My question is, has there been any states that have warred with each other in the United States?

Obviously the one war that comes to mind is the Civil War, not what I am looking for. My question is more directed to one state has a grievance with one other state and they collected militia to go to battle. Being from Ohio I also know of the "Toledo War" which was a political battle over the mouth of the Maumee River. In this tale, two, soon to be states, took up arms to contest a small swatch of land at the border of Michigan and Ohio. Ohio won of course (GO BUCKS!) It got me wondering, had this happened anywhere else in the US? Where state fought state or state fought territory? I am looking for something disputes that don't have to do with the Civil war pre or post. So anything that has to do with slavery or north/south aggression (Noting that the Civil War wasn't about Slavery to begin with).

I did some looking and didn't find any internal conflicts (other than above) only ones that involved other countries fighting for land in the US. If anyone has other examples please let me know.

  • Hey, we got the U.P. as compensation for that worthless strip... ;) Mar 22, 2017 at 17:15
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    What about 'bleeding Kansas'?
    – Ne Mo
    Mar 22, 2017 at 17:18
  • I guess in the way the question is worded maybe, but I feel that bleeding Kansas is a precursor to the Civil War. I am thinking more along the lines of land disputes or trade among states. I will revise my question. Thanks. PS. Matt, you can have the frozen tundra of the U.P. :)
    – EvanM
    Mar 22, 2017 at 18:16
  • 1
    In any case, "Bleeding Kansas" wasn't a battle between states but a conflict between followers of two different ideologies. Mar 22, 2017 at 19:41
  • 1
    There are many disputes, 7 of which are referred to as "wars" here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… some are from colonial period tho.
    – AllInOne
    Mar 22, 2017 at 22:04

3 Answers 3


There was an incident similar to the Toledo War known as the Honey War over the border between Missouri and Iowa Territory. Again, it was the result of a surveying dispute. As before, each side attempted to enforce laws in the disputed territory. Again, state militias faced off against each other. As before, it was resolved in court.

Missouri and Iowa's borders depended on a line drawn from "the rapids of the River Des Moines", there are a lot of rapids on the Des Moines River, or "the Des Moines rapids" on the Mississippi River depending on who you asked. The difference was a 30 mile strip of land running the length of the Missouri/Iowa border.

The name comes from a legend of a Missouri tax collector trying to collect taxes in the disputed territory. After being run off by residents with pitchforks, they decided to collect the taxes by chopping down three trees bearing honey beehives and taking the honey in lieu of taxes... I wish I could pay my taxes in raw honey.

The Missouri State Militia was sent in to protect the tax collectors, but its commander wisely recognized that this was very silly and resolved not to shed any blood. A mob of Iowans locked up the Sheriff of Clark County, Missouri, and the Iowa State Militia was called out.

The Iowa militia was not a formidable fighting force. According to the Iowa National Guard Museum...

A rag-tag "army" immediately began to form up on the Iowa side. Each man dressed as he felt appropriate and supplied his own weapon. According to one account of men showing up for muster in Davenport, "in the ranks were to be found men armed with blunderbusses, flintlocks, and quaint old ancestral swords that had probably adorned the walls for many generations. One private carried a plough coulter over his shoulder by means of a log chain, another had an old-fashioned sausage stuffer for a weapon, while a third shouldered a sheet iron sword about six feet long." In all, 1200 men were mustered on the Iowa side.

The governors of both states agreed to let Congress resolve the dispute, and they split the difference. Later when Iowa became a state, the issue would come up again before the Supreme Court in Missouri v Iowa. They upheld the compromise line, and to make sure there was no further doubt about the border, they appointed two commissioners, one from Iowa and one from Missouri, to survey and mark the border with large pillars every 10 miles.

And said commissioners are hereby commanded to plant at said northwest corner a cast-iron pillar four feet six inches long and squaring twelve inches at its base and eight inches at its top, such pillar to be marked with the word "Missouri" on its south side, and "Iowa" on the north, and "State Line" on the east side, which marks shall be strongly cast into the iron. And a similar pillar shall be by them planted in the line near the bank of the Des Moines River, with the mark of "State Line" facing the west. And also a similar one near the east bank of the Missouri River shall be planted by the said commissioners in the said line, the mark of "State Line" facing the east.

And it is further ordered that pillars or posts, of stone or of cast-iron, shall be planted at every ten miles in the line extending east, from the northwest corner aforesaid to the Des Moines River, and also at the end of every ten miles on the due west line, extending to the Missouri River from said corner. These latter line posts to be of such description as the commissioners may adopt, or as the parties to this suit, acting jointly, may direct the commissioners to use, except that said line-posts shall be of stone or iron.

There was a recent expedition to relocate these markers and resurvey the border, the Missouri/Iowa Boundary Line Investigation. That article includes more details about the border dispute.


I'll try to give a more detailed analysis of the conflict between Vermont and New York than the short answer posted here earlier. It never errupted into military conflict but in 1784 Governor George Clinton of New York asked Congress to authorize military force against Vermont. They didn't, and Clinton didn't follow through on his threat to use New York militiamen to invade Vermont.

Whether Vermont "broke away" from New York depends on whether New York's claim to Vermont was valid. Certainly King Charles II in 1664 decided the west bank of the Connecticut River was to be the eastern boundary of New York, so that it included what later became Vermont.

