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It’s rather fascinating — and perhaps a bit overwhelming — to consider the numerous moments and decisions that shaped American history. Of course, there are some instances that stand out more than others. The United States wouldn’t be what it is today without the many wars, battles, and sacrifices throughout the centuries. 

While impossible to capture all these special, history-changing moments in one article alone, here is a glimpse into some battles that changed American history forever:

The First Battle of Bull Run

The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Battle of Manassas, was a pivotal moment during the American Civil War. It was the moment that the country realized this war wasn’t going to be won so easily (or so quickly). Both sides were woefully unprepared and untrained, making this battle one of the bloodiest at the time, and the Union, in particular, took blows not only to their army but to their confidence.

 

However, due to the North’s failure, the battle inspired a second wave of volunteers and new forces. Moreover, Bull Run was a major turning point in the Civil War because the battle affected public opinion at home and abroad, within Congress, and the commander in chief. This lead to new, extensive changes in the manner of the war.

 

Each side realized, beginning with Bull Run, what it would take to win and as such began innovating their strategies. According to Norwich University, “the tactical value of Civil War-era strategies like delegating heavy artillery action directly to the central commander, using aerial reconnaissance to scout the battlefield, and relying on sharpshooters to target specific enemy personnel and harass enemy supply lines are still used today. The Civil War also led to the establishment of the first racially integrated military and the development of a more rigorous, efficient military.” This battle really set the precedent that if the war was to be won, new resources and tactics would have to be utilized.

The Battle of Yorktown

The Battle of Yorktown (also referred to as the Siege of Yorktown) is another crucial battle to discuss in regards to American history. The battle took place during the American Revolution, it all coming to an end October 19, 1781. This battle tends to be a popular, more well-known moment in history — mostly in part to the French armies’ help. As many of us are aware, the American Revolution was won in part to the French’s aid to the exhausted American troops, as well as the help from the West Indies fleet of the Comte de Grasse.

 

Yorktown was the winning battle for the war and for America’s release from British hold. As some experts detail, “Without the Yorktown victory, the fragmented, bankrupt colonies would have collapsed into the triumphant arms of the Mother Country. Instead, Yorktown ensured the United States was here to stay.” Together, the French and American troops executed a bombardment upon the British that would finally put an end to the American Revolution and begin peace negotiations, thus creating the Treaty of Paris. This final battle and treaty would result in the creation of most country lines as we know them today, the American and British economic partnership, and aid from America to the French effort during World War I.

After the Dust Has Settled: Aiding Veterans

Another important factor to consider in regards to American history is our veterans. Since these battles have taken place, people are entering the military more and more, and in turn, eventually, become veterans after they’ve served their time. Without soldiers, commanders, and bravery, the outcome of many historical battles would have been completely different.

 

It’s also important to note that after many of these battles, veterans were often left with little resources to turn to once they returned to their civilian life. Luckily, over the course of time and some history-changing battles, resources exist today to help destigmatize and treat the mental illnesses like PTSD common with military veterans. Winning battles is half the fight; ensuring our veterans are taken care of after their sacrifice is just as valuable and important. 

About the Author:

Frankie Wallace contributes to a wide variety of blogs and writes about many different topics, including politics and the environment. Wallace currently resides in Boise, Idaho and is a recent graduate of the University of Montana.