New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll

Guy Gugliotta, New York Times, April 2, 2012

For 110 years, the numbers stood as gospel: 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South—by far the greatest toll of any war in American history.

But new research shows that the numbers were far too low.

By combing through newly digitized census data from the 19th century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York, has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent—to 750,000.

The new figure is already winning acceptance from scholars. Civil War History, the journal that published Dr. Hacker’s paper, called it “among the most consequential pieces ever to appear” in its pages. And a pre-eminent authority on the era, Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said:

“It even further elevates the significance of the Civil War and makes a dramatic statement about how the war is a central moment in American history. It helps you understand, particularly in the South with a much smaller population, what a devastating experience this was.”


With all the uncertainties, Dr. Hacker said, the data suggested that 650,000 to 850,000 men died as a result of the war; he chose the midpoint as his estimate.


[Editor’s Note: Information about Dr. Hacker’s methodology is available at the original article.]

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  • redshirts

    Even if the total grew to 1,000,000 dead White Yankee soldiers, that’s still a small price to pay for Integration, Civil Rights, and Affirmative Action for the Diversity Sons of Obama.

  • redshirts

    “It helps you understand, particularly in the South with a much smaller population, what a devastating experience this was.”

    So why isn’t anyone being asked to “understand” how devastating is the experience of White Genocide at the hands of the Diversity Sons of Obama is on the South.

    How many Eve Carsons have we lost already. How many more will we lose?

    • No

      Roughly one out of five Southern men who marched off to war DIED.  1.25 million enlisted (approximately) and over 250K died.

      Now THAT is a holocaust.

  • No

    I’ve always enjoyed at the fundamental bias people show when they discuss Civil War casualties . . . “greatest toll in American history” . . . “so many dead in the South, so many in the North.”

    It’s more accurate to remember that the “South” was actually a totally different nation – the Confederate States of America.  “American” casualties were 360,000 . . . and that totally different country suffered the rest.

    It’s a fine point.  But it underlies the bias people have when they look at American politics.  This country, as the Founding Fathers knew it (most who were ancestors of future Confederates),  ended in December 1860.

    What remained was a totalitarian, imperial state called the United States.  The so-called “South” is really conquered land . . . as much as Guam or Puerto Rico.

    What we see Obama and Holder doing today, flows right out of that totalitarian regime created by Lincoln.

    • MikeofAges

       After the Vietnam war, America as a whole became a conquered land. Jared Taylor noted years ago in an article that what has happened to America since 1970 is what happens to a country when  it is conquered and occupied. Or remains unoccupied but under turncoat leadership. Blacks have not done so well either, other than those in the professional class.

      • No

        I haven’t seen the article so I don’t know what his argument is, but my first response is to disagree.  

        I think you can make the case that the military-industrial complex “conquered” America in the 50s and 60s (pre-Vietnam).  But that’s a tough argument considering that because of the MIC, we enjoyed the greatest standard of living the world has ever seen. 

        You can make the case that we were stabbed in the back by the left during Vietnam.  But we more than made up for it by the surrender of the USSR, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact 20 years later and stopping marxist encroachment in Central America.

        Racially?  Yeah, you can make the case that a turn-coat gubmint led by JFK/LBJ got the ball rolling.  But the federalism that allowed them to do that flows from the Civil War.

        I look forward to reading his article one day but in the mean time will stick to my guns:   I believe the American Republic formed in 1788 when the states ratified the US Constitution, officially ended in December 1860 with the secession of South Carolina. 

        What replaced it was a central tyranny run from Washington, DC, that we’ve lived under ever since.

        • MikeofAges

           I saw it in a magazine called “Dissent”, around 2000, perhaps earlier. “Dissent”, if I have my story straight, is a left wing magazine which was willing to let Jared Taylor present his views.

