heroism shown by these gallant soldiers who died at their posts in the defence of the fort of Saragarhi, on the 12 September 1897, fighting against overwhelming numbers, thus proving their loyalty and devotion to their sovereign, the Queen Empress of India, and gloriously maintaining the reputation of the Sikhs for unflinching courage on the field of battle.” ”

    [edit] Order of Merit
    All the 21 Sikh non-commissioned officers and soldiers of other ranks who laid down their lives in the Battle of Saragarhi were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest gallantry award of that time, which an Indian soldier could receive by the hands of the British crown, the corresponding gallantry award being Victoria Cross. This award is equivalent to today’s Param Vir Chakra awarded by the President of India.

    The names of the 21 recipients of the gallantry award are:

    Havildar Ishar Singh (regimental number 165[10])
    Naik Lal Singh (332)
    Lance Naik Chanda Singh (546)
    Sepoy Sundar Singh (1321)
    Sepoy Ram Singh (287)
    Sepoy Uttar Singh (492)
    Sepoy Sahib Singh (182)
    Sepoy Hira Singh (359)
    Sepoy Daya Singh (687)
    Sepoy Jivan Singh (760)
    Sepoy Bhola Singh (791)
    Sepoy Narayan Singh (834)
    Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (814)
    Sepoy Jivan Singh (871)
    Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (1733)
    Sepoy Ram Singh (163)
    Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1257)
    Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1265)
    Sepoy Buta Singh (1556)
    Sepoy Jivan Singh (1651)
    Sepoy Nand Singh (1221)

  • ishwarjot

    Saragarhi and Thermopylae
    The battle has frequently been compared to the Battle of Thermopylae[15], where a small Greek force faced a large Persian army of Xerxes (480 BC).

    The comparison is made because of the overwhelming odds faced by a tiny defending force in each case, and the defenders’ brave stand to their deaths, as well as the extremely disproportionate number of fatalities caused to the attacking force.

    It is important to note that during the Battle of Saragarhi, the British did not manage to get a relief unit there until after the 21 had fought to their deaths. At Thermopylae, the 300 Spartans also stayed after their lines had been breached, to fight to their deaths.

  • tjalex29

    Fourlast stands not mentioned.

    The Battle of Towton Moor,which was fought in England in one of Englands civil wars called The Wars of the Roses.
    Both sides said beforehand that there would be no quarter asked or given.
    The battle itself was a literal bloodbath with at one stage the fighting stopped while both sides removed the bodies that prevented them from getting at each other.
    A river was blocked by bodies.
    One percent of the population of England died in the battle.

    In Elizabethan times a ship commanded by Sir Richard Greville,The Revenge, surrounded by spanish warships carried on fighting literally to the death before it sank.

    In WW2 the Royal Green Jackets in Calais standing rearguard to cover the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk were asked to fight to the last round.

    Though incredibly outnumbered they held on for two days before being overwhelmed.

    The Gloustershire regiment and some Brit artillery forces during the Korean War were asked to stand their ground on the Imjin river so as to enable American forces to make an orderly withdrawal.

    They did so against overwhelming odds,were surrounded and despite a Brit attempt to relieve them which was basically slaughtered,they ceased to exist.

    Not last stands but related,a little destroyer,H.M.S. Glowworm accidentaly came across the German Battle Cruiser Von Hipper and its surrounding escorts and being outnumbered,out gunned and outranged immediately went at full speed to attack the enemy ships on her own.

    She received crippling fire from the German flotilla but rammed the Von Hipper and then drifted away ,dead in the water.
    Though on fire from amidships to stern her last surviving gun carried on firing.
    She was deliberatly scuttled and had an incredible loss of life including the Captain who died in the sea.

    Also not a last stand but related,during the Crimean War the Light Cavalry Brigade were due to a misunderstanding, ordered to attack Russian artillery down a long valley with artillery and infantry on three sides .

    Being proffessional soldiers they knew what their chances of survival were but obeyed their orders none the less.

    When the survivors WALKED back up the valley they told their commander that they were willing to do it again right now .

    Thats true courage and the result of good training.

  • Fonze

    Thanks for taking the time to put together this list. I’m not a history buff (chemist) so a few of these stands were new to me. Good work.

