Can You Name These US Military Conflicts from a One Sentence Description?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: wikimedia

About This Quiz

You can probably name the most famous war that featured George Washington in charge of the Continental Army. It was, of course, the American Revolution, in which Washington led a ragtag confederation of patriots and militiamen against Britain’s empire. In this bomb-blasted quiz, do you think you can name these other United States military actions from a one-line description?

It was the “war to end all wars” and it was one that President Woodrow Wilson tried to dodge. It was also called the “Great War." It was World War I. Do you think you know enough about the World Wars to name them from a brief description? After all, these wars both traversed some of the same ground and involved many of the same soldiers and generals. We’ll find out if you can separate these similar wars in this challenging quiz.

American troops have fought all over Earth, from the South Pacific to Central Europe. In some cases, those battles were hardly worth mentioning. Others claimed more casualties than you can imagine. What do you know about the bloodiest and deadliest battles America has ever fought?

Weapons, tactics and leaders change from war to war. Some men, like General MacArthur, become icons of a specific war (World War II). Others feature heroic generals like Ulysses Grant (Civil War) who later become president. 

Let’s see if you really know America’s wars. Take this United States war quiz now!

It was — by far — the bloodiest war in all of American history.

The American Civil War claimed more than 600,000 lives. Bullets and diseases claimed lives by the scores, making it the deadliest war in the nation’s history.


It is the longest war in American history.

For more than 17 years, American troops served in the jungles of the Vietnam War. And when they returned home, many of them faced scorn from their fellow citizens.


America joined this war after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

America didn’t want to be involved in WWII, but after Japan smashed Pearl Harbor, the gloves came off. The U.S. went into survival mode and churned out soldiers and guns by the millions.


It was a war against Native Americans, one in which the British fought, too.

Starting in 1785, the U.S. went to war against an alliance of Native Americans in the Northwest Indian War. American troops were handily defeated often in the early parts of this war.


This war was triggered in large part by the issue of slavery.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president, the South knew many of its traditions — including slavery — were at risk. The Confederacy seceded from the Union and the Civil War was on.


The Battles of Lexington and Concord kicked off this famous war.

In April 1775, British troops tried to take weapons from colonists in the New World. The colonists resisted in the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and the American Revolution began in earnest.


American troops were essential to the Battle of the Bulge, which happened during which war?

In late 1944, Hitler mounted a final desperate offensive that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. His men trapped parts of America’s 101st Airborne, who spent days fighting for their lives before reinforcements arrived.


It was a war that started with the murder of an archduke.

In 1914, a Serbian extremist murdered an Austrian archduke and started political chaos. Eventually, it became WWI ... a fight that would ultimately involve American fighters.


In this war, the U.S. was part of a United Nations force fighting against North Korea and China.

In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, and the U.N., led by the U.S. moved to repel the attackers. The Korean War wound up dragging on for years.


It was a long uprising in the Philippines.

Starting in 1899, the Moro people resisted U.S. troops in control of the Philippines, which American claimed after the Spanish-American War. In 1913, after about 14 years of resistance, the Moro Rebellion was finally won by the U.S.


American fought in this mammoth war for only about a year and a half.

President Wilson avoided taking American into WWI until 1917, and by then, Europe was in tatters. American troops fought and died for about a year and a half during the Great War.


This war started over territorial disputes in the Southwest.

In the 1840s, Mexico and America clashed over lands in the Southwest. In the end, American troops invaded and captured Mexico City.


Machine guns were first used by American troops in this war.

In the Civil War, engineers and weapons makers found new ways — like machine guns — to expedite the slaughter. Both the North and South used primitive machine guns in this conflict.


In this war, the British burned the White House.

During the War of 1812, American and British troops took turns abusing their power. During a brief occupation of Washington D.C., the British burned the White House into ashes.


A general named Matthew Ridgway helped the U.S. turn the tide of this tough war.

Matthew Ridgway was a WWII hero who was called to help the Korean War effort. His masterful intervention altered U.N. strategies and helped the U.S. and South Korea beat back the North Koreans and Chinese.


American General George Patton became famous during this conflict.

Patton was part general, part media hound ... but he was all business on the battlefield. Time and again, he sent Axis troops reeling in the Second World War, and German generals feared his aggressiveness.


In this war, America used the first — and only — nuclear weapons ever deployed in combat.

In August 1945, President Truman felt that atomic weapons might be the only way to stop the Japanese. He ordered two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Days later, the war finally ended for good.


The legendary Battle of the Alamo was part of this conflict.

In 1835, Texas settlers took up arms against the Mexican government, which sent an army to put down resistance. At a fortress called the Alamo, Mexican troops killed nearly everyone — and made martyrs of the Americans they killed.


This was was often called (sometimes mockingly) a "police action."

Neither side officially declared war during the Korean War, which became known as a "police action." For anyone who served there, it was a bloody and terrifying war, plain and simple.


George H.W. Bush was U.S. president during this war.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, President Bush made good on his threats to attack Iraq. The Persian Gulf War was a brief but spectacular made-for-TV special starring Saddam Hussein as the mustachioed villain.


The American military suffered its most casualties in a single day — ever — during a battle in which war?

On June 6, 1944 — D-Day — Americans were cut down in the greatest numbers in U.S. history. At least 2,500 men died that day storming the shores of Normandy.


St. Claire’s Defeat was a humiliting defeat for America in this war.

In 1791, 1,000 troops led by General Arthur St. Clair were routed by warriors in the Northwest Indian War. The defeat angered President Washington, who was then inspired to beef up his efforts to beat the Indians ... and he did exactly that.


The Meuse-Argonne Offensive involved 1.2 million American soldiers in this war.

In WWI, American troops massed for the biggest offensive in U.S. military history, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The attack lasted for just over a month but cost more than 26,000 American lives.


President James Polk tried to buy his way out of this war.

President Polk attempted to purchase disputed lands in the Southwest. But Mexico, divided by its own messy political situation, didn’t even consider the offer.


The bloodiest battle in America’s history was the Battle of Antietam, which was part of this war.

In 1862, the North and South clashed in the Battle of Antietam. Altogether, more than 3,600 men died — and there were nearly 23,000 total casualties, all in the span of a single day.


This was was dramatized by a famous TV show called "M.A.S.H."

In 1972, Alan Alda started his run as Hawkeye Pierce in "M.A.S.H.," which became one of TV’s most-watched shows. The program often highlighted the seriously depressing side of the Korean War.


The explosion of the USS Maine snowballed into U.S. involvement in which war?

In 1898, the USS Maine exploded (for reasons unknown) near Cuba, causing America to became entangled in Cuba’s uprising against Spain. Then the chaos snowballed into the Spanish-American War.


This war may soon overtake Vietnam for the title of longest war.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. has been embroiled in the War in Afghanistan, which is now approaching its 17th year. Unless the U.S. withdraws soon, it will become the longest war in U.S. history.


"Ironclads" were weapons that first saw action in this conflict.

In the Civil War, engineers came upon the idea of plating their ships with iron. These "ironclads" were much more resilient in combat and sparked a revolution in warship engineering.


The Gulf of Tonkin incident escalated U.S. involvement in this war.

In 1964, a reported clash between North Vietnamese and U.S. ships became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. The event — which may have been falsified by U.S. leaders — gave America cause to escalate the Vietnam War.


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