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6 of the craziest bayonet charges in military history

Bayonet fighting is a lost art to many, but it has served as a tried and true tactic since the first riflemen realized they could use a blade if they found themselves wanting to kill something when their ammunition went empty.


Here are 6 times America and its allies decided to press cold steel into their enemies chests, including two charges from the Global War on Terror.

1. Two National Guard battalions shove an entire Chinese division off a hill with their bayonets.

While attempting to take two hilltops to the south of Seoul, South Korea in early 1951, the 65th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division fought for two days up a Chinese-held hill. On the morning of the third day, the crest of the hill was in sight and the Puerto Rican fighters decided that it was time they were atop it.

So, two battalions fixed bayonets and charged against a Chinese division. In the resulting clash, the unit was credited with killing 5,905 enemy soldiers and capturing 2,086.

2. Gettysburg-Little Round Top

In one of the most famous counterattacks in American history, the 20th Maine under Union Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain found itself running out of ammunition on Little Round Top, an important hill at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Chamberlain and his 386 men, including 120 mutineers added to the regiment just before the battle, charged down the hill and defeated two Confederate regiments. Chamberlain himself was nearly killed multiple times during the charge.

3. Marines take Peleliu Airfield with a daring bayonet charge across open ground.

The 1st Marine Division was attempting to take the Japanese-held Peleliu Airfield on Sep. 16, 1944. When they realized they weren't making enough progress through rifle-fire, they lined up four battalions and charged against the open ground with fixed bayonets. While they took heavy losses, they reached the enemy, engaged at close quarters, and took the airfield.

4. Revolutionary War Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne orders a daring charge and threatens to kill any soldiers who fire.

Photo: Library of Congress

To retake a position at Stony Point, New York, Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne ordered his outnumbered and outgunned men to not fire under punishment of death.

The Americans crept up to the British defenders at night and charged through the lines with fixed bayonets and sabers. When it was all over, the Americans had retaken Stony Point with 15 men killed and 85 wounded while the British suffered 63 dead, 70 wounded, and 442 captured.

5. The British dismount their heavily-armed vehicles in Iraq to attack insurgents with their bayonets.

A group of British soldiers from the Prince of Wales' Royal Regiment were ambushed by fighters from Mugtada Al-Sadr's forces May 14, 2004.

The enemy was firing from an actual trench, so Company Sgt. Maj. David Falconer ordered his men to fix bayonets and enter the trenches. The British charged across open ground and dropped into the trenches. With bayonets and rifles, the men fought for the next four hours, killing about 30 enemy soldiers with no major casualties before a British tank arrived and ended the battle. Falconer and another soldier were awarded the British Military Cross.

6. Capt. Lewis Millett orders two bayonet charges in 4 days during the Korean War.

Photo: US Army

On Feb. 4th, 1951, then-Capt. Lewis Millett led a bayonet charge an occupied hill in Korea and one of his platoon leaders went down. Millett organized a rescue effort with bayonets while under fire and finished taking the hill.

Then, only three days later, he was leading an attack up Hill 180 when one of his platoons was pinned down by enemy fire. Millett took another platoon up to rescue them, ordered both platoons to fix bayonets, and led a charge up the hill and captured it. He's personally credited with bayonetting at least two men in the assault while clubbing others and throwing grenades.

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