6 of History's Biggest Military Failures Memorialized on Film

Spring is the time “when kings go off to war.” It’s in the Book! Twice!! (2 Samuel 11:1 and Chronicles 20:1.)

Springtime therefore has seen more than its fair share of military defeats. On April 1, 1865, for example, General George Pickett suffered a defeat far worse than “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg. His troops were cut off and crushed at the Battle of Five Forks, Va. The loss of Pickett’s forces pretty much ended Confederate hopes of defending Richmond. The Confederacy surrendered just eight days later.

America has seen more than a few military setbacks of late. The administration’s latest reversal came this month, when it had to hastily pull our special operations forces from Yemen.

Americans prefer not to dwell on defeats, but they are worth pondering. Sometimes the worst setbacks can be the best teachers. Here, courtesy of Hollywood, are six cinematic accounts of thumping failures that are worth revisiting.

 

6. Khartoum (1966)

You think Obama has an Islamist insurgency problem? In 1883, the “Mahdi” leads a revolt that overruns much of the Sudan. The British government dispatches Major General Charles George Gordon (Charlton Heston) to Khartoum. Gordon decides to defend the city. It doesn’t end well for the Brits: the garrison is slaughtered, 4,000 civilians are put to the sword and the general loses his head (literally). Gordon hoped that if he refused to retreat, the British would send reinforcements to crush the Mahdi. They didn’t.

The lesson: Hope is not a strategy.