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"Worst last stand/military disaster in which to die" Topic

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Historydude1812 Feb 2020 8:56 p.m. PST

This does sound a bit dumb at first since a dead man is a dead man but my father and I are huge military history buffs and both of us have always been fascinated by last stand battles and terrible military disasters especially (often times the two go hand in hand) and we have visited all of the ones in the US and want to see the international ones. We were talking in the car today about which of these battles would be the worst to fight or die in, either by way of death or just sheer terror of knowing you aren't going to make it. My vote was Little Bighorn or the Fetterman Fight as I've visited both those battlefields and weirdly have had a nightmare for years about being attacked by Indians and one where I was killed at LBH, and I know for a fact it was LBH because I've been there. Anyway, this does sound weird but I'm curious if any of you have ever thought about this. Which of the battles that fall into either or both of these categories would based on what we know be the worst way to die?

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 9:11 p.m. PST

LBH would be bad. Isandlwana, too. Last few rooms of the Alamo.

Really, any battle where I'm surrounded and about to be hacked to death would pretty much suck, but it's extra sucky to be among the last as you see it coming.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 9:27 p.m. PST

Any pointless last stand

saltflats192912 Feb 2020 9:34 p.m. PST

Stalingrad. Years of gulag just to die anyway.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 10:05 p.m. PST

Bataan. You fight for months, your commanding officer is evacuated along with his family and clothes, furniture, etc, and you have to die of starvation on the Death March or in a Japanese POW camp.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 10:10 p.m. PST

Isandlhwana. Outnumbered 20 to 1, Zulus coming from every direction, and knowing that the Zulus don't take prisoners.

Adowa is similar to Isandlhwana in its horribleness.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine12 Feb 2020 10:41 p.m. PST

The 1842 retreat from Kabul always sounded pretty bloody awful. It must have been pretty terrifying watching the column slowly fall apart in hostile territory.

14Bore13 Feb 2020 1:49 a.m. PST

Or Little Bighorn

JimDuncanUK13 Feb 2020 4:09 a.m. PST

Culloden, especially if you like whisky, salmon and beef.

Tired Mammal13 Feb 2020 5:32 a.m. PST

New Orleans 1815, That major battle in the 1812 -14 war.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 6:04 a.m. PST

Retreat from Moscow, either 1812 or 1941/42 – freezing, starving and very angry Russians in the offing.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 6:09 a.m. PST

Wake Island

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 6:18 a.m. PST

For military disaster Stalingrad and Retreat from Moscow are way up there

For last stand Isandlhwana

FearAndLoathing13 Feb 2020 6:41 a.m. PST

1842 retreat from Kabul was pretty awful

Rich Bliss13 Feb 2020 6:41 a.m. PST

"When you're wounded and dying on Afghanistan's plains. And the women come out to cut up your remains. Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains. And go to your God like a soldier"

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 7:24 a.m. PST

Not a last stand but Andersonville Prison is one of the scariest places I've every been. Also the Donner party site.

Personal logo Cardinal Ximenez Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 9:24 a.m. PST

Teutoburg Forest
Swiss Guards in 1792 defending an abandoned Tuileries

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian13 Feb 2020 9:44 a.m. PST

Fetterman: Not only are you dying, you are freezing

JMcCarroll13 Feb 2020 9:57 a.m. PST

Well I'm not sure it is worst last stand/military disaster in which to die. But, Captain Cook in Hawaii might be.
When Hawaiians are asked what type of guy Captain Cook was there reply " was delicious! ".

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 10:15 a.m. PST

As pointed out by others, perhaps it is not the final death blow that makes the last stand the worst place to die, but the lead up. Moscow retreats, Stalingrad, Kabul retreat, Battle of Carrhae, Berlin 1945 (especially if you are a civilian), Lenningrad, Masada, Warsaw Ghetto, Mount Carmel Center siege.

Choctaw13 Feb 2020 10:44 a.m. PST

To be a citizen in any town or city that didn't immediately surrender to a Roman army upon demand. Bad things were going to be coming my way.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine13 Feb 2020 12:38 p.m. PST

Thinking about it you probably didn't want to be in Baghdad circa Feb 10th 1258AD either…Mongols didn't have a reputation for being a nice bunch.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 1:00 p.m. PST

How about falling into the hands of Vlad the impaler ?

Mister Tibbles13 Feb 2020 1:01 p.m. PST

Choctaw, that's what I was thinking. Jerusalem comes to mind.

Lee49413 Feb 2020 7:22 p.m. PST


gunnerphil14 Feb 2020 3:53 a.m. PST

Is there a good one to die in?

Dicymick14 Feb 2020 4:26 a.m. PST

USS Indianapolis.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 9:14 a.m. PST

Braddock's Defeat, or Grant's Hill. Captured by Indians and killed in ritualistic torture.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 6:59 p.m. PST

I admit that it's relatively small, but no mention of Camerone? Or does that count as a good last stand and not a military disaster?

