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America's Involvement in Wars and Conflicts

The American Revolution — 1775-1783   Serving:  217,000   Service Deaths:  25,000
Who we fought: Great Britain, in essence our own government.
Who fought with us: France, later in the War.
The outcome: The United States won its independence.
Quick fact:  The spirit of revolution simmered slowly after about 1750, as Britain piled taxes and restrictive regulations on the American colonists. War finally broke out at Lexington when the British tried to disarm the patriots there.
Key Player Images:    Washington   Lafayette   John Paul Jones
   King George   Howe   Cornwallis
Shay's Rebellion — 1786-1787   Serving:  8,000   Service Deaths:  6
Who we fought: Civilian "Regulators" led by Daniel Shays and Job Shattuck.
The outcome: The rebellion was suppressed. Washington spoke out on the need for a stronger central government, leading to the Constitutional Convention.
Quick fact:  Revolutionary war debt and resultant high taxes weighed heavily on poor Western Massachusetts farmers, who took to arms to shut down local courts and prevent debt collection. They felt they were acting in the spirit of the Revolution.
The Ohio Valley Campaigns — 1790-1812   Service Deaths:  1,221
Who we fought: The American Indian -- Creek, Miami, Shawnee and others.
The outcome: The frontier was pushed steadily westward.
Quick fact:  Only interrupted by the War of 1812, efforts to force open Indian lands to white settlement resulted in broken treaties and on-again, off-again warfare in the current states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Tecumseh and Tippecanoe became household names.
Key Player Images:    W.H. Harrison
   Tecumseh
The Whiskey Rebellion — 1794   Service Deaths:  16
Who we fought: Rebellious whiskey merchants and supporters in western Pennsylvania.
The outcome: The rebellion ended and whiskey was taxed.
Quick fact:  This was the first test of President Washington's authority to use the national militia to suppress insurrection internally. In actuality, little fighting resulted and the rebellion melted away in the face of Maj. Gen. Henry Lee's forces.
The Barbary Wars — 1801-05, 1815   Service Deaths:  212
Who we fought: The Pasha of Tripoli (now Libya), and three other North African states which supported piracy.
The outcome: U.S. captives freed; intermittent peace.
Quick fact:  Barbary pirates had preyed on Christian ships for decades, collecting tribute. U.S. refused higher tribute, leading to two wars. In 1805, Marines crossed hundreds of miles of desert ..."to the shores of Tripoli"... to free U.S. captives.
The War of 1812 — 1812-1815   Serving:  286,730   Service Deaths:  20,000
Who we fought: Great Britain
The outcome: Britain surrendered.
Quick fact:  An unfortunate war that many believe didn't have to be, but began over the British impressment of U.S. sailors on the high seas. It burned Washington, but gave us our national anthem.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +223%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +116%
Key Player Images:    Madison   Jackson
   King George
The First Seminole War — 1817-1818   Service Deaths:  47
Who we fought: The Seminole and Creek tribes of southern Georgia and Florida.
The outcome: Suppression of Seminole attacks.
Quick fact:  Seminole attacks on whites in Georgia were incited by two British adventurers. U.S. troops under Andrew Jackson moved south, capturing the Brits and burning Spanish forts in Florida. Spain ceded Florida to U.S. in 1819.
Key Player Images:    Jackson
The Black Hawk War — 1832   Service Deaths:  305
Who we fought: Chief Black Hawk and about 500 Sac and Fox warriors.
The outcome: The Indians were decisively defeated at Bad Axe Creek, Wisconsin.
Quick fact:  Reneging on two treaties ceding his tribal lands in western Illinois, Black Hawk led 2,000 of his people back across the Mississippi in an attempt to resettle there. They were defeated by 500 U.S. regulars, and re-established on a reservation in Iowa.
Key Player Images:    Black Hawk
The Texas War for Independence — 1835-1836   Serving:  2,000   Service Deaths:  860
Who we fought: The government of Mexico, under President Santa Anna.
Who fought with us: Texas was aided by a variety of American adventurers and military men, including Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis.
The outcome: Texas won her independence, and joined the Union nine years later.
Quick fact:  Though technically not an American war, in essence the embattled Texians were all Americans seeking rights under the Mexican constitution of 1824, which Santa Anna had abolished. Best remembered for the heroic stand at the Alamo.
Key Player Images:    Austin   Houston   Crockett   Bowie   Travis   The Alamo
   Santa Anna
The Second Seminole War — 1835-1842   Service Deaths:  1,535
Who we fought: The Seminole tribe of Florida, under Chief Osceola.
The outcome: The Seminoles were shipped west as planned.
