"The Chances of Being Hit in Battle: A Study of Regimental Losses in the Civil War."

by William F. Fox

[Excerpted from The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Vol. 36 (1889), pp. 885-893]


If a man enlist in time of war, what are the chances of his being killed? When a new regiment leaves for the front, how many of its men will probably lose their lives by violent deaths? What are the battle of regiments in active service-not in wounded and captured, but in killed and died of wounds ? A very good answer to these or similar inquiries is found in the records of the Northern troops in the war of 1861-65. It was a war so great, so long and desperate, it employed so many men, that these records furnish of themselves a fair reply.

A soldier of the late civil war is often questioned as to how many men his regiment lost. His answer is always something like this: " We left our barracks 1000 strong; when we returned there were only 85 left." Few people have the hardihood to dispute the old veteran, who testily fortifies all of his assertions by the argument that he was there and ought to know. So the story of the 1000 who went and the 85 who returned is accepted without reply. Now this peculiar form of statement as made by the old soldier is apt to be correct so far as it goes, but the inferences are invariably wrong. So few are aware of the many causes which deplete a regiment, that these missing men are generally thought of as dead. A better way for the veteran to answer the question would be to state that in round numbers his regiment lost 100 men killed; that 200 died of disease; that 400 were discharged for sickness or wounds; that 100 deserted j that 100 were absent in hospital or on furlough; and so only 100 remained as present at the muster-out. Of course, there are many regiments whose brilliant records would require a different statement, but as regards three-fourths of the troops in the late war it would fairly approximate the truth. Of the 2000 regiments 4 or more in the Union army, there were 45 only in which the number of killed and mortally wounded exceeded 200 men. Such statements must not be regarded as derogatory nor belittling; for the simple facts are such as need l no exaggeration, and the truth only need be told to furnish records unrivaled in military history.

As regards the number killed in regiments, the prevailing ideas are indefinite or incorrect, l seldom approaching the truth. Nor are these errors confined to civilians alone; they are prevalent among the officers and men who were there and would be supposed to know. All this is largely due to the reckless and careless statements too often made regarding such losses. The error is a somewhat excusable one, as neither officers nor men have the means of knowing the actual loss in every engagement. They remember, perhaps, some of the official reports Of their colonel as rendered at the close of certain battles, but not all of them. These casualty reports, as given in, are divided into killed, wounded, and missing, the latter term generally including the captured. Many of these wounded and missing return; some of them during their absence die in hospitals or military prisons; nothing is definitely known about them at the time; so the tendency is to consider only the total of these casualties, and in time to think of them as all killed or lost

There is fortunately, however, one reliable source of information as to the number of men in a regiment who were killed in action, and that is the regimental muster-out rolls. Every regiment before disbanding was required to hand in company rolls, made out in triplicate bearing the names of all who had ever belonged to the company from first to last. Opposite each name were remarks showing w hat became of the man, such as: " killed," "died of wounds," " died of disease," " transferred," " discharged," " deserted," or " present at muster-out." So these rolls, when properly made out, form a reliable basis for ascertaining the number killed in a regiment. Many of the rolls, however were defective, and some were lost. But the various States, through their respective military bureaus, have regained the desired information, and, with few exceptions, have completed their rolls, although this involved in some States years of clerical research and large appropriations of money. Some of these final rolls have been put in print, while the others are on file in the various offices of the States' adjutants general. In some of the States there are a few rolls missing, but the duplicates are on file in the War Department at Washington. The remark has been made concerning muster-out rolls that they are not always accurate This was true to a certain extent at the close of the war. but for twenty years a clerical force has been busy in correcting and perfecting them. Certainly but few errors can remain as regards the killed, for the pension claims soon called attention to nearly all of such omissions. Hence these rolls together with certain other sources of information, furnish a reliable source for ascertaining the relative losses of every regiment and battery in the Northern army.

The maximum losses possess the greatest interest, and so invite attention first. 'The greatest loss in battle of any one regiment in the late war fell to the lot of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, in which 423 were killed, or died of wounds, out of 2202 men enrolled. Just here it is necessary to state that, while an infantry regiment consists of 1000 men with 30 line officers, the heavy artillery organization has 1800 men with 60 line officers, there being 12 companies of 150 each, with a captain and four lieutenants to each company. The 2202 men mentioned here as enrolled indicates that about 400 recruits were received during its term of service. The heavy artillery regiments saw no active service while on duty in that line. They left their fortifications near Washington and took the field in 1864, being armed with rifles, drilled and maneuvered the same as infantry; the only difference being in their larger organization. By carefully counting and classifying each name on the rolls of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery the, following abstract is obtained:

   Officers  Enlisted Men  Total
 Killed, or died of wounds  23  400  423
 Died of diseases, accidents, etc   2  258  260
   2202 enrolled  423 killed  = 19.2 per cent
 Total of killed and wounded      =1283

In their assault on Petersburg, June 18, 1864, they lost 604 killed and wounded in less than twenty minutes, out of about 900 engaged. This regiment sustained not only the greatest numerical loss, but its percentage of killed as based upon its enrollment is also among the highest. This matter of percentage is an important factor in the subject of regimental loss, especially so as claims to gallant conduct are very apt to be based upon the size of the casualty list. In many regiments the losses are apparently small, when an examination of their enrollment shows that their loss was really heavy in proportion to their numbers. The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery is remarkable for holding a high place in the list, whether tabulated as to loss by percentage or loss numerically. Although this organization enlisted in 1862, it saw no fighting until May, 1864, all of its losses in action occurring during a period of less than a year. This is noteworthy, as forming a proper basis for comparison with regimental losses in certain foreign wars-the late Franco-Prussian, for instance, in which the duration of the fighting was about the same. The total enrollment of this regiment was larger than the number just stated, but the excess was caused by accessions in June, 1865, after the war had ended, the additions consisting of men with unexpired terms of enlistment, transferred from disbanded regiments. The actual number belonging to the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery during the war was as given in the preceding figures.

The next largest number of killed is found in the 8th New York Heavy Artillery, whose muster-out rolls, on file in the Adjutant General's office at Albany, show, upon a careful examination of each name, the casualties upon which the following summary is based:

   Officers  Enlisted Men  Total
 Killed, or died of wounds  19  342  361
 Died of diseases, accidents, etc   4  298  302
   2575 enrolled  361 killed  = 14 per cent
 Total of killed and wounded      =1010

The loss by disease includes 102 deaths in Confederate prisons.

There were only a few regiments in the heavy artillery service, and so the regiment which stands next in point of numerical loss is an infantry command. The infantry constituted the bull; of the army, more than four/fifths of the troops belonging to that arm of the service. After examining carefully the losses in each one of all the infantry regiments in the Northern army it appears that the one which sustained the greatest loss in battle was the 5th New Hampshire, from whose illustrious rolls, after due correction of errors, the following, summary is prepared:

   Officers  Enlisted Men  Total
 Killed, or died of wounds  18  277  295
 Died of diseases, accidents, etc   2  176  178
   976 enrolled  175 killed  = 17.9 per cent
 Total of killed and wounded      =1051

With the killed are included a few who are recorded as, " Wounded and missing in action "men who never returned, were never heard from, were not borne on any of the Confederate prison lists, and were undoubtedly killed. They fell in some retreat, unobserved by any comrade, and, like wounded animals, crawled into some thicket to die; or else while sinking fast under their death hurt were removed by the enemy, only to die in some field hospital, barn, or tent, without leaving word or sign as to whom they were They are now resting in some of the many thousand nameless graves in the battle-field cemeteries-graves with headstones bearing no other inscription than that shortest, and to soldiers the saddest, of all epitaphs, the one word " Unknown."

