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Deadliest U.S. Wars

Name the American military conflicts that resulted in at least 1,800 American military deaths.
Not necessarily wars declared by Congress
Military deaths include KIA, deaths from disease, and other causes
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: October 6, 2021
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First submittedJune 27, 2012
Times taken144,810
Average score83.3%
Rating4.78
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Deaths
Years
War
23,800
1775–1783
Revolutionary War
15,000
1812–1815
War of 1812
13,283
1846–1848
Mexican–American War
655,000
1861–1865
Civil War
2,446
1898
Spanish-American War
4,200 +
1898–1913
Philippine–American War
Deaths
Years
War
116,708
1917–1918
World War I
407,300
1941–1945
World War II
54,246
1950–1953
Korean War
58,220
1955–1975
Vietnam War
2,420
2001–2021
Afghanistan
4,507
2003–2011
Iraq War
101 Recent Comments
+7
Level 70
Nov 25, 2014
No records for the Australian-American war...seems like a cover up...
+1
Level 47
May 22, 2024
funny enough, there aren't any new zealand-america wars...

The government is covering everything these days smh

+1
Level 47
Sep 10, 2015
I'm kind of surprised the Gulf War didn't have over 1800 causalities. I guess it didn't last long enough.
+1
Level 56
Mar 1, 2016
Where is the first Iraq war?
+1
Level 64
Mar 16, 2016
It is now believed - the death toll revised by the professor I was lucky enough to study under, J. David Hacker - that almost 750,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and it has become the new accepted statistic.

2 Unrelated Points: The Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 are NOT really linked. There was over 20-years in between, and part of that time - during Washington's 2nd Term and during the Adams Administration - the US nearly went to war with France. The War of 1812 was based on a dumb decision by James Madison.

And World War I and World War II are not the same war, as while there WAS fighting in many places around the world during WWI, the fighting was mostly limited to Europe. WWII had an entire Pacific Theater that WWI did not have. Hitler and the Nazis came to power playing off the anger over losing WWI, but Japan did not invade China or attack us in Pearl Harbor and the Philippines because of WWI. Germany's actions can be looked at through a WWI lens, but Japan's can't.

+4
Level 89
Sep 24, 2020
Saying the World Wars aren't closely related is pretty ridiculous. Same for 1812. The English were continually kidnapping Americans to put in their navy as they viewed the U.S. as still their territory no matter what piece of paper had been signed.
+1
Level 64
Mar 16, 2016
Correction on my previous post: there were nearly 30-years between the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 and the start of the War of 1812.

Americans in 1812 felt residual anger towards the British that was intensified by Britain's contempt for Americans, but the British were still battling Napoleon and didn't care about events in North America, and there was no real reason to fight them. In fact, Madison's war was so unpopular in New England that the states there considered secession.

The fight was between Americans and Canadians in the North, and against Native American tribes allied with Britain and Spain in the south and west. Americans naively expected the Canadians to join the American union, and were shocked when they faced resistance...the American troops captured and burned the Canadian capital of York (today Toronto), and the Red Coats later burned DC; the war wound up a stalemate and its main importance historically is that it launched the career of Andrew Jackson.

+1
Level 48
Apr 6, 2016
I kept typing in "Gulf War" and "Perisan Gulf War", but I never looked at the year. It was Vietnam....
+1
Level 55
Sep 26, 2016
What about the first Gulf War, aka Desert Storm?
+3
Level 83
Sep 26, 2016
Read the quiz directions: only includes wars with over 1800 US KIA. Desert Storm had far fewer than that.
+3
Level 55
Sep 26, 2016
Lotta foreign policy experts on Jetpunk. Who knew?
+1
Level 89
Sep 24, 2020
Lotta foreign policy experts in government. Who knew?
+1
Level 59
May 22, 2024
So JetPunk is the government? Who knew?
+1
Level 84
Sep 26, 2016
So your quiz inspired me to do some reading...turns out the Philippine-American war was only officially from 1899-1902, and had at least 4000 American casualties as listed in your quiz. However, the Moro Rebellion is what lasted until 1913 as your quiz shows, but had much fewer American casualties.
+1
Level 26
Sep 26, 2016
got them all with 2 min left...
+1
Level 33
Sep 26, 2016
Damn my laziness, I put Afghan and when it didn't work I didn't bother typing out the whole word.
+1
Level 65
Sep 26, 2016
I tried the Filipino War...D'oh! That was the only one I missed
+2
Level 75
Oct 2, 2016
Wondering why the War on Terror isn't included. Too general?
+5
Level 82
Oct 3, 2016
not a real war. More of a slogan.
+1
Level 68
Oct 11, 2021
Only America would have a slogan to market our wars on TV. :)
+1
Level 46
Mar 6, 2017
American Indian War?

Although I guess it could be argued that it was many conflicts over a few centuries.

I'd still count it though

+3
Level 72
Mar 23, 2017
@tswalla You're username suggests you're Muslim which would explain your slanted view. I'm not denying the US government may have been involved in some unethical things but Muslims love to blame their problems on others instead of taking responsibility constantly playing the victim card. This despite the fact that long before the US and Israel existed tribal hostilities existed in Arab and Muslim culture and today is no exception. The Muslim invasion of India where you sold off their women and enslaved those who didn't convert, the Arab slave trade in Africa spanning at least 800 years where you castrated the men and used the women as sex slaves, the Barbary pirates, the Taliban who turned on the US who formed from the US aided Mujahideen in their fight against communism, all the dictatorships in Muslim countries, and many more. I could go on but you get the idea, you don't exactly have a great track record or reputation and you're a hypocrite for talking about wars and violence.
+3
Level 82
Apr 23, 2017
I thought he was just a Black Panther fan.
+3
Level 82
Apr 23, 2017
I wouldn't put Iraq or Afghanistan on this list.

I know this isn't the popular conception. But the popular conception frankly makes no sense and is unprecedented in history.

The Iraq War lasted from March 2003 to April 2003. That's how long it took for the Americans to conquer Baghdad and the government of Saddam Hussein to fall. The Iraqi military was disbanded shortly thereafter. After this point, the war was finished and the occupation of Iraq began. Total casualties during the war were about 200.

The war in Afghanistan lasted from October through December 2001, when the Taleban lost control of Kandahar their final stronghold. During this period, there were 7 US casualties. After December the war was over and the occupation of Afghanistan began.

+2
Level 82
Sep 25, 2019
To further drive this point home... The USA along with its allies occupied Germany and Japan after WW2. The US still controlled some parts of Japan up through the 1970s. If some soldiers died in Germany or Japan during this lengthy post-war period, I'm confident that their deaths would not be counted along with the casualties of WW2. The different standard applied to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are completely baffling.
+1
Level 89
Sep 24, 2020
And the people in Iraq fought back just as the people in Vietnam did. Battles between the North Vietnamese Army and the United States did not account for the majority of daily combat in the war. Non-government combatants largely defeated Napoleon in Spain and the U.S. in the Philippine-American War. Controlling the capital doesn't always mean winning the war.
+1
Level 89
Oct 11, 2021
And by this reasoning the U.S. fully occupied South VietNam immediately. They really never controlled it worth a damn though. That's what all the fighting was about. So can we say the U.S. won the VietNam War in 1964 with almost no deaths, but then lost 58,000 to occupation?

The land forces never tried to take North VietNam at all. It was fought in the American-occuped South. (...and secretly Cambodia and Laos, which they never won either)

As for Iraq, much of the military continued fighting, they just didn't use uniforms anymore.

+2
Level 82
Oct 11, 2020
Winning the war means winning the war. The war objectives in Vietnam were never achieved. The war was ongoing until the United States withdrew, and it ended in defeat. The objectives in both Iraq and Afghanistan were swiftly achieved. After that the war was concluded and the occupation of these countries began. This should not be hard to understand. They're not even remotely similar. The USA was fighting the army of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. That army was disbanded in April, 2003. They were no longer fighting a war at that point. The enemy had been completely and totally defeated. In Vietnam the US never even came remotely close to disbanded the North Vietnamese army, or their allies the VietCong. They were locked in ongoing conflict with both for the duration of the war.

Characterizing Iraqi insurgents attacking American troops as part of the Iraq War would be like saying the Civil War didn't end in 1865, because a federal troop got killed in Jackson during Reconstruction.

