With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaching, North Carolina and Virginia have commissioned official recounts of how many soldiers each state lost in battle. What sounds like a humdrum exercise is producing surprising results, reports the Wall Street Journal: North Carolina has long laid claim to losing the most men in uniform: 40,275, according to the 1866 count. That number will surely decline by thousands. Virginia, meanwhile, is at 31,000 and still counting, far exceeding its original total of about 15,000.
When all is said and done, Virginia may well claim the most number of soldier fatalities. "It's going to be close," says the Virginia historian. "It's going to come down to a very small number." This is a very big deal in the South, says the Journal, and especially in these two states, which have had a "long-simmering rivalry" over who fought the hardest. In the bigger picture, if other states commissioned similar recalls, it could alter the long accepted figure of 620,000 soldier deaths.