First Battles Quiz: Let's Have a War!


By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Every war begins with an act of aggression. Sometimes it's a small-scale skirmish that spirals into full-blown battles. Other times, armies gather in huge masses and prepare for years of combat. How much do you know about the first battles of major wars?

Which of the following was the start of combat in the American Revolutionary War?

The Battles of Lexington and Concord marked the beginning of the fighting in April 1775. They weren't large engagements, but dozens of men died, sparking a larger conflict.


Who fired the first shots of the Revolutionary War?

It was probably a British soldier, but in truth no one really knows. American leaders had it in their best interest to convince the locals that the British were the aggressors … and that the colonists should fight back.


Which side won the Battles of Lexington and Concord?

The Americans, rather in shock at their own willingness to shoot at the British, managed to collect themselves and scatter several groups of British soldiers. The day's fighting triggered a conflict that dragged on for years.


Which country did Germany first invade to begin World War I?

On August 2, 1914, Germany invaded Luxembourg, an act that met little resistance. Two days later, the Germans invaded Belgium, where World War I fighting began in earnest.


Before the war began, Belgium maintained its neutrality. Why did the Germans invade, anyway?

The Germans wanted to attack France, but to do so they needed Belgium first. The Germans started by taking the Belgium city of Liege. Both sides suffered tens of thousands of casualties, and thousands of civilians died, too.


Following the invasion of Belgium, what was the first truly major battle of World War I?

The Battle of the Frontiers encompassed several major battles at the beginning of the war. They mostly pitted Germany against France, Belgium and the United Kingdom.


Which side won the Battle of the Frontiers?

The Germans pushed back the Allies and then invaded northern France. The German victory set up a subsequent major battle that would be called the Battle of the Marne.


The Gleiwitz incident started which war?

In 1939, the Nazis staged the Gleiwitz incident, a faked "attack" on a German radio station. The Germans used this staged event as an excuse to start World War II.


Germany started World War II by invading which country?

Hitler ordered his Nazi forces to invade Poland in 1939. This incursion ignited a war that would eventually involve most countries on the planet.


After launching the invasion, how long did it take for the Germans to defeat Poland?

The Germans needed about a month to defeat Poland. The Polish suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties, mostly in captured soldiers, but many ran to other countries so that they could take up arms later in the war.


During the first fighting of World War II, horse-mounted Polish soldiers charged German tanks.

Legend has it that brave Polish cavalrymen charged German tanks, but it simply isn't true. The Polish put up a hard fight against the Nazis and were eventually overwhelmed -- but Poland never surrendered to Germany.


World War II started in 1939. When did America finally engage in combat?

Americans finally engaged Germany as part of the Battle of the Atlantic, when the U.S. sent sailors to help the Allies enforce a blockade against Germany. They began fighting in the fall of 1941.


What was the first significant battle of the American Civil War?

In April 1861, Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina. This battle sparked the bloodiest war in American history.


Which side won the Battle of Fort Sumter?

The Confederates used cannons to begin a large-scale bombardment of Fort Sumter. They blasted the fort with thousands of rounds of artillery and forced the Union to surrender.


How many casualties did the Union suffer at Fort Sumter?

Although the Confederates launched many shells at the fort, the Union troops were incredibly lucky -- no one was killed. Neither side lost a single man. That fact, of course, would soon change.


The Battle of Sinop was the first major battle of which war?

The 1853 Battle of Sinop started when Russian ships attacked Ottoman ships near what is now Turkey. The Russians suffered minimal losses but inflicted thousands of casualties on the Ottomans … and started the Crimean War.


The Battle of Sinop did NOT drag which country into the Crimean War?

Spain was never part of the Crimean War, but the Battle of Sinop triggered the involvement of Britain and France, both of which sided with the Ottomans versus the Russians.


Operation Starlite was the first all-American unit to participate in which war?

In August 1965, the United States initiated its first large-scale offensive operation (Operation Starlite) as part of the Vietnam War. Before the war ended, nearly 60,000 troops would lose their lives.


During Operation Starlite, roughly 50 Americans were killed. U.S. units claimed to have killed how many Vietcong soldiers?

U.S. troops took dozens of casualties but claimed to have killed more than 600 enemy troops. No one really knows how many North Vietnamese actually died in the fight.


Which side started the Korean War?

In June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and captured Seoul. The United States immediately came to the aid of South Korea.


Which of the following Korean War battles was the first to feature U.S. troops?

Just a few days after the North Korean invasion, American troops took part in the Battle of Osan. U.S. troops were overrun by a powerful group of North Korean tanks.


An incursion in 1753 marked the beginning of which war?

In January of 1753, French troops from Canada headed south into the Ohio River valley to build a fort on British territory. This event helped to spark the Seven Years' War.


At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, British colonial troops were sent to drive the French back north. Who led the troops against the French?

George Washington was a leader in the British colonial forces, and he was ordered to fight off the French. In the first battle, Washington's men killed 10 Frenchmen and the war in America was begun.


Which country started the Falklands War?

In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands Islands, claiming that islands belonged to Argentinians instead of the British. The British, it's safe to say, disagreed with that assertion.


Britain was prepared for Argentina's invasion of the Falklands.

Although Argentina had claimed the islands for years, Britain never expected the Argentinians to attack. The opening battle was a low-key affair … but it sparked a 10-week war that claimed about 1,000 lives.


Which country started the Iran-Iraq War?

In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, triggering a war. Iraq started the attack by striking Iran's airfields with the intent of disabling Iran's air force.


What excuse did Iraq's Saddam Hussein use to justify starting the battle against Iran?

Iran had serious internal strife due to the Islamic Revolution, and Hussein said that he didn't want the revolution to spread to the rest of the region. Hussein famously used chemical weapons during this conflict.


Where did the first battle of the Spanish-American War take place?

In 1898, the American and Spanish navies faced off in the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. President William McKinley wanted no part of a war but political pressure forced his hand.


After the Battle of Manila Bay, how long did the Spanish-American War last?

The Battle of Manila Bay started a 10-week war. The United States won, forcing Spain to sign the Treaty of Paris and give up Cuba, among other consequences.


Which country was the U.S. at war with following the 1899 Battle of Manila?

During the Spanish-American War, the U.S. ran Spain out of the Philippines and then sent in occupation troops. A U.S. soldier fired on Filipino troops in Manila and started the Battle of Manila, which became part of the Philippine-American War -- and killed hundreds of thousands of people.


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