The infantry regiment which stands second as to numerical loss is the 83d Pennsylvania It went out with the usual ten companies of one thousand men which constituted an infantry command, but as its ranks became depleted it received recruits, until from first to last over eighteen hundred men were carried on its rolls. With these, however, were included the noncombatants, the sick, wounded, and absentees. The muster-out rolls of this gallant regiment furnish the names from which the following abstract is made:

   Officers  Enlisted Men  Total
 Killed, or died of wounds  11  271  282
 Died of diseases, accidents, etc   2  151  153
   1808 enrolled  282 killed  = 15.5 per cent
 Total of killed and wounded      =971

The 83d was present at several engagements in addition to those mentioned, sustaining at each a loss in wounded; but it does not appear from their rolls that any of the wounded died of their injuries. This applies also to the other regiments whose list of battles may be given here.

The following-named commands also sustained remarkable losses during their terms of service. They were all infantry organizations, and the loss mentioned represents those who were killed in action or died of wounds received there, the loss including both officers and men. This list embraces every regiment in the Northern army whose loss in killed was two hundred or more:

 Regiment  Corps  Killed
5th New Hampshire.
83d Pennsylvania
7th Wisconsin
5th Michigan
20th Massachusetts
69th New York
28th Massachusetts
16th Michigan
105th Pennsylvania
6th Wisconsin
15th Massachusetts
15th New Jersey
2d Wisconsin
40th New York
61St Pennsylvania
11th Pennsylvania
48th New York
45th Pennsylvania
121st New York
27th Michigan
2d Michigan
100th Pennsylvania
8th Michigan
2d Vermont
111th New York
18th U. S. Infantry
9th Illinois
22 d Massachusetts
5th Vermont
148th Pennsylvania
9th Massachusetts
81St Pennsylvania
7th Michigan
55th Pennsylvania
17th Maine
3d Vermont
145th Pennsylvania
14th Connecticut
36th Illinois
6th Vermont
49th Ohio
51St New York
20th Indiana
57th Massachusetts
53d Pennsylvania
Second
Fifth
First
Third
Second
Second
Second
Fifth
Third
First
Second
Sixth
First
Third
Sixth
First
Tenth
Ninth
Sixth
Ninth
Ninth
Ninth
Ninth
Sixth
Second
Fourteenth
Sixteenth
Fifth
Sixth
Second
Fifth
Second
Second
Tenth
Third
Sixth
Second
Second
Fourth
Sixth
Fourth
Ninth
Third
Ninth
Second

295

282

281

263

260

259

250

247

245

244

241

240

238

238

237

236

236

227

226

225

225

224

223

221

220

218

217

216

213

210

209

208

208

208

207

206

205

205

204

203

202

202

201

201

200

The following heavy artillery regiments also lost over two hundred killed in action or died of wounds during their term of service:

 Regiment  Corps  Killed
 1st Maine  Second  423
 1st Massachusetts  Second  241
 2d Connecticut  Sixth  254
 2d New York  Second  211
 7th New York  Second  291
 8th New York  Second  361
 9th New York  Sixth  204
14th New York  Ninth  226
 2d Pennsylvania  Ninth  240

It should be remembered that these heavy artillery commands were much larger organizations than the ordinary infantry regiment, and that their extended ranks rendered them liable to heavy loss. They all went into action for the first time in Grant's overland campaign. They entered that campaign with full ranks, the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery going into the fight at Spotsylvania with 1617 men.

In giving figures here on the number killed, those who died of wounds received in action are included, and unless otherwise stated, it will, in each case, be so understood. The figures, as stated in connection with these leading regiments, should give a fair idea of the maximum killed in American regiments during the civil war. All of these troops belonged to the infantry, or to heavy artillery serving as infantry, and were three-years' regiments, many of them r-enlisting when their term expired, and so were in service during the whole war. Still, as the active campaigning did not begin, to any extent, until 1862, the duration of the fighting was three years or less. The three-years' regiments, for the most part, lost about one hundred men killed in action. Some, of course, lost many more, and some considerably less, the smaller losses being represented by the tabulated figures which run in close gradations down to such commands as were fortunate enough to sustain no loss whatsoever in action.

The total of killed during the whole war was, on the Union side, 110,070, out of about 2,200,000 men. To be exact, there were 2,778,304 enlistments; but, after deducting the reenlistments and reducing the short-term numbers to a three-years' basis, the round numbers would not be very much in excess of the figures stated. This would indicate that the number killed during the war was, on the Northern side, very close to five per cent. of those engaged and which is, by the way, a greater percentage than that of the Crimean or Franco-Prussian wars.\

Although the average loss of the whole army was five per cent., it must be borne in mind that the percentage was very unevenly divided among the various regiments, ranging from twenty per cent. down to nothing. In most of the commands, the percentage of killed would naturally be the same as that of the whole army, but there were some in which the rate w as necessarily large to offset that of those whose ranks sustained little or no loss. This increased percentage fell heavily on the Army of the Potomac, and on certain divisions in that army.

This subject of percentage is an interesting one, creating heroic records which might otherwise be overlooked, and adding fresh laurels when many would think the whole story had been told. There is something pathetic in the story of the Pennsylvania Reserves, when one studies the figures and thinks how thin were the ranks that furnished so many dead Pennsylvanians. The percentage list also shows plainly that the brunt of battle fell much heavier on some regiments than on others, and requires that such ones be known, so that the credit so justly due them may be fully acknowledged.

First of all, in this respect, stands the 2d Wisconsin Infantry, it having lost the most men, in proportion to its numbers, of any regiment in the whole Union army. The mortuary records of the State of Wisconsin furnish the information from which the following statement of their loss is made:

   Officers  Enlisted Men  Total
 Killed, or died of wounds  10  228  238
 Died of diseases, accidents, etc     77   77
   1188 enrolled 238 killed  = 20 per cent
 Total of killed and wounded      =753
 Missing and Captured      =132

Another extraordinary percentage of killed occurred in the 57th Massachusetts Infantry, where 201 were killed out of an enrollment of 1052, or 19.1 per cent. This case cannot well be classed with the others, because the 57th went into action within a few days after leaving Boston, going into the thick of the Wilderness fight with full ranks, while most regiments went into their first fight with ranks depleted by eight months' previous campaigning. The 57th was recruited largely from veteran soldiers, being known also as the "Second Veteran," and had the honor of being commanded by Colonel William F. Bartlett.

The next largest percentage of killed is found 4 in the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry, whose muster-out rolls tell the following story; and, as in the instances previously cited, the names of each one of the dead could be given, were 1 it necessary, in verification of the loss.

