The 20 Most Remarkable ‘Last Stands’ In History

Battle of Camaron

The French Foreign Legion has a reputation for fierce combat and peerless bravery, and they proved that on April 30th, 1863, in the midst of the Second French Intervention in Mexico, an ongoing conflict involving European nations attempting to force Mexico to pay back debts owed to them. A small infantry patrol, led by Captain Jean Danjou was attacked and besieged by a force that eventually reached 3,000 infantry and cavalry. They numbered just 65 men.

Caught during a patrol by a numerically superior cavalry company, Captain Jean Danjou was forced to retreat his men to a nearby defensible hacienda. Realizing the desperation of the situation, Danjou forced his men to take an oath to fight to the death rather than surrender. He made them swear fealty on his wooden, prosthetic hand. The men fought for hours, winnowing their forces down as waves of Mexican infantry assaulted the house. Over the course of the battle, Danjou and most of his officers were killed. Out of food, water, and eventually ammunition, the last of Danjou’s men, numbering only five, mounted a bayonet charge. At the end of the fight, only nineteen men were left alive, seventeen of whom were severely wounded and later died.

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Defense of Polish Post Office

World War II History is filled to the brim with desperate last stands, as future entries on this list will show. However, this first one is special due to the fact that it was one of the first in the entirety of the war. On September 1st, 1939, the first day of World War 2 in Europe, Polish Postmen defended their Post Office Building in the border city of Danzig for 15 hours against assaults by SS Units stationed in the city, alongside Danzig police and Brown Shirts from the Nazi Party.

At four in the morning the Germans cut the phone and electricity lines to the building. They launched several assaults upon the beleaguered defenders, each of which was repulsed with heavy casualties, one of which ended with a Polish officer blowing himself up with a grenade to stop them. Later in the day artillery was brought up, but even with this support their attacks were repulsed. They set up a bomb beneath the building and blew a wall, but the stubborn Poles simply retreated to the basement and refused to surrender. After gasoline was poured into the breach and set alight, the remaining few surrendered. Those that did were executed as partisans, except for four who managed to escape from the building and weren’t captured.

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