American Involvement in Wars from Colonial Times to the Present

American Involvement in Wars from Colonial Times to the Present

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Americans have been involved with wars both large and small since before the founding of the nation. The first such war, sometimes called Metacom's Rebellion or King Philip's War, lasted 14 months and destroyed 14 towns. The war, tiny by today's standards, ended when Metacom (the Pokunoket chief called 'King Philip' by the English), was beheaded. The most recent war, America's engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq following the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, is the most protracted war in American history and shows no sign of ending.

Wars over the years have changed dramatically, and American involvement has varied. For example, many of the earliest American wars were fought on American soil. 20th-century wars such as World Wars I and II, by contrast, were fought overseas; few American on the home front saw any type of direct engagement. While the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II and the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 resulted in American deaths, the most recent war fought on American soil was the Civil War which ended in 1865-more than 150 years ago.

Chart of Wars With American Involvement

In addition to the named wars and conflicts listed below, members of the American military (and some civilians) have played small but active roles in many other international conflicts.

DatesWar in Which American Colonists or
United States Citizens Officially Participated
Major Combatants
July 4, 1675-
August 12, 1676
King Philip's WarNew England Colonies vs. Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Nipmuck Indians
1689-1697King William's WarThe English Colonies vs. France
1702-1713Queen Anne's War (War of Spanish Succession)The English Colonies vs. France
1744-1748King George's War (War of Austrian Succession)The French Colonies vs. Great Britain
1756-1763French and Indian War(Seven Years War)The French Colonies vs. Great Britain
1759-1761Cherokee WarEnglish Colonists vs. Cherokee Indians
1775-1783American RevolutionEnglish Colonists vs. Great Britain
1798-1800Franco-American Naval WarUnited States vs. France
1801-1805; 1815Barbary WarsUnited States vs. Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli
1812-1815War of 1812United States vs. Great Britain
1813-1814Creek WarUnited States vs. Creek Indians
1836War of Texas IndependenceTexas vs. Mexico
1846-1848Mexican-American WarUnited States vs. Mexico
1861-1865U.S. Civil WarUnion vs. Confederacy
1898Spanish-American WarUnited States vs. Spain
1914-1918World War I

Triple Alliance: Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary vs. Triple Entente: Britain, France, and Russia. The United States joined on the side of the Triple Entente in 1917.

1939-1945World War IIAxis Powers: Germany, Italy, Japan vs. Major Allied Powers: United States, Great Britain, France, and Russia
1950-1953Korean WarUnited States (as part of the United Nations) and South Korea vs. North Korea and Communist China
1960-1975Vietnam WarUnited States and South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam
1961Bay of Pigs InvasionUnited States vs. Cuba
1983GrenadaUnited States Intervention
1989US Invasion of PanamaUnited States vs. Panama
1990-1991Persian Gulf WarUnited States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq
1995-1996Intervention in Bosnia and HerzegovinaUnited States as part of NATO acted peacekeepers in former Yugoslavia
2001-presentInvasion of AfghanistanUnited States and Coalition Forces vs. the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to fight terrorism.
2003-2011Invasion of Iraq

United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq

2004-presentWar in Northwest PakistanUnited States vs. Pakstan, mainly drone attacks
2007-presentSomalia and Northeastern KenyaUnited States and Coalition forces vs. al-Shabaab militants
2009-2016Operation Ocean Shield (Indian Ocean)NATO allies vs. Somali pirates
2011Intervention in LibyaUS and NATO allies vs. Libya
2011-2017Lord's Resistance ArmyUS and allies against the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda
2014-2017US-led Intervention in IraqUS and coalition forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
2014-presentUS-led intervention in SyriaUS and coalition forces against al-Qaeda, Isis, and Syria
2015-presentYemeni Civil WarSaudi-led coalition and US, France and Kingdom against the Houthi rebels, Supreme Political Council in Yemen and allies
2015-presentUS intervention in LibyaUS and Libya against ISIS

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