It is virtually impossible to measure
the human costs of the Civil War, the hardships and suffering it caused. What we do know
is that millions of people grieved for the loss of loved ones. In all, around 360,000
Union soldiers died as a direct result of the war. The Confederacy lost 260,000 dead. Many
more soldiers were wounded; some wounds maimed their victims for life. The overall number
of dead that resulted from the Civil War nearly equals the number of American soldiers
killed in every other military action up to the present.
The documents listed to the right tell stories of and about soldiers during the Civil War.
Several deal with the reasons why young men and boys joined up enthusiastically. Others
tell of the experience and suffering of being a prisoner of war. Still others speak about
action during the war and provide glimpses into how the Civil War was fought and how the
soldiers experienced the war.
As you search
for more primary sources about soldiers during
the Civil War, be certain to search
Civil War Photographs, 1861-1865 and
American Life Histories,
1936-1940. Use such terms as
soldier, Union soldier, Confederate soldier, and the names of
specific Civil War battles, such as Antietam, Chancellorsville, Cold
Harbor and Gettysburg.
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