What are bloodiest battle as a percentage of participants?

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,527
Las Vegas, NV USA
Queen Buodica of the Iceni had a force said be 100,000, killed an estimated 75,000 mostly Romans and britonic allies and then saw most of her own army destroyed by the Roman commander Suetonius (Battle of Watling Street). She survived but is believed to have killed herself.
 
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Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
To reiterate, I'm curious about a battle with casualties as a percentage of participants. If you take Little Big Horn and grant that Custer's battalion and not the entire 7th regiment were involved it wouldn't be more then 50% for a total loss, the Native casualties seems to have been rather light, between 60-200 of some 2000 natives.

If you take the battle of Tuyutí the wiki says 13500 participants 3433 captured and killed so a mere 25%.

So what I have in mind is a battle were one side is annihilated and the winners not doing much better.
Some of the battles in the Pacific during the Second World War might qualify, depending on what your criteria is for severe casualties.

The Japanese nearly always fought to the last man of course, so in most of those island battles the percentage of their soldiers killed was usually close to 100%.

Allied casualties could also be quite heavy. At Iwo Jima for instance one in three Marines that participated in the battle was killed or wounded, and that figure includes support troops. The percentage of casualties among the infantry however would have been much higher. The company responsible for raising the flag over Mt. Suribachi only had 50 men left at battle's end. That was not unusual. Chuck Tatum's company landed with 258, and only had 38 who were not wounded or killed at the end. 19 of the 24 battalion commanders were killed or wounded as well.
 
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Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Queen Buodica of the Iceni had a force said be 100,000, killed an estimated 75,000 mostly Romans and britonic allies and then saw most of her own army destroyed by the Roman commander Suetonius (Battle of Watling Street). She survived but is believed to have killed herself.
Roman casualties were far less than 75,000. Suetonius Paulinus only commanded about 10,000 men at Watling Street, of which 400 were supposedly killed.

Boudicca had previously triumphed over a vexillation (detachment) of the 9th Legion that was attempting to relieve Camulodunum (Colchester), and near annihilated it in the process. It was only a portion of the legion however, and probably did not exceed 2,000 to 2,500 men. The city itself was only defended by 200 auxiliaries plus the veterans who rallied to it's defense, but the latter were civilian colonists. If I'm not mistaken Londinium, which was next to face the wrath of Boudicca's army, had no defenders. I believe all the slain there were civilians.

It's possible Boudicca killed as many as 75,000 if we include massacred civilians in Londininium and Camulodunum, but the military casualties inflicted on the Romans would have been far lower. Boudicca had two victories against very small contigents of Roman troops and then was defeated in her first and only battle against a substantial Roman army, and if Tacitus' account of the final battle is correct, it appears to be a very one-sided affair where most of the battle's dead were Britons.
 
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stevev

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Apr 2017
3,527
Las Vegas, NV USA
Roman casualties were far less than 75,000. Suetonius Paulinus only commanded about 10,000 men at Watling Street, of which 400 were supposedly killed.

Boudicca had previously triumphed over a vexillation (detachment) of the 9th Legion that was attempting to relieve Camulodunum (Colchester), and near annihilated it in the process. It was only a portion of the legion however, and probably did not exceed 2,000 to 2,500 men. The city itself was only defended by 200 auxiliaries plus the veterans who rallied to it's defense, but the latter were civilian colonists. If I'm not mistaken Londinium, which was next to face the wrath of Boudicca's army, had no defenders. I believe all the slain there were civilians.
Yes, both Romans and civilian Britons serving Rome were targeted in Boudica's raids. Essentially those living in the in the Roman towns that were built in the previous 20 years. Watling Street was a separate encounter.
 

macon

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Aug 2015
4,074
Slovenia, EU
Battle of Towton(1461). About 50% of participants dead if wiki is correct.
 

macon

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Aug 2015
4,074
Slovenia, EU
Not seen any estimates for Stamford bridge other then that the Vikings suffered heavy losses.
Wiki says 11.000 dead of 24.000. 6000 dead of 9000 Norwegians may be even too low if we consider that "only 24 ships from the fleet of over 300 were needed to carry the survivors away."
 

