Signing the Declaration of Independence
Library of Congress

Signing the Declaration of Independence
1775-1783: The Thirteen Colonies

Colonists wage and win a guerilla war for American independence from England


1798-1800: The Quasi-War

Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast and the West Indies, an undeclared war with France begins; the U.S. wins 9 of 10 naval encounters.


1801-1805: Tripolitan War

Tripoli (now Libya) declares war on the U.S.; the U.S. responds by blockading and then invading Tripoli.


1811: The "Indian Belt" Affair

Across Indiana and Michigan, U.S. forces, led by Tecumseh defeat Native Americans and burn a city, Prophetstown.


U.S. Constitution and H.M.S. Java
Library of Congress

U.S. Constitution and H.M.S. Java
1812-1815: The War of 1812

The U.S. wars with Great Britain over freedom of the seas, capture of seamen, and a blockade of U.S. ports. Battles were fought in and around Lake Erie; New Orleans, Louisiana; and the nation's capital.  


1817-1818: First Seminole War

Following Native American raids in Florida, U.S. forces destroy Seminole villages and break tribal resistance.


1832: Assault on Sumatra

In the first U.S. armed intervention in Asia, the U.S. retaliates against an attack on a U.S. merchant vessel, killing 100 Sumatrans and burning the town of Quallah Battoo, located in what is now Indonesia.


1832: Black Hawk War

In Illinois and Wisconsin, Sac and Fox tribes under Sac leader Black Hawk attack white settlers, but are defeated at the Battle of Bad Axe.


1835-1836: Texas Revolution

Texas settlers revolt against Mexico.


1835-1842: Second Seminole War

In Florida, American troops clash with Native Americans led by Osceola; the Seminole people are reduced to 350 in number by 1842.


1838-1839: Aroostook War

The U.S. fights an undeclared war with England over Maine's boundaries. Approximately 10,000 troops camp along the Aroostook River in a conflict without casualties.


Recruiting notice for the Mexican War
Library of Congress

Recruiting notice for the Mexican War
1846-1848: The Mexican War

The U.S. declares war against Mexico; the war ends with Mexico ceding all rights to Texas, and the U.S. purchase of New Mexico and California.


1847-1850: Cayuse War

In Washington state, Cayuse destroy the intrusive mission of Marcus Whitman, blaming the missionaries for a smallpox outbreak. In addition to Whitman, his wife, and their helpers, 14 Native Americans are killed. The U.S. military forces the Cayuse to surrender and hangs five people.


1855-1858: Third Seminole War

Brigadier General William S. Harney subdues Billy Bowlegs and other Seminole warriors in Florida.


1856: Bleeding Kansas

Conflict erupts in Kansas between pro- and anti-slavery forces, including John Brown; federal troops quell the fighting.


1857-1858: Mormon Expedition

The U.S. Army subdues Mormons who refuse to obey federal law in Utah.


Civil War Battle Scene
LIbrary of Congress

Civil War Battle Scene
1861-1865: American Civil War

Americans go to war over slavery and the attempted secession of southern states from the United States.


1871: War with Korea

After merchants are killed in Korea, the U.S. kills 250 Koreans in battle; a treaty is secured in 1882.


1871-1876: Apache Wars

Apache leaders Geronimo and Victorio raid white settlers and soldiers in Arizona; Geronimo surrenders in 1886.


Captain Jack and his followers checking the advance of Union troops in the lava beds
Colorado Historical Society

Captain Jack and his followers checking the advance of Union troops in the lava beds
1872-1873: Modoc War

In California and Oregon, U.S. cavalry fight to return the Modoc people and their leader, Kintpuash (known to whites as Captain Jack), to an Oregon reservation; Kintpuash is hanged and the Modoc are exiled to Oklahoma.


1876-1877: Black Hills War

Gold in South Dakota brings in whites to Sioux land. Colonel George A. Custer and 264 soldiers are killed at Little Bighorn; subsequently, the U.S. Army destroys Indian resistance.


Nez Perce group known as "Chief Joseph's Band", Lapwai, Idaho, spring, 1877
Library of Congress

Nez Perce group known as "Chief Joseph's Band", Lapwai, Idaho, spring, 1877
1877: Nez Percé War

Across Idaho, Oregon, and the Washington border, the U.S. moves against the previously peaceful Nez Percé people in the Northwest; Chief Joseph leads a skillful retreat towards Canada, but is caught.


1878: Bannock War

Native Americans of the Bannock tribe attack white settlers in Idaho before they suffer heavy losses and are forced back to Fort Hall Reservation.


