Chapter 11: list of battles, with the regiments sustaining the greatest losses in each.
It is intended in this chapter to give a list of the battles and minor engagements of the war in their chronological order; and, with each battle or engagement, a statement of the regiments which sustained the greatest loss in that particular action.
The figures thus given have been compiled from the Official Records
of the Rebellion
, either already published or in process of publication, by the War Department at Washington
The statement of the loss in each case is based on the nominal lists made out by the regimental commandants at the close of the action, and which are still preserved on file at the War Department.
These nominal lists have, in many instances, been revised and corrected in accordance with subsequent information.
Where it has been ascertained that captured or missing men have been killed or wounded; or that men reported as killed were, among the captured, and were still alive; or that men reported as missing were stragglers, who reported for duty soon after,--these lists and their totals have been amended accordingly.
These lists are made out in “Killed, wounded, and missing,” and show the casualties as reported at the close of the action.
Consequently, the mortally wounded are included with the wounded
. This fact must be borne in mind, as it will be needed, at times, in accounting for a seeming discrepancy,--cases where a regimental historian, or others, places the number of killed at a higher figure, they having included with the killed those who died of wounds.
Among the missing there must have been many wounded men, and many who were killed.
The captured men are also included under this head, and, in many cases, the missing ones were all, or nearly all, prisoners.
Then there are cases in which the missing were, for the most part, killed or wounded, the nominal lists not having been amended accordingly.
The nature or history of the battle will, generally, throw some light on the fate of the missing.
and Cold Harbor but few of the missing ones ever returned; they fell close to the enemy's works, and in the repulse, or swift retreat, were left to be buried by the enemy.
But, in actions like Ream's Station or Poplar Spring Church, the history of the fight tells of flanking movements with large captures of prisoners from certain divisions, and the student justly infers that the missing were captured men, as an examination of the muster-out-rolls will show.
In the following lists of greatest losses in particular actions, the regiment named first, although having the largest number of casualties, did not always sustain the greatest loss of life.
The number actually killed, as increased by the death from wounds, will be found in the regimental sketch,--if one of the “Three Hundred fighting regiments;” or, if the number of those killed and died of wounds exceed fifty, it will appear in the table given on pages 17-22.
It will be found interesting to note these differences between the number of “killed or died of wounds,” and the number of “killed” as stated in the casualty lists of “killed, wounded, and missing.”
The comparison will, in many cases, account for the missing; as, many who were borne on the nominal lists as missing were subsequently recorded on the muster-out-rolls as killed in that particular action.
A remarkable feature of these casualty lists is the wide variation at times from the usual proportionate number of killed to wounded.
This is due, quite often, to delay in making out the nominal list after the battle.
If the first sergeants hand in their company list of casualties promptly to the adjutant or colonel at the close of the action, there will, evidently, be less men reported as killed than if there is a delay of several days.
In the latter case, many will have a large proportion of the mortally wounded die within a few days after the battle, the ratio of the number of killed to the wounded would be changed considerably by delay in the reports.
In some actions and in some campaigns it was difficult to make prompt reports of casualties.
In some actions a division would be under arms for several days, momentarily expecting an attack.
The nature of the fighting also affected the ratio of the killed and wounded.
In a hot fight at close quarters, or in an assault, the proportion of killed is naturally large; at long range, or in the second line, or while engaged in “supporting battery,” the proportion of killed is less than the common ratio.
But casualty lists will fail to give an intelligent idea of the extent of the loss unless the number, or probable number, of men engaged is kept in mind.
The average American regiment of infantry in the last war, while in active service, numbered about 400 muskets; and, unless the number taken into action is definitely known, it will be safe to assume, in examining the casualties, that the number engaged was not far from that amount.
Newly organized regiments, fresh from their rendezvous, often took from 700 to 800 men into a battle; but, if their first battle did not occur until after several months of campaigning, they would take only about 500 men into action.
Then, there were regiments which became so depleted by battles, marches, campaigns, and disease, that they often went into battle with less than 200 effectives.
Some of these depleted commands were restored to an effective strength by accessions of recruits; or, by transfers of men from regiments returning home, these transferred men having unexpired terms of enlistment.
Even then, the regiment, thus recruited, would seldom number over 400 effectives.
From personal observations at the time, and subsequent studies of official returns, an effective strength of 400 appears to have been the most common.
In many of the instances specified in the subjoined table of greatest casualties, the number actually engaged will be found in the list of maximum percentages, pages 28-34.
The heavy artillery regiments have in some instances here been classed by themselves, their larger organizations requiring, in a fair statement of losses, that their casualties be kept separate from those of the small and depleted infantry commands.
