A last stand is a military situation in which troops hold their position against overwhelming odds. They can be categorized as such in accordance to the tactical significance they can bring to the battle or war. They can be the last resort in buying time for the fleeing troops or civilians. They stand for defending a leader who holds significance to their cause. They are defending their position because it is a tactically crucial chokepoint, preventing the enemy from utilizing it. Nevertheless, the most famous reason for withstanding their ground is, perhaps, the fear of execution. Seeing it as their duty to fall in battle like their fellow soldiers, the troops choose to fight to the last man standing as a mark of honor. Another reason for that would be not only to prevent the enemy from capturing them, but also to prevent giving out crucial information to the enemy in case torturing occurs.
1) Battle of Thermopylae:
Among the most famous, a fan-favorite has to be the Battle of Thermopylae. Allied Greek city states withheld the strategic choke point of Thermopylae pass, which prevented further advancement for the Persians. The Greek soldiers held their line for three days. They withstood the attacks of the Persians three excruciating and costly days in a row, until the third and final day. Greek forces fell in combat after fighting to the very last man standing. It was a costly battle for both sides, more so for the Persians by the estimates, as it put a halt in their advance.
2) Battle of Rorke’s Drift:
A battle fought in Rourke’s outpost that built upon an important crossroad, was part of the Anglo-Zulu war. The massacre at Isandlwana had confirmed that amassing army of Zulu warriors set upon the warpath to reclaim their lost territories to the British. The fortified outpost had withheld the line even though it was outnumbered 10:1. The British repelled each and every attack done by the Zulu. In the end, the British triumphed over the Zulu suffering only 17 people killed, and 15 wounded, while the Zulu were in loss of more than 1000 people. This had marked the beginning of the end of the Zulu Kingdom.
3) Battle of Little Bighorn
As part of the Great Sioux War, General Armstrong Custer met his demise near the Little Bighorn River. The battle was named after the river later on. The encampment made by the 7th cavalry and led by General Custer, was surrounded on all sides by native braves, pelted with a never ending volley of arrows. The troops were led by Chief Gall, after receiving a vision by the legendary Sitting Bull, assuring Gall of his victory. The natives did score a big victory over the Americans. Indeed, they managed to destroy half of the 7th cavalry division, kill General Custer and put a halt on the encroaching American army.
4) Battle of the Alamo:
Under general Santa Anna did the Mexican army march forth to reclaim lost territories and return Texas to their rule. Yet the rebels were persistent and would not let go of the hope of becoming independent. The culmination of the war against the rebels came to the Spanish mission that held 182 Texan rebels. They repelled the Mexican army for 12 days. After 12 days of enduring constant attacks and endless bombardment of the well-equipped Mexican army, the poorly equipped Texan rebels also had to endure a slaughter. On the dawn of the thirteenth day, Alamo fell under the rule of Mexico City. This iconic battle, paved the way for fresh sympathizers to join the cause and fight against the rule of Mexico City. Soon afterwards, they could manage to achieve independence and join the United States of America.
5) Battle of Camaron:
What made the French Foreign Legion well known and highly regarded was the Battle of Camaron. During the rule of Napoleon III as part of the Second French intervention in Mexico, the Legion was ordered to escort a convoy that was suspected of being attacked by the Mexican Army. Resting at a local Hacienda by the name of Camaron, 250 Mexican rancheros were spotted patrolling the road. They saw the equipment in front of the hacienda, they decided to attack the French Foreign Legion. Numbering only 62 legionnaires led by Captain Jean Danjou, the Legion repelled the rancheros and forced them to call for back up. They were fighting the entire day and night. The Legion fought like devils, repelling the amassed Mexican army of 800 cavalry and 2200 infantry. Although the Legion afflicted heavy casualties to the Mexican army, it was not enough to bring victory. Only 5 survived, and with a final bayonet charge, hoping to join their brothers in arms, 3 were all that survived. Seeing the spirit with which they fought, Major Compos of the Mexican army listened to the demands of the Legion. He ordered retrieval of their battle standard, their weapons and their leader – Captain Jean Danjou. Thus, was born the legend of the French Foreign Legion that is so highly respected to this day.