   Officers  Enlisted Men  Total
 Killed, or died of wounds  10  188  198
 Died of diseases, accidents, etc   1  127   77
   1132 enrolled 198 killed  = 17.4 per cent
 Total of killed and wounded      =732
 Died of Disease in Confederate Prisons      =28

The following regiments were also remarkable for their percentage of killed in action; remarkable because the general average was five percent. They were all infantry commands:

 Regiment  Corps  Enrolled  Killed  Per Cent
26th Wisconsin (Germans)
11th Pa. Reserves
142d Pennsylvania
141st Pennsylvania
36th Wiseonsin
5th Kentucky
27th Indiana
24th Michigan .
1st Minnesota
93d Illinois
8th Pa. Reserves
126th New York
55th Illinois
63d Pennsylvania
4th Michigan'
37th Wisconsin
1st Michigan
73d Ohio
6th Iowa
14th Indiana
44th New York
32d Indiana
22d Illinois
Twentieth
Fifth
First
Third
Second
Fourth
Twelfth
First
Second
Seventeenth
Fifth
Second
Fifteenth
Third
Fifth
Ninth
Fifth
Twentieth
Sixteenth
Second
Fifth
Fourth
Fourth
1089
1179
935
1037
1014
1020
1101
1238
1242
1011
1052
1036
1099
1308
1325
1110
1346
1267
1102
1134
1365
1285
1123
188
196
155
167
157
157
169
189
187
151
158
153
161
186
189
156
187
174
152
152
162
171
147
17.2
16.6
16.5
16.1
15.4
15.3
15.3
15.2
15.0
14.9
14.8
14.7
14.6
14.2
14.2
14.0
13.8
13.7
13.7
13.4
13.3
13.3
13.0

In these enrollments no account is taken of men transferred to a regiment after the war had closed.

But the above enrollments include the noncombatants and absentees. The maximum of effective strength was fully one-fifth less and the actual percentage of loss correspondingly greater. A new regiment may leave its barracks 1000 strong, and yet, within 30 days, go into action with less than 800 muskets. The process of depletion begins with the very first day of service. Men are detailed as cooks, teamsters, servants, and clerks; the sick-list then appears, and the thousand muskets are never seen together again. So the percentage of killed, as based on a total enrollment, does not render justice to the survivors. Still, it is the only definite basis for such figures, and is sufficient in estimating the comparative losses of the various commands. This point is better understood when the losses in certain actions are considered by themselves. There are many regiments which lost one-fourth of their men killed, or three-fourths, including the wounded, in some one engagement. The 69th Pennsylvania, of Gibbon's division, Second Corps, lost at Gettysburg 55 killed out of 258 present at morning roll-call. The 5th New York, Duryea Zouaves, of FitzJohn Porter's corps, at Manassas lost 117 killed out of 490 present for duty, and had 22 wounded besides. The 6th United States Colored Infantry at New Market Heights had 367 present at roll-call, of whom 6 officers and 55 enlisted men were killed, besides 8 officers and 134 men wounded. The 24th Michigan, of the Iron Brigade, went into the first day's fight at Gettysburg with 496 rank and file, losing 79 killed and 237 wounded, many of the latter mortally so. Among their killed were 8 officers and 4 color bearers.

On the field of Gettysburg there is a bronze tablet with this inscription:

FROM THE HILL BEHIND 'THIS MONUMENT

ON THE MORNING OF

JULY 3, 1863,

THE SECOND MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY

MADE AN ASSAULT UPON THE

CONFEDERATE. TROOPS

IN THE WORKS AT THE BASE OF CULP'S HILL,

OPPOSITE

THE REGIMENT CARRIED TO THE CHARGE

22 OFFICERS AND 294 ENLISTED MEN.

IT LOST 4 OFFICERS

AND

41 ENLISTED MEN

KILLED AND MORTALLY WOUNDED,

AND

6 OFFICERS AND 84 MEN WOUNDED.

This inscription has a historical value, on account of the precision with which the loss is stated, the records on some of the Gettysburg field stones being very loose in this respect.

But the most remarkable instance of all is That of the 1st Minnesota Infantry, at Gettysburg: It was coming on the field alone, just at the time when General Hancock observed a Confederate column advancing through his line at a point where there were no Union troops to confront them. In order to delay the Confederate advance until some brigade could be brought up, Hancock ordered the 1st Minnesota alone to charge the enemy's line. This forlorn hope moved forward with only 252 officers and men, accomplished the purpose, forced Back the Confederates, and captured their flag; but when it was over only 47 men clustered around their own colors, while 205 lay dead or wounded on the field. The muster-out rolls of this regiment bear the names of 75 men all marked as killed at Gettysburg, or died of wounds received there, a loss in killed of 29 per cent. of those engaged. Fifty-six of these men are buried in the Gettysburg cemetery; the others, dying of their wounds in hospitals at Philadelphia or York, were buried elsewhere.

The extent of these losses will be better understood if compared with some of the extraordinary cases cited in the histories of other wars. Take, for instance, the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava,-the charge of the Six Hundred. Lord Cardigan took 673 officers and men into that action; they lost 113 killed and 134 wounded; total, 247, or 36.7 per cent. The heaviest loss in the late Franco-Prussian war occurred at Mars-la-Tour, in the 16th German Infantry (3d Westphalian), which lost 49 per cent. But the 141st Pennsylvania lost 76 per cent. at Gettysburg, while regimental losses of 60 per cent. were a frequent occurrence in both Union and Confederate armies. In the war for the Union there were scores of regiments, unknown or forgotten in history, whose percentage of killed and wounded in certain actions would far exceed that of the much praised Light Brigade; and nobody blundered either.

Company losses show still greater percentages in certain cases. In this same 1st Minnesota, one company lost, at Gettysburg, 13 killed and 17 wounded out of 35 engaged. The maximum of company losses, however, both numerically and by percentage, is reached in Company I of the 83d Pennsylvania Infantry. This company, during its term of service, carried 193 names on its rolls, including recruits, out of which number 2 officers and 45 enlisted men were killed. With the killed bear in mind an additional number, of nearly three times as many more, who were wounded. As these 193 names embraced all the non-combatants, sick, and absentees, together with its many absent wounded, it will be seen that the percentage of loss in some of their battles must have been without an equal.

The following instances of excessive loss in particular actions may be of interest in connection with this topic. They represent the maximum of loss, and may be of interest to such historians as persist in telling of regiments that were all cut to pieces or completely annihilated.

  Regiment  Battle  Present  Killed and Wounded  Per Cent.
25th Massachusetts
36th Wisconsin (4 co's)
12th Massachusetts
81st Pennsylvania
5th New Hampshire
15th New Jersey
9th Illinois
9th New York, (8 co's)
69th New York
121St New York
97th Pennsylvania
2d Wisconsin
7th Ohio
63d New York
49th Pennsylvania
37th Wisconsin
12th New Hampshire
141st New York
111th New York
26th Pennsylvania
8th Kansas
14th Ohio
10th Wisconsin
22d Indiana
Cold Harbor, Va.
Bethesda Church, Va.
Antietam, Md.
Fredericksburg, Va.
Fredericksburg, Va.
Spotsylvania Va.
Shiloh, Tenn.
Antietam Md.
Antietam Md.
Salem Heights,Va.
Bermuda Hundred, Va.
Gettysburg, Pa.
Cedar Mountain, Va
Antietam, Md.
Spotsylvania, Va
Petersburg Mine, Va.
Cold Harbor, Va.
Peach Tree Creek, Ga.
Gettysburg, Pa.
Gettysburg, Pa.Chickamauga, Ga
Chickamauga, Ga
Chaplin Hills, Ky.
Chaplin Hills, Ky.
Pleasant Hill, La.

