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Top 10 outnumbered battles of history fought against all odds

Updated on April 20, 2016

There are wars in the history which were fought against the enemies, which were so outnumbered but to get a win over them was too unmanageable. This list composes of such wars which where heroic and fought against all odds.

The Battle Of Chamkaur

The Battle Of Chamkaur was a conflict fought between the Khalsa against the Mughal forces. The Mughals forces have been described as numbering over 1,000,000 whereas the Khalsa forces were just 48. The conflict was fought near the village of Chamkaur from December 6, 1705.
On December 6, 1705, Guru Gobind Singh, his two elder sons and 40 devoted warriors made camp, on property owned by Rai Jagat Singh outside of Chamkaur. With more than 100,000 Mughal soldiers in pursuit, the Guru and his Singhs requested shelter inside of a walled compound belonging to Rai Jagat Singh. Fearing repercussions from local authorities, Rai Jagat Singh at first rejected, however the others welcomed the Guru, who quickly set about preparing his warriors for battlefield. Guruji positioned his Singhs at the single north facing gated entry with eight Singhs placed at vantage points on each of the four compound walls and others at secure positions where they can shoot their enemies with bow and arrows. Mughal's sent a messenger with the terms of treaty demanding submission to Islamic legal philosophy, which the Guru, his sons and valiant warriors unanimously declined. Then Mughal officers ordered their troops to mercilessly attack the Guru's vastly outnumbered warriors. The Guru's and his Singh's responded fiercely, defending their fortress from the horde's advance with deadly accuracy. On the desire of his followers Guruji accepted that they should run through the sleeping Mughal soldiers at night. Late night Guruji with three other Singhs ran through the sleeping enemy camp calling out that the Guru had escaped. Confusion ensued and groggy Mughal soldiers mistakenly fell upon and slew each other in the darkness. The other Singhs held the fort long enough for Guruji to make good his getaway before succumbing to the ferocious Mughal horde who advance swarming through the gate and over the walls. The Mughals rejoiced over Sangat Singh's slain body, imagining they had captured and killed Guru Gobind Singh. By the time they realized their mistake, the Guru and his three companions, each taking a different route, had disappeared into the night.

Battle of Saragarhi

Saragarhi is the incredible story of 21 men of 36th Sikh Regiment (currently the 4th Sikh Regiment) Who broke up their lives in devotion to their duty defending an army post from more than 10000 Afgan forces. This battle, like many others fought by the Sikhs, highlights the heroic action by a little detachment of Sikh soldiers against heavy odds. This meeting took place on 12 September 1897 in the Torah region of North-West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan, which then formed part of British India). In continuing with the tradition of the Sikh Army, they fought to the death rather than surrender.
Saragarhi was a little village situated in the Samana Range, in present day Pakistan.
The British had partially succeeded in taking control of this volatile area, however, tribal Pashtuns attacked British personnel from time to time. Hence a series of forts, originally built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Ruler of the Sikh Empire, were consolidated. Two of the forts were Fort Lockhart, (on the Samana Range of the Hindu Kush mountains), and Fort Gulistan (Sulaiman Range), situated a few miles apart. Referable to the forts not being visible to each other, Saragarhi was created midway, as a heliographic communication post. The Saragarhi post, situated on a rocky ridge, consisted of a small block house with loop-holed ramparts and a signalling tower.
On 12 September 1897 10,000 Pashtuns attacked the signalling post at Saragarhi, so that communication would be lost between the two fortresses. Some of the fiercest hand-to-hand fighting occurs and Saragrahi was destroyed and then the Afghans turned their attention to Fort Gulistan, but they had been delayed too long, and reinforcements arrived there in the night of 13–14 September, before the fort could be captured.

Battle of Wan

Battle of Wan, 22 Singhs Vs 2,000 Mughal Troops in 1726 at Wan Tara Singh Village, Taran Taran Distt, Punjab. A government informer, Chaudhry Sahib Rai of Naushahra Pannuan, complained to the Faujdar of Patti, Jafar Begh that Tara Singh harbour criminals. The faujdar sent a contingent of 25 horse cavalry and 80 foot soldiers to Wan, but Tara Singh’s colleague Sardar met them in the fields, fought back and routed the invaders leaving several dead, including their commander, nephew of the faujdar before achieving martyrdom himself. Jafar Begh reported the matter to Zakariya Khan, who sent a punitive expedition consisting of 2,000 horses, 5 elephants, 40 light guns, and 4 cannon wheels under orders of his deputy, Momin Khan. Tara Singh had barely 22 men with him at that fourth dimension. They went on the Lahore force at bay through the night, but were killed to a man in the hand to hand fight on the following day. Their heads were held back to Lahore and thrown into a dry well where Gurdwara Shaheed Singhania now stands in Landa Bazar. The Gurdwara Sahib now marks the site where the drained bodies of Bhai Tara Singh and his 20 companions were cremated.

Battle of Gaugamela

Battle of Gaugamela, also called Battle of Arbela, (Oct. 1, 331 BC) The clash between the forces of Alexander the Great of Macedonia and Darius III of Persia, that decided the destiny of the Persian empire. The strength of Macedonian army was 47000 whereas the Persians were more than 1000000. Trying to stop Alexander’s incursion into the Persian empire, Darius prepared a battleground on the Plain of Gaugamela, near Arbela (present-day Irbīl in northern Iraq), and posted his troops to await the Alexander’s advance. Darius had the terrain of the prospective battlefield smoothed level so that his many chariots could operate with maximum strength against the Macedonians. His total forces greatly outnumbered those of Alexander, whose forces amounted to nearly 40,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry.
Alexander’s well-trained army faced Darius’ massive battle line and coordinated to attack, charging the left of the Persians’ line with archers, javelin throwers, and cavalry, while defending against Darius’ outflanking cavalry with reserve flank guards. A charge by Persian scythed chariots aimed at the centre of Alexander’s forces was defeated by Macedonian lightly armed soldiers. During the combat, then much of Darius’ cavalry on his left flank were drawn into the battle that they left the Persian infantry in the centre of the battle line exposed. Alexander and his personal cavalry immediately wheeled half left and penetrated this gap and then wheeled again to attack the Persians’ flank and back. At this Darius took flight, and terror spread through his entire army, which began a headlong retreat while being cut down by the pursuing Greeks. The Macedonian victory spelled the death of the Persian empire founded by Cyrus II the Great and left Alexander the master of southwest Asia.

Battle of Italeni

The Battle of Italeni was a fight that took place in what is now a KwaZulu Natal province, South Africa, between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus during the period of the Great Trek. It was fought on April 9, 1838 wherein the strength of Voortrekkers was about 347 and on the other side KwaZulu Natal province were with 8000 infantory men. As no post with the name of Italeni currently exists, the exact site of the battle remains unknown and has been the subject of some controversy. Still, the most likely area lies in a mountain defile guarded by two hills that is approximately 4.8 kilometres southwest of Umgungundlovu. It has been theorized that the Zulus named it the "Battle of Italeni" as some of the fighting took place on Itala Mountain, 24 kilometres away. Referable to the outcome of the battle, the Voortrekker forces involved in the fighting subsequently became known as the Vlugkommando (Flight Commando).

Battle of Watling Street

The Battle of Watling Street took place in Roman-occupied Britain in AD 60 or 61 between an alliance of indigenous British peoples led by Boudica and a Roman army led by Gaius Suetonius Pauline. Although heavily outnumbered as the force of the Romans were about 10000 whereas the British people were around 230000 in number, the Romans decisively defeated the allied tribes, inflicting heavy losses on them. The conflict marked the end of resistance to Roman rule in Britain in the southern half of the island, a period that lasted until 410 AD.
The site of the Battle of Watling Street is unknown, although several sites have been suggested as its location. Most historians favour a site in the Midlands, probably along the Roman road of Watling Street between Londinium and Viroconium (Wroxeter in Shropshire). Other potential sites include Manduessedum (Manchester), near Atherstone in Warwickshire, a site close to High Cross in Leicestershire, and a small dip at Cuttle Mill, two miles southeast of Lactodorum (Towcester) in Northamptonshire. The Kennet Valley, close to Silchester has also been proposed as a plausible site for the battle.
Suetonius' force totalled around 10,000 and included his own Legio XIV Gemina, parts of the XX Valeria Victrix. Although heavily outnumbered, he chose a respectable position to give battle. The Romans lined up in a narrow defile with a forest behind them, the gorge opened out into a wide plain on which the Britons amassed. The gorge offered protection for the Roman flanks, and limited the fighting front of the battle, whilst the forest impeded approach from the rear. The Romans took a close formation , with lightly armed auxiliaries on the flanks and cavalry on the wings.

Siege of Tuyen Quang

The Siege of Tuyen Quang was an important confrontation between the French and the Chinese armies in Tonkin (northern Vietnam) during the Sino-French War (August 1884 – April 1885). A French garrison of 630 human beings, including two companies of the French Foreign Legion, successfully defended the French post of Tuyen Quang against vastly superior Chinese forces about 12000 in number in a four-month siege from 24 November 1884 to 3 March 1885. 'Tuyen Quang 1885' remains one of the Legion's proudest battle honours.
On 31 December 1884 the Chinese launched an initial attempt, which was repelled with losses. They attacked again on 10 January and 26 January 1885, but with no more success. But at the same time they had diverted more than 1,000 men to work on digging saps in order to approach the walls of the fortress from the southwest and the north simultaneously. On 27 January their trenches were less than 1,000 metres from the French walls, and they began to sap towards the blockhouse. As its communications with the citadel were threatened, the blockhouse had to be abandoned on 30 January. The guns which Damon had at his disposition were of too low a calibre to do any serious damage to the enemy trenches.
Later on many attacks, giving no results the fifth Chinese assault was delivered on 24 February, and a sixth on 25 February. Like their predecessors, both assaults were decisively rebuffed. But although the garrison had beaten off half a dozen attempts to storm its positions, it had lost over a third of its strength (50 dead and 224 wounded) sustaining a heroic defence against overwhelming odds. By the end of February it was clear that Tuyen Quang would fall unless it was saved immediately.

Battle of Blood River

The Battle of Blood River is the name given for the battle fought between 470 Voortrekkers led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated 15,000–21,000 Zulu attackers on the cant of the Ncome River on 16 December 1838, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Casualties amounted to three thousand of king Dingane's soldiers dead, including two Zulu princes competing with prince Mpande for the Zulu throne. Three Trekker commando members were lightly injured, including Pretorius himself.
In the sequel of the Battle of Blood River in January 1840, Prince Mpande finally defeated King Dingane in the Battle of Maqongqe, and was subsequently crowned as new king of amaZulu by his alliance partner Andries Pretorius. After these two battles of succession, Dingane's prime minister and commander in both the Battle of Maqongqe and the Battle of Blood River, General Ndlela, was strangled to death by Dingane on account of high treason. General Ndlela had been the personal protector of Prince Mpande, who, after the Battles of Blood River and Maqongqe, became king and father of the Zulu dynasty.

Battle of Abu Klea

The Battle of Abu Klea took place between the dates of 16 and 18 January 1885, at Abu Klea, Sudan, between the British Desert Column and Mahdist forces 13000 in number encamped near Abu Klea, In the bend of the River Nile, North of Khartoum. The British force numbered 1,400 against a Sudanese army of close to 14,000 of which some 3,000 actually attacked the British square. The Desert Column, a military unit of approximately 1,400 soldiers, started from Korti, Sudan on 30 December 1884; the Desert Column's mission, in a joint effort titled "The Gordon Relief Expedition", was to march across the desert to the aid of General Charles George Gordon in Khartoum, Sudan, who was besieged there by Mahdist forces.

Battle of Thermopylae

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August or September 480 BC, at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae. The Persian invasion was a delayed reaction to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece, which had been ended by the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Xerxes had amassed a vast army and navy, and set out to conquer all of Greece. The Athenian general Themistocles had proposed that the allied Greeks block the rise of the Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae, and simultaneously block the Persian navy at the Straits of Artemisium.
Both ancient and innovative writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending the native soil. The execution of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.

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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 14 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Interesting hub. Learned a lot. Thx. Shared.