War has changed a lot over the years. The earliest battles were probably fought with sticks and rocks. Later, we evolved to use swords and bows. And now we can kill people on the other side of the planet with the push of a button. Typically, any war or battle takes place in a geographic area that is actually related to both or, at least, one party to the conflict. But it doesn’t always work that way.
10. An American Civil War Battle Took Place off the Coast of France
If you’ve taken an American history class, then you’ve heard of the American Civil War. The conflict between the Union and the Confederacy and was chiefly concerned with issues related to slavery. The war can be said to have been fought between the North and the South, as that was the vague divide between forces. But, in general, that North and South distinction was in specific reference to the United States itself. And then the Battle of Cherbourg happened.
Cherbourg is not in a northern state or a southern state. It’s not in the United States at all. Instead, it’s in France. The battle was a naval conflict that took place off the coast between the CSS Alabama, a confederate vessel, and the USS Kearsarge, a Union ship.
The Alabama was in France for a retrofit and repairs. Kearsarge got word and went to check it out. The captains of each vessel agreed to a duel in international waters and headed out to sea some days later, but the Alabama was not in any position to take on anyone. Their munitions were subpar and one shell even hit the enemy’s sternpost and failed to go off. It’s on display in a museum currently.
Eventually the Alabama succumbed to the Union vessel and sank. Some of the crew died, but many were rescued by the Kearsarge as well as a British yacht.
9. The US and Britain Had a Naval Battle in Lake Erie
On September 10, 1813, six British vessels were spotted in Lake Erie. The American forces had cut off British supply lines by taking the lake and the British were trying to reclaim it. Though the British forces had superior long range weapons, the Americans had more ships with better close range armaments. Their pursuit was hindered by poor winds on the lake until shifting fortunes put the wind behind the Americans so they could close on the British, who had no recourse but to fight.
Fortune favored the British vessels at first, and the American flagship the Lawrence took a severe beating from their enemies. Part of the problem was that the American ship Niagara had essentially fallen back from the battle and done nothing.
The American vessel was rendered dead in the water. Many of the crew were dead and injured and all guns facing the enemy destroyed. Captain Oliver Perry took several crew and hit the water in a cutter and paddled to the Niagara, avoiding attacks from the British fleet. They made it somehow unscathed and took control of the sister ship.
British forces, while nearly victorious, had endured severe damage taking out the Lawrence. Now the completely undamaged Niagara was able to plow through their ranks and destroy the fleet with the aid of smaller gunships. Four British vessels were forced to surrender while the two that fled were hunted down.
The British were forced to abandon Detroit, and this one battle turned the tides of the northwest campaign.
8. The Battle of Manila was a Mock Battle in the Spanish-American War
The Battle of Manila Bay was part of the Spanish-American War. At the battle, US forces, led by Commodore George Dewey, defeated the Spanish fleet and ended the war. The older, less powerful Spanish fleet was in Philippine waters and was unable to put up much of a fight, stranding the Spanish in Manila.
On land, another battle was brewing as Philipine resistance leader Emilio Aguinaldo rose up to fight the Spanish as well. He declared independence for his people, but neither the Spanish nor the Americans wanted to acknowledge this. Still, the Spanish were cut off, held between Americans at sea who were bringing in thousands of reinforcements and Philippine forces on land. With few options, the Spanish had no desire to cede to Aguinaldo.
A Belgian consul aided in negotiations between American and Spanish forces. The result was the creation of an American war hero in Dewey who was later promoted to Rear Admiral and the preservation of reputation for the Spanish Governor-General. The “battle” would take place on August 13. Essentially, it was all for show. The Americans destroyed what remained of the fleet and the Spanish surrendered.. The Philippine forces were left in the dark and America stepped in, taking Spain’s place.
7. No Americans Were Involved In One of the Longest Battles of the Revolutionary War
It’s good to have friends and this is especially true in battle. Throughout history, allies have come to one another’s aid in times of war. The Great Siege of Gibraltar showed that sometimes an ally is all you need and the main combatants don’t even need to be there. This was a battle of the War of Independence that no Americans were involved in.
In the 1770s, Spain and France teamed up to take Gibraltar from Britain under the guise of aiding the American Revolution. They intended to invade Britain, and taking Gibraltar was the first step. Britain understood the strategic importance of Gibraltar, so they had spent years bolstering its defenses before any attack even began. By 1779, when Spain and France set up a blockade, the British were dug in with enough supplies to wait their enemies out far longer than either anticipated, which were bolstered by several supports over the years.
For three years and seven months, 7,000 British soldiers held off against 40,000 French and Spanish soldiers until a truce was signed. It’s not known how many of the allied forces were lost, but the British lost 333 to battle and 536 to disease.
6. The Final Battle of the Revolutionary War Took Place in India
Another example of an ally looking for an excuse to get something for themselves during the Revolutionary War also turned out to be the war’s final battle, and it was long after Yorktown.
