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[242]

Colonel Taylor's reply to the Count of Paris.

Norfolk, Va., March 8, 1878.
Rev. J. William Jones, Secretary, &c., Richmond, Va.:
My dear Mr. Jones: In compliance with your request, I enclose herewith the copy of the memorandum of the Count of Paris concerning the strength of the two armies at Gettysburg, sent to me by Colonel Allan. I have only found time to read the same to-day. It is, in my judgment, as conclusive evidence as has yet been presented of the great disparity in the strength of the two armies, when one who deducts thirteen per cent. from the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac, and makes a further deduction of seven per cent. for the straggling from that army, during a period of four days, while he allows but four per cent. for the reduction of the Army of Northern Virginia, from the same cause, during a period of nearly one month, should yet admit that the former army exceeded the latter in numerical strength by “somewhat more taan one-fourth.” It appears to me, however, that the Count unnecessarily surrounds a plain matter of fact with perplexing questions involving much that is indeterminate, and seeks to reach a result by doubtful inferences and intricate calculations which is readily attainable by direct, positive, and contemporaneous evidence.

In the first place, I do not see the necessity for attempting a comparison that shall embrace the men on extra or special duty with both armies. I would not object to this if a satisfactory result could be had; but when the most positive evidence we have relates to the numbers present with each army for duty, why not limit the comparison to these? Why not seek at once to ascertain the number of men in line of battle available for the fight? When we speak of “officers and enlisted men present for duty,” a clear understanding is had of what is meant. It matters not how many men were with the organizations, or sick in ambulances; they took no part in the fight, and some of them were, perhaps, so far removed from the scene as not even to hear the guns. But, apart from this, it is not so easy to determine their number as it is to ascertain the number of those who were present for duty. [243]

The returns of both armies were alike in this, viz.: in each there was a column for the officers “present for duty,” and one for the enlisted men “present for duty.” Entirely distinct from this, but under the general heading “present,” were separate columns for “extra or special duty,” “sick,” and “in arrest.” The extra or special-duty men were, as a rule, on service with the trains, and were never counted by regimental commanders with us gn their reports of “men present for duty.” Without discussing the point made by the Count, that the “Federal officers gave as what they called their effective strength the figures representing all the men present, and not only those present for duty,” I would call attention to the fact that, in his official correspondence with the General-in-Chief, General Hooker, on the 27th day of June, 1863-four days previous to the battle-stated that his “whole force of enlisted men present for duty would not exceed 105,000.” He does not use the term “effective strength,” but “enlisted men present for duty.” Evidently these figures were taken from the column headed “enlisted men present for duty.” Now, why will all the writers on the other side persist in ignoring this evidence of the General of the Army of the Potomac? This dispatch from General Hooker to General Halleck was sent under peculiar circumstances. The former desired to impress upon the latter the necessity for reinforcing him, and that there “might be no misunderstanding,” he informs his superior that his whole force of enlisted men present for duty will not exceed 105,000. This evidence, written down at the time by the General of the Army, with the reports of his subordinates before him, is worth ten times that sustained only by the hind-sights of the officers whose evidence, given from memory some time afterwards, is made the basis of calculation by the Count. General Meade himself testified that when he took command the returns shown him called for 105,000 men-evidently the same from which General Hooker derived his figures-although he erroneously claims that those figures embraced the garrison at Harper's Ferry. General Meade also testified from memory, before the Congressional Committee, that he had “upon that battle-field,” of all arms of the service, a little under 100,000 men: whereas the Count gives him but 85,000. Surely, General Meade did not include in this statement the men on duty with the trains. [244]

The trains of the Army of the Potomac on the 27th day of June Were doubtless strung out for a considerable distance, a large portion being still in Virginia. Is it reasonable to suppose that General Hooker, in his endeavor to impress upon the War Department the necessity for giving him additional troops, would embrace in his report of the enlisted men present for duty all those on extra or special duty with the trains? The percentage of officers to men present for duty with the Confederates was as one to ten; allowing the same for the Federals, and General Hooker's effective strength on the 27th of June was 115,500. The Count claims that the 105,000 represented the entire present strength of the Army of the Potomac-including not only officers and men present for duty, but those on extra or special duty, those sick, and those in arrest. But I do not think he can substantiate this in absolute contradiction, as it is, to the testimony of General Hooker. He then deducts from this 105,000 thirteen per cent. for men on special duty, sick, and in arrest, and gives 91,350 as the number (officers and men) present for duty. These figures are further reduced by an allowance of 6,000 for straggling, and he estimates the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg at 85,000 of all arms.

