The History of Warfare (~1700-Present) - Chronicling Major Historical Innovations, Tactics, Enhancements, and Changes in the Way Warfare is Conducted Worldwide Throughout Time

Timeline created by AssaultTurtles
In History
  • The Birth of Line Infantry

    The Birth of Line Infantry
    Popularized during the Seven Years War, line infantry is what you think of when you think the American Revolutionary War: lines of infantry with small arms firing salvos towards one another. This was the modern interpretation of early sword-and-shield line tactics with a gunpowder twist, used to deter the effects of cavalry or surrounding techniques. These types of tactics were widely used into the late 1800s, and arguably were around until WWI with the advent of trench warfare.
  • The Industrial Revolution

    The Industrial Revolution
    The industrial revolution's contribution to history is immense, and in terms of the history of warfare, it allowed for the development of large homogenized militaries. The increased efficiency in production allowed for nations to vastly increase military output, allowing for the arming of massive militaries. Along with increasing armament, it also led to greater populations, allowing for militaries to have larger overall numbers of troops.
  • First Use of Large Scale Biological Warfare

    First Use of Large Scale Biological Warfare
    The idea for biological warfare had been around for centuries, such as when the Mongols catapulted league victims over the walls of Caffa to infect the enemy in the 14th century, however it was the British who unleashed true biological warfare onto the Native Americans via the "gifting" of smallpox laden blankets to the natives. This indirect yet intentional attack contributed to the 90% of natives that were wiped out due to European viruses.
  • Advent of Combined Arms

    Advent of Combined Arms
    Like other innovations, combined arms tactics had been around for years, however, it was Napoleon who brought combined arms tactics to their full potential, using groups containing infantry, cavalry, and artillery all working together to effectively take control of much of Europe.
  • Age of Weaponized Steam Power

    Age of Weaponized Steam Power
    The first use of steam power in military naval applications came in the form of the USS Demologos in 1814, the first steam-powered warship, during the War of 1812. This ship would become known as the first of its kind and lay the framework for the popular steam frigates that would come later such as the Monitor and Merrimack during the US Civil War.
  • The Birth of Modern Special Forces Units (SOFs)

    The British Indian army was the first to utilize special forces units, that is, units that are highly trained to specific tasks, such as scouting or marksmanship. They were used to great effect during the second Boer war by the British who utilized the Lovat Scouts to great effect, ultimately laying the groundwork for popular modern SFOs we have today such as the Navy SEALS, Green Berets, and the Special Air Service (SAS).
  • Rapid Fire Weapons

    Rapid Fire Weapons
    The Belgians developed the mitrailleuse in 1851, a weapon capable of expending up to 100 rounds of ammunition, unheard of for its time. However, weapons tech would only improve from there, as rapid-fire weapons such as the Gatling gun were put to great effect during WWI, and modern adaptations remain in service today.
  • Age of Combustion

    Age of Combustion
    The first combustion engine was developed in 1872, and much like the steam engine, it changed the way war was fought forever. With its naval military introduction in 1912, nearly all vessels were made with internal combustion engines in lew of steam engines. This remained the status quo until large naval ships such as aircraft carriers and submarines became powered by nuclear energy beginning in the '60s, however, most vessels today remain on combustion engines.
  • Militarized Aircraft

    Militarized Aircraft
    First used in 1911 by the Italians against the Turks, aircraft in warfare began primarily as scouting units used primarily for reconnaissance. However, during the course of WWI aircraft technology exponentially improved, and this role quickly grew to include bombing missions, dogfighting, and surprise aerial assaults. It was also the birth of modern air forces around the globe.
  • WWI

    WWI
    WWI was the first truly mechanized war, with new tactics such as entrenchment requiring new and different methods to break. This led to the development of early tanks, artillery, and militarized aircraft used for the first time in large scale military history. It also holds the distinguishing of being the first-ever global-scale war, with countries from every continent fighting in theaters of war across the globe on land, air, and sea.
  • WWII

    WWII
    WWII held many military firsts, such as the development of the first jet engines, the first nuclear weapons, and the radio. These breakthroughs coupled with new long-range weapons such as bombers, battleships, and paratroopers, cemented WWII as the first modern war among large nations. New tactics such as civilian warfare and special operations units were also implemented, showing the trend towards what we know as modern warfare. It also remains the costliest war in history.
  • The Nuclear Age

    The Nuclear Age
    The first use of a nuke against another nation occurred on August 6, 1945, when US President Harry S Truman authorized the nuclear strike of Hiroshima.
  • Guerrilla Warfare

    Guerrilla Warfare
    Guerilla warfare can trace its roots back to the 6th century BC, however, it was the Vietnam war that popularized the use of guerilla warfare that we are familiar with today. The Vietcong, while underfunded, was able to effectively fight the US through ambushes and traps. This unusual fighting style posed a new threat that formed the basic ideas of fighting that many terrorist groups, such as ISIS, use today.
  • Stealth Technology

    Stealth Technology
    During the Cold War, the US invested in stealth technology after failing to keep the legendary U-2 under wraps. This new technology allowed for unparalleled reconnaissance via high altitude, super-fast airplanes with advanced designed to redirect radar radiation. Examples of this are the SR-71 and B-2 Spirit.
  • First Military Reconnaissance Satellite

    First Military Reconnaissance Satellite
    While the Soviet sputnik may have been the first satellite in space, it wasn't until 1959 that the first military satellite would be used for aerial reconnaissance. Using high powered cameras, the US used temporary satellites to spy on the Soviets, forming the basis for military investment in space.
  • The Rise and Response to Terrorism

    The Rise and Response to Terrorism
    Terrorism and "liberty" have been the prime reason that countries have engaged in warfare in the modern age following the cold war. The attacks on 9/11 against the US marked the first successful international act of terrorism in the US. This was not the first instance of international terrorism, however, this was the first time that there was a heavy response, sparking a so-called "War on Terror" that ignited conflict in the Middle East that lasts to this day.
  • The Dawn of the Drone and Remote Warfare

    The Dawn of the Drone and Remote Warfare
    On February 4th, 2002, the first military use of unnamed weaponized drones was used to carry out a targeted killing in Afghanistan. This ushered in the modern-day idea of remote warfare that many rich countries are using today.
  • Modern Warfare

    Modern Warfare
    The current state of warfare is unique, as many armed conflicts are not fought between states, but rather as civil wars or against militant groups, such as ISIS. Conflicts such as the Yemeni and Syrian civil wars and the War on Terror are not so clear cut, with a combination of guerilla tactics, combined arms, and remote warfare being common. Overall, there is a trend for prosperous nations to begin to pull soldiers out of danger zones favor of unmanned warfare, such as drone warfare.
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    The Cold War

    The cold was a truly interesting time, as warfare took on a new reality. No longer were men and bombs determining the outcome, but rather espionage, intelligence, and the threat of nuclear weapons defined the Cold War. Advances in satellite technology, rocketry, and communications highlighted the Cold War, as well as the looming threat of Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD, that kept all-out nuclear warfare from consuming the globe and continues to be a strong deterrent of warfare today.