Fox's Regimental Losses
Maximum of Regimental Loss in Killed in Any One Battle--Proportion of Wounded to Killed
HAVING arrived at the maximum of killed in a regiment during its term of service with its many battles, the question naturally arises as to the greatest number killed in any one action. There has been a great deal of exaggeration regarding regimental losses in particular battles, especially in instances where the loss was comparatively small; while some regiments which really sustained heroic losses are never mentioned in this particular. The figures in connection with this subject are interesting, as they show the extreme limit of loss in human life during a battle, in a regiment of the size common to the American Armies. Larger figures, of course, may be found in the casualty lists of the German regiments in the Franco-Prussian war, but these regiments contained three times as many men.
Although the casualty lists of a regiment are always stated in killed, wounded, and missing, the appended list shows only the killed, including those who died of their wounds. Farther on, in the "List of Battles, with Regiments sustaining Highest Loss in Each," these same losses are given again, showing the number of killed, wounded, and missing; but in that table the mortally wounded are included with the wounded instead of with the killed.
The surviving wounded and the missing are omitted in the following list, in order to emphasize the more important feature of the loss, and the consequent relative position of the various regiments in this respect. The losses of the different commands can be compared better by eliminating the somewhat indefinite factor of the wounded and missing, and tabulating the regiments with regard only to the killed and died of wounds.
This list has been prepared after a careful examination of the muster-out rolls of every regiment whose losses would indicate that they might possibly have a place in this column. In each case the rolls have been examined name by name, in order to count the ones recorded there as killed or mortally wounded in the battles mentioned. The list includes every regiment in the Union Armies which sustained, in any one battle, a loss in killed or mortally wounded of fifty or more.
The First Maine Heavy Artillery took 950 officers and men into the assault on Petersburg, June l8th, 1864, and the Fifth New York took 490 into the fight at Manassas. These figures must be borne in mind in case of a comparison with the maximum battle-loss of regiments in foreign wars. Still higher percentages, however, occurred at times during the Civil War, and will be found recorded farther on.
Maximum of Regimental Loss in Killed and Died of Wounds in Particular Engagements
Heavy Artillery Table
There are certain regiments which do not appear in the foregoing table, and yet they were regiments which had encountered an unusual amount of hard fighting. They had been in too many battles and sustained heavy losses in too many of them, to allow a surprising loss in any one. Notably' among such were the Twentieth and Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, the Fourteenth Connecticut, the Ninth Maine, the Second New Hampshire, the Forty-fourth, Fifty-first, and Sixty-first New York, the Forty-fifth, Fifty-third, Eighty-first, and One Hundredth Pennsylvania, the Fifth Michigan, the Fifth and Sixth Wisconsin, the Twentieth and Twenty-seventh Indiana, the Fifteenth Ohio, and the Forty-second Illinois.
In these figures the mortally wounded are included with the killed, as the object is to state clearly the loss of life in each instance instead of the total casualties. The proportion of the wounded to the number killed or died of wounds is very near 2.5. This ratio is based on the figures, after the mortally wounded have been deducted from the wounded and added to the killed.
This ratio of 2.5 must not be confounded with the one representing the usual proportion of wounded to killed, as shown in statements of aggregate losses in battle. In such losses the proportion of wounded to the killed is about 4.8, the mortally wounded being always included with the wounded; for the casualty lists are made up at the close of the battle, and with the killed are included only those who died on the field. In all such state-ments-of killed, wounded, and missing-- the mortally wounded are necessarily included with the wounded, and the word killed refers only to those who were killed outright, or died within a few hours.
The proportion of 4.8 is an average ratio as regards the aggregate of losses in battle, but is not a constant one. It varies somewhat, the proportion of killed increasing where the fighting is close and destructive, while in long range fighting the proportion of wounded increases.
Proportion of Wounded to Killed Table
Included in the "Captured and Missing" are many wounded men, also a large number of killed. Their relative proportion cannot be ascertained, but it probably would not differ enough from the usual ratio to change the average to any extent. In the preceding table the losses at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, and Drewry's Bluff are omitted.
In those battles the Union Armies lost possession of the field, and consequently a large number of the killed are included with the missing-- so large a number that any ratio based on the casualties of these battles would be misleading.
In the German army, during the Franco-Prussian war, the proportion of wounded to the killed was 5.4, and the proportion of wounded to the killed and mortally wounded was 3.02.
Mr. Kirkley, the statistician of the War Department, states the deaths from battles during the Civil War at 110,070, of which 67,058 are classified as killed in action, and 43,012 as having died of wounds. From this it appears that, on the average, the mortally wounded are equal to 64 per cent. of the killed. Hence, the proportion of wounded to killed may be expressed by the following formulas, the first showing the proportion where the mortally wounded are included with the wounded, and the second where they are included with the killed.