          Many ideas about the end of the United States floating around. Some say already. Some say not yet. Some say never will. Being a Yankee, I find it harder to accept the 1860 date, although I can see the case for it. The America after the Civil War was a different America, an industrial powerhouse and a giant of innovation and intellectual achievement. The federal government after the Civil War was a different federal government as well, so you could say the post-Civil War United States of America was a different country disguised under the same name with new instrument of governance disguised as the old constitution.

          In any case, the country created after the Civil War began to bleed to death starting around 1970. The “Second Reconstruction” was a factor, not for what it did, but for how it was done. So began the third American republic.

          Not too many people have heard of Andre Amalrik. He was a Soviet dissident who in the 1960s wrote a book called “Will the Soviet Union survive until 1984”. I was intrigued by the idea and thought that a title like “American World Policy in the 2oth Century: Will the United States Survive Until 2001” might be a winner. The basic idea, I think, is that America’s domestic policy generally has been made subservient to the American world policy launched by Woodrow Wilson: the extension of the Anglo-Saxon concept of  the ideal man and the ideal polity to everyone in every place on the globe. Keep in mind — not a foreign policy, a world policy. They are not quite the same thing.

          Maybe America did topple, or was it collapse, on September 11, 2001. Whatever happened, it’s still falling.

          (Maybe the editors here will see fit to post Taylor’s article, or tell us where we can find it.)

  • Never once have I heard a pavement ape say “thank you for setting us free.”  It was a complete waste that only benefited bond brokers and war profiteers. There remain many in the bright, sunny south who want the Yankee Imperialist occupation armies removed from Dixie.

    • MikeofAges

       Not to mention, the Civil War conditioned the African-American mind to expect progress to come about as a result of apocalyptic events. Maybe that’s why Martin Luther King’s “dream” never quite took a concrete form though he struggled to give it one while he was alive.

      The truth is, if King’s dream was achieved one fine Saturday afternoon, a lot of people would have to be ready to go to work Monday morning, generally in a not very glamorous job, sober and ready to get along with their fellows.

  • IstvanIN

    Every white person murdered by an “African American” add to the “civil war” death toll.

  • .

    Most soldiers died from dysentery rather than bullets. The camp conditions were simply so unsanitary that most got sick from diarrhea, dehydrated and died.

    • No

      Battle casualties were very close – around 100,000 each. But you’re right, most died by disease. In fact, more Confederates died by disease proportionally than Federals (probably due to worse medical care).

      It’s hard to find a credible study explaining why more Northern soldiers died.  The best anyone can figure is that roughly one out of every ten soldiers who put on a uniform and went to war  died of disease. 

      It’s a shame more Union men didn’t enlist.

      • .

        I don’t hold any grudges. But that made me laugh. 🙂

  • JackKrak

    Have you looked at the metro section from Detroit, DC, Oakland or Atlanta lately? We still have a “civil war” going on.

  • Tomislav Sunic, a Croat, noticed with a trace of bitterness how a Croat and a Serb, who have lived in Brazil for a long time as member of a miniscule minority, has nothing better to do than to quarrel about the past Yugoslavian war. As German, when I read some comments on the American Civil War, and on controversial  topics of European History even more, it inspires me this remark: There are some guys for which what wasn’t (but may have been), isn’t, and never will be is always the better. I wonder how they will help to find our way.

    • .


      I believe you misunderstand the sentiments. One side from that conflict wishes only to remember their heritage. While the other side is determined not to ever let them forget it.

      •  You’re not serious. What heritage ? The point is Yankees have always been soft on the South (apart from nutty abolitionists) and South is an integral part of American being and identity. America even idealized old South in “Gone with the Wind” & accepted most southern values.

        What was unacceptable was segregation- it was unacceptable to the whole White world. If you have trouble understanding it, I can’t help you.

    •  As a Croat (not Brazilian) I can tell you: the analogy is not adequate. US Civil war was exactly this- a civil war. War between sections of the same ethnic nation or people.
      In case of Croatian-Serbian conflict, you got war between two nations, exacerbated by the fact that there have been, in past 150+yrs genocidal tendencies in the struggle for territory and identity.