These heavy artillery regiments were not called upon to take the field until the spring of 1864, their first experience under fire occurring at Spotsylvania
and Cold Harbor, in which actions each of these regiments had nearly 1,800 men engaged.
But the bloody vicissitudes of Grant
's campaign soon reduced these splendid commands to nothing but skeletons of their former selves.
The casualties in the cavalry are also given separately in these lists.
Their losses occurred mostly in cavalry battles,--cavalry fighting cavalry, with no infantry near.
In many cases hi le losses are not large enough to warrant classing them with the heavier losses of the infantry, and, so, they are given separately.
The cavalry losses in particular actions are not so remarkable as those of the infantry; but, the mounted regiments were in action so much oftener, that the aggregate of casualties in one of their campaigns, or raids, would equal those of an average infantry regiment.
The style of fighting which prevailed in the cavalry service during the Civil War
was new and peculiar.
The wooded countries in which they operated prevented any charges by large bodies of mounted troops.
The cavalry used their sabres but little; they fought dismounted,
using their carbines only.
Their horses were available for rapid movements or marches, but, in fighting, they relied on their carbines and dismounted tactics.
Some of the regiments which were recruited for the cavalry service in 1863, experienced a long delay in receiving their horses from the Government
, during which they were assigned to infantry divisions, where they fought and manoeuvred as infantry.
The maximum casualties of the Light Artillery, in particular engagements, will also be found appended to the following lists.
Right here, however, it may be well to caution the reader against any assumption that, the regiments most prominent in these casualty lists were, necessarily, the ones which rendered the most efficient service.
At times some commands, by an exercise of dash and daring, accomplished brilliant results with but slight loss, while others, under similar circumstances, succeeded only at a bloody cost.
Among the leading regiments in point of loss at Gettysburg
, as given here, the Twelfth Corps is scarcely represented; and, yet, the services rendered on that field by that command were unsurpassed in gallantry and important results.
The remarkable losses sustained by Johnson
's (Confederate) Division and the three brigades attached to his command, were inflicted by regiments which have no place in the list of those prominent at Gettysburg
, by reason of their casualties.
Granted, that Greene
's Brigade delivered that deadly fire from behind breastworks; but, when Williams
's and Geary
's Divisions returned from Round Top
, and found that during their absence their works had been occupied by the enemy, they became the assaulting party; they drove the enemy out of the works, re-took the position, and saved the right.
That, in accomplishing this, they could inflict so severe a loss and sustain so slight a one, is as good evidence of their gallantry and efficiency as any sensational aggregate of casualties.
list of battles, with the regiments sustaining greatest loss in each.
|Regiment. ||Division. ||Corps. ||Killed. ||Wounded.1 ||Missing.2 ||Aggregate. |
|great Bethel, Va. || || || || || || |
|June 10, 1861. || || || || || || |
|5th New York ||Pierce's ||---------- ||6 ||13 ||-- ||19 |
|Rich Mountain, W. Va. || || || || || || |
|July 11, 1861. || || || || || || |
|13th Indiana ||Rosecrans's ||---------- ||8 ||9 ||-- ||17 |
|Blackburn's Ford, Va. || || || || || || |
|July 18, 1861. || || || || || || |
|1st Massachusetts ||Tyler's ||---------- ||10 ||8 ||14 ||32 |
|12th New York ||Tyler's ||---------- ||5 ||19 ||10 ||34 |
|First Bull Run, Va. || || || || || || |
|July 21, 1861. || || || || || || |
|1st Minnesota ||Heintzelman's ||---------- ||42 ||108 ||30 ||180 |
|69th New York ||Tyler's ||---------- ||38 ||59 ||95 ||192 |
|79th New York ||Tyler's ||---------- ||32 ||51 ||115 ||198 |
|Wilson's Creek, Mo. || || || || || || |
|August 10, 1861. || || || || || || |
|1st Missouri ||Lyon's ||---------- ||76 ||208 ||11 ||295 |
|1st Kansas ||Lyon's ||---------- ||77 ||187 ||20 ||284 |
|Carn Fex Ferry, W. Va. || || || || || || |
|Sept. 10, 1861. || || || || || || |
|10th Ohio ||Rosecrans' ||---------- ||9 ||50 ||-- ||59 |
|Ball's Bluff, Va. || || || || || || |
|Oct. 21, 1861. || || || || || || |
|15th Massachusetts ||Baker's ||---------- ||14 ||61 ||227 ||302 |
|20th Massachusetts ||Baker's ||---------- ||13 ||40 ||228 ||281 |
|Belmont, Mo. || || || || || || |
|Nov. 7, 1861. || || || || || || |