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Author Topic: Casualties in the American Civil War  (Read 3682 times)

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« on: 8 November 2008, 17:41:20 »

The Price in Blood! 

Casualties in the American Civil War

At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and some experts say the toll reached 700,000. The number that is most often quoted is 620,000. At any rate, these casualties exceed the nation's loss in all its other wars, from the Revolution through Vietnam.
The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men. Their losses, by the best estimates:

    Battle deaths:    110,070
    Disease, etc.:    250,152
    Total    360,222

The Confederate strength, known less accurately because of missing records, was from 750,000 to 1,250,000. Its estimated losses:

    Battle deaths:    94,000
    Disease, etc.:    164,000
    Total    258,000

The leading authority on casualties of the war, Thomas L. Livermore, admitting the handicap of poor records in some cases, studied 48 of the war's battles and concluded:

            Of every 1,000 Federals in battle, 112 were wounded.
            Of every 1,000 Confederates, 150 were hit.
Mortality was greater among Confederate wounded, because of inferior medical service. The great battles, in terms of their toll in dead, wounded, and missing is listed on this site:   
Some of the great blood baths of the war came as Grant drove on Richmond in the spring of 1864- Confederate casualties are missing for this campaign, but were enormous. The Federal toll:

    The Wilderness, May 5-7:    17,666
    Spotsylvania, May 10 and 12:    10,920
    Drewry's Bluff, May 12-16    4,160
    Cold Harbor, June 1-3:    12,000
    Petersburg, June 15-30    16,569

These total 61,315, with rolls of the missing incomplete.
The Appomattox campaign, about ten days of running battles ending April 9, 1865, cost the Union about 11,000 casualties, and ended in the surrender of Lee's remnant of 26,765. Confederate dead and wounded in the meantime were about 6,500.
Lesser battles are famous for their casualties. At Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864, General Hood's Confederates lost over 6,000 of 21,000 effectives -most of them in about two hours. Six Confederate generals died there.
Hood lost about 8,ooo men in his assault before Atlanta, July 22, 1864; Sherman's Union forces lost about 3,800.

The small battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, August 10, 1861, was typical of the savagery of much of the war's fighting. The Union force Of 5,400 men lost over 1,200; the Confederates, over 11,000 strong, lost about the same number.
The first battle of Manassas/Bull Run, though famous as the first large engagement, was relatively light in cost: 2,708 for the Union, 1,981 for the Confederates.
The casualty rolls struck home to families and regiments.
The Confederate General, John B. Gordon, cited the case of the Christian family, of Christiansburg, Virginia, which suffered eighteen dead in the war.
The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, in a charge at Petersburg, Virginia, 18 June, 1864, sustained a "record" loss of the war-635 of its 9oo men within seven minutes.
Another challenger is the 26th North Carolina, which lost 714, of its 800 men at Gettysburg-in numbers and percentage the war's greatest losses. On the first day this regiment lost 584 dead and wounded, and when roll was called the next morning for G Company, one man answered, and he had been knocked unconscious by a shell burst the day before. This roll was called by a sergeant who lay on a stretcher with a severe leg wound.
The 24th Michigan, a gallant Federal regiment which was in front of the North Carolinians on the first day, lost 362 of its 496 men.
More than 3,000 horses were killed at Gettysburg, and one artillery battalion, the 9th Massachusetts, lost 80 of its 88 animals in the Trostle farmyard.
A brigade from Vermont lost 1,645 Of its 2,100 men during a week of fighting in the Wilderness.
The Irish Brigade, Union, had a total muster Of 7,000 during the war, and returned to New York in '65 with 1,000. One company was down to seven men. The 69th New York of this brigade lost 16 of 19 officers, and had 75 per cent casualties among enlisted men.
Experts have pointed out that the famed Light Brigade at Balaklava lost only 36.7 per cent of its men, and that at least 63 Union regiments lost as much as 50 per cent in single battles. At Gettysburg 23 Federal regiments suffered losses of more than half their strength, including the well-known Iron Brigade (886 of 1,538 engaged).
Many terrible casualty tolls were incurred in single engagements, like that of the Polish Regiment of Louisiana at Frayser's Farm during the Seven Days, where the outfit was cut to pieces and had to be consolidated with the 20th Louisiana. In this action one company of the Poles lost 33 of 42 men.
One authority reports that Of 3,530 Indians who fought for the Union, 1,018 were killed, a phenomenally high rate. Of 178,975 Negro Union troops, this expert says, over 36,000 died.

Some regimental losses in battle:

    Regiment            Battle                   Strength     Per Cent
    1st Texas, CSA          Antietam                   226         82.3
    1st Minnesota, US         Gettysburg         262        82
    21st Georgia, CSA         Manassas                 242        76
    141st Pennsylvania, US Gettysburg               198              75.7
    101st New York, US         Manassas               168       73.8
    6th Mississippi, CSA    Shiloh                     425           70.5
    25th Massachusetts, US  Cold Harbor      310             70
    36th Wisconsin, US          Bethesda Church      240             69
    20th Massachusetts, US  Fredericksburg     238            68.4
    8th Tennessee, CSA         Stone's River        444      68.7
    10th Tennessee, CSA    Chickamauga     328           68
    8th Vermont, US              Cedar Creek         156       67.9
    Palmetto Sharpshooters, CSA Frayser's Farm    215          67.7
    81st Pennsylvania, US    Fredericksburg        261     67.4

Scores of other regiments on both sides registered losses in single engagements of above 50 per cent.
Confederate losses by states, in dead and wounded only, and with many records missing (especially those of Alabama):

    North Carolina    20,602
    Virginia    6,947
    Mississippi    6,807
    South Carolina    4,760
    Arkansas    3,782
    Georgia    3,702
    Tennessee    3,425
    Louisiana    3,059
    Texas    1,260
    Florida    1,047
    Alabama    724

(Statisticians recognize these as fragmentary, from a report of 1866; they serve as a rough guide to relative losses by states).

In addition to its dead and wounded from battle and disease, the Union listed:

    Deaths in Prison    24,866
    Drowning    4,944
    Accidental deaths    4,144
    Murdered    520
    Suicides    391
    Sunstroke    313
    Military executions    267
    Killed after capture    104
    Executed by enemy    64
    Unclassified    14,155

Source: "The Civil War, Strange and Fascinating Facts," by Burke Davis

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