Modern Photos Of The Deadliest Battlefields In History

Unfortunately, much of human history is written with blood, with people being involved in violent conflicts since written records began. Throughout history, some of these conflicts have stood out, ranging from ancient times to the modern era, with these battles being considered some of the deadliest of all time. While most people may never know that a battle took place in a particular location, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen, but that time has covered up the violence that took place there. Take a look to see what these famous battlefields look like today.

The Battle Of Thermopylae – 480 BC

Picture of Thermopylae
George Shadow/Pinterest
George Shadow/Pinterest

The Battle of Thermopylae was a conflict fought between an alliance of Greek city-states led by the Spartan King Leonidas I and the Achaemenid Empire of Xerxes I. The battle took place over three days during the second Persian invasion of Greece in August or September 480 BC. The Greeks strategically chose to fight at the coastal pass of Thermopylae, known as the “Hot Gates,” to funnel the Persian army through.

The Greek force was vastly outnumbered by the Persians in one of history’s most famous last stands and held off the invading force for three days of intense fighting until their rearguard was finally overwhelmed. However, the Greeks defense helped to inspire the rest of the country to eventually force the Persians out.

The Battle Of Cannae – 216 BC

Battlefield of Cannae
De Agostini via Getty Images
De Agostini via Getty Images

The Battle of Cannae was a conflict during the Second Punic War between the Roman Republic and Carthage. The battle was fought on August 2, 216 BC, near the village of Cannae in Apulia, in southeast Italy.

Hannibal, who commanded the Carthaginian army, surrounded the much larger Roman army under Lucius Aemilius Pallus and Gaius Terentius Varro. The Carthaginians then proceeded to demolish the Roman army in a battle that is considered to be one of the greatest tactical moves in military history and one of the worst defeats of a Roman army.

The Batte Of The Little Bighorn – 1876

Picture of Custer Hill
Steven Clevenger/Corbis via Getty Images
Steven Clevenger/Corbis via Getty Images

Otherwise known as Custer’s Last Stand, the Battle of the Little Bighorn was an armed conflict between the combined force of the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle took place on June 25-26, 1876, along the Little Bighorn River in the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana Territory.

The result of the battle was an overwhelming defeat of the United States force of 700 men. Five of the 7th Cavalry’s twelve companies were completely destroyed, with the leader, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, losing his life as well.

The Second Battle Of Fort Wagner – 1863

Aerial view of Morris Island
civilwar.org/Pinterest
civilwar.org/Pinterest

Taking place during the American Civil War, the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, also known as the Second Assault on Morris Island was fought on July 18, 1863. During the battle, Union army troops led by Brig. Gen. Quincy Gilmore launched an unsuccessful attack on the Confederate stronghold of Fort Wagner in the south of Charleston Harbor.

The 54th Massachusetts on the Union side that was made up of African Americans was hailed for their valor and sacrifice in the battle, leading the Union to begin recruiting more black soldiers.

The Battle Of Gettysburg – 1863

Picture of Gettysburg
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Fought between July 1-3, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the major battles of the American Civil War, fought between the Union and Confederate forces in the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Considered to be the war’s turning point, it had the most significant number of casualties in the conflict with the Union Army defeating the Confederates, preventing their invasion of the North. It is estimated that between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies lost their lives during the three days of fighting. The battlefield was also the site where President Lincoln would deliver his historic Gettysburg Address.

The Battle Of Marathon – 490 BC

Tomb of the Athenians
Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

The Battle Of Marathon took place in 490 BC during the first Persian invasion of Greece. The battle was fought between the people of Athens with the help of Plataea against the Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes.

The battle was the first attempt of Persia under the leadership of Darius I to invade Greece. Incredibly, the Greek army managed to defeat the significantly larger Persian army and is considered to be a major turning point in the Greco-Persian wars, proving to the rest of Greece that the Persians could be defeated.

The Battle Of The Somme – 1916

Picture of trenches
Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Battle of the Somme was a conflict during World War I that involved the British Empire and the French Third Republic against the German Empire. It occurred between July 1 and November 16 on both sides of the River Somme in France.

Considered to be one of the bloodiest battles in human history, there were 3 million men that fought in the battle with more than one million being killed or wounded. Unfortunately, there is still debate over the necessity and the overall outcome of the battle.

The Battle Of Iwo Jima – 1945

Helicopter flying over Iwo Jima
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathen E. Davis/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathen E. Davis/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Taking place between February 19 and March 26, 1945, the Battle of Iwo Jima was a battle during World War II in which the United States Marine Corps and Navy captured the island of Iwo Jima in Japan from the Imperial Japanese Army.

Referred to as Operation Detachment, the goal of the attack was to secure the entire island as well as three Japanese-controlled airfields to create a secure place for allied forces to prepare for attacks on the Japanese mainland. The five-week-long battle is described as some of the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

The Battle Of The Hydaspes – 326 BC

Picture of the river
Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The Battle of Hydaspes was fought in 326 BC between Alexander the Great and King Porus of the Paurava kingdom on the banks of the Jhelum River in what is now modern-day Punjab, Pakistan. The result of the battle was a victory for the Greeks and the surrender of Porus.

Before the battle, Alexander made the risky decision to cross the monsoon-affected river to attack Porus’s army’s flank, which is considered to be one of his great military strategies. Although the Macedonian’s won, they suffered the most losses than any of their other battles.

