Short Takes

by Fred Ray on January 7, 2012 · 0 comments

Professor J. David Hacker takes and new look at Civil War dead and concludes there was a major undercount, especially in the South.

Even as Civil War history has gone through several cycles of revision, one thing has remained fixed: the number of dead. Since about 1900, historians and the general public have assumed that 618,222 men died on both sides. That number is probably a significant undercount, however. New estimates, based on Census data, indicate that the death toll was approximately 750,000, and may have been as high as 850,000.

Interesting article, worth reading the whole thing. Also worth remembering that the death toll adjusted for today’s population would be between six and seven million. He also talks about it on YouTube.

Beautiful Whitworth rifle up for sale. This is a two band (33″) model with a globe front sight. We often see references to “globe-sighted rifles” by CW sharpshooters and this is what they mean. The globe and post sight arrangement used a narrower sight blade on the front and had a metal hood for protection. Some models even had interchangeable front sight inserts. Why? because the common “barlycorn” sight, while sturdy, was too thick for long range work and would completely cover a man-sized figure at longer ranges. The thinner sight worked much better at range but needed protection. This model also is adjustable for windage at the front sight, and the photo also gives a great look at the WW’s hexagonal bore. The elevator rear sight marks it as a target/sporting model.

Charles Joseph Minard is best remembered for his graphic depicting the fate of Napoleon’s army in Russia, but he produced many others as well. Of interest to TOCWOC readers is his look at cotton production, shipping, and use during the Civil War.

Much of the Confederacy’s strategy was based on the idea that the Europeans, particularly France and Britain, would not stand for an interruption of their cotton supplies and would intervene or at least support the South. Jeff Davis even held his cotton off the market in the opening months of the war rather than selling it to raise badly needed funds.

As Minard’s graphic shows, however, the Europeans adapted by shifting cotton production to places like Egypt and India, lessening their dependence on the American South.

While we’re on maps, Frank Jacobs has an ante bellum underwriter’s map of the (then) United States, showing what the insurance companies thought the risk was over the country.


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