List of battles with most United States military fatalities

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Color photo of a graveyard in Aumtumn
Arlington House also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Section 32 of the cemetery is in the foreground.

This article contains the list of battles with most United States military fatalities, in terms of American deaths.

Introduction[edit]

This article lists battles and campaigns where the number of U.S. soldiers killed was higher than 1,000. The battles and campaigns that reached that number of deaths in the field are so far limited to the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and one campaign during the Vietnam War (the Tet Offensive of January 30 to September 23, 1968). The campaign that resulted in the most U.S. military deaths was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (September 26 to November 11, 1918) where 26,277 soldiers were killed fighting against the German Empire. The bloodiest single–day battle in American history was the Battle of Antietam when 3,654 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed on September 17, 1862.[1][A 1][2] However, for the United States military specifically, the bloodiest single day is June 6, 1944 with 2,500 soldiers killed during the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

The origins of the United States military can be traced to the Americans' fight for independence from their former colonial power, Great Britain, in the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). The three bloodiest conflicts have been American Civil War (1861–65), World War I (1917–1918) and World War II (1941–45). Other significant conflicts involving the United States ordered by casualties include, Korean War (1950–1953), Vietnam War (1964–1973), the War in Afghanistan (2001–present) and various conflicts in the Middle East. For most of its existence, America has been involved in one or another military conflict.[3]

Scope and definitions[edit]

The definition of "battle" as a concept in military science has been a dynamic one through the course of military history, changing with the changes in the organization, employment and technology of military forces. From the beginning of history until the 20th century, "battle" has usually meant a military clash over a relatively small area, lasting only a few days at most (and often just one day); for instance, the Battle of Waterloo, begun, fought, and ended on 18 June 1815 on a field a few kilometers across.

Another use of the term "battle", seen particularly in the 20th century, is as equivalent to military campaign (military operations on a larger scale and longer duration, on the operational or even strategic level); for instance the Battle of the Atlantic, fought over several years (1939 to 1945) in an area constituting about twenty percent of the Earth's surface.

Since these two types of "battles" aren't usefully comparable in many ways (including casualty comparisons), this article is divided into two sections, one for battle in the older, more restricted sense, and one for campaigns, many of which are also called battles.

There are actions at the margins that could be reasonably assigned to either list. For instance, the Battle of Spotsylvania lasted 14 day, but the main part was fought on a small field (less than three kilometers on a side), and in this way being more in the nature of a siege (a military action typically of long duration but in covering a relatively small area). Like the similar Battle of Cold Harbor, also part of the Overland Campaign, it is included in this article on the Battles list. The Battle of Saint-Mihiel (lasting only about four days, but on a larger field (roughly 12 kilometers by 25 kilometers) is also included on the Battles list.

The term casualty in warfare can often be confusing. It often does not refer to those that are killed on the battlefield; rather, it refers to those who can no longer fight. This can include disabled by injuries, disabled by psychological trauma, captured, deserted, or missing. A casualty is just a soldier who is no longer available for the immediate battle or campaign, the major consideration in combat; the number of casualties is simply the number of members of a unit who are not available for duty. For example, during the Seven Days Battles in the American Civil War (June 25 to July 1, 1862) there were 5,228 killed, 23,824 wounded and 7,007 missing or taken prisoner for a total of 36,059 casualties.[4][A 2] The word casualty has been used in a military context since at least 1513.[5] In this article the numbers killed refer to those killed in action, killed by disease or someone who died from their wounds.

Battles[edit]