In regard to the strength of the Army of Northern Virginia, as given in his paper, viz.: 66,600, 1 do not think he is much out of the way, although I do not agree with him in his reasoning. But his estimate is based upon the effective strength of that army on the 31st May, 1863, as given in my account ot the battle — that is, 68,852. As has already been publicly stated, those figures did not include the officers present for duty. The total effective at that date was 74,451. The Count would, therefore, carry this difference in his calculations, and thus increase his numbers to about 73,000-fully 6,000 in excess of our real strength. Although it is; past my comprehension why the Count should deduct 6,000 for straggling from the Army of the Potomac in a period of four or five days, and only allow 2,500 for the reduction by the same cause of the Army of Northern Virginia after it crossed the Potomacnearly a month-yet we can afford to allow his estimate to stand, for all purposes of comparison, provided the testimony of General Hooker, given four days previous to the encounter, is accepted by [245] him as a basis for determining the strength of the Army of the Potomac at the same time.

According to the best information that I have, and after a careful study of the subject, I think that General Lee's strength at Gettysburg, embracing his entire effective force of all arms of the service, from first to last, was, in round numbers, 67,000. So, also, after a careful review of all the evidence, I would say that General Meade had about 105,000. The Count contends that we should include Jones' and Robertson's brigades of cavalry, that reached us after the battle; but he is careful to exclude the troops taken from Harper's Ferry by General Meade and sent to Frederick. There is as much reason for counting the one as the other. Nevertheless, I do count the two brigades of cavalry of General Lee's army, and do not count the Federals at Frederick.

On the 31st May, General Lee's effective was 74,451. He received after that one brigade, Pettigrew's; but, to offset this addition, we must deduct Corse's brigade and one of Pettigrew's regiments, left in Virginia. The cavalry, under Jenkins and Imboden, was not embraced in the report of the 31st May, and must be added. The two brigades numbered about 3,000 men. This was offset by the loss sustained by the brigades of Hampton, Fitz Lee, and W. H. F. Lee in their encounters with the enemy before and after crossing the Potomac, and by rea — on of their hard marching. General Lee says that “the ranks of the cavalry were much reduced by its long and arduous march, repeated conflicts, and insufficient supplies of food.” Then the army, in its movement north, in the fighting in the valley, and in guards for captured property, was reduced about ten per cent. According to my estimate, we had 53,500 infantry. There were nine divisions, and this would give an average of about 6,000. I think nearly every living division commander of General Lee's army will endorse these figures. Of cavalry, I think there was, in round numbers, 9,000. There were seven brigades, counting Imboden and Jenkins — an average of 1,300 to the brigade. The five with the army on the 31st May had an average of but 2,000, and Jenkins and Imboden had originally an average of but 1,500, showing an original average of, say, 1,800. This reduction in the cavalry is but a reasonable one, considering their service between the 31st May and 1st of July. The artillery I put at 4,500. The three arms of [246] service then numbered as follows: Infantry, 53,500; cavalry, 9,000; artillery, 4,500. Total effective of all arms, 67,000. Against this let us put the minimum number, as claimed by General Meade, “a little under 100,000 men.” If the Count, however, persists in giving General Lee the maximum effective strength with which he commenced the campaign, say 74,000, in eq:lity and fairness he should put the Army of the Potorac at what its commander stated it to be on the 27th day of June, viz.: 105,000 enlisted men, or about 115,000 effective, officers and enlisted men, present for duty. Compare our 67,000 to their 100,000 or 105,000, or compare our 74,000 to their 115,000; but do not compare our maximum 74,000 with their minimum 95,000.

Yours, truly, W. H. Taylor.
P. S. In an article contributed to the Weekly Times of Philadelphia, March 10th, General Humphreys, U. S. A., rather confirms my estimate of the strength of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. According to his statement, the return of that army on the 30th June, 1863, showed present for duty, officers and enlisted men, 99,475. He further states that “Stannard's brigade, of five regiments, and Lockwood's brigade, of two regiments, coming from the Department of Washington andi the Middle Department, joined the Army of the Potomac on the morning of the 2d of July, and consequently they were not on the return of the 30th June. Two regiments of Stannard's brigade went to the main trains, and three joined the First Corps. His regiments are stated on good authority to have been about five hundred each-much larger than the average of the Army of the Potomac.” The same estimate is made by General Humphreys of the strength of Lockwood's two regiments.

If we add to the strength of the Army of the Potomac, as shown by the return of the 30th of June, viz., 99,475, the seven regiments, numbering five hundred each, that joined it subsequently, there results as the strength of that army at Gettysburg 102,975-say 103,000-differing very little indeed from my estimate.

-W. H. T.

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