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Gettysburg Casualties (Battle Deaths at Gettysburg)

Nearly one-third of the total forces engaged at Gettysburg became casualties. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac lost 28 percent of the men involved; Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia suffered over 37 percent.

Of these casualties, 7,058 were fatalities (3,155 Union, 3,903 Confederate). Another 33,264 had been wounded (14,529 Union, 18,735 Confederate) and 10,790 were missing (5,365 Union, 5,425 Confederate).

At field hospitals around Gettysburg, amputated limbs lay in heaps and were buried together. Bodies were collected at various points on the field and interred near where they fell; Elizabeth Thorn, wife of the manager of the town's largest cemetery, reportedly dug over 100 graves herself, despite being pregnant. Among the corpses found near the west side of the stonewall on Cemetery Ridge was a woman who had disguised her gender to fight for the Confederacy. Reportedly, another disguised Southern woman lost a leg during the charge up Cemetery Ridge.

Homes, churches, any suitable building was pressed into service as a hospital. Donations of food and clothing were solicited. Lydia Smith, a black woman, used what little money she had to hire a wagon and team, which she used to gather donated goods throughout the area—goods she delivered to both Union and Confederate wounded.

Apart from the human carnage, some 5,000 horses and mules died in the battle. They, too, had to be collected and burned in great pyres, leaving a stench that hung over the area for weeks.

Even in a nation that had already seen too many reports of great battles and long casualty lists, Gettysburg set a new standard of suffering and death. The accompanying chart shows how it compares with other costly battles of the war.

 

US engaged

US casualties

%

CS engaged

CS casualties

%

Total casualties

Total engaged

% of total

Gettysburg

82,289

23,049

28.01%

75,000

28,063

37.42%

51,112

157,289

32.50%

Chickamauga

58,222

16,170

27.77%

66,326

18,454

27.82%

34,624

124,548

27.80%

Chancellorsville

133,868

17,278

12.91%

60,892

12,821

21.06%

30,099

194,760

15.45%

Spotsylvania

83,000

18,399

22.17%

50,000

9,000

18.00%

27,399

133,000

20.60%

Antietam

75,316

12,410

16.48%

51,844

13,724

26.47%

26,134

127,160

20.55%

 

Read more on the subject:

For information on the battle of Gettysburg, visit our Battle of Gettysburg theme page.

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