"BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD"-Theodore O’Hara
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.
Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.
The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are past;
Nor war's wild note nor glory's peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.
Like the fierce northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,
Came down the serried foe,
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o'er the field beneath,
Knew well the watchword of that day
Was "Victory or death!"
Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O'er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the gory tide;
Not long, our stout old chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.
Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr's grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation's flag to save.
By rivers of their father's gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.
For many a mother's breath has swept
O'er Angostura's plain --
And long the pitying sky has wept
Above its moldered slain.
The raven's scream, or eagle's flight,
Or shepherd's pensive lay,
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o'er that dread fray.
Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil --
The ashes of her brave.
Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes sepulcher.
Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep shall here tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her records keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot
Where Valor proudly sleeps.
Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished ago has flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor Time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of glory's light
That gilds your deathless tomb.
HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
Washington D.C. May 5, 1868
General Orders No. 11 I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or other decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and to assist those whom they have left among us as a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude – the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
Department Commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective. By Command of:
N.P. Chipman John A. Logan
Adjutant General Commander-in-Chief
America's Wars: U.S. Casualties and Veterans
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
The table below has information about the total number of service members, battle deaths, and nonmortal woundings in wars from 1775 to 2006; such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I and II, Vietnam, and more.
American Revolution (1775–1783)
War of 1812 (1812–1815)
- Total servicemembers 217,000
- Battle deaths 4,435
- Nonmortal woundings 6,188
Indian Wars (approx. 1817–1898)
- Total servicemembers 286,730
- Battle deaths 2,260
- Nonmortal woundings 4,505
Mexican War (1846–1848)
- Total servicemembers 106,000
- Battle deaths 1,000
Civil War (1861–1865)
- Total servicemembers 78,718
- Battle deaths 1,733
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 11,550
- Nonmortal woundings 4,152
Spanish-American War (1898–1902)
- Total servicemembers (Union) 2,213,363
- Battle deaths (Union) 140,414
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Union) 224,097
- Nonmortal woundings (Union) 281,881
- Total servicemembers (Conf.) 1,050,000
- Battle deaths (Conf.) 74,524
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Conf.) 59,2972
- Nonmortal woundings (Conf.) unknown
World War I (1917–1918)
- Total servicemembers 306,760
- Battle deaths 385
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 2,061
- Nonmortal woundings 1,662
World War II (1940–1945)
- Total servicemembers 4,734,991
- Battle deaths 53,402
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 63,114
- Nonmortal woundings 204,002
- Living veterans fewer than 251
Korean War (1950–1953)
- Total servicemembers 16,112,566
- Battle deaths 291,557
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 113,842
- Nonmortal woundings 671,846
- Living veterans 3,242,0001
Vietnam War (1964–1975)
- Total servicemembers 5,720,000
- Serving in-theater 1,789,000
- Battle deaths 33,741
- Other deaths in service (theater) 2,833
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 17,672
- Nonmortal woundings 103,284
- Living veterans 3,086,4001
Gulf War (1990–1991)
- Total servicemembers 8,744,000
- Serving in-theater 3,403,000
- Battle deaths 47,424
- Other deaths in service (theater) 10,785
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 32,000
- Nonmortal woundings 153,303
- Living veterans 7,286,5001
America's Wars Total
- Total servicemembers 2,225,000
- Serving in-theater 665,476
- Battle deaths 147
- Other deaths in service (theater) 382
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 1,565
- Nonmortal woundings 467
- Living veterans 1,852,0001
- Military service during war 43,185,893
- Battle deaths 653,708
- Other deaths in service (theater) 14,560
- Other deaths in service (nontheater) 525,930
- Nonmortal woundings 1,447,281
- Living war veterans 17,835,0004
- Living veterans 23,976,000
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM
- MILITARY DEATHS
- March 19, 2003 Through May 2, 2009
- Hostile Deaths 3,430
- Nonhostile Deaths 843
- Total 4,273
- Wounded in Action 31,245
- MILITARY DEATHS
- October 7, 2001 Through May 2, 2009
- Hostile Deaths 452
- Nonhostile Deaths 224
- Total 676
- Wounded in Action 2,820