Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Did They Figure Out How Many Died?-- Part 2

Postwar counts of Union and Confederate dead was often based on regimental muster-outs, rolls and battle reports.

The 1866 report of Provost Marshal General James B. Fry estimated 276,689 Union dead. This number was increased to 360,222 by the late 19th century. Much of this came about because of widows and orphans bringing forward information applying for pension and survivor benefits.

The count of Confederate dead was even more difficult because of the destruction of records at war's end. Fry estimated 133,821.

Francis Amesa Walker's 1870 census pit the nation's population at 38,558,371, a 22.6% increase over 1860. That was a big increase, but every census prior to 1860 had shown a 32.7% to 36.4%. If the drop is applied to the Civil War, that would account for the increase in deaths.

The article is much longer and worth reading.

I have written about how the state of North Carolina, which has long claimed that more of its soldiers died in the war than any other Southern state is doing a recount of its dead and lowering the number. Plus, there was the black man at a Union prison who kept careful records on the deaths of Confederate prisoners.

A Subject of Interest. --Old B-R'er

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