+1
Level 82
Oct 11, 2020
Do Baathists still control the government in Baghdad? Does the Taleban still control Afghanistan? Nobody has made an argument here against my point that wasn't completely absurd. I mean the Emperor of Japan got to retain his title and position after World War 2, a lot more than can be said for Saddam Hussein. But nobody says the war against Japan is still ongoing because an American serviceman got killed in Tokyo in 1968. I'd love to hear a valid reason for considering the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as ongoing for so long that wasn't completely arbitrary or driven by politics, but there aren't any.
+3
Level 71
Apr 15, 2021
@Kal, you say that the War in Afghanistan ended long ago because one of the main US objectives was to kick out the Taliban. While that was true for a while, the Taliban has gained control over massive chunks of Afghanistan again and is acting like a quasi-state and not just a terrorist group. Also, with everything going on now (especially the US withdrawal), a lot of intelligence experts think that the Taliban will either become a major power player in Afghani politics after a peace deal is signed or take over the country military if the government doesn't "cooperate" with their demands.

I'm just wondering, what's your take on this? Do you still think it's valid to say that we "won" in Afghanistan if one of the main objectives stops being true? Or does it not matter because, regardless of whether or not the Taliban takes over, Afghanistan has gone through a lot in the past 20 years and is a very different country than it was in 2001?

+3
Level 82
Apr 23, 2021
The Taleban currently in Afghanistan is more like a movement than an organization. Several different bands of Islamists call themselves the Taleban. The group that was in control of Kabul was swiftly defeated, kicked out, jailed, killed, or dispersed. I don't think the objective can be achieved and then stop being achieved 20 years later. That would sort of be like saying Greeks won the Battle of Thermopylae because later on Alexander would go on to conquer the Persian Empire. And since "the Taleban" has ceased being a functioning government of a sovereign entity I feel that they don't exist anymore in the same form. But tribal and Islamist groups that oppose the US occupation and wish to return to a Taleban-style form of government have picked up and adopted the name and banner. If Neo-Nazis ever come to power in Germany in the future we wouldn't say that the Allies lost World War 2.
+1
Level 73
Aug 28, 2021
Looks like they're back now, though :(
+1
Level 82
Oct 11, 2021
But like I said: not really the same group. The Taleban in control of Kabul 20 years ago was destroyed and dispersed. After this, the US-led Allied occupation of Afghanistan began, and a new government was set up. Various elements opposed to that new government eventually coalesced in various places in and outside of Afghanistan, some of which chose to pick up the Taleban banner. None of these elements had much success at gaining or holding territory until the last presidential administration negotiated a nearly unconditional surrender to them, completely undercutting the Afghan government of 2001-2021, and secured the release of many former members and leaders of the old Taleban. When the current administration made good on the promise to withdraw from the occupation, this new Taleban took over the whole country with barely a shot fired; because the war was long over - the occupation simply ended.
+1
Level 47
May 21, 2017
I think for Afghanistan, War on Terror(ism) should be accepted.
+1
Level 47
Nov 4, 2017
Good idea, but the War on Terror hasn't ended. And probably won't end in any ideal situation.
+4
Level 82
Oct 11, 2020
The War on Terror was a political slogan that was supposed to encompass Afghanistan, Iraq, and all US counter-terrorism efforts around the entire world. Not the same thing. And besides it was mostly used as a PR tool to try and get Americans to somehow think of Iraq and Afghanistan as related and both somehow connected to 9/11, to gin up support for the Bush invasion of Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with Afghanistan or 9/11.
+2
Level 65
Oct 25, 2017
The Gulf War wasn't even on this quiz because it was too easy.
+1
Level 63
Nov 1, 2017
what about the Gulf War? French and Indian War?
+1
Level 59
May 14, 2023
the gulf war only resulted in 292 us coalition deaths
+1
Level 56
Nov 1, 2017
Americans killing each other - more American casualties in the US Civil War than in WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghanistan and Iraq COMBINED.
+4
Level 82
Jan 26, 2018
It's hard to kick ass without also getting your ass kicked when you're fighting on both sides of the same war.
+1
Level 62
Nov 11, 2017
The war in the Philippines was really part of the Spanish American War.
+1
Level 82
Nov 22, 2017
America's costliest war, in terms of human lives, was against itself. But I'm sure someone has already mentioned this fact.
+1
Level 82
Jan 26, 2018
That's often what happens in civil wars.
+2
Level 37
Dec 13, 2017
Strange fact: Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan with the ancillary objective of capturing Osama Bin Laden, but finally getting him in Pakistan without so much as a skirmish. Who says that the CIA

doesn't eventually get its man! - Perseverance, perseverance, perseverance!!!