Otherwise, like the above, I'd go with Isandlhwana or possibly the Fetterman Massacre

Historydude1817 Feb 2020 10:58 a.m. PST

I really liked these responses to my post. Interesting stuff to ponder.
I still think LBH and Fetterman would be worse than Isandlwana though. I've always found Plains Indians warriors far more scary looking and frightening than Zulus.

jefritrout20 Feb 2020 12:33 p.m. PST

I was going to say Stalingrad, but Dicymick's comment about the Indianapolis…

So the USS Indianapolis is the one that would frighten me the most.

Major Bloodnok21 Feb 2020 1:11 p.m. PST

Any of them… Here's one. Is it worst to be the first one killed in or war or the last one?

Nick Pasha21 Feb 2020 9:12 p.m. PST

Battle of Camerone in Mexico. Defining moment for the FFL.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2020 9:52 a.m. PST

Camerone: minuses you are dying of thirst; men were drinking their own blood. Pluses, the Mexicans took prisoners. What do we make of the Indian accounts that many of Custer's men took their own lives as their firing line collapsed?

Stephen Miller24 Feb 2020 8:51 a.m. PST

Nick, I think that refers to the old saying "save your last bullet for yourself." No one wanted to be captured for fear (real or otherwise) by the "savage" Indians. Some no doubt did take their lives rather that chance being taken alive.

Historydude1807 Mar 2020 8:46 p.m. PST

Save the last bullet for yourself came about because it was believed that Indians would torture prisoners to death. The Comanche and Apache certainly tortured captives to death all the time as did the Eastern tribes but I've never heard of the Sioux or Cheyenne doing as such. They often just took no prisoners and at LBH soldiers did try to surrender but were killed by the warriors on the spot. The newspaper accounts reporting torture at the battle are probably just propaganda and it's possible when soldiers discovered mutilated bodies of their comrades they believed that to be a result of torture rather than inflicted after death to cripple them in the afterlife. So it's a safe bet that there was no torture of captives at LBH or any other Sioux-US battle although Custer's men did not know that.

Robert le Diable12 Mar 2020 7:16 a.m. PST

If a town militia, effectively, can be considered a fighting unit, and thus the destruction of a town and its inhabitants (m,w&ch) a "last stand", I'd include the Sack of Berwick on Tweed by the forces of Edward I of England. It lasted three days.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 9:16 a.m. PST

Any battle where I get stabbed to death. link

catavar16 Mar 2020 11:37 a.m. PST

Exactly, though I think being eaten by a shark probably tops all others.

AuttieCat Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2020 6:16 a.m. PST

My $.02 USD,

Berlin 1945! Fighting a totally lost cause for a most evil regime and upper leaders (Hitler and cronies). Who in the end---did not care a rat's ass about any individual other than himself/themselves.
Tom Semian
Irvine, PA. 16329

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2020 1:08 p.m. PST

It may be a bit obscure, but I would cast my vote for the battle of Concepcion, July 9-10, 1882. A Chilean garrison of 77 (plus three women and two children) in the town of Concepcion, Peru, were besieged and final massacred by a force of 1,300 Peruvians. Only the kids survived.

I always thought it would make an interesting scenario. It even has a built-in time limit as the main Chilean army showed up a scant two hours too late.

zardoz1957 Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2020 1:13 p.m. PST

2nd vote for Bataan.

takeda33321 Mar 2020 3:22 p.m. PST

Isandlhwana, not fond of Zulu abdominal surgery.

capncarp25 Mar 2020 9:25 p.m. PST

Fort Pillow in the American Civil War. Lots of Very Bad Things done to troops who had already surrendered, both black and white.

Historydude1827 Mar 2020 1:28 p.m. PST

I think Fort Pillow is more of a massacre than a last stand or military disaster, but yes that'd be one of the worst to be killed in. Especially if you were black. Rebels would make you suffer.

doc mcb10 Apr 2020 1:04 p.m. PST

"And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?"

Given 100% mortality, surely HOW one dies is the key thing, and some of those listed above -- the Alamo for example -- were glorious.

Imagine the exultation of the kamikazi pilot as he dives for the enemy carrier. Imagine riding with Theoden into nearly-certain death.

I think many of the battles listed were unnecessary or futile, and knowing that while IN IT would be depressing. But duty and courage have intrinsic value regardless.

Blackhorse MP17 Apr 2020 3:09 a.m. PST

Surprised no one mentioned Thermopylae.

Robert le Diable18 Apr 2020 5:45 p.m. PST

But the question is about "worst", and given the famous epitaph, and concern for reputation outliving the mortal existence of the warrior, surely Thermopylae would have been – in the estimation of the Spartans – just about as good as it gets? Wouldn't they have got on well with Vikings?

Mr J197019 Apr 2020 12:49 a.m. PST

All are bad but for me Gandamack must rate highly, firstly for the sudden shock, it happened relatively quickly, to the average soldier or camp follower there wasn't a long drawn out campaign, the uprising must have appeared to come from nowhere so no time to mentally prepare for what was to follow. It's winter so it's freezing cold with little protection against the elements. The actual massacre goes on for days, being picked off at range with little chance of fighting back, the tribesmen generally picking you off at leisure with the longer range Jezail, then brutally finishing you off with knives. The huge casualty list of camp followers etc as well as troops must have meant all in all it was a truly horrifying experience. And only one person got out!

coolyork21 Apr 2020 8:02 a.m. PST

Battle of Cannae if your a Roman !

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