The 4 Greatest US Victories

Last time we wrote about the costliest battles in US military history. This time, we are going to talk about the greatest victories. All victories come with some sort of loss in terms of casualties but some are worth more than others, even despite the cost. Let’s look at a few of the greatest.

D Day

Also one of the costliest battles in US history, Operation Overlord was one of the greatest as well. Taking place in June of 1944 the battle took months to plan. It would involve a US and UK led coalition of over 150,000 troops as well as countless aircraft and landing craft.

Though it would prove costly from a casualty perspective, the invasion of France would turn the tide of the war and it would be one of the finest days for American military forces.

Battle of Midway

The Battle for Midway was an attempt by Japanese forces to lure the American carriers out to fight. The Japanese had, up until that point, dominated the Pacific and they sought to cement their dominance with the destruction of the US Carrier force.

What would happen is that US code breakers would decipher Japanese communications and set a trap. They would spring it on Japan who would wind up losing 4 carriers. The battle tipped the balance of power in the Pacific away from the Japanese who would soon be forced to go on the defensive.

Battle of Yorktown

This was a decisive battle for American troops in the revolutionary war. It would take place in the first part of 1781when Lord Cornwallis began an invasion attempt in Virginia. He wound up occupying Yorktown and the US forces saw an opportunity for a decisive win as the city would be easier than others to cut off completely from reinforcements.

The siege of the city began in September of 1781and would go on for three weeks until Cornwallis, unable to get reinforcements, surrendered. The defeat would lead to peace negotiations that would ultimately lead to the end of the war.

Battle For Mexico City

The Mexican American war began in 1846 when the US decided to annex a large portion of Mexican territory. Mexican forces would avoid a major conflict by avoiding heavy US forces until the Battle of Mexico City.

US forces led by Scott invaded and eventually took and held the city. The idea was that Mexican forces would be forced to fight to get the city back and the assumption proved entirely correct. The Mexican forces were never able to mount a serious attack to regain the city and the battle would ultimately force Mexico to the negotiation table.

After negotiations, Mexico would give up a third of its territory in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the US would now stretch from coast to coast.

Fiercest Us Battles

In the almost 250 years of this nations existence, military conflict has occurred quite often. Between military actions and all out wars, our country has seen it all. Of the battles that have occurred, some have obviously been fiercer than others.

It occurred to us, why not list our top 3 fiercest battles, so we did. Here is our top 5 list for your reading pleasure. A list chosen more on emotion than any criteria, so keep that in mind.

1) D-Day

There should be no argument that this is one of the fiercest battles in the history of this nation. Just the logistics alone to pull off this massive land sea and air battle alone are hard to imagine.

D-Day changed the tide of a war and put the balance of power in our favor. When it was over, the cost would be high but the reward was immeasurable.

D-Day or Operation Overlord began on June 6, 1944 although planning had been taking place for months. It involved over 170,000 troops transported on more than 6000 landing crafts and ships. Of those soldiers more than 10,000 would lose their lives with nearly 7000 of them being Americans.

Because of the impact of this battle, we encourage everyone to visit the D-Day memorial at least once in their lives.

2) Battle Of Gettysburg

The largest battles of the Civil War occurred at Gettysburg when General Lee sought to win a decisive victory on the North in their own territory. He led his forces north while being pursued by the Unions General Meade and his army.

The two forces would meet on July 1 1863 at Gettysburg and at the time, the Confederate forces would outnumber the Union forces nearly 2 to 1. At the end of the first day, outnumbered, the Union forces would be forced to retreat.

The forces would meet again on the second day with both sides gaining important reinforcements. Lee would begin an assault on Union forces but this time, they were able to hold strong.

Day 3 brought yet another attack by Lee, this time an aggressive one. He sent over 12000 men on a direct charge of Union forces. This would prove costly with the charge suffering an over 50 percent casualty rate.

Humiliated and defeated, Lee was allowed to retreat back into the south. He had lost nearly a third of his forces in the deadliest battle of the Civil War.

3) Battle Of Chosin

It seems that the Korean War is often overshadowed by other conflicts but the brave men who fought it would tell you that the conflicts were fierce. The fiercest was the Battle of Chosin.

At the Chosin Reservoir, US forces were on the verge of defeating North Korea when they were met with thousands of Chinese forces. They were quickly surrounded and greatly outnumbered. The only choice they would have would be to fight their way back to the coast.

The battle would last 17 days and in that time, the US forces would suffer almost 10,000 casualties with over 800 killed in action.

Mathematically the battle was a win for the US with Chinese losses estimated to be between 30,000 to 70,000 killed. Out of 10 divisions, 6 were completely wiped out.

