- The Revolutionary War
- The American Civil War
- World War I
- World War II
- The Cold War
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The Revolutionary War
The Revolutionary War was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen of its North American colonies. The colonies had become tired of being taxed without having a say in British Parliament, and they decided to break away and form their own country. The war lasted from 1775 to 1783, and in the end, the colonists were victorious.
The Boston Tea Party
On December 16, 1773, a group of Boston citizens, frustrated with the Americans’ lack of representation in Parliament and the high taxes they were forced to pay on tea, took matters into their own hands. In what has come to be known as the Boston Tea Party, they boarded three ships belonging to the British East India Company and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor.
The Battle of Bunker Hill
On June 17, 1775, early in the Revolutionary War (1775-83), the British defeated the Americans at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Massachusetts. Despite their loss, the inexperienced colonial soldiers fought courageously against British regulars, who had fought in many battles during the Seven Years’ War (1756-63).
The Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775, when British troops and Massachusetts colonial militiamen exchanged gunfire at Lexington and Concord. The “shot heard ’round the world” launched a war that would eventually encompass all 13 American colonies.
In May 1775, American Patriots in Boston forced British troops to withdraw from the city to the relative safety of the Charlestown peninsula. The Patriot militia then fortified Breed’s Hill, located just north of Charlestown. On June 16, British General Thomas Gage made plans to seize Breed’s Hill and its American defenders. The following day, around 2,000 British soldiers landed on nearby Bunker Hill and marched up its slopes toward the entrenched Americans.
After repelling two British attacks on their redoubt atop Breed’s Hill, the Americans–their ammunition nearly gone–withdrew under cover of darkness to nearby Cambridge. Although it was a British victory in terms of casualties (more than 1,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded compared to 450 Americans), Bunker Hill was a moral victory for the Patriots–and a bloody introduction to combat for both sides.
The Battle of Lexington and Concord
The Battle of Lexington and Concord was the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. It was fought on April 19, 1775, in Lexington, Massachusetts. The British Army was trying to capture and destroy ammunition and supplies that the American colonists had stored in Lexington and Concord. The Americans were able to hold off the British Army long enough to allow the supplies to be moved to safety. This victory by the Americans was a key turning point in the war.
The American Civil War
The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. The primary cause of the war was the disagreement over the issue of slavery. The Confederate States of America, made up of 11 southern states that seceded from the United States, wanted to keep slavery while the Union states wanted it abolished. In April of 1861, the Confederates attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, and the American Civil War began.
The Fort Sumter
At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, Confederate General Beauregard sent three embargoed steamships to force an entry into the Union-held harbor at Charleston, South Carolina. He demanded the surrender of Major Robert Anderson and his 86 men at Fort Sumter. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Anderson surrendered the fort. The American Civil War had begun.
The Battle of Gettysburg
On July 1, Confederate general Robert E. Lee attacked Union forces north of the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle that ensued would become the turning point in the Civil War, claiming more than 50,000 casualties over three days and changing the course of American history.
The fight began as a skirmish but soon escalated into a full-fledged battle, with Union forces taking defensive positions on the high ground south of town. On July 2, Lee launched a massive assault against the center of the Union line, known as Cemetery Ridge, in an attempt to break through the Northern defenses. The attack was repelled by Union troops, and Lee was forced to retreat.
The following day, July 3, Lee made one final push against the Union lines, this time targeting the area known as Little Round Top. Although his troops managed to briefly seize control of the hilltop position, they were ultimately pushed back by a fierce Union counterattack. With his army in disarray and his soldiers outnumbered and outgunned, Lee was forced to retreat back to Virginia.
The Battle of Vicksburg
The Battle of Vicksburg (also known as the Siege of Vicksburg) was the final major military action in the American Civil War to take place in the state of Mississippi. Confederate General John C. Pemberton’s forces, stationed at Vicksburg, Mississippi, surrendered to Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee on July 4, 1863, more than two years after the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). This surrender represented the culmination of one of the most brilliant military campaigns in American history.
