The United States is the biggest country on earth. Its military might is greater than any other country, despite the fact that it is still very young in the grand scheme of things. America was formed through grit, determination and wealth, but it was also formed thanks to a lot of bloodshed, which begs the question, how many Americans have died in war?
Following on from our popular guide on How Many People have Died in War, where we discussed the total human loss since the birth of civilization, this guide takes a closer look at the loss of military and civilian life in the history of the United States of America.
How Many Americans Have Died in War
= 650,000+ in the 20th Century
The US have been involved in many global conflicts. They avoided the Second World War momentarily, but eventually provided assistance to the allies. During the Cold War they sent troops to Korea and Vietnam and in the decades that followed they also sent soldiers to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They may be a young country, but the number of American soldiers that have been killed in war is still high because the wars with the highest deaths all occurred in the 20th century, when they were very much one of the superpowers of the world.
Official stats put the number of Americans that have died in non-civil war conflict at over 650,000. These were killed in direct conflict, but there are also about a quarter of a million who have died as a result of war, whether they were training for it, had accidents during it, or caught some disease while enlisted. American civilian deaths are very small in comparison because unlike many European countries, they were not bombed during the First and Second World Wars.
How Many Americans Died in the Civil War?
= 620,000 from disease, combat and starvation
The figure quoted above did not count the American Civil War, and when you factor this into the equation then the figures are considerably more bloated. That’s because more than 620,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War. Not all of these were shot though. In fact, a significant percentage died as a result of disease and starvation.
It’s also worth noting that some historians have put the figure at closer to 850,000. The 620,000 number stems from a report filed over 100 years ago, therefore much closer to the time, and is the one often cited. At the time, this was around 2% of the total population of the country.
Total Number of American Soldiers to Die in Each War
No war has matched the American Civil War for total loss of American life. Many countries have lost more men in a single war and many wars have taken more lives, but for American soldiers, nothing comes close. To give you an idea of scale, take look at these other wars that have killed American soldiers in the thousands.
How Many Americans Died in the First World War?
The loss of life in the First World War was staggering. American deaths number just over 100,000, which is still a huge and tragic amount, but nothing when you compare it to the 17+ million soldiers and countless civilians that died during the course of this pointless war. It’s hard to write or read about this war without thinking significantly less of the human race and being a little scared for the stupidity and evil that we can do, so we’re going to leave it there.
How Many Americans Died in the Second World War?
This is America’s second biggest war in terms of the number of soldiers killed, with over 400,000 soldiers losing their life. America joined the war over 2 years after it officially began, focusing much of their attentions on Japan, while Britain, the Soviet Union and their allies fought the Nazis in Europe.
Key conflicts for America during the Second World War include Pearl Harbor, which was actually the trigger that sent them to war in the first place; the Allied Invasion of France, which was pivotal in turning the war and involved all Allied countries; and the Battle of Midway. They were also the ones to drop the bombs that caused the final surrender of Japan.
More Americans Died in Vietnam than Korea
Nearly twice as many American soldiers died in the Vietnam war than died in the Korean war. Both wars caused outrage back home and in total nearly 180,000 American soldiers lost their lives because of them. They didn’t achieve much and they have since proved as a reminder to countries like America that might of military and advanced weaponry doesn’t mean anything when your enemy has a far greater understanding of the terrain and you can’t always tell who your enemy is.
How Many Americans Died in Iraq and Afghanistan
= 6.600 +
The Gulf War was a key part of recent US history, but it is actually the war that has cost the least number of American lives, with 258 soldiers dying. George Bush Senior took the US into this war to expel Iraq from Kuwait and stop them from invading additional countries. It worked and was successful. However, the same can’t be said for his son, who took the US to Iraq over a decade later in order to find Weapons of Mass Destruction that ultimately didn’t exist.
The Iraq war was all about bringing down Saddam Husain and these supposed WMDs, but it merged with the war in Afghanistan, which began with the goal of eradicating terrorist groups al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In the eyes of many citizens, the wars were two and the same and are still often listed together due to the timeline in which they took place and the fact that enlisted troops have done tours in both countries.
In total, these conflicts took the lives of over 6,600 American soldiers. They are till tapering away as soldiers slowly withdraw, but the US and their allies continue to fight terrorist organizations across the region, with many attentions now on Syria and Islamic State.
Americans That Have Died in Other Wars
The Civil War wasn’t the only war that America fought prior to the 20th century of course. There were a few other wars that helped to build this nation.
How Many People Died in the Revolutionary War?
The Revolutionary War was even more key in developing this nation’s future, but with a death toll of 25,000, it didn’t have as much of an impact on the population at the time. Only 8,000 of these died from combat, with the rest succumbing to disease. A further 25,000 revolutionary soldiers were injured, with many of them maimed.
Although a much smaller number than the ones quoted above, this 25,000 accounted for 1/20th of the population of free Americans at the time. They also took a lot of soldiers with them, as 24,000 British soldiers died during the Revolutionary War, just under half the amount that fought in the war for the British Empire.
American Deaths in War of 1812
20,000 American soldiers are said to have lost their lives in this war with the United Kingdom. It was a pointless war, one that didn’t change anything and one that began after some disputes that got a little out of hand. Those lives were lost defending their country, so they are not in vain as such, but in the sense that the war should have ever begun they were.
American Deaths in the Mexican-American War
In the US this is known simply as The Mexican War, while in Mexico they refer to it as The American Invasion. 13,283 American soldiers died during the Mexican war, which lasted from 1846 to 1848.
American Deaths in the Spanish-American War
This war lasted for 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, fought between the United States of America and Spain. It began when the US backed Cuban revolutionaries, who were fighting against Spanish rule. 2,446 American lives were lost in the conflict.