Mr. Stanton states in his report (page 5) that the aggregate national military force of all arms the 1st May, 1864, was 970,710, of whom 662,345 were “present for duty” --so that when the campaign of 1864 opened, General Grant (as commander-in-chief) had under his orders more men than the Confederacy mustered all put together during the whole war, and more than four times as many as we had then under arms. As for the army with which General Grant opposed General Lee, Secretary Stanton (page 5) puts the “aggregate available force present for duty May 1st, 1864,” as follows:
|Department of Washington||42,124|
|Army of the Potomac||120,380|
|Department of Virginia and North Carolina||59,139|
|Department of West Virginia||30,782|
|Ninth army corps||20,780|
General Grant says that “Lee was of a slow, cautious, conservative nature.” But when military critics come to study this campaign in the light of all of the facts — when they see that so soon as Grant crossed the Rapidan with his mighty host, Lee, instead of retreating, advanced at once upon him and forced the death grapple of the Wilderness — that he boldly withstood him at Spotsylvania Courthouse, at Hanover Junction, and at Bethesda Church, and that after dealing him the crushing defeat at Cold Harbor, Lee was just about to attack Grant when he crossed the James and sat down to the siege of Petersburg — we think that they will hardly accept this “table-talk” as true, but will rather conclude that Lee was one of the boldest soldiers of all history. The simple truth is that on that great campaign Lee foiled Grant in every move he made, defeated him in every battle they fought, and so completely crushed him in that last trial of strength at Cold Harbor, that his men refused to attack again, and his brave army “shaken in its structure, its valor quenched in blood and thousands of its ablest officers killed or wounded, was the Army of the Potomac no more” (Swinton), and the government at Washington would have been ready to give up the struggle if its further prosecution had depended alone on “the great butcher.” Grant says he lost in this campaign, from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor, 39,000 men; but Swinton puts his loss at over 60,000, and a careful examination of the figures of the Surgeon-General will show that his real loss was nearer 100,000. In other words, he lost about twice as many men as Lee had in order to take a position which he could have taken at first without firing a gun or losing a man. It will take a large amount of “table-talk” to get over the logic of these facts and figures.