All the Many Times America Lost Wars

As we greet an anniversary of the Ukraine Conflict observers will also be met by a multitude of authorities, pundits and “retired” military men to spout nonsense about who is supposedly winning and who is allegedly losing the contest.

Many of these connoisseurs of combat should know better…but then again there is reason a retired General is retired.

Likewise is the factoid less than 50% of all Americans have read a single book in the past year. (That’s 12 full months for you dolts who are barely conscious.) Of those that do read, few peruse History.

Alas, in defense of the illiterate, if any did bother to pick up a tome they would quickly realize historical prognostication is a sphere of human events in which no one knows anything – particularly the “experts”.

By way of example, here are some of the many times Americans lost wars…or seemed to…during past centuries.

The Revolutionary War

Every good American knows about Valley Forge.

It was where George Washington and his Continental Army waited out the winter of 1777 in dire conditions. British occupied the Patriot capitol of Philadelphia, a one day march from the encampment. Nearby, Washington would train his troops following defeat.

While not quite as dismal as in the popular lore, it was still a time of hardship and adversity…but only the first of several Colonial failures in the War of Independence - which lasted over 7 years.

Worse was the Siege of Charleston that ensued during six weeks from March to May of 1780.  There the British captured more than 5,000 Patriots as well as a large quantity of equipment.

Worst was upon this surrender one of the major American armies of the Continent immediately ceased to exist.

Incidentally, that event occurred almost 5 years after the 1775 start of the war and nearly 3 years before its end in 1783.

Our most devastating loss was nearer the conclusion of triumph than the commencement of hostilities.

The War of 1812

Beginning in June 1812 and lasting until February 1815, the eponymous War of 1812 included a multitude of setbacks.

None compare with the Burning of Washington D.C. on August 24, 1814.

Following defeat of Napoleon earlier that year the British devoted newfound resources to our American conflagration. They chose to invade Washington D.C. and after the Battle of Bladensburg the national capital was open to them.

Upon entering, they promptly torched everything.

The President and numerous officials were forced to abandon the city. The British ordered the White House, Capitol Building, Library of Congress (housed in the Capitol Building) and Treasury be set aflame.

Mercifully, a thunderstorm the following day doused the fires. Unmercifully, it also caused a tornado.

Despite these events the White House reopened in 1817 and the Capitol by 1819…yet in the moment of witnessing our seat of government destroyed it is hard to consider a more desperate time for the young nation.

As before, this catastrophe took place 2 years from the beginning of the war and only 6 months from its culmination.

The American Civil War

The Civil War was fought from April 12, 1861, until April 9, 1865. There were in excess of 600,000 deaths in a country with barely over 30 million inhabitants.

Of the worst defeats for the eventual winners was the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia.

After the famous meeting at Gettysburg, this was the deadliest confrontation of the war. It took place between September 18 and September 20 of 1863…generally the halfway of the contest.

Notably, during the timeline of the war itself, this Confederate success occurred after the aforementioned Union triumph at Gettysburg some months before.

Even so, at Chickamauga nearly 35,000 died in total.

The rationale for an attack here was the situation of four major rail lines, which the Union hoped to capture thereby disrupting Confederate supplies. Following several earlier defeats it was believed opposition forces would retreat further to the south. Instead, they stood and fought the invaders.

What had been intended as a match to bring the warfare to a rapid end had the opposite effect.

World War One

All you really need to know are some immortal lines spoken by U.S. Marines in the thick of fighting.

“Retreat? Hell, we just got here!” and “Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever!?!”

The Battle of Belleau Wood occurred in June 1918 as part of a larger offensive Germany launched along the Western Front; having had 50 divisions released from Russia with whom it forged a treaty.

Despite superhuman efforts by Marines, on the first day alone they suffered 6 officers and 222 men killed in action. Another 25 officers and 834 men were wounded. In context, this was at that time a harsher loss than the entire history of the Marine Corps. combined…a total of more than 143 years.

