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Gen. Lee's strength and losses at Gettysburg.

By Col. William Allan.
[The following is in reply to a letter of the Secretary, enclosing a letter received from a distinguished foreign critic commenting on Col. Allan's review of Bates' Gettysburg. As the letter of our foreign correspondent was a private one we suppress his name, though we do not think proper to withhold Col. Allan's able and conclusive reply.]

McDoNOUGH School, April 24th, 1877.
my dear Dr.:
I regret that a press of engagements has prevented an earlier reply to your kind letter, enclosing that of in regard to Bates' Gettysburg.

I hasten to express my acknowledgments to your correspondent for pointing out an error, into which I was led by the fact that Lieut.-Gen. A. P. Hill's report had not been published at the date of my strictures on Dr. Bates' book. In those strictures the Confederate loss at Gettysburg was estimated at not over 21,000 men. The loss actually was:

In Longstreet's corps (see his report in the Southern Magazine, April, 1874), including the losses at Funkstown and Williamsport on the 6th and 10th of July7,659
In Ewell's corps (see Ewell's report in Southern Magazine, June, 1873), while north of the Potomac6,087
In Hill's corps (see Hill's report in Southern Historical Papers, Nov., 1876), including his loss of 500 at the recrossing of the Potomac8,982
Total in the three corps22,728

This was the entire loss, except that in the cavalry. As but a small portion of the Confederate cavalry was engaged at Gettysburg, and that not severely, 100 or 200 added to the above will cover the entire Confederate loss during the battle and the subsequent retreat to the Potomac. Hence the statenent should have been, that the “Confederate loss did not exceed 23,000 men.” My error was in underestimating Hill's [35] loss, which, in the absence of his report, I supposed not greater than the average of the other corps.-- adds to the above the losses of the Confederate cavalry in the fights of Brandy Station (June 9th), and at Aldie, &c., (June 17thto 21st,) before Lee crossed the Potomac, putting the aggregate cavalry loss during the campaign at 1,100, and thus brings up the Confederate loss to the neighborhood of 24,000 men. But with what propriety this addition should be made to the losses at GettysburgI am at aloss to perceive. The two cavalry fights mentioned cost the Federals, according to Gen. Gregg, commanding one of the Federal cavalry divisions (see Philadelphia Times, March 31st, 1877), about 1,000 men, and between the dates of these combats Milroy was overthrown at Winchester, with a loss of over 4,500 men. These Federal losses are of course not included in Gen. Meade's aggregate of 23,186 lost.-- has omitted Ewell's loss at Winchester, June 15th, from his aggregate of Confederate losses. He should have omitted Stuart's also, as otherwise his statement is confusing and inaccurate.

I have carefully re-examined Dr. Bates' statement, as well as the other data at hand, in regard to the strength of the respective armies, but do not find any reason to doubt the general correctness of the estimates, which --thinks erroneous. As he does not give the ground for his opinion, I do not know on what he bases it. His criticism on the number and strength of the regiments, even if correct, would give no support to Dr. Bates' conclusions. As to the number of the regiments, I distinctly adopted Dr. Bates' roster. He gives 163 (not 167 as — has it) as the number of Confederate infantry regiments present. His roster is incorrect in several particulars. For instance, he enumerates the First, Seventh and Fourteenth S. C. regiments twice (page 308); gives eight regiments to O'Neal's brigade, which only contained five; and omits Garnett's brigade, of Pickett's division, altogether. (I will send you a correct roster as soon as I can get at the data.) But these and some other errors do not destroy its general correctness [36] for the purpose in view, and as my object was to show Dr. B.'s inconsistency, I of course used the roster as he gives it. I have no means of verifying the Federal roster, but assume its accuracy as a matter of course. Now if we take merely the lists of regiments, assuming them to be equally full, we have the infantry strength of the two armies as 239: 163. If Meade had 95,000 men on the ield, as he testifies, then deducting 15,000 or 16,000 for artillery and cavalry (Dr. Bates places the cavalry alone at 12,000), there remained about 80,000 for his infantry force at Gettysburg.

Then, 239: 163:: 80,000: 54,560=the Confederate infantry. If 10,000 be added to this for artillery and cavalry, the entire Confederate force would be between 64,000 and 65,000 men, and the ratio of Federals to Confederates on the field would be as about 95,000 to 65,000.

It is difficult to see how Dr. Bates could make an estimate with any regard to the facts which would place the Confederate strength nearer to the Federal than the above figures permit.

---- is, however, a soldier of far too much skill and experience not to appreciate the special advantages enjoyed by the Federal commanders for keeping up the strength of their regiments over those possessed by their antagonists. On both sides there was a disposition to maintain the regimental organization for the sake of good officers, even when their commands had worn away to skeletons; but while the Confederate government filled up these skeletons slowly and painfully from a sparse population, and derived no assistance from immigration, the