March 10, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

News about the war was light during the first part of March, 1915. The editor of the Capital Journal, though, takes the opportunity to examine, by the numbers, what the editorial called “The World’s Greatest Cataclysm:”

In the Franco-Prussian war, 156,000 Frenchmen were killed, 143,000 were wounded and disabled. The Germans lost 28,000 dead and 101,000 wounded and disabled.

In the Russo-Japanese war the losses of the Japanese were about 170,000 killed and wounded; of the Russians about 400,000.

In our Civil war, which lasted four years, the Union forces lost in killed and wounded 359,528, and in prisons and hospitals enough more swell the total to 500,000 men. The Confederacy lost nearly as many more.

In the present war in Europe, says Goodwin’s Weekly, taking the accounts from all the countries engaged in the seven months since the war began, the losses are counted by millions. Last December the estimated loss of the Prussian army was 753,202 officers and men, beside half the Bavarian army had been put out of action, which with the losses in Saxony and Wurtemberg armies swelled the list of German losses in killed, wounded and missing to 2,000,000 men.

At the same time the estimate in Vienna was that the Austro-Hungarian army had lost about about 1,500,000 men in killed, wounded and missing.

Two months ago it was estimated that the French had lost fully one-half of their soldiers. A month ago the estimated loss of the Russians was 700,000 men, and a Russian paper in December gave the loss in Russian commissioned officers at 33,000. Half of the Belgian army has been destroyed, more than half the army of Servia, while it is known that at least three Turkish army corps have been wiped out. A month ago Premier Asquith said, in the House of Commons, that the British losses to date amounted to 104,000 men.

In the past two months there has been almost constant fighting, but no figures for the appalling losses are forthcoming.

The losses at sea have hardly been noted, but really more ships have been destroyed than in any previous war since the battle of Lepanto was fought and the great Armada was shattered.

When the war closes Europe will be as was Egypt, on that dreadful morning on which there was not a house in which there was not one dead.

It is enough to make bankrupt all the principal nations.

In this last fact seems to lie the only hope of peace.

It at the same times an incentive to more and more desert efforts on the part of all the belligerent.

To look over the whole field is to awaken the feeling that civilization is dead and anarch has builded for itself a throne.

The headline in the day’s Oregon Statesman read “Ground Is Lost.” The report reads:

“On the ridge northeast of Mesnil our gain of yesterday, which was of 450 meters (over 1300 feet) has been increased by 200 meters.”

The scope of battle – the scope of one day’s carnage – is the distance from the pioneer atop the state capital to church Street. Add 200 meters and the day’s fighting takes one to Liberty Street. For nearly four years armies would fight over that one stretch of ground.


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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