April 12 marked the 150th anniversary of the shots fired at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the first shots of the American Civil War. This war has been the subject of countless books, movies, and documentaries, and even now, more than a century and a half later, the war is a subject of great interest for many. Three of my historical romances have been set during the Civil War...espionage was a critical factor in the war effort on both sides, and female spies such as the characters in Angel in My Arms and my upcoming release, Surrender to Your Touch, played a vital role in gathering intelligence. In my research, I've learned facts about the Civil War that truly amazed and touched me. Here's a sampling:
1. Three million men fought in the Civil War.
2. More than 620,000 died during the Civil War. This figure equates to two percent of the American population at that time.
3. Disease killed twice as many men as battle wounds.
4. Women served as nurses during active conflict. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, once had a bullet go through her sleeve, killing the man she attended.
5. The phrase brother against brother held real meaning. The sons of one Kentucky senator attained the rank of Major General: one in the Union Army, one in the Confederate Army.
6. The battle of Antietam resulted in 23,000 casualties, making it the single bloodiest day of the Civil War.
7. The battle of Antietam produced more casualties than D-Day in World War II.
8. The battle of Shiloh produced more American casualties than all previous American wars combined.
9. More than 85% of African-American men eligible to enlist in the Union Army did so...180,000 African-Americans served the Union during the war.
10. The Battle of the Ironclads (the Monitor and the Merrimack - also known as the CSS Virginia) rendered wooden warships obsolete.
The list of mind-boggling facts about the Civil War goes on and on. Add to that the sad fact that less than a week after the Confederate surrender, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, and the tragedy of the war is compounded even further. Men and women on both sides of the conflict made sacrifices - some ultimate - for their cause. These sacrifices have fueled literature for decades and will no doubt continue to do so.