The Major Battles Throughout History Quiz



By: Olivia Cantor

7 Min Quiz

Image: Shizuo Fukui via Wikimedia Commons

About This Quiz

The history of the human race is always moving forward. Sometimes, though, conflict gets in the way of things, and things stall a bit. This is what happens when countries encounter battles, and nations encounter wars. 

Why do such battles and wars happen? If we look at the earliest recorded history, we can see several obvious reasons for such moves: expansion being one. Smaller nations that are already affluent find themselves embarking on expeditions that aim to claim uncharted territories in unknown places. Whenever they encounter resistance from indigenous peoples occupying the land, though, this is where expansion turns into invasions, thereby forming small battles and even large-scale wars.

Many major battles throughout history have also been turning points in human development as well. And whether we like it or not, these events actually still influence and even continue to shape humankind in the present time and day. 

So, do you think you can identify some of these battles, or even some of the crucial details and information involving famous battles of history? Open this quiz and take a look!

Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett lost their lives in this battle in 1836. Where did it happen?

The Battle of the Alamo centered on the defense of U.S. forces inside a mission and fortress compound. The Mexican Army was eventually defeated, with fleeing Mexican troops being slaughtered.


This warrior saint was the reason why the French won the Siege of Orleans in 1429. Who was this teenage leader?

Joan of Arc couldn’t have come at a better time to Orleans when it was under siege. Her experience in the Hundred Years’ war, combined with her charismatic personality, helped the French take back key areas, and effectively end the siege.


This 1945 island battle became famous, thanks to a photo of the American flag being raised by soldiers. What was the name of the island?

Control of Iwo Jima was a questionable goal, as it seemed neither the navy or the army could use it as a base for operations in the area. However, the initial need for Iwo Jima was as a refueling point for fighter escort planes in Japan, as some historians insist.


The Tet Offensive was the pivotal point of the war that was waged in this country. What country is this?

The Tet Offensive in 1968 was named after the Vietnamese New Year, when the North Vietnamese forces launched many attacks at the same time all over the country. This eventually led to the U.S.A. leaving Vietnam, so the communists took over South Vietnam in 1975.


This famous place in Pennsylvania is where generals Meade and Lee had their fateful battle during the Civil War in July 3, 1863. What was this place?

While the Battle of Gettysburg seemed at first to be a Confederate victory, by the third day, the Union had gained the upper hand. President Abraham Lincoln honored the dead from this battle with a famous speech, where he defended the idea that all men are created equal.


The Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 would not be complete without mentioning this man and his midnight ride. Who was this hero?

Although the British forces tried to capture rebel leaders and destroy supply lines in Lexington and Concord, their tactical advantage was lost when Paul Revere was able to warn the colonists. Armed colonists known as The Minutemen stood their ground, and a year later, the British left Boston.


The Battle of Solferino in 1859 so horrified a Swiss businessman, Jean-Henri Dunant, that he founded a medical organization and established the Geneva Convention. What was the name of the medical organization?

The Battle of Solferino was the last big battle where armies were under the direct command of kings. The aftermath for the wounded was a major health disaster. With the establishment of the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention, new rules of warfare allowed for a more “civilized” approach in the aftermath of conflicts.


Admiral Horatio Nelson was able to repel both the French and Spanish navies during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Under which country’s flag did he fight for?

British Admiral Horatio Nelson was able to prevent Napoleon’s forces from defeating the British Navy, but he died doing so. He was shot by a sniper during the battle, and died hours later.


The Battle of New Orleans in 1815 was a stroke of good luck, as a general became a president because of it. Who was this fortunate man?

Yes, you read it right, the battle took place after the war ended in 1814 with the Treaty of Ghent, but in the old days, word was slow to get around. General Andrew Jackson first gained national recognition because of his actions in this battle, and this most probably led him to go on a political path, as he became the seventh President of the United States, and the founder of the modern Democratic Party.


In 1099, the First Crusade laid siege to this historical Biblical city, and they eventually took control of it. What was the name of this city?

The Siege of Jerusalem eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and Christian forces kept control of it for 200 years. In that time, the city became a center for colonization, and it also became part of the Silk Road.


The battle fought at Antietam creek in 1862 was a pivotal point for which major conflict?

The Battle of Antietam Creek was the first one in the Civil War that would make a Union victory possible. It was the first time that Confederate forces could not fulfill their goals, and the question of how capable they were would lead to a lack of external support, and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.


