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The First Shot
At 4:30a.m. on the 12th of April, 1861, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard directed his Confederate gunners to open fire on Fort Sumter, at that hour only a dark shape out in Charleston harbor. Thirty-four hours later a white flag over the fort ended the bombardment. The only casualty was a Confederate horse. It was a bloodless opening to the bloodiest war in American history.

It Begins
By the summer of 1861, Wilmer McLean had had enough. Two great armies were converging on his farm, and what would be the first major battle of the Civil War-Bull Run, or Manassas as the Confederates called it-would soon rage across the aging Virginian's farm, a Union artillery shell going so far as to tear through his summer kitchen. Now McLean moved his family away from Manassas, far south and west of Richmond-out of harm's way, he prayed-to a dusty little crossroads town called Appomattox Court House. And It was there in his living room three and a half years later that Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, and Wilmer McLean could rightfully say, "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor."

A Bloody Affair
The Civil War was fought in 10,000 places, from Valverde, New Mexico, and Tullahoma, Tennessee, to St. Albans, Vermont, and Fernandina on the Florida coast. More than 3 millions Americans fought in it, and over 600,000 men, 2 per cent of the population, died in it. 
American homes became headquarters. American churches and schoolhouses sheltered the dying, and huge foraging armies swept across American farms, burned American towns. Americans slaughtered one another wholesale, right here in America, in their own cornfields and peach orchards, along familiar roads and by waters with old American names.
In two days at Shiloh, on the banks of the Tennessee River, more American men fell than in all previous American wars combined. At Cold Harbor, some 7,000 Americans fell in twenty minutes. Men who had never strayed twenty miles from their own front doors now found themselves soldiers in great armies fighting epic battles hundreds of miles from home. They knew they were making history, and it was the greatest adventure of their lives.

A Bitter Lesson
Between 1861 and 1865, Americans made war on each other and killed each other in great numbers-if only to become the kind of country that could no longer conceive of how that was possible. What began as a bitter dispute over Union and State's Rights, ended as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America. At Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said perhaps more than he knew. The war was about a "new birth of freedom."

Ken Burn's PBS Documentary, The Civil War is recommended viewing and is available through many Civil War dealers, Civil War Book dealers, most video outlets and your public Library.

Union 22,339,989

Whites 5,449,462
Slaves 3,521,110
Free Blacks 132,760

Confederates  9,103,332

Railroad Mileage

Union 21,625

Confederacy 9,001


Union 4,417,130

Confederacy 1,698,328


Strength of Armies

July 1, 1861 Union 183,588 Confederacy 112,040

January 1, 1865 Union 620,924 Confederacy 196,016

104,000 white Southerners fought for the North
Federal Army and Navy

Average age at time of enlistment: 25.8 years.
Average height at time of enlistment: 5'8"
Average weight at time of enlistment: 143.5 lbs.

Civilian Occupations:

Farmers 48%
Mechanics 24%
Laborers 16%
Commercial 5%
Professional 3%
Miscellaneous 4%

Confederate Army

No complete statistics exist for Confederate volunteers. In one study of 11,000 men enlisting in 1861-62 from eleven states, the age range was from 18-35 years. 

A second study of 9,000 men listed in 107 muster rolls from seven states (including the city of New Orleans) shows the following civilian occupations:

Farmers 69%
Laborers 5.3%
Trade & Mechanics 9%
Commercial 5%
Students 8%
Professional 2.1%
Other 1.6%

Federal Debt

1860 $ 65 million
1866 $2,756 million

Confederate Debt

1862 $ 163 million
1863 $1,863 million


The Confederacy experienced 20% inflation in 1861 and 5,000% inflation by the end of 1864. The Union experienced 80% inflation over the course of the war.

Infantry Organization At The Beginning Of The War

Company 80-100 officers and men
Regiment 10 companies
Brigade 2 or more regiments
Division 2 or more brigades
Corps 2 or more divisions
Army 2 or more corps

Blacks in the Union Army 179,000 soldiers
Blacks in the Union Navy 10,000 sailors

The Confederacy did not authorize the use of black soldiers until a few weeks before the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Foreign-Born Soldiers In The Union Army

Foreign born made up 25% of the Union Army compared to 75% Native American..

