The Cost of War: Killed, Wounded, Captured, and Missing
The Civil War was America's bloodiest conflict. The unprecedented violence of battles such as Shiloh, Antietam, Stones River, and Gettysburg shocked citizens and international observers alike. Nearly as many men died in captivity during the Civil War as were killed in the whole of the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands died of disease. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620, 000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty. Taken as a percentage of today's population, the toll would have risen as high as 6 million souls.
The human cost of the Civil War was beyond anybody's expectations. The young nation experienced bloodshed of a magnitude that has not been equaled since by any other American conflict.
Military Deaths in American Wars
The numbers of Civil War dead were not equaled by the combined toll of other American conflicts until the War in Vietnam. Some believe the number is as high as 850, 000. The Civil War Trust does not agree with this claim.
Civil War Battle Casualties
New military technology combined with old-fashioned tactical doctrine to produce a scale of battle casualties unprecedented in American history.
Civil War Service by Population
Even with close to total conscription, the South could not match the North's numerical strength. Southerners also stood a significantly greater chance of being killed, wounded, or captured.
Confederate Military Deaths by State
This chart and the one below are based on research done by Provost Marshal General James Fry in 1866. His estimates for Southern states were based on Confederate muster rolls-many of which were destroyed before he began his study-and many historians have disputed the results. The estimates for Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas have been updated to reflect more recent scholarship.
Union Military Deaths by State
Given the relatively complete preservation of Northern records, Fry's examination of Union deaths is far more accurate than his work in the South. Note the mortal threat that soldiers faced from disease.