Historian Calculates Revised Civil War Casualty Figures; Spielberg’s Lincoln Movie Will Be Released After 2012 Elections

Civil War in the News September 2011

For decades, the generally accepted figure for the number of deaths in the Civil War was 620,000.  This was a best estimate based on available casualty figures and records of deaths by disease, though it was understood that the number may very well have been higher due to inaccurate record keeping especially for illness related deaths.  Now, Binghamton (NY) University historian J. David Hacker has come up with a new figure. Based on an analysis of census data, Hacker puts the total number of deaths at between 650,000 and 850,000.

Hacker analyzed the ratio of male to female survival rates in different age groups in the 1870 census  as compared to the data from the 1860 and 1880 censuses.  Based on the differences in the numbers for the 1860-1870 war decade compared to the non war decades before and after, he came up with a revised estimate.

Hacker’s work will be published in the December 2011 issue of the journal Civil War History, published by the Kent State University Press.

Steven Spielberg Will Release His Lincoln Movie After the 2012 Elections

Steven Spielberg will release his Abraham Lincoln biographical film after the 2012 presidential election to avoid the movie becoming in the director’s words “political fodder”, apparently not wanting to listen to the candidates try to “out Lincoln” each other.  A release date a few weeks after the election would also mean it would come out during the holiday season, a popular time for potential blockbusters to be released.

The film will star Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln, and Sally Field as Mary Lincoln.  Spielberg has added Tommy Lee Jones to the cast as powerful Pennsylvania congressman Thaddeus Stevens, one of the leaders of the Radical Republicans.  The film is based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

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