 
302

240

334

261

303

432

578

373

217

453

311

302

307

347

478

251

301

142

450

382

406

449

276

303

420

 

215

166

224

176

193

272

366

235

196

276

188

181

182

202

274

145

167

80

249

213

220

245

150

159

210

 71

67

67

64

63

63

63

61

61

60

60

59

59

57

57

55

56

55

55

54

54

54

52

52

50

The foregoing lists indicate fairly the limit of injury which a regiment will endure, and also the capacity of modern fire-arms for inflicting the same when used subject to the varying conditions of a battle-field.

Loss in action properly includes all of the wounded, and so where only the number of killed is stated, as in some instances here, there should be added a certain proportion of wounded, in order fully to comprehend what is in plied in the statement. This proportion, after deducting from the wounded those fatally injured and adding their number to the killed, is something over two wounded to one killed and died of wounds. Before such deduction, the usual proportion is a fraction over four to one. The number of killed, as officially reported at the close of a battle, is generally increased over fifty per cent. by those who die of their wounds. This statement is based upon an extended and careful comparison of official reports with final muster-out rolls. It will always be found correct as to an aggregate loss of any large number of regiments, although it may not always hold true as to some particular one.

The battle losses of a regiment are always unevenly distributed among the various engagements in which it participates. There is generally some one battle in which its losses are unusually severe, some one which the men always remember as their Waterloo. The following are the heaviest losses sustained by regiments in any one battle, and, together with the instances mentioned elsewhere in this article, embrace all where the loss in killed exceeds eighty. Do not grow impatient at these statistics. They are no ordinary figures. They are not a census of population and products, but statistics every unit of which stands for the pale, upturned face of a dead soldier.

Battle

 Regiment  Corps

 Killed and Mortally Wounded

Cold Harbor, Va
Spotsylvania, Va
Cold Harbor, Va
Antietam, Md
Shiloh, Tenn
Stone's River, Tenn 
Fort Donelson,Tenn 
Salem Heights, Va 
Williamsburg Va
Wilderness, Va
Fair Oaks, Va
Fredericksburg, Va 
Gettysburg, Pa
Chickamauga, Ga
Gaines's Mill, Va
Olustee, Fla
Pleasant Hill, La
Prairie Grove, Ark
Fort Wagner S C 
Pickett's Mills; Ga 
Gaines's Mill, Va
Chaplin Hills, Ky 
Wilderness, Va 
Shiloh, Tenn 
2d Conn. H. A.
1st Mass. H. A.
7th N. Y. H. A. 
15th Mass (11 co's)*
9th Illinois
18th U. S. Infantry
11th Illinois
121St New York
70th New York
57th Massachusetts
61St Pennsylvania
145th Pa (8 co's)
111th New York
22d Michigan
9th Massachusetts
8th U. S. Colored
32d Iowa
20th Wisconsin
48th New York
49th Ohio
22d Massachusetts
15th Kentucky 
4th Vermont 
55th Illinois
Sixth
Second
Second
Second
Sixteenth
Fourteenth
Seventeenth
Sixth
Third
Ninth
Sixth
Second
Second
Fourth
Fifth
Tenth
Sixteenth
Herron's Div.
Tenth
Fourth
Fifth
Fourteenth
Sixth
Fifteenth 

129

120

116

108

103

102

102

97

97

94

91

91

88

88

87

87

86

86

83

83

84

82

82

82

* Includes one company Andrew Sharpshooters.

In the preceding figures none of the wounded are counted, except the mortally wounded, who, in each case, are included with the killed. If there be added the many wounded ones who survived,-the maimed and crippled,- the record becomes appalling, and unsurpassed in all the annals of military heroism.

There may be some officers who will dispute the accuracy of certain figures given here, and will claim even a greater loss. If so, they should bear in mind that if their regiments did lose more men killed, they themselves failed so to state the fact when, twenty-three years ago, at the close of the war, they made out their official statement of losses, and appended their signatures thereto.

The three-months' troops did not always have a safe pleasure excursion. For instance:

 Regiment  Battle  Killed  Wounded, including mortally  Missing
69th New York Infantry.
1st Missouri Infantry
1st Kansas Infantry
First Bull Run
Wilson's Creek
Wilson's Creek

38

76

77

 59

208

187

95

111

20

Their rolls bear the names of 101 men who are recorded as killed or died of wounds received at Wilson's Creek.

The Pennsylvania nine-months' troops, also, were in service long enough to do good work at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. The sound of the good byes had hardly died away in their farm-houses when hundreds of them fell in that terrible crackling of musketry on the Sharpsburg pike.

CONFEDERATE LOSSES.

But how fared the Confederate regiments amidst all this fighting?

The official casualty lists of the Confederate forces are not so trustworthy as those of the Union side because they have not had the same careful revision since the war closed, but the tables, now accessible, show that the Northern aim was equally true, and that the Northern nerve was equally steady. The 26th North Carolina-Pettigrew's Brigade, Heth's Division-lost at Gettysburg 86 killed and 502* wounded [ Including mortally wounded. The official report states that the regiment "went in (July 1) with over 800 men']; total, 588, not including the missing, of whom there were about 120. In one company, 84 strong, every man and officer was hit; and the orderly sergeant who made out the list did it with a bullet through each leg. This is by far the largest regimental loss on either side during the war. At Fair Oaks the 6th Alabama, John B. Gordon's regiment, sustained a loss of 91 killed, 277 wounded, and 5 missing; total, 373. One company in this regiment is officially reported as having lost 2 I killed and 23 wounded out of 55 who were in action. The 1st South Carolina Rifles encountered the Duryea Zouaves at Gaines's Mill, and retired with a loss of 81 killed and 225 wounded. [But not until they received a flank fire from disengaged regiments of the enemy.] The Zouaves, in turn, vacated their position at Manassas in favor of the 5th Texas, but not until they had dropped 261 of the Texans.

The following tabulation of remarkable losses is compiled from the Confederate official reports of regimental commandants:

 Regiment  Battle  Killed  Wounded*  Total
 4th North Carolina
44th Georgia
14th Alabama
8th Tennessee
20th North Carolina
Palmetto Sharpshooters..
4th Texas
42d Mississippi
29th Mississippi
2d Mississippi
57th North Carolina
45th North Carolina
4th Tennessee
13th Georgia.
2d North Carolina
5th Alabama
30th Mississippi
11th Georgia
17th Mississippi
8th Georgia
16th Tennessee
2d Florida
3d Arkansas
2d Louisiana
 Fair Oaks
Mechanicsville
Seven Days+
Stone's River
Gaines's Mill
Glendale
Gaines's Mill
Gettysburg
Stone's River
Gettysburg
Fredericksburg, 1862
Gettysburg
Shiloh
Antietam
Chancellorsville
Fair Oaks
Stone's River
Gettysburg
Gettysburg
First Bull Run
Chaplin Hills.
Fair Oaks
Antietam
Malvern Hill
77
71
71
41
70
39
44
60
34
49
32
46
36
48
47
29
63
42
40
41
41
37
27
30
286
264
253
265
202
215
208
205
202
183
192
173
183
166
167
181
146
162
160
159
151
152
155
182
363
335
324
306
272
254
252
265
236
232
224
219
219
214
214
210
209
204
200
200
192
189
182
182
*Includes the mortally wounded. The missing are not included in these figures:

there were but few of them, and in most of these instances there were none.

