Casualties of War - Putting American Casualties in Perspective

by image - November 3, 2003

The United States of America has a somewhat unique relationship with war. While America is considered to be the most militarily powerful country in the world today, Americans as a whole have never experienced war in the way that many other countries of the world have. There is a huge disparity between the American experience of war and the global experience. This may have an impact on American attitudes towards war. Presented below are various statistics on causalities of war. The information is useful for reference material, but it is also useful for gaining an understanding of the human cost of war, and the cost of war for Americans compared to the rest of the world, which may be helpful in understanding cultural attitudes about war.  

The total number of Americans killed in action from all major wars combined, the ten listed below, is 2,757,196, which, while a disheartening number, is about the same as the number of Vietnamese that died in the Vietnam War alone.

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War Duration in months
Revolutionary War 80
War of 1812 30
Mexican-American War 20
Civil War 48
Spanish-American War 4
World War I 19
World War II 44
Korean War 37
Vietnam War 90
Gulf War 1

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War Casualties KIA
Revolutionary War

10,623

4,435
War of 1812 6,765 2,260
Mexican-American War 17,435 1,733
Civil War 970,227 184,594
Spanish-American War 4,108 385
World War I 320,710 53,513
World War II 1,078,162 292,131
Korean War 136,935 33,651
Vietnam War 211,471 47,369
Gulf War 760 148

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World War I
Country Military Personnel Military Deaths Military Casualties
Russia 12,000,000 1,700,000 9,150,000
Germany 11,000,000 1,773,700 7,142,558
Austria-Hungary 7,800,000 1,200,000 7,020,000
France 8,410,000 1,357,800 6,160,800
British Empire 8,904,467 908,371 3,190,235
Italy 5,615,000 650,000 2,197,000
Turkey 2,850,000 325,000 975,000
United States 4,355,000 126,000 364,800
Others 4,104,343 497,444 1,298,293

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World War II Deaths
Country Military  Civilian  Total 
Soviet Union 13,600,000 7,700,000 21,300,000
China 1,324,000 10,000,000 11,324,000
Germany 3,250,000 3,810,000 7,060,000
Poland 850,000 6,000,000 6,850,000
Japan 1,506,000 300,000 1,806,000
Yugoslavia 300,000 1,400,000 1,700,000
Rumania 520,000 465,000 985,000
France 340,000 470,000 810,000
Hungary ? ? 750,000
Austria 380,000 145,000 525,000
Greece ? ? 520,000
Italy 330,000 80,000 410,000
Czechoslovakia ? ? 400,000
Great Britain 326,000 62,000 388,000
USA 295,000 N/A 295,000
Holland 14,000 236,000 250,000
Belgium 10,000 75,000 85,000
Finland 79,000 ? 79,000
Canada 39,000 N/A 39,000
India 36,000 ? 36,000
Australia 29,000 N/A 29,000
Spain 12,000 10,000 22,000
Bulgaria 19,000 2,000 21,000
New Zealand 12,000 N/A 12,000
South Africa 9,000 N/A 9,000
Norway 5,000 ? 5,000
Denmark 4,000 ? 4,000
Total 23,289,000 30,755,000 55,714,000

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(Note that Australian, British, French, Chinese, Laotian, Cambodian, and several other nationalities were involved in the Vietnam war as well, but I don't have their statistics shown here. Laos is actually the most heavily bombed country in world history, and one person is still killed by American bombs an average of every two days in Laos currently, some 25 years after the war. It is estimated that it will take another 100 years to completely rid Laos of all the unexploded American ordinance that remains in the country.)

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American dead - 58,169

Vietnamese killed by American military - 1,165,000+

The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, also known as The Wall, is 493 feet long, or almost 1/10th of a mile. A Vietnamese equivalent to this memorial, including both North and South Vietnamese military and civilians who were killed by the American military, would be 9,903 feet, or almost 1.9 miles, long. This does not include disease and starvation deaths, injuries, or South Vietnamese killed by the North Vietnamese Army.

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Sources:

http://www.cwc.lsu.edu/cwc/other/stats/warcost.htm

http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat2.htm

http://www.valourandhorror.com/DB/BACK/Casualties.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWdeaths.htm

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