Every war the U.S. has fought since gaining independence has altered the American national identity for better or worse – but perhaps none so much as the Civil War. With free, federalist states in the North pitted against anti-federalist, slave states in the South, the Civil War’s outcome preserved the political unity of the United States through the present day.
The Civil War not only altered the trajectory of the country, it also directly impacted a larger share of the population than any other American war before or since. According to the National Park Service, as many as 3.9 million enlisted during the conflict – or more than one in every 10 Americans.
Using data from A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion by Civil War statistician Frederick H. Dyer, first published in 1908, as well as The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database maintained by the National Park Service, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the most Americans enlisted during the Civil War. In our analysis, we also included Washington, D.C. and Western territories that were not yet states.
With limited industrial means and a suffering economy, secessionist Confederate states in the South were outgunned by pro-Union states and territories throughout the war. They were also outmanned. With a larger population that covered a larger expanse of the country, Union enlistment totaled about 2.7 million. Estimates of Confederate enlistment, meanwhile, range from 750,000 to 1.2 million. Of the five states that enlisted the most troops during the conflict, four were on the side of the Union. (Here is a look at the 20 greatest armies of the Civil War.)
Though the Union ultimately prevailed, Northern states also suffered greater casualties than the South over the course of the war. An estimated 642,000 Union troops were killed, compared to 483,000 confederate soldiers. It is important to note, however, that as a proportion of all enlisted troops, a larger share of Confederates died. (Here is a look at the states with the highest Civil War death toll.)
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