Germans 175,000-200,000
Irish 144,000
English 45,000
Norwegians 4,000
Swedish 3,000


18,200 women, including approximately 2,000 black women, were employed in the Union hospitals as matrons, nurses, laundresses and cooks. The Confederates employed approximately 3,300 women in similar roles.

Federal Casualties

Federal Army

Killed in Action or mortally wounded 110,100 67,088 KIA
43,012 MW
Died of disease 224,580
Died as prisoners of war 30,192
Nonbattle deaths:
Accident 4,114
Drowned 4,944
Murdered 520
Killed after Capture 104
Suicide 391
Executed by Federal Authorities 267
Executed by the Enemy 64
Sunstroke 313
Other Causes 2,043
Causes Not Stated 12,121
Total nonbattle deaths 24,881
Wounded in action 275,175

Federal Navy

Killed in action or mortally wounded 1,804
Died of disease or accident 3,000
Wounded in action 2,226

Total Federal Casualties 1861 to 1865 642,427

Confederate Casualties

Confederate Army

Killed in action or mortally wounded 94,000
Died of disease 164,000
Died as prisoners of war 31,000
Wounded in action 194,026

Total Confederate Casualties 1861 to 1865 483,026
Confederate Navy

No statistics available

The Bloodiest Battles (Dead, Wounded or Missing)


Gettysburg 23,053
Seven Days 15,849
Chickamauga 16,170
Chancellorsville 16,845
Antietam 12,410
Wilderness 17,666
2nd Manassas 16,054
Shiloh 13,047
Fredericksburg 12,653



*Approximate Numbers 

Most casualties suffered during a single battle.

26th North Carolina Gettysburg 86 killed 588 wounded
6th Alabama Seven Pines 91 Killed 277 wounded
4th North Carolina Seven Pines 77 killed 286 wounded
44th Georgia Mechanicsville 71 killed 264 wounded
1st South Carolina Rifles Gaines Mill 81 killed 140 wounded

Regimental Losses

Most men killed or died of wounds 
during term of service.

1st Maine Heavy Artillery 23 officers 400 men
5th New Hampshire Infantry 18 officers 277 men

Most men killed or died of wounds 
in a single battle.

1st Maine Heavy Artillery 
Petersburg June 18, 1864 210 killed
5th New York Infantry 2nd Bull Run 
August 30, 1862 117 killed


Battlefield Injuries

Cause Percentage of Injuries

Bullets 93%
Artillery Projectiles 6%
Sabers and Bayonets less than 1%

Fatality Rates For Battlefield Injuries

Type of Wound Percentage Fatal

Abdominal 87%
Chest 63%
Head 60%
Shoulder 33%


Union Troops reported 6,000,000 disease cases, including:

Cases Deaths

Diarrhea and Dysentery 1,739,135 44,558
Malaria 1,315,955 10,063
Catarrh and Bronchitis 283,075 585
Pneumonia 77,335 19,971
Measles 76,318 5,177
Scurvy 46,931 771


Union medical records report 29,980 amputations.

Type Of Amputation Fatality Rate

At the Hip 90%
Thigh or Knee Joint 50%
Upper Arm 25%
Ankle Joint 7%

Prisoners of War

All prisoner statistics are based on partial or unverifiable data.

Federal Prisoners

211,411 prisoners of war 16,668 paroled on the field
30,218 died in prison
Mortality rate: 15.5%

Confederate Prisoners

462,634 prisoners of war 247,769 paroled on the field
(including surrenders)
25,976 died in prison
Mortality rate: 12%

Federal General Officers Killed or Mortally Wounded in Battle

Army Commanders

Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson Atlanta

Corps Commanders

Maj. Gen. Joseph K. Mansfield Antietam
Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds Gettysburg
Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick Spotsylvania

Division Commanders

Maj. Gen. Isaac I. Stevens Chantilly
Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny Chantilly
Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno South Mountain
Maj. Gen. Isreal B. Richardson Antietam
Maj. Gen. Amiel W. Whipple Chancellorsville
Maj. Gen. Hiram G. Berry Chancellorsville
Maj. Gen. James S. Wadsworth Wilderness
Maj. Gen. David A. Russell Opequon (1864)
Brig. Gen. William H. Wallace Shiloh
Brig. Gen. Thomas Williams Baton Rouge
Brig. Gen. James S. Jackson Chaplin Hills
Brig. Gen. Isaac P. Rodman Antietam
Brig. Gen. Thomas G. Stevenson Spotsylvania
Brig. Gen. (Brevet) James A. Mulligan Winchester (1863)