  • RICK

    BATTLE OF SARAGARHI

  • majicke

    Little guy in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square? He lived, but come on…He should at least get a mention…

  • Annoying

    #102 velior,
    Sorry, as this was like 65 comments ago, but this is going to bug me all night. Velior insisted that “Thermopylae” is an incorrect spelling of the “actual” name of the battle/place, “Thermopiles”. First of all, while this may be the correct Greek to English sounding translation (to be truthful, I’m not entirely sure, as I don’t know Greek), “Thermopylae” is in fact the Latinized form. I can tell because it utilizes the end -ae, which is the Nominative Plural Form for a Latin noun. Thermopylae isn’t alone, in fact, many Greek words were Latinized, as Rome underwent a sort of cultural diffusion with Greece (after, of course, the Romans conquered it). Therefore, it is a correct spelling (or, at least, not wrong).

  • Raftor!

    Anybody know much aboty th Siege of Jadoville, 150 ligtly armed Irish soldiers wer attacked by up to 5000 belgian and local tribes, the irish held out for 6 days and didnt suffer a single loss while the belgians lost up to 500

  • rtodd

    Seige of Madada should be on there.

    Jewish slaves who rather than die take their own lives in such a horrible manner that the Roman Army was sickened and demoralized.

  • dionysus

    How about “Hôtel des Mille Collines”? It was also presented in Hotel Rwanda, the movie.

  • Kursk

    As a Canadian, I vote for the last stand of the Canadians at Hong Kong on Christmas day 1941..

    As well, the actions of the PPCLI at Kapyong in Korea who won a U.S. presidential unit citation.

    “One Canadian unit holds this battle honour. The 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

    Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry is an infantry regiment in the Canadian Forces , belonging to 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group ….

    The unit, with 800 soldiers, held the line as American forces and other UN forces withdrew. They were attacked by an estimated 10,000 Chinese soldiers”.

    I would say that action qualifies!

  • Navjyot

    The list was good.but since written by western writer i know that some omissions can take place.one of the major omissions was that of the battle of saragrahi.which was a history in itself.21 against 10,000 odds are pretty high.British who considered the colonials to be weak after this incident had gruding admiration towards the indian and sikhs as a whole.The battle of saragrahi is considered next to thermopylae in United nations.the whole account has been given by friend ishwarjot.

  • dcoagt

    on the Alamo: Santa Anna was not a legal holder of the presidency but had seized it by war and had broken the treaty the former Mexican government had made with the Texans and therefore the Texans were simply defending their rights against an illegal government

  • Draygen

    As far as the mexican army being the “good guys” at the alamo, that is misleading. Texas was only one of several rebellions going on at that time against the Mexican government. The Mexican government had attempted to combine several regions together in order to provide them with inadequate representation in the mexican legislature. Texas was mearly the only one to actually win their revolt.

  • drummund

    Custer did less to ‘start’ the forces that resulted in his last stand than the Texicans at the Alamo. Thus you violated your own criteria for selection.

    The Swiss Guard are just as tough today as in the 16th century.

    I quit reading after that, unable to trust anything else you might have written.

  • brubbish223

    dont know if this counts but the battle for stalingrad>?
    good list though!

  • Stan

    Nice list! I was glad to see Rouke’s Drift on there. The siege of Malta is definitely worthy of the list, not sure battle of hastings is. maybe not a lsst stand but the event at Stamford bridge in the same year was amazingly heroic, the story of the lone norseman who held the bridge against the whole of the English army to buy the norse time is pretty special. Also worthy of mention is the events after the massacre before Roukes drift where a lone gunman used the bullets he had left to snipe commanding zulu officers and then himself. cant remembner the number but very heroic

  • Stan

    And btw at #176 Custer was definitely the aggressor in little big horn. I dont really think it was a last stand as the reason Custer split his forces etc was that he could assume the commanding role and pretty much go in and get the glory. It was his fault he ended up in the position he came to be in

  • Casualreader

    Stimulating list and comments.

    In effect all publicised heroic and grossly outnumbered and/or outarmed stands, whether to the death or with some survivors, have an effect. The effect may be immediate, such as effectively delaying or denying a move by their opponents. Or it may be long term and psychological: historically inspiring the country or cause they fought for, or even setting an example for all of us, perhaps to rise to similar acts if the occasion demands.

