The Greatest Face Offs In History

Longtime feuds usually culminate in epic battles. These decisive confrontations are always memorable, and it’s important to look back on them so we can learn from the successes and failures of those involved. Check out some of the oldest rivalries in the history of the world, and don’t forget that the Hatfields and McCoys feud begins on Memorial Day, at 9/8c on HISTORY.

1. Battle of Stalingrad (Germany vs. Soviet Union)

Considered by many historians to be one of World War II’s most decisive battles, the Battle of Stalingrad was also one of the bloodiest, with casualty estimates topping out at nearly 1,800,000. After their attempt to gain control of the city of Stalingrad, the German forces never quite regained their strength and saw no further victories in the East.

2. Battle of Salamis (Greece vs. Persia)

The Greco-Persian wars lasted 50 years (499 –449 BC) and included many-an-epic battle, but what makes the Battle of Salamis the most notable is the total mess it made. Hundreds of Persian ships cramped the small Straits of Salamis, resulting in such chaos that the outnumbered Greek fleet was able to form a straight line of defense and sink some 200 ships.

3. Battle of Waterloo (France vs. The Seventh Coalition)

The ever-persistent French Emperor, Napoleon, finally met defeat against the British-lead coalition forces at Waterloo. Having just escaped from exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon assembled troops in an effort to take his adversaries by surprise. The French Army eventually retreated after being defeated by the musketry of the British Guards Brigade, and Napoleon died in exile a few years later.

4. Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr

Former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr’s long time rivalry came to a head after a defamatory article about Burr was penned by Hamilton during the 1804 New York gubernatorial race. The two men decided to work things out in a duel by pistol in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr fatally wounded Hamilton, who died the following day.

5. Siege of Orléans (France vs. England)

The Siege of Orléans was a turning point in the bloody Hundred Year War between France and England. A short nine days after her arrival, the legendary Joan of Arc successfully lead several military actions which finally pushed the English forces to end their occupation of the French town.

6. Stalin vs. Trotsky

When it became clear to then-Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin that life was coming to an end, he had a clear choice between two successors: Stalin or Trotsky. Lenin had more faith in the highly intelligent Trotsky and considered Stalin’s motives to be driven by evil, but a series of vicious personal attacks broke out between both men, with Stalin coming out as the eventual winner.

7. Battle of Gettysburg (Union vs. Confederacy)

The Battle of Gettysburg is famous for both the high number of killed or wounded (23,000 on the Union side and 28,00 on the Confederate side), and because it forced the Confederate Army to retreat back to Virginia, halting their advancement towards the North and marking a major turning point in the American Civil War.

8. Joan Fontaine vs. Olivia de Havilland

The outcome of this particular showdown was uglier than the initial conflict itself, but is worth mentioning for the tenacity of the grudge-holders involved. Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland are sisters and Hollywood actresses who began their careers in the 1930s. As luck would have it, the siblings were both nominated for the Best Actress Oscar in 1941. Joan Fontaine won for her role in Hitchcock’s film “Suspicion” and the sisters haven’t spoken in the sixty years since.

9. The Pleasant Valley War (Grahams vs. Tewksburys)

The ten-year-long feud between the Tewksburys family (who were cattlemen) and the Grahams (who were sheep-herders) initially started over property lines where each clan would let their respective herds graze. Their argument resulted in years of mysterious murders and lynchings, often performed by masked men, in various towns across Arizona.

10. Al Capone vs. Bugs Moran

During Chicago’s notoriously violent prohibition era, Moran and Capone ran rival gangs in the city. The conflict resulted in the kidnapping, torture and murders of many men, but the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was particularly violent because gunmen posing as police lined up a number of Moran associates against the walls of a Chicago warehouse and gunned them down. Moran narrowly evaded death that day and left Chicago unscathed a few years later.

Inspired By History’s “Hatfields & McCoys”

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