How do you measure the true worth of a Civil War unit? One of my favorite Civil War books is Regimental Losses in The American Civil War, 1861-1865 written by Union veteran William F. Fox in 1898. The bulk of the book is devoted to Fox’s “Three Hundred Fighting Regiments,” the Union units “that sustained the heaviest losses in battle” (p. 122). However, Fox had a caveat about this list when he stated, “It may be suggested that large casualty lists are not necessarily indicative of the fighting qualities of a regiment; that on many occasions regiments have rendered valuable service and achieved a brilliant success with but slight loss” (p. 122). It is certainly true that the heavy losses of a particular unit may have had little to do with their “fighting qualities” and instead may be more indicative of “bad luck” or even poor leadership. I suspect you can readily come up with a list of regiments that suffered heavy losses because they were simply in that wrong place at the wrong time.
So, which regiments in the trans-Mississippi “rendered valuable service and achieved a brilliant success with but slight loss”? And on a related topic was it possible for a regiment to have great success with either little or no loss of life due to battle? After reading Andrew E. Masich’s The Civil War In