Battle of Khe Sanh

 

In 1967 North Vietnamese forces began building up around the Khe Sanh air base. NVA soldiers would continue to be spotted in the area but no attack would come. Commanders were faced with the decision to either reinforce the base or abandon it. They elected to reinforce it, setting up one of the longest battles of the war.

In January, US forces learned that an attack would soon come and on January 21st of 1968 it would begin. One of the surrounding hill outposts was attacked and the base at Khe Sanh received heavy shelling. The initial attack was thwarted but the NVA did manage to breach the Marine defenses at one point.

Fighting at Khe Sanh would continue for over two months with NVA troops assaulting nearby outposts and constantly shelling the base.

During the siege of Khe Sanh resupplying the air base would prove difficult. Land resupplies would prove impossible so the only option was air drops. Because of the heavy anti aircraft fire in the area, this was not going to be an easy task. Cargo plains would have to brave heavy fire during resupplies and develop special tactics to make it in and out safely.

Airpower would prove to be the lifeline for the base. They depended on it for supplies and the firepower was much needed to pound the surrounding area and suppress the enemy. Without the superiority of US airpower, the base would have surely been overrun.

The siege of Khe Sanh would continue through March, 77 days in all. In March, NVA troops began exiting the area, although shelling of the base would continue. US troops were eventually able to break through the remaining attacking forces and put an end to the battle.

From a numbers standpoint, the offensive was a huge loss for the NVA. Americans suffered casualties of 703 killed and 2642 wounded. NVA losses, are estimated to be greater than 10,000 dead.

Psychologically, the siege had an effect though. It proved what the enemy was willing to, they were willing to incur massive losses. This fact alone would raise questions about how long this war would really take to win.

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Battle Of Midway

If you know anything about WWII, you know about the Battle of Midway. It was a turning point in the Pacific theater and a must win battle for the Americans.

Without a victory at Midway, the war against Japan would have been much more prolonged and the outcome would not have been certain.

The Target

The Battle of Midway occurred at a small US airbase located on the Midway atoll. Japanese forces planned to attack the atoll and quickly overwhelm the defenses. They could then build an air base and await the US aircraft carrier forces whom would surely arrive.

Their goal, to take the atoll and then destroy the US carrier fleet. What would happen would be much different however.

The Battle

American intelligence was able to intercept communications that revealed the plan. This would give them time to not only prepare for the defense of the island, but plan an ambush of the Japanese fleet. They positioned their own carrier force in a position to intercept Japanese forces.

On June 4 of 1942, the ambush was sprung and the US forces were able to knock out 3 Japanese aircraft carriers while losing 1 themselves. The atoll’s air base, although slightly damaged would survive the attack as well.

The Effect

The Battle of Midway was a turning point in the war. Before the battle, Japan dominated the Pacific theater. They had a superior fleet and with their carriers, superior air power. After the battle, US and Japanese forces would be equals and the power would soon shift the other way.

Following Midway, US forces would be able to push Japanese forces back with invasions of Guadalcanal, the Phillippines, etc. In addition, if Japan had won the battle, they would have been allowed to push on to Australia. This would have resulted int the US losing important submarine bases and could have resulted in a recall of Australian troops from Africa.

As you can see, although this explanation is very brief, Midway was one of the most important battles of the war. Without it, the conflict could have lasted years longer and ultimately, the outcome could have been much different.

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The Tet Offensive

North Vietnam and its ally China had many advantages in the war in Vietnam. They could play without their hands behind their back, they could break with tradition and they had a complete disregard for the lives of their troops. All of these advantages would come to a head with the Tet Offensive.

Tet, the lunar new year, was one of the most wildly celebrated holiday in the North. As such, nobody expected an offensive, much less a massive one on that date.

Summary

The Tet offensive involved well coordinated attacks on a number of targets in South Vietnam. The North used the cover of the holiday to mask the troop build up. Preceding the holiday, troops would be rushing home to families, so it would be much easier to hide troop movements.

The first phase of the assault would begin on January 30 of 1968 when several cities and bases containing high levels of US troops were attacked. There would also be a second phase of the attack launched in May and yet another third phase in August.

In the end, although the North would claim a victory, the US and South forces would go on to reclaim all territory lost in the attacks. In addition, they would almost completely eliminate the attacking forces.

What the North did win however, was a media war. Americans at home, seeing what the North was capable of, found it harder to imagine a quick ending to the war. After the offensive, support for the war fell dramatically.

Results

While not a victory in the true sense of the word, the Tet Offensive was very successful for the North. It would eventually bring the Americans to the table and speed up their eventual exit from the war.

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