Never Forget

Let me begin this post by saying that I’m not a Civil War “buff”. It was a part of this country’s history, which I accept, but I have been to only one battlefield in my life and don’t feel the need to visit more.

While I appreciate that this has been the 150th anniversary of a major turning point in this war, I feel that all other battles have been overshadowed, as if the rest of the battles which were part of this war don’t matter. I have therefore endeavoured to make sure that the others aren’t forgotten, despite the fact that the Battle of Antietam as well as the Battle of Fredericksburg both occurred 15years ago.

While this list I found reflects the casualties of each battle, if we are honest, a greater portion of those casualties were, in fact, deaths due to the poorer medical treatments of the day. Additionally, at both the Battle of Fort Henry & Fort Donnelson (TN) as well as the Battle of Vicksburg (MS), there were thousands who were taken prisoner and we have no way of knowing how well they were treated.

These, then, are the casualties* of each battle of the American Civil War:

Fort Sumter (SC) – 15
First Bull Run (VA) – 4,878
Fort Henry & Fort Donelson (TN) – 4,832
Hampton Roads (Monitor vs Merrimac) – 265+
Shiloh (TN) – 24,647
Shenandoah Valley (TN) – 10,000
Seven Days Near Richmond (VA) – 35,990
Second Bull Run (VA) – 26,051
Antietam (MD) – 22,539
Perryville (KY) – 6,841
Fredericksburg (VA) – 17,900
Chancellorsville (VA) – 29,800
Gettysburg (PA) – 51,000
Vicksburg (MS) – 18,000
Chickamauga (GA) – 34,624
Chattanooga (TN) – 12,400
The Wilderness (VA) – 28,000+
Spotsylvania (VA) – 27,500
Cold Harbor (VA) – 16,000
Atlanta (GA) – 66,600
Sherman’s March to the Sea – 3,100+
Petersburg (VA) – 70,000
Appomattox (VA) – 9,512

For those who haven’t the time for math, that gives us a grand total of 520,176. Half a million people. Of course that’s just a drop in the bucket for a country whose 1860 Census recorded a total US population of 31,443,321, yet each of these lives lost – either directly on the battlefield or soon after – should not be forgotten. We should honor all battlefield anniversaries, or none at all. Singling out one because it’s got all the bells and whistles people want now, is like singling out a favourite child. It’s wrong. Every man there was fighting for a cause he believed in and should be honored for his courage to stand up for what he believed in.

* All casualties of each battle reflect a combination of both Confederate and Union casualties.

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