MAGolding

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Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
How about Custer's last stand? 100% for one side.
Mike
Let's get the terminology straight.

The battle of the Little Bighorn included Reno's valley fight and retreat, the Reno-Benteen fight on Reno Hill, and the fight of Custer's battalion on June 25, plus more of the Reno-Benteen fight on Reno Hill on June 26.

The fight of Custer's battalion on June 25 doesn't seem to have a single specific name that everyone recognizes. Custer's Last Stand refers to the group of 30 to 50 men whose bodies were found around Custer's body and who were presumably killed making a last stand. Cuter's Last Stand does not refer to the entire fight of the Custer battalion on June 25 in the area called Custer Field.

For all that we know, Custer might have made several successive stands on Custer Field; Custer's Fourth Stand, Custer's Fifth Stand, and so on up to Custer's Last Stand. And certainly the bodies of most of Custer's 212 men were found outside of, and often far from, Custer's Last Stand.

So for the Battle of the Little Bighorn the Seventh Cavalry, civilians, and Crows and Arikaras, totaling about 647, suffered 268 killed and 49 wounded, 6 of the wounded dying later, or about 48.99 percent casualties and about 42.34 percent fatalities or dying later of wounds.

For the entire fight of the Custer battalion on June 25 on Custer Field there were about 212 men present who suffered 100 percent casualties and 100 percent fatalities.

For Custer's Last Stand, a part of the fight of the Custer battalion, there were about 30 to 50 men present who suffered 100 percent casualties and 100 percent fatalities.

I hope this clarifies matters for those who might think that Custer's Last Stand is the same as the entire fight of Custer's battalion or even the same as the entire Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Nope. Major Reno survived with most of his 150 detachment.

Better pick Alamo.
See above for terminology and casualty clarification.

Decades ago The Young Riders had an episode where someone was killing all the survivors of the Alamo, and I thought that in real life that would be a very easy thing to do. but the List of Texian Survivors of the Alamo is surprising long.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Texian_survivors_of_the_Battle_of_the_Alamo

They include women and children, a couple of men who the Mexicans weren't sure fought for Texas, and many sent out of the Alamo with messages before the last attack. Thus the battle had "only" about an 80 percent fatality rate for the Texians if you count everyone who was inside the Alamo while it was defended and a much higher fatality rate if you only count those Texians who fought in the last battle.

Not true. Dustin Hoffman survived!!

But 100% of one of the sides at the Alamo was wiped out!
See above re Alamo casualties.
 
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Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Chosin Reservoir

Chinese losses were so heavy that the entire 9th Army Group (approx. 40% of the Chinese combat strength in Korea) was put of action until March of 1951, with between 40,000 and 80,000 casualties, and 2 of the 8 divisions that were involved were so badly mauled that they ceased to exist.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S./U.N. troops committed, most from the 1st Marine Division but also a regimental combat team from the U.S. Army (including South Korean KATUSAs) and a battalion of British Royal Marines, there were close to 18,000 casualties.
 
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MAGolding

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Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Some people might say that the Battle of Coleto, Texas on March 19-20, 1836 had very heavy casualties.

The Mexican force of 340 men on the first day suffered most of the 100 to 200 Mexican killed, wounded, and missing and so had about 29.4 to 58.8 percent casualties. The 300 Texians suffered at least 10 killed and 60 wounded, about 23.33 percent casualties.

The Texians surrendered on the morning of March 20 to the reinforced Mexican force and thus the Texians now had 100 percent casualties. Of course prisoners don't exactly count in making battles bloody.

Except that on March 27, 1836 the prisoners from Coleto and other battles were slaughtered in the Massacre of Goliad.

So some people could claim that the Texian force at Coleto suffered 100 percent fatalities.