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While I Have Breath I Shall Hold This Ground – 5 of The Top Heroic Last Stands

April 1, 2024
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There are a great many scenes that can capture our attention and imagination, but none get our blood going like a final heroic stand against darkness. Seeing our worn protagonist stand firm on the power and strength of will and righteous fury alone makes us consider what our red line in the sand would be. This far, no further. Heroic last stands capture the imagination and reverence of those who hear about them, epitomizing the valor, sacrifice, and indomitable spirit of the defenders. 

The Defense of Rorke's Drift (1879)

Following the disastrous Battle of Isandlwana, a small British garrison of just over 140 men defended a mission station against an assault by 4,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded for their successful defense, which remains one of the highest decorations for bravery given to a single engagement, made even more exceptional by the great battle lost just prior.

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854)

During the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War, approximately 600 British cavalrymen made a frontal assault against Russian artillery. Due to miscommunication from higher, the Light Brigade was told to attack directly, rather than the intended orders to attack a more proper target. Despite severe losses, the bravery of the Light Brigade became legendary, celebrated in poetry and history as an example of valor in the face of certain defeat.

The Battle of the Alamo (1836)

A small group of between 180 and 250 Texan defenders faced a vastly superior Mexican army at a mission in San Antonio. It is recorded that only 15 non-combatants survived, while all the defenders were killed. Their sacrifice became a rallying cry, "Remember the Alamo!" for Texan independence and has been immortalized as a symbol of resistance against overwhelming odds.

The Battle of Camerone (1863)

A French Foreign Legion unit of 65 men led by Captain Jean Danjou made a heroic stand against a Mexican army of over 3,000 infantry and cavalry. Despite their eventual defeat, their stubborn resistance exemplified the Legion's ethos and is commemorated annually in April as a symbol of bravery and determination.

The Battle of Saragarhi (1897)

21 Sikh soldiers of the British Indian Army defended an army post against 10,000 Afghan tribesmen in what is now Pakistan. As anyone who has watched a Sikh fight can attest, they are to a man a formidable opponent. Their stand, where they fought to the last man, lasted just over seven hours against an army 98 times their size.

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