Battle or siege Conflict Date Estimated number killed Opposing force References
Battle of Elsenborn Ridge (part of the Battle of the Bulge) World War II December 16 to 26, 1944 ~5,000 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [6]
Battle of Saint-Mihiel World War I September 12 to 15, 1918 ~4,500 killed German EmpireGermany [7]
Battle of Gettysburg American Civil War July 1 to July 3, 1863 3,155 killed[A 3] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [8]
Battle of Leyte Gulf World War II October 23 to 25, 1944 2,800 killed Empire of JapanJapan [9]
Battle of Spotsylvania American Civil War May 8 to May 21, 1864 2,725 killed[A 4] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
D-day (first day of Operation Overlord) World War II June 6, 1944 2,500 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [11]
Pearl Harbor Attack World War II December 7, 1941 2,403 killed[A 5] Empire of JapanJapan [12]
Battle of the Wilderness American Civil War May 5 to May 7, 1864 2,246 killed[A 6] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Battle of Antietam American Civil War September 17, 1862 2,108 killed[A 7] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Battle of Aachen (part of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest) World War II October 12 to October 21, 1944 2,000 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [13]
Battle of Cold Harbor American Civil War May 21 to June 12, 1864 1,844 killed[A 8] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Battle of Tarawa World War II November 20 to November 23, 1943 1,759 killed[A 9] Empire of JapanJapan [14]
Battle of Shiloh American Civil War April 6 to April 7, 1862 1,754 killed[A 10] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Second Battle of Bull Run American Civil War August 26 to August 30, 1862 1,747 killed[A 11] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Seven Days Battles American Civil War June 25 to July 1, 1862 1,734 killed[A 12] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [4]
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal World War II November 12, 1942 to November 15, 1942 1,732 killed Empire of JapanJapan [citation needed]
Battle of Stones River American Civil War December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863 1,730 killed[A 13] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Battle of Chickamauga American Civil War September 19 to September 20, 1863 1,656 killed[A 14] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Battle of Chancellorsville American Civil War April 30 to May 6, 1863 1,606 killed[A 15] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [10]
Task Force Faith Korean War November 27 to December 2, 1950 1,450~ killed[A 16] ChinaChina [15]
Battle of Fredericksburg American Civil War December 11 to December 15, 1862 1,284 killed[A 17] Confederate States of AmericaConfederacy [16]
Battle of Savo Island (part of the Guadalcanal Campaign) World War II August 8, 1942 to August 9, 1942 1,077 killed Empire of JapanJapan [citation needed]
Battle of Belleau Wood World War I June 1 to June 26, 1918 1,062 killed German EmpireGermany [17]
Battle of Manila (part of the Battle of Luzon) World War II February 3 to March 3, 1945 1,010 killed Empire of JapanJapan [18]

Campaigns[edit]

Campaign Conflict Date Estimated number killed Opposing force References
Meuse-Argonne Offensive World War I September 26 to November 11, 1918 26,277 killed German EmpireGermany [19]
Battle of the Bulge World War II December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945 19,276 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [20]
Northern France Campaign World War II July 25 to September 14, 1944 17,844 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [21]
Invasion of Normandy World War II June 6 to July 24, 1944 16,293 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [21]
Central Europe Campaign World War II March 22 to May 8, 1945 15,009 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [21]
Battle of Okinawa World War II April 1 to June 22, 1945 ~14,000 killed Empire of JapanJapan [22][23]
Battle of Hürtgen Forest World War II September 19, 1944 to February 17, 1945 ~12,000 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [A 18]
Battle of Luzon World War II January 9 to August 15, 1945 10,640 killed Empire of JapanJapan [25]
North Apennines Campaign World War II September 10, 1944 to April 4, 1945 8,486 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [21]
Operation Dragoon World War II August 15 to September 14, 1944 7,301 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [24]
Guadalcanal Campaign World War II August 7, 1942, to February 9, 1943 7,100 killed Empire of JapanJapan [26]
Alsace Campaign World War II November 13, 1944 to February 19, 1945 7,000 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [27]
Battle of Iwo Jima World War II February 19 to March 26, 1945 6,821 killed Empire of JapanJapan [28]
Lorraine Campaign World War II September 1 to December 18, 1944 6,657 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [29]
Naples - Foggia Campaign World War II September 9, 1943 to January 21, 1944 6,266 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [21]
Battle of Anzio World War II January 22 to June 5, 1944 5,538 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [21]
Battle of Pusan Perimeter Korean War August 4 to September 18, 1950 4,599 killed North KoreaNorth Korea [30]
Chinese Second Phase Offensive in North Korea Korean War November 25 to December 15, 1950 4,538 killed[A 19] ChinaChina [31]
Battle of Leyte World War II October 17 to December 26, 1944 3,593 killed Empire of JapanJapan [A 20]
Battle of Saipan World War II June 15 to July 9, 1944 3,426 killed Empire of JapanJapan [33]
Tet Offensive Vietnam War January 30 to September 23, 1968 3,178 Killed North VietnamNorth Vietnam [A 21]
Battle of Chosin Reservoir Korean War November 27 to December 13, 1950 ~2,840 killed[A 22] ChinaChina [35]
Tunisian Campaign World War II November 12, 1942 to May 13, 1943 2,838 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [24]
Battle of Sicily World War II July 9 to August 17, 1943 2,811 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [36]
Battle of Peleliu World War II September 15 to November 25, 1944 2,336 killed Empire of JapanJapan [37]
Second Battle of the Marne World War I July 15 to August 6, 1918 1,926 killed[A 23] German EmpireGermany [39]
Po Valley Offensive World War II April 5 to May 8, 1945 1,914 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [24]
Battle of Guam World War II July 21 to August 10, 1944 1,777 killed Empire of JapanJapan [40]
Operation Undertone World War II March 15 to March 24, 1945 ~1,680 killed[A 24] Nazi GermanyGermany [41]
Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River Korean War November 25 to December 2, 1950 1,489 killed[A 25] ChinaChina [42]
Operation Grenade World War II February 23 to March 10, 1945 1,330 killed Nazi GermanyGermany [43]
Battle of Mindanao World War II March 10 to August 15, 1945 1,041 killed[A 26] Empire of JapanJapan [44][45]

