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Fascinating facts about the Civil War: the war by the numbers

Updated on August 31, 2012
General Ulysses S. Grant
General Ulysses S. Grant | Source
  • Although the records are incomplete, it’s estimated that approximately 620,000 men died in the Civil War. More Americans died in the Civil War than in all U.S. wars combined from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War.
  • The Union had more than double the number of men in service compared to the Confederacy – 2,900,000 Union troops as opposed to 1,350,000 Confederate troops.
  • Approximately 390,000 men died from disease during the war, nearly double the estimated 205,000 battle casualties. 50,000 more men died in accidents.
  • Gunshot wounds outnumbered bayonet and saber wounds, 250 to 1.

  • At the beginning of the war, there were approximately 128,000 factories in the United States. Only 14% were in the South.
  • During the bombardment of New Orleans at Easter 1862, Federal troops fired some 3.4 million pounds of lead from naval guns against the Confederate forts.

  • When counting all ranks of general, such as lieutenant general, major general, and so on, there were 583 Union generals during the Civil War. There were 425 Confederate generals.
  • Approximately 460,000 Confederate soldiers were taken prisoner during the war; more than 210,000 Union soldiers were captured.
  • The notorious Andersonville prison camp was open for just a little over a year, but held over 45,000 prisoners during that time. 12,912 soldiers are known buried there.

  • Point Lookout, possibly the most infamous Union prison camp, was built to accommodate 10,000 men but had a population that varied between 12,000 and 20,000 men at any given time. It’s believed that as many as 14,000 men died of disease there.

  • Although the First Battle of Manassas is famous as the first large engagement, the death toll was light in comparison to many later battles – 2,708 Union dead and 1,981 Confederate casualties.
  • The 26th North Carolina was one of the hardest hit regiments in the war. At Gettysburg, 714 of 800 men were lost, with 584 dead and wounded on the first day alone.
  • Possibly the most astounding loss to a single unit in the war was the blow dealt to the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery during the fighting at Petersburg, Virginia. On June 18, 1864, the unit lost 635 of its 900 men within seven minutes.

  • In terms of total casualties – killed, wounded, missing and captured – the Battle of Gettysburg was the costliest battle of the Civil War. Between July 1st and 3rd, 1863, there were a total of 51,112 known casualties: 23,049 Union and 28,063 Confederate.
  • The single deadliest day during the war was the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. The battle ended with no clear victor while resulting in 26,134 casualties: 12,410 Union and 13,724 Confederate.
  • Approximately 130,000 freed slaves served in the Union army during the war. Black soldiers were paid $10 a month for their service, while white soldiers were paid $13 a month.
  • Approximately 15% of the wounded died in the Civil War, compared to 8% in World War I, 4% in World War II, and 2% in the Korean War.

Do you know what your ancestors did in the war?

Which side did great-great-great-great-grandpa take?

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    • grinnin1 profile image

      grinnin1 6 years ago from st louis,mo

      Really great information on the civil war. I've been to Antietam and it truly felt like a haunted piece of land when you stood there and thought of all who had lost their lives there. Great hub!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Angie, Great information for the interested. It is hard to believe that there were even that many people in the States back then, let alone the other numbers you give. It is also hard to fathom that much lead on those ships firing on New Orleans. Amazing. I never thought this could be that interesting. Greg