The Civil War averaged 425 deaths per day, for four years!

This InfoGraphic focuses on deaths and casualties in the Civil War.

How many deaths a day took place during the American Civil War (1861-1865)?

There were about 425 deaths every day during the Civil War. That’s like a ‘911 incident’ happening once a week roughly . . . for FOUR straight years.

To read more on the burial of the Civil War dead see:

The Burial of the Civil War Dead, Meg Groeling.

Here’s the full InfoGraphic.

How many major Civil War engagements/actions/battles took place on Tennessee soil?

Confederate Civil War reenactors at Franklin, April 2010.

Confederate Civil War reenactors at Franklin, April 2010. Photo credit:

Most historians agree that nearly 2,900 major actions, engagements and/or battles took place in Tennessee during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Only Virginia saw more significant action than Tennessee. About 187,000 Tennessee soldiers served in the Confederacy. There are 39 sites identified by CWSAC in Tennessee. Seven are major or Class A engagements: Shiloh, Fort Donelson, Franklin, Nashville, Stone’s River,  and Chattanooga. CivilWarTours.US leads tours to all seven of these sites. To learn more or to get on a battlefield tour waiting list visit this page.

TN battles

What did Johnny Reb look like?

Though records for Confederate soldiers are more sparse than those for Union soldiers, we do have good data on the average soldier who fought for the Army of Northern Virginia (Lee’s army). About 800,000 men fought for the Confederacy. Most Confederate reenactors like the ones in this picture (from a Jackson, MI event in August 2014) tend to be older and more plump.  The average Rebel was abut 5’7″ and 145 pounds.

148 Rebs

Source: The Civil War Monitor (2015)

Average age: 25

Birth origin: 96.6% born in U.S.

Of those, only 4% born in the north.

Foreign born: 3.4%

Marital status: 62.5% single, 37.5% married

Of those married, 31.2% had children at home.

Economic class:

Lower: 41.7%
(Less than $799 in combined assets)

Middle: 22.8%
(Assets between $800-$3999)

Upper: 35.5%
(Assets $4000 or more)

Prewar Occupations:

Farmers: 53.7%

Students: 13.8%

Unskilled workers: 13.2%

Professionals: 10.2%
(Teachers for example)

Skilled workers: 9.2%


Personally owned slaves: 13%

Resided in slaveholding households: 44.4%

Check out the Civil War battlefield tours CivilWarTours.US is hosting this year.

Check out the Civil War battlefield tours CivilWarTours.US is hosting this year.

How important was Union control over Kentucky and Tennessee during the Civil War?

Kentucky was a border state during the American Civil War and one of the northern-most “Confederate Heartland” states as well.  The Confederate Heartland (i.e., Western Theater) is noted by modern historians as that portion of “the vast region south of the Ohio River and between the Appalchian Mountains on the east and the Mississippi River on the west (McMurry).”

The most northern portion of the Confederate Heartland would most significantly be the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. Whomever controlled that northern portion would be in a great position to also control the entire Confederate heartland.

By early 1862 the Union held firm control over Kentucky and Tennessee.  Nashville capitualted in Feb 1862 without a shot being fired.  What did this result in? By gaining control of the northern heartland Kentucky was not likely to ever secede and the capture and occupation of Nashville – from early 1862 onward – meant that the Confederate states would be deprived of the:

“South’s great horse countrymost of the Volunteer State’s raw materials (notably iron and copper), its significant industrial capacity, its railroads. and its great agricultural production (McMurry, May 2012 issue (Vol 14 #1) of North and South Magazine,  ”From the West . . . Where the War Was Decided.”

Also see: Sister States, Enemy States : The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee. Kent Dollar, ed. Univ of Kentucky Press, 2011.

Robert Smalls escaped aboard the CSS Planter exactly 150 years ago today

Robert Smalls (1839 – 1915) was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5th, 1839, in a slave cabin behind his mother’s master’s house on 511 Prince Street. In 1862 he escaped from Charleston harbor aboard a steamer called the Planter with his family and several friends too. The boat had to pass by five Confederate check-points and then surrender its contents to the northern Naval fleet out in the harbor where it was blockading the important southern port.

