Need a List of Glorious/Much Celebrated Military Defeats

Sometimes, a historic battle takes on almost mythical importance, even though the people celebrating it were the losers.


The Texans were wiped out at the Alamo.
The Spartans were wiped out at Thermopylae
The Viet Cong were crushed in the Tet Offensive

And yet, somehow, the losers in each of these encounters have become heroes in many circles.

Any other good examples of battles in which the losers are far more celebrated than the victors?


How about the entire U.S. Civil War? While the Confederates had many individual victories in battles, overall, they suffered crushing defeat. Yet, the confederate commanders and leaders are for the most part revered as national heroes.

The charge of the Light Brigade.

The Serbs still celebrate the Battle of Kosovo of 1389.

Australia and New Zealand celebrate ANZAC Day on the 25th of April. While this is really a general memorial day for all Aussies and Kiwis killed in battle, the date was chosen as the anniversary of the military defeat at Gallipoli at 1915.

Pearl Harbor?

My impression is that Custer’s forces getting wiped out at Little Big Horn was at one time seen as being more heroic than many people see it today. I could be wrong though.

Custer’s last stand, though the judgement of Little Big Horn is very different depending on the audience. A century ago I could have made the statement without qualifications

That wasn’t a defeat. The Light Brigade successfully attacked the guns.

Well, OK, then, let’s see if I can bring up Culloden Field without a simulposting.

Charles George “Chinese” Gordon’s defeat and death in Khartoum in 1885.

The Battle of Bataan, though it is mainly remembered for the death march.

To amplify a bit, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s bunch had the romantics and poets on their side, although the Duke of Cumberland had a superior army and the Jacobites got their ass handed to them:

“God Save the King” was written during George II’s reign, and originally had a verse concerning “the rebellious Scots to crush”, but it got elided out pretty quickly, and the Scots generally wind up more celebrated in accounts of the Jacobite uprisings.

The entire history of the French Foreign Legion, as I recall it, is a series of glorious defeats. In particular, the reputation of the Legion was cemented in the Battle of Camarón .

National heros - really? Do they have Robert E. Lee Day in, say, Oregon or Massachussetts?

Isn’t it regional, at best, and even then only with certain segments of the population? I’d be surprised to see the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP pushing for a Robert E. Lee Day or a Stonewall Jackson Day or a Jefferson Davis Day - am I in error on this?

The siege of Masada would probably qualify.

And died a drunk.

Isn’t is more accurate to say the “Jacobite Scots wind up more celebrated, etc.”? There were a lot of Scots who fought in Cumberland’s army, in support of the Hanoverians - a lot of Campbells, and other Lowlanders. It wasn’t simply an English v. Scots affair.

One more - The Battle of Roncevaux Pass, romanticized into “La Chanson de Roland”. The romanticized accounts even have Roland’s enemy wrong - they were actually Basques, not Saracens, and it was in reality a minor battle in which the Basques attacked Charlamagne’s rear guard: