From the 300 Spartans to Washington crossing the Delaware, some historical events have become enshrined as the boldest, coolest, and most impressive feats humans have ever achieved. But can these sacred cows truly live up to the hype?
No one's arguing that the Battle of Thermopylae wasn't epic, or that George Washington and his exhausted men didn't give their all for American liberty, but at what point does the myth overshadow the magic? In other words, which historical events have received too much attention in the popular discourse, and could benefit from a reality check?
We asked Weird History Facebook fans which historical events are way too glorified, and these are their answers!
- Photo: Tombstone / Buena Vista Pictures1225 VOTES
The Gunfight At The OK Corral (1881)
From Facebook commenter Marcus Erwin:
The gunfight at the O.K Coral. History makes it sound like a great war battle. In reality it’s like 9 dudes fighting over who gets to rob the town of about 150 people.
Editor's Note: The commenter's estimate of the town's population is a little short. By this point in history, some 7,0000 people were living in Tombstone, AZ. And while their criticism of the Earps and the cowboys fighting over who got to rob the town is also hyperbole, it is true that the conflict was murkier than the “good guys vs bad guys” depiction you usually find in films. It was indeed no great battle, with the shootout lasting approximately 30 seconds.
- 2245 VOTES
From Facebook commenter Erin Turnquist Zmuda:
Battle of Little Big Horn and [George Armstrong] Custer. Not only did he lead his men to their deaths, his death was glorified (“died with his boots on”)… he made a career of murdering innocent Native Americans and their way of life. Not a man to be admired.
From Facebook commenter Patrick Nease:
The Battle of Little Big Horn. General Custer's arrogance cost his him and all his men's lives just so he could rise in the ranks. He could have brought Gatling guns but didn't want to be slowed down and late to the party.
- 3207 VOTES
Orson Welles's 'War Of The Worlds' Broadcast (1938)
From Facebook commenter Joseph Tang:
Orson Welles' War of the Worlds panic broadcast which allegedly terrified America. Not true. Only a tiny number of Americans, mostly rural folk, got scared and done shot up their local water towers, which looked like Martian space craft. The broadcast was mostly not heard by or known to be fictional by 99 percent of Americans.
Editor's Note: This is definitely a tale that has grown in the telling, though to what degree remains unknown. While it was once “common knowledge” that Welles's broadcast terrified the populace, the actual number of people listening to the show, let alone freaking out, was probably minor.
From Facebook commenter Erin Stone Shumway:
Columbus discovering America… Actually he just killed and enslaved the natives and pillaged their land for gold all in the glory of Spain. He wasn't in it for the discovery or exploring, he was in it for the gold and glory.
- 5253 VOTES
The Battle Of The Alamo (1836)
- 6172 VOTES
The Scopes 'Monkey' Trial (1925)
From Facebook commenter Benjamin Au:
The Scopes Monkey Trial was more of a publicity stunt to bring some tourist money in to Dayton, TN, than it was a stand for principle and truth.