Weird History
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13 Quotes From The Field Of Battle So Savage They Sound Made Up - But Aren't

Updated October 12, 2020 6.8k votes 1.5k voters 93.1k views13 items

List RulesVote up the quotes uttered on the field of battle that impress – and maybe even inspire – you.

When Redditors offered some of the most savage quotes from history they could find, many of those lines were once spoken in battle. Battlefield quotes from famous battles like Lexington and Concord, the Alamo, and Belleau Woods speak to the bravery and determination of the men who fought on both sides.

Inspiring and gritty military quotes before battle, offered by the likes of General George S. Patton, motivated troops as they entered the brutality of combat. Post-battle statements, on the other hand, reflect frustration and anger in the wake of victory and defeat. 

Famous battle quotes from history span the ages and, understandably, offer some savage truth. Here's a list of some of the most biting words offered on the field of battle.  

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    Daniel Daly Asked A Not-So-Rhetorical Question At The Battle Of Belleau Wood 

    From Redditor u/JohnProbe: "Come on, you sons-o'-b*tches! Do you want to live forever?" 

    Context: Daniel Daly was a first sergeant in the 73rd Machine Gun Company fighting at Belleau Wood in June 1918. The Marine found himself and his platoon under heavy gunfire during the fight, struggling to advance against German forces.

    Daly rallied, yelling, "Come on, you sons o' b*tches! Do you want to live forever?" or some variant of the phrase. Daly recalled saying, "For Christ's sake, men - come on! Do you want to live forever?" but the Marine Corps has immortalized the former in a carving at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia. 

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    • 2

      Captain Lloyd Williams Thought The Party Was Just Getting Started At Belleau Wood 

      Captain Lloyd Williams Thought The Party Was Just Getting Started At Belleau Wood 
      Photo: Frank Schoonover / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

      From Redditor u/50_Amp_Fuse: "Retreat? Hell, we just got here!"

      Context: Attributed to several soldiers over the years and varied in how the story has been told, Captain Lloyd Williams was credited with the quip in 1932. At that time, the Marine Corps' History Division accepted the following explanation from Captain J.D. Murray, Williams's commanding officer:

      Captain Corbin, second in command of the 51st Company, came to me and told me that a French officer had been so insistent with Captain Loyd Williams that he drop back that he sent Corbin to find out if there were such orders. I told him that there were not and asked him what Captain Williams had said and done.

      Corbin replied that Williams tried to explain to the French officer that he couldn't drop back without orders but he became so garrulous that [he]... finally... said impatiently, "Retreat, hell, we've just gotten here!"

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      • Sparta Had Few Words In Response To Threats Made By Philip II of Macedon
        Photo: Jona Lendering / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

        From Redditor u/AxtionJaxion07: Phillip II of Macedon to Sparta: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

        Sparta: "If."

        Context: Philip II of Macedon (d. 336 BC) built a dominant military during the fourth century BC, one he used to push through Greece and conquer individual city-states. As Philip made his way to Athens, Thebes, and Corinth, Sparta watched on as their Greek neighbors fell to the Macedonian king.

        By 338 BC, Sparta was essentially alone in its resistance to Philip, but they remained confident in their abilities to fend him off. After Philip offered Sparta a peaceful surrender, officials from the city-state made a simple, curt reply. Spartans, known for their "steeled and sharpened... way of speech," responded with one solitary word

        • Age: Dec. at 46 (381 BC-335 BC)
        • Birthplace: Pella, Greece
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      • From Redditor u/bspearb: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

        Context: There's no lack of quotes attributed to General George Patton (1885-1945), many of which attest to his no-nonsense, profanity-laden style of speech. Before sending his men into battle, Patton offered words of inspiration, while simultaneously acknowledging the fear and uncertainty that lay before them.

        It was in this spirit, according to Colonel James Gavin, that Patton offered his perspective on perishing in battle to soldiers bound for Italy from North Africa in 1943. Gavin used both "bastard" and "son of a b*tch" when he recounted the speech, but the spirit of the message remains the same. 

        Similar language can be found in Patton's speeches leading up to the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The exact wording of those oratories varies and is often informed by the words uttered in Patton, the 1970 biopic starring George C. Scott in the titular role. 

        • Age: Dec. at 60 (1885-1945)
        • Birthplace: San Gabriel, California
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