U.S.: Military Fatalities, by war
WarNumber of fatalities
American Civil War (1861-1865)620,000
World War II (1939-1945)405,399
World War I (1917-1918)116,516
Vietnam War (1965-1973)58,209
Korean War (1950-1953)36,516
American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)25,000
War of 1812 (1812-1815)20,000
Mexican-American War (1846-1848)13,283
War on Terror (2001-present)7,078
SpanishAmerican War (1898)2,446
Gulf War (1990-1991)258
  • Region: United States
  • Time period: 1775 to 2024
  • Published: 2024

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Mar 28, 2024 | Published by: Statistico

The American Civil War has the highest number of fatalities

The American Civil War, with involvement years from 1861 to 1865, resulted in the most significant number of U.S. military fatalities, totaling 620,000. This figure surpasses the fatalities of World War II, which are the second highest, by 214,601 casualties.

World War II ranks second in U.S. military fatalities

World War II, spanning from 1939 to 1945, saw 405,399 U.S. military fatalities, making it the second deadliest conflict for the United States after the American Civil War.

The Gulf War had the fewest U.S. military fatalities

With only 258 U.S. military fatalities, the Gulf War (1990-1991) experienced the lowest number of deaths among the major wars listed, highlighting the significant variance in U.S. military casualties across different conflicts.

Vietnam and Korean Wars combined fatalities

The Vietnam War (1965-1973) and the Korean War (1950-1953) together resulted in 94,725 U.S. military fatalities, demonstrating the heavy toll of Cold War-era conflicts on American forces.

Increase in fatalities from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War

Fatalities surged from 25,000 in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) to 620,000 in the American Civil War, reflecting a dramatic escalation in the lethality of conflicts involving the United States over time.

20th-century wars' impact on U.S. military fatalities

The combined fatalities of World War I (116,516) and World War II (405,399) amount to 521,915, underscoring the significant impact of global conflicts in the 20th century on U.S. military losses.

Wars in the 19th century versus the War on Terror

The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the War of 1812 (1812-1815) together accounted for 33,283 fatalities, which is significantly lower than the fatalities from the War on Terror (2001-present) at 7,078, highlighting changes in the nature and duration of U.S. military engagements.

The Spanish-American War's relatively low fatality rate

With 2,446 fatalities, the Spanish-American War (1898) stands out for its relatively low number of U.S. military deaths compared to other conflicts, despite its significant historical impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which conflict resulted in the highest number of US military fatalities?

The American Civil War resulted in the highest amount of U.S. military fatalities, totaling 620,000.

Which war recorded the second highest U.S. military fatalities?

World War II recorded the second highest fatalities among U.S. military personnel, standing at 405,399.

Which war stands out for having the least number of U.S. military deaths?

The Gulf War is notable for having the least number of U.S. military deaths, with only 258 recorded fatalities.

How many fatalities did the Vietnam War and the Korean War result in combined?

The Vietnam War and the Korean War together accounted for 94,725 U.S. military fatalities.

Terms and Definitions

A military fatality refers to the death of a member of the armed forces during periods of declared hostilities or as a result of an act of war. Military fatalities include those who are killed in action, those who die due to injuries sustained in warfare, those who die while prisoners of war, and those who die due to illness or accidents in a war zone.

The Armed Forces are the military services responsible for the defense of a country. They usually consist of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and sometimes also the Marines and Coast Guard. Their primary duties are to safeguard the country and its citizens from threats, maintain peace and security, and fight conflicts on behalf of the nation.

Major wars refer to large-scale armed conflicts with significant participation of the armed forces and major geopolitical ramifications. They often involve a substantial number of fatalities and are typically widely recognized in historical narratives.

Declared hostilities refer to situations where a formal state of war or conflict has been announced between two or more nations. The declaration acknowledges the start of an armed conflict, indicating a significant escalation of tensions and hostilities.

An act of war is an action or event that provocatively leads to, or is part of, armed conflict between states. This can include, for example, an invasion, military attack, or violation of a peace treaty that involves direct, hostile engagement.

Killed in action, often abbreviated as KIA, is a term used by the military to describe the death of service personnel due to combat-related activities during a period of armed conflict.

A prisoner of war (POW) is an individual, whether a member of the armed forces or a civilian, who is held in custody during or immediately after an armed conflict. The treatment of POWs is governed by international law, particularly the Geneva Conventions.

A war zone refers to a geographic area, usually a region or a country, where active armed conflict between forces is taking place. In such zones, there is typically a significant military presence, and the area often experiences destruction and violence.
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