On February 19th, 1945, U.S. Marines came ashore the island of Iwo Jima, which served as a Japanese fighter plane base. The landing began one of the most ferocious and bloody battles of World War II. The Japanese fiercely defended the tiny island with 21,000 soldiers to the American military’s 110,000. The battle cost the U.S. nearly 7,000 lives, and an additional 20,000 were wounded. However, their victory cleared the path to the invasion of Okinawa and the end of the war.
6. Battle of Gettysburg, Civil War — 7,058 Americans killed
In the summer of 1863, nearly a year after Antietam, General Robert E. Lee crossed into Pennsylvania, trying a second time to bring the war to the North. Major General George Meade pursued, catching up with Lee’s forces on July 1st in the town of Gettysburg. The two American armies fought for three days. Meade was victorious, but at great cost. The Union lost 3,155 men, the Confederates 3,903. The Battle of Gettysburg is considered a turning point toward the North’s victory in the spring of 1865.
5. Second Battle of Marne, WWI — 12,000 Americans killed
The Second Battle of the Marne was Germany’s last offensive push, which ended in defeat in the summer of 1918. French forces, joined by over 85,000 U.S. troops, set up fake trenches to lure the Germans toward their position, where the Allied forces surrounded and ambushed them. The surprise tactic helped the Allies stop German advancement, but the heavy fighting resulted in the death of 12,000 American soldiers.
4. Battle of the Bulge, WWII — 19,276 Americans killed
In December of 1944, Hitler made his last offensive campaign against the Western Front, using a blitzkrieg in an attempt to divide the Allied lines. The attack surprised the Allied forces, including the Americans, who suffered the brunt of the casualties, including over 19,000 combat deaths. However, the Nazi attack ended in a loss and badly depleted their numbers, marking the beginning of German defeat.
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