A Time for Reflection
According to Antiwar.com, U.S. combat casualties in Iraq since 3/19/2003 are 1987 killed and about 18,000 wounded. I want to reflect on casualties in the war that led to our needing a Memorial Day - the war fought on American soil from 1861-1865. As we look at these casualty figures, it is well to remember that medical science then could not save nearly as many of those wounded as can be saved today, and that the "missing" figures might include many whose bodies were never found in addition to those made prisoner.
Here are a few of the major battles of the "late unpleasantness," Federal casualties only:
1st Manassas (Bull Run), July 21, 1861 - 481 killed, 1,011 wounded, 1,216 missing.
Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862 - 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounde, 2,885 missing.
The Seven Days, June 26-20, 1862 - 1,734 killed, 8,062 wounded, 6,053 missing.
Antietam, September 17, 1862 - 2,108 killed, 9,549 wounded, 753 missing.
Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862 - 1,284 killed, 9,600 wounded, 1,769 missing.
Murfreesboro, Deceber 31 1862-January 2, 1863 - 1,667 killed, 7,543 wounded, 3,686 missing.
Chancellorsville, May 2-3, 1863 - 1,575 killed, 9,594 wounded, 5,676 missing.
Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863 - 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing.
Chickamuga, September 19-20, 1863 - 1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, 1,468 missing.
Wilderness-Spotsylvania, May 5-12, 1864 - 4950 killed, 15,400 wounded, 5250 missing estimated -source - Ominpelagos.com.
Cold Harbor campaign, June 1-3, 1864 - 1,800 killed, 9,000 wounded, 1,800 missing (almost half in 40 minutes on June 3rd) estimated -source - Answers.com.
The figures above, most taken from "The Civil War, Volume II" by Newman & Long (1956) have probably been revised some since, but they clearly show what the American People were willing to accept in defense of the nation. Confederate battle casualties were generally similar to the Federal casualties, if not greater, and they were Americans, too.
Like now, a lot of the media of the time flamed with criticism of the President and the war effort. Like now, factions in Congress opposed the war effort and did everything they could to hinder and investigate the conduct of the war. Like now, the President held firm against the critics in his belief that it was necessary to prosecute the war to a finish to achieve the national objectives. Even 140 years after the war ended, that President & his efforts are resented in much of the conquered territory. Like now, those who fought the war, by and large, believed that the cause they fought for was just and resented the meddling of press and politician.
I believe it diminishes the sacrifice of our dead & wounded when we question the value of that sacrifice while they are in harms way. Principled dissent is one thing; public posturing to promote a political program is something else, so if you disagree with what I have said, do it with civility (and sign your name).