previous next

‘ [90] with arms, with an average of seventy-five rounds of ammunition per man.’1 The wonder, under all the circumstances, is not that he had so few, but that he had so many muskets in line.

1 Humphreys does not deny the statement or attempt to refute it. He remarks, if the statement is true many of the infantry must have thrown away their muskets after the surrender became known. If documentary evidence existed as to the number of men surrendered with arms in their hands at Appomattox, a writer of Humphreys' ability and great research, who had the aid of the War Department in making his investigation, would surely have found the evidence and cited it.

Publications as to the number of armed men Lee surrendered, as will be seen from the extract below, had come to General Grant's attention-He does not attempt to refute or deny them. He says: ‘When Lee finally surrendered at Appomattox there were only 28,356 officers and men left to be paroled, and many of these were without arms. It was probably this latter fact [that many were without arms] which gave rise to the statement sometimes made, North and South, that Lee surrendered a smaller number of men than what the official figures show.’—Memoirs, Vol. II, p. 500.

Badeau, however, attempts to be equal to the emergency. In a note of singular venom and malignity for a soldier writing fifteen years after the close of the war, he says:

‘Every rebel who has written about Appomattox, declares that only 8,000 of those who surrendered bore arms—a statement which would not be creditable to them if true. But as every rebel who was at Appomattox was himself a prisoner, the assertion is worthless. The fact is that 22,633 small arms were surrendered; and Lee did not carry many extra muskets around on wagons during the retreat from Petersburg.’ Vol. III, p. 624.

One would infer from this paragraph that there were official reports showing the number of small arms surrendered at Appomattox. If any such exist they have not yet been found, and the documentary evidence to which Badeau refers, so far from disputing the Confederate statements, tends strongly to confirm them. Badeau, Vol. III, p. 714 of his work, publishes the following:

Statement of cannon and small arms surrendered to the United States from April 8th to December 30th, 1865.

April 11, 1865, Army of the James—Cannon, 263; small arms, 11,000 Lee's army.

May 31, 1865, Army of the Potomac—Cannon, 251; small arms, 22,633. Lee's army.

* * * [Here follow other places outside Virginia.]

The records of the ordnance office do not show from what General the surrendered arms, etc., were received, except in the case of Johnston's army to General Sherman. Ordnance Office, War Department, December 30, 1880.

The Army of the James and the Army of the Potomac were both under Grant in all his final movements and at Appomattox. There was little fighting or even skirmishing on the 8th of April, and no captures. The surrender took place next day, and it ended the war. Neither of these armies took part in any more fighting, and hence could not make any captures of arms after the 9th. It is inevitable, if these reports cover arms actually captured between the 8th of April and their respective dates, April 11th, May 31st, 1865 [instead of arms gathered up at Appomattox and other places in Virginia by ordinance officers of those armies between those dates] that the captures were made at Appomattox, and on the day before—since there was no other time or place when captures could be made between those dates. The ‘statement’ covers the cannon and small arms; and if, as Badeau assumes, it proves the number of small arms surrendered at Appomattox, it equally proves the number of ‘cannon’ surrendered. On Badeau's theory, the statement on its face shows that 514 cannon and 32,633 small arms were surrendered at Appomattox. I have omitted from this statement the number of cannon reported September 12, 1865, as surrendered at ‘Richmond and Petersburg,’ because the report does not include any small arms, and even Badeau would hardly contend that it referred to cannon captured at Appomattox.

Why should Badeau reject one of the returns, instead of taking both? If his version is correct, that the report covers arms actually captured after April 8th, he is certainly bound to take the report of April 11th, as showing a part of the small arms surrendered at Appomattox, for between those dates the army of the James had been nowhere except at Appomattox and its vicinity; and there can be no reason for not adding that number to the small arms shown in the report of May 31st. Why he does not include the number in both reports, but rejects the first and takes the second, we will see presently.

There are certain well-known historical facts which even Badeau cannot dispute. Lee at no one time during the existence of the Army of Northern Virginia, had as many as 514 pieces of field artillery. That number is about double the highest number he ever had. It is twice the number Lee had at the opening of hostilities in the Wilderness in May, 1864, or in March, 1865, when grant began his final operations. Besides, Lee lost some field pieces at Five Forks, when the Petersburg lines were swept to Hatcher's Run, at Sailor's Creek and other places on the retreat, to say nothing of the number of pieces dismantled and destroyed by Lee's order on the retreat, and those sent on ahead of the army. Lee himself reported to President Davis that he had only sixty-three field pieces at Appomattox. It is preposterous, therefore, to ask anybody to believe that Lee surrendered at Appomattox more field pieces than he had when he left Petersburg and twice as many as his army ever had. So, if it is proper construction that these two reports are intended to give the number of ‘cannon’ captured at Appomattox, it is proved by undisputable historical evidence, that they are monstrously false, as to the number of ‘cannon’ at least.

