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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.


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Walter H. Taylor (1)
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