    We might feel sentimentally that history was cruel to some, say Harold at Battle, and wish events had favoured the losers. It’s a sobering thought though that if such events had turned out differently, probably none of us would be here today. We don’t have to go back very far, if at all, before our own births for that to take effect either. All the way through your lineage, events have to be exactly as they were for the who-knows-how-many to one chance of the particular sperm that created half of you to meet the egg that created the other half, and so on, through time. There’s no lottery win to compare with being born!

    King Harold’s misfortune has always struck me as being a singularly unfair blow of fate though. Like a sports team which travels a long, tiring distance away and wins a terrific victory against a team of its own calibre, but suffers a fair few injuries and is fairly knackered. The next day it has to get on a bus or plane, travel back to where it started from and immediately take on a fresh team of the same ability. Oh, not forgetting that a fair number of its players and reserves went home because they thought there were no more fixtures for the time-being. But what would English history have been with pure Saxons running the show after 1066? Well, I wouldn’t be here to know.

    Quite rightly, there’s little sympathy for often inhuman Imperial Japanese WW2 conduct. Pacific island stands made by her armed forces at the end against US industrial and military might were also ultimately futile in their attempts to force America to avoid unacceptable bloodletting by negotiating an agreed armistice. However, some surely rate among the more remarkable of last stands.

    • Magnumto

      Regarding the Japanese, I agree. As a WWII history buff, I've often wondered about the Japanese heroes, the German heroes, the heroes of the losing side in a lot of wars and battles. We usually don't hear about them, and I'll bet that usually those other heroes aren't recognized for their valor, if it is even known. As incredible as some of the known feats of valor are, I would sure like to hear more about the heroic deeds of the losers.

  • Gursharan

    The battle of SARAGARHI ( late 1800 )in the North West Frontier Province, Pakistan where 22 SIKH soldiers of the then British Indian Army fought and died holding their post to the last man against thousands of frontier tribesman . I understand this battle is recognised by UNESCO .

  • chopinsgood

    Spring 1943. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The last Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto rise in armed resistance to their planned extermanation. This was a “Last Stand” by any definition and was fought by people who had no hope of survival whatsoever, much less victory. Their only motivation a burning desire to at least fire back at their tormentors before they themselves met their end. This sad chapter in history also, I believe, meets all five points of criteria at the begining of this list.

  • katerinaelaena

    @Annoying (168):

    I’m greek! I can confirm, Thermopylae is the latin ending to the greek version of the word for “Hot Gates” (rough translation). Anywaayyyy that was definitely QUITE the epic battle, regardless of the exagerated, crazy 300 stuff… Those men DID have quite some guts…stuff of legends… =)

  • Samir

    I had a close friend research the Alamo some years back and he found many discrepancy with reported historical fact and actual documentation.
    He found the marching orders of Santa Anna, the medical journals of the Mexican doctors and a Journal of one of the night guards of the Alamo.
    Here is what he found out. The 12 days the soldiers held out for was actually the 12 days it took for Santa Anna to get his troops in place. Even in today’s military you do not move everything at once, it has to be done in an orderly fashion.
    In the Orders book, My friend found that Santa Anna ordered artillery bombardment to begin at dusk and end at approx 1 am, he ordered his troops to advance at 2-3 am and by 9 in the morning the Alamo had fallen.

    He also found in his research that Sam Houston could have made it to the Alamo with time to spare, but apparently Texas needed a rallying cry.

    He found in the Alamo guards log that Davy Crockett had gone over the wall, its not listed if this was a scouting mission or he was plain leaving. There is rumors in other publications that Crockett was either caught and executed by Santa Anna’s troops or he went west and started life under another name.

    total dead wounded according to the Mexican Doctors journal = less then 500 total both sides.

    My friend was vilified for trying to show what he found, his life was threatened and he was barred from the Alamo. He was a proud Texan. Born and died a Texan. (Died from a genetic disorder).

    The people still stood up to Santa Anna and they still died, but the truth of the conflict is not what we are taught.

