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"Injustice at Thermopylae & Bastogne" Topic

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Korvessa05 Dec 2019 5:11 p.m. PST

Because strange things occur to me out of the blue, especially when goofing off at work, I suddenly wondered which was the bigger injustice, Thermopylae or Bastogne?
And before anyone gets all offended, I am referring to the fact that in both battles one particular unit seems to get all the credit and fame, even though there were other units there.
At Thermopylae, everyone knows about the last stand of the "300 Spartans" but few other than we history buffs know that there was also 700 Thespians & 400 Thebans not to mention probably a bunch of Helots. In other words, the Spartans were only about 20% of the force during the last stand, yet they get all the press.
At Bastogne, the 101st became famous, but there was also brigades (Combat Commands) of the 9th & 10th armored. The latter are hardly known to have been there.
So which do you think was the bigger slight to the guys who were "also appearing" in this battle?

Don Perrin05 Dec 2019 5:19 p.m. PST

I'm reading a book now on the 10th Armored Division at Bastogne called The Tigers of Bastogne: Voices of the 10th Armored Division in the Battle of the Bulge. So far, a good read. I think they or the 101st Airborne would have suffered greatly without the other there to support them.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2019 6:43 p.m. PST

And there were also a number of American field artillery units and engineer units who provided critical support, as well as combat service support units. The defense of Bastogne was a team effort.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2019 7:41 p.m. PST

Someone just might mention the 28th ID in the Bastogne context. There weren't a lot of the 110th RCT inside the perimeter because most of them were killed or wounded before the other elements arrived.

rustymusket06 Dec 2019 5:50 a.m. PST

We look for heroes and we feel for the underdog. It is a human thing, IMHO. But it is good that historians correct the situation, if anyone cares to look for facts.

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Dec 2019 8:29 a.m. PST

Thermopylae, definitely.

Nobody really believes the 101st fought alone. At least some Germans must have been around (just kidding) those who do so have no real interest in history anyway.

At Thermopylae, most, even history nerds, would be hard pressed to tell how many and whose forces made the last stand beside the Spartans (if at all), and that started some 2500 years ago.
As mentioned above, it was the Thespians. 700, which means all of them, not just a tiny part of their force as with the Spartans, and that without some fancy law or habit that disgraces them when they walk away – and more then double the number of the Spartans. The heroic last stand should be about them, not the militaristic and suppressive Sparta, whose rule was for the fellow Greeks probably not better and perhaps worse then that of the Persians. Having their complete citizen force wiped out meant they neither played a part at Plataea, nor had they many survivors around who could sing the praise of their city, as was loudly done by the other states.

Huscarle06 Dec 2019 1:02 p.m. PST

+1 Puster,
although Herodotus states that the Thespians were at Plataea "for there were present also in the army those of the Thespians who survived, being in number about one thousand eight hundred, and these too were without heavy arms."
I assume that it was practically the entire Thespian hoplite force that fell at Thermopylae?

TBeyer06 Dec 2019 6:32 p.m. PST

Can't resist:

YouTube link

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2019 7:06 p.m. PST

Good point, TBeyer.

Odd, Puster, that neither the other Greeks nor the Persians seem to have shared your opinion of Sparta. Ask the Great King what sort of people only go to war when a majority of the soldiers vote to do so. And I note that the "suppressive" Spartans armed Helots in time of serious war, held bases to receive escaped Athenian slaves and let anyone who could make it through the agoge and pay his mess dues qualify as a Spartan. Pericles' children couldn't qualify for Athenian citizenship because his wife wasn't a citizen, but Sparta wasn't so choosey.

Deucey07 Dec 2019 11:22 a.m. PST

Good poll question.

Here's another example:
Cortes at Tenochtitlan had a lot of Tlaxcalan allies who hated the Aztecs.

CarloVon08 Dec 2019 7:42 a.m. PST

@Robert – I'd love to see your sources on such Spartan liberalness, as I too am mostly only familiar with Sparta as a repressive state.

USAFpilot08 Dec 2019 3:07 p.m. PST

Kind of reminds me of a photo in a newspaper in 1990 showing the first Air Force aircraft to arrive in Saudi Arabia to start the build up of what was called Op Desert Shield. Photo showed a fighter jet (F-15 or F-16, can't remember) with headline of first US Air Force jets arrive; except in the background of the photo you see a C-141 Starlifter that had already touched down previously to the fighters arriving. Every cargo and tanker pilot knows that fighter squadrons don't fly thousands of miles without transport and tanker support. Misplaced credit happens.

Dn Jackson08 Dec 2019 9:59 p.m. PST

"for there were present also in the army those of the Thespians who survived, being in number about one thousand eight hundred, and these too were without heavy arms."

Sounds like light troops. Peltasts, slingers, etc.

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