The Confederate strength in the Atlanta campaign.
by E. C. Dawes, late Major, 53D Ohio regiment.
In the foregoing paper [see p. 260] General
Joseph E. Johnston
asserts that on the 30th of April, 1864, the strength of the Confederate army was “37,652 infantry, 2812 artillery with 112 guns, and 2392 cavalry,”--in all, 42,856.
But the return of that army for April 30th, 1864, on file in the War Department, signed by General Johnston
and attested by his adjutant-general, shows its “present for duty” almost 53,000:
|Artillery, 144 pieces||3,277|
The difference between these figures and those given by General Johnston
from the same return is, that in his paper he gives the footings of the column of “effective total.”
This, in all Confederate returns, includes only sergeants, corporals
, and private soldiers “for duty, equipped.”
That the cavalry had an effective total of but 2392 with 8436 officers and men for duty is accounted for by the fact that a large number of horses were grazing in the rear because of the scarcity of forage at Dalton
They were brought to the front and the men. became effective when Sherman
's army began to advance.
's statement that his artillery comprised but 112 pieces is a manifest error, for the return plainly says 35 companies, 144 pieces.
The battle of Resaca
was fought on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of May.
Prior to that time the Confederate army was reinforced by General Mercer
's brigade of four Georgia
regiments, which had been on garrison duty on the Atlantic coast
A foot-note to the return of April 30th records that one of these regiments, the 63d Georgia, joined the army “since the report was made out,” and that its effective total was 814.
All of these regiments had full ranks; 2800 is a low estimate of their line-of-battle strength.
two brigades of infantry and two batteries, 5300 for duty, came from Mobile
about the 7th of May and was stationed at Resaca
's division, three infantry brigades and two batteries, from General S. I). Lee
's command, with 5145 for duty and a detachment of 550 from French
's division, reached Resaca
May 10th, 11th, and 12th.
Meantime a regiment of the Georgia State
line, estimated as six hundred strong, had been added to Hood
At Resaca General Johnston
had at least 67,000 men for battle and 1.68 pieces of artillery.
had at most 104,000:2
the odds against General Johnston
when “the armies were actually in contact” were as 100 to 64, instead of “10 to 4,” as stated in his article.
On the night of May 16th the Confederate army evacuated Resaca
On the following day, at Adairsville
, it was reinforced by General W. H. Jackson
's cavalry command, 4477 for duty, which was increased to 5120 by June 10th.
On the 19th of May, at Cassville
, the division of General French
joined the army with 4174 effectives, exclusive of the detachment that was at Resaca
Another Georgia State line regiment, estimated as 600, was added to Hood
's corps, and Quarles
's brigade, 2200 strong, came on the 26th of May at New Hope Church.
A comparison of the return of April 30th with that of June 10th shows an increase to the fighting strength of the army of 3399 from the return of men “absent with leave” in the corps of Hood
, and in the artillery.
The return of May 20th is missing, but that of June 10th shows an increase since May 20th of 649 “returned from desertion” and 799 “joined by enlistment.”
has to account, between April 30th and June 10th, for at least
the following men available for battle:
|Present for duty at Dalton||April 30th||52,992|
|Mercer's brigade||May 2d ||2,800|
|Cantey's division||May 7th ||5,300|
|Loring's division||May 10th, 11th, and 12th||5,145|
|French's detachment||May 12th ||550|
|French's division||May 19th ||4,174|
|Jackson's cavalry||May 17th ||4,477|
|Jackson's cavalry increase before||June 10th||643|
|Quarles's brigade||May 26th ||2,200|
|Two regiments Georgia State line|| ||1,200|
|Furloughed men returned|| ||3,399|
|Returned deserters|| ||649|
| || |
| || ||84,328|
All these figures are official except for Mercer
's brigade and the two regiments of the Georgia
The return of General Johnston
's Army June 10th is the first on file in the War Department that includes all these reenforcements.
It shows “present for duty” :
|Artillery, 187 pieces||257 ||4,414|
|Or in round numbers|| ||71,000|
The difference of over 13,000 is accounted for by losses in battle, desertion, and increase in absent sick.
The incomplete return of Medical Director Foard
shows killed and wounded, May 7th to 20th, inclusive, 3384.
The return of June 10th shows 1551 killed and died since May 20th, indicating fully 6000 wounded. The same return shows 569 deserters.
The 1542 prisoners captured from Hood
, shown by increase of absent without leave in their corps, account for the remainder, without examining the returns of Polk
's corps and the cavalry.
's army reached its maximum strength on the New Hope Church line, where he must have had 75,000 for battle when the armies faced each other May 27th. General Sherman
there numbered, of all arms, for duty, 93,600 men, and several brigades of this force were employed in guarding trains and watching roads in all directions, for Sherman
's army had no rear.
Odds of less than five to four against him is “the great inequality of force” which General Johnston
complains compelled him “to employ dismounted cavalry” in holding this line.
In a foot-note [p. 274] General Johnston
I have two reports of the strength of the army besides that of April 30th, already given: 1.
Of July 1st, 39,746 infantry, 3855 artillery, and 10,484 cavalry,--total, 54,085. 2.
Of July 10th, 36,901 infantry, 3755 artillery, and 10,270 cavalry,--total, 50,926.
