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You know how the Starbucks cashier makes fun of you for not knowing the difference between a wet and dry cappuccino but you don't think of the perfect comeback ("My balls know the difference!") until days later? Well, some people go down in history specifically because they didn't have that problem -- they used their wits to slam entire armies, usually while lots of guns were pointed at parts of their body that shouldn't have guns pointed at them.

Their brash words long outlived them, and rightfully so.

5
Napoleon Bonaparte: "If There Is One Among You Who Wishes to Kill His Emperor, Here I Am."

Charles Steuben/Wikimedia

The Situation:

After managing to piss off the entire continent of Europe, Emperor Napoleon was exiled to Elba, an island off the coast of Italy that he insisted on running like it was a real country, because "ruling an island of 13,000 people" counts as punishment when you're an emperor. But after hearing that France wasn't super happy with the government that replaced him, Napoleon assembled an army of 600 dudes and launched a comeback tour, promising his men they'd take Paris.

Wikimedia
Back in those days "taking Paris" was a legitimate accomplishment.

But the French king got wind of his plan, so six days after hitting France's shores, Napoleon's ragtag band of misfits was face to face with 8,000 well-armed French soldiers at the town of Grenoble.

Apparently deciding that banishment was worse than death (or maybe thinking that he was bound for the gallows anyway), the totally-normal-size Frenchman decided to rely on sheer balls: He walked out in front of the enemy troops, opened his shirt, proclaimed himself emperor, and dared them to blow him away. "If there is one among you who wishes to kill his emperor, here I am."

John Shepherd/Photos.com
"Also, if one of you has a waxing kit, your emperor could use some help with his happy trail."

The Aftermath:

Remember the end of Platoon when a wounded Tom Berenger dares Charlie Sheen to shoot him, and Charlie totally does? The scene in that movie is more realistic than what happened here. The sight of their former emperor's nipples was too much for the French troops' resolve: They began cheering "Vive l'empereur!" and swarmed him like a bunch of crazed teeny boppers at a One Direction concert. The invasion force, now eight times as big and sporting some shiny new cannons, marched to Paris and made good on Napoleon's earlier promise by conquering the ever-loving shit out of it in two weeks.

Cornell
They spent the first week retrieving the hats they'd merrily thrown in the air.

Napoleon's renewed rule lasted just over 100 days, setting a standard by which we judge our presidents' first 100 days in office, meaning that his legacy is to forever be compared to people who get to be in charge longer than he did. Still, he got in one last great quote, and what's a couple dozen (thousand) dead people next to an emperor's chance to sound rad as hell?

4
An Unnamed Medic: "They've Got Us Surrounded -- The Poor Bastards"

US Army Signal Corps

The Situation:

The Battle of the Bulge has the not-so-enviable prestige of being the absolute worst time ever for everyone involved -- particularly those fighting near the Belgian town of Bastogne. It also proved the Law of Proportionate Badassery (which we just made up), which states that something as simple as telling someone to work on their midair defecation becomes historic when you're shouting it over the din of mortar explosions. And somehow, a quote about a general's testicles isn't even the ballsiest boast to burst from the beaks of the Battered Bastards of Bastogne.

U.S. Army
Big batches of bombastic broadcasts were bellowed by this battalion of bold, brave boys.

As German forces plowed through Allied territory and closed in on the 12,000 soldiers holed up in that tiny village, a Corporal Carson of Easy Company (the group that Band of Brothers was based on) approached a medic and asked why everyone wasn't being evacuated. The medic (whose name has been lost to history, somehow) replied, "Haven't you heard? ... They've got us surrounded -- the poor bastards."

The Aftermath:

The medic was right: Hitler's bulge left a lot to be desired, and although things were bleak at the time, the Allied soldiers in Bastogne held their adversaries off long enough for General Patton's army to stroll on in and start cracking skulls -- although, to this day, none of the soldiers Patton found there have ever admitted they needed rescuing.

U.S. Army
They were enjoying an afternoon of sledding when reinforcements arrived.

As for the Wehrmacht, well, they didn't even have time to lick their wounds before they met a whole mess of Russians just itching to teach them a lesson about fighting a war in winter.

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3
Queen Tomyris: "For All Your Insatiability of Blood, I Shall Give You Your Fill of It!"

MFA Boston

The Situation:

In 529 B.C., Cyrus the Great was expanding the Persian Empire into the legendary force that would forever be remembered as the weird orc-people who got super-stabbed by the Opera Phantom in 300. After taking down the Babylonian Empire, Cyrus set his sights on the Massagatae Empire, ruled by Queen Tomyris.

Wikimedia
Depicted here with a 6-foot phallic symbol so men would take her seriously.

Cyrus' first plan was to bone her into giving up her empire, but she politely passed, partly because she knew it was a ploy and partly because of his gigantic schnoz. His second plan involved using his more unfit soldiers as bait to lure in the Massagetae army and then attack them during their victory feast. The shockingly dickish plan worked, and Cyrus ended up with a whole bunch of prisoners -- including Tomyris' son.

