Inglorious Passages

Noncombat Deaths in the American Civil War

Brian Steel Wills

Richard B. Harwell Award

Of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who died in the Civil War, two-thirds, by some estimates, were felled by disease; untold others were lost to accidents, murder, suicide, sunstroke, and drowning. Meanwhile thousands of civilians in both the north and south perished—in factories, while caught up in battles near their homes, and in other circumstances associated with wartime production and supply. These “inglorious passages,” no less than the deaths of soldiers in combat, devastated the armies in the field and families and communities at home. Inglorious Passages for the first time gives these noncombat deaths due consideration.

“Even more impressive than his research is Wills’ respectful treatment of the material. He relays these episodes objectively, avoiding sentimentality or sensationalism. In the end, his even approach allows the material to achieve its full weight and impact.

—Civil War Book Review

“Using often grim first-hand accounts to illustrate the ways in which soldiers—and some civilians—died, Wills manages to weave a very readable narrative, and has made a very valuable contribution to the literature of the war.

—New York Military Affairs Symposium Review
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In letters, diaries, obituaries, and other accounts, eminent Civil War historian Brian Steel Wills finds the powerful and poignant stories of fatal accidents and encounters and collateral civilian deaths that occurred in the factories and fields of the Union and the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. Wills retrieves these stories from obscurity and the cold calculations of statistics to reveal the grave toll these losses exacted on soldiers and civilians, families and society. In its intimate details and its broad scope, his book demonstrates that for those who served and those who supported them, noncombat fatalities were as significant as battle deaths in impressing the full force of the American Civil War on the people called upon to live through it. With the publication of Inglorious Passages, those who paid the supreme sacrifice, regardless of situation or circumstance, will at last be included in the final tabulation of the nation’s bloodiest conflict.

About the Author

Brian Steel Wills is professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University. His many books include George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel and The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman: Bedford Forrest, both from Kansas.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series