• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War

Death and Dying

Photo of skeletal remains from the Battle of Gaines’ Mill awaiting burial.

The somber aftermath of Civil War battles introduced Americans to death on an unprecedented scale. Neither individuals, nor institutions, nor governments were prepared to deal with such devastating loss of human life, for never before or since have we killed so many of our own.

The Civil War revolutionized the American military's approach to caring for the dead, leading to our modern culture of reverence for military death, including the National Cemetery system.

Showing results 11-15 of 17

  • Manassas National Battlefield Park

    From The Front Lines to the Hospital

    Print of a field hospital

    For the wounded near the front, their first recourse for care lay at the numerous aid stations scattered across the battlefield. Farmhouses, barns, and outbuildings provided places for the wounded to be gathered until they could be sent to the main hospital in the rear. Read more

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

    Military Medicine at Wilson's Creek

    Modern photo of Civil War surgeon's amputation kit

    Elongated bullets, lack of equipment, unsterilized instruments, and live gun fire were just some of the issues hindering medical efforts for Civil War field hospitals and surgeons. Many soldiers were wounded in the Civil War but even more perished from disease. Learn about the medicine and medical professionals who served on the front lines. Read more

  • Series: A Most Horrid Picture

    Modern photograph of a medicine kit from the Civil War

    When the war began, medical practitioners did not know the exact cause of many diseases or the mechanisms of infection, and were only beginning to understand the benefits of cleanliness and good sanitation in disease prevention and healing. As a result, two out of every three deaths in the Civil War were caused by disease rather than injury. Caregivers like Clara Barton, the "Angel of the Battlefield," brought food and supplies to the soldiers and inspired new hope and life to the injured. Read more

  • The Reason Medical Practices Changed

    Modern photograph of Civil War medicine

    The technology during the Civil War was changing rapidly and it seems like the medical practices were lacking. Soldiers were being injured at a much higher rate but disease was another major reason soldiers were dying. Read more

  • Vicksburg National Military Park

    Vicksburg National Cemetery

    Photo of headstones at Vicksburg National Cemetery

    The Siege of Vicksburg lasted almost two months, and left thousands wounded and killed. To honor the memory of those who lost their lives in the taking of Vicksburg a National Cemetery was constructed. For thousands of men, Vicksburg National Cemetery is their final resting place. Read more

Tags: Civil War, Death