Civil War Death Toll Higher Than Original 650,000, Professor Says

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By Emma Koonse, Christian Post Reporter
May 30, 2012|9:19 am

A professor at Binghamton University has reconsidered the death toll following the Civil War, indicating that the total figure is much higher than originally thought.

The Civil War, America's bloodiest war, was thought to have included 620,000 total deaths between 1861 and 1865, as cited by historians since 1900.

Professor J. David Hacker at Binghamton said that the death toll is actually closer to 750,000. The history demographics professor shed light on the new death toll in the second year of the nation's Civil War sesquicentennial, a 5-year period that sees new and improved ways of educating Americans about the most devastating war in the country.

Hacker's findings have made waves in academic circles, and the professor opened up about the additional 130,000 people in Civil War the death toll while speaking with National Public Radio host Robert Siegel.

"I've essentially looked at census data as an alternate count of the Civil War, determined how many men are missing from the1870 Census," explained the professor.

Hacker studied the census reports across ten years to reveal how many men are missing, and indicated that there is a "margin of error."

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"In my research paper, I suggest a range between 650 and 850,000 deaths," continued Hacker speaking to NPR. "And that's a large margin of error, but I think we can say very convincingly that the traditional estimate is too low. My best guess, about 750,000 deaths."

The upstate New York professor noted the significance of accuracy while trying to understand the Civil War, but that there is no doubt about it being the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil.

"I think it's important to get the [death toll] number right," said Hacker. "I think it's important in terms of the economic cost of war, the demographic cost, all the repercussions of the war to get that number right. Now, certainly it doesn't change our understanding of the war as being deadly."

In his research, the professor did not differentiate the additional numbers as being Confederate or Union soldiers. Hacker's new estimate includes men who died of disease in the years immediately after the war as well as men who died from war wounds ahead of the 1870 Census. The new toll also includes thousands of civilian men and irregulars who were casualties during the war.

Nearly 150 years after the Civil War, historians, authors, and museum curators are still exploring new topics surrounding the bloody battles.

 

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