Soldier lies dead from Petersburg campaign, 1865.

At least 620,000 soldiers lost their lives during the American Civil War (1861-1865), a period pretty close to exactly four years, or 1,470 days. Recently, historians have revised the number of those who died in the ACW to closer to 750,000, or an increase of 20% from the previously thought number.  This does not include the number wounded, captured, or missing.

Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said:

“It even further elevates the significance of the Civil War and makes a dramatic statement about how the war is a central moment in American history.

Working with those numbers we can say the following (on average):

  1. At least 500 soldiers lost their lives every single day during the Civil War. About 21 every hour, or one every three minutes.
  2. Every six days, the number of ACW killed was equivalent to the number of people who died on 911 in the Twin Towers. The ACW dead was equivalent to roughly 245 911’s.
  3. The typical battle in the Civil War saw about 1-2% of those engaged killed.
  4. The Battle of Franklin (30 Nov 1864) saw almost 2,000 killed in just five hours; that is equivalent to roughly 400 killed every hour for five straight hours.

Sources:

  • A Statistical Analysis of the Major Battles During the American Civil War, by K. McNutt. See study.
  • Casualties” of the Battle of Franklin.  From the blog BattleofFranklin.net
  • The Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. Drew Gilpin Faust.
  • This blogpost: “Casualties in the American Civil War,” The Civil War Gazette, April 19, 2012.  http://wp.me/p2f3x-wj

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