Quick fact:  When the U.S. decided that the Seminoles should be relocated to Arkansas, they naturally thought that was a dumb idea. Six bitter, hard-fought years and 1,800+ American lives later, 3,800 half-starved Indians were shipped to Arkansas.
Key Player Images:    Osceola
The Mexican War — 1846-1848   Serving:  78,718   Service Deaths:  13,283
Who we fought: Mexico
The outcome: Mexico surrendered.
Quick fact:  This conflict was an indirect effect of the Texas fight for freedom a decade before, as it erupted over her southern boundary. The surrender gave us most of our present southwest, including California.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +98%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +114%
Key Player Images:    Scott   Taylor
   Santa Anna
The Third Seminole War — 1855-1858   Service Deaths:  26
Who we fought: The Seminole tribe of Florida, under Chief Billy Bowlegs, Ocsen Tustenuggee and others.
The outcome: Few Seminoles remained in Florida, and neither side showed much interest in further wars.
Quick fact:  A continuation of the first two wars. U.S. troops were still trying to move the last of the tribe west and, understandably, the Seminoles still lacked interest in the idea. Attacks on civilians resulted in the predictable miltary response.
The Western Indian Wars — 1860-1890   Service Deaths:  1,642
Who we fought: The American Indian -- Paiute, Cheyenne, Crow, Pawnee, Sioux, Arapaho, Apache, Commanche.
The outcome: The frontier was pressed ever westward, and ultimately closed.
Quick fact:  The glamor of the Wild West and charging horse cavalry surrounds what was really a series of broken treaties, massacres by both sides, and forced relocation of native tribes whenever their land was coveted for gold or settlement.
Key Player Images:    Custer
   Geronimo   Sitting Bull
The Civil War — 1861-1865   Serving:  2,213,363   Service Deaths:  625,000
Who we fought: Each other. North versus South.
Who fought with us: Some European nations played us off against each other.
The outcome: The Union was preserved, the South subdued.
Quick fact:  Our costliest war in terms of total American deaths and destruction. Beyond the final abolition of slavery, many of the core issues that split the nation were not fully resolved, and continue to tug at us.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +1,037%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +436%
Key Player Images:    Lincoln   Grant   Sherman   McClellan   Meade   Sheridan   Burnside   Hancock   Farragut   Buford
   Jefferson Davis   Robert E. Lee   Longstreet   Jackson   Johnston   Beauregard   Stuart
The Spanish-American War — 1898   Serving:  306,760   Service Deaths:  2,446
Who we fought: Spain
The outcome: Spain surrendered.
Quick fact:  Our only conflict where the enemy declared war first. The War gave us the story of the Rough Riders; the treaty gained us the Philippines, which we held until the end of World War II, the Marianas, and Puerto Rico.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +53%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +64%
Key Player Images:    McKinley   T. Roosevelt   Rough Riders   Wheeler
The Philippine Insurrection — 1899-1902   Serving:  60,000   Service Deaths:  4,196
Who we fought: Nationalist insurgents and Moro tribesmen.
The outcome: The rebellion was quelled, but not extinguished.
Quick fact:  For help against Spain, the Filipinos had been falsely promised independence. As a result, the U.S. Army had its first taste of costly and deadly guerrilla warfare, as it attracted the same ire from nationalists as had their former Spanish masters.
Permanent change in federal spending:2  +64%
The Boxer Rebellion — 1900   Serving:  2,500   Service Deaths:  131
Who we fought: Chinese "Boxer" rebels, fighting foreign influence in their homeland.
Who fought with us: Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Russia.
The outcome: The beseiged legations were relieved, precipitating the end of the Rebellion.
Quick fact:  Each nation whose legation was trapped by the rebels in the diplomatic quarter of Peking sent a contingent of troops, totaling about 16,000. The suppression of the Rebellion marked the beginning of the end of the ancient Chinese monarchy.
Nicaragua — 1912-25, 27-33   Service Deaths:  159
Who we fought: Anyone interested in revolution, including Augusto Sandino.
The outcome: Established various shaky governments.
Quick fact:  A classic case of "nation-building", the U.S. arranged the ouster of a bad president in 1909, then had to send in Marines for 20 years to supervise ensuing elections and quell rebellions. Led inevitably to the ugly Somoza and Sandinista regimes.
The Haiti Occupation — 1915-1934   Service Deaths:  148
Who we fought: Haitian revolutionaries, brigands and assorted troublemakers.
The outcome: After the long occupation, the Forbes Commission found that the root causes of unrest - poverty, illiteracy, lack of any understanding of self-government - persisted. The Marines were removed.