The return of July 1st shows “present for duty,” all arms, officers and men, 64,578, instead of 54,085.
(As in case of the return of April 30th, General Johnston
gives only the “effective total.” ) The loss since June 10th is accounted for by 1114 dead, 711 deserters, 1042 increase in absent without leave (prisoners), and 3693 in increase of absent sick and wounded.
None of the returns of this army, either under Johnston
, makes any account of the Georgia
militia, a division of which under G. W. Smith
joined the army about June 20th near Kenesaw
, making its available force on that line nearly 70,000 men. [G. W. Smith
, p. 334, says the militia were 2000, which would reduce Major Dawes
's total to about 67,000.--editors.]
The return of July 10th gives the present for duty 60,032, instead of 50,926, the loss since July 1st being 1377 deserters, 526 dead, two regiments sent to Savannah
, and prisoners and wounded.
This with the Georgia
militia (increased to about 9000 [G. W. Smith
says 5000.--editors] when the army reached Atlanta
) represents the force turned over to Hood
, July 18th, viz.:
|Artillery, 187 pieces||4,143|
asserts that the only affair worth mentioning on his left at Resaca
was near the night of May 14th, when “forty or fifty skirmishers in front of our extreme left were driven from the slight elevation they occupied, but no attempt was made to retake it.”
In his official report, made in October, 1864, he says that at 9 o'clock at night of May 14th he “learned that Lieutenant-General Polk
's troops had lost a position commanding our bridges.”
Comment upon the generalship that would leave a position commanding the line of retreat of an army in charge of forty or fifty skirmishers within gunshot of a powerful enemy is unnecessary, for it was not done.
The position was held by a line of men. It was carried on the evening of May 14th by a gallant charge of two brigades of the Fifteenth Corps of the Union
Reenforced by another brigade, they held it against the repeated and desperate efforts of Polk
's men to retake it. The battle lasted far into the night.
General John A. Logan
, in his official report of it, says that when at 10 o'clock at night “the last body of the enemy retired broken and disheartened from the field, . . . it was evident to the meanest comprehension among the rebels that the men who double-quicked across to their hills that afternoon had come to stay.”
also says that by the capture of this position “the railroad bridge and the town were held entirely at our mercy.”
The Fifteenth Corps lost 628 killed and wounded at Resaca
The troops in its front, Loring
's and Cantey
's divisions and Vaughan
's brigade, according to their incomplete official reports, lost 698.
Much the greater part of this loss must have been on the evening of May 14th, for there was no other line-of-battle engagement on this part of the field.
characterizes the battle of May 28th at Dallas
as “a very small affair,” in which the Confederates
lost about three hundred men and the Union
troops “must have lost more than ten times as many.”
This was an assault made upon troops of the Fifteenth Corps by two brigades of Bate
's Confederate division and Armstrong
's brigade of Jackson
's cavalry dismounted, supported by Smith
's brigade of Bate
's division and Ferguson
's and Ross
's brigades of Jackson
's Kentucky brigade attacked the front of Osterhaus
's division without success.
's Florida brigade charged along the Marietta
road and was driven back, with heavy loss, by the fire of the 53d Ohio regiment.
assailed the position held by Walcutt
's brigade across the Villa Rica
road and met a bloody repulse.
officially reported the loss in his division as 450. General Walcutt
in his official report says that “244 dead and wounded rebels were found in my front,” and many were doubtless removed.
The Confederate loss in this “very small affair” was, therefore, over seven hundred.
The loss of the Fifteenth Corps was 379, or about one-half the Confederate
loss, instead of “more than ten times, as many.”
assumes that General Sherman
used his entire army in the assault of Kenesaw Mountain
, when, in fact, he employed less than 15,000 men. The remainder of the army was not engaged, except in the continuous battle of the skirmish-lines.
The assaulting column of the Army of the Cumberland, directed against Hardee
's corps, was composed of five brigades about nine thousand strong.
The formation was such that each brigade presented a front of but two companies.
The leading regiments lost very heavily; those in the rear suffered few casualties.
reported the entire loss as 1580.
The attack of the Army of the Tennessee was made upon the Confederate
intrenchments held by French
's division and a part of Walker
's, by three brigades of the Fifteenth Corps, numbering 5500 men. Their formation was in two lines; their total loss 603, three-fourths of this falling on the regiments in the first line.
expresses the belief that Northern soldiers could not be repulsed with casualties so small as reported at Kenesaw
In this he, unwittingly perhaps, compliments Sherman
's army at the expense of his own. On the 22d of June, five days before the battle of Kenesaw
, he tells us that the divisions of Stevenson
were repulsed, in an assault on. the Union
line, with a loss of one thousand men. These divisions, June 10th, numbered over eleven thousand for duty.
Their loss, therefore, was but nine per cent., while that of the troops of the Army of the Cumberland engaged at Kenesaw
was 17 per cent.; of the Army of the Tennessee, ,1.
In both cases the loss sustained was sufficient to demonstrate the futility of further effort.
In neither case was it a fair test of the staying qualities of the troops, who on many fields had shown their willingness to shed any amount of blood necessary when there was reasonable hope of success.
, September 8th, 1887.
Confederate defenses at the bridge over the Etowah.
From a War-time photograph. |