  • jolly

    The last stand by a post of 21 sikh soldiers of the British Indian Army at SARAGARHI against 10,000 muslim tribesmen is one of the eight collective stories on bravery published by UNESCO for children which also, according to other sources, include the heroic Battle of Thermopylae .The comparison is made because of the overwhelming odds faced by a tiny defending force in each case, and the defenders’ brave stand to their deaths, as well as the extremely disproportionate number of fatalities caused to the attacking force.

    It is important to note that during the Battle of Saragarhi, the British did not manage to get a relief unit there until after the 21 had refused to surrender and fought to their deaths. At Thermopylae, the 300 Spartans also held to fight to the end.

  • TJ

    What about battle oh saragarhi?
    how did u miss out on that one…. the odd were worst than in thermopylae

  • fizzure

    The mention of Saragarhi got me thinking about Kabul in 1879.This was when the British deposed the Afghan king who was being awkward and replaced him with one who would do as he was told.

    The British marched back into India but left a Resident at Kabul to keep an eye on things. In the Residency were the Envoy Major Cavagnari, his secretary, one medical officer and one army officer commanding an escort of 25 cavalry and 50 infantry of the Guides – part of the Punjab Frontier Force.

    The new man in the palace had no influence over his people and no control over the Afghan Army either. The Residency compound was soon besieged by overwhelming numbers of trigger-happy hostiles of all kinds. During the course of a day, led by the Europeans, the small garrison sallied out three times to push them out of the compound.

    A fourth sally was led by a Sikh jemadar (Indian lieutenant) and the Afghans, realising that all the British must be dead, offered the survivors their lives if they would join them. The offer was refused with scorn, and the Guides continued fighting until they were all killed.

    For their loyalty and devotion the entire escort was later admitted to the Indian Order of Merit, which until 1912 was considered to be the Indian soldiers Victoria Cross.

  • fizzure

    While on the subject of what was essentially the start of the Third Anglo-Afghan War, let’s not forget Maiwand, which was a British defeat although not the high drama disaster as some would portray it.

    General Burrows marched out of Kandahar with 2,500 men to break up a concentration of Afghans in the bone dry wilderness, but what he met was no ragamuffin bunch of hillmen. Opposing him were 10,000 well-armed tribesmen with 30 cannons (he had an horse-battery of 6 field guns).

    Following a day of hard shooting some of Burrows force broke, so he had no choice but to withdraw the remainder back into Kandahar – if he could get there with the enemy pursuing him all the way. His losses added up to 1000 men.

    The 66th Foot (Berkshire Regiment)formed the rearguard and suffered as rearguards are apt to do. One company became trapped in a walled garden where they fought until there were only eleven men left. When their ammunition ran out they opted for a bayonet charge – certain death being preferable to being captured by a pitiless enemy. The Afghans shot them down rather than let them get close.

    Rudyard Kipling said it all:

    ‘When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains
    An’ the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    An’ go to your death like a soldier’.

  • Red Jaguar

    I don’t know if it fits your criteria but what about the Last Stand at Chapultepec during the Mexican-American war, when 6 CHILDREN took on the American Marines and refused to surrender even when the Mexican Army retreated?

    • Magnumto

      Thanks for the contribution, Red. I'm guilty of overlooking that particular war, and the six teens who died were certainly heroic. They should probably have been included as at least a notable omission.

  • Jared

    @ Harry 5 I also just gotta say that it wasnt really a last stand the battle of marathon the greeks lead the persians in thinking that they were breaking through their front line and then the greeks crushed their flanks were they were least expecting it. i would call this out smarting the enemy who were just a wee bit cocky

  • therush

    I was going to point out how you criminally left out Saragarhi but posters have beaten me too it. So I’m going to complain that you left out Roncevaux Pass.

    Also, Red Jaguar has it right. The Los Ninos Heroes who fought to the death at Chapultepec deserve to be on this list.

    Seriously though, good list.

  • warby

    qaulity list mate what about the ist battlion “gloriouse glosters” during the korean war reading to the lat round abut the 29th brigades fate during peng’s 5th offensive it deffo deserves a mention!

