Lincoln’s Grand Army of the Republic was superbly equipped, well-fed and well-paid, with most receiving bounties from the home towns, State’s and the federal government. They faced a varied collection of barefoot, undernourished American farmers armed mostly with captured muskets and equipment; or what slipped past the blockade. Even as late as March 1865 entire Northern regiments were being captured by Southern forces.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com The Great American Political Divide
Victims of the Confederate Fury
“The Federal fatalities during the entire war were 359,528 men. Of this number, 110,070 were killed in battle or died of wounds; 249,458 died of disease or accident . . . Over 250,000 men were discharged for disabilities arising from wounds or disease rendering them unfit for service. Losses in the main battles of the Civil War ran high.
A comparison of the casualties at Gettysburg with those sustained in some of the European conflicts might prove illuminating. The Third Westphalia Regiment lost at Marc La Tour 49.4 per cent killed and wounded; the Garde-Schutze Regiment lost at Metz 46.1 per cent; the Light Brigade lost at Balaklava 36.7 per cent.
These battles probably recorded the greatest losses in single engagements up to the time of the Civil War; yet it has been asserted “without fear of contradiction” that in the Union army at least 63 regiments lost more than 50 per cent in killed and wounded in single engagements.
At least 23 regiments lost more than one half in killed and wounded in the three bloody days of Gettysburg. Native regiments made splendid records there — and paid for it, the Iron Brigade losing almost exactly 50 per cent of its number — but so did units of foreign-born, notably some Pennsylvania regiments.
The Fifth New York, Duryee’s Zouaves, in which there were many foreigners, lost in the Second Battle of Bull Run [Manassas] over 60 per cent in killed and wounded, with none missing; the regiments went into battle with 490 men, but in less than ten minutes nearly 150 lay dead or mortally wounded. Though almost annihilated, it retired slowly, carrying off with it the flags and some of the wounded.
The ultimate of sacrifice was probably sustained by the Irish Brigade when it was hurled by General Pope against Marye’s Heights in December 1862, in a useless massacre. It may be said that the Brigade virtually ceased to exist, with an average loss in casualties per regiment of almost 41 per cent. Seven thousand men in all were entered on the rolls of the Brigade; less than 1,000 returned to New York.”
(Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy, Ella Lonn, LSU Press, 1951, pp. 480-482)