I was doing my daily scroll through the news and I saw that Joe Biden said that new voting laws in various states are just like the Civil War. He went on to say “that’s no hyperbole.” Seems a little ridiculous to me, but I’m not going to touch that here.
The mention of the Civil War brought up something in my mind that I have been thinking for years.
In the US, we all take at least some kind of American History class. As we should. At some point when the teacher gets to the Civil War unit, this stat is brought up: “The Civil had the most deaths in US war history.” Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, that explains a lot about our country right now.
This fact is just accepted as true and moved past. For years, I have had some issues with this. I never cared enough to actually look into it, but that brings me to today.
If you look at the fact from the simplest perspective, it is true. More people died in America than any other war. That part is obvious. It was the “American Civil War,” clearly there were going to be a lot of deaths in America. But statistically, it makes no sense to compare it to any other war.
I know what you’re thinking, but let’s take the same logic and apply it to something else. Let’s say some NFL team decided to do a split squad scrimmage and keep score. And let’s say the score ended up being 42-35. I’m no mathematician, but that’s 78 points. Well, the NFL record for most points scored by one team in a game is 72. Would that record be broken? Technically that team scored all the points. I mean they were both teams, but it is correct. The same logic is applied to the Civil War. Using their logic, only Americans could die in the war, so no duh it’s the war with the most United States deaths.
That logic being destroyed, let’s go one step further. History people love to be right don’t they? Well, the Civil War having the most American deaths is just plain old wrong.
Didn’t the war start when the south seceded from the country? So they became another country and fought the United States. That is indisputable. Well, then why are we counting Confederate deaths as “United States” deaths in the counting. I get that they were citizens at one point, and were also reinstated afterwards. But at the time they died, they were Confederate citizens.
If we seperate the numbers, the deadliest war in US history title goes elsewhere. Union deaths during the Civil War comes in at 364,511. But, US deaths in World War II comes in at 416,800. Again, I’m no statistician, but 416,800 is a bigger number than 364,511. That makes World War II the deadliest war in US history.
So why are we still using this stat in school? It’s simple. To identify what a horribly bloody conflict the Civil War was. Also, the war brings a real life application to the old phrase “cut your nose off to spite your face.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not downplaying the awful bloodshed that occurred during the Civil War. This is just something that has kind of bothered me for quite some time. I know some History Buffs will be upset with the fact that they’ve been wrong for quite some time. I’m also sure I’ll hear all about and be ridiculed on social media. But that doesn’t change the numbers. I’m right and you know it.