+1
Level 62
Jan 26, 2018
Hmm. I entered "Mr. Madison's War" which I thought was a correct answer. Apparently not?
+1
Level 54
Sep 30, 2018
How did I miss Afghanistan?
+1
Level 89
Oct 11, 2021
It's the big graveyard right in the middle of the map of Asia.
+2
Level 67
Mar 3, 2019
Fun quiz, but kinda odd that if you add mexico it accepts it as 'mexican-american war', but spain is not accepted as spanish-american war.
+2
Level 63
Mar 17, 2019
Got them all with 2:15 remaining at 11:13:07 AM on March 17, 2019. I am now at 1057 points. Easy quiz!
+1
Level 37
May 19, 2019
Would have gotten the Philippine-American war, but wrote

"Filipino-American" instead.

+3
Level 67
Sep 25, 2019
What about the Cola Wars? We lost a lot of good men out there.
+1
Level 82
Sep 26, 2019
agent orange has got nothing on high fructose corn syrup.
+1
Level 89
Oct 11, 2021
The Sunkist-Crush War, however, was a proxy to the Cola Wars.
+1
Level 72
Sep 25, 2019
How do we have such an accurate death count for the Mexican-American war but not the, later, Civil War.
+3
Level 89
Oct 11, 2021
The Mexican-American War was fought by the regular army. The Civil War was a revolving door of deserters, assumed names and underage kids getting kicked out. The South lost many of its records in the destruction, men were pressed into service along the way and civilian deaths are simple guesses.
+1
Level 68
Sep 26, 2019
All of them, but I think I missed a couple when I took this quiz a year ago or something :/
+3
Level 71
Feb 19, 2020
I have to say here, and I am not alone that I find certain aspects of the American government's behaviour over the years to have been pretty appalling. It would be very easy for American nationalists to wave their flag. There are many many military interventions made by American forces that have been fiascos, and you nationalists content yourselves with saying, well other people did worse 200 years ago.

This is not good enough.

+1
Level 68
Oct 11, 2021
I mean, 12 wars in 200 years isn't terrible.

It's not great, but it could be worse...

+1
Level 26
Mar 1, 2020
Shouldn't the French and Indian war be on here?
+2
Level 59
Jan 22, 2021
That was 1754-1763 and part of the 7 years' war. It was before the American Revolution, but helped lead to it from British taxes and tighter control on the colonies.
+1
Level 55
Mar 25, 2020
during jefferson’s presidency, there was one war, where the US, declared war on somalian priates, because they had taken over a good portion of somalia and acted as a country, so they were considered a country
+1
Level 82
Apr 21, 2020
The first Barbary War resulted in 35 casualties on the American side and about 800 among the "Barbary States" on the North African coast.
+1
Level 18
Sep 24, 2020
I only no civil war
+1
Level 59
Oct 12, 2021
u also dont no how to spell
+2
Level 56
Nov 23, 2020
"War of 1812"? That's the least helpful name for a war I've ever heard.
+3
Level 59
Jan 22, 2021
Not the 100 years war? It was 116 years long...
+1
Level 28
Feb 15, 2021
1:56

5/12

+4
Level 81
Mar 3, 2021
Lots of googled 'facts' in this thread. And plenty of nationalist pride. You can include me out.
+4
Level 82
Apr 23, 2021
Your input will be sorely missed. And the facts that you divine through some method other than looking them up.
+4
Level 81
Sep 7, 2021
Ooh, a nibble.
+2
Level 55
Mar 23, 2021
Accept "Afghan" for Afghanistan maybe?
+3
Level 52
Aug 17, 2021
I think it's time to update this quiz
+1
Level 64
Oct 6, 2021
Time to update! Afghanistan War is over.
+2
Level 82
Oct 11, 2021
Since the Philippines was a U.S. territory at the time (according to the Americans), maybe we should count all of the casualties on the Filipino side of the war, too? The same way that you count both Union and Confederate casualties for the Civil War. That would put the total number significantly higher. At least 3x as much if not way more than that if you count non-combat deaths on the Filipino side.
+1
Level 68
Oct 11, 2021
That is a fair point.