Quick fact:  Unfortunately, the impetus for the occupation was all too familiar. A bad president was slaughtering his people; then his people murdered him and went on a rampage. Meanwhile American lenders wanted their chestnuts pulled out of the fire. Same ol'.
Pancho Villa's Rebellion — 1916-1917   Service Deaths:  181
Who we fought: Pancho Villa's rebel army, which was challenging the shaky Mexican government.
The outcome: Villa's followers were dispersed, ending cross-border incursions.
Quick fact:  President Wilson's dabbling in Mexico's internal squabbles led to rebel leader Pancho Villa's attacks into New Mexico. General "Black Jack" Pershing led an expedition into Mexico, scattering Villa's army and gaining soon-to-be-useful expe
Key Player Images:    Pershing
   Villa
World War I — 1917-1918   Serving:  4,734,991   Service Deaths:  116,516
Who we fought: The Central Powers -- Germany, Austria-Hungary, and a few others.
Who fought with us: The Allies -- Britain and her empire, France, Russia (until early 1918), Italy, Serbia, others.
The outcome: The Central Powers surrendered.
Quick fact:  Until this war, the U.S. was viewed militarily by mainline Europe as we might view a banana republic today -- a quaint backwater. That view changed forever after 1918. "Lafayette ... we are here!"
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +1,499%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +637%
Key Player Images:    Wilson   Pershing   P�tain   Sgt. York   Armistice
   The Kaiser
The North Russia/Archangel Expeditions — 1918-1920   Serving:  15,000   Service Deaths:  752
Who we fought: Russian revolutionaries.
Who fought with us: Most of our western allies from the ongoing World War.
The outcome: We withdrew without results.
Quick fact:  In a crazy undertaking lacking vision and foresight, two Allied forces were sent into post-revolutionary Russia (via Archangel and Vladivostok) to curb Japanese expansionism and support White Russians fighting Bolshevism. Casualties were horrendous.
World War II — 1941-1945   Serving:  16,112,556   Service Deaths:  405,399
Who we fought: The Axis nations -- mainly Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan.
Who fought with us: The Allies, including the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and many others worldwide.
The outcome: Unconditional surrender of all Axis nations.
Quick fact:  Though we joined the War after Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, we had been helping Britain resist the Nazis for two years, and had been tweaking Japan over its aggression in China. Our last great patriotic war.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +1,009%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +690%   (prior-period spending high due to the Depression.)
Key Player Images:    Roosevelt   Truman   Churchill   Stalin   Eisenhower   MacArthur   Bradley   Patton   Montgomery
   Hitler & Mussolini   Rommel   Yamamoto
The Korean War — 1950-1953   Serving:  1,789,000   Service Deaths:  36,516
Who we fought: North Korea, indirectly Red China.
Who fought with us: The United Nations, except for the communist bloc.
The outcome: An armistice-in-place at the pre-existing border.
Quick fact:  The Korean War resolved no issues, and reinstated the status-quo-ante after over thirty thousand American deaths. But it did save the Republic of South Korea from subjugation by the North, and showed our willingness to fight clear communist aggression.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +43%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +120%   (only includes four years prior due to effects of WWII.)
Key Player Images:    Truman   Eisenhower   MacArthur
Lebanon — 1958   Serving:  14,000   Service Deaths:  266
Who we fought: Islamic radicals, both Lebanese and foreign.
The outcome: Lebanon was stabilized for about 15 years.
Quick fact:  The Marines sent onto Beirut's beaches were more a stabilizing factor than active combatants. After about 4,000 deaths in three months of civil war, Lebanon was fairly peaceful until the PLO set up HQ there in the 70's.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion — 1961   Service Deaths:  4
Who we fought: The revolutionary government of Cuba.
The outcome: Poorly supported logisitically by the administration, the invasion was a fiasco and a political embarrassment.
Quick fact:  Various mercenaries, including Cuban exiles, were secretly organized under U.S. intelligence auspices in the hopes of overthrowing the recently-installed communist government of Fidel Castro. JFK was reluctant to provide needed air and armor support.
The Vietnam War — 1964-1973   Serving:  3,403,000   Service Deaths:  58,209
Who we fought: North Vietnam, and South Vietnamese revolutionaries (Viet Cong).
Who fought with us: Nominally the United Nations, except for the communist bloc.
The outcome: South Vietnam was absorbed by the communists.
Quick fact:  Vietnam was the first televised war, the first war America lost, and the worst case of misplaced focus and priorities in high places in our long, successful military history. We lacked the political vision and commitment to pursue and end the war.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  +93%      Permanent change in federal spending:2  +464%
Key Player Images:    Johnson   Nixon
   Ho Chi Minh
Grenada — 1983   Service Deaths:  19
Who we fought: The government of Grenada.
