The deadliest war in American history was even more devastating than long believed, especially for the South, according to a historian. The Civil War death toll of 618,222—360,222 from the North and 258,000 Southerners—has been in history books for more than a century. But J. David Hacker, working with newly digitized 19th-century census data, believes it was closer to 750,000, reports the New York Times. Civil War scholars are accepting Hacker's new estimate, and praising his work.
Hacker, a specialist in 19th-century demographics, looked at mortality rates in the decades on either side of the war to reach the new figure, adjusting for the effects of immigration and flawed census methods. One of the reasons why the old estimate was lower, he says, is that historians assumed that Confederate soldiers died of disease at the same rate as their northern counterparts, even though Union soldiers had better medical care, food, and shelter, especially toward the end of the war.