This battle in 1940 was fought by the air forces of two nations, and it was about defending cities from night-time bombings. What was it known as?

The battle in the skies over Britain marks the one of the first times that Nazi forces failed to achieve their objective during World War II. It lasted for 57 nights, and killed or wounded hundreds of thousands. However, the spirited defense forced Germany to abandon any plan of invasion.


The Battle of Huai-Hai in 1948 was between the Nationalist Party of Kuomintang and which other political organization in China?

The battle took place between the Huai River and the Lun Hai Railway. It was a series of defeats for the Nationalist party, and it led to many defections to the Communist Party. There would have been no Communist China without the victory in Huai-Hai.


In what would be known as the Surrender at Yorktown in 1781, an American general became famous for defeating the British. Who was this pioneering general?

General George Washington and his French counterpart, Comte de Rochambeau, joined forces to make the British surrender in this landmark battle. Though the battle may have been boring, relatively speaking, the British retreat from the American colonies allowed for the creation of the United States of America.


In 1815, the great Napoleon Bonaparte suffered his ultimate defeat, and was forced to abdicate for the second time. Where did this battle happen?

Napoleon’s troops were met by an army made up of British and Prussian troops, all of whom were led by the Duke of Wellington. Had Napoleon not been stopped at this point, it’s possible that he would have risen to power again, and modern Europe would have been very different if that happened.


The Battle of Hastings marks the last time this successfully happened in England. What was this situation?

The Battle of Hastings in 1066 pushed the Germanic Anglo-Saxons out of England, and the French Normans were put into power, thanks to the victory of William the Conqueror and the death of King Harold II. Because of this, French culture and language merged with Germanic ones in the British Islands, creating England and the English language we know today.


The Battle of Leipzig in 1813 was the final battle in a war that was named for this overachiever. What was the name of the war?

The Battle of Leipzig was important not only for being the downfall of Napoleon, but also because it marked the first time that many nations cooperated with each other as allies to bring down a common enemy. It should be noted, though, that one reason why they won was that Napoleon had lost many experienced men in the fight with Russia, because he underestimated how brutal winter there could be.


While not many people may have heard of the battle of Pharsalus in 48 B.C., it was a key battle in the rise of this Roman general’s power and influence. Who was this Roman general?

When Julius Caesar won over Pompey Magnus in the Battle of Pharsalus, it was a symbolic victory as well as a physical one. This battle would pave the way for the Roman Republic to become the Roman Empire, as Pompey was supported by the Roman senators.


This battle between American and Japanese forces in the Pacific war started on June 4, 1942. What was the fitting name of the place where this battle happened?

The Battle of Midway was a complex operation from the Japanese point of view, as their goal was to lure American forces into a trap. Unfortunately, the Americans also knew about this, since they had broken the encryption for Japanese communications, and set up their own trap. The clear victory of the United States over Japanese forces in this battle was a sign of how the war in the Pacific would progress.


What was the big homecourt advantage that the Russians had during the Siege of Stalingrad in 1942?

While the Germans initially captured Stalingrad (now Volgograd), close combat and counterattacks chipped away at the German forces. Combined with the savage Russian winter, it was no surprise that Russia was able to retake the city after six months.


In 1532, Francisco Pizarro defeated the Incan empire in the Battle of Cajamarca. Which country did Pizarro fight for?

Pizarro was a conquistador from Spain, and the battle of Cajamarca is famous for having taken the most amount of land in one major battle. He used modern technology and cavalry troops to defeat the 30,000-strong Incan Army, with a force numbering nearly 4,000 soldiers only. This victory is why Spanish culture and language has become a dominant force in South America.


This was the largest combined attack on the Western front of World War II in 1944. Where did this massive battle happen?

A combination of Allied forces was able to land on the French coastline, eventually reaching nearly a million soldiers deployed. As the forces retook France, Germany was forced into a weaker position, and this started the downfall of the Nazis on the Western front.


The Battle of Okinawa in 1945 was the last in a series of ground battles between American and Japanese forces during World War II. What did the Okinawans do to avoid capture?

The Battle of Okinawa centered on the need to take control of the airbases, so that Allied forces could use them to invade the Japanese mainland. While American forces lost only 12,520 soldiers, the Japanese lost 100,000. Civilian deaths were at about the same level as the casualties of the Japanese forces.


