I’m curious what sorts of kill ratios various militaries through history have achieved during wartime. I have a feeling that it was recently, historically speaking, so would be interested to know during which war that army achieved those levels and if high kill ratio always or even usually means winning the war.
Keep in mind that before the twentieth century actual losses to combat were invariably only a small percentage of losses due to disease, starvation, and desertion. If army X beats army y in a battle killing 3000 guys but losing 1000, that sounds great until you realize both sides lost 10,000 more to disease just marching around trying to find each other.
Winning the battle? Maybe. Winning the war? Not always, as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and to some extent Iraq have shown. Of course, if you include wars such as the “War on Terror” then the you start getting into more nebulous areas.
According to the Wikipedia, in the Revolutionary War, England lost about 19,000 troops. 1,250 in combat and 18,000 to disease and starvation. 25,000 American Revolutionaries died. 8,000 in combat and 17,000 from disease and starvation. So, the highest kill ratio seems to go to…scurvy…
Edit: Evidently the British numbers are only for the Royal Navy. No numbers for British army or American civilians.
Quite often, the answer is “No.”
Kill ratios are ridiculously low for fighter pilots. Getting just 5 kills (over the course of your career) earned you the title of Ace as recently as 20 years ago (and still does, for all I know).
BTW, you might want to clarify your question a bit. Right now it reads as “what are the kill ratios of militaries throughout history, grouped by war/conflict?”
Hannibal achieved loss ratios of greater than 5-1 at both Trebia and Lake Trasimene, and at least 10-1 at Cannae against the Romans. The Carthaginians still lost the war.
This can’t be emphasized enough. It was only in the 20th century that deaths in battle became the primary cause of deaths in war.
Kill ratios only make a difference if the two sides are roughly equally matched at the beginning. In WW2 the Germans killed or capured 5 million more soviet soldiers than the USSR killed or captured and the lost the war. This was because the populations were so vastly different at the start of the war.
At Agincourt the English only lost around 112 soldiers and killed around 8,000 French soldiers and they still lost the war.
It also has to do with willingness to absord casualties. In the Vietnam war the US had about 60,000 soldier diesand the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had anywhere from 440,000 to 1.1 million soldiers die. The north Vietnamese still won because they were willing to absord the losses while the Americans were not.
While Agincourt was a pretty decisive victory for the English (and Welsh), I always thought that the Hundred Years War was pretty much a draw, due to both sides being broke and exhausted. Of course the English were too busy fighting each other over the succession to worry about the French.
The French wanted the English gone and the English wanted their king to be king of France. At the end of the war the king of France was French and the English left. They achieved their goal. On the battlefields it was pretty much a draw but victory is not about killing more people, it is about achieving your political objectives.
More likely dysentery.
I would also add that while the French did suffer a number of crushing defeats in the field, where sieges and town/castle takeovers were concerned they pretty won more often than not thanks to their prowess with artillery, while the English struggled to take ground back. So naturally, in the long run, they lost.
Agincourt is a prime example of this : the English army was, all things considered, a rather pitiful force that was in the process of doing a chevauchée, that is to say an extended hit-and-run raid into enemy territory, trying to burn and plunder as much as they could without committing to the field.
They got outmanoeuvred by the French host and were forced to stand and fight - but that was emphatically not what they wanted in the first place. I daresay there must have been quite a few wet trousers up that hill the night before the battle. And of course they unexpectedly won thanks to a perfect storm of favourable conditions, not to mention a meter-pegging amount of French retardation… but what did that achieve, ultimately ?