Pittsfield, NH 03263
return to pauloman.com homepage
New Hampshire's Civil War Statistics
(lots of NH references, too)
by Paul Oman
New Hampshire did its share in the Civil War, perhaps even more than its fair share. The
state's statistics are impressive.
NH Civil War Statistics - Paul Oman
BACKGROUND INFORMATION - ORGANIZATION OF THE ARMY
The primary military unit during the war was the REGIMENT which generally began with just over 1000 men, but usually could only muster a few hundred 'ready to fight' men after a few months or years of service due to deaths, sickness and wounds, special assignments, etc. Eighteen infantry regiments were created in New Hampshire, most, but not all of them, with three year enlistments. The state also sent some cavalry, and artillery units as well as some local militia units. Many of the non infantry units were merged with other units or disbanded. The 1st NH infantry regiment was a 90 day unit. The 17th regiment was merged into the 2nd regiment soon after it formed. The 15th, 16th and 17th regiments were 9 months regiments, thus, the majority of New Hampshire fighting history was found in the 2nd - 14th regiments. Most of the regiments received recruit replacements during the war, but this varied greatly from regiment to regiment. The 5th NH regiment had nearly 2600 men passing through it ranks, the 12th had about 1440 men.
Officially regiments were commanded by a Colonel and each regiment contained 10 companies of approximately 100 men lead by a Captain. Regiments were typically raised in a particular section of the state and individual companies often came from several surrounding communities. In the field, several regiments were combined to form a Brigade which was lead by a Brigadier General. This official structure rarely lasted long in the field where the troops and officers were killed, wounded, captured or stricken with disease.
A total of 33,937 New Hampshire men served in the Union army. This equals 10.4% of the 1860 state population of 326,073. Of that number, 14.4% died -- 1903 from battle, 2427 from disease, 294 in prisons, 76 by accident and 182 listed as 'other' for a total of 4882. Deaths for the entire Union army are estimated at 360,000 with 110,000 of them battle related (3.79% of the Union army) and the remaining 250,000 mostly caused by disease (6.37% of the Union army). What is not reflected in these numbers are the hundred of thousands of veterans maimed and handicapped, many dying of their wounds years later.
KEY NH REGIMENTS
New Hampshire's most battle scarred unit was the 12th New Hampshire (known as the 12th New Hampshire Mountaineers). The unit was raised in the Pittsfield, Meredith, Laconia area during the summer of 1862 and served with honor until the end of the war, a period of 33 months. In a database consisting of all types of regiments (infantry, artillery, Calvary, etc.) and all enlistment terms (90 days, 3 years, etc.) and containing 2362 listing for the Union army, the 12th NH ranks 27th based upon percentage of its ranks killed or mortally wounded in battle (12.30%). Counting just the original members of the regiment the percentage increases to 14.1% (the average percentage for the entire Union army is 3.79%). Deaths from all causes increase that number to 22.3% (or 26.3% for the original members of the regiment). Whereas the overall NH statistics and the statistics for the Union army generally show about twice as many men dying from disease vs. battle related deaths, in the 12th NH, battle deaths exceeded disease related deaths.
The 5th NH regiment was in existence for approximately 44 months. It percentage of killed/mortally wounded was 10.83% and its database ranking was 81 out of 2362 listings. However, in terms of actual men killed it ranks third behind the 1st ME heavy artillery (426 men) and the 8th NY heavy artillery (324 men). If just looking at Union infantry units, it ranks as number one with 277 men killed. The reason it ranks down at number 81 in terms of percentages is that the regiment had nearly 2600 men pass through it ranks, compared to approximately 1440 men that served in the 12th NH.
The 7th NH comes in at number 52 when ranked upon the number of its members captured and dying in prison (4.33%). This is mainly due to its participation in the disastrous battle at Olustee, Florida in February of 1864 where 110 of its members were captured. It also had 34 members captured at Fort Wagner in July of 1863.
Interestingly, the 16th NH regiment (with 9 month enlistments) ranks number 9 for deaths by disease (23.25%). What is truly amazing is that there are no battle related deaths for the 16th NH. The regiment spent most if its time in the unhealthy swamps of Louisiana.
Fort Wagner, SC - Fort Wagner was a Confederate fort in Charleston Harbor. It was made famous by the movie "Glory" which depicted the disastrous and famous charge of the MA 54th, an all black regiment. Union losses were 247 killed, 880 wounded and 389 missing. Also at Fort Wagner was the 3rd NH and the 7th NH. The 7th had 77 men killed or mortally wounded at Fort Wagner, the largest loss of life of any New Hampshire regiment during the war during a single battle. The 7th NH was also the regiment with the largest percentage loss of life at Fort Wagner - 16%.
