In this day and age, where America seems to constantly be in war for some vague reason that a vast majority of American citizens barely know about, it’s easy to forget that a lot of people die in wars. In the grand scheme of things, whether it be the acquisition of precious oil, the destruction of Socialism, or good ol’ American global dominance, the deaths of many of our soldiers in the armed forces are often overshadowed.
When we study history, specifically wars, we look at numbers and dates and we only see them as statistics that may be useful in the upcoming unit exam. That’s a mindset that’s hard to shrug off, especially if you’re in an AP history course.
So let’s talk about the Civil War and how a lot of people died in it. Even if we may never know each soldier’s names, by trying to remember them, we respect their worth as human beings.
Personally, I was surprised to find out that the Civil War is the bloodiest American conflict ever with approximately 620,000 military casualties. In perspective, World War II, which is the second bloodiest, had around 405,399 casualties. Research on the Civil War trust website tells me that “approximately one in four soldiers that went to war never returned home.” That’s a really powerful statement. It really drives home just how many men died for a cause that they would never see come to fruition (or failure, depending on your side).
Something we must keep in mind is that both the Union and the Confederate soldiers must be honored. We vilify the Confederate cause so much today, but that does not mean the Confederate soldiers are any less of human beings than the Union soldiers. The Confederate forces were absolutely destroyed at the Battle of Gettysburg, and while we hail the Battle of Gettysburg as perhaps the final battle that clinched the Union’s victory of the war, we must honor the deaths of both the Union and the Confederate soldiers.
If we can remember our troops, no matter “good” or “evil,” that died back then in the Civil War, then I think that’s a good step in remembering those who die today in warfare, “good” or “evil.” Because I believe, in the grand scheme of things, that everybody deserves to be remembered.
Civil War Trust, . “Civil War Casualties.” Civil War Trust. N.p.. Web. 19 Dec 2013. <http://www.civilwar.org/education/civil-war-casualties.html>.