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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Casualties of War

From: civilwar.org


There were an estimated 1.5 million casualties reported during the Civil War.

A "casualty" is a military person lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, internment, capture, or through being missing in action.  "Casualty" and "fatality" are not interchangeable terms--death is only one of the ways that a soldier can become a casualty.  In practice, officers would usually be responsible for recording casualties that occurred within their commands.  If a soldier was unable to perform basic duties due to one of the above conditions, the soldier would be considered a casualty.  This means that one soldier could be marked as a casualty several times throughout the course of the war.

Most casualties and deaths in the Civil War were the result of non-combat-related disease.  For every three soldiers killed in battle, five more died of disease.  The primitive nature of Civil War medicine, both in its intellectual underpinnings and in its practice in the armies, meant that many wounds and illnesses were unnecessarily fatal.

Our modern conception of casualties includes those who have been psychologically damaged by warfare.  This distinction did not exist during the Civil War.  Soldiers suffering from what we would now recognize as post-traumatic stress disorder were uncatalogued and uncared for.

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