Killed. + Wounded.Killed.Wounded.
(a) 100 + 480 = 580 or as 1:4.8
(b) 164 + 416 = 580 or as 1:2.5
The first represents the common form used in stating the casualties at the close of an action; the second represents the same loss, after the number of those who died of wounds has been ascertained from the muster-out rolls, and added to the killed outright. The first is the common one used in all military reports and histories.
In the Surgeon-General's Report of the War, it appears that out of 235,585 cases of gunshot wounds treated in the hospitals, 33,653 died of their injuries -- a ratio of 14 per cent., and one which agrees closely with the conditions expressed in the preceding formulas.
From the second formula it may be deduced, that if 110,070 were killed or mortally wounded in the war, the total of casualties may be further stated as :--
Killed and Died of Wounds (official) 110,070
Wounded, not mortally 275,175
Total of killed and wounded 385,245
If these formulas are correct they are of value, as there is no other way of arriving at the total number of killed and wounded in the war. There were so many minor engagements for which no official returns of casualties were made, that any summary of the casualties by battles would fall far short of the correct amount.
The number of wounded treated at the hospitals during the war was 246,712, which, according to the Surgeon-General's estimate, embraced nine-tenths of all the wounded. Of these hospital cases, only 922 were wounded by sabres or bayonets, and a large proportion of these originated in private quarrels, or were inflicted by camp-guards in the discharge of their duty.
This ratio of 4.8, though true in the aggregate, varies greatly in particular instances; though generally correct as to the loss of an army in battle, it will not always hold good for a particular regiment. Still, the same regiment which in some one engagement may show a <fx_25>far different proportion, will in its aggregate of battles, show the usual ratio; particularly so if its losses are not complicated by too large a number of missing.
The exact number of wounded who die of injuries received in any battle is an important element in this matter of losses in action. The man who dies under the surgeon's knife should be included with the killed as well as the one who, a few hours before, slowly bled to death upon the field. The mangled soldier who survived a day belongs with the killed as much as the one who was buried where he fell. And, yet, they never are. Take Gettysburg, for instance. The official figures for the Union loss at Gettysburg have lately been revised and corrected at the War Department. This final statement shows that the Union Army lost at Gettysburg 3,063 killed, 14,492 wounded, and 5,435 missing. But, as usual, the mortally wounded are included in the 14,492 wounded. As no further statement of this loss will be made by the War Department, the question arises as to how many of the wounded died of their injuries. How many of the Union Army were killed or died of their wounds as a result of the battle of Gettysburg? What was the actual loss of life?
Hitherto, this important question has never been answered. The writer, impressed with its importance, has examined the rolls of each regiment which fought at Gettysburg, and picked off, name by name, the number of those who were killed or died of wounds in that greatest of historic battles. As a result, it appears that 5,291 men lost their lives, fighting for the Union on that field. To the recapitulation of losses, as published by Mr. Kirkley in 1886, I have attached here the number of killed, as increased by those who died of wounds, three-fourths of whom died within a week.
GETTYSBURG, JULY 1-3, 1863.
Killed Wounded Captured or
Total Killed and Died
General Headquarters ---- 4 ---- 4 ---- 1st Army Corps 593 3,209 2,222 6,024 1,098 2d Army Corps 796 3,186 368 4,350 1,238 3d Army Corps 578 3,026 606 4,210 1,050 5th Army Corps 365 1,611 211 2,187 593 6th Army Corps 27 185 30 242 46 11th Army Corps 368 1,992 1,511 3,801 724 12th Army Corps 204 810 67 1,081 320 Cavalry Corps 90 352 407 849 152 Reserve Artillery 42 187 13 242 70 Total 3,063 14, 492 5, 435 22,990 5,291
From these figures it appears that the Second Corps sustained the greatest loss in killed, although the First Corps is credited with the largest number of casualties. The strength of each Corps, in infantry, present for duty equipped, June 30, 1863, was :--
First Corps, 9,403 Fifth Corps, 11,954 Twelfth Corps, 8,193 Second Corps, 12,363 Sixth Corps, 14,516 Cavalry Corps 14,973 Third Corps, 11,247 Eleventh Corps, 9,197 Artillery, 6,692
It is extremely doubtful, however, if any one of these corps carried into action four-fifths of this reported strength. The returns for the First Corps do not include Stannard's Vermont Brigade (three regiments), which joined July 2d; the two other regiments of this brigade were with the wagon train. This Page last updated 01/26/02
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