How stands the case as to the 32,633 small arms reported, if Badeau's version is correct and ‘Lee did not carry many extra muskets in wagons?’ All these small arms, on Badeau's idea, must also have been captured at Appomattox, for, as we have seen, there was no other place between the 8th of April and the dates of the reports where any captures could be made by either Meade's or Ord's army. If these small arms were captured at Appomattox, how did they get there? Lee surrendered only 28,536 officers and men at Appomattox. Of this number at least 5.500 were officers and detailed men, teamsters, etc., who did not carry muskets. This left only 23,000 men to bring 32,000 muskets to Appomattox, if every soldier whose duty it was to bear arms had been able to do so. It is not pretended that any of the infantry carried two muskets, or denied that many were unable to carry one. The 9,000 excess of muskets, if both reports are included in getting the number of small arms, is what disturbed Badeau; and he illogically rejects one report, and then takes the other solely because the number of small arms the latter reports will not exceed the whole number of officers and men captured at Appomattox.

There is much reason for believing that the report of April 11th, the date when the last of Lee's troops stacked arms before Ord's men, and which, if Badeau's version is correct, could not possibly have included small arms captured elsewhere, gives the number of small arms surrendered by Lee's troops at Appomattox Courthouse, and that it is, perhaps, slightly in excess of the number of both cavalry and infantry who bore arms on the morning of the 9th of April.

Ord's troops, the Army of the James, arrested our progress beyond the Courthouse on the morning of the 9th, and were in the immediate vicinity of the Courthouse, where our troops stacked arms before some of his, after the paroles were made out. General Gibbon, one of Ord's corps commanders, was the ranking officer charged with seeing to the formal surrender. Ord's ordnance officers quite naturally received the stacked muskets and the small arms of the cavalry, and reported them as surrendered to that army, and also included in their captures of ‘cannon,’ field pieces taken by his troops on the retreat, and siege pieces on the part of the entrenchments taken by Weitzel, his other corps commander, who entered Richmond.

Meade's infantry was in our rear at Appomattox, over three miles from the Courthouse. His ordnance officers doubtless gathered from the trains which were nearest his troops all small arms found in the wagons which remained to us. In the short interval elapsing between the retreat and the hour when orders were given for it, the ordnance officers gathered up some muskets of the sick and wounded about Petersburg and put them in wagons which started with the trains; and after leaving Amelia many of the exhausted infantry, rather than abandon their arms, put them in the wagons. It is true that hundreds and hundreds of these wagons were captured or destroyed in the retreat at Sailor's Creek, Painesville and Farmville, but it is probable that a few of these wagons reached Appomattox, and, therefore, that some small arms were taken from the wagons there. Meade's corps had made large captures of men with arms in their hands when the Petersburg lines were broken and at Five Forks and at Sailor's Creek. His ordnance officers gleaned these battle-fields, and cared for the arms. His provost marshals, after his return from Appomattox, required citizens who had arms to turn them over. The aggregate of all the arms thus obtained was naturally reported by Meade's ordnance officers as surrendered to his army; and they as naturally included in the number of ‘cannon’ not only field pieces taken at Appomattox and on the retreat, but heavy artillery on the part of the line captured by Meade's troops.

It is quite plain, therefore, that these reports of the ordnance officers, cited by Badeau, were intended to give the number of small arms and ‘cannon’ which came into their hands between the 8th of April and the date of the making of these reports, without any reference to the particular place or the number at such place where the ‘cannon’ and small arms were actually captured. In no other way can their truth be maintained or the large numbers of ‘cannon’ and small arms reported captured accounted for. If there could be any doubt about this, General Grant himself makes it plain. In his Memoirs, Vol. II, p. 500, he speaks as a matter ‘of official record’ of prisoners captured ‘between March 29th and the date of surrender,’ and then says ‘the same record shows the number of cannon, including those at Appomattox, to have been 689, between the dates named.’ This is the exact number of ‘cannon’ included in those reports given in the official statement which Badeau relies on—to wit: 263,251 and 175—total, 689.

All in all, these two reports of captured small arms, in view of the well-known facts referred to, go strongly to prove that the number of infantry surrendered, with arms in their hands, was as about as stated by Confederate writers, and, more important than all, by General Robert E. Lee himself.

Badeau, evidently much worried by this statement, assails it in another note, Volume III., page 607. He says Lee, when asked by Grant the number of rations needed for his army, replied that he could not tell—among other reasons—because no returns ‘had been made for several days.’ Yet Badeau goes on to say ‘in spite of this statement of his chief,’ Taylor speaks of the men ‘who, in line of battle on the 9th day of April, 1865, were reported present for duty.’ But Lee did not say that no returns had been made. General Porter, of Grant's staff, gives Lee's exact words: ‘I have not seen any returns for several days.’ This conversation took place on the 9th. On the 12th, three days later, Lee had evidently seen returns, for on that day he wrote his official report of the surrender, in which he says, ‘according to the reports of the ordnance officers, there were 7,892 organized infantry with arms,’ &c. Ordnance officers were required to issue a full supply of ammunition to the infantry before the line advanced on the 9th, and this is probably the time when they ascertained the number of men needing it (men with arms in their hands) upon which were based the reports of which General Lee speaks. This is quite a different report from the returns of the strength of the commands which comes through the Adjutant-General's, and not through the Ordnance Department.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: