Remarks on the numerical strength of both armies at Gettysburg
[We publish with great pleasure the following paper from our distinguished friend, and only regret that a clear, conclusive note from Colonel Walter H. Taylor
, pointing out the errors which the Count
still holds (in spite of the fair spirit in which he writes), is crowded into our next number.]
The returns of both armies generally gave three figures for each body of troops, which figures it is essential not to mistake the one with the other for the same army, nor to compare the one with a different one in the opposite armies.
These figures showed the number of officers and soldies: 1st, on the rolls; 2d, present; 3d, present for duty.
The first category contained every man belonging to the regiment, either present or absent on leave, sick or healthy, or without leave.
It happened in both armies, at certain times, that the absentees numbered more than one-third of the whole force.
The second category contained both the officers and men present for duty, and those detached on special duty, under arrest, and in the regimental ambulances or corps hospitals.
The proportion between these different classes after a fortnight's active campaign is well illustrated by General Early
's divisional return for the 20th June, which is as follows:
Present for duty (3d category), 5,638; percentage, 87.
On detached service, 468; percentage, 7.3.
Under arrest, 22; percentage, 0.3.
Sick list, 343; percentage, 5.4.
Total, 6,471; percentage 100.
The total is the figure which is generally given in both armies where only one is given, the number of the men on detached service being liable to vary greatly from day to day.
Army.-According to the return of the 31st of May, the effective strength of the Army of Northern Virginia was:
Present: Infantry, 54,356; cavalry, 9,536; artillery, 4,460.
Total present, 68,852.
If the percentage of the men on detached service, under arrest, and on the sick list was the same for the whole army as for Early
's division, and if the army had neither been increased nor diminished, we should find the figure representing the men present for duty at the time each corps reached the banks of the Potomac
by a deduction of 13 per cent., which would give us for the three arms 59,901 men.
I do not believe that those two figures (68,852 and 59,901) represent fully the whole strength of the Army of Northern Virginia when it invaded Maryland
Through the operation of the draft the effective strength of each regiment had been increased after Chahncellorsville.
The regiments had received some recruits between the 15th and the 31st of May; some more came between the 1st and 10th of June.
says that the regiments of cavalry were largely increased in that way, but I am not satisfied by such vague statements, and in order to prove the fact, I propose to calculate the average strength of the regiments from the known strength of several corps, divisions, or brigades a few days before the battle, as stated by reliable authorities, and mostly by official reports.
I have picked out the following figures from the statement of Confederate officers:
Four regiments: Present, 1,420; average per regiment, 372; present for duty,--; average per regiment,--. Benning
Eighteen regiments: Present, 6,471; average per regiment, 360; present for duty, 5,638; average per regiment, 313.
's division, with one battery of artillery.
Seventeen regiments: Present, 7,000; average per regiment, 412; present for dnty,--; average per regiment,--. Heth
Fifteen regiments: Present,--; average per regiment,--; present for duty, 4,484; average per regiment, 299.
Fifty-three regiments: Present,--; average per regiment,--; present for duty, 17,500; average per regiment, 330. First corps.
It will be seen that the average of the men present for duty in Early
's division is exactly the average between the two other figures (299 and 330); we can take it, therefore, as the real standard of the regimental strength, while we shall take, also, Early
's figures as being the lowest average for the whole of the men present per regiment.
According to the tabular return of losses of the Army of Northern Virginia in the campaign north of the Potomac
, furnished to me by the archives of the United States War Department, this army contained 167 regiments of infantry, and not 163, as Dr. Bates
has alleged ; and 167 multiplied by 360 and 313 would give us respectively 60,120 infantry men present, and 52,271 present for duty.
These 167 regiments of infantry represent the force with which Lee
after he had left Corse
's brigade at Hanover Junction
, one regiment at Winchester
, and had sent two regiments back to Staunton
with the prisoners from the latter place.
The addition of Pettigrew
's brigade, and especially the increase by the draft, must consequently have raised the force of Lee
's infantry north of the Potomac
by about 6,000 men above the return of the 31st of May.
Since that date Stuart
's command of cavalry had been increased by Jenkins
' brigade of five regiments.
's command, which contained three regiments of cavalry and at least a few hundred infantry not accounted for in the above 167 regiments, and was stationed in the Aileghanies somewhat about Romney
, I think, joined Lee
across the Potomac
Before these additions Stuart
's cavalry numbered twenty-five regiments, and had on the 31st of May 9,536 men present, which gives an average of 381 men per regiment.
This standard would give 1,905 horsemen to Jenkins
, and 1,143 to Imboden
, and in the whole 12,584 present, or at the same rates as the infantry, 10,978 present for duty.
But, of course, from both figures should be deducted the severe loss of the cavalry at Fleetwood hill
, which, being about 1,100, reduces the strength of the cavalry when it crossed the Potomac
to about 11,484 present, and 9,878 present for duty.
The cavalry not being able to take in its rapid marches any one on the sick list, I shall from the first of the last two figures deduct again 5.4 per cent. on that head, which brings down to 10,864 the number of cavalrymen who crossed the Potomac
If we reckon Imboden
's infantry at only 300 present for duty, we get accordingly the following figures, which, for the cavalrymen present for duty, are rather low, as the men detached for duty were less numerous than in the infantry:
Infantry present, 60,459; present for duty, 52,571.
Artillery present, 4,460; present for duty, 4,190.
Cavalry present, 10,864; present for duty, 9,878.
Total present, 75,783; present for duty, 66,639.
