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A sampling of closing remarks by famous military leaders

“Let evil swiftly befall those who have wrongly condemned us. God will avenge us.”

—Jacques de Molay, last grand master of the Knights Templar, an order founded during the Crusades; in 1314,
in Paris, before he was burned at the stake for heresy

“Make my skin into drumheads for the Bohemian cause.”

—Jan Žižka, one-eyed Czech military genius and leader of Bohemia’s Hussite Revolution, the first of the religious wars during the Protestant Reformation; in 1424, near the Moravian border, dying of the bubonic plague

“Hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames!”

—Saint Joan of Arc, French military leader during the Hundred Years’ War; in 1431, in Rouen, before she was burned to death for heresy by the English and their French collaborators

“Now, God be praised, I die contented.”

—James Wolfe, British Army officer; in 1759, dying of a wound received while leading his forces in the capture of Quebec from the French

“I have much business that must be attended to of greater moment than your ruined garrison and this wretched country.”

—Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, French general who was commander in chief of forces in Canada during the Seven Years’ War; in 1759, near Quebec, where he was mortally wounded while trying to rally his shattered army

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

—Nathan Hale, American Revolutionary officer who attempted to spy on the British; in 1776, before he was hanged

“Let me die in this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for ever having put on another.”

—Benedict Arnold, American Revolutionary officer until 1779, when he shifted his allegiance to the British; in 1801,
in London

“ ’Tis well.”

—George Washington, first president of the United States; in 1799, after his personal secretary assured him that he had heard Washington’s instructions: “I am just going. Have me decently buried; and don’t let my body be put into the vault in less than three days after I am dead.”

“Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty.”

—Horatio Nelson, British naval commander; in 1805, after being shot through the shoulder and chest by a French sniper at the Battle of Trafalgar, when he learned that 15 enemy ships had been taken

“Don’t give up the ship! Fight her till she sinks!”

—James Lawrence, U.S. naval officer and captain of the frigate Chesapeake; in 1813, after being mortally wounded in a sea fight off Boston with HMS Shannon

“I am mortally wounded, I think.”

—Stephen Decatur, U.S. naval officer and commodore-hero of the Barbary Wars; in 1820, from a wound received in a duel with disgraced navy commodore James Barron near Bladensburg, Maryland

“Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

—Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate army general during the Civil War; in 1863, after being wounded by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville

“This is too tight.”

—Henry Wirz, Confederate army captain during the Civil War; in 1865, as the noose was cinched around his neck before he was hanged for conspiracy and murder

“I just wish I had time for one more bowl of chili.” Or, by other accounts, “Goodbye, friends. Adiós, compadres.”

—Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson, American frontiersman; in 1868, after suffering an abdominal aortic aneurysm

“I am not going. Do with me what you like.
I am not going. Come on! Come on! Take action! Let’s go!”

—Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota chief and holy man; in 1890, before he was shot by Indian agency police who were trying to arrest him

“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”

—Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Mexican Revolutionary general; in 1923, after being shot by assassins

“Strike the tent.”

—Robert E. Lee, Confederate army general during the Civil War; in 1870, after suffering a stroke

“This is a hell of a way to die.”

—George S. Patton, senior officer of the U.S. Army; in 1945, dying of injuries sustained in a car accident

“Lower the shades. Pull me up. Higher.
I want to go. God take me.”

—Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. president and army general; in 1969, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center following a heart attack