Casualty StatisticsBy Allie Gould


"Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win [but] I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union [and] when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South" - Governor of Texas Sam Houston (
Very few were as aware as Houston of the fighting soon to come during the Civil War. Everybody thought it was going to be a quick war, and they could not have been more wrong. The civil war was the bloodiest war in American history. It was brother fighting against brother, and both sides suffered several casualties. The north, far outnumbering the south in population, often suffered more casualties during battles, but was able to defeat the south with their seemingly endless number of troops. In total,the war was estimated to have caused roughly 620,000 deaths.

Map of Civil War casualties (click for interactive version)


The battle of Shiloh in Tennessee occurred April 6-7, 1862. With a total of 23,746 Casualties, it had more than any of the previous American wars combined. This shocked the public who thought this would be a short war. The amount of death that occurred at this battle was appalling. The union had about a twenty percent casualty rate within their 65,085 troops. The Confederacy had a 23.73% casualty rate within its 44,968 troops. The battle was technically a union victory, but neither side was a clear winner.

The Cemetery at Shiloh National Military Park


Gettysburg was a three day battle, and was the bloodiest battle of the Civil war. There was a total 51,112 casualties: 23,049 northern, and 28,063 southern. The south had lost 39.14% of their 71,699 troops to casuatlies. The North had 93,921 troops, soo there was only 24.54% casualties. This battle was one of the few times the South outnumbered the North in casualties. It was a huge defeat for confederate general Robert E Lee.
Known to many as the mistake that caused the great casualties in this battle was the failed Pickett's Charge by the Confederacy. George Pickett drove men straight in to the Union line to be slaughtered. Over 50% casualties resulted from this; some regiments were entirely wiped out. Some believe Lee fought this battle well: the South's casualties were fairly evenly spread among the corps, while the Union's first corps suffered nearly 50% casualties and their last corpse suffered very few.


Amounts of Troops and Casualties for the Union and the Confederacy

The bloodiest day in American history occurred during September, 1862. The North's McClellan faced Southern General Robert E. Lee. The battle of Antietam in Maryland caused 22,717 casualties. The North had 12,401 casualties: 14.3% of its 87,00 troops. The South, meanwhile, had 10,316 casualties: 22.9% of its 45,000 soldiers. Though the North had more casualties than the South in this battle, its soldiers nearly doubled the South's in numbers. This Union "victory" allowed for the emancipation proclamation.


Amount of casualties suffered by Southern States

Some interesting comparisons to put into perspective....
  • The South had an estimated 258,000 deaths caused by the Civil war, and the North suffered roughly 360,222 deaths.
  • About twice as many people died from disease as wounds.
  • The second highest number of American deaths in a was during World War II where about 415,000 Americans were killed.
  • The Civil War was not a very expensive war
  • There were about 1,556,678 Union troops and 1,082,119 confederate troops


Since roughly 1900, people have estimated that the Civil War caused 618,222 deaths. J. David Hacker, a history professor at Binghamton University, has recently recalculated this death toll to about 750,000 deaths. Many
historians have begun to agree with this new estimate. Hacker included men who died from disease after the census was taken, men who died from battle wounds, and civilians who were victims of guerrilla warfare. Though Hacker has not defined new numbers for each side, his new estimate says that the amount of death caused by the Civil War is 20% higher. The Civil War is often referred to as the "America's most devastating war", and the American public does not enjoy hearing about the possibility of increased death that may have occurred. His numbers are controversial, and many wonder if the census counts were really that far off for about one hundred years. Click here for a recent article on Hacker's findings.



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