+This loss occurred at Gaines's mill and Glendale.

There were other losses in the Confederate ranks which were equally severe if considered in connection with the number engaged, and the percentage of loss in their regiments appears to have been as large as that of their adversaries. In many instances the Confederate colonels in their official reports state, together with their loss, the number of men taken into action. In making a compilation from these reports, some heroic records are revealed. For instance:

 Regiment  Battle  "Present in Action"  Killed or wounded  Per Cent

 

1st Texas
21st Georgia
8th Tennessee
7th South Carolina
23d South Carolina
44th Georgia
16th Mississippi
15th Virginia
18th Georgia
10th Georgia
12th Tennessee
16th Tennessee
3d Alabama
7th North Carolina
18th North Carolina
1st S. C. Rifles
4th North Carolina
12th South Carolina
4th Texas
27th Tennessee
1st South Carolina
49th Virginia
12th Alabama
7th South Carolina
7th Texas
11th Alabama

 

Antietam
Manassas
Stone's River
Manassas
Manassas
Mechanicsville
Antietam
Antietam
Antietam
Antietam
Stone's River
Stone's River
Malvern Hill
Seven Days
Seven Days
Gaines's Mill
Fair Oaks
Manassas
Antietam
Chaplin Hills
Manassas
Fair Oaks
Fair Oaks
Antietam
Raymond
Glendale
 
226
242
444
284
225
514
228
128
176
147
292
377
354
450
396
537
678
270
200
210
283
424
408
268
306
337
 
186
184
306
189
149
335
144
75
101
83
164
207
200
253
224
306
369
146
107
112
151
224
215
140
158
181
 
82
76
69
67
66
65
63
58
57
56
56
55
56
56
56
56
54
54
53
53
53
52
52
52
52
51

With these should be again mentioned the 26th North Carolina, whose official report shows a loss of over 85 per cent. at Gettysburg.

Many important instances are necessarily omitted from the preceding list, as the Confederates issued an order in May, 1863, [1] forbidding any further mention, in regimental battle-reports, "of the number of men taken into action," alleging as a reason " the impropriety of thus furnishing the enemy with the means of computing " their strength. The same order required " that in future the reports of the wounded shall only include those whose injuries, in the opinion of the medical officers, render them unfit for duty," and deprecated " the practice of including cases of slight injuries which do not incapacitate the recipient for duty."

The total number of killed in the Confederate armies, including deaths from wounds, will never be definitely known. From a careful examination of their official reports, or, in case of the absence of such reports, a consideration of the accepted facts, it appears that their mortuary loss by battle was not far from 94,000.

In 1866, General Fry, U. S. Provost Marshal General, ordered a compilation made from the Confederate muster-rolls, then in possession of the Government, from which it appears that they lost 2086 officers and 50,868 enlisted men, killed; 1246 officers and 20,324 enlisted men, died of wounds; total, 74, 524.[2] Deaths from disease, 59,297. These rolls were incomplete; the rolls of two States were almost entirely missing; and none of them covered the entire period. Still they develop the fact that the number of killed could not have been less than the figures given above.

It does not follow that, because the Confederate armies were smaller, their losses were smaller. Their generals showed a remarkable ability in always having an equal number of men at the points of contact.

Upon tabulating the casualties of each battle, using official reports only,-and, in absence of such, allowing one loss to offset the other,- the aggregate casualties up to April, 1864, show that the Union loss in killed and wounded is about 11,500 in excess of the Confederate, a very small amount as compared with the totals. But this difference in favor of the Confederates would disappear if their official reports were subjected to a revision of the nominal lists, as has been done lately with the Union reports. For several years past the War Department has had a clerical force at work in comparing the official battle-reports of Union generals with the regimental nominal lists of casualties, and in each case the total of casualties, as reported by the general, is largely increased.

Up to 1864 the losses on each side were, in the aggregate, substantially the same, with a slight difference, if any, in favor of the Confederates- Then called a frightful discrepancy.

From May 5 to June 30, in their operations against Richmond, the armies of the Potomac and the James lost 77,452 [3] men,- a greater number than were in Lee's army. Of this number the Army of the Potomac lost 54,925 in its return to the Peninsula by the overland " line."

Whatever excess there may be in killed on the Union side during the war is chargeable to the campaigns of 1864-65.

It would be difficult to name the Confederate regiments which sustained the greatest losses during the war, as their rolls are incomplete. The loss in some, however, has been ascertained,[4] notably those in Gregg's South Carolina Brigade, A. P. Hill's Division. Their total losses during the war, in killed and mortally wounded, were:

 

 Regiment  Officers  Enlisted Men  Total
 1st South Carolina

21 

260 

281 

 12th South Carolina

17 

213 

230 

 13th South Carolina

17 

203 

220 

 14th South Carolina

16 

208 

224 

1st S.C. Rifles

19 

305 

324 

In addition, there were 3735 wounded in this brigade.

The loss in a Confederate regiment during the whole war would be large, as the Confederacy did not organize any new regiments after 1862, but distributed their successive levies among the old regiments. With these accessions came a corresponding increase in the regimental casualty lists.

In the North additional troops were raised for the most part by organizing new regiments, while veteran commands were allowed to become reduced below an effective strength.

The question is often asked, Which corps did the most fighting in the war ? So far as the casualty lists are an indication, the Second Corps is the one that can fairly claim that honor. Of the 200 Northern regiments which lost the most men killed in action during the war, 35 belonged to the Second Corps, while 17 is the highest number belonging to any other corps.

It should be understood, however, that the Second was a very large corps, containing over 90 regiments, while, for instance, the twelfth Corps (Slocum's) had only 28. Yet the Twelfth Corps (the Second Corps, Army of Virginia) rendered brilliant and effective service at Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Lookout Mountain- also, later on, in the Atlanta campaign, where it was commanded by Hooker and was known as the Twentieth Corps, although it still retained its badge and for the most part its organization. This depriving the Twelfth Corps of the name under which it had fought so long and well was a needless act of injustice, similar to the one which wiped out the names of the First and Third corps. In the latter cases it was a blunder, as subsequent events proved, as well as a heartless blow-at the corps pride of the officers and men. It is evident that such a thing as esprit de corps was but slightly appreciated by the gentlemen who sat in the War Office at Washington in those days. In the Western armies, the Fourth Corps (Gordon Granger's) is deservedly prominent. The regiments whose losses indicate that their fighting was the hardest and most frequent are found in that corps more than in any other, although some hard fighting was done by them before their organization under that name.

