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One of the great inaccuracies of the last stand at Thermopylae which is depicted in the movie, "300" is the appearance of the battlefield, which you can read about in depth by clicking the image below.

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I have tried to use images from movies to illustrate and even compare with what we know according to ancient historians...in this case, Herodotus about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. One of the memorable scenes from the 1962 classic, "The 300 Spartans" is presented when after King Leonidas is killed, Xerxes the Great offers the surviving Spartans a chance to surrender. Their response, "We stay with our king."

In several minutes, it was all over....all the Spartans on the battlefield had died under a hail of arrows that were so numerous, "They blot out the sun". This was a more accurate depiction in the 1962 movie, than the Warner Bros.' film, "300", where Gerard Butler as King Leonidas died with his men in the hail of arrows. According to the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, Leonidas had died towards the beginning of the third day's fighting, not at the end like the most recent motion picture. It is reflected in this image of the movie, where the body of the Spartan king lies in the center of the circular formation.

One more clarification, while the 700 Thespians who died together with the Spartans are not present in this image, they did appear in the movie.

Image: (c) 20th Century Fox

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The image is a behind-the-scenes photo of the great Richard Widmark, who portrayed one of the heroic defenders of the Alamo, James "Jim" Bowie.

There have been varying accounts of Bowie's death at the Alamo on March 6th, 1836...the most accurate according to historians is like the scene from the movie, where several Mexican soldiers entered his room and he emptied his pistols before being killed.

Image: (c) United Artists

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An excellent painting entitled, "The Siege of the Alamo" by Hungarian American artist, Lajos Markos. I wish their was an image with a little more clarity, therefore, this one will suffice until one becomes available.

Most of you who have visited this collection are familiar with the battle, therefore, I won't provide a description, I will let the painting speak for itself since it is one of the great last stands...enjoy!

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One of the great battles by a small group of defenders against a numerically superior force occurred during January 22-23, 1879 at Rorke's Drift in South Africa. Approximately 150 British troops defended the mission against at least 3,000 brave and tenacious Zulu warriors.

This is a behind -the-scenes photo of Sir Michael Caine who portrayed Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead one of the officers of the defending regiment.

When the fighting ended, 17 British soldiers had given their lives for the British Empire, while killing over 350 Zulu warriors and wounding over 500. As a testament to their bravery, eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded, the most ever to one regiment for a single battle.
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Every September 12th, Sikh military personnel commemorate one of the greatest last stands in history, the Battle of Saragarhi. In 1897 on that day in September, 21 heroic Sikh warriors of a British regiment situated in Pakistan, rather than abandon their post, held strong and true and were wiped out to a man by approximately, 10,000 Afghan soldiers.

As the battle began around 9:00 a.m., the Sikh regiment was given the opportunity to surrender several times, however, in the ultimate test of bravery, they fought until the very last Sikh soldier died at around 3:30 p.m. It is estimated that at least 450 Afghani soldiers died and many others were wounded in the incursion.

There is a commemorative tablet to these 21 courageous warriors which reads, "On the 12 September 1897, fighting against overwhelming numbers, thus proving their loyalty and devotion to their sovereign The Queen Empress of India and gloriously maintaining the reputation of the Sikhs for unflinching courage on the field of battle."

The image below is their post at Saragarhi after the onslaught that saw bitter hand-to-hand fighting after the wall was breached. Once the walls were compromised, the Afghan soldiers overcame the defensive positions which ultimatlely resulted in the deaths of the last surviving Sikh warriors.

(Photo Courtesy: AustralianSikhHeritage.Com)

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One of history's great last stands happened from February 23 – March 6, 1836 and is depicted in this painting of the Battle of the Alamo. The death of its defenders inspired the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo".

Over 250 Texian defenders were overwhelmed by the Mexican army of 1,800 soldiers commanded by President General Antonio López de Santa Anna.

American politician, General Thomas Jefferson Green is attributed with the following quote, "Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat-The Alamo had none."

Swinging the rifle in the center of the painting is Davy Crockett who was portrayed memorably by John Wayne in the 1960 film, "The Alamo".

Artist: Unknown

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A publicity photo which shows the Mexican cavalry charging the defenders of the Alamo in the 1960 motion picture, starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark and Laurence Harvey as Colonel Davy Crockett, Colonel Jim Bowie and Colonel William Travis, respectively. Behind the cavalry in reserve, the Mexian infantry who soon follow.

Now for some background on the battle: Over 250 Texian defenders were overwhelmed by the Mexican army of 1,800 soldiers commanded by President General Antonio López de Santa Anna.

American politician, General Thomas Jefferson Green is attributed with the following quote, "Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat-The Alamo had none."

Image: (c) United Artists

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The painting posted was completed by Charles Marion Russell in 1903 and depicted Custer's Last Stand, one of the engagements of the Battle of the Little Bighorn fought on June 25–26, 1876 in Montana.

The 'last stand' lasted less than an hour on June 25th and when it was over 200 soldiers from the Seventh Cavalry died, including General George Armstrong Custer. The Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes lost a fraction of their warriors, conservative estimates place the number at approximately 30, while the total number of native Americans that fought in the battle numbered around 1,000.

The painting is on display at the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art in Oklahoma.

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A powerful scene from the movie, "The 300 Spartans" which depicts the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) and the annihilation of the Spartans by the Persian forces. It was here that, "The Persian arrows were so numerous that they blot out the sun."

It was this movie that inspired Frank Miller to write the "300" comics which were adapted by Warner Bros. for the movie starring Gerard Butler as King Leonidas.

(c) 20th Century Fox

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