Civil War Facts & Trivia


Capitol with flag at half-mast

Capitol with flag at half-mast

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

— Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861, From His First Inaugural Address


More than three million men fought in the Civil War about 900,000 for the Confederacy and 2.1 million for the Union.

More than 620,000 people, or two percent of the population, died in the Civil War.

Approximately 6,000 battles, skirmishes, and engagements were fought during the Civil War.

Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, aka: Private Lyons Wakeman

Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, aka: Private Lyons Wakeman

An estimated 300 women disguised themselves as men and fought in the ranks.

There were over 2,000 boys who were 14 years old or younger in the Union ranks. Three hundred were 13 years or less, while there were 200,000 no older than 16 years.

At the Battle of Shiloh, on the banks of the Tennessee River, more Americans fell than in all previous American wars combined. There were 23,700 casualties.

At Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1862, the Confederate trenches stretched for a distance of seven miles. The troop density was 11,000 per mile or six men to the yard.

3,530 Native Americans fought for the Union, of which, 1,018 were killed.

The greatest cavalry battle ever fought in the Western hemisphere was at Brandy Station, Virginia, on June 9, 1863. Nearly 20,000 cavalrymen were engaged on a relatively confined terrain for more than 12 hours.

An Iowa regiment had a rule that any man who uttered an oath should read a chapter in the Bible. Several of them got nearly through the Old Testament.

There were more Northern-born Confederate generals than Southern-born Union generals.

The famous Confederate blockade-runner, the C.S.S. Alabama, never entered a Confederate port during the length of her service.

Battle of Antietam, Maryland

Battle of Antietam, Maryland

During the Battle of Antietam, Clara Barton tended the wounded so close to the fighting that a bullet went through her sleeve and killed a man she was treating.

In March 1862, “new” ironclad war ships, the Monitor and the Merrimac battled off Hampton Roads, Virginia. From then on, every other wooden navy ship on earth was obsolete.

There were 100 men in a Company and 10 Companies in a Regiment.

Not fond of ceremonies or military music, Ulysses S. Grant said he could only recognize two tunes. “One was Yankee Doodle, the other one wasn’t.”

President Abraham Lincoln was the first president to be assassinated.

Missouri sent 39 regiments to fight in the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi — 17 to the Confederacy and 22 to the Union.

At the start of the war, the value of all manufactured goods produced in all the Confederate states added up to less than one-fourth of those produced in New York State alone.

In 1862, the U.S. Congress authorized the first paper currency, called “greenbacks.”

Caring for the wounded at Antietam, 1862

Caring for the wounded at Antietam, 1862

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., future chief Justice, was wounded three times during the Civil War — in the chest at Ball’s Bluff, in the back at Antietam and in the heel at Chancellorsville

Surgeons never washed their hands after an operation, because all blood was assumed to be the same, nor did he wash his instruments

Confederate Private Henry Stanley fought for the Sixth Arkansas and was captured at Shiloh, but survived to go to Africa to find Dr. Livingston.

On July 4, 1863, after 48 days of siege, Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi to Union General, Ulysses S. Grant. For the next 81 years, the city Vicksburg, Mississippi did not celebrate the Fourth of July.

Disease killed twice as many men during the war than did battle wounds.

The 12th Connecticut Regiment entered the war with a compliment of 1,000 men. Before it entered its first engagement, sickness had reduced its strength to 600 able-bodied soldiers.

On both sides of the conflict, potential recruits were offered monetary rewards, or “bounties,” for enlisting, as much as $677 in New York. “Bounty jumping” soon became so popular, that hundreds of men signed up, and then deserted, to enlist again elsewhere.

For those who were drafted, the law allowed them to pay a substitute to go in their place. Another type of “bounty jumper” was born when men would hire out to more than one draftee and then make a hasty exit once they were paid. The record for bounty jumping was held by John O’Connor, who admitted to hiring himself out 32 times before being caught. He received a four-year prison term.

African American soldiers in the Civil War

African American soldiers in the Civil War

Though African Americans constituted less than one percent of the northern population, by the war’s end made up ten percent of the Union Army. A total of 180,000 black men, more than 85% of those eligible, enlisted. By the time of the Confederate surrender in 1865, there were more African Americans in the Union army than there were soldiers in the Confederate army.

In November 1863, President Lincoln was invited to offer a “few appropriate remarks” at the opening of a new Union cemetery at Gettysburg. Though Lincoln spoke just 269 words in his Gettysburg Address, the main speaker, an orator from Massachusetts, spoke for nearly two hours.

Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest had 30 horses shot from under him and personally killed 31 men in hand-to-hand combat. “I was a horse ahead at the end,” he said.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General and led the 533,000 men of the Union Army, the largest in the world. Three years later, he was made President of the United States.

Andersonville Prison in southwest Georgia held 33,000 prisoners in 1864. It was the fifth largest city in the Confederacy.

Alfred Thomas Archmedes Torbert held commissions in both USA and CSA armies simultaneously

General Stonewall Jackson walked around with his right hand in the air to balance the blood flow in his body. He thought that because he was right-handed his left hand didn’t get as much blood as his right. So, by raising his right hand, it would allow the excess blood to run into his left. One of his arms has its own grave. Read more about Jackson’s Arm HERE.

The words “In God We Trust” first appeared on a U.S. coin in 1864.

By the end of the war, Unionists from every state except South Carolina had sent regiments to fight for the North.

On November 9, 1863, President Lincoln attended a theater in Washington, D.C., to see The Marble Heart. In the play was an accomplished actor named John Wilkes Booth.

Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the first black man ever elected to the U.S. Senate. He filled the seat last held by Jefferson Davis.

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