The Battle Of Agincourt – 1415

Picture of a field
historytoday/Pinterest
historytoday/Pinterest

The Battle of Agincourt was a major victory for the English forces against the French during the Hundred Years’ War. The battle was fought on October 25, 1415, near the town of Agincourt in Northern France. King Henry V led his troops into battle himself and participated in the fighting, and although the English were outnumbered, their use of the English longbow gave them the upper-hand.

With nearly 80 percent of Henry’s army made up of archers, they outmatched the French crossbowmen. The victory is considered to be one of the greatest in English history and was glorified in Shakespeare’s play Henry V.

The Battle Of Actium – 31 BC

View of the Ionian Sea
Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images
Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images

Taking place in 31 BC, the Battle of Actium was a naval battle that was fought in the last war of the Roman Republic. It was between the fleet of Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.

The battle was fought in the Ionian Sea near Actium in Greece, with Octavian being victorious. This allowed him to consolidate power and marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

The Battle Of Blenheim – 1704

City of Blindheim
Vilson Alves/Pinterest
Vilson Alves/Pinterest

The Battle of Blenheim was a battle that was fought on August 13, 1704, and was a key battle in the War of the Spanish Succession. The Allied victory protected Vienna from the Franco-Bavarian army, therefore preventing the collapse of the reconstituted Grand Alliance.

During the battle, the French troops suffered catastrophic losses, including their commander-in-chief, Marshal Tallard. The battle was a turning point in the war that had previously been leaning on the side of the French and Spanish Bourbons.

Battle Of Tours – 732

City of Poitiers
GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images
GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images

Also referred to as the Battle of Poitiers and the Battle of the Highway of the Martyrs, Battle of Tours was fought on October 10, 732, and was a crucial battle during the Umayyad invasion of Gaul. The battle resulted in a victory by the Frankish and Aquitainian forces under Charles Martel over the Umayyad Caliphate.

Although details of the battle are still not well known, it’s agreed upon by many historians that even though the Umayyads had a larger force, they suffered greater casualties. The battle took place somewhere between the cities of Poitiers and Tours in western France.

The Battle Of Shiloh – 1862

Shiloh battlefield
Mosey & Me/Pinterest
Mosey & Me/Pinterest

The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was an event that happened in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. The battle was fought between April 6-7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. After the Union force known as the Army of the Tennessee set up camp at Pittsburg Landing on the bank of the Mississippi River, the Confederate Army of Mississippi launched a surprise attack.

Although the Union was victorious, they suffered more casualties than the Confederates, and the Battle of Shiloh became the bloodiest Civil War battle up until that point, with nearly double the amount of casualties than usual.

The Battle Of Waterloo – 1818

Picture of the Waterloo field
Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Images
Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Images

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, June 18, 1815, near Waterloo in Belgium, which was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time. During the battle, the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition, a British-led force under the command of the Duke of Wellington.

The battle took place after Napoleon’s return to power, and his defeat marked the end of his rules as the Emperor of the French and of the Napoleonic Wars.

The Battle Of Antietam – 1862

Antietam Creek
Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images
Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

The Battle of Antietam was fought during the American Civil War on September 17, 1862, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac. The battle took place near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek.

As part of the Maryland Campaign, it was the first engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to happen on Union soil. The Union victory led to President Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, and, at the time, was the bloodiest day in the United State’s history with more than 22,000 dead, wounded, or missing.

The Battles Of Saratoga – 1777

Picture of the battlefield
Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

The Battles of Saratoga took place between September 19 and October 7, 1777. The battles were decisive victories for the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War.

British General John Burgoyne found himself trapped against superior American forces with no help in sight, so he retreated to Saratoga, where he surrendered his army on October 17. According to historian Edmund Morgan, it “was a great turning point of the war because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory.”

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive – 1918

Overgrown bunker
Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images
Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

The Meuse-Argonne offensive was a key part of the final Allied offensive of World War I along the Western Front. The fighting took place for a total of 47 days from September 26 until the Armistice of November 11, 1918, northwest of Verdun.

It is considered to be the second deadliest battle in American history with over 350,000 deaths, including 28,000 German soldiers, 26,277 American soldiers, and an unknown amount of French. Americans suffered even further casualties due to the inexperience of the troops, some of the tactics used, and the outbreak of the “Spanish Flu.”

The Battle Of Leipzig – 1813

Mock battle on the battlefield
Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

Otherwise known as the Battle of the Nations, the Battle of Leipzig was fought from October 16 to 19, 1813, at Leipzig, Saxony.

It involved The Coalition armies of Austria, Prussia, Sweden, and Russia, led by Emperor Alexander I and Karl von Schwarzenberg against the French imperial army commanded by Emperor Napoleon I and resulted in Napoleon’s defeat. The battle involved 500,000 soldiers and 127,000 casualties, making it the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I.

The Battle of Stalingrad – 1942 to 1943

Picture of Volgograd
Dmitry RogulinTASS via Getty Images
Dmitry RogulinTASS via Getty Images

During the Battle of Stalingrad, Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union over control of the city of Stalingrad, now Volgograd, in Southern Russia. The battle is known for its close-quarters combat and the killing of civilians during air raids.

It is one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with an estimated 2 million in total casualties. At the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad were forced to surrender after the depletion of their food and ammunition after five months, one week, and three days of vicious fighting.