This attack on American soil in 1941 sealed the deal for the U.S. to participate in World War II. Where did it happen?

In what could be one of the worst cases of misreading another country in recent history, Japan went ahead with the attack on Pearl Harbor to prevent the United States from entering the Second World War. Instead, it did precisely the opposite, as the United States became a major force in Allied operations.


The Battle of Naseby in 1645 was a terrible defeat for Charles I of England, as he lost most of his experienced soldiers and his artillery units against an army led in part by this man. Who was he?

Oliver Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax went against Charles I, and they won the battle because of the overwhelming number of Parliamentarian men under their command. All the Royalists who tried to escape were then brutally slaughtered, and the outcome of the battle led to the first time a ruling king or queen was publicly executed – in this case, Charles I.


The Battle of Zama in 202 B.C. was the downfall of this famous leader of Carthage. Who was this leader who loved using elephants in battle?

The Battle of Zama was the end of 60 years of fighting. Hannibal had, until then, been successful in fighting off the Romans. This time, however, the elephants he intended to use as barreling tanks against the Roman troops ran away.


The battle of Agincourt in 1415 was a disaster for the heavily armored French troops. What prevented them from being effective on the battlefield?

The problem in battle with heavy armor is that it gives the user mobility and endurance problems, so in Agincourt that day, the wet and muddy ground made these issues even worse. Without proper footing, the French lost 5,000 men, with 1,000 captured, while The English side lost only 140.


Charles “The Hammer” Martel held his ground in Tours, France in 732 against a large invasion force. If he had failed, what would have been the dominant religion in Europe?

The invading Muslim army would have been able to cross the mountains in the Pyrenees, if it weren’t for the actions of the mostly unarmored army under Charles “The Hammer” Martel in Tours, France. The Moorish general named Abd-er Rahman would have conquered most of Europe, and would have established Islam as the major dominant religion there.


The Fall of Constantinople in 1453 was also the fall of this historical empire. What was its name?

The Fall of Constantinople had many far-reaching effects in history. Due to this event, trade routes to India were closed off, and Spain eventually sent Columbus to find a route to the East through the seas. This event also marked the end of the Middle Ages, as exploration sponsored by various countries would eventually lead to the Renaissance.


The Battle of Guadalcanal was the first time this country went on the offensive during World War II. What was the name of this “young” country?

The Unites States of America flexed its military might for the first time with their attack on the Japanese forces who took over Guadalcanal Island. It took six months to liberate the island, and the victory made possible victory for the country in the South Pacific.


Spain was able to take over this large country in 1521. What was the name of this country?

The Spanish laid siege to the city of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, and it took only 80 days for the city to fall into Spanish hands. Prior to the Spanish attacks, the smallpox virus killed as much as 25% of the population in the empire, and some Mexican forces had also aligned themselves with Hernan Cortes, the Spanish leader. As a result, Spain ruled Mexico for nearly 300 years.


This empire failed in its attempt to take over Vienna by siege in 1529. What was this empire?

The Siege of Vienna in 1529 was notable for its failure. Had the Ottoman Empire succeeded in breaching the city’s defenses and overwhelming the city’s troops, Central and Western Europe would have more Islamic influences today.


What great European seagoing and trading force was defeated in the Battle of Gravelines in 1588?

When the Duke of Medina Sidonia tried to overthrow Elizabeth I of England, the Queen decided enough was enough, and a naval battle happened. Although the Spanish Armada only had minor losses due to the battle, it was the unpredictable English weather that got to them, and only half of the fleet made it back to Spain.


The Battle of Tsushima Strait in 1905 was about how to divide these two countries between Russia and Japan. Manchuria was one, but what was the other?

Russia and Japan fell into war in 1904 over territorial disputes concerning Manchuria and Korea, but with Japan winning, the social unrest in Russia shot up, and would culminate in the 1905 Russian Revolution. This battle would arguably start Japan’s ideas about becoming more active in the Pacific region, which would foreshadow conflicts between the U.S. and Japan in the future.


We remember this battle not because of the battle itself, but because of the 26 miles that the messenger had to run to Athens to deliver the good news. What battle was this?

The Battle of Marathon was when the Persian King Darius I attacked the ancient Greeks for siding with the Ionians, who had revolted from him. However, 6,000 Persians died, compared to less then 200 Greeks. Pheidippides, a messenger, supposedly ran non-stop to Athens to deliver the good news, but died upon delivering the message.


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