The more I research our family members who were alive during the Civil War, the more I realize just how profoundly the Civil War affected our family. The number of family members who enlisted and fought in the War is impressive enough on its own, but when I tally the number of ancestors who came back wounded or chronically ill, later dying of their injuries, or who died while at war and never returned home, I begin to realize just how horrible that war really was. By any measure, the Civil War was the most devastating war this country has ever experienced: 625,000 deaths (some say as many as 850,000 dead), an average of 600 deaths every day, and a full 2% of the total population killed (not just 2% of fighting-age men; but 2% of the total of men, women, children, the elderly, everyone). Furthermore, two-thirds of these Civil War deaths were due not to combat, but to disease—dysentery, malaria, cholera, pneumonia, measles, typhoid, and tuberculosis were the deadliest of these diseases, causing slow, lingering deaths.
I’ve written several posts about my 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace L. Scott, including one about how he contracted tuberculosis in 1864 (from which he died in 1870) while taking part in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. Horace’s tuberculosis became active around April 1, 1864, and as a result, he was unable to do much besides very light work for the rest of his short life. While he was too sick to fight or even do much work, he was not given a medical discharge. He continued with his unit for another 16 months until he had served his full three years. But last night I discovered he wasn’t the only member of his family fighting in the war.