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Chapter 14: the greatest battles of the war — list of victories and defeats — chronological list of battles with loss in each, Union and Confederate.

Gettysburg was the greatest battle of the war; Antietam was the bloodiest. The largest army was assembled — by the Confederates, at the Seven Days; by the Unionists, at the Wilderness.

Gettysburg may be considered as the greatest battle for various reasons. The strategic issues involved were the most important; it was the turning point in the fortunes of the Confederates; the contending armies were not only large, but were at their best in point of discipline and experience; while the loss of life exceeded that of any other battle field of the war.

Antietam was the bloodiest battle. More men were killed on that one day than on any other one day of the war. There were greater battles, with greater loss of life, but they were not fought out in one day as at Antietam. At Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Spotsylvania, the fighting covered three days or more; at the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Shiloh. Stone's River, Chickamauga and Atlanta the losses were divided between two days of fighting; but, at Antietam, the bloody work commenced at sunrise, and by four o'clock that afternoon it was over.

At the Seven Days battle, Lee's army numbered 94, 1381 effective men actually engaged. exclusive of non-combatants. There were present, 194 regiments and 16 battalions of infantry; 8 regiments and 6 battalions of cavalry; and 59 batteries of light artillery,--equivalent, in all, to 220 regiments. The casualty lists show that each of these commands was engaged, and they specify the loss in each. It was a grand army, composed of the flower of Southern manhood, and Lee never led its like again.

At the Wilderness, Gen. Grant's army, including the Ninth Corps, numbered 118, 7692 effective men and 316 pieces of artillery. It included 236 regiments and 3 battalions of infantry; 35 regiments of cavalry; and 64 batteries of light artillery. They were veteran regiments, whose riven banners had waved amid the smoke of many hard fought fields.

But these figures represent the fighting men only, and the armies of Lee and Grant, as a whole, were really larger than these figures indicate. On April 30, 1864, there were in the Army of the Potomac 19,095 men on “extra or daily duty,” and 931 more in arrest, all of whom were present with Grant's army at tihe Willderness, in addition to the number who

1 Some historians have accepted a Confederate official “estimate” which puts Lee's effective strength at 80,762. But this will not do. There were too many infantry commands, unquestionably present and engaged, to warrant any such figures. The Confederate official reports of brigade and regimental commanders, for the Seven Days,--including Gen. D. H. Hill's statement of the strength of his division,--state, in the majority of cases, the number of men taken into action by the brigade or regiment. From these reports it appears that 105 infantry regiments took 45,317 men into action, an average of 431 men to a regiment. Again. Gen. Longstreet, in an official communication. June 23, 1862, gives the number “present” in each of his Virginia regiments and batteries, from which statement it appears that 23 regiments averaged 446 men present, with one battalion which numbered 213 present, and that 17 batteries averaged 71 men per bttery.

2 On April 30, 1864, the Army of the Potomac reported 99,438 “present for daty equipped;” and Burnside reported, in addition, 19,331 men in the Ninth Corps, which at that time constituted a separate command, although attached to the Army of the Potomae. This does not include the Army of the James, which, under command of Gen. Butler, was attacking Richmond at the same time, from the south side.

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