      Closer examples would be struggles between Poles and Russians, or Armenians and Turks, or the Sinhalese and the Tamils in Sri Lanka. If you are German, then the examples would be Sudeten Germans vs Czechs or Prussians vs Poles.

  • Petronius

    “And a pre-eminent authority on the era, Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said….”

    The media will always trot out Prof. Eric Foner, a red-diaper baby, whenever there is a matter of US history that requires elucidation.


    Our youngest daughter’s high school history textbook “Give Me Liberty!” was written by comrade Foner, and was probably representative of the poison that passes for US history these days.

    Bernie Goldberg ranked Foner #75 among the “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” (2005).   David Horowitz described Foner bluntly as “an anti-American sixties radical [who] as a historian is an apologist for American Communism.”  Liberal historian John Diggins described Foner as “an unabashed apologist for the Soviet system and an unforgiving historian of America.”  Theodore Draper described Foner’s books as attempts “to rehabilitate American Communism.” (“The Professors,” 177-179.)

    In Foner’s text everything that was good and uplifting about America is ignored, minimized, belittled, or discredited. All that arguably was not good is magnified and scrutinized.

    British America’s shortcomings are emphasized, while those of other peoples are ignored or forgiven.

    The only mention of the Mayflower Pilgrims is contained in a small sidebar that is devoted almost entirely to Squanto.

    George Washington is mentioned only twice, once as a slaveholder, and again briefly.  With the notable exception of the radical pamphleteer Thomas Paine, the American Revolution receives short shrift, as do the founders.

    The heroic age of the American frontier is completely ignored, as are our pioneer heroes such as Sir William Johnson, Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, John Sevier, James Robertson, George Rogers Clark, Sam Houston, et al.

    Foner’s book allocates prodigious space to slavery, much of it pretty horrific, like reading a Toni Morrison novel.  Foner’s coverage of the Old South, the Civil War, and the Confederacy is particularly venomous.  If memory serves, he devotes two entire chapters to Jim Crow and the KKK.

    Of course there are also the obligatory chapters on abuse of the Indians by evil white male settlers, the women’s struggle against evil white male oppressors, the workers’ struggle against evil white male capitalists, the struggle of immigrants against the usual suspects, yadda, yadda yadda.  As Draper noted, “From [Foner’s] account it would be hard to understand why so many millions of immigrants should have come to the United States for more freedom.”

    Finally one chapter is devoted mainly to trashing Senator Joe McCarthy (who outed Foner’s parents) and whitewashing communism and the Rosenbergs.

    The purpose of such teaching is to turn the hearts and minds of our children against America and against their heritage.  Is it any wonder that our children don’t want to study history any more?

    Such teachings are part of an across-the-board struggle that impinges on every aspect of our existence.

    Parents should read their childrens’ textbooks, and when they are as bad as this, make the sacrifice and move them to a different school or home school.

  • Tostig

    I am interested in the welfare of white Americans. I am English and live in ravaged England,
    but my grandson is American, so I feel that I have a responsibility right there in America.
    I think that we Europeans have a terrible flaw to which we MUST attend.
    We kill each other periodically. The American civil war being only one instance.
    I realise that all other races have the same problem, but that is no excuse. We Europeans must plan to do better.

  • MikeofAges

     If the United States breaks up it will be peacefully this  time. Just draw a line from the southwest corner of Pennsylvania to the Golden Gate. Adjust it south to the southern border of Kansas and the across the the Sierra foothills. You end up with the “North”, “Dixie”, independent Texas, Aztlan (the Southwest), and independent California. North of the current border, you end with Quebec, Tory Canada (Ontario, the Canadian Great Plains and Maritime Canada), and Pacific Canada (Alberta and British Columbia).

    These today are the basic geopolitcal divisions of North America. They could be broken down further or variously rearranged somewhat. As into a Greater Cascadia, a greater Mex-America, an independent Great Lake region or whatever. Someday, these divisions may become firm political divisions as well. Just maybe, the continental superstate idea has run its course in North America. Lincoln at Gettysburg described the superstate’s origins and purpose. If the survival of the Union of States is no longer the arbiter of whether liberty and self-government will survive in the world, then Union of States no longer is needed.

    Some would dispute that, largely out of concern for civil rights, due process and the protection civil liberties. Right now, this is all theoretical. But someday it might not be.

    • JohnEngelman

      A break up of the United States into smaller countries will almost certainly mean a lower standard of living for most of those living in those countries, including most whites. 
      Currently states that made up the Confederacy get more money from the Federal Government than they pay to it in taxes. For the more liberal states the situation is reversed.
      The breakup of the United States is a real possibility if the economic decline of the United States is irreversible. Nevertheless, it will be accurately seen as the fall of the United States. I doubt it will be as peaceful as the fall of the Soviet Union. 

      • MikeofAges

        Economics might not be the reason. Just plain fatigue might be enough.

  • Anonymous

     Might not have been materially possible. How many boats? How many would have died at sea? What about onboard security during the passage? What exact place of disembarkation and what advance preparations to be made there? What about internal resistance to the policy (black and white)? And what about external (British, European and Latin American) opinion?

    Never a plausible idea, probably. That might be why there was never a serious move in that direction.

    • .

       It would have been more plausible than a war that cost 750,000 lives.

  • There was no way North & Lincoln would let Dixie just like that- and they were right.

    1. the South would have imported masses of Blacks & the US- North plus South- demographics would be similar to the Brazilian situation.

    2. Lincoln was well aware of geopolitics. Here are parts of his annual message to the Congress, December 1, 1862:

    ” That portion of the earth surface which is owned and inhabited by the people of the United States, is well adapted to be one national family; and it is not well adapted for two, or more….There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national boundary, upon which to divide….The great interior region, bounded east by the Alleghenies, north by the British dominions, west by the Rocky mountains, and south by the line along which the culture of corn and cotton meets….already has ten millions of people, and will have fifty millions within fifty years, if not prevented by any political folly or mistake. It contains more than one-third of the country owned by the United States- certainly more than one million of square miles…A glance at the map shows that, territorially speaking, it is the great body of the republic….And yet this region has no sea-coast, touches no ocean anywhere. As part of one nation,its people now find, and may forever find, their way to Europe by New York, to South America and Africa by new Orleans, and to Asia by San Francisco. But separate our common country into two nations, as dsigned by the present rebellion, and every man of this great interior region is thereby cut off from some one or more of these outlets, not, perhaps, by a physical barrier, but by embarrassing and onerous trade regulations.”

    In other words, the North and the Midwest did not intend to have a foreign nation straddling the Mississippi. The was was a tragedy, but without Northern victory the entire world history would have been not only different, but a nightmare.

    • You are kidding, we are now living a nightmare because of the outcome of the war.

      • No, because of the 1960s legislation. Sorry, wrong century.

  • .

     You’re mistaken. The Union had a draft but the Confederacy did not.

    • MikeofAges

       Doesn’t make what was said not true.

  • .

    That comment betrays a sick and twisted psychology.

  • JohnEngelman

    During the campaign of 1860 Abraham Lincoln campaigned to prevent what he called, “a second Dred Scott decision.” This would have been a Supreme Court decision finding laws against slavery in the North un Constitutional. He also opposed the extension of slavery into the territories. He made it clear in his debates with Stephen Douglas that he did not intend to outlaw slavery where it existed.
    Many who voted for Abraham Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery because they opposed the expansion of blacks. For the same reason they opposed emancipation. If the slaves were freed in the South many would move North, and to the western frontier. Abraham Lincoln understood this.  Before the Civil War the South produced the best cotton in the world at the lowest prices. It continued to do so after the Civil War, when the cotton was grown by share croppers.  Four men ran for president in 1860. Abraham Lincoln only won 39.8 percent of the vote. He did not have the mandate to make fundamental changes even if he wanted to, and he did not. If the Southerners had had more sense they would not have succeeded.,_1860