There are other instances which deserve a place in the preceding list, but are omitted as it is impossible to ascertain definitely the number of men engaged.
It is well to pause here, and consider what these figures mean; to think of what such extraordinary percentages imply.
Perhaps their significance will be better understood when compared with some extraordinary loss in foreign wars; some well known instance which may serve as a standard of measurement.
Take the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava
Its extraordinary loss has been made a familiar feature of heroic verse and story in every land, until the whole world has heard of the gallant Six Hundred and their ride into the Valley of Death
Now, as the Light Brigade accomplished nothing in this action,--merely executed an order which was a blunder,--it must be that it was the danger and its attendant loss which inspired the interest in that historic ride.
What was the loss?
The Light Brigade took 673 officers and men into that charge; they lost 113 killed and 134 wounded1
; total, 247, or 36.7 per cent.
The heaviest loss in the German Army
during the Franco-Prussian war occurred in the Sixteenth Infantry (Third Westphalian), at Mars La Tour.
Like all German regiments of the line it numbered 3,006 men. As this battle was the first in which it was engaged,--occurring within a few days of the opening of the campaign,--it carried 3,000 men into action.
It lost 509 killed and mortally wounded, 619 wounded, and 365 missing2
; total, 1484, or 49.4 per cent. The Garde-Schutzen Battalion, 1,000 strong, lost at Metz
, August 18th, 162 killed and mortally wounded, 294 wounded, and 5 missing; total, 461, or 46.1 per cent.
A comparison of these percentages with those of the Union
regiments in certain battles just cited will give some idea of the desperate character of the fighting during the American Civil War