The Bloodiest Battles Fought in American History

Bravery in the face of extreme peril mark some of the bloodiest battles in American history.

America has been mixed up in some particularly bloody conflicts over the centuries, engaging in many battles with a jaw-dropping number of fatalities. Generally, America has lost far less soldiers during these battles, but the loss of life is still staggering—even more so if you think of it in context with modern war.

The major wars that saw some of the bloodiest battles in American history are also some of our darkest moments since the Revolution, and these wars include: The Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. It's important to know these moments in American military history, as the more we know about these bloody battles the less likely we are to ever see anything like them again. 

Battle of the Argonne Forest

The Battle of the Argonne Forest was a massive military offensive during WWI, an offensive that involved 1.2 million American soldiers—the most in American Military history. It was the largest part of the Hundred Days Offensive, which would bring an end to the war a few months later. 

The deadly battle cost 26,277 American lives, making it one of the bloodiest battles in American history. In fact, it was the most costly battle of World War I, a war famous for its brutality and destruction of Europe. World War I would shape the future of Europe, as well as much of the civilized world. 

Operation Overlord

Operation Overlord was the codename for the allied invasion of Normandy in an attempt to take back German-occupied Western Europe, and boy was it costly. The mission is still breathtaking to this day, and you've likely seen it in some of the best war movies of all time. The  amphibious assault is one of the ballsiest moves ever attempted, and it cost 34,137 lives when all was said and done. 

While it was ultimately successful, the result was one of the bloodiest battles in American history. It ended with the Liberation of Paris, and the battle featured some of the most infamous leaders of WWII.

Battle of Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa was a crucial battle in the Pacific Theatre, fought between the United States Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. The 82 day battle was started after a large scale amphibious assault. It was planned because the allies wished to make Okinawa a base for air operations for the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland. 

The fighting was as ferocious as any battle during WWII, with Japanese Kamikaze attacks occurring regularly. Massive numbers of civilians and soldiers died, and the bloodiest battle in the Pacific also became one of the bloodiest battles in American history. 

Battle of the Bulge

Another tremendously costly conflict from WWII was the Battle of the Bulge, which wound up killing 19,276 American soldiers. The battle was a last ditch German offensive on the Western Front during the waning stages of the war. It was a surprise attack that caught the Allied forces off guard. During the battle, the Americans took the heaviest hit, and it would become one of the bloodiest battles in American history. 

The offensive was meant to split the Allied lines, and the Germans hoped to divide and conquer. However, they were unable to fully break through despite surprising them, and eventually they were staved off, resulting in a whopping loss for the Germans.

Battle of Gettysburg

Taking place during the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles in American history. Occurring over just three days, the fighting resulted in 7,058 Americans being killed, both Union Army and Confederate. 

It became a decisive turning point, as the historic remarks Abraham Lincoln made shortly thereafter on the battlefield helped redefine the war—known as the Gettysburg Address. Robert E. Lee was forced to retreat back across Virginia, and the Confederate Army would never get as far again.

Battle of Hürtgen Forest

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest took place during WWII between the Americans and the Germans, and it was the longest battle to take place in Germany during the war. In addition, the nearly three month skirmish was the longest single battle in American military history, resulting in over 12,000 deaths.

The goal was to pin down German forces so they wouldn't be able to send re-enforcements to other strategic German positions, in a brave attempt to choke out German forces on other fronts. The fighting was fierce, as the Germans were not willing to surrender the crucial location, leading to one of the bloodiest battles in American history. 

Battle of Guadalcanal

Regarded as the first major offensive by the Allies against Imperial Japan, the Battle of Guadalcanal became one of the bloodiest battles in American history. The victory marked the Allied transition from defensive operations to the offensives, otherwise known as island hopping in the Pacific Theatre. These successful, albeit bloody campaigns, would lead to the eventual surrender of Japan and the end of the war.

Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam is the single bloodiest day in American history, as 3,654 American soldiers were killed on September 17, 1862. The Union Army was able to stop Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland, and the victory would give Lincoln the confidence to introduce the Emancipation Proclamation. 

With both sides taking heavy losses (and all sides being American), the end result was one of the bloodiest battles in American history. The Union Army took heavier losses but being able to spurn the advancement of the Confederates was seen as a major victory.

Battle of Luzon

The Philippines joined the Americans in the fierce land battle against the Japanese known as the Battle of Luzon. The Allies took control of some strategically important areas for the Japanese, which sparked one of the bloodiest battles in American history. 

While the Americans lost over 10,000 soldiers, it pales in comparison to the losses the Filipinos took, with estimates said to be close to 120,000 dead when the dust finally settled. 

Operation Dragoon

Lastly, while Operation Dragoon is considered an Allied success that allowed them to liberate most of Southern France, it came at a heavy price: 7,301 American soldiers were killed, in what was one of the bloodiest battles in American history. After the victory, it allowed them to use Ports in Southern France, leading to a speedier victory as they could access supplies much easier. 

Lets hope we never see bloody conflicts on this scale again, as generations of brothers were purged during these monumentally important battles. 

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