The history of war goes back thousands of years. Some of the earliest known wars were fought in Egypt and Sumer around 3000 B.C. The so-called Warring States Period in China (476-221 B.C.) unified that country. Alexander the Great conquered empires through a series of battles around 330 B.C.
While some of these early wars probably took tens of thousands of lives, modern warfare, with larger armies and more advanced weapons, pushed death tolls much higher. The deadliest battle in world history, however, took place some 762 years ago, when the Mongols and their allies sacked, possibly slaying as many as 2 million people.
In terms of overall war, WWII killed the most people of any conflict in history. Over its course, it is estimated that 70 million people died – most of them civilians. However, it is worth considering that there are “wars within wars” – individual battles – that are often particularly deadly and decisive. Among the best known of these is The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863. It helped the Union turn the tide against the Confederacy. (These are the deadliest battles in U.S. history.)
How deadly a war, and the battles within them, are often hinges on the evolution of weapons. What is called “modern war” began about the year 1800. It was characterized by the wide use of gunpowder and heavy weapons, which included, in particular, cannons. The earliest of these modern conflicts were the Napoleonic Wars (1803 to 1815). These had another characteristic. They were fought over large geographic areas that included multiple nations.
A more recent, but major, change in warfare tactics was the use of aircraft as weapons. Planes were not widely used until World War I, but eventually evolved to the point where they could level entire cities, which first happened in World War II. (These were the biggest battles of WWII.)
To determine the deadliest battles in world history, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Deadliest Battles In Human History from World Atlas.
The deadliest battle in modern times took place in what is now western Ukraine during WWI – the so-called Brusilov Offensive, which pitted the Russian Empire against the combined forces of the German, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires (the Russians were victorious). This three-and-a-half month struggle took 1.6 million lives.
Even more devastating, however, was the 13th-century sack of Baghdad, in what is now Iraq, by the Mongols under Hulagu Khan, aided by Armenian, Georgian, and Persian forces. In overrunning the city, the capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate, the Mongols slaughtered as many as 2 million people, most of them civilians.
Here are the 10 deadliest battles of history
Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor
Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.