  • Mike Riley

    Couple of comments about your list from a Former Marine. I'll put the Battle of Wake Island and the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir up against your list any day of the week. The Alamo sucks next to what Marines did at Wake Island and Bastogne was a picnic compared to the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Unlike that Army unit the Marines didn't have the massive 'backup' forces to depend on like the Airborne did. Instead they were deep in enemy territory surrounded by Communist forces! And unlike Leonidas, who fought in 'nice weather' the Marines on the other hand had to fight in 20 degrees below zero! To a United States Marine we don't want to hear excuses on why you lost! Excuses are like assholes, everyone has one. One last note on the Chosin. It was so cold at the Reservoir that the Marines could not in a normal sense have a bowel movement because of the chance of getting severe frost bite. How would you like to fight in 20 degrees below zero for two weeks with excretement frozen in your uniform!! Leonidas, Alamo defenders, Rork Drift defenders were spared of that indignified problem.

    • Magnumto

      Mike, the Chosin was certainly heroic, but that might have been more like Custer's debacle – MacArthur screwed up royally there, being certain the Chinese wouldn't intervene, and too many indications of Chinese infiltration in large numbers were ignored.

      Regarding Wake, I agree entirely that it should have been on this list, but not at the expense of the Alamo, which has entered the vernacular as practically a textbook example of Last Stands. Had the Alamo not been included, imagine the outcry of "What about…" I think it was a great list, but it was only TEN last stands, and some had to be omitted for one reason or another, not least of which was to keep the list from being "too American".

  • jackcool

    This is a well-made list. One of the more well-researched lists I've had the pleasure of reading. Good work in this one!

  • emilio

    THIS should be included:
    http://chessheroes.blogspot.com/2008/12/rememberi

    The Battle of Tirad Pass (December 2, 1899)

    Last Stand of 24-year old Gregorio Del Pilar's 50 barefoot Filipino soldiers against 600 Texas Rangers who successfully defended their position for more than 5 hours to ensure the delay of the American advance and the longetivity of the Philippine Republic during the Philippine American War (1899-1913).

  • Fantastic list. Very happy to see Rorkes Drift and Bastogne on there. Only thing missing was one of the many Polish last stands against the Nazi's in 1939. There were a great many, and I'd have to do some research to decide which was the "best", but, contrary to what people believed, the Polish fought hard against the Nazis, in some battles taking German POW's (1,500 being the most that I know of), and never charged German tanks with cavalry and lances, despite what the history channel will tell you, it was mere propaganda at the time.

    There was even a Polish cavalry attack into East Prussia, which met with absolutely no success whatsoever, but still.

  • fsun

    Rorke's Drift shouldn't count…it was certainly not a last stand at all…since the Zulus had to flee

  • Liam Jackson

    i would of put battle of rorkesin the top 3 at least cos ther were only 139 british soldiers and over 10000 zulus but still a good list

  • Liam Jackson

    soz i men rorkes drift lol

  • matthew

    No4 is a violation of your "agressors can't have last stands" You should drop that caveat, why should it matter if you were the agressor or if you had it coming. If you fought to last man its a last stand regardless of whether you started it or not.

  • Ammo

    i/Battle of Saragarhi for the sheer numbers involved

  • The Peyote Coyote

    What, no love for the Turks at Kunu-Ri?

  • Rod T

    Check your facts. Spruance was NOT in command of TAFFY3. It was Clifton (Ziggy) Sprague, the citation for the medal he received used to hang on the wall in the wardroom of USS Clifton Sprague (FFG-16), before she was decommissioned. There's a nice memorial to him by the USS Midway museum in San Diego. Thomas Sprague was south of him with another CVE force also covering the transports. Jesse Oldendorf was further south covering the San Bernadino Strait and blocking that prong of the Japanese attack with a bunch of old battleships dredged out of the mud at Pearl Harbor.

  • Malaysian

    I am so proud of Lieutenant Adnan of #7..I'm a Malay and we, the Malaysians really respected him for his bravery..

  • Singh

    Great list, good job compiling it! I think another notable addition would be this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi

    Definitely deserves to be up there!

