List of battles with most United States military fatalities

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

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.

IntroductionEdit

This article lists battles and campaigns in which the number of US 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 from January 30 to September 23, 1968). The campaign that resulted in the most US military deaths was the Battle of Normandy (June 6 to August 25, 1944) in which 29,204 soldiers were killed fighting against the German Reich.

The bloodiest single day in the history of the of the United States Military was June 6, 1944, with 2,500 soldiers killed during the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day. The second-highest single-day toll was the Battle of Antietam with 2,108 dead.

The deadliest single day battle in American history, if all engaged armies are considered, is the Battle of Antietam with 5,389 killed, including both United States and enemy soldiers (total casualties for both sided was 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing American and enemy soldiers September 17, 1862).[1][A 1][2]

The origins of the US military can be traced to the Americans' fight for independence from their former colonial power, Great Britain, in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). The three bloodiest conflicts have been American Civil War (1861–1865), World War I (1917–1918), and World War II (1941–45). Other significant conflicts involving the United States ordered by casualties include the Korean War (1950–1953), the 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 definitionsEdit

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," which is 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 both types of "battles" are not 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 days, 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 who are killed on the battlefield; rather, it refers to those who can no longer fight. That can include disabled by injuries, disabled by psychological trauma, captured, deserted, or missing. A casualty is only a soldier who is no longer available for the immediate battle or campaign, the major consideration in combat, and 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 during 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.

BattlesEdit

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  Germany [6]
Battle of Saint-Mihiel World War I September 12 to 15, 1918 ~4,500 killed  Germany [7]
Battle of Gettysburg American Civil War July 1 to July 3, 1863 3,155 killed[A 3]  Confederacy [8]
Battle of Chosin Reservoir Korean War November 27 to December 13, 1950 ~2,840 killed[A 4]  China [9]
Battle of Leyte Gulf World War II October 23 to 25, 1944 2,800 killed  Japan [10]
Battle of Spotsylvania American Civil War May 8 to May 21, 1864 2,725 killed[A 5]  Confederacy [11]
D-day (first day of Operation Overlord) World War II June 6, 1944 2,500 killed  Germany [12]
Pearl Harbor Attack World War II December 7, 1941 2,335 killed[A 6]  Japan [13]
Battle of the Wilderness American Civil War May 5 to May 7, 1864 2,246 killed[A 7]  Confederacy [11]
Operation Thunderbolt (part of the Chinese Invasion of South Korea) Korean War January 25 to February 20, 1951 2,228 killed  China [14]
Battle of Antietam American Civil War September 17, 1862 2,108 killed[A 8]  Confederacy [11]
Battle of Aachen (part of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest) World War II October 12 to October 21, 1944 2,000 killed  Germany [15]
Battle of Cold Harbor American Civil War May 21 to June 12, 1864 1,844 killed[A 9]  Confederacy [11]
Battle of Tarawa World War II November 20 to November 23, 1943 1,759 killed[A 10]  Japan [16]
Battle of Shiloh American Civil War April 6 to April 7, 1862 1,754 killed[A 11]  Confederacy [11]
Second Battle of Bull Run American Civil War August 26 to August 30, 1862 1,747 killed[A 12]  Confederacy [11]
Seven Days Battles American Civil War June 25 to July 1, 1862 1,734 killed[A 13]  Confederacy [4]
UN Invasion of North Korea Korean War September 30 to November 25, 1950 1,732 killed  North Korea
 China
[17]
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal World War II November 12, 1942 to November 15, 1942 1,732 killed  Japan [citation needed]
Battle of Stones River American Civil War December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863 1,730 killed[A 14]  Confederacy [11]
Battle of Chickamauga American Civil War September 19 to September 20, 1863 1,656 killed[A 15]  Confederacy [11]
Battle of Chancellorsville American Civil War April 30 to May 6, 1863 1,606 killed[A 16]  Confederacy [11]
Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River Korean War November 25 to December 2, 1950 1,489 killed[A 17]  China [18]
Task Force Faith Korean War November 27 to December 2, 1950 1,450~ killed[A 18]  China [19]
Second Battle of Naktong Bulge (part of the Battle of Pusan Perimeter) Korean War September 1 to September 15, 1950 1,305 killed  North Korea [20]
Battle of Fredericksburg American Civil War December 11 to December 15, 1862 1,284 killed[A 19]  Confederacy [21]
Battle of Taejon Korean War July 14 to July 21, 1950 1,128 killed  North Korea [22]
Battle of Savo Island (part of the Guadalcanal Campaign) World War II August 8, 1942 to August 9, 1942 1,077 killed  Japan [citation needed]
Battle of Belleau Wood World War I June 1 to June 26, 1918 1,062 killed  Germany [23]
Battle of Masan (part of the Battle of Pusan Perimeter) Korean War August 5 to September 19, 1950 1,057 killed  North Korea [24]
Battle of Manila (part of the Battle of Luzon) World War II February 3 to March 3, 1945 1,010 killed  Japan [25]