The heaviest losses by brigades are credited to the Iron Brigade of the First Corps and the Vermont brigade of the Sixth Corps, both having a continuous unbroken organization as brigades, which was a rare thing in the war. Their long list of killed was but the natural result of the courage with which they faced the musketry on so many fields

It may be noticed by some that the regimental losses in killed, as stated here, are greatly in excess of the figures as given in the "Official Records of the Rebellion," now in course of publication by the War Department. But it should be understood that those official figures are the ones which were reported at the close of each action, and show only the nature of the casualties at that particular hour. Such reports were made up under the headings of "Killed," "Wounded," and "Missing." The number of those who died of wounds is not shown, but is covered up in each case under the general return of the wounded, although many of them die the same day. Again, the "missing" is an indefinite quantity, embracing, as it does, all those who were captured, together with a certain class which always turn up again within a few days. Official reports of wounded also were often far from correct, as in some commands men were not allowed to be considered as wounded unless the injury was a severe one, while in others orders were received to report every casualty, however slight. On account of this some are asking, How many of the regiment were actually killed, or died of their wounds ? How many were buried as the result of the fight ? They know that, however doubtful might be the classification of a slightly wounded or a missing man, there can be no question as to the definite allotment of one that is buried. The " Official Records " constitute a wonderful work, highly creditable to the officer in charge, and of a magnitude that will require many years before the last volumes can be printed. Its casualty lists so far as reached possess an intense interest and are tabulated in admirable form. Still, many will be interested in going farther, and noting the actual and largely increased number of killed as developed by the figures gleaned from the muster-out rolls.

The number of officers killed in Battle was somewhat greater in proportion than that of the enlisted men, but often failed to bear any definite ratio to the loss of the regiment itself. In the 2d Vermont Infantry 223 were killed, of whom 6 were officers, while in the 12th Massachusetts (Colonel Fletcher Webster) 194 were killed, of whom 18 were officers. Again, the 19 Maine lost 192 killed, of whom 3 only were officers, while in the 22d Indiana, out of 153 killed, 14 were officers.

In the aggregate, the proportion of officers to enlisted men killed was I officer to 16 men, but certain regiments and certain States show a wide variation. The Connecticut and Delaware officers had either an excess of bravery or a lack of caution, as their proportionate loss in battle far exceeds the average.

The largest number of officers killed in any infantry regiment belongs to the 61st Pennsylvania of the Sixth Corps, it having lost 19 officers killed in battle. The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery lost 2 l officers in action, but it had just twice as many line officers as an infantry command. The 8th New York Heavy Artillery lost 20 officers killed, but is also subject to the same remark when compared with the 61st Pennsylvania. It was seldom that an infantry regiment lost more than 6 officers killed in any one battle. The 7th New Hampshire, however, lost 11 officers killed in the assault on Fort Wagner, it being the greatest regimental loss of officers in any one engagement. The 22d New York lost 9 officers at Manassas; the 59th New York lost 9 at Antietam; and the 145th Pennsylvania lost 9 at Fredericksburg, the latter regiment taking only 8 companies into action there. Eight officers were killed in the 1st Michigan at Manassas; in the 14th New Hampshire at Opequon; in the 87th Indiana at Chickamauga; and in the 43d Illinois at Shiloh. In some regiments the field and staff sustained severe losses during their term of service. The 95th Pennsylvania lost 2 colonels, 2 lieutenant-colonels, a major, and an adjutant killed in action. The 20th Massachusetts, " one of the very best regiments in the service," [5] lost also 6 of its field and staff in battle, a colonel, lieutenant-colonel, 2 majors, adjutant, and a surgeon. But the most peculiar instance of loss in officers occurred in the 148th Pennsylvania, where, in one company (Company C) there were killed at different times 7 line officers. It must have required some nerve to accept a commission in that company.

The surgeons and chaplains, although regarded as non-combatants, were not exempt from the bloody casualties of the battle-field. The medical service sustained a loss of 40 surgeons killed in action or mortally wounded. There were 73 more who were wounded in action, and, as in the case of those killed, they were wounded while in the discharge of their duties on the field. Many of the chaplains were also killed or wounded in battle. Some of them were struck down while attending to their duties with the stretcher-bearers, while others, like Chaplain Fuller, fell dead in the front rank with a rifle in their hands.

Of the three principal arms of the service, the infantry loses the most men in action, the cavalry next and the light artillery the least. The heaviest cavalry loss seems to have fallen on the 1st Maine Cavalry, it having lost 15 officers and 159 enlisted men killed. Next comes the 1st Michigan Cavalry, with 14 officers and 150 enlisted men killed. Of the 260 cavalry regiments in the Northern army, there were 15 others whose loss in killed exceeded 100. The percentages of killed are also less in this part of the service, the highest being found in the 5th Michigan Cavalry with its 8.9 per cent., and in the 6th Michigan Cavalry with 8.3 per cent,- both in Custer's brigade. Cavalrymen go into action oftener than infantrymen, and so their losses, being distributed among a larger number of engagements, do not appear remarkable as reported for any one affair. Still, in some of their fights the " dead cavalryman " could be seen in numbers that answered only too well the famous question of General Hooker.[6] At Reams's Station the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry lost 27 men killed, and at Todd's Tavern the 1st New York Dragoons lost 24 killed, not including the additional casualty lists of wounded. The number of cavalry officers killed in some regiments was excessive, as in this arm of the service, more than in any other, the officers are expected to lead their men. Although the cavalry did not suffer in killed as badly as the infantry, still they participated in more engagements, were under fire much more frequently, and so were obliged to exhibit an equal display of courage. the 5th New York Cavalry lost 8 officers and 93 enlisted men killed in action, but it was present at over 100 engagements, and lost men, either killed or disabled, in 88 of them. The muster-out rolls of the various mounted commands show that there were 10,596 "dead cavalrymen" who were killed in action during the war, of whom 671 were officers, the proportionate loss of officers being greater than in the infantry.

The casualties in the light artillery were less than in any other arm of the service, the engineers excepted. The light batteries, or horse artillery, which constituted the artillery proper for the field operations, were organized for the most part as independent batteries or commands. In some States twelve of them were connected by a regimental organization, but even then they operated as independent commands. A battery or company of light artillery consisted generally of 150 men, with 6 cannon and the necessary horses. There were some four-gun batteries, and towards the close of the war most of the old batteries were reorganized on that basis. The greatest numerical loss in any one of these organizations occurred in Cooper's battery of the Pennsylvania Reserves, in which 2 officers and 18 enlisted men, out of 332 names enrolled, were killed during its term of service. Weeden's Rhode Island battery also sustained a severe loss in its many engagements, 19 being killed out of 290 enrolled; while the Pennsylvania batteries of Ricketts, Easton, and Kerns were also prominent by reason of their frequent, effective, and courageous actions, with the consequent large loss in killed. The highest percentage of killed is found in Phillips's 5th Massachusetts battery, which lost 19 killed out of 194 members, or 9.7 per cent.; the enrollment taken being the one prior to the transfer of the 3d Battery near the close of the war.

The 11th Ohio Battery sustained the greatest loss in any one action. At the battle of Iuka it lost 16 killed and 39 wounded, the enemy capturing the battery, but the gunners, refusing to surrender, worked their pieces to the last and were shot down at the guns. The battery went into this action with 54 gunners, 46 of whom were killed or wounded, the remainder of the casualties occurring among the drivers or others.

