Letter: War Tolls

It is admirable that you publish letters to the editor that are openly in opposition to positions you have taken or things that have been mentioned in articles in Metro Pulse. However, it serves no one, certainly not your readers, when you publish letters to the editor that are full of factual errors and you do not address those errors in a response.

In the May 31, 2012 edition you published a letter from James A. Bowden of Knoxville stating that a previous letter was not just wrong but greatly wrong about the relative size of the losses due to the American Civil War, aka War Between the States, aka War of Northern Aggression, etc., compared to losses in World War II, Vietnam, and the War on Terror. I can only assume Mr. Bowden had not bothered to do any fact-checking whatsoever before making his statement; he was totally wrong.

First, his number for American losses in the Civil War is low, perhaps extremely low. The lowest figure I was able to find, from a reliable source, was 618,000, not "approximately 600,000," as he stated. Anyone who regularly listens to NPR's news programs would have heard that some historians, using census data, estimate the true number may be even 25 percent higher than the 618,000 I listed.

He states "the Nazis, Vietcong, and Al-Qaeda have killed millions," which was news to me. True, WWII took millions of lives, USSR military and civilian losses alone were in the millions, but the rest of his letter was about Americans, not nationals of other countries. In my research I found 418,500 Americans were lost in WWII, which included losses in the Pacific, not just "to the Nazis." In Viet Nam (whether to VC or North Vietnam Army) our total losses were 58,269 killed. During the War on Terror, 8,900 Americans have died. That brings the total to 485,669, well under Mr. Bowden's 600,000. (In all cases I took the number that included civilian deaths as well as military ones. I did look only at deaths because that is the Civil War number Mr. Bowden disagreed with, it did not include wounded.) For completeness you could throw in our World War I deaths, which totaled 117,465 to the list of "other" wars and only be 3,000 above Mr. Bowden's number but still over 10,000 below the lowest published Civil War death total number I could find.

Joe Miller

Oak Ridge