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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Carter's Goofy Numbers

Former President Carter made some goofy comment the other day while speaking to Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: [A]s an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force. Do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?
CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War more than any other war until recently has been the most bloody war we’ve fought.
I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war. Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial’s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a non-violent way...


Many people have already pointed out that in raw numbers, it just isn't true that the Revolutionary War was "the most bloody."

But were there more deaths per total US population? Here are the numbers:

Revolutionary War: Battle deaths as percentage of population= .18%
Civil War: Battle deaths as percentage of population: .68%
WWI: Battle deaths as percentage of population: .054%
WWII: Battle deaths as percentage of population: .21%

By this measure, the US Civil War was the "most bloody," followed by WWII and then the Revolutionary War.

Support:
US Census Press Releases Back in July 1776, there were about 2.5 million people living in the colonies. In the Revolutionary War there were 4435 battle deaths. Battle deaths per capita %=.18% (.001774) (4435/2,500,000)

Civil War 1860 population 31,443,321 (27,489,561 free, 3,953,760 slave). Total battle deaths Union and Confederate: 214,938. Battle deaths per capita %=.68% (.0068357) (214,938/31,443,321)

WWI population
Population: 99,111,000 Battle deaths: 53,402. Battle deaths per capita %=.054% (.00053881) (53,402/99,111,000)

WWII population
Population: 133,402,470 Battle deaths: 291,557 Battle deaths per capita %=.21% (.0021855) (291,557/133,402,470)

Battle Deaths US in America's Wars: U.S. Casualties and Veterans>

American Revolution (1775–1783)
Total servicemembers
217,000
Battle deaths
4,435

Civil War (1861–1865) 
Total servicemembers (Union)
2,213,363
Battle deaths (Union)
140,414
Total servicemembers (Conf.)
1,050,000
Battle deaths (Conf.)
74,524

World War I (1917–1918)
Total servicemembers
4,734,991
Battle deaths
53,402

World War II (1940–1945)
Total servicemembers
16,112,566
Battle deaths
291,557

Korean War (1950–1953)
Total servicemembers
5,720,000
Battle deaths
33,741

Vietnam War (1964–1975)
Total servicemembers
8,744,000
Serving in-theater
3,403,000
Battle deaths
47,410
Other deaths in service (theater)
10,789
Other deaths in service (nontheater)
32,000
Nonmortal woundings
153,303
Living veterans
8,295,0001

Gulf War (1990–1991)
Total servicemembers
2,183,000
Serving in-theater
665,476
Battle deaths
147

America's Wars Total
Military service during war
42,348,460
Battle deaths
651,008


Update: Cleaned it up a little.

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