His escape succeeded and Robert would meet Abraham Lincoln personally a couple weeks later. Lincoln was quite impressed with a black man (slave) who had learned how to pilot and navigate the coastal waterways around Charleston. Lincoln rewarded Smalls handsomely with bounty-money and a commission into the Union Navy as a captain of a vessel – the Planter! He was the first black Captain of a U.S. Naval vessel.

Three months later Smalls would visit Abraham Lincoln in the Whitehouse to plead the opportunity for blacks to fight for the Union. Just days afterwards Lincoln approved the raising of the first black troops in the Blue uniform and Robert Smalls was instrumental in helping to start the 1st South Carolina Infantry of U.S. Colored Troops.

Smalls would go on to pilot the Planter for the Union cause and take pace in several important engagements around Charleston and the Sea Islands. After the Civil War he was elected among a few other blacks as they became the freshman class of blacks to serve as U.S. Congressmen.

Robert Smalls’s story is an amazing one of courage, determination, sacrifice, risk and reward – from slavery to Congressman!

Charleston is celebrating the amazing feat with several community engagements this weekend. Read these articles:

See my visual guide to Robert Smalls and Beaufort

25+ pages of news coverage of the 150th Anniversary weekend in one PDF here.


The Life and Legacy of Robert Smalls of South Carolina’s Sea Islands

This book tells the story of the life of Robert Smalls, an enslaved African American, born in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1839. During and after the American Civil War, he became a ship’s pilot, a sea captain, and a politician. He freed himself and his family from slavery and was instrumental in the creation of South Carolina’s public school system. He wrote in 1895, “My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”

This item is proudly printed in the USA. Text by Lu Ann Jones and Robert K. Sutton, published by Eastern National, 48 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59091-117-4.


Just $5.95  Order here

Booknote: American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide (ABC-CLIO)

ABC-CLIO has recently released a new reference work entitled American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide, hardback, 2011.  It will surely suffice for smaller libraries that have no single volume reference on the American Civil War. However, it is hardly “The” Essential Reference Guide.  A more appropriate titel would simple be “An Essential Reference Guide.”

But for the role it fills in the Civil War domain of reference it is a very fine work built upon the solid writing and work of 37 scholars, of whom about one-third are independent. The publisher was smart to secure esteemed historian Steven E. Woodworth as a lead writer. His essay contributions include valuable treatments on an Overview of the ACW, Causes of the ACW, Consequences of the ACW, and Leadership in the ACW.

The single tome is edited by James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener. It is 432 pages, includes five essays in the appendix, a useful 42 page timeline, and 20 additional primary resource documents (e.g., speeches).  It is in hardback and is 7 x 10 inches.  Retail is $85.00.   Black-n-white pictures and maps are relatively limited in quantity.  There is a solid print bibliography and index.

About 20% of the entries are devoted to specific battles or campaigns and roughly 30% of the entries are biographical in nature.  That leaves 50% of the content to be of a general nature, which one would expect of a simple reference guide.

The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference  is a much better single volume for larger libraries especially since its much cheaper ($16.50 on Amazon) and more extensive in its coverage.  American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide, is more suited to smaller school or public libraries.

Borrowing and lending money to fellow prisoners

There was a constant exchange of money and goods between fellow prisoners during prison life.  Foote is constantly making brief notes in his diary of borrowing or lending money to fellow comrades. “Gave Beegle a Due-Bill for $50, the amount of my indebtedness to him (Aug 23rd).”

A sort of underground economy of barter, trade and purchasing was a major part of how prisoners existed in prison conditions.  As such, soldiers were constantly exchanging goods and services for items, possessions, and in some cases money.  On September 5th Foote states that he lent money to four different soldiers in one day.

Bad news from home

The better conditions at Roper’s, including much better rations – fresh beef – were immediately tempered by bad news from home. “Received a letter from the General at Hilton Head inclosing a note from Nannie. They think Frank is dead (August 18th).” In early June (3rd) Foote had received news of Frank’s capture and leg amputation. The news of his death must have been devastating especially since as recently as July 25th Foote had written in his diary, “Heard of Frank, is doing very well.”  It was this kind of news that was particularly hard on prisoners of war. Trying to physically endure one’s imprisonment was hard enough. Having to deal with the emotional news of the affliction and death of loved ones back home was even worse for most POWs.  Fortunately, the news of Frank’s death was only a rumor as Foote would soon find out.