There are many myths and misconceptions about the Civil War. Here are some facts and statistics to set the record straight.
♠ Civil War soldiers had a 7 to 1 chance of surviving a battle wound. In comparison, soldiers in the Korean war had a 50 to 1 chance of surviving a battle wound.
♠ Two-thirds of all the 364,000 soldiers in the Union army died of disease. Only one-third died from actual wounds sustained during the war.
♠ In 1860, the population of the U.S. totaled 31,442,321. About 23,000,000 of these were northerners and 9,000,000 were southerners. The remaining 3,500,000 were slaves.
♠ Around 15 percent of all wounded Civil War soldiers died. In WWI, only 8 percent of wounded soldiers died and in WWII, this number was reduced to 4 percent. In the Korean war, it was as low as 2 percent.
♠ Common diseases during the Civil War were malaria, dysentery, arthritis and typhoid fever.
♠ Many of the nurses and doctors treating soldiers in the Civil War never attended medical school. Their medical training usually consisted of apprenticeships for medical practitioners.
♠ After the battle of Gettysburg ended, the majority of wounded soldiers were retrieved from the battlefield and brought to a hospital within 12 hours. After the battle of Bull Run, most of the wounded spent three of four days laying on the battlefield before they were brought to a hospital.
♠ About 80 percent of the wounds soldiers received during the Civil War were in the soldier’s arms, hands, legs and feet.
♠ More than 3 million men and around 400 women fought in the Civil War.
♠ Around 600,000 people, roughly around 2 percent of the U.S. population, died in the Civil War.
♠ Bounties were offered to new recruits to encourage them to sign up for the army. A few states, like New York, offered as high as $677 dollars. “Bounty jumping” quickly became a problem. Many recruits signed up, then deserted and signed up again in another state.
♠ Only 1 percent of the population in the north were African-American men yet they made up 10 percent of the Union army. Around 85 percent of all the African-American men eligible to enlist did so.
♠ The first federal income tax was established in 1862 to help finance the Civil War.
♠ About 29 percent of the 1,080 United States Army Officers at the outbreak of the Civil War resigned and joined the Confederate army.
♠ The average age of Union soldiers at time of enlistment was 25 years.
♠ The United States government spent $6,190,000,000 on the Civil War, according to an estimate in 1879.
♠ One in every 4 Union soldiers was an immigrant. The majority of these immigrants were Germans and Irish.
♠ The Union army suffered a total of 642,427 casualties while the Confederate army suffered 483,026.
♠ The Union Army had a total of 2,672,341 soldiers. About 2,489,836 of these were white soldiers, 178,975 were African-American soldiers and 3,520 were Native-American soldiers.
♠ The bloodiest battle of the Civil War was the three-day-long battle of Gettysburg in 1863 with a total of 51,116 casualties. Yet, the battle of Antietam in 1862, which had 22,726 casualties, had the greatest number of casualties of any single day battle.
♠ The mortality rate for Union prisoners of war was 15.5 percent while the mortality rate for Confederate prisoners of war was 12 percent.
Hughes, Mark. New Civil War Handbook: Facts and Photos For Readers of All Ages. Savas Beatie, 2009.
“Civil War Facts 1861-1865.” National Park Service, www.nps.gov/civilwar/facts.htm
“Civil War Facts.” PBS, www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/war/civil-war-facts/l
“Pertinent Facts About the Civil War.” 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment, www.19thalabama.org/cwfacts.html