See also[edit]

Annotations[edit]

  1. ^ Union and Confederate numbers added together
  2. ^ Union and Confederate numbers added together
  3. ^ 3,155 Union and 3,903 Confederate
  4. ^ 2,725 Union[10] and 1,515 Confederacy
  5. ^ 2,008 Navy KIA + 109 Marines + 218 Army + 68 civilians
    2008+109+218+68[12]
  6. ^ 2,246 Union[10] and 1,495 Confederacy
  7. ^ 2,108 Union[10] and 1,546 Confederacy
  8. ^ 1,844 Union[10] and 788 Confederacy
  9. ^ 984 Marines + 88 MIA + 687 Navy
    984+ 88+ 687[14]
  10. ^ 1,754 Union[10] and 1,728 Confederacy
  11. ^ 1,747 Union[10] and 1,305 Confederacy
  12. ^ 1,734 Union and 3,494 Confederacy[4]
  13. ^ 1,730 Union[10] and 1,294 Confederacy
  14. ^ 1,656 Union[10] and 2,312 Confederacy
  15. ^ 1,606 Union[10] and 1,724 Confederacy
  16. ^ Of the 2,500 soldiers in Task Force Faith only 1,050 made it back. Of those only 385 were able-bodied[15]
  17. ^ 1,284 Union and 608 Confederacy[16]
  18. ^ 50,410 Americans died in the Rhineland from September 1944 - March 21, 1945[24]
  19. ^ U.S. Army KIA+Army POW died+Army MIA died+Marine KIA+Navy KIA
    1183+1167+1410+763+15=4,538
  20. ^ 16,233 died in Leyete, Luson, and Southern Philippines during October 17, 1944 - July 4, 1945[32]
  21. ^ 16,592 American died in 1968[34]
  22. ^ 836 Marines killed + 2,000 US Army killed[35]
  23. ^ 12,000 casualties including KIA, WIA, POW[38]
  24. ^ 3rd Army lost approximately 5,200 men, including 681 killed + 7th Army lost about 12,000 men including fewer than 1,000 killed[41]
  25. ^ 676 killed + 813 Missing presumed dead
  26. ^ Operation VICTOR IV, the seizure of Mindanao's Zamboanga Peninsula occurred at the same time as Battle of Mindanao.
    221 killed and 665 wounded on Zamboanga Peninsula[44]
    820 killed and 2,880 wounded on E. Mindanao[45]

Bibliography[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Tucker 2013, p. 903
  2. ^ History.com 2017
  3. ^ Kelly 2017
  4. ^ a b c Tucker 2013, p. 892
  5. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed gives a 1513 reference for military casualty, and an 1844 reference for civilian use
  6. ^ “A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge“, p. 410
  7. ^ https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/st-mihiel-american-cemetery
  8. ^ Burke & Roth 2014, p. 7
  9. ^ Tucker 2013, p. 1668
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Allen 2017
  11. ^ D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery 2017
  12. ^ a b Alison 2016
  13. ^ Peters 2017
  14. ^ a b Tucker 2013, p. 1605
  15. ^ a b Daily 1999, p. 68
  16. ^ a b Tucker 2013, p. 919
  17. ^ Tucker 2013, p. 1323
  18. ^ “The Battle for Manila” p. 195
  19. ^ Brown 2013, p. 191
  20. ^ Graham 2007, p. 159
  21. ^ a b c d e f Statistical and accounting branch office of the adjutant general 1953, p. 92
  22. ^ http://www.pref.okinawa.jp/site/kodomo/heiwadanjo/heiwa/7812.html
  23. ^ Traynor 2017
  24. ^ a b c d Statistical and accounting branch office of the adjutant general 1953, p. 93
  25. ^ Willmott 2005, p. 22
  26. ^ Tucker 2014, p. 213
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ Smith 2009, p. II
  29. ^ Zabecki 1999, p. 1560
  30. ^ Varhola 2000, p. 6
  31. ^ Ecker 2005, p. 62
  32. ^ Statistical and accounting branch office of the adjutant general 1953, p. 94
  33. ^ Hearn 2007, p. 88
  34. ^ United States 2010
  35. ^ a b Hickman 2017
  36. ^ Hart 2015, p. 627
  37. ^ Stamford Historical Society 2009
  38. ^ Sondhaus 2011, p. 413
  39. ^ Surgeon General 1920, pp. 43–44
  40. ^ Ramirez 2017
  41. ^ a b Chant 2016
  42. ^ Ecker 2005, p. 62.
  43. ^ <"Warfare and Armed Conflicts" p. 479
  44. ^ a b Smith 2005, p. 597
  45. ^ a b Smith 2005, p. 648

References