A still more remarkable artillery fight was that of Bigelow's battery, 9th Massachusetts, at Gettysburg, remarkable, not only for the exceptional loss, but also for the efficiency with which the guns were served and the valuable service rendered. When, on the afternoon of the second day, it was found that the Union batteries, on the cross-road near the Peach Orchard, could no longer hold their position, it became necessary to sacrifice one of them " by leaving it there in action and working it to the last, so as to check the Confederate advance long enough to enable the other batteries to fall back to a better position. Major McGilvery selected Bigelow and his men for this duty, ordering him to fight with fixed prolonge, an arrangement which availed but little, for, although the canister from his light twelves kept his front clear for a long time and successfully detained the enemy, he could not check the swarm which finally came in on each flank and rear, some of whom, springing nimbly on his limber-chests, shot down his horses and then his men. Bigelow was wounded, and two of his lieutenants were killed; g of his gunners were killed, 14 were wounded, and 2 were missing. the battery then ceased firing, four of its guns being temporarily in the hands of the enemy. Lieutenant Millon, who brought the battery off the field, states in his official report that 45 horses were killed and 15 wounded in this affair; and that 5 more were killed in the action of the following day. l his is the largest number of horses killed in any battery action of the war; at least, there are no official reports to the contrary.[7] A general once criticised a gallant but unnecessary charge which he happened to witness with the remark: "It is magnificent, But it is not war" [8] The fight of these Massachusetts cannoneers was not only magnificent, but it was war. There really was no sacrifice. There was a sad loss of life, considering how few there were of the battery men, but each man killed at those guns cost Kershaw and Barksdale a score. Doubleday quotes a statement of McLaws', that " one shell from this artillery killed and wounded thirty men." If the shrapnel was so effective, what must have been the slaughter when Bigelow's smooth-bore Napoleons threw canister so rapidly into Kershaw's masses; for the gunners in this battery were not allowed sidearms, but had been carefully instructed that their safety lay in the rapidity with which they could work their guns. This battery held Barksdale's advance in check for a half-hour, from 6 to 6.30 P. M., after which McGilvery's second line, consisting of Dow's, Phillips's, and Thompson's guns, confronted him from 6.30 to 7.15 P. M., at which time Willard and Stannard, with their brigades, made the advance which drove him back and regained Bigelow's guns. This is not put forward as history so much as an illustration of the losses suffered and inflicted by the light artillery when at its best.

The light artillery service lost during the war 1817 men killed and mortally wounded, of whom 116 were officers. Their smaller losses only emphasize the fact that it is a valuable arm of the service in its capability of inflicting so much more loss than it receives.

And yet the artillery are largely responsible for the oft-quoted remark that " It takes a man's weight in lead to kill him." This old saw has always been considered as needing more or less latitude, but, on the contrary, it expresses an absolute truth devoid of exaggeration. As regards the battles of modern warfare, it is a very fair way of stating the relative weight of metal thrown n and men killed. The figures pertaining to this subject are attainable and make the matter very plain. To be just, we will pass by such actions as Fort Sumter and certain other artillery affairs in which not a man was killed, and turn to the field engagements where the loss of life was greatest; where, according to the rhetorical historians, the fields were swept by the storm of iron sleet and leaden hail; where the ranks of the enemy-always the enemy- were mowed down like grain before the reaper; where the charging masses were " literally " blown from the mouths of the guns"; where, according to a statement in a report of the New York Bureau of Military Statistics, " legs, arms, and large pieces of bodies filled the air."

As the truth of the adage referred to is purely a matter of figures, we will turn to them, and, for the present, to those of the battle of Stone's River, a general engagement and one in which some of the best fighting of the war was done on both sides. In this battle the artillery fired 202307 rounds of ammunition, as officially stated by General Barnett, Chief of Artillery; in his report, which was an exhaustive one in its details, and gives the exact number of rounds fired by each battery. 'The weight of these 20,307 projectiles was fully 225,000 pounds. T he infantry at the same time are officially reported as having fired over 2,000,000 rounds, and which consisted mostly of conical bullets from .55 to .69 of an inch in diameter, and may have included some buck-and-ball. The weight of this lead fired by the infantry exceeded 150,000 pounds. Hence the combined weight of the projectiles fired by the artillery and infantry at Stone's River was 375,000 pounds, and fully equal to that of the 2319 Confederates killed or mortally wounded by the same.

General Rosecrans, in his official report of this battle, goes into this curious matter also but in a somewhat different direction, and states that "of 14,560 rebels struck by our missiles, it is estimated that 20,000 rounds of artillery hit 728 men; 260002000 rounds of musketry hit 13,832 men; averaging 27.4 cannon shots to hit one man, 145 musket shots to hit one man." But' in this statement the term " hit," as applied, includes the wounded, while the old saying refers only to tile killed. Again, General Rosecrans makes the killed and wounded of the enemy too great, putting it at 14,560, while General Bragg reported officially only 9000. Still, Rosecrans need not complain of this, as Bragg, in turn, generously overestimates Rosecrans' loss. Any such error, however, would not affect the proportion of wounds inflicted by the two arms of the service, according to the report quoted. It seems strange that 20X000 artillery missiles should kill or wound only 728 men, and that of the cannon pointed at the Confederate columns it should take 27 shots to hit, kill, wound, or scratch one man. The discussion of this latter point will have to be left to the gallant old general and such of his veterans as wore the red trimming on their jackets. In the mean while it is fair to infer that the proportion of bullet wounds to shell wounds has been carefully noted in the hospital returns, and that the medical staff may have furnished this remarkable statement, with the statistics to back it up. Lack of space prevents the mention here of other field engagements in support of this old maxim, but further and ample proof is found in a mere reference to the noisy clatter on the picket lines; the long-range artillery duels so popular at one time in the war; the favorite practice known as shelling the woods; and the noisy Chinese warfare indulged in at some bombardments, where the combatants, ensconced within their bomb-proofs or casemates, hurled at each other a month's product of several foundries with scarcely a casualty on either side.

Many of the colored regiments sustained severe losses m battle, although there seems to be a popular impression to the contrary, influenced no doubt by the old sneering joke about them so common at one time. The 79th United States Colored Infantry lost 5 officers and 174 enlisted men killed in action during the short time that the colored troops were in service, and the 13th United States Colored Infantry lost 221 men, killed and wounded, in one fight at Nashville. The 54th Massachusetts (colored) lost 5 officers and 124 enlisted men in various actions, all killed, or missing men who, never returning from that fierce assault on Wagner, were probably thrown into that historic trench where the enemy buried "the colonel with his niggers." The black troops were largely engaged in guard or garrison duty, but still saw enough active service to con tribute 2751 men killed in battle. This does not include their officers, who were whites, and of whom 143 were killed.

The number of officers killed in the regular regiments was in excess of their due proportion, and argues plainly better selected material. On the other hand, the number of enlisted men killed in the regular service was less in proportion to enrollment than in the, volunteer. This may be due to the larger number of deserters which encumbered their rolls, or it may be that the regulars, Being better, officered, accomplished their work with a smaller loss, avoiding the useless sacrifice, which occurred too often, as the direct result of incompetency. In alluding to the regulars as being better officered, they are referred to as a whole, it being fully understood that in many State regiments commissions were held by those equally competent. In fact, it is doubtful if the regular army has a regiment which ever had at any time a line of officers which could equal those of the 2d Massachusetts Volunteers. The number killed in action in the regular service was 144 officers and 2 1 39 enlisted men, the heaviest loss occurring in the I 8th Infantry.

