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civilian deaths civil war

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by elliswa, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. damYankee

    damYankee 2nd Lieutenant

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  3. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    How do we figure in the decline in births due to soldiers being absent so long? So many blacks were displaced or ran away it would be very difficult to estimate how many died and how many relocated and were not accounted for. This lack of knowledge about civilian causalities was not confined to the Civil War. For example the United States believe that about 34,000 to 220,000 civilians died during the Philippine American War. The Philippines government put the number of civilian deaths at 700,000 to 750,000, but I have read estimates of over one million civilian deaths. Good numbers for civilian deaths in most wars is not an exact science.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2014
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  4. damYankee

    damYankee 2nd Lieutenant

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    Civilians started the war, why shouldn't some of them die?
     
  5. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    Are wars ever started by soldiers? Military coups, maybe, but those don't usually last long enough to become wars. Sounds like that would justify make any war open season on old men, mothers at home and children, because some of them voted for the politicians who started the war. Not sure I could get behind that.
     
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  6. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard Sergeant Major

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    I usually argue that the war was pretty civilized. Especially if you compare to other rebellions in Europe (1830, 1848 and 1871) and Asia. Since there was not large scale executions of captured rebels.

    But when I read about the large numbers of freed slaves that followed the armies. The destruction done by Sherman and the general destruction in northern Virginia by both sides...
    Places like Vicksburg and Petersbrug where the defended armies where in very poor condition, the civilian population can't have been that much better of.
    So I really have a hard time accepting the 50.000 number. Sounds to low.
     
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  7. damYankee

    damYankee 2nd Lieutenant

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    No, many wars through out history were started by kings. Up until WWI, most wars were.
    Let me ask you a simple question,
    Who made up the ranks of both armies during the Civil War?
     
  8. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    I wouldn't count a king as a soldier. I suppose one could count the US president as a soldier, being commander in chief, but wars require far more than his approval alone.

    Soldiers made up the ranks of both armies. Are you going for the fact that Civil War soldiers were generally recent volunteers rather than career soldiers? I don't see what difference that makes. Every soldier was once a civilian, as none was born a private. A soldier beginning a lifetime career in the military is just as much a soldier six months after he enlists as thirty years after, and similarly for a Civil War soldier six months after he enlists.

    Are you really arguing that a regiment of soldiers in the Civil War would be as ethically justified forming a battle line and firing on a minimally armed wagon-train of female, elderly and young refugees, killing as many as possible, as doing the same to an enemy regiment?

    I could see an argument that quasi-military bushwackers and guerillas deserved whatever they got because they were acting as hostile military forces, even if they might not be officially enlisted or recognized as military by their government. But I can't see how one could justify opening fire on non-hostile, clearly non-military, women and children and old men. It was considered wrong by the general public in the period, even when it happened, and it's still considered wrong today, except by nations that support terrorism as a strategy.
     
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  9. damYankee

    damYankee 2nd Lieutenant

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    Both the CSA and the Union was comprised of everyday citisens with very little training, the USA prior to the war had a very small army, in fact, the South had NO army. So technically, both armies were comprised of rank armatures!
    And my point regarding Kings was I response to your statement that all wars are started by civilians.
    Through out history most wars were started by Kings and fought by professional armies. That was the great criticism of our army by the Europeans clear up until WWII.
    Teddy Roosevelt was the first US President to encourage we develope a large full time professional military. Just think what WWI would have been like if a Teddy won the election in 1912 instead of Wilson who scoffed at Teddy and kept our military from preparing for war.
     
  10. kevikens

    kevikens Sergeant Major

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    If the politicians who started the wars were the ones who had to fight them there would be far fewer wars.
     
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  11. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard Sergeant Major

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    Well, back when the Kings actually did fight their own wars... and the politicians, that is the nobles, took part there where lots of wars. So there is no evidence that this would be correct.
     
  12. elliswa

    elliswa Cadet

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    To reopen this older post, I notice that the Wikipedia article on the American Civil War now (Dec., 2016) cites two sources for its total of Civilian War Dead. These are citations 12 and 13. Citation 12 estimates the total civilian war dead of free citizens at 50, 000, and 13 estimates the number of slave dead at 80, 000. Taken together, this yields 130, 000 civilian dead - up quite a bit from McPherson's estimate of 50,000 civilian dead. I still have a hunch that this is figure too low, but it seems to me a welcome acknowledgment that this subject did not have the careful treatment it deserved in the past.
     
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  13. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    I wonder if the real numbers will ever be known? Or if it is possible? That does not mean out of respect for those who stood in the path of armies we should not try- but goodness. Even today we will find someone only existed then perished because a journal, letter or diary said so. At Gettysburg ' only ' Virginia Wade was killed by being shot but what of the others, picking up shells and the woman who literally killed herself, exhausted, nursing wounded and the civilian prisoners who did not make it home? Do we count them as war dead? Civilian nurses North and South dead of disease?

    It would just be awfully hard, finding all of them.
     
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  14. Joshism

    Joshism Sergeant

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    The 1870 census is somewhat infamously botched, with Southerners especially (but exclusively) undercounted.

    Keep in mind population in the South from 1860 to 1870 will be effected by significant migration - blacks and ex Confederates out (mostly west?) and Carpetbaggers (good and bad) south.
     
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  15. elliswa

    elliswa Cadet

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    I think the real numbers will not be exactly known - but updated techniques of assessing population losses in the past will likely provide us with better estimates than in the past
     
  16. elliswa

    elliswa Cadet

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    I think the real numbers will not be exactly known - but updated techniques of assessing population losses in the past will likely provide us with better estimates than in the past
     
  17. Karacivilwarchild

    Karacivilwarchild Private

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    The only civilian in the civil war to be killed was Jennie wade
     
  18. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    If we count people killed by stray bullets, all those millions of bullets fired, all those shells, and she was the only one ever hit?

    I realize you may be joking, because Jennie Wade seems to be the only civilian ever talked about, and if so, then I'll add, we can count that woman who was impregnated by the minie ball at that battle of Raymond (was it?)... Seems the birth from that stray bullet cancels out the stray bullet that killed Jennie Wade--one life, one death. :thumbsup:

    More seriously, talking about deliberate shots, here's a thread just on one minor raid of the war. Have fun sorting out all those names and which were official soldiers, which were still civilians, which were militia, and therefore which counted as civilian or soldier:

    http://civilwartalk.com/threads/civilians-killed-during-morgans-raid.88949/
     
  19. civilken

    civilken Sergeant Major

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    part of the death toll needs to incorporate blacks that were sent to Texas to hide their I have heard figures as high as 100,000 may have died.
     
  20. Karacivilwarchild

    Karacivilwarchild Private

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    1 do not treat me like that because my cousin capt Keller wont like that
     
  21. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    You lost me there.
     

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