Tag: American Civil War

When Was the Last War on U.S. Soil?

With all of the fighting happening in Africa, the Middle East, and in small pockets with terrorists, it can be easy to lose sight of the progress we’ve made as humans.

Over the past 50 years, the world has seen fewer wars than at any time in the past five centuries. It has been one of the most peaceful periods of human civilization, even though we have more people and fewer resources available than arguably at any other time.

The United States has been quite fortunate in its warfare history. Only a handful of battles have happened in the country after the Civil War.

Outside of the War of 1812, the only other time enemy forces occupied American territories was 1942. Japanese forces attacked the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska.

During that same year in September, Japanese bombers conducted a raid on the American mainland. They dropped incendiary bombs on one of Oregon’s state forests, causing Mt. Emily to light up in flames.

What Was the Last Major Battle Fought in the U.S.?

The last significant military engagement on U.S. soil happened in 1890 at the Battle of Wounded Knee.


Depending on one’s perspective of the conflict, it might also be known as the Wounded Knee Massacre.

It happened in December of that year. The U.S. Army had been dispatched to disarm a Lakota camp in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation within South Dakota’s Borders. Over 250 people from the tribe were killed that day, including women and children.


Another 31 soldiers died in the conflict, with 33 having injuries. The U.S. Government gave 20 soldiers in the battle the Medal of Honor.

The National Congress of American Indians passed two resolutions in 2001, condemning the military awards. Although they’ve never been rescinded, Congress passed a 1990 resolution that expressed “deep regret.”

For the last full war that was fought on U.S. soil, one would need to go back to the American Civil War.

The Significance of Lord Russell and the British During the Civil War

Lord John Russell was the foreign secretary in Great Britain during the fall of 1862. It was a challenging period internationally as America sank deeper into its Civil War. The Confederates were marching on Washington, a cotton famine was creating economic problems, and the Union was experiencing numerous defeats.

Russell met with Lord Palmerston, who was the Prime Minister, and other European powers to discuss the option of providing mediation to the United States.

The idea was ultimately rejected after three months of intense discussions. Russell and the British decided to maintain their cautious neutrality stance when dealing with both sides in the American war.

Why Did the British Decide Against Intervention?

Early scholars believed that the British decided against mediation because they felt that Lincoln and the Union would reject it. There was widespread support for the North, but the rest of the world needed the economic engine provided by the South.

Any mediation would create new personal rivalries and divisions that could eventually turn into more fuel for the Civil War fire.

When the Union got a much-needed victory at Antietam, it frustrated Palmerston and Russell because it seemed as if the Confederate cause was hopeless.

Attitudes at home helped to convince the British elites that neutrality was necessary. Although the monarchy and nobles generally supported the Confederacy because of their trade ties, the common person in the UK supported the Union.

With France managing its own venture in Mexico, Britain was forced to turn to Greece and Russia for intervention. By 1863, the idea of mediating had died completely.

The British Almost Officially Recognized the Confederacy

Under the efforts of Lord Russell, mediation came to a head in the summer of 1862. Charles Adams, Sr., warned Washington that the British were interested in interfering between the two parties. If that happened, the goal was to give the South what it wanted. 

The issue that faced Russell was simple. If the Confederacy was given full governing authority under secession, the British faced an all-out war with the remainder of the United States. That would mean an invasion in Canada, naval attacks, and no more grain shipments.

With so much on the line to lose, the British stepped back. The Civil War came to its natural outcome, and we can learn from these moments in history.