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Chapter 5: casualties compared with those of European wars — loss in each arm of the service — deaths from disease — classification of deaths by causes.

It was the greatest war of the century. On the Union side alone, 110,070 men were killed in battle, while 249,458 more died from disease, accidents, in military prisons, or from other causes. Including both sides, over half a million lives were lost. There have been wars which have lasted longer — wars with intermittent and desultory campaigns; but, in this struggle the two armies for four years never let go their clutch upon each other's throat. For four years the echo of the picket's rifle never ceased.

It is hard to realize the meaning of the figures, 110,070 men killed; and that, on one side only. It is easy to imagine one man killed; or ten men killed; or, perhaps, a score of men killed. With some effort of the mind one can picture a hundred men stretched, lifeless and bloody on the ground. The veteran recalls, as if in a dream, the sight of many more lying on some battle field; but even he is unable to comprehend the dire meaning of the one hundred thousand, whose every unit represents a soldier's bloody grave.

The figures are too large. They will be better understood, however, and a more intelligent idea will be formed if they are compared with the losses of other wars. A better idea will also be obtained of the great struggle which occurred within our own borders, and with it will come a fuller recognition of American manhood.

The Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 was one of the greatest of European wars. Larger armies were never assembled. The Germans took 797, 950 men into France. Of this number, 28,277 were killed, or died of wounds — a loss of 3.1 per cent. In the Crimean war, the allied armies lost 3.2 per cent. in killed, or deaths from wounds. In the war of 1866, the Austrian army lost 2.6 per cent. from the same cause. But, in the American Civil War the Union Armies lost 4.7 per cent., and the Confederates over 9 per cent.; and this despite the greater area of country, which required a large share of the troops to protect the lines of communication. There are no figures on record to show that, even in the Napoleonic wars, there was ever a greater percentage of loss in killed. In fact, all the statistics pertaining to the earlier wars of the century are loosely stated, and bear on their face a lack of accuracy. The historians of that period give all battle losses in round numbers, the killed, wounded, missing, and prisoners being lumped together in one amount. Each writer treats the casualties as an unimportant part of his story, and seems to have made no effort to arrive at anything like an accurate or classified statement. Perhaps, the facts were not attainable and the historians were obliged to accept the wild, exaggerated stories of which there are always a plenty, and which soon crowd out of sight the truthful narratives.

The two great battles of the age, in point of loss, are Waterloo and Gettysburg. Between them there is a remarkable similarity, both in numbers engaged and extent of casualties.

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