How Much Do You Know About the History of Military Units and Battalions?

By: John Miller
Image: Juan de la Corte via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Through the history of human warfare, kings, generals, and commanders have wielded troops in different ways. In some eras, it made more sense to group soldiers into small fire teams; in other times, it was better to create sprawling masses of infantry as far as the eye could see. Along the way, many of those units served in combat, and in doing so, they made history. In this frontline quiz, what do you know about the organization of war squads, and can you name some of the most famous men ever to serve?

You probably already know how the Continental Army served during the American Revolutionary War. George Washington, the commander-in-chief, relied on a fractured group of colonial troops from all over the eastern seaboard. He tried to hammer these men into a cohesive fighting unit, but that process took years … and some notable failures, before it found triumph.

The jungles of Vietnam proved that WWII-era tactics were in many ways outdated. So savvy commanders reformed their units into small platoons that could counter North Vietnamese guerrilla warfare.

Plenty of other nations have fought and made war in other ways, too. Join the fray of this famous military unit quiz now!

Which country boast's the longest continuously serving military unit in history?

Since 1248, Spain's King's Own Immemorial 1st Infantry Regiment has been serving the country. And the unit is still going strong, providing protection for the army's headquarters.

Which of the following military units is the largest?

A corps is a large army unit, one that may have anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of troops. They are what form field armies.

In the ancient world, the Greeks often used what type of military unit?

In the days of the ancient Greeks, phalanxes were a common type of tactical unit. They'd swarm closely together with men carrying huge shields, followed by men with long pikes and spears.

The ancient Romans are famous for which military unit?

The Roman legions left a legacy of battlefield heroics. These legions were large groups of troops numbering about 10,000, and consisted of multiple flexible groups for various purposes.

What was special about the Potsdam Giants, a unit formed in Prussia in the 18th century?

King Frederick I of Prussia committed many resources to his Potsdam Giants unit, which was made up of Europe's tallest men. Legend has it that one soldier was around eight and a half feet tall.

The Battle of the Bulge brought everlasting fame to which American unit?

In late 1944, the German army launched its last major offensive on the Western Front. They nearly broke through, but the 101st Airborne hunkered down and stopped them, even though they were surrounded for a week in bleak winter conditions.

Which army unit is a step below divisions in terms of size?

Divisions may have tens of thousands of troops. They are made up of brigades, which are themselves made up of several thousand soldiers.

What's the nickname of America's 1st Infantry Division?

The 1st Infantry Division uses a red "1" as its insignia. It is "The Big Red One," and it saw major action in both World Wars and beyond.

The "berserkers" were a famous fighting group from which culture?

In ancient times, the Vikings were feared warriors. Particularly terrifying were the "berserkers" who fought with extreme rage and skill. No one knows why they were so crazed, but some sort of substance abuse may have contributed to their blood lust.

What's the oldest continuously serving unit in American history?

America is a new country but it does have several very old continuously serving units. That includes the 182nd Infantry Regiment, from the Massachusetts Colony. It was established in 1636. Several others in the area were formed at the same time.

The 3rd Infantry Division is called "Rock of the Marne" for its actions during which war?

In July 1918, during WWI, the 3rd was tasked with stopping a German offensive near the Marne River. As other Allies retreated, the 3rd bravely held, earning the title of "Rock of the Marne."

Only one military unit in U.S. history had religious underpinnings. Which religions gave birth to that battalion?

In the 1840s, the Mormon Battalion made headlines by becoming the first and only religious-based unit in the country's history. More than 500 men served in this historic battalion.

What was the most significant accomplishment of the Mormon Battalion?

The Mormon Battalion was ordered to march from Iowa to Southern California, a journey of more than 2,000 miles. Their efforts helped to cement America's claims to the Southwest over Mexico.

A famous Paradog unit served in which conflict?