Brigade Commanders

32 Brigadier Generals, 35 Colonels serving as brigade commanders. Total 67.

Confederate Generals Killed or Mortally Wounded in Battle

Army Commanders

Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson Shiloh

Corps Commanders

Lieut. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson Chancellorsville
Lieut. Gen. Leonidas Polk Pine Mountain
Lieut. Gen. Ambrose P. Hill Petersburg

Division Commanders

Maj. Gen. William D. Pender Gettysburg
Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart Yellow Tavern
Maj. Gen. William H. Walker Atlanta
Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes Opequon (1864)
Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur Cedar Creek 
Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne Franklin
Brig. Gen. John Pegram Hatcher's Run

62 Brigade Commanders


October 16, 1859 John Brown attacks the US Arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

November 6, 1860 Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States.

December 20, 1860 South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the Union.


February 8 Southern states convene in Montgomery, Alabama and adopt a constitution and form The Confederate States of America.

February 9 Jefferson Davis named President of the Confederacy.

March 4 Lincoln inaugurated as President.

April 12 Fort Sumter fired on. Garrison surrenders the following day.

April 15 Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers.

July 21 Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) Va.

November 1 General George McClellan assumes command of the Union forces in the East.


February General Ulysses S. Grant captures Forts Donnelson and Henry (Tenn.)

March 6-8 Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas.

March 9 Monitor and the Merrimac (Virginia) engage in the battle of the ironclads off Norfolk, Va.

April 6-7 Battle of Shiloh (Tenn.).

April McClellan begins his Peninsular Campaign (Va.)

May General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson conducts a victorious campaign in the Shenandoah Valley (Va,).

May 31-June 1 Battle of Seven Pines (Va.).

June 1 General Robert E. Lee assumes command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

June 26-July 1 Seven Days Battle (Va.).

July McClellan relieved of duty. General John Pope given command of the Union armies in the East.

August 29-30 Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) Va.

September 2 McClellan restored to command.

September 14 Battle of South Mountain (Maryland).

September 17-18 Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), Lee retreats.

September 22 Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

November 5 McClellan relieved again. General Ambrose Burnside given the command.

December Grant launches unsuccessful campaign against Vicksburg (Va.). 

December 13 Battle of Fredericksburg (Va.).

December 31-January 2 Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro) Tenn.

January 26 General Joseph Hooker given command of the Union forces in the East.

March 31 Grant begins new campaign against Vicksburg.

May 1-3 Battle of Chancellorsville (Va.).

May 2 Stonewall Jackson shot mistakenly by his own men at Chancellorsville; dies on May 10, 1863.

May Vicksburg is besieged by General Grant.

July 4 Vicksburg surrenders.

June Lee invades Maryland and Pennsylvania.

July 1-3 Battle of Gettysburg; Lee retreats to Virginia.

September 19-20 Battle of Chickamauga (Ga.).

November 24-25 Battle of Chattanooga

November 19 Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address.


March 8 Grant appointed Lt. General and given command of all Union forces.

May 5-6 Battle of the Wilderness (Va.).

May 11 Confederate General J.E.B Stuart shot at Yellow Tavern.

May 8-12 Battle of Spotsylvania (Va.).

May General William T. Sherman begins his campaign around Atlanta against Confederate General Joe Johnston.

June 3 Battle of Cold Harbor (Va.).

June Ten month siege of Petersburg begins (Va.).

June 27 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.).

July 17 Confederate General Joe Johnston relieved of command; General John B. Hood given command of defense of Atlanta.

July 20-22 Battle of Atlanta (Ga.).

July 30 Battle of the Crater (Petersburg, Va.).

September 2 Sherman occupies Atlanta.

November Lincoln elected to second term.

November 16 Sherman begins march to the sea.

December 21 Confederate army abandons Savannah, Ga. to General Sherman.


April 2 Robert E. Lee withdraws his Army of Northern Virginia from Petersburg in an attempt to break out.

April 3 General Grant occupies Richmond, Va., capital of the Confederacy; Confederate government flees.

April 9 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union General U. S Grant at Appomattox.

April 14 President Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth.

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