The Writing Process — Tennessee Valor (Deaths)

Posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011

One of of every five men in the 7th Tennessee Infantry died.

The Writing Process – Tennessee Valor (Deaths)

The question was raised, how many men in the 7th Tennessee died by war’s end? A second question (actually a pair) coming from this inquiry was; When did the soldiers die? And how did they die? A third thought arose’ how many men were actually in the 7th Tennessee?

Thus, I spent nearly a dozen hours analyzing the Confederate Military Personnel Records and discovered the following facts—The 7th Tennessee had 1,140 men. This number came from the original 1,000 volunteers in May 1861, and then another 140 who mustered in during the next three years.

Out of this 1,140 Tennesseans, a total of 228 men diedExactly 20 percent. That means one out of every five men to wear Tennessee gray died. This is an incredible number of individual and family tragedies, especially when just about everyone thought the war would last no more than three months.

How did the men die? In broad summary groups the gruesome statistics break down as follows:

80 soldiers were killed on the field of battle;

60 more died of their wounds sometime after the day of the battle;

8 died of their wounds while in a Union POW camp;

14 died of disease while in a Union POW camp,

69 died of disease in Confederate hospitals,

2 were killed in accidental shootings, one drowned, and one was murdered.

The spring-summer campaigns of 1862 (Seven Pines, Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill, Cedar Run, and Manassas) were exceedingly bloody—43 killed and another 26 more dead from their wounds.

The 1862 fall-winter battles (Sharpsburg, Shepherdstown, and Fredericksburg) killed 8 outright and another 9 from wounding.

Chancellorsville resulted in 8 dead and 8 more dying later.

The Gettysburg campaign was disastrous; 11 dead and 15 more later.

The 1864 summer campaign (Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Bethesda Church) killed 6 and then 3 more.

The Petersburg siege (Fall 1864 – April 1865; trenches, Weldon Rd., and Peeble’s Farm) resulted in 4 more deaths.

Of course, these are all just raw numbers, indifferent of the pain, agony and incredible sadness accompanying each young Tennessean who was buried far from home and family.

This entire intellectual enquiry left me considerably saddened.

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