Overland Overland

(Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor)

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
Officially, the Union suffered 7,621 killed although it's possible that that figure is too low (at the Wilderness, Gouverneur Warren undercounted his casualties so the true count may be slightly higher).

According to Alfred Young, the Confederate killed came to 4,352.

Overall, figure somewhere between 12,000-13,000.

Ryan
 

Jimklag

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Location
Chicagoland
Officially, the Union suffered 7,621 killed although it's possible that that figure is too low (at the Wilderness, Gouverneur Warren undercounted his casualties so the true count may be slightly higher).

According to Alfred Young, the Confederate killed came to 4,352.

Overall, figure somewhere between 12,000-13,000.

Ryan
Good numbers, Ryan.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This number may be slightly higher given "mortally wounded" who were not often counted as KIA. e.g. in the ORs Trevilian Station has nine Union officers KIA but the footnote lists eleven officers "killed or mortally wounded" there.

Based on this admittedly imperfect sample and another from St Mary's Church (5 KIA, 7 killed or mortally wounded) add about 20-40% if you count mortally wounded.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
This number may be slightly higher given "mortally wounded" who were not often counted as KIA. e.g. in the ORs Trevilian Station has nine Union officers KIA but the footnote lists eleven officers "killed or mortally wounded" there.

Based on this admittedly imperfect sample and another from St Mary's Church (5 KIA, 7 killed or mortally wounded) add about 20-40% if you count mortally wounded.

The Union generally counted the mortally wounded among the killed when they died relatively shortly after the battle, so the majority of the mortally wounded would already be counted (although there is still some wiggle room).

The Confederates, on the other hand, never counted the mortally wounded as killed so their killed figure should be higher.

Ryan
 

Coonewah Creek

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2018
Location
Northern Alabama
How many died on each side in the Overland Campaign?
The Overland Campaign was long enough and there were enough separate battles so that the theory of large number statistics should hold. In that case, Col. Trevor Dupuy's classic study shows that for the American Civil War, the ratio of killed to wounded was 4.55:1 and the ratio of surviving wounded to battle deaths was 2.38:1. You could try applying those ratios to come up with a reasonable estimate of the total number of deaths. Hope this helps.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The Union generally counted the mortally wounded among the killed when they died relatively shortly after the battle, so the majority of the mortally wounded would already be counted (although there is still some wiggle room).
That's the thing, both my samples used Union data. Granted they're only cases for officers, but the entries in the returns still indicated more named total deaths (including KIA and MWIA) than the numerical KIA count.

In that case, Col. Trevor Dupuy's classic study shows that for the American Civil War, the ratio of killed to wounded was 4.55:1 and the ratio of surviving wounded to battle deaths was 2.38:1. You could try applying those ratios to come up with a reasonable estimate of the total number of deaths. Hope this helps.
I'm going to assume here that the Union and the Confederacy were roughly comparable in their KIA/WIA/MIA ratios and that the CSA had 3/5 of the casualties of the Union. It's imperfect but let's call it the 3/5 compromise.

Official Union figures based on their returns are:
7,621 KIA
38,339 WIA

Total KIA/WIA = 46,000
Expected killed to wounded ratio 4.55:1
Expected killed to wounded 37,711:8,288
Expected ratio of surviving wounded to battle deaths 2.38:1
Expected breakdown 32:390:13,609

This suggests to me that, if the Overland is statistically typical:
1) At least some of the MIA were actually killed, though not many.
2) The Union count of MWIA was on the order of 5,000.

This would give a figure for the whole campaign including the Confederates of:

KIA 13,280
MWIA 8,000

For a total death count in the vicinity of 21,000-22,000


This is a greater MWIA impact than what we'd expect from my (admittedly scant) hard data on officers - possibly officers got better medical care and were more likely to survive, or possibly the situation of the Overland was atypical and the statistical approach doesn't really apply here. I'd have expected it to if anything go the other way though, at least due to the trench warfare (which would bias KIA/WIA towards head wounds.)

I think the best estimate we can produce is that the KIA is 11,000-13,000, and that MWIA may increase this by as much as another 9,000 (though we can't be confident about more than a few thousand). This uncertainty is, unfortunately, pretty typical for the period.
 

Coonewah Creek

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2018
Location
Northern Alabama
Officially, the Union suffered 7,621 killed although it's possible that that figure is too low (at the Wilderness, Gouverneur Warren undercounted his casualties so the true count may be slightly higher).
"The raw statistical data is not entirely reliable. For instance, there is reason to believe that the killed in action figures for the Union Army in the Civil War may be low, perhaps by a factor of 10% to 20%." HANDBOOK ON GROUND FORCES ATTRITION IN MODERN WARFARE, SEPTEMBER 1986 - Trevor N. Dupuy, et al.

He didn't go into further explanation as to why he made that statement in the report.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
A lot of the official stats as filled out are incomplete, and in some cases it's obvious. The two examples I know of offhand are Confederate:

In the Seven Days, Wise's brigade (which was, among other things, the flank brigade pressuring the western flank of Malvern Cliff) has no casualties listed.
More damningly, at Antietam, 18 Confederate infantry regiments have no casualties listed. (that's 18 out of 181 infantry organizations missed on the regiment level; a further six brigades don't provide any regimental breakdown so there is no way to verify their completeness.) The artillery reserve and the cavalry are also not mentioned, and the batteries do not all report.
The reason why we know that this is obviously incomplete is that the regiments missing include the 38th Georgia, whose commander was killed at Antietam; thus it's not simply the case that these regiments suffered no casualties, and it may be that some of them instead suffered so heavily that no official casualty report was filled out.

4th SC battalion
3rd SC battalion
Philips' Legion
9th Virginia
5th Florida
61st Virginia
10th Virginia
1st Louisiana Zouaves
26th GA
38th GA
58th VA
14th Louisiana
21st GA
21st NC
1st NC Sharpshooters
5th NC
12th NC
13th AL

Returning to the Overland, a similar process is possible - a very heavily hit regiment not submitting a casualty report up the chain - but it is also possible that something similar took place on a smaller scale. If the entirety of a company were to be wiped out to the man, would the other companies know for sure how many men were in it to note down as casualties?
 
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