CampaignsEdit

Campaign Conflict Date Estimated number killed Opposing force References
Battle of Normandy World War II June 6 to August 25, 1944 29,204 killed  Germany [26][27][28]
Meuse–Argonne Offensive World War I September 26 to November 11, 1918 26,277 killed  Germany [29]
Battle of the Bulge World War II December 16, 1944 to January 28, 1945 19,276 killed  Germany [30]
Central Europe Campaign World War II March 22 to May 8, 1945 15,009 killed  Germany [27]
Battle of Okinawa World War II April 1 to June 22, 1945 ~14,000 killed  Japan [31][32]
38th Parallel Static Warfare Campaign Korean War July 11, 1951 to July 27, 1953 ~13,800 killed  China [33]
Japanese Conquest of the Philippines World War II December 8, 1941 to May 6, 1942 ~13,000 killed  Japan [34]
Battle of Hürtgen Forest World War II September 19, 1944 to February 17, 1945 ~12,000 killed  Germany [A 20]
North Apennines Campaign World War II September 10, 1944 to April 4, 1945 8,486 killed  Germany [27]
Battle of Luzon World War II January 9 to August 15, 1945 8,310 killed  Japan [36]
Chinese Invasion of South Korea Korean War December 31, 1950 to July 10, 1951 ~8,000 killed  China [37]
Operation Dragoon World War II August 15 to September 14, 1944 7,301 killed  Germany [35]
Guadalcanal Campaign World War II August 7, 1942, to February 9, 1943 7,100 killed  Japan [38]
Alsace Campaign World War II September 15, 1944 to February 19, 1945 7,000 killed  Germany [39]
Battle of Iwo Jima World War II February 19 to March 26, 1945 6,821 killed  Japan [40]
Lorraine Campaign World War II September 1 to December 18, 1944 6,657 killed  Germany [41]
Naples–Foggia Campaign World War II September 9, 1943 to January 21, 1944 6,266 killed  Germany [27]
Battle of Anzio World War II January 22 to June 5, 1944 5,538 killed  Germany [27]
Battle of Pusan Perimeter Korean War August 4 to September 18, 1950 4,599 killed  North Korea [42]
Chinese Second Phase Offensive in North Korea Korean War November 25 to December 15, 1950 4,538 killed[A 21]  China [43]
Battle of Leyte World War II October 17 to December 26, 1944 3,593 killed  Japan [A 22]
Saar-Palatinate Offensive World War II March 8 to March 24, 1945 3,540 killed  Germany [45]
Battle of Saipan World War II June 15 to July 9, 1944 3,426 killed  Japan [46]
Tet Offensive Vietnam War January 30 to September 23, 1968 3,178 Killed  North Vietnam [A 23]
North Korean Invasion of South Korea Korean War June 25 to August 3, 1950 3,108 killed  North Korea [17]
Tunisian Campaign World War II November 12, 1942 to May 13, 1943 2,838 killed  Germany [35]
Battle of Sicily World War II July 9 to August 17, 1943 2,811 killed  Germany [48]
Dutch East Indies Campaign World War II December 8, 1941 to March 9, 1942 ~2,000 killed  Japan [49]
Second Battle of the Marne World War I July 15 to August 6, 1918 1,926 killed[A 24]  Germany [51]
Po Valley Offensive World War II April 5 to May 8, 1945 1,914 killed  Germany [35]
Battle of Guam World War II July 21 to August 10, 1944 1,783 killed  Japan [52]:163
Operation Lumberjack World War II March 1 to 25, 1945 1,700 killed  Germany [53]
UN Counteroffensive from the Pusan Perimeter (including the Inchon Landings and the Second Battle of Seoul) Korean War September 15 to September 30, 1950 1,492 killed  North Korea [17]
Battle of Peleliu World War II September 15 to November 25, 1944 1,460 killed  Japan [54]:327
Operation Grenade World War II February 23 to March 10, 1945 1,330 killed  Germany [55]
Battle of Mindanao World War II March 10 to August 15, 1945 1,041 killed[A 25]  Japan [56][57]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Union and Confederate numbers added together
  2. ^ Union and Confederate numbers added together
  3. ^ 3,155 Union and 3,903 Confederate
  4. ^ 836 Marines killed + 2,000 US Army killed[9]
  5. ^ 2,725 Union[11] and 1,515 Confederacy
  6. ^ 2,008 Navy KIA + 109 Marines + 218 Army (not included: 68 civilian deaths)[13]
  7. ^ 2,246 Union[11] and 1,495 Confederacy
  8. ^ 2,108 Union[11] and 1,546 Confederacy
  9. ^ 1,844 Union[11] and 788 Confederacy
  10. ^ 984 Marines + 88 MIA + 687 Navy
    984+ 88+ 687[16]
  11. ^ 1,754 Union[11] and 1,728 Confederacy
  12. ^ 1,747 Union[11] and 1,305 Confederacy
  13. ^ 1,734 Union and 3,494 Confederacy[4]
  14. ^ 1,730 Union[11] and 1,294 Confederacy
  15. ^ 1,656 Union[11] and 2,312 Confederacy
  16. ^ 1,606 Union[11] and 1,724 Confederacy
  17. ^ 676 killed + 813 Missing presumed dead
  18. ^ Of the 2,500 soldiers in Task Force Faith only 1,050 made it back. Of those only 385 were able-bodied[19]
  19. ^ 1,284 Union and 608 Confederacy[21]
  20. ^ 50,410 Americans died in the Rhineland from September 1944 - March 21, 1945[35]
  21. ^ U.S. Army KIA+Army POW died+Army MIA died+Marine KIA+Navy KIA
    1183+1167+1410+763+15=4,538
  22. ^ 16,233 died in Leyete, Luson, and Southern Philippines during October 17, 1944 - July 4, 1945[44]
  23. ^ 16,592 American died in 1968[47]
  24. ^ 12,000 casualties including KIA, WIA, POW[50]
  25. ^ 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[56]
    820 killed and 2,880 wounded on E. Mindanao[57]

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "St. Mihiel American Cemetery | American Battle Monuments Commission".
  8. ^ Burke & Roth 2014, p. 7
  9. ^ a b Hickman 2017
  10. ^ Tucker 2013, p. 1668
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Allen 2017
  12. ^ D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery 2017
  13. ^ a b Alison 2016
  14. ^ Ecker, Richard E. (2005). Korean Battle Chronology: Unit-by-Unit United States Casualty Figures and Medal of Honor Citations. McFarland. ISBN 0786419806. Page 83.
  15. ^ Peters 2017
  16. ^ a b Tucker 2013, p. 1605
  17. ^ a b c Sobieski, Anthony J. 1127 Days of Death – a Korean War Chronology – Part I, 1950. https://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/Korea/KoreanWarPartI . Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  18. ^ Ecker 2005, p. 62.
  19. ^ a b Daily 1999, p. 68
  20. ^ Ecker, Richard E. (2004), Battles of the Korean War: A Chronology, with Unit-by-Unit United States Casualty Figures & Medal of Honor Citations, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0-7864-1980-7. Page 16 and 20.
  21. ^ a b Tucker 2013, p. 919
  22. ^ Ecker, Richard E. (2004), Battles of the Korean War: A Chronology, with Unit-by-Unit United States Casualty Figures & Medal of Honor Citations, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0-7864-1980-7. Page 6.
  23. ^ Tucker 2013, p. 1323
  24. ^ Ecker, Richard E. (2004), Battles of the Korean War: A Chronology, with Unit-by-Unit United States Casualty Figures & Medal of Honor Citations, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0-7864-1980-7. Page 29, 31, 39.
  25. ^ “The Battle for Manila” p. 195
  26. ^ 20,668 among ground forces and 8,536 among the USAAF
  27. ^ a b c d e Statistical and accounting branch office of the adjutant general 1953, p. 92
  28. ^ “ Determining the Decisive Moments: The Invasion of Normandy” p 341
  29. ^ Brown 2013, p. 191
  30. ^ Graham 2007, p. 159
  31. ^ "Number of names Inscribed/沖縄県".
  32. ^ Traynor 2017
  33. ^ Ecker, Richard E. (2005). Korean Battle Chronology: Unit-by-Unit United States Casualty Figures and Medal of Honor Citations. McFarland. ISBN 0786419806.
  34. ^ Hard to get exact numbers because post-World War II history books about the 1941-42 Philippines campaign focus mostly on the Bataan Death March and brutality in POW camps and don't give exact numbers on the KIA during the actual Battle of Bataan. Usually ~10,000 U.S. forces killed is given for the KIA in the actual Battle of Bataan. On Corregidor there were ~1,000 KIA. There were thousands more sailors and airmen killed in action during the 1941-42 Philippines Campaign on sunken U.S. Navy ships and hundreds of destroyed USAAF airplanes from December 1941 to May 1942.
  35. ^ a b c d Statistical and accounting branch office of the adjutant general 1953, p. 93
  36. ^ Willmott 2005, p. 22
  37. ^ Ecker, Richard E. (2005). Korean Battle Chronology: Unit-by-Unit United States Casualty Figures and Medal of Honor Citations. McFarland. ISBN 0786419806. Page 73-105.
  38. ^ Tucker 2014, p. 213
  39. ^ "The Colmar Pocket – "The Forgotten Campaign"".
  40. ^ Smith 2009, p. II
  41. ^ Zabecki 1999, p. 1560
  42. ^ Varhola 2000, p. 6
  43. ^ Ecker 2005, p. 62
  44. ^ Statistical and accounting branch office of the adjutant general 1953, p. 94
  45. ^ “Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492–2015, 4th Ed.” page 480
  46. ^ Hearn 2007, p. 88
  47. ^ United States 2010
  48. ^ Hart 2015, p. 627
  49. ^ 10 U.S. Navy ships were sunk, resulting in 1,973 killed in action. 24 U.S. Army soldiers of the Lost Battalion were killed in action. Unknown number of USAAF airmen flying P-40 fighters were also killed during this campaign.
  50. ^ Sondhaus 2011, p. 413
  51. ^ Surgeon General 1920, pp. 43–44
  52. ^ Rottman, Gordon L (2004). Guam 1941 & 1944: Loss and Reconquest (1st ed.). Botley: Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84176-811-3. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  53. ^ “Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492–2015, 4th Ed.” page 479
  54. ^ Eggenberger, D. "An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present". Courier Corporation. 2012. ISBN 9780486142012
  55. ^ "Warfare and Armed Conflicts" p. 479
  56. ^ a b Smith 2005, p. 597
  57. ^ a b Smith 2005, p. 648

SourcesEdit