The wounded

William Thompson, of Mississippi (speaking of James Magnum) talks about the wounded at Shiloh:

I began to see men on the ground and soon realized that they were hurt. At first I couldn’t see their faces. Maybe I didn’t want to see them. The first wounded man I recognized was my Uncle Henry’s eldest son, cousin James Magnum. He had been shot in the face. I wanted to help him . . . Everyone was moving forward . . . . We just had to get at those Federals who were shooting at us.

3.8 million men (and many boys) fought during the American Civil War, from 1861 – 1865.  2.8 million fought to preserve the Union, and just over 1 million fought for the Confederacy.

For every 1,000 Federals (roughly the size of a Regiment), 112 were wounded. 150 of every 1,000 Confederates were wounded.

While a Union soldier stood a 1 in 18 chance of dying in battle, he stood a 1 in 8 chance of dying of disease. Johnny Reb stood a 1 in 5 chance of dying of disease and a 1 in 8 chance of dying in combat.

From 1861-1865 the Union had 275,000 wounded soldiers in battle. 61% were from gunshot or artillery. The South saw 125,000 total wounded. The three major U.S. wars, prior to the Civil War, only saw about 15,000 wounded men and just 8,000 total deaths. At Shiloh, on April 6-7, 1862, there were 16,000 men wounded in a 48 hour period. That is more wounded than in all three previous pre-Civil War battles combined. 3,500 men, on both sides, lost their lives at Shiloh.

These kind of casualty numbers caused an enormous strain on the medical care required for the soldiers. When the War broke out there were just 113 surgeons in the U.S. Army, by the end there would be 12,000 in the Union ranks, and an additional 3,200 in the Confederate Army.

Many men no doubt expired on the field having simply bled to death before proper care could be administered. There may have even been cases of an army bayoneting the wounded after a battle, as was recorded in Harper’s Weekly (August 17, 1861).

William Thompson, of Mississippi (speaking of James Magnum) talks about the wounded at Shiloh:

I began to see men on the ground and soon realized that they were hurt. At first I couldn’t see their faces. Maybe I didn’t want to see them. The first wounded man I recognized was my Uncle Henry’s eldest son, cousin James Magnum. He had been shot in the face. I wanted to help him . . . Everyone was moving forward . . . . We just had to get at those Federals who were shooting at us.

Care for the wounded improved greatly as the War drew on. Mortality rates for surgeries especially improved as doctors improved their understanding of the body, disease, and the application of medical procedures.

Sources: The Civil War Times, October 2004 issue.

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