Special Report

States With the Highest Civil War Death Toll

The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in American history. An estimated 620,000 men – including an unknown number of women – fighting for the Union and the Confederacy were killed, about 2% of the nation’s population at the time. According to Battlefields.org, if taken as a percentage of today’s population, that toll would be 6 million people today. All told, there were 1.5 million casualties – deaths, wounded, injury, sickness, internment, or missing in action.   

At the time of the Civil War, there were 37 states and all suffered fatalities. However, not all were involved to the same extent, and some states sustained more horrific losses than others. (These are the deadliest battles in U.S. history.)

To determine the states with the most Civil War deaths, 24/7 Wall St. compiled death counts from the American Battlefield Trust and historical tabulations by William F. Fox and Frederick H. Dyer shortly after the war. 

Many registries of death, however, had already been destroyed, especially in the South, by the time Fox and Dyer began their work, and many historians suggest Civil War deaths are largely undercounted. Therefore we used the highest measure of deaths for each state. Data on the side each state was on in the conflict also came from the American Battlefield Trust.

New military technology and improved logistics in the Civil War combined with unadapted tactical doctrine to produce a scale of battle casualties unheard of in U.S. history. Most casualties and deaths in the Civil War were the result of non-combat-related disease. For every three soldiers killed in battle, five others died from disease. The rudimentary nature of Civil War medicine meant that many wounds and illnesses were unnecessarily fatal. 

Virtually all of the Civil War was fought on Southern soil, though Union forces suffered more casualties. The Southern states of Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and South Carolina sustained most of the fatalities for the Confederacy. New York, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania suffered the most for the North and the most of all states involved. (These are the most pivotal battles that made America what it is today.)

The number of casualties in at least 10 battles was more than 19,000. More American soldiers were killed or wounded at The Battle of Gettysburg alone than during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 combined. Because the South was at full conscription, virtually every household was impacted by the war. It is estimated that one in three Southern households lost at least one family member.

Click here to see the state with the most civil war deaths

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