The outcome: The captive students were rescued.
Quick fact:  When the legitimate government of Grenada was overthrown by leftist radicals, American students became captives. The rescue operation was totally successful, but even General Schwartzkopf says it cost needless lives through intelligence foibles.
Key Player Images:    Schwartzkopf
Operation Just Cause (Panama) — 1989-1990   Serving:  27,000   Service Deaths:  40
Who we fought: Primarily President Manuel Noriega -- wanted on drug charges -- and his henchmen.
The outcome: Noriega was arrested; democracy was restored.
Quick fact:  The operation was a textbook success viz. our stated goals of arresting Noriega (after a bit of a search) and restoring democracy. It did, however, violate international law and our own policy against intervention in internal politics.
Desert Storm (Gulf War I) — 1990-1991   Serving:  665,476   Service Deaths:  529
Who we fought: Iraq
Who fought with us: The United Nations; mainly various Arab nations in the area.
The outcome: Iraq was pushed back behind its borders.
Quick fact:  America's shortest war by far and, when compared to Vietnam, one with clearly defined goals and a predetermined exit strategy. We may have liked to have seen Saddam hung from a lamp-post, but that was never in the cards. Now how do we feel?
Key Player Images:    Bush   Schwartzkopf
   Saddam
Somalia — 1992-1993   Serving:  25,000   Service Deaths:  42
Who we fought: Various mercenary factions, mainly those of General Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
Who fought with us: U.N. units from various countries. By and large, they stayed out of the fight, though the French Foreign Legion was noted for being very tough on mercenaries.
The outcome: Somalia was largely left in the same turmoil in which it was found.
Quick fact:  Factional strife in Somalia was resulting in the starvation of about everyone except the militiamen. Under the auspices of U.N. humanitarian relief, the U.S. sent troops, and attempted to capture Aidid. Lacking armor support, the attempt failed badly.
Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti) — 1994-1995   Service Deaths:  4
Who we fought: The unelected military leadership of the country. Actually they left before we got there. We fought the resultant rioters.
The outcome: Formerly elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide was returned to power. Accused of corruption and human rights abuses, he was forcibly removed again in 2004.
Quick fact:  When the elected government was overthrown, the 82nd Airborne Division was ordered to Haiti to facilitate the return of Aristide. Meanwhile, diplomatic intervention had removed the usurpers, and the mission crept into unsuccessful nation-building.
Key Player Images:    Clinton
The Balkans — 1995-2004   Service Deaths:  32
Who we fought: Various nationalists trying to redraw the political and cultural geography of defunct Yugoslavia by force.
Who fought with us: Most of our NATO allies, though the U.S. contributed the big firepower.
The outcome: Tenuous peace in Bosnia, a reversal of victims in Serbian Kosovo, new brush fires all over.
Quick fact:  Despite a hopeful change in Serb leadership, the Balkans are still the Balkans and U.S. troops are playing cop. This tale is not yet over, as Kosovo's "victims" become the aggressors in neighboring Macedonia.
Key Player Images:    Clinton
Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) — 2001-Present   Service Deaths:  2,173
Who we fought: Islamic terrorists and their supporting states, chiefly Afghanistan.
Who fought with us: Britain, varying support from many other nations.
The outcome: The Taliban government ousted, and Al Quaida somewhat defeated in Afghanistan. Developing.
Quick fact:  After the September 11, 2001 attack on America by Islamic extremists, President Bush declared war on all terrorists and their supporters, beginning with al-Quaida and the Afghan Taliban government. Stayed tuned for Pakistan.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  142%       (through mid-2010.)
Key Player Images:    Bush
Operation Iraqi Freedom (Gulf War II) — 2003-Present   Service Deaths:  4,488
Who we fought: The government of Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, then Islamist insurgents.
Who fought with us: Britain. No thanks to erstwhile friends France, Germany and Russia.
The outcome: Successful elections held in early 2005. Developing ...
Quick fact:  After months of saber-rattling in an attempt to get Saddam to step down (or flee) peacefully, the U.S. invaded Iraq aiming to disarm the dictator. Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003, while guerilla skirmishing continues. And continues.
Spending growth during the conflict:1  142%       (through mid-2010.)
Key Player Images:    Bush
   Saddam

1The change in average federal spending during the war years, versus the ten-year period prior to the conflict.
2The change in average federal spending for the ten-year period following the conflict, versus the ten-year period prior to the conflict.



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