Believe it or not, the British military dropped parachuting dogs into Europe during D-Day in WWII. The dogs had all sorts of jobs, from detecting mines to warning Allied troops to the presence ("woof!") of German soldiers.

The Immortals were a famed groups of warriors that were part of which nation?

In ancient times, the Empire of Persia maintained the 10,000 Immortals. King Xerxes used these elite soldiers as his personal bodyguards, and to menace the more common armies of his enemies.

The Life Guards are a very old military unit from which nation?

Since 1521, Sweden's Life Guards -- formerly the Svea Life Guards -- have been serving. These men were originally chosen to act as the king's bodyguards.

The famous Russian Northern Fleet Motorized Rifle Brigade relies heavily on which type of creature?

Russian troops need reliable ways to move in very cold and inhospitable terrain. The Russian Northern Fleet Motorized Rifle Brigade -- a modern unit -- relies on reindeer to pull gear and men through icy terrain.

The Medjay were elite soldiers from which area?

In ancient Egypt, the Medjay were an elite paramilitary force. They performed all of the most important jobs, from desert reconnaissance to protecting anything of interest to the pharoah.

During WWII, why did the Allies build a "ghost army"?

In the midst of WWII, the Allies used inflatable decoys that looked like tanks and Jeeps to confused Axis commanders. This "ghost army" was moved around from place to place, effectively making the Germans believe the Allies had more vehicles than they really did.

The "Butterfly Boys" served in the Civil War. Why were they given that nickname?

In the Civil War, the 3rd New Jersey Cavalry was a unique unit. Its flag featured a butterfly, and the men wore funky capes with hoods.

The Butterfly Boys of the Civil War were ordered to use only one weapon. What weapon was that?

The Butterfly Boys had a crazy leader who insisted that his men fight only with swords. Mind you, the enemy was using rifles.

What was the purpose of the “Monuments Men” unit during WWII?

During WWII, the Allies had a unit called the “Monuments Men." Their job was to pinpoint important works of art to prevent them from being bombed into history.

What was another major task given to the “Monuments Men” of WWII?

The Nazis looted museums all over Europe. When the Allies began taking back the continent, the “Monuments Men” did their best to find -- and retake -- those items from German hands.

The 192nd Military Police Battalion was formed in 1672 and is now part of which modern American unit?

Formed all the way back in 1672, the 192nd Military Police Battalion is now part of the modern Connecticut Army National Guard. It's all-caps motto is "SKILL AND FORCE!"

What's the purpose of the Korean People's Army Special Operation Force?

In North Korea, the Korean People's Army Special Operation Force is a very large force dedicated to certain types of intelligence activities. That includes psychological and political manipulation meant to confuse and distract enemies … and perhaps the citizens, too.

The Varangians were a hardcore group of soldiers. They were also called what?

In ancient Europe, the Varangians were a group of Viking soldiers that plundered various areas and served as elite mercenaries. Military leaders would sometimes hire the Varangians and then send them in at the end of battles to crush remaining enemy resistance.

Israel created Unit 9900, an intelligence unit that employed people with which disability?

In Unit 9900, Israel's autistic people shine in incredible ways. Officials use their ability to find tiny details on intricate maps to better understand enemy troop activities.

Persia's 10,000 Immortals gained eternal fame during which battle?

At the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, the 10,000 Immortals struggled to beat a few hundred Spartan troops in a narrow canyon. But the Spartans were betrayed, and an information told the 10,000 Immortals how to skirt past the Spartans and attack them from the flank.

The Ritchie Boys were a special unit that famously served during which conflict?

The Ritchie Boys were thousands of intelligence troops trained in German culture and language for secret operations in WWII. Many of the men were actual Jewish immigrants from Europe who wanted to do their part to fight the Nazis.

During the American Civil War, what did the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry nickname themselves?

In the Civil War, the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry called themselves the "Highlanders" as a tribute to their supposed Scottish roots. They even wore snappy kilts on the battlefield.

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