1890: Messiah War

The U.S. apprehends Sioux leader Sitting Bull, who is killed when followers try to free him. The Sioux surrender but are massacred at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, in this final fight between Native Americans and the U.S. Army.


1893: Coup in Hawaii

U.S. Marines land in the kingdom of Hawaii to aid the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani.


'Off to War' parade in Denver, CO
Colorado Historical Society

'Off to War' parade in Denver, CO
1898-1902: Spanish-American War

U.S. victories against Spain lead to the Treaty of Paris, which establishes the independence of Cuba, and cedes Puerto Rico and Guam to the U.S.. The U.S. also purchases the Philippines for $20 million.


1912: Occupation of Nicaragua

Marines arrive in Nicaragua to bolster the government of Adolfo Diaz; the last marines depart in 1934.


1914: Tampico Affair

After U.S. Marines are arrested at Tampico, U.S. forces bombard Veracruz, Mexico, and occupy the city.


1915: Invasion of Haiti

U.S. Marines occupy Haiti after a civil war; a treaty between the U.S. and the Haitian Senate makes the island nation a virtual U.S. protectorate. Troops withdraw in 1934.


1916-1917: Expedition Against Villa

The U.S. military invades Northern Mexico to capture Mexican Pancho Villa, who had raided New Mexico, killing 18; U.S. forces numbering 11,000 withdraw, unable to capture Villa.


Corner of the battlefield near Arras
Library of Congress

Corner of the battlefield near Arras
1917-1918: World War I

The U.S. ends three years of neutrality in the European conflict, declaring war on Germany. An armistice is declared November 11, 1918.


1918-1920: Siberian Expedition

The U.S. and other Allied troops invade Russia to protect war supplies during the Russian Revolution.


1927: Protection of Shanghai's International Settlement

One hundred Marines land in Shanghai to defend U.S. property during a civil war there.


7 GI's at a sandbag bunker in Italy
Colorado Historical Society

7 GI's at a sandbag bunker in Italy
1941-1945: World War II

The U.S. enters World War II after Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor in Hawaii; in 1945, Germany and Japan surrender to Allied forces


1950-1953: Korean War

The U.S. battles North Korean soldiers and then Chinese soldiers in Korea before an armistice is signed in 1953.


1955: Defense of Chinese Nationalists

The U.S. 7th Fleet helps Nationalist Chinese evacuate 25,000 troops and 17,000 civilians from China to Taiwan to escape victorious Communist forces.


Soldiers with a prisoner
Vietnam War Internet Project

Soldiers with a prisoner
1955-1973: Vietnam War

In 1955, U.S. advisers are sent to Vietnam; in 1964 Congress authorizes President Lyndon B. Johnson to "repel any armed attack" in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. A cease-fire is declared in 1973.


1961: Bay of Pigs Invasion

 A CIA-backed invasion of Cuba fails.


1962: Anti-Communist Intervention

President John F. Kennedy orders 5,000 troops to Thailand to support the right-wing Laotian government.


1965: Dominican Crisis

Marines invade the Dominican Republic at the start of a civil war; troops withdraw in 1966.


1975: Mayaguez Incident

A U.S. merchant ship is rescued from Cambodians by U.S. Navy and Marines off the coast of Cambodia.


1980: Operation Eagle Claw

A military mission to free American hostages in Iran fails.


1983: Operation Urgent Fury

U.S. Marines and Rangers remove U.S. medical students from Grenada.


1986: Operation El Dorado Canyon

U.S. war planes strike Libya in retaliation for the Libyan bombing of a West Berlin disco.


1990-1991: Persian Gulf War

The U.S. leads a multi-nation coalition against Iraq after that country invades Kuwait; Iraq surrenders.


199-1993: Operation Restore Hope

U.S. troops go to Somalia to help restore order and deliver food during a period of unrest and famine.


1994-1995: Operation Uphold Democracy

The U.S. Army sends troops to Haiti in September 1994 to help restore a democratic government.


1994-1995: Bosnian War

The United States bombs Bosnia to prevent "ethnic cleansing" by Serbs in that region and then sends troops to Bosnia to join a NATO peacekeeping force there, as well as in other Balkan areas including Macedonia and Kosovo.  


My American Experience

My American Experience photos

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From the Civil War, to Vietnam, to World War II, and more contemporary conflicts, soldiers have been writing home from the front lines for centuries. Has anyone ever written to you from the battlefield? Do you have any war letters to share?