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Famous Last Stands

December 2, 2016

What happens when a few brave warriors refuse to quit, even when the cause seems lost? Victory…or doom.

Suleiman the MagnificentSULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT

One of history’s greatest last stands took place in the 16th century when Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent sought to expand his Ottoman Empire eastward into Europe. In 1552, after more than 30 years of war and advances, a Turkish force of approximately 80,000 soldiers attacked a castle fortress in the town of Eger, one of the Kingdom of Hungary’s last strongholds. Roughly 2,000 people, including 1,500 soldiers, vowed to defend their home against the 80,000 invaders.
The Turks had more than 150 pieces of artillery, including 15 huge cannons. They fired at the castle from every direction for days, and then for weeks…but they couldn’t get inside. They made several attempts to storm the castle; they shot flaming arrows over the sides; they even dug under the walls and planted bombs…and they still couldn’t get in.
Finally, after 39 days of relentless attacks, during which roughly a third of the Hungarians inside were killed, the Turks finally gave up and left. The Hungarians, outnumbered almost 50 to 1, had won.


On October 26, 1597, a Korean force of 13 ships met 133 Japanese warships and 200 more smaller ships in Myeongnyang Strait at the southwest tip of Korea. When the daylong battle was over, Korean admiral Yi Sun-sin had masterminded one of the most successful naval stands in history, losing no ships while sinking 31 Japanese ships and damaging 92 more.


On September 12, 1847, an American force of 13,000 led by General Winfield Scott attacked Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City in one of the last battles of the Mexican-American War. Near the end of the following day, Mexican general Nicolás Bravo finally ordered retreat, but six military cadets—between 13 and 19 years old—refused. They stayed and faced the American onslaught, going down one by one to rifle fire or bayonet wounds. Legend says the last one wrapped himself in a Mexican flag and threw himself off the castle.
Los Niños Héroes—the Boy Heroes—are among Mexico’s most admired historical figures.
Strange History

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