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Civil War Casualties

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The American Civil War was an internal conflict fought from 1861 to 1865 within the U.S. The Union went up against secessionists in 11 Southern states that grouped together to form the Confederate States of America. The Union ultimately won the war, but it remains the bloodiest one in U.S. history.

Why was the Civil War fought?

In February 1861, there were 34 states when 7 Southern states declared they were seceding from the US in order to form the Confederate States of America. War began in April when the Confederates attacked the U.S. fortress of Fort Sumter. The Confederacy later grew to encompass 11 states, and it also claimed some Indian Territory and portions of other states.

Confederates were never recognized by the government or any foreign country. The states that remained loyal to the government were called Union or Northern states. The war ended when the Confederate armies surrendered and dissolved the Confederate government in 1865. The Civil War originated over the issue of slavery and its extension into western territories.

Four intense years of fighting left hundreds of thousands of soldiers dead on both sides, a higher number than American military troops suffered in World War I and World War II combined. Much of the infrastructure in the South was destroyed when the Confederacy collapsed. After the war, 4 million slaves were freed based on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and then the Reconstruction Era began as the nation fought to restore unity, strengthen the national government, and grant civil rights to freed slaves.

How many were killed in the Civil War?

Well over 600,000 Americans died during the Civil War, and historians sometimes reach a toll as high as 700,000. The number that most quote is 620,000. Any way you count it, casualties exceed the nation’s losses from any other war starting with the Revolution and going all the way through Vietnam. Even combining World War I and World War II does not find a larger number. With best estimates working behind historian counts, there were several battles that cost more lives than any other. The Wilderness Battle cost 17,666 lives, for example, while Spotsylvania saw the loss of nearly 11,000 lives. With death tolls that high from just a few battles and dozens of battles raging, the numbers climbed on a daily basis for total Civil War casualties.

How many Confederate soldiers were killed?

There were two sides when it came to Civil War casualties, which is why the numbers got as large as they did. With any other war, Americans were all on the same side. With this war, however, they were killing one another. On the Confederate side, the numbers aren’t all that accurate because there are a lot of missing records due to the overall destruction of that region during and after the war. The Confederate army had between 750,000 and 1,250,000 individuals fighting. The estimates state that there were 94,000 battle deaths and 164,000 deaths from diseases and other causes. That leads to a staggering total of 258,000.

How Many Union soldiers were killed?

On the other side of the country, Civil War casualties climbed even higher. The Union armies had anywhere from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men fighting for their cause. At best estimate, they lost 110,070 in battle and 250,152 to diseases and other causes. That leads to a final number on the Union side of 360,222 men. In addition to deaths due to battles and disease, the Union listed fatalities such as deaths in prison, drowning, accidents, murder, suicide, sunstroke, military executions, executions by the enemy, those killed after capture and others. There was even an unclassified category that was fitting for 14,155 deaths on the Union side.