Understandably pissed off, Tomyris sent a request that her son be returned that concluded with "For all your insatiability of blood, I shall give you your fill of it!"

The Aftermath:

Cyrus ignored the message, and Tomyris made good on her promise. Not only did she launch a wicked counteroffensive and defeat Cyrus on his own turf, she even managed to kill him during the battle. But when she found out that her son had killed himself to escape the shame of imprisonment, she decided to get a bit more literal with her revenge. She cut off Cyrus the Smacked Down's head and dunked it in a skin bag filled with blood.

Wikimedia
It's like we've always said: when life kills your children, desecrate the corpse of a Emperor.

Yeah! Score one for revenge! Queen Tomyris went down in history for making good on badass promises, while Cyrus the Stupid got stuck with a legacy of ... writing the world's first declaration of human rights, which freed slaves, encouraged racial equality, and established freedom of religion.

OK, so badass quotes may not be the best way to pick sides. Like in the next case ...

2
A Confederate Officer: "We'll Fight Them, Sir, Until Hell Freezes Over, and Then We'll Fight Them on the Ice!"

Adam Cuerden

The Situation:

Look, we're not saying we supported the South during the Civil War (we were like 12 years old). We're just saying that no matter what side you're fighting for, looking certain painful death in the face and saying something cocky is awesome, and that's what we're paying tribute to here.

Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images

"Restore slavery now." -Not us.

Anyway, even though the Union technically "won" the Battle of Gettysburg, it was pretty nasty for everyone involved: Over 44,000 men were killed, wounded, or lost during the three days of fighting, and while there were slightly more losses for the North, the difference in the armies' overall sizes meant that it was far more devastating for the Confederates. A lot of them knew it was likely that they'd lost the war right there, which makes it all the more impressive that the officers' resolve was strong enough for one of them to boldly tell General Lee, "We'll fight them, sir, until hell freezes over, and then we'll fight them on the ice!"

The Aftermath:

Like Queen Tomyris a couple millennia before him, that Southern lad got the chance to make good. By 1864, the Southern army had been beaten back to outside their own capital of Richmond, Virginia. They dug trenches and were under siege for the whole winter of 1864, which was plenty of time for those muddy trenches to both become hell on Earth (because that's pretty much the definition of war anyway) and then freeze over (because winter). History does not record whether the soldier took the opportunity to say "I told you so!" before he no doubt died in some unspeakable way.

U.S. Archives
"I liked this way better when it was hyperbole."

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1
Lt. Colonel Mustafa Kemal: "I'm Not Ordering You to Attack! I'm Ordering You to Die!"

Australian War Memorial

The Situation:

The battle of Gallipoli from World War I is most known for the 1981 Australian film starring Mel Gibson (that is, not very well known), which avoids telling the more interesting story in exchange for telling one that involved people who spoke English. Which is a shame, especially for Mel Gibson, because if he'd been cast as Turkish Lt. Colonel Mustafa Kemal, this legendary quote would probably overshadow aboouuuuuuuut 36 percent more of the insane shit he's done.

Wikimedia
Kemal's hat would overshadow 36 percent of his insane face.

At 6:30 a.m., April 25, 1915, Kemal learned that British soldiers were advancing on Battleship Hill -- a key defensive position near the ocean. He ordered his men to march to the coast and then rode out ahead of them to scout out the battlefield. When he arrived three hours later, he saw Allied warships closing in, transport ships making landfall, and a group of Turkish soldiers running toward him, away from the fight.

When he asked them why they were running, they pointed at the massive advancing army and said, "Sir, the enemy!" (presumably suppressing the urge to add "duh!"). Kemal responded by telling them they couldn't run from the enemy, so they stopped, because Kemal's not the kind of guy you disagree with. When the men said they had no ammunition, Kemal told them to use their bayonets. And then when it came time to attack, he told them, "I'm not ordering you to attack! I'm ordering you to die!"

Wikimedia
He borrowed this line from bayonet expert Auric Goldfinger.

The Aftermath:

That's nowhere near as defeatist as it sounds. For the Turks, retreat wasn't an option because they believed that if they lost that day, there wouldn't be a home to retreat to. And this helped them win: Their reckless disregard for anything resembling respect for their squishy corporeal forms stopped the Allied advance long enough for reinforcements to arrive. And then their enemy withdrew, turning the battle of Gallipoli into the kind of pointless mass bloodshed that was so hip during World War I.

As for Kemal, he went on to become president of the Turkish Republic and stay in office for 15 years, extensively reforming, among other things, the education and legal systems. Because once you've told men to "go over there and die" and they listen, pretty much every other form of leadership is a cakewalk.


Dustin Koski would like to apologize for this article. Also, follow Jacopo on Twitter!


Related Reading: Battle boasts don't get much more badass than, "Surrender? Your grandmother should surrender, you bastard." And as far as last words go, "Damn it, don't you DARE ask God to help me" is pretty close to peak awesome. But don't take our word for it: read this collection of badass last words and judge for yourself.

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