  • Usabfb

    I have to add the British (and maybe French?) soldiers that protected the escaping soldiers leaving for Britain during World War II. None of them survived, or at the least very few survived, they were facing the much larger German Army, It allowed British (and maybe French?) soldiers to live to fight another day and not have Britain's army completely wiped out (France was too far gone at this point), and the defenders knew that there was no hope. Another nod should be given to the Russian defenders of Stalingrad and Moscow. The only Russian general I will ever remember is Zhukov. These two don't meet the requirements of everyone dead or mostly dead, but it meets the expectation of death, meaning something in the grand scheme of things, and in the beginning, things were definetely against them.

    @Harry- Marathon was not a last stand. Think of it as the battle before the last stand. The real last stand was the Battle of Salamis, I believe. The battle that I'm thinking of is the one right after Marathon, it was a naval battle, and it drove the Persians out of that part of Greece at least temporarily.

    • DGMdragunov

      None of them were last stands, since Salamis was an Athenian victory from the beginning, and in Marathon, the Athenians lost hardly half of their force. Thermopylae was the only last stand in the Persian Wars.

  • Babgess

    The Battle of Blood RIver has been forgotten, probably because it involved the Boers fighting the Zulus anyway here is the story and it deserves place number 1.

    Some accounts put the Boers at 400, others at 500 (some were women and young boys who were used to reload their muskets, the women also fought alongside their men) but they faced an army of 10-15000 zulus armed to the teeth and defeated the Zulus with not one single casualty.

    Beats Rorkes Drift hands down which were a group of soldiers, well men at least to the last man.

    http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/governence-projects/blood_river/index.htm

  • dave

    what about the battle of saraghari?

  • DGMdragunov

    Regarding the Battle of Camaron, it should be considered another violation of your criteria, since it was the French who invaded Mexico and tried to install an Hapsburg prince as emperor. If France under Napoleon III hadn’t invaded, the last stand would have never occured.

  • J.Judge

    I think the “Battle of Saragarhi” should be on this list. It happened in 1897 which is also pretty recent that should be number one next to the battle that mentioned 300 because it really similar to what happened in Saragarhi. Except its more recent and there is more proof stating its true,

  • oscar26

    really good list, i really enjoyed learning about some of these.
    i like how you gave some story and context to each one instead of just bombarding us with facts and figures.
    i’ll look out for more of your work!

  • Armin

    Great list, I would have included battle of persian gate. Though the persians has superior numbers Alexander had the superior training, weapons, armor and all around the far better force. Ariobarzanes held off Alexander for an entire month before being wiped out

  • Disciple Five

    What about Masada?

  • Disciple Five

    DGMdragunov, he means concerning the engagement itself. The French Foreign Legionnaires were tactically in a defensive position.

  • DGMdragunov

    The Battle of Camaron should also have a 4 out of 5, as the French were invading Mexico, and there wouldn’t have been a last stand if they didn’t invade it in the first place.

  • DemoMan

    The Alamo deserves a 5 for several reasons. Santa Anna had actually seized power trough a revolution. Then when multiple Mexican states rebelled he made an example of the Zacatecas territory by depopulating it (i.e. killing most of the population) and then salting the fields ensuring that the land would be desolate for years and dooming the surviving people to starvation and worse. After this most of the rebelling Mexican territories stood down and got in line, the exception: Texas. Santa Anna marched his army north in winter without enough supplies killing roughly a third of his own men. His intention was to turn Texas into the next Zacatecas (something his army was doing at the time of the battle of San Jacinto). Calling Santa Anna the “good guy” is like calling Stalin a “decent fellow”. Texas and the other rebelling states were declaring their independence from a corrupt despot who had used the previous revolution to take power. So hats off should go to the Alamo and the brave souls of Zacatecas as they all paid the ultimate price for freedom.

  • grotto666

    how about Custer’s last stand?!

  • gursharan jolly

    Srl 2 to 10 need to be reviewed in light of the ‘ battle of Saragarhi ‘ fought in Afghanistan in 1897 where a platoon of 21 Sikh soldiers of the British Indian army fought and died to the last man against thousands of Afghan . Recognised by UNESCO as one of the greatest ever examples of collective bravery http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8csyQ4aEU8Y

  • ASR

    The Sikhs at Saragarhi fort 21 to 10000 4th Battalion (then 36th Sikhs) of the Sikh Regiment of British India vs Afghans – 21 Sikh soldiers, but but 600 bodies at the end – you like to add it.