On the other side of the world, India had as many reasons to want to be free of Britain as the Americans did. The Kingdom of Mysore in India had been fighting the British for years and after their sultan died, the British were ready to squash the resistance once and for all. They sent soldiers to India, but France, allied with America and Mysore, did the same. The two armies clashed in 1783, two years after Yorktown and what most people today consider the end of the war. In reality, it was only three months before the Treaty of Paris, which was the actual end of the war, was signed.
While French assaults on British forces were proving disastrous, the battle was far from either country and both suffered greatly. Eventually, British forces learned of the impending end to the war in America and the battle was stopped.
5. The Battle of Tannenberg Didn’t Take Place in Tannenberg
Nearly every battle is named after either where it took place or, in some cases, what caused it. And then there’s the Battle of Tannenberg 1914, which didn’t even take place at Tannenberg but was named after the 1410 Battle of Tannenberg, purely out of spite.
In 1410, Teutonic knights were defeated in Tannenberg by various Slavic forces. In very basic terms, Germans were defeated by Russians. So, fast forward literally 500 years, and a battle between German and Russian forces in Allenstein saw the Germans deliver a brutal defeat to the Russians who lost 120,000 men. The battle was named after that first battle as a sort of compensation and way to mythologize German military prowess by giving them back a win, even if Allentstein was miles from Tannenberg.
4. The Battle of Attu Took Place on American Soil
Much of World War II was waged on European soil, but not all of it. The Battle of Attu was the only battle that took place on American soil. In May 1943, Japanese and American forces fought for control of Attu Island, part of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific, which had a population of only 40.
The Japanese had attacked the islands in June 1942, but it wasn’t until 1943 that US forces took it back. On May 11, 12,500 US soldiers were sent to the island and fought Japanese forces for two entire weeks.
Despite the island’s tiny size, the battle was brutal, and the terrain was unforgiving. Over 2,100 US troops were taken out not by the Japanese but due to disease and non-battle injuries including frostbite, trench foot, fevers and even starvation. It got so bad, some soldiers were throwing grenades into the sea to kill fish for food..
Over 1,700 fell to enemy soldiers and when the Americans finally gained the upper hand, over 2,350 Japanese soldiers were dead, many of them by their own hand having used grenades to commit suicide.
3. German U-boats Invaded the St. Lawrence River in Canada
The Battle of the St. Lawrence was a naval battle in the Second World War that took place in a Canadian river. German U-boats made it all the way up the river to Montreal and over the course of several months, 23 vessels sank. Allied Forces also lost 70,000 tons of supplies. Nazi forces greatly outmatched the Canadians, who were not prepared to defend their own waters against submarine attacks. The losses were considerable and one vessel, a ferry heading from Nova Scotia to Quebec, sank with women and children on board.
There was initially no aerial support at all and barely any defenses along the waterway, since it had never been a military target in the past. Though defenses were eventually brought in, the cost was considerable.
2. The Battle of Brisbane in WWII Took Place Between Americans and Aussies
Battles during World War II took place all over the world, hence the name. But one battle that is often overlooked is the Battle of Brisbane. It took place in Brisbane, Australia, and the combatants were Australians and their American allies. It wasn’t technically an armed conflict, but things did get out of hand.
For two days in November, 1942, American troops who had been in Brisbane for the better part of a year as part of the defense against Japan after Pearl Harbor, wore out their welcome with the locals.
Though Americans had been received well at the start of the war, some trash talk from American General Douglas MacArthur had soured relations. Americans had better provisions than local Australians, were better dressed, and were known to charm the local ladies, all of which bred more resentment.
Some Aussie soldiers tossed some insults at an American on November 26. An MP got involved and then got punched. Within fifteen minutes, there were 3000 soldiers fighting in the streets.An MP shot and killed an Australian soldier and wounded several others. The fight was soon quelled for the night but the next day saw it rekindled.
1. The $300,000 Battle of B-R5RB Took Place Entirely Online
Wars are costly endeavors and can set countries back billions of dollars. But those are all real world wars that have real world expenses. Bullets and planes and soldiers don’t just grow on trees. The Battle of B-R5RB took place entirely in a virtual space and still cost $300,000 in real world currency for all that was lost.
In the world of online gaming, sometimes things can get out of hand. That’s one way to describe this battle from 2014. The battle started when a player group that was controlling a star system called B-R5RB forgot to pay their monthly bill to keep it. Essentially, they were renting the space and forgot to set up automatic payments for it with in-game currency, so it was repossessed and put back on the market.
Thousands of players scrambled to get control of the system, which was a staging area for a major in-game alliance. No one had planned for the sector to be abandoned. It had been a complete accident, which meant gaining control of it was time sensitive. Players all over the world were teaming up to take control. The ensuing battle was, at the time, one of the biggest in online gaming history. Upwards of 12,000 people watched it unfold as it was live streamed. It lasted almost 22 straight hours.