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Chapter 2: 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 18th, 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.

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June 18th, 1864 AD (1)
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