Chapter 1: the casualties of war — maximum of killed in Union regiments — maximum of percentages.
Wars and battles are considered great in proportion to the loss of life resulting from them.
Bloodless battles excite no interest.
A campaign of mancoeuvres is accorded but a small place in history.
There have been battles as decisive as Waterloo
; but they cost few lives and never became historic.
Great as were the results, Waterloo
would receive but little mention were it not for the terrible cost at which the results were obtained.
Still, it is difficult to comprehend fully what is implied by the figures which represent the loss of life in a great battle or a war. As the numbers become great, they convey no different idea, whether they be doubled or trebled.
It is only when the losses are considered in detail — by regiments, for instance — that they can be definitely understood.
The regiment is the unit of organization.
It is to the army what a family is to the city.
It has a well known limit of size, and its losses are intelligible; just as a loss in a family can be understood, while the greater figures of the city's mortuary statistics leave no impression on the mind.
The history of a battle or a war should always be studied in connection with the figures which show the losses.
By overlooking them an indefinite, and often erroneous, idea is obtained.
By neglecting them, many historians fail to develop the important points of the contest.
They use the same rhetorical description for different attacks, whether the pressure was strong or weak; the loss, great or small; the fight, bloody or harmless.
To properly understand the relative importance of the various movements on a battle field, the student must know the loss of life at the different points of the line.
He will then see where the points of contact really were; where the pressure was greatest; where the scenes of valor and heroism occurred.
There is no better way of doing this than by noting the place in the line held by the various regiments and ascertaining the loss of life in each.
There were over two thousand regiments in the Union Armies
On some of these the brunt of battle fell much heavier than on others.
While some were exempted from the