Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The 10 most obscure American wars

I’ve long said that covering the military in the United States is like covering wine and cheese in France. Herewith, then, relying in part on your suggestions from last week, both in comments and e-mails, I’ve compiled our equivalent of their very minor cheeses. I am impressed that the Seminole Wars are sufficiently well known ...

history.army.mil
history.army.mil
history.army.mil

I've long said that covering the military in the United States is like covering wine and cheese in France. Herewith, then, relying in part on your suggestions from last week, both in comments and e-mails, I've compiled our equivalent of their very minor cheeses. I am impressed that the Seminole Wars are sufficiently well known not to make this list -- war historian Russell Weigley was interesting about them. I would quote from his books but I am writing this item away from my library and on the road, in a Red Roof Inn behind a Hooter's in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

The U.S. intervention in Russia after World War I makes the honorable mention list -- it got knocked off at the last minute by the Sheepeater War. By contrast, I don't think the Fenian Raids into Canada make it, because my guess is that there was more singing than fighting going on.

I am not sure how to rank obscurity, so I have listed them chronologically.

I’ve long said that covering the military in the United States is like covering wine and cheese in France. Herewith, then, relying in part on your suggestions from last week, both in comments and e-mails, I’ve compiled our equivalent of their very minor cheeses. I am impressed that the Seminole Wars are sufficiently well known not to make this list — war historian Russell Weigley was interesting about them. I would quote from his books but I am writing this item away from my library and on the road, in a Red Roof Inn behind a Hooter’s in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

The U.S. intervention in Russia after World War I makes the honorable mention list — it got knocked off at the last minute by the Sheepeater War. By contrast, I don’t think the Fenian Raids into Canada make it, because my guess is that there was more singing than fighting going on.

I am not sure how to rank obscurity, so I have listed them chronologically.

  • War of Jenkin’s Ear, 1739-1748ish
  • St. Clair’s Defeat, 1791 (AKA Battle of the Wabash)
  • Winnebago War of 1827
  • Black Hawk War, 1832
  • Mormon War, 1857-58
  • The Pig War, 1859
  • Little Crow’s War/Great Sioux Uprising/Dakota War, 1862
  • Modoc War (Lava Beds War), 1872-1873
  • The Sheepeater War, 1879
  • Invasion of Hawaii, 1893
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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