Famous Battles List

During the 19th century, the United States witnessed a number of major conflicts. These included wars with Britain, Native Americans, Spain, Mexico as well as a Civil War that shook the nation. A number of iconic battles were fought as a part of these conflicts and became the highlights of 19th-century American history. Following are some of the most famous battles from the period.

Battle of Tippecanoe

The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought between a confederation of Native American tribes and the United States. It took place on November 1811 in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The Indian alliance was led by the famous Indian leader Tecumseh. American forces were led by William Henry Harrison. Tecumseh’s warriors were headquartered at Prophetstown where his brother, Tenskwatawa was in charge.

Harrison ordered his men to attack the town, taking the Indian warriors by surprise. After a futile attempt to defend the town, the Native Americans were repulsed and Harrison’s men took the town. Harrison used his victory at Prophetstown for his presidential campaign and was elected president in 1840.

Battle of New Orleans

The Battle of New Orleans was the last major battle of the War of 1812. It was fought between the United Kingdom and the United States. The battle took place on January 8, 1815, near New Orleans in Louisiana. The British troops under the command of Major General Sir Edward Pakenham decided to assault the city of New Orleans. The Americans created formidable defenses against this attack under the command of Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson.

The British attack was successfully repulsed and the British sustained heavy losses. Nearly 300 British soldiers died, including a large number of senior officers – more than 1000 were wounded. The battle made Andrew Jackson a war hero overnight and led to his success in the presidential campaign.

Battle for Mexico City

The Battle for Mexico City was a series of engagements that were fought during the Mexican-American War. The engagements were fought between the Mexican forces and the American army under General Winfield Scott. The Mexican forces were led by General Santa Anna. The engagements took place from September 8 to September 15, 184. Despite sustaining heavy losses, the battle culminated in the American takeover of Mexico City. By capturing Mexico’s capital city, the American army paved the path for a complete U.S. victory in the war.

Battle of the Alamo

The Battle of the Alamo was fought during the Texas Revolution. It took place in February and March 1836. The Texians had previously declared independence from Mexican rule. To punish them, a Mexican army under President General Santa Anna marched to Texas. Alamo was an important fort in Texas and manned by only about 250 men at the time. Santa Anna’s troops marched on the fort and were able to gain control of the fort in the third assault attempt. The Mexican army cruelly executed any survivors of the battle. This ultimately inspired more people to join the Texas Revolution and subsequently secure independence.

Battle of Fort Sumter

The Battle of Fort Sumter is recognized as the battle that actually started the American Civil War. The battle took place in April 1861 in Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina was the first southern state to secede from the Union following the election of Abraham Lincoln. Following its secession, the state authorities started taking over federal properties. Fort Sumter was occupied by soldiers of the United States who refused to surrender the fort. After a repeated bombardment by Confederate guns around the fort, Major Robert Anderson finally gave up the fort. Although the whole engagement didn’t result in any casualties, it sparked the American Civil War.

Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was a decisive moment in the American Civil War. The battle was fought from July 1, 1863, to July 3, 1863. It took place in Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania. Confederate General Robert E. Lee led the Confederate army, hoping to invade the northern states. He was confronted by a Union army under the command of Major General George Meade.

Lee’s forces charged the defenses of Meade’s army, launching repeated assaults. The Union forces withstood these assaults and successfully repulsed them. In the end, Lee was forced to retreat with his army. The battle was one of the costliest in terms of casualties. Union army suffered around 23,000 casualties; the Confederate army suffered 23,000 to 28,000 casualties.

Battle of Little Bighorn

The Battle of Little Bighorn is one of the most iconic battles of 19th century America. It took place in June 1876 near Little Bighorn River in Montana. The battle was fought between an alliance of Native American tribes and the United States forces. The Native American warriors, numbered at around 2500, were led by a number of chiefs including Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

The American army, numbered at around 700, was led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The battle was a decisive victory for the Native American warriors. Custer’s forces were destroyed and the Americans suffered around 300 casualties. The battle was marked by Custer’s Last Stand.

Battle of Manila Bay

The Battle of Manila Bay took place in May 1898. It was fought around the waters of Manila, Philippines. The battle was the first major engagement of the Spanish-American War. During the battle, a United States naval force engaged and defeated a sizable Spanish naval force. The battle was a decisive victory for the U.S. forces. It spelled an end to Spanish colonial power in the Philippines and ushered in a period of American colonialism.


The 19th century was a period of expansion for the United States. The country expanded in terms of its territories, political influence, and imperial powers. The important battles that took place during the century greatly affected the outlook and destiny of the nation. They also ensured that apart from emerging as an economic powerhouse, the United States would also remain a military power. Many individuals who gained fame during these battles emerged as war heroes and even went on to become American presidents.