The 7 Greatest Pieces of Trash Talk in the History of War

Some one-liners uttered by historical figures during the heat of battle are so awesome that they seem taken right out of a particularly bombastic Hollywood war movie. But we've already gone over those. The following quotes aren't like that: These are the real-life wartime quotes no one would ever put in a film, because they're simply too badass to believe.


The Situation:

In 1690, Quebec was about to come under attack by superior English forces from Massachusetts. The English, confident they could easily wipe the floor with the French poofters they found waiting there, sent a messenger to deliver their official ultimatum to Count Louis de Buade de Frontenac, the Governor-General of Quebec. After reading the ultimatum, the English messenger added that the Governor had exactly one hour to reply, and whipped out a watch for dramatic effect.

Heritage History
It would have been an incredibly tense moment if everyone wasn't dressed like a little girl.

After a couple moments of silence, the English messenger impatiently asked if the Governor would be providing a written response to the ultimatum. That's when Governator Frontenac looked at the Englishman and uttered the line up there in the header image, simultaneously inventing the genre of gangsta rap 300 years too early while debunking that whole "the pen is mightier" bullshit in one sentence.

This historical re-enactment really captures his badass-with-a-touch-of-crazy side.

The envoy presumably let them keep his watch and hurried back to the ship for a change of ridiculous pants.

The Aftermath:

If anyone in Quebec questioned the wisdom of Frontenac's decision to piss off the huge army stationed right in front of their city, those doubts dissipated when unexpected reinforcements dropped in from Montreal, giving the French the numerical advantage. Frontenac crushed the English forces and sent them packing back to Massachusetts while suffering only 19 casualties.

And 10 of those were from trying to make the muskets talk.


The Situation:

We've previously pointed out how some of the most badass one-liners in the film 300, as Hollywoodesque as they sound, were actually real. However, the single most famous line in the entire movie ("THIS! IS! SPARTA!") was completely fabricated ... because it turns out that the truth is even more awesome.

Including the possibility that Leonidas was completely naked when he kicked that dude.

You don't need to have seen the movie to know the scene we're talking about -- it was in every single ad and trailer. The army of evil Persian King Xerxes is on their way to invade. King X sends a messenger ahead to Sparta to demand surrender. When Leonidas refuses, the messenger says, "This is madness," and Leonidas replies by power kicking the messenger into a well while shouting ...

This hangs next to the "Warning: Frequent Slow Motion" signs in Sparta.

That scene actually happened, in the sense that the Spartan and a Persian messenger had a meeting by a well. Of course, the real messenger was not there to set Leonidas up for a killer one liner. He was there on business, and got down to brass tacks by specifying that Xerxes wanted Sparta to "give us your earth and water." Having to think on his feet in the face of the messenger's weirdly specific demand, the real Spartan invited the Persians to "dig it out for themselves" while ... well, power kicking him into the well. They got that part right. So not only was the real line just as badass, it used verbal Judo to make it look like the messenger had asked permission to be kicked into the well. It was the ancient equivalent of the old bully standby -- "Want a Hertz Donut?" PUNCH "Hurts, don't it?" -- a tactic which we'd imagine is twice as demoralizing when it's being used to kick you to your death.

The Aftermath:

The historian Herodotus speculated that the horrible war that followed under Xerxes was a consequence of what the Greeks did to his father's heralds, but we're sure the Spartans would agree that it was totally worth it (especially because it inspired so many more zingers).

"Madness? This is ... well, yes, this is a little messed up, I'll admit."


The Situation:

In 1918, the last year of "the war to end all wars" (i.e., the first of two freaking world wars), a bunch of U.S. Marines were dug in at a location near Paris called Belleau Wood in preparation for a massive German invasion. During the first few days of the fight, the Marines encountered remnants of battle-weary French forces retreating from the relentless German attack.

Not to mention posing for these endless Call of Duty ads.

The French (who had made it this far into the war and were clearly no pansies themselves) advised the Marines to turn back: A French major reportedly ordered Capt. Lloyd W. Williams of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines to retreat, to which Capt. Williams shouted the above line, making it clear that he was only starting to have fun.

Find a Grave
Lloyd Williams: A man's man's man. A double-man.

The Aftermath:

Even after heavy losses (including Capt. Williams himself), the Marines repelled wave after wave of German assaults, eventually taking the woods for the Allied side and preventing an invasion of Paris. Even the enemy was impressed: An official German report described the Marines as "remarkable" and "waaaay more scary than the French." [citation needed]

"Also there's one coming here right AGGGGHHH!"

Even today, the words "Retreat Hell" are still on the shield of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines (personally, we would have gone with "We Just Got Here!").

We suppose you could also interpret this as a threat to the devil.


Archives Normandie

The Situation:

Pointe du Hoc is a huge cliff that overlooks Omaha Beach, which is pretty cool if you're there on vacation and not so cool if you're there because you're an Allied soldier and it's D-Day. At a treacherously steep 100 feet of height, it was so pants-shittingly scary that one preacher with the U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion literally "dropped his pants and took a crap" immediately after climbing it.
"Holy shit!"

In a mission that would send any Call of Duty fan running for a cheat code, the Rangers were tasked with not just climbing the cliff while German soldiers shot at them from above, but also overpowering said soldiers and locating a stash of guns. The stash, however, was not where their intel said it'd be.

"Are you sure about this?"

As they looked for the guns, a Lt. Jacob Hill spotted a German machine gun unloading on his Rangers. According to one witness, "Hill studied the position for a few moments, then stood up and shouted" the above stream of obscenity-spiced folksy goodness.

While it's unlikely that the Germans were familiar with this particular idiom, apparently they got the general idea because they were turning the machine gun around to shut him up. And that's when Hill invented the manliest punctuation mark of all time, throwing a grenade at the guys he'd just verbally owned, and wiping them all out.

Operation Overlord
Like a boss.

The Aftermath:

A few minutes later, some men from Easy Company came down the same road, so Hill's insult may have saved their lives. The Rangers eventually found the guns they were looking for and blew them up with thermal detonators. So, yeah, never underestimate the power of some good trash talk.

Archives Normandie
"Your mama's so ugly we put her on our propaganda posters to dehumanize the German people!"

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