As the artillery had no men on detached duty as teamsters, guards, &c., I have deducted, instead of 13 per cent., only 6 per cent. for men on the sick list or under arrest; 4,090 seems already a very low figure if it embraces all the men on duty with the trains of ammunition, which is a military duty, as it gives only men per gun. If all these troops were not at Gettysburg
during the whole battle, every man out of them was at a certain time within reach of the field of battle, and therefore under the hand of General Lee
According to General Pendleton
's official report, the artillery was divided in 15 battalions, 5 to each corps: each battlion contained 4 batteries of 4 guns each, which give 16 guns per battalion, 80 per corps, and 240 for the whole, to which should be added the horse artillery, containing 6 batteries of 4 guns each or 24 guns, and one brigade battery of 4 guns in Early
's division, or 268 guns in the whole.
I reckon, therefore, the whole strength of the Army of Northern
, in Pennsylvania
, at about 76,000 present, out of which at least 66,600 were present for duty, and 268 guns.
effective strength of the Army of the Potomac, viz: The number of the men reported as present at the time of the battle, is partly given by Gen. Butterfied
, in the testimony before the Committee
on the Conduct of the War
, the remainder calculated from the average per regiment, and agrees in its total with figures given by General Meade
to the same Committee or mentioned in his dispatches.
Whenever Federal officers gave what they called their effective strength, the figures represented always all the men present and not only those present for duty.
To find the number of these we cannot deduct less than the same 13 per cent. as for the Confederate army.
I know positively that the difference was generally larger, sometimes as much as 18 per cent., for if in the Union
army the teamsters were not enlisted men, the number of guards, hospital men, escorts of trains, &c., was much larger than in the Southern
Here are the figures derived from Meade
's, and some other statements:
Infantry and divisions artillery present, 87,500; present for duty (13 per cent. less), 76,125.
Cavalry present, 12,000; present for duty, 10,440. Reserve artillery, headquarters' escort, signal corps, &c. present, 5,500; present for duty, 4,785.
Total present, 105,000; present for duty, 91.250.
The number of regiments of infantry was, according to Dr. Bates
's table, 242, which, by a remarkable coincidence, gives an average of 361 men present per regiment, within one man the same average as in Early
The Federal regiments were certainly not stronger than the Confederate
The reason is, that by the operation of the draft, however limited, the old regiments in the Southern
army were at certain times refilled by recruits, while on the Union
side, whenever a new call of volunteers was made it was by the creation of new regiments.
It is a well known fact that as soon as a regiment left for the army it ceased altogether to recruit itself.
The old regiments became, therefore, mere skeletons, and before the time of Grant
very few of these were consolidated
. The figures given by Meade
, do not show, as has been alleged by Dr. Bates
, all the men borne upon the rolls, nor, I think, as Confederate writers have asserted, only the men present for duty on the battlefield, but all the men who at the morning call were not reported absent, whatever may be their occupation at that time.
The men known as having fallen off the ranks not being generally reported absent at once to give them a chance to join without losing their pay, the usual stragglers were in fact embraced in that figure.
Reduction by Straggling
.-There were stragglers on both sides, but the Confederates
, better accustomed to long marches, having left behind the sickly men and being in a country where the stragglers found no safety, had much less than the Federals
; there could be none in Stuart
's cavalry after the passage of the Potomac
, as every man who dropped off had to be reported lost and considered as missing.
The straggling was always very large in the Union
army; it was especially so in a friendly country, where it was easy for the men to drop out from the ranks and remain for a time behind.
I see no reason to doubt General Doubleday
's statement that on the 1st of July, the First corps, when it reached Seminary Ridge
, after several days of hard marching, was for the time being reduced from 11,350 men present to 8,200 fighting men. Many of the stragglers joined the army before the end of the battle, but it is not a high estimate to reckon at 10,000 the total loss entailed, by straggling, upon different corps of the Army of the Potomac at the arrival of each on the battle-field.
Let us reckon only 6,000 stragglers on the Union
and 2,500 on the Southern
side, and deducting both cavalries which operated outside of the real field of battle, I think we can say that Meade
brought about 75,000 blue-bellies against Lee
's 54,000 grey-backs, and 300 guns against 268.
If we were to take no notice of the stragglers, the figures would be 81,000 against somewhat
less than 57,000; which figures are certainly, on both sides, above the mark.
Taking the most favorable view for the Federal
army, it would then have been either somewhat less than three-tenths or somewhat more than a fourth stronger than the Southern
one; a numerical superiority not so great as that alleged by some Confederate writers, but which, at the time, no one, I believe, suspected at Meade
Since the Army of the Potomac came into existence there was always a disposition to overrate the enemy's numerical strength.
's division cannot be counted in this return, as it never was within reach of the field of battle and was left at Frederick
to act as a kind of outpost to cover the garrison of Washington.
's militia was too raw at the time to have been subjected to such an ordeal as a drawn fight in the open field against Lee
's veteran soldiers.
Losses on Both Sides.-We
have now the official figures, which preclude any further discussion on that subject; I acknowledge my mistake pointed out by Colonel Allan
, concerning the losses of the Confederate army, as he acknowledges his regarding the losses of the Third corps.
From the returns of Stuart
, now in my hands, his loss on the 2d and on the 3d of July, was 264, and including Imboden
's and Jenkin
's, must be above 300, while, on the other hand, we must deduct from the 22,728, about 700 men lost between the 3d and the 18th of July; therefore the whole Confederate loss at Gettysburg
must have been about 22,300 or 22,400.
The official figures are for the Federals
: Killed, 2,834; wounded, 13,709; missing, 6,643.
For the Confederates
: Killed, 2,665; wounded, 12,599; missing, 7,464.
The number of Confederate prisoners reported by Meade
was 13,621, but as this figure includes 7,262 wounded prisoners treated in the Federal
hospitals, it leaves a balance of 6,359 valid prisoners only, which agrees well with the Confederate
statement, about a thousand of the men reported missing, especially in Pickett
's division, being really wounded left on the ground.
There is therefore no discrepancy between these figures.