Small caliber weapons, machine guns, artillery fire and even mustard gas were employed. Due to the close quarters much of the struggle was with knives, bayonets or trench shovels.

Concluded in three weeks, costs were extreme. From the 9,500 original Marines 1,000 had been killed and 4,000 wounded. A supporting regiment of Engineers began with 1,700 men and had 450 casualties. Some fared worse than others – the Second Battalion had 764 casualties from 900 Marines at the start.

While an eventual American victory, these figures demonstrate that was far from clear in the initial days.

Also, once again, this tremendous result occurred more than 1 year after entering World War One and but 5 months before it concluded.

World War Two

By the time World War Two rolled around it was obvious America was a player on the world stage. Its empire reached from Asia to the Caribbean and its industry a marvel for the entire world. How could they ever be defeated?

First came Pearl Harbor where 19 Navy ships were damaged or destroyed, including 8 battleships.

Afterward came the First Battle of Guam where Americans were routed in two days.

Next came Wake Island where a valiant band of Marines, Sailors, a few Army and some civilian Contractors put up ferocious resistance.

For weeks they bested a vastly superior force – sinking two destroyers and a submarine.

During 16 days of competition the Japanese sacrificed nearly 1000 men while the Americans less than 100. Even so, the logistical isolation demanded an eventual surrender. (Little known today, until that instance it had been the Marine mantra to fight until only death or capture.)

We lost…again.

There was also Corregidor in The Philippines. Another massive defeat.

It was not until six months after Pearl Harbor that Americans garnered the first success in the Pacific, at the Battle of Midway. This is widely viewed as the proverbial pivot of the war, yet from that June 1942 clash until the Japanese surrender in September 1945 it was another three years of brutal confrontation.

The Korean War

The Korean War lasted from June 25, 1950, until July 27, 1953. It began when North Korea, allied with Communists, invaded South Korea, aligned with the West. Most of this time things went poorly for the defenders.

Within three days Communists captured Seoul. Within two weeks the first Americans arrived but Inchon promptly fell. For a month Americans fought “delaying actions” along the retreat. During that period Taejon was another major loss.

By this time the Americans, United Nations troops and South Koreans were pushed down into a small area around Pusan…it was clear the Communists would control the entire country.

Except the Americans had General Douglas MacArthur, who devised a brilliant plan to land troops far to the north again at Inchon; thereby cutting off the communication and supply lines of the Communists.

There were a million reasons this objective should have failed – a narrow approach susceptible to mining, rapid currents which were deadly for troops offloading from boats, thick mud which prevented an amphibious deployment, barely any days in the month which allowed these mud flats to be covered by the tide, steep cliffs which awaited any who made it from the vessels…and a whole enemy army.

Despite such challenges, the scheme was a success. Americans retook Seoul…then everything else they had previously lost…all within 15 days.

Still, the fact remains Western allies were on the precipice of utter annihilation before completely restoring a balance of power on the peninsula.

The Modern Era

Thus ends our retrospective of prospective defeats. Everything afterward is what one might term “Modern Warfare” in which the objective is not to win in the classical sense but to lose the least.

Specifically, military action is intended to be static – i.e., the Afghanistan War had scant to do with explicit victory and much to do with creating an indeterminate base between Iran and Pakistan.

Be that as it may, the crux of the matter remains the same…

Every glorious American Victory in our national mythology had every appearance of ignominious defeat at some juncture.

Come today, perhaps the media evangelists of Ultimate Kiev Conquest should take a moment, then a deep breath and consider very carefully how categorically they want to make their pugilistic predictions.

Far from being near its conclusion, the Ukraine Conflict may just be nearing its midway point…which is traditionally when the “losing” side begins to turn it all around.

Guy Somerset writes from somewhere in America

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Author`s name Guy Somerset
Editor Dmitry Sudakov