Special Report

The Grandest Military Parades in History

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Roman military triumph (circa 223 B.C.)
> Troop count: Unknown
> Country: Rome
> City held: Rome
> Occasion: Defeat of Gauls

Roman military leader Marcus Claudius Marcellus led his army to Rome in triumph after defeating the Gauls. Marcellus became one of the most celebrated Roman commanders after defeating his opponent’s leader in one-on-one combat. In addition to the parade, he was honored for his victory with a play about his triumph.

Source: Jon / Wikimedia Commons

Trooping the Colour (1760)
> Troop count: 1,000+
> Country: United Kingdom
> City held: London
> Occasion: Queen’s birthday

Trooping the colour refers to the military practice of using the colors of a regiment to rally troops in battle. This British custom goes back to the 17th century during the reign of Charles II. In 1760, as part of marking the British sovereign’s birthday, Trooping of the Colour parade was ordered to take place annually. Today, the event is held on the queen’s official birthday, the second Saturday in June. The queen was actually born on April 21, but the June celebration increases the odds of good weather for the celebration.

Source: Anonymous / Wikimedia Commons

Boulogne-sur-Mer military parade (1804)
> Troop count: Possibly as many as 200,000
> Country: France
> City held: Boulogne-sur-Mer
> Occasion: Assemblage of grand army to invade England

At Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, Napoleon amassed an army he called L’Armée d’Angleterre (the Army of England) into an impressive military parade ahead of a possible invasion of Britain, which never happened.

Source: Mathew Brady / Wikimedia Commons

Grand Review of the Armies (1865)
> Troop count: 145,000
> Country: United States
> City held: Washington, D.C.
> Occasion: End of the Civil War

After the Confederacy surrendered to end the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, President Andrew Johnson ordered a grand review of the Union armies to honor the American soldiers who won the Civil War and give the nation something to celebrate. Over two days, troops from the Army of the Potomac, Army of Georgia, and the Army of the Tennessee marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and were reviewed by generals Ulysses S. Grant, George G. Meade, and William T. Sherman.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

Bastille Day (1880)
> Troop count: 3,700
> Country: France
> City held: Paris
> Occasion: French Revolution

The French hold one of the world’s largest and oldest annual military parades on Bastille Day, July 14, as soldiers march down the Champs-Élysées. The parade has been staged annually since 1880, about 100 years after French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille — a military fortress and prison — an event that began the French Revolution.