10 Deadliest Battles in American History

Deadliest Battles in U.S.History

1. Battle of Meuse-Argonne World War I: 26,277

2. Battle of the Bulge (WW2) 19,276

3. Battle of Okinawa (WW2) 12,513

4. Battle of Gettysburg (Civil) 7,863

5. Battle of Guadalcanal (WW2) 7,099

6. Battle of Iwo Jima (WW2) 6,821

7. Antietam (Civil) 3,654

8. Battle of Shiloh (Civil) 3,482

9. Bull Run II (Civil) 3,000

10. Battle of Saipan (WW2) 2,949

Some famous battles that do not make the list:

Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor: 2,403

Tet Offensive Vietnam War: 1536

Invasion of Normandy (WW2) 1,465

Famous Battles with few comparable deaths: 400 Colonists died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Only 267 Died with Custer at the Little Big Horn. 183 Texans died in the Alamo. If you take out the yellow fever epidemic, only 379 U.S. Troops died in the entire Spanish –American War. The entire Persian Gulf War saw only 148 U.S. deaths.

The U.S. has had far fewer deaths than other countries in the same battles. The top 7 deadliest battles in world history have all been fought in Russia! Four Million people died in the sieges of Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad during World War II. That is more than all U.S. Deaths in all wars combined. In World War II, Russia lost 23 Million people and China lost 20 million while the U.S. lost 418,000.

Western culture places high value on Human life, and the sacrifice of large numbers of people is unthinkable. 140,000 Japanese died on Okinawa including 80,000 civilians who committed suicide rather than surrender. The willingness of Japanese citizens to take their own life gave the U.S. the push they needed to use the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As horrible as the bombings were, the 150,000 people who died is only a fraction of the total number of Japanese deaths that would have occurred in the Invasion of Japan.

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20 Responses to “10 Deadliest Battles in American History”

  1. Tom Says:

    What about the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest? How many Americans were lost in this battle. I have heard that there were very high casualties during the battle. Thanks for your answer.

    Tom

    • BP Says:

      Thanks for the post. There was an estimate of 33,000 Americans KIA in the Hurtgen Forest between Sept, 1944 and Feb, 1945. To me, it seems like more of an operational campaign than a singe battle, so I did not include Hurtgen on the list.

      If this is considered a battle, then it would be the deadliest in U.S. history.

      • Kole A.P. Says:

        The Hurtgenforest, is propably the bloodiest campaign (battle) the USA ever did fight. I don’t think you can seperate the battle of the Hurtgenforest from the battle of the Bulge. Germans trying to keep USA troops behind the Rur river so the could build up for the battle of the Bulge and the USA getting pissed and wanting to destroy the Germans in the forest. It includes the heaviest bombardment on German soil with operation Queen at the 16 th of november 1944. For 100 days fighting in a area of arround 8 by 15 miles. Sounds like a battle to me. It is one of the least mentioned battles, but USA did bleed very much in that forest. That propably is the main reason why this battle is never mentioned.

  2. samantha Says:

    what was the deadlist battle during WW II causing the most casualties?

  3. lloyd davis Says:

    Gettysburg,PA 51,000 total (US 23,000; CS 28,000)
    Spotsylvania Court House, VA 30,000 total (US 18,000; CS 12,000)
    Wilderness, VA 29,800 total (US 18,400; CS 11,400)
    Chancellorsville,VA 24,000 total (US 14,000; CS 10,000)
    Manassas II , VA 22,180 total (US 13,830; CS 8,350)
    Shiloh, TN 23,746 total (US 13,047; CS 10,699)

    these numbers are est. but still greater than most your list. est 376500 solders died in VA from 1861-1865

    • Drew Stephens Says:

      gettysburg’s 51,000 was CASUALTIES, not deaths… So, that is death plus injury…..

      • Drew Stephens Says:

        actually…casualty…. looks like it includes mia and captured
        1. An accident, especially one involving serious injury or loss of life.
        2. One injured or killed in an accident: a train wreck with many casualties.
        3. One injured, killed, captured, or missing in action through engagement with an enemy. Often used in the plural: Battlefield casualties were high.
        4. One that is harmed or eliminated as a result of an action or a circumstance: The corner grocery was a casualty of the expanding supermarkets.

  4. jim weber Says:

    I don’t understand why Hurtgen Forest is considered an operational campaign but guadalcanal is not. they both ran about six months and there were numerous naval battles for four months to start the campaign. also i believe there were about 998 marine kia’s while not very many army could the u.s. navy really lost 6,000 kia’s. thanks alot for your post and your help semper fi

  5. tom Says:

    LLoyd

    The casualty figures you posted represent killed, wounded and missing. In most cases, the killed and missing is somewhere in the range of thirty percent. That would put the death toll at some fifteen thousand which would move Gettysburg into third place. The 20th Century numbers are far more reliable than those from the Civil War

  6. The Battle of the Bulge | HistoryPop Says:

    […] BBC, PBS, US Army, US Defense Department, History.com, HistoryList Photo Credit: Andrew […]

  7. Sean Says:

    The battle at Antietam had more casualties according to other sources and is known as the deadliest day in US history with 22,717 dead on both sides. Not sure where your number comes from.

