While it is true that battles win wars, overthrow political regimes and redraw the borders of nations, they also demand a lot of sacrifice and take human lives. Following is a top 10 of the bloodiest battles fought in history that have consistently reshaped the fate of nations.
1. Yorktown (1781)
The battle of Yorktown was considered by most the crucial point in the American Revolution and it is said to have directly affected the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the US. The main reason why this battle made it in the top resides in the fact the allied American army (with a little over 8,000 soldiers) and French army (with around 7,000 men) encircled and obtained a crushing victory over the British army, counting approximately 6,000 men. If it weren’t for Washington’s victory at Yorktown, it is presumed that the US would not have had the chance to develop and become the super power of today.
2. Hastings (1066)
The battle of Hastings is among the very few clashes where two similarly sized armies fought against each other. It is important to note that this battle also marks the very last invasion of England and probably less known, the first Norman invasion after the Roman conquest (1,000 years before). The outcome of the battle of Hastings has changed England’s and the world’s history with the crowning of the first king, the Norman leader William. Soon after crowning, England became more open and accepting of the political and social traditions of the rest of the countries in Europe.
3. Stalingrad (1942 – 1943)
Advertised by the Nazi regime as the greatest offense against the Soviets and with the precise role of eliminating the Russians from the WW2 once and for all, the siege of Stalingrad practically marked a long series of painful defeats. Perhaps the most ironical and inexplicable thing regarding the battle of Stalingrad was the fact that the Germans attempted to take hold of the city, despite their clear fails to capture Moscow and Leningrad. The victory of the Russians claimed a bit over one quarter of a million German soldiers and denied the access of the Nazi regime to the rich oil fields of the Caucasus region.
4. Leipzig (1813)
Although it is not nearly as known as the battle of Waterloo, the battle of Leipzig was another noteworthy success in the campaign against Napoleon and his supporters. The importance of this battle comes from the fact that it lead to the capturing of Paris and the abdication of Napoleon thanks to a great example of cooperation among the European countries. Weakened by the failed campaign into icy Russia, Napoleon and his 175,000 men stood no chance against the Allied armies counting over 300,000 soldiers.
5. Antietam (1862)
The battle of Antietam is usually referred to as one of the bloodiest days in the history of the Unites States of America. The battle against Robert E. Lee and the rebellious Confederates marked an important point in US history. Immediately after the battle of Antietam, Lincoln brought slavery to the forefront and signed the Emancipation Declaration. At the same time, the victory of the North ensured the support of the European countries, which until that point provided support for Robert E. Lee and the Confederates.
6. Cajamarca (1532)
The battle of Cajamarca practically opened the way for the Spanish Empire to claim most of the land in South America. Lead by Francesco Pizarro, less than 1,000 soldiers of the Spanish army fought against the 30,000 fighters of the Inca Empire and won. Chroniclers agree that although in significantly higher numbers, the Incas had the misfortune of seeing their leader (considered a deity) die just before Pizarro landed on the Pacific Coast. The internal struggles for power between the deceased leader’s sons have practically decided the winner of the Cajamarca battle beforehand.
7. Atomic bombing of Japan (1945)
The atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the first and – luckily so far – last attempts of using weapons of mass destruction armaments of this scale against another country. Despite the fact that both cities had less than 100,000 inhabitants the cloud mushroom and the overall devastation of the atomic bombs remain vivid in mankind’s consciousness. With the development of the atomic bomb, the US held military supremacy over the world for several years, until the Soviet Union discovered and started building its own atomic bombs.
8. Huai-Hai (1948)
The battle of Huai-Hai is considered one of the five great fights in the Chinese Civil Wars during the 1948. Part of a lengthy campaign, the Huai-Hai battle was fought between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party. As indicated by the current geo-politics, the Chinese Communist Party killed almost half a million Nationalist Party supporters and converted the rest of the country to the doctrine that everyone is familiar with nowadays. Although many agree that China is still a passive player at the moment, the victory of the Nationalist Party could have changed world history forever.
9. Waterloo (1815)
It is said that you cannot mention Napoleon without your interlocutors automatically thinking of the battle of Waterloo. This fierce skirmish fought by the allied forces of Britain, Sweden, Prussia and Russia against France has practically ended the French domination across Europe and forced the self-proclaimed emperor into exile. The French loss has echoed into history and the total casualties after the battle were estimated at 26, 000 dead soldiers and an additional 9,000 captured.
10. Vienna (1529)
The failed attack of the Ottoman Empire on Vienna practically marked the fall of the Turks fall and the decline of their supremacy. At the same time, the unsuccessful Turkish battle against the Austrians has put an end to the advancement of the Islam domination and spread of the Muslim culture in Europe. Even though the Ottoman Empire had all the odds in its favor and an impressive army of over 300,000 soldiers, all the sultan’s plans to conquer Vienna were countered. On a side note, even the weather was on the Austrians’ side, considering that 1529 has recorded one of the wettest summers of all times.