The Greatest Last Stand Ever Recorded In History

Grace Higgins | July 6th, 2020

The battle of Saragarhi is known to many historians as the greatest last stand ever, when it comes to war and battles. It is an event that happened on the 12th September 1897 that saw just 21 Sikh soldiers stand their ground against over 10,000 men. It was a British outpost surrounded by Afghan tribesmen, and they decided that they would make a valiant last stand instead of surrendering. It was a last stand that was heard throughout the British empire.

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In the late 19th century, the tensions between Britain and Russia were extremely high as both nations were trying to take over as much of central Asia as possible. British forces were holding places along the colonial border of British India and Afghanistan that were considered to be extremely vulnerable. This was because they were being threatened by Russian forces and also Afghan tribes. Saragarhi only had a very small outpost, it was located 40 miles away from a larger British garrison in Kohat which is now in modern day Pakistan.

Only 21 Sikh soldiers were in the outpost when over 10,000 enemy tribesmen attacked, and they held their ground against the onslaught when all the odds were stacked against them. This cemented the Sikh soldiers as being brave and holding battle honour above all. On the first attack the experienced sergeant Havildar Ishar Singh kept his men’s morale high and was able to rally them to defend their positions. They pushed the attack, but 2 tribesmen were able to hide in a dead spot under the walls and began digging.

The wall collapsed and the tribesmen rushed the fort, even then the Sikh soldiers did not give up and held their positions. They made a valiant last stand, causing a high price for the enemy’s victory: over 180 dead. It was a significant event in British history as it inspired many more Indians to serve and fight. The 36th Sikh regiment was rewarded a battle honour and the 12th September became a regimental holiday. Saragarhi is now officially commemorated in the UK and India, every year.

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