  8. Bill Says:

    how many died in Gettysburg? better recount

  9. James N.;Southward Says:

    You need to read your history the civel war saw over 680,000 americans lost thier lives Gettiesbuurg over 53000 dead
    Antietium over 23,000 killed in one day in ww2 over 480,000 americans lost thier lives as an old Marine Those that gave thier lives for our freedom should never be left of the count of the dead!

    • jim weber Says:

      James I’m an old Marine also but the facts are that at Gettysburg for example 51,000 plus were CASUALTIES not killed in action. Casualties as you know are wounded not KIA. Same for Antietam 23,000 plus casualties in one single day not all are KIA. I see the same mistakes all the time from tv anchors who don’t know much about military history. They almost always say medal of honor winner instead of recipient. War isn’t an athletic competiton. Another one is ex-Marine, there is no such thing as an ex Marine. Only retired Marine, reserve Marine, and veteran Marine. And according to Gunny Hartman in the movie Full Metal Jacket .. dead Marines..lol SEMPER FI

  10. September 1918: Published | Tyler Wells Lynch Says:

    […] For Cap and many of the men of the 365th Regiment, September 1918 offered a brutal introduction to combat: constant artillery bombardments, trench warfare, nighttime raids, even a few gas attacks. It really does seem to be the month that weathered Cap, turning him from a young bloke from Massachusetts into a grizzled officer of the U.S. Army. It was also the month that launched the final assault of the war, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The months-long battle stretched along the entire Western Front and involved some 1.2 million American troops. While it ultimately brought an end to the war, the battle remains the bloodiest in American history. […]

  11. September 1918: Published | Whining Past Says:

    […] For Cap and many of the men of the 365th Regiment, September 1918 offered a brutal introduction to combat: constant artillery bombardments, trench warfare, nighttime raids, even a few gas attacks. It really does seem to be the month that weathered Cap, turning him from a young bloke from Massachusetts into a grizzled officer of the U.S. Army. It was also the month that launched the final assault of the war, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The months-long battle stretched along the entire Western Front and involved some 1.2 million American troops. While it ultimately brought an end to the war, the battle remains the bloodiest in American history. […]

  12. thrasherback Says:

    Seriously? You’re not even freakin’ close. Normandy was probably the bloodiest single battle in American history.

    Where do you get your information? 1.465 KIA? Surely you mean that number for D Day, June 6, 1944, but the Battle for Normandy followed until July 24, 1944, just over a month in which the U.S. Army sustained 63,360 casualties, with 17,386 KIA and 43,221 WIA. That was a 30.73 % casualty rate, 8.43 % KIA rate, and 20.96 % WIA rate, all three of which would be the highest percentage rates in American history if not for Anzio, with 23,364 casualties (51.49%), 6,017 KIA (13.37%), and 15,558 WIA (34.57%). And by the way, those figures for June 6 are not even correct. The U.S. Army KIA figure for D Day is 2,499.

    Then you can add the Battle for France which followed Normandy from July 25-September 14, in which the U.S. Army sustained 72,014 casualties, with 17,844 KIA and 49,919 WIA.

    Then you can add the Siegfried Line Campaign, in which the U.S. Army suffered 62,704 casualties, with 15,009 KIA and 44,475 WIA. Southern France, 15,574 casualties, with 7,301 KIA in a single month. Oh and, you forgot Luzon, which was by far the bloodiest island battle of the Pacific War.

    Your number for Saipan is far too low. Your number for Guadalcanal is far too high, unless you are including naval casualties, which you definately are doing with Okinawa, as only 7,000 some odd died in the land battle. The Meuse Argonne did take 26,277 KIA, but 1.25 million AEF soldiers participated in the battle, making it only a 2.10% KIA rate, paltry by World War II standards.

  13. Steve A Says:

    I think it’d be fair to refer to Huertgen Forest as part of the Siegfried Line Campaign. Per the web link, there were a bit more than 8000 combat deaths in that campaign which had 57K casualties overall. I’d say HF makes the top ten and is not well remembered only because it was overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge.

  14. Daverakk3187 Says:

    The Battle of Normandy lasted from June 6 to July 24 1944. It cost the lives of 16,293 Americans killed. The Battle of Hurtgen Forest killed 12,000 Americans.

  15. jayj Says:

    Ummmm…… i’m pretty sure battle of Antietam should be on the list and also battle of Hurtgen Forest should to.

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