In 1749 Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire issued the first of his well over 100 "grants". Each of these established a "town" that was typically 6 miles by 6 miles, thus 36 square miles, and offered land there for sale. The first grant was the town of Bennington, which he named after himself. Numerous settlers arrived over a 15-year period starting in 1749, and they thought they lived in New Hampshire.

In 1764 King George III ruled that the turf west of the Connecticut River belonged to New York. The king's ruling followed an ex parte hearing, i.e. he heard from only one side of the dispute: the government of New York. That was one reason that who disagreed thought they might convince him to change his mind.

The colonial government of New York auctioned off land in the region that was then called the New Hampshire Grants and was not yet known as Vermont. These "land patents" from New York conflicted with grants from New Hampshire, so the many New Hampshire grantees were threatened with eviction. The Green Mountain Boys were a militia formed to resist such evictions, and local governments made it an offense punishable by flogging, forfeiture of all property, and banishment, to accept a commission as a sheriff or a justice of the peace from New York.

In 1767 the king ordered New York to recognize the claims of settlers who had grants from New Hampshire, but that was not well enforced.

In 1775 the Green Mountain Boys were made a part of the Continental Army and their leader, Ethan Allen, was made a colonel.

In January 1777 the politicians of the New Hampshire Grants assembled and published a list of grievances against both King George III and the state of New York, and declared what they called "New Connecticut" a separate state. In July they decided to call their new state Vermont.

Vermont was denied representation in the Continental Congress because of objections from New York. This happened repeatedly over a number of years, I think until about 1785.

Vermont made the offense of treason against Vermont punishable by forfeiture of all property and banishment, and treason meant supporting either George III or the claims of New York to Vermont.

In August 1781, after the Articles of Confederation came into effect, Congress said that Vermont needed only to give up its claims to turf east of the Connecticut River and west of Lake Champlain in order to be admitted to the Union. Under the Articles, each of the 13 states could cast one vote on each measure in Congress, and admission of a new state required nine votes. Throughout the 1780s, there was a lot of talk about admitting new states, including Vermont, Kentucky, Franklin, and Maine. (Franklin was of course never admitted. I was surprised that the admission of Maine was being talked about so much as early as the 1780s; maybe that just means I'm ignorant.) In February 1782, Vermont's legislature complied, but objections from New York still prevented Vermont's admission.

Vermont took the position that it was not a part of the United States and was at liberty to enter into separate peace negotiations with the British. The negotiations took place in Quebec and Vermont, and resulted in numerous prisoner exchanges and in 1780 resulted in a secret armistice that held until the end of the war. Vermont's diplomats had secretly promised the British that a political process was being set in motion to convince Vermont's legislature to make Vermont a British colony. In October 1781 a Vermont soldier, Sgt. Archelaus Tupper, was killed in a skirmish and Colonel Barry St. Leger of the British army ordered him buried with full military honors and wrote a letter of apology to Vermont's General Roger Enos. The letter was leaked and a scandal broke out over Vermont's "treasonous" negotiations with the British.

In the peace treaty of 1783, the British ceded Vermont to the United States, but Vermont continued to maintain that Vermont was not a part of the United States.

In 1784 New York's governor, George Clinton, wrote that he would use military force to overthrow Vermont's government if Congress didn't authorize using federal troops for that purpose. But he did not do so and Vermont continued to exist as a de-facto independent country.

In 1790, New York's legislature consented to "the community now actually exercising independent jurisdiction as 'the State of Vermont'" becoming a separate state within the Union, provided the boundary could be agreed on. Vermont's negotiators insisted on also settling the land disputes rather than leaving those to be decided later by a federal court. The settlement was for 30,000 Spanish dollars, where New York had asked for $600,000. (The U.S. dollar did not yet exist. Where the Constitution of the United States, in two places, refers to "dollars", that meant Spanish dollars.) Alexander Hamilton of New York had led the movement to let Vermont go. He wanted more northern representation in the U.S. Senate.

The first act of Congress admitting a new state to the Union was passed in February 1791 and admitted Kentucky, as of a specified date well over a year in the future. The second one was passed two weeks later, also in February, and admitted Vermont as of exactly two weeks later. That bill said that "the State of Vermont" had petitioned Congress for admission, in effect acknowledging that it was an already existing polity. Unlike what happened in many states admitted later, no new state constitution went into effect at the time of admission, and the officers of the state (governor, governor's council, judges, sheriffs, etc.) simply continued their terms of office that were already underway under the 1786 constitution of Vermont (which had superseded the 1777 constitution).

So Vermont was considered for well over a decade, by the state of New York, to be a district in rebellion against New York.

I have before me Robert Mello's book Moses Robinson and the Founding of Vermont. That will tell you all of this. See also Ira Allen's Natural and Political History of Vermont and Frederic Van de Water's The Reluctant Republic. There's also a lot on this in Benjamin Hall's very thick book History of Eastern Vermont.


The entire state of Vermont is territory that broke away from New York.

The area was originally controlled by New Hampshire but was transfered to New York. The local New-Hampshire-recognized owners rebelled when the New York issued new deeds covering their land. Rebel forces were called the Green Mountain Boys.

  • 2
    Note that this all happened prior to Vermont joining the US.
    – Schwern
    Mar 23, 2017 at 2:39

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