Posted by Mike Zeares on July 04, 1999 at 08:40:37:
In Reply to: Re: On this date..... posted by Champ on July 03, 1999 at 20:52:43:
: >Naw, I hadnt forgot...
: I just wanted to pay homage to a little known happening on this date, & to my Cherokee ancestors.
: The 3 days of Gettysburg just as many lost American lives as the 10 yrs spent in Viet Nam, but Antietam (or Sharpsburg) was the bloodiest single day in American history.
That "as many lives lost as in Vietnam" is incorrect. It became common "knowledge" around the release of "Gettysburg" (Ted Turner mentioned it a lot in interviews; apparently he doesn't bother to double-check info). Anyway, a simple check in any good book on the battle (the best that I own is a battlefield self-tour guide, I think from the Visitors' Center) will provide the correct numbers, or as correct as can be (Confederate records in particular are incomplete). To summarize:
Each side had an "official" KIA number of around 2500.
The official wounded for each side was about twice that, and missing was up to twice *that*. The Army of Northern Virginia alone had about 15,000 missing (many of whom were no doubt KIA or WIA, but could not be accounted for after the battle).
The local person put in charge of the reburials stated that he counted "in excess" of 7000 Confederate bodies by himself.
In all there were about 50,000 total casualties, of which the KIA were at least 5000, but probably not more than 10,000, still an enormous number, but hardly equal to Vietnam. The confusion no doubt comes from the mistatken belief that "casualties" = "KIA." You have to remember that it includes all losses; wounded, missing, prisoners, whatever.
I lived for two years near Gettysburg. The battlefield, while over-monumented and surrounded by tourist traps, is a beautiful and haunting sight, particularly the field between Seminary and Cemetary Ridges over which Pickett charged. You look out over that field from The Angle, and you can tell that something horrible happened there. I highly recommend a visit.
-- Mike Zeares, doing my part for historical accuracy.
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