The second largest loss of life in a battle was 72 men from the 12th NH at Chancellorsville (Union losses - 1606 killed, 9762 wounded, 5919 killed). The 12th NH is tied with the 8th NJ for third place in the highest percentage losses (killed/mortally wounded) - 12%. One researcher reports the 12th NH having the highest causality number of any regiment North or South at this battle. This presumably includes the wounded. The 12th's story at Chancellorsville is an interesting one. The regiment found itself forgotten and abandoned a half mile behind Confederate lines, nearly surrounded and fighting for their lives. Due to serious wounds, deaths, and perhaps embarrassments, there is no official report of the regiment's heroic actions, although the event was well documented by others, including General Sickles, after the war.
The third largest loss of life was also with the 12th NH, this time at Cold Harbor - 63 men (Union losses 1844 killed, 9077 wounded and 5365 missing or captured). The 12th lost 21% of its men killed or mortally wounded when the regiment led a charge against the Confederate works. The 21% figure positions them as the number 2 regiment with regards to percentage Union deaths at the battle.
The fourth largest loss of life was 57 men from the 5th NH at Gettysburg (Union losses 3155 killed, 14,529 wounded, 5365 missing). This battle gave the 5th NH a 19% killed or mortally wounded percentage, making it the regiment with the 7th highest percentage loss at Gettysburg. At Cold Harbor (mentioned above) the 5th lost 11% killed or mortally wounded, giving it the number 4 position, two notches below the 12th NH.
Fredericksburg: Union losses 1284 killed, 9600 wounded, 1769 captured. The 5th NH lost 57 men (16%) and is tied for 6th place with the 8th PA.
Spotsylvania: Union losses 4177 killed, 19687 wounded, 2577 missing. The 9th NH lost 55 men (13%) and is tied with the 17th MI for third place ranking.
OTHER INTERESTING NH CIVIL WAR FOOTNOTES
Two members of the 12th NH, Benjamin Thompson and Albert W. Bacheler, made a daring escape from the famous Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. and spent several days working their way back to Union lines.
Major Edwin Bedee, also of the 12th NH (from Meredith, NH) was at Ford's Theater the night Lincoln was shot. Bedee leaped into the President's box and pulled/lifted the doctor into the box. While holding the president's head Bedee discovered the fatal wound. Mary Lincoln gave Bedee some documents that had fallen out of Lincoln's jacket pocket for safe keeping. Through a misunderstanding over those documents, Bedee was mistakenly arrested when he returned to the regiment a day or two later.
Colonel Cross, commanding the 5th NH, was killed at Gettysburg. There is currently a move (3/03) to promote Cross to the rank of Brigadier General, a promotion verbally promised him just before his death.
Pittsfield, NH did more than its share
in supporting the Civil War
1) home of the oldest (Israel Drew - age 66) and youngest
Henry Plummer Brooks - age 14) gun toting foot soldiers in the Northern army
2) first town in NH, perhaps in all the North, to vote aid to soldiers' families
3) 147 men from Pittsfield served in the Union army - nearly twice the quota required by the government
The Civil War was one of the most significant events
in American history. Its impact is still felt today.
Use of Passport, initiated in 1861
U.S. secret Service, part of the treasury service.
Standards established for physicians
U.S. Government issued paper money
"In God We Trust" adopted on coinage (1864)
National banking system
Postal money orders
The Medal of Honor
Military Pension System
About Civil War statistics:
While the statistics presented are from reliable sources, often records, numbers, etc. are based on civil war era or modern estimates, best guesses etc. In other words, while the numbers sound exact, they are actually much 'softer' than indicated. Any of the statistics listed could probably be debated.
Statistical rankings are generally based upon "killed or mortally wounded" numbers, the numbers or percentages of "wounded" greatly exceeds the figures for "killed or mortally wounded". For example, during the battle of Gettysburg the 1st MN regiment had a killed/mortally wounded' percentage of 28%, which is the highest percentage of any Union regiment in the Civil War. If we included the men wounded in that battle from the 1st MN the percentage jumps to 82%. Another problem with the statistics is defining mortally wounded. How long afterwards is a wound considered 'mortal'? It is not uncommon to read about Civil War veterans dying from wounds received at a battle ten or twenty years before.
Article on the 12th NH regiment - (www.pauloman.com/civilwar.html)
NH and Pittsfield, NH Civil War stats -(www.pauloman.com/cwstats.html)
Info on the men listed on Pittsfield's Civil War monument -(www.pauloman.com/monument.html)
More info about certain people on both of Pittsfield's CW markers - written as Memorial Day and Vet. Day articles -(www.pauloman.com/memorialday.html)
site sponsor -- Pittsfield based - Progressive Epoxy Polymers, Inc.
return to pauloman.com homepage
"If we must disagree, let's disagree without being disagreeable."
Lyndon Baines Johnson Source:Remarks to US Senators, 1965