The Civil War’s Demographic Impact on White Males in the Eleven Confederate States: An Analysis by State and Selected Age Groups

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David A. Swanson
Richard R. Verdugo


Recent research has put the likely number of Civil War male deaths on both sides of the conflict at 750,000, challenging the conventional number of approximately 620,000. Using similar data and a different methodology, this study supports the newer results in terms of the Confederate states, where we find approximately 346,000 male deaths, a number that far exceeds a long-accepted estimate of 126,000. In fact, our number is about 88,000 more deaths than estimated by even more recent research, putting the number at 258,000. In constructing our number, we estimate the demographic impact of the Civil War on white males who were aged 20–54 in 1870 in the eleven Confederate States. Our approach takes into account both mortality and migration, but it excludes fertility because the youngest age we examine is 20 years. We apply an impact analysis approach using extracts from the micro-level data from the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census counts assembled by the Minnesota Population Center. Using the 1850 and 1860 census counts, we constructed ten-year Cohort Change Ratios (CCRs) for white males by five-year age groups and applied them to 1860 white males aged 10–14, 15–19 . . . 40–44 by state to project the expected number of white males by five-year age groups, 20–24, 25–29 . . . 50–54 for 1870. The results were aggregated into a single age group of 20–54 and compared with the 1870 census numbers for this same age group by state and for all eleven states combined. The Civil War’s demographic impact on white males in all eleven states of the Confederacy due to the combined effects of mortality and migration is estimated by subtracting the 1870 expected number (1,393,125) for age group 20–54 generated by the CCR method from the 1870 actual (census) number (1,047,323). The difference is –345,802 (–24.8%). We also find substantial absolute and relative variation across the eleven states in regard to the war’s demographic impact and discuss these results. Our estimate of Confederate deaths brings the total number of dead on both sides to nearly 850,000, which exceeds the total number of US military deaths resulting from every war and military action in which the United States has participated since the Civil War’s end.

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