Napoleon’s loss at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 ended the Napoleonic Era. The Duke of Wellington’s victory also helped reestablish Britain as a preeminent military power in Europe, with France losing virtually all its power and prestige.
Well over a century later, Nazi Germany could not defend against the allies’ Normandy landing on what has become known as D-Day. As the allies raced across Europe, the landings were the beginning of the end for Hitler, and stand as one of the biggest surprise attacks in military history.
While the U.S. has generally been victorious on the battlefield, some battles have been nearly as disastrous for the United States. One example is the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in Korea which pitted the U.S. military against much larger North Korean and Chinese forces.
The cause of the disaster was simple. Overconfidence has prompted members of the U.S. Army and Marines to move too close to the Chinese border. By some estimates the North Koreans and Chinese threw more than 120,000 people into the battle. The United States had fewer than 30,000. American casualties reached above 10,000, with more than 1,000 fatalities. The clash is considered one of the most disastrous battles in U.S. history.
One joint U.S.-Korean army unit, later dubbed Task Force MacLean after one of its commanders, was almost completely wiped out, with as much as 95% of the force killed, wounded, or captured.
The perilous American retreat is among the most famous in U.S. military history. The battle, which ran from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, 1950, also helped tip the results of the war against the United States and South Korea, with the conflict ultimately considered a draw.
Click here for more information on the most disastrous battles in U.S. history
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