CASUALTIES: 20% Axiom

The First Minnesota Regiment—strong, nice boys, but gun fodder—went into the Battle of Gettysburg 262 strong. The carnage was cruel: to 85% came death or wounds. But at no time in the Civil War did any unit of more than 1,000 men suffer higher than 20% casualties. That was when war was still in the mule and carbine stage. But changes in war technique have not changed an old military axiom: you cannot expect a unit which has lost more than one man in five to continue effective. It must be withdrawn from...

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