World War I
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo by 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb and member of the Black Hand secret society. The assassination set off a chain of events that quickly led to the outbreak of World War I.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, occurred on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo when they were shot dead by Gavrilo Princip. Princip was one of a group of six assassins (five Serbs and one Bosniak) coordinated by Danilo Ilić, a Bosnian Serb and a member of the Black Hand secret society. The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary’s South Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Greater Serbia or a South Slavic state.
The Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme (1916) was one of the largest battles of the First World War. More than a million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The battle was fought by the British and French armies against the German Empire.
The United States enters the war
On April 6, 1917, the United States enters World War I by declaring war on Germany. The U.S. had been an important supplier of war materials to the Allies since the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, but President Woodrow Wilson had insisted that the country remain neutral. American public opinion began to turn against neutrality and toward intervention in late 1916, after German submarines began sinking American merchant ships that were supplying food and munitions to Britain and France. Wilson responded by asking Congress for a declaration of war, arguing that Germany’s actions threatened U.S. security. On April 2, 1917, Congress approved Wilson’s request, and four days later America officially entered World War I.
World War II
On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, marking the start of World War II. The war would last for six years and would claim the lives of over 60 million people. Today, we remember the events of September 1, 1939, and the start of the deadliest conflict in human history.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attack happened early in the morning, and it caught the Americans by surprise. More than 2,400 people were killed in the attack, and more than 1,000 were wounded. The attack also destroyed or damaged more than 300 airplanes.
The Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major and decisive engagement in the Second World War that lasted from 23 August 1942, to 2 February 1943. It was fought by Nazi Germany and its allies against the Soviet Union for control over the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle is commonly regarded as one of the turning points of the war, with Germany’s defeat marking a turning point in favor of the Allies in Europe.
The D-Day Landings
The D-Day landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history and took place on 6th June 1944. The landings were a key turning point in World War II, leading to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germanys control. Some 156,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. By the end of the day, around 10,000 soldiers had been killed or wounded, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
The Cold War
The Cold War was a period of time where the two superpowers, the USA and the USSR, were in a state of Constant tension. This was caused by the fact that they both had different ideologies, and they were both vying for power. The Cold War led to the development of nuclear weapons, and it also resulted in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
The Berlin Blockade
In June 1948, the Western Allies began the Berlin Airlift to supply West Berlin with food and other supplies after the Soviet Union blocked land access to the city in an attempt to force the Western powers to abandon their plans to create a separate West German state. The blockade, which lasted for 11 months, ended when the Soviets lifted it in May 1949.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 (Spanish: Crisis de Octubre), the Caribbean Crisis (Russian: Карибский кризис, tr. Karabiski krizis), or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day (October 16–28, 1962) confrontation between the Soviet Union and Cuba on one side and the United States on the other. During the Cold War, both the USSR and the US had nuclear-tipped missiles pointing at each other’s major cities, causing anxiety and a heightened sense of fear. The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the major instances of the Cold War that came dangerously close to escalating into a nuclear war.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall—the physical symbol of the Iron Curtain that separated Eastern and Western Europe—came tumbling down. The day before, East German officials had announced that border crossing restrictions between East and West Berlin would be lifted effective immediately. West Berliners had been agog with joyous anticipation; as one witness recounted, “Everyone was in a state of euphoria, expecting something big to happen.”
The next morning, hundreds of ecstatic East Berliners—many of them young people—began flooding through the checkpoints into West Berlin. To the astonishment and chagrin of the East German border guards (and to the joy of onlookers on both sides), some East Germans even began chipping away at the wall itself with hammers and picks.
Before long, a human tide numbering in the thousands had massed itself against the wall. As West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl later said, “No one could have foreseen that.” By nightfall, large sections of the wall had been reduced to rubble. In the days and weeks that followed, enthusiastic crowds continued to dismantle nearly every inch of the structure that had divided their city for 28 years.