In connection with the subject of regimental losses there is the important one of loss by disease. In our army there were twice as many deaths from disease as from bullets. In the Confederate army the loss from disease was, for obvious reasons, much less, being smaller than their loss in battle. This loss by disease was, in our Northern regiments, very unevenly distributed, running as low as 30 in some and exceeding 500 in others, while in some of the colored regiments it was still greater. There seems to be an impression that the regiments which suffered most in battle lost also the most from disease. This is an error, the direct opposite being the truth. The Report of the War Department for 1866 says, regarding this subject, that " it is to be noted, that those States which show large mortality on the battlefield likewise show large mortality by disease." The may be true of the State totals, but is wholly incorrect as to the regiments themselves; for, with but few exceptions, the regiments which sustained the heaviest loss in battle show the smallest number of deaths from disease. As an illustration, take the following commands, all of which were crack fighting regiments, and note the mortality from the t\\ o causes:

 

 Regiments  Corps

 Killed or mortally wounded in Battle

Died of diseases, accidents, in prisons, etc.

 

2d Massachusetts.
12th Massachusetts
21st Massachusetts.
37th Massachusetts
5th N. Y. (Duryea Zouaves)
61st New York
63d New York (Irish Brigade)
70th N. Y. (Sickles s Brigade)
82d N. Y. (2d N. Y. S. M.)
84th N. Y. ( 1 4th Brooklyn)
124th N. Y. ("Orange Blossoms")
12th New Jersey
62d Pennsylvania
72d Penn. (Baxter's Zouaves)
95th Pennsylvania
102d Pennsylvania
5th Ohio
7th Ohio
19th Indiana
32d Indiana (First German)
26th Wisconsin (German Regiment)
37th Wisconsin
1st Minnesota

 

Twelfth
First
Ninth
Sixth
Fifth
Second.
Second
Third
Second
First
Third
Second
Fifth
Second
Sixth
Sixth
Twelfth
Twelfth
Third
Fourth.
Eleventh
Ninth
Second
 

191

193

159

169

177

189

161

190

176

162

151

177

169

193

182

181

151

184

179

171

188

156

187

 

98

83

91

92

31

119

88

64

78

69

89

99

89

71

73

82

50

59

117

97

77

89

99

In addition to these, there are the forty-five leading regiments previously mentioned,- leading ones as regards greatest loss in action, -whose aggregate of killed is one-third greater than that of their loss by disease. Then there might be cited the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, an effective and hard fighting division, in which every regiment sustained a greater loss in battle than by disease, with the exception of the 7th Reserves, in whose case the excess from disease was caused by seventy-four deaths in Andersonville. The 1st Jersey Brigade, the 2d Jersey Brigade, and the Iron Brigade were all hard fighters, with the consequent heavy losses, and yet each regiment in those brigades lost less by disease than by battle.

Still, in the whole army the aggregate loss by disease was double the loss in action, and the question arises, where, then, did it occur?

In reply, a long list could be offered, in which regiments with a comparatively small loss in action Would show a startling mortality from sickness; also many commands which performed garrison or post duty, and which show a long death-roll without having been engaged in any battle. The troops in the Departments of the Gulf and the Mississippi were exposed to a fatal climate, but participated in few battles, the fighting there, aside from a few minor engagements, being over by August, 1863. Though but few battle names were inscribed upon their colors, it should be remembered that they went and came in obedience to orders; that the service they rendered was as an important one; and that their comrades' lives were also- lost while in the line of duty.

Still, the inference is a fair one that the fighting regiments owed their exemption from disease to that same pluck which made them famous, and which enabled them to withstand its encroachments without tamely giving up and lying down under its attack. It was a question of mental as well as bodily stamina, and hence there is found in certain black regiments a mortality from disease exceeding by far that of any white troops, a fact which cannot be accounted for by climatic reasons, because the particular regiments referred to were recruited from Blacks who were born and raised along the Mississippi, where these troops were stationed, and where the loss occurred.

Throughout the whole army, the officers were far less apt to succumb to the fatalities of disease than were their men. While the proportionate loss of enlisted men in battle was 16 men to one officer, the loss by disease was 82 men, and in the colored troops 2 14 men- facts with ethnological features worth noting.

In addition to deaths from battle and disease there were other prolific sources of mortality, over 4000 being killed by accidents, resulting mostly from a careless use of firearms or from fractious horses, while 3000 more were drowned while bathing or boating. By the explosion of the steamer Sultana, loaded with exchanged prisoners, homeward bound after the war, 1400 Union soldiers were killed- a loss exceeded in only a few battles of the war.

A regiment's greatest loss did not always occur in its greatest battle. The heaviest blows were often received in some fight which history scarcely mentions-some reconnaissance, ambuscade, or wagon-guard affair, entirely disconnected with any general engagement. With many commands this has been a misfortune and a grievance; something akin to that of the oft-quoted aspirant for glory who was slain in battle, but whose name was misspelled in the newspapers. The 107th New York went through Gettysburg with a trivial loss, only to have 170 men struck down at Pumpkin Vine Creek, C;a. This regiment erected a monument, on the pedestal of which is chiseled a long list of battle names, remarkable for their euphony as well as their historic grandeur. The hand of the stonecutter paused at Pumpkin Vine Creek, and the committee substituted New Hope Church, the name by which the Confederates designate the same fight.

The word Gettysburg is not a musical combination, but many will thank fortune that the battle was fought there instead of at Pipe Creek, the place designated in the general's orders. As it is, the essayist and historian will delight in referring to the grand victory as one which preserved unbroken the map and boundaries of the nation, but they would hardly care to do so if they were obliged to add that all this took place at Pipe Creek.

Soldiers love to point to the battle names inscribed upon their colors, and glory in the luster that surrounds them. It is natural that they should prefer well-known names or pleasant-sounding ones. The old soldier is something of a romancer in his way, and is alive to the value of euphony as an adjunct to his oft-told tale. The Michigan cavalrymen find willing ears for the story of their fight at Falling Waters, while the Jersey troopers find it difficult to interest hearers in their affair at Hawes' Shop. The veterans of the West find it easier to talk of Atlanta and Champion's Hill than of the Yazoo or Buzzard's Roost. Through coming years our rhyming bards will tell of those who fought at the Wilderness, or Malvern Hill, but cadence and euphony will ignore the fallen heroes of Pea Ridge and Bermuda Hundred.

William F. Fox.

[1] General Orders, No. 63, Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, May 14, 1863.

[2] Message and Documents, Part 3, x865-66.

[3] 10,242 killed, 52,043 wounded, 15,167 missing total, 77,452 (Adjutant-General's office, Washington, 1888). Three fourths of the missing were killed or wounded'.

[4] "History South Carolina Brigade," J. F. Caldwell

[5] General Humphreys, Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac.

[6] "Who ever saw a dead cavalryman ?"

[7]There may have been a greater number killed in a Battery at Stone's River; but, as the battery was captured, the exact loss cannot be satisfactorily ascertained.

[8]" C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre."