Battles and wars have been a part of human history for as long as we can remember. They have shaped our world and determined the course of history. “From the first battles in ancient Mesopotamia to today’s conflicts in the Middle East, these events have profoundly impacted humanity” according to Scott Cooper Florida Flotsam.
Though the methods of fighting have changed throughout the years, wars continue to be a powerful force shaping history. Let’s explore some of the most significant and influential wars that have left their mark on the world.
100 Years’ War
The Hundred Years’ War was a long and bloody conflict that lasted over 100 years. It was fought between the Kingdoms of France and England and was a turning point in European warfare. The war saw the end of the age of chivalry and the introduction of new weapons and tactics, such as the English Longbow.
The war began as Edward III of England claimed the French throne and thus sought to reclaim England’s lost territories in France. The years were filled with minor wars but ended with a French victory.
Henry VI (r. 1399–1413) was eventually forced to give up on English efforts in France and turn his attention to domestic issues. His mental stability was questioned, which led to the Wars of the Roses a few years later.
The Pequot War was one of the first conflicts between Indigenous peoples and colonists during the 17th century. The two-year war raged from 1636 to 1638, with both sides fighting for control of land and resources. Although the colonists ultimately won the war, it was a bloody and brutal conflict that left lasting scars on both sides.
The Pequot and Mohegan tribes have been locked in a bitter conflict for years, vying for political power and control of the lucrative trade routes with the newcomers. The Dutch have sided with the Pequots, while the English have thrown their support behind the Mohegans.
The European settlers in North America had a long history of conflict with the Indigenous peoples who inhabited the land. This came to a head in the 17th century with King Philip’s War, which was fought over the right to land that was already being occupied by settlers.
English Civil War
In 1642, England was plunged into a civil war that lasted nine bloody years. This conflict was not simply a power struggle between King Charles I and Parliament but a battle for control of England itself.
The country’s future was shaped by a struggle between Parliament and the monarchy. Today, the balance between these two forces remains in place.
From 1642 to 1651, England was embroiled in a series of conflicts that saw King Charles I pitted against Parliament. In the end, Parliament emerged victorious, and Charles II was restored to the throne.
French and Indian War – The Seven Years’ War
The French and Indian War was a conflict between the British and French armies in 1754. This war escalated into a global conflict, with both sides receiving support from Indigenous tribes. The Iroquois Confederacy supported the British, while the Wabanaki supported the French.
When the British colonies began expanding westward in North America, they quickly ran into French-controlled territory. A great battle ensued in the wilderness of the Allegheny Mountains, pitting the two sides against each other in a fight for control.
The Seven Years’ War was a conflict that began in Europe but quickly spread to other parts of the world, including Africa, India, and the Pacific. The war lasted for seven years, from 1756 to 1763, and ended with the French and Indian territories being ceded to the British.
Independence had been on the minds of many in the American colonies for some time. However, it was not until the end of the French and Indian War that the desire for independence truly caught fire.
The American Revolution was a time of great upheaval and change. It was a time when the people of America rose against the tyranny of the English crown and fought for their freedom. The official break-up came on July 4, 1776, with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
After years of fighting, colonists and British soldiers finally agreed to the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
In 1789, disgruntled French citizens banded together to overthrow their monarchy. This act would go down in history as one of Europe’s most notorious wars.
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of conflicts between 1803 and 1815. The wars began with the French invasion of Austria in 1792 and ended with Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Finishing the war in 1815, The Quasi-War was America’s first conflict, resulting from Europe’s involvement in the conflict.
Napoleon’s defeat marked the end of his reign and the beginning of a new era in Europe. King Louis XVIII was crowned in France, and new borders were drawn for European countries. England emerged as the dominant world power.
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a conflict between the United States and Great Britain. The war began in 1812 and lasted until 1815.
The leading cause of the war was America’s desire to expand westward into Native American territory. The British were supporting the Native Americans in their fight against the Americans. The new U.S. armies fought well and even attempted to invade parts of Canada.
After a brief and intense conflict, no clear winner emerged from the war. However, it did much to bolster national pride in young countries and helped to shape a stronger sense of national identity.
When the United States annexed Texas in 1845, it inherited a long-running conflict with Mexico. This conflict began when Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. American army officers, fresh from fighting the Second Seminole War in Florida, were well-trained to handle this new challenge.
As the United States continued its westward expansion in the 1840s, tensions began to rise with Mexico. These tensions finally came to a head in 1846 when President James K. Polk asked for a declaration of war.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was a turning point for the United States, as it established the country’s southern border. This treaty created several new states, including California, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. Additionally, parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming were included.
American Civil War
In 1861, America was plunged into a Civil War that would test families, friendships, and loyalties. Over 600,000 soldiers from both sides were killed in brutal battles fought across a divided nation. It was a conflict that would forever change America.
Many factors led to the outbreak of the Civil War, including slavery, state rights, and political power. For years, tensions had been mounting between North and South, and despite best efforts, war became inevitable.
The American Civil began in 1861 when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Union army, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, eventually emerged victorious in 1865 after four years of bloody conflict. The aftermath of the Civil left deep scars on the nation that would take many years to heal.
The Spanish-American War was a conflict that lasted for a few short months in 1898. The war was fought over Cuba, as the United States felt Spain mistreating the island nation. Although it was a brief conflict, the Spanish-American War impacted both America and Cuba.
Though many battles were fought on land, America won many victories at sea – most notably when they sunk USS Maine. This event caused great uproar and was one of two leading causes of America’s involvement in WWI.
After a brief conflict, America gained control over the Philippines and Guam. This was seen as the first display of U.S. power over other countries.
World War I
The 20th century was a time of great conflict and upheaval. It began with World War I in 1914 and continued through the Great Depression and World War II. In the aftermath of these conflicts, the world saw the rise of new superpowers, such as the United States and the Soviet Union.
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, leading to a war that lasted until 1918. In total, there were two alliances of three countries, and each pitted against one other. These alliances were known as Triple Entente and Central Powers, respectively, and included Britain, France, Russia and Germany, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Ottoman Empire.
The war was a turning point in history, with many countries involved. The fighting spanned and devastated most of Europe, and over 15 million people were killed.
The First World War began a long period of tension and conflict. This global conflict set the stage for even more devastating wars, which would change the course of history.
World War II
In just six short years, the world was turned upside down by a war that would come to be known as World War II. On a scale, like never before seen, fighting erupted across the globe, leaving devastation in its wake.
The Second World War saw countries retake sides, with two main groups emerging. The Axis powers were Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Japan, while the Allies included Great Britain, France, Russia, China, and the United States.
The roots of the Second World War can be traced back to several factors. Among the most important was the global economic downturn known as the Great Depression and the rise to power of dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The final straw came when Hitler’s Germany invaded Poland.
Most of the fighting took place in Europe, North Africa, and Asia, with Europe bearing the brunt of the destruction.
The devastation of the Second World War was widespread. Millions were killed in battle, and many more lost their lives to atrocities such as the Holocaust. In the war’s final days, even more, were killed when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The death toll from the Second World War is staggering, and its effects are still felt today.
The Korean peninsula was engulfed in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. The war pitted the United States, South Korea, and their allies in the United Nations against communist North Korea.
Korea was divided into North and South following World War II, and tensions between these regions were high. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea to reunify the country under communist rule. This led to a three-year war between North and South Korea, with support from their respective allies.
In Vietnam during the 1950s, French forces fought against a communist government controlling North Vietnam. This conflict left Vietnam split in two, similar to what happened in Korea just a decade earlier.
After Ho Chi Minh invaded democratic South Vietnam in 1959, the U.S. sent aid to train the southern army. However, the mission soon changed, and the U.S. became more involved in the conflict.
The war was fought between the communist North Vietnamese, whom the Soviet Union and China supported, and the South Vietnamese, supported with military aid from the United States. American involvement in the war began in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson sent troops to support the South Vietnamese government.
After years of bloody conflict, America finally pulled out of Vietnam in 1974. A peace accord was signed, but it did not take long for North Vietnamese forces to overrun their southern rivals.
The Middle East has always been a region of conflict and instability. In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the international community could not simply stand by and do nothing. The United Nations issued demands for Iraq to withdraw, but when they failed to comply, it became clear that there would be consequences. The Iraqi government soon learned that the price of defiance could be high.
In January 1991, a coalition of 34 countries organized by the United States launched a dramatic air campaign in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Ground forces followed, and the resulting conflict became known as the Gulf War.
In 2003, the United States led a coalition to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government. This conflict, known as the Iraq War, resulted in years of fighting and instability in the region.