  • JBP

    Uh, no. Santa Anna was a dictator who usurped the throne. He was elected but then tore up the constitution and disbanded the legislature. And Texas was only one of many provinces to revolt.

    So Santa Anna was not the good guy.

  • qwert1776

    i agree w/ most of them, however: have you ever heard of fox hill? the marines accually made it out but it remains a truly amazing feat, the last stand of fow company vividly details this series of firefights, a good read and a battle that shall be remembered by all who know of it

  • Rubén Ramírez

    It would be too much trouble to add the battle at the tzutuhil palace in
    Atitlán Guatemala, the Tzutuhil army were corner here defending their land and they throw themselves to the cold waters before being defeated by the sapinsh conquerer’s army; and the stand in Masada, Israel, where the zelotas killed themselves and their familys, before surrendering to the roman’s forces.

  • Agdirgia

    Saying Mexico was the good guys in the war for Texan independence is like saying the British were the good guys in the American Revolutionary War.

  • Sabre25

    Well, technically the Philippines was already invaded during the battle off samar. The quite more correct term is “saved the Philippines of another Jap naval bombardment and resupplying the troops. It was the combined force of Americans and mostly Filipinos that stopped the continued advance of the Japanese and McArthur’s return fully pushed the Japanese out of the Philippines.

  • Mac

    hey you forgot about the sikhs in the golden temple who fought off the entire indian army

  • jdog

    for the thermopolyae [?] one, you are true about their being approximately 6-7000 greeks but that wasnt a constant. they left to prepare for the defense of athens while the 300 spartans and a few others stayed behind to buy them some time

  • peter

    Your list is no good.You are mentioning some relatively small engagements in Pacific and not mention large battles like Stalingrad,Leningrad…Thats the real last stand.Also look at history of Montenegro,that might be interesting for you if you like those who fight against the odds.

  • Militaryhistorian

    Maker of this list is american i guess.

  • Very good list.need more lusts like this

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  • Mariosz

    Where is Battle of Wizna?

  • Stiofan

    Its very Imperialistic of you to deduct points because of their status of being Rebels or not. I bet your British or American

  • zerihun

    What about the battle of Adwa where for the gallant Ethiopian forces under Emperor Menelik II defeated the Italian army. This is in fact one of history’s glorious moment where an African state which has a long history of statehood and civilization that puts some Europian nations to shame, puts an end to the colonial ambitions of westerners.

  • Romulus

    Try reading about battle of rezang-la where 120 Indian soldiers defended to the last man against an enormous chinese force, The battle ended with 109 casulties on the indian side with the rest being severely wounded, and moe than a 1000 casulties on the chinese side.

  • Keith Shelley

    My favorite is still “Retreat from Kabul.” All those people died and they still made their last stand on that snowy hill “NOT BLOODY LIKELY”

  • Kala-Eemeli

    It was RADM Clifton Sprague who commanded ‘Taffy 3’ – ADM Spruance was planning the next phase of the Pacific Campaign at that time (and had it been his turn to command ‘the Big Blue Fleet’ he would most probably have kept most of his force off the San Bernardino Strait – for the most probable outcome, see ‘Battle of Surigao Strait’).

  • Leigh Enfield

    Hey Shannon. A word of advice. When engaging in didacticism, it is always adviseable to learn to spell, OR at least to copy correctly!! The precursor to the last stand at Rorke’s Drift was fought at ISANDLWANA, not the silly word you foolishly quoted.

  • Jeff wood

    Like all stories but I would like to recommend that you read about the story of the u.s. heavy cruiser uss Houston that in 1942 fought an entire fleet of Japanese ships alone in the Sundra straight in 1942. Greatest heroic naval last stand.

    • Will

      True dat.

  • Thando Hlomuka

    dope list but i cant believe you left out the 21 sikhs of the battle of Saraghari. that should have competed with the battle of thermopylae

  • Will

    Wake Island, Sunda Strait, Little Bighorn, Super 6-4?

  • Roadtoad

    I realize this was “in no particular order,” but I’d have moved the Battle Off Samar a little higher. The Roberts’s actions that day also deserved a lot more mention.