Although, the Philippines were never incorporated as states, so idk if that changes things...

+2
Level 73
Oct 11, 2021
But it was de facto a colony.
+2
Level 59
Oct 11, 2021
I was sure there was a second war against Britain but it wouldn't show up...

In the end I missed it because I didn't know it was also called the "war of 1812", wich I looked up because I had no idea about it.

Maybe "British" war could also be accepted for this one?

+5
Level 89
Oct 11, 2021
Now you've learned. That's my takeaway from this site, not to take quizzes where I automatically fill in all the answers.
+4
Level 63
Oct 11, 2021
Will you be making a quiz that counts civilian deaths caused by the US?
+1
Level 89
Oct 11, 2021
That 1,800 cutoff for every involvement is quite low.
+1
Level 62
May 14, 2023
if you feel its important, make it yourself.
+1
Level 67
Oct 11, 2021
What about the Indian Wars? Would be 4th on the list in terms of direct casualties.
+2
Level 82
Oct 11, 2021
I think the answer you're looking for is hiding in your own question. It's the "s" that comes after "War"
+1
Level 67
Oct 12, 2021
I think that's nomenclature. The 100 years war wasn't really one war, but OK.
+1
Level 82
Oct 13, 2021
Could be. But in this case calling all of the many Indian Wars and related conflicts a single war would be the mistake, not the other way around.
+1
Level 67
Nov 23, 2021
I said Philippines and it didn’t go through.
+2
Level 54
Feb 15, 2022
Could you please accept "American War for Independence", or just "War for Independence", since that's that proper name for the war.
+1
Level 82
Mar 11, 2022
No, it's not.
+1
Level 41
Jan 6, 2023
can the Gulf war be accepted for Iraq
+1
Level 59
May 14, 2023
no, because the gulf war is a completely different war that only resulted in 292 allied deaths, many of which not being american
+1
Level 65
May 14, 2023
Bruh I got everything but the American Revolution
+1
Level 68
May 14, 2023
The return rates are interesting. So much won from the cost of the Revolutionary War, and Mexican.

Humanity has been pretty lucky to have a government as generous as the USA as the sole superpower for the last .. 80+ years. It's denialism to say anything else, when the alternative is the USSR/Russia, or China.

God bless the USA as they say. Hopefully they focus more on exceeding, and less on being weighed down by the muck of the ROW in the coming century. I want to see men on Mars.

+1
Level 70
May 14, 2023
Lots of commentary that 'The War on Terror' is just a political slogan.

A 2021 report from the Costs of War project at Brown University revealed that 20 years of post-9/11 wars have cost the U.S. an estimated $8 trillion and have killed more than 900,000 people, though only around 15,000 - 20,000 were American casualties.

That should still give this 'slogan' sufficient credibility to appear on this list.

+1
Level 37
May 14, 2023
I have heard of the Philippine conflict actually; but this is the first I have heard of it be referred to it as the Philippine American War; I had heard that it was called the Philippine Insurrection
+1
Level 42
May 14, 2023
9/12. i missed the war of 1812, and the mexican and spanish wars.
+2
Level 76
May 14, 2023
wow barely anyone knows about the philippine-american war but I do, so yeah

i guess the reason why so few people got the philippine-american war is because history teachers don't give a $h1T about it

+1
Level 62
May 14, 2023
I know i don't.
+1
Level 34
May 16, 2023
WW1 started in 1916, not 1917 and WW2 started in 1939. You added when Pearl harbor was bombed and when the U.S.A joined the war. It really started when Germany Invaded Poland.
+2
Level 66
Oct 26, 2023
The point is when the U.S. got involved. Even though WW1 and WW2 began earlier (1914 and 1939) the U.S. wasn't fully involved in them until 1917 and 1941, and, considering this is a quiz about the wars the U.S. has fought in, it makes more sense to include the starting date for when the U.S. joined.
+1
Level 14
Mar 9, 2024
What is KIA?