Wednesday, October 19, 2016

American Civil War Casualties, Fatalities and Statistics


There is difference between the terms casualty and fatality. A fatality is defined as death of a combatant during time of war. A casualty is a military individual lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, disease, internment, capture, or missing in action. A casualty is a combatant (soldier, marine, sailor, etc.) who is expected but unable to fight in a battle. Many soldiers became casualties several times during the Civil War: some soldiers were captured during multiple actions; others were wounded in several battles; and some were too ill to fight in the engagement. A basic definition of fatality is any combatant who dies during the war, including killed in action, mortally wounded, died of disease, accidental death, and deaths from all other causes, including suicide. A casualty may also be defined as any combatant who is absent or unaccounted for during the war.

Civil War Casualty Numbers and Totals

An estimated three-and-a-half million men fought in the American Civil War and approximately 620,000 perished, which was more than all of America's combined combat fatalities from previous wars..

There are various reasons why there is not an exact fatality and casualty count for the American Civil War: incomplete, inaccurate, and destroyed records; casualty exaggerations; several died from disease after the war; missing-in-action (MIA), which is an implication since the soldier may have deserted, been captured, or been completely blown to pieces in battle. The general consensus (best estimates) is 618,000 to 700,000 fatalities. Sadly, however, there is no record or research tracking and studying how many wounded and diseased soldiers died during what is commonly referred to as the "Aftermath."

Diseases and Napoleonic Tactics were the contributing factors for the high casualties during the American Civil War.

The tendency to exaggerate enemy desertions and casualties, while minimizing their own, was characteristic of Union and Confederate armies in their respective reports of the many skirmishes and battles of the American Civil War. Each side was also eager to enhance its own morale by writing favorable reports.

According to Lt. Col. Walter Clark's Regiments: An Extended Index to the Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865, p. 5: "The majority of troop rosters and official military records had been forcibly confiscated by Lincoln’s hordes or wantonly destroyed.” But the Confederate Army had intentionally destroyed many of its own records as the sun was setting on the beleaguered Confederacy, because the records may have been used against many Southerners in future cases of treason or trials of murder.

Casualty Does Not Equal Dead
Casualties include three categories: 1) dead (aka fatalities, killed-in-action and mortally wounded); 2) wounded; and 3) missing or captured. In general terms, casualties of Civil War battles included 20% dead and 80% wounded. Of the soldiers who were wounded, about one out of seven died from his wounds. Over 2/3 of the estimated 620,000 men who gave their lives in the Civil War died from disease, not from battle.

When one totals the Americans that died in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican American War, Spanish American War, World War One, World War Two, Korean War, and Vietnam War, it is less than the total American Civil War casualties.

Union Casualty (Fatality) Estimates:

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

Confederate Estimated Losses (Fatalities):

Battle Deaths: 94,000
Disease, etc.: 164,000
Total Deaths: 258,000
American Civil War Casualties
American Civil War Casualties in Killed.jpg
American Civil War Casualties in Killed, Mortally Wounded, Wounded, and Missing and Captured

Sources: Fox's Regimental Losses; United States Department of Veterans Affairs; Library of Congress: American War Casualty Lists and Statistics; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; National Park Service.

Civil War Casualties and Fatalities
Ten Costliest Battles of the Civil War (killed, wounded, missing, and captured)
Civil War Killed : A History
North Carolina's Detailed Combat Fatalities and Statistics
American Civil War Casualties
Total Number of Union and Confederate Civil War Killed and Mortally Wounded (Dead): Casualties, Fatalities & Statistics, With Total Numbers for Each Northern and Southern State
List of Confederate Generals Killed or Mortally Wounded
Loss in Union Officers--List of Union Generals Killed--Union Surgeons and Chaplains Killed
Organization of Union (North) and Confederate (South) Armies
Civil War Battles Fought in North Carolina
North Carolina Civil War Battles
North Carolina Civil War Battles
Battlefields of North Carolina
Civil War Battle Summaries by State
Battles of the American Civil War
Statistics of Wars: American Civil War
Fox's Regimental Losses
Battle of Gettysburg Casualties (Killed, Wounded, Missing)
North Carolina: American Civil War
North Carolina Regimental Losses

Casualties and Statistics for All American Wars and Conflicts
Fact Sheet for All America's Wars: Totals for Killed and Wounded
Fact Sheet: Last Surviving Veteran for Each American War and Conflict
Veterans and Dependents on the Compensation and Pension Rolls as of September 2007
Department of Veterans Affairs: America's Wars and Total Casualties
Library of Congress: American War Casualty Lists and Statistics
American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics

American Deaths in All Wars

The following numbers reflect deaths (excluding wounded and missing)
Source: U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, PA

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

War of 1812 (1812-1815)
Mexican War (1846-1848)
Civil War (1861-1865)
Spanish-American War (1898)
World War I (1917-1918)
World War II (1941-1945)
Korean War (1950-1953)
Vietnam War (1964-1973)
Persian Gulf War (1991)

North Carolina War Deaths

The following numbers reflect deaths (excluding wounded and missing)
Source: North Carolina Museum of History
  Total North Carolina Population (with Census Year) Estimated North Carolina Dead
Civil War 992,622 (1860) 40,275 (CSA)
World War I 2,206,287 (1910) 2,375
World War II 3,571,623 (1940) 7,000
Korean War 4,061,929 (1950) 876
Vietnam War 4,556,155 (1960) 1,572

Image: Dead Union Soldier at Siege of Petersburg in 1865


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