Thursday, February 19, 2015

The ages at which they died.

As many of you know, I've been reading (slowly) through Joseph Glathaar's General Lee's Army. On page 394, I came across this statement: "Younger men, usually more aggressive and less concerned with mortality or injury, lost their lives more frequently in battle. Men born after 1835 were more likely to die in battle while those born before 1835 succumbed more often to disease."

So, I thought I would conduct my own little study to see if this played true. I selected five companies from the five regiments that comprised the Branch-Lane brigade. My five companies were not randomly selected. Three of the five came from rural areas: Company B, 33rd NCT was from Edgecombe and Pitt Counties; Company B, 37th NCT came from Watauga County, and Company F, 28th NCT, came from Yadkin County. The other two companies, Company D, 7th NCT, from Mecklenburg County and Company I, 18th NCT, from new Hanover County, came from places that might be seen as more urban. My search subjects had to have records both for their age, and the reason for their death. If one of those criteria was missing, he went into the unknown column. From the five companies, I had a total of 87 unknowns. I also listed those who died of wounds as being killed in battle.

Let's look at Professor Glatthaar's  statements. "Men born... before 1835 succumbed more often to disease." I found this statement to be true in my five test companies: 51 of those aged 26 years or older, died of disease, while only 33 of those over 26 years old died in battle.

"Men born after 1835 were more likely to die in battle...." I found this statement to be false. Of my five test companies, 69 of those aged 26 or younger also died of disease, while 57 died in battle.

In my five test companies, men were more likely to die of disease regardless of age, than to die in battle. Given that the majority of the unknowns were also more likely to have died of disease, that fact becomes more established.

Has anyone else ever looked at the ages at which men died on a regimental or brigade level? 

1 comment:

Andy Hall said...

Michael, I don't know of any other studies that look specifically at this, but it's definitely a worthwhile thing to look at.

Couple questions: first, can you give the denominator for these proportions, or the percentages?

Second, are there differences in the five companies' service that might have skewed the mortality by combat v. disease one way or another?