If each regiment in the preceding list had fought in no other battle than the one mentioned in connection with it, the record would still be a heroic one; but the battle mentioned was one of a score of bloody contests, in each of which the gallant command was decimated, In fact, any regiment in the American War
considered itself fortunate if it could come out of a battle with no greater loss than decimation.
But, in May, 1863, General Lee
issued an order which has an important bearing on the subject of regimental casualties in the Confederate Army:
Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia.
If this order was observed, it is evident that all subsequent casualty lists are of little value for statistical purposes; and, if enforced, that many a gallant regiment has been deprived of the laurels to which its heroic record would have entitled it.
The effect of this order is manifest in the tone of the official reports made by the regimental commandants at the next battle.
I herewith respectfully submit a detailed statement of casualties, giving names and description of wounds in full, from which I have omitted all slight wounds which, though sufficient to disable a man for a day or two, will not prevent his taking part in the next battle,--say a week or ten days from the time the hurt was received.
[Official report of Ninth Georgia, for Gettysburg.]
Below I submit a list of killed, wounded, and missing.
The wounded include only those disabled indefinitely. Quite a number were temporarily disabled by slight wounds, but resumed their duties in a few days; hence I make no mention of them in this report.
[Official report of Colonel V. H. Manning, Third Arkansas; for Gettysburg.]1
This order lays too much stress upon the hackneyed assertion that losses are by no means an indication of the service performed or perils encountered.
Such statements have, indeed, proved true in a few particular instances; but, in only a few. They were exceptions which only proved the rule.
A study of regimental actions shows clearly that the battalions which faced musketry the steadiest, longest, and oftenest were the ones whose aggregate loss during the war was the greatest.
Fighting regiments leave a bloody wake behind them; retreating regiments lose few men. At Chancellorsville
, the heaviest losses were in the corps that stood; not in the one that broke.
In the following table is given the leading regiments, in point of loss, at various battles.
The list is incomplete, as there are few Confederate official reports for the latter part of the war. Still the record is one which will ever redound to the credit of American manhood, and to the glory of the American