Putting It Together: The Civil War

Beginning in 1861 and continuing until 1865, the United States engaged in a brutal Civil War. For the North, what began as a struggle to preserve the Union, became a war to end slavery in the United States. The South fought for the right to secede and form their own nation—the Confederate States of America—dedicated to the preservation and expansion of slavery. Over 2 million soldiers would fight for the Union, while 1 million men represented the Confederacy on battlefields ranging across the country. Approximately 750,000 of these soldiers would lose their lives. Only after four years of fighting did the North prevail. The Union had been preserved, but only at a great cost. Hundreds of thousands of lives had been lost, many more were left crippled or maimed. Following the war, the nation took on the work of reunification, a task that would be nearly as combative and embittered as the war itself.

Table 1. Statistics from the War
Number or Ratio Description
750,000 Total number of deaths from the Civil War
504 Deaths per day during the Civil War
2.5 Approximate percentage of the American population that died during the Civil War
7,000,000 Number of Americans lost if 2.5% of the American population died in a war today
2,100,000 Number of Northerners mobilized to fight for the Union army
880,000 Number of Southerners mobilized to fight for the Confederacy
40+ Estimated percentage of Civil War dead who were never identified
66% Estimated percentage of dead African American Union soldiers who were never identified
2 out of 3 Number of Civil War deaths that occurred from disease rather than battle
68,162 Number of inquiries answered by the Missing Soldiers Office from 1865-1868
4,000,000 Number of enslaved persons in the United States in 1860
180,000 Number of African American soldiers that served in the Civil War
1 in 5 Average death rate for all Civil War soldiers
3:1 Ratio of Confederate deaths to Union deaths
9:1 Ratio of African American Civil War troops who died of disease to those that died on the battlefield, largely due to discriminatory medical care
100,000+ Number of Civil War Union corpses found in the South through a federal reinterment program from 1866-1869
303,356 Number of Union soldiers who were reinterred in 74 congressionally mandated national cemeteries by 1871
0 Number of Confederate soldiers buried in those national cemeteries[1]

  1. “Statistics from the Civil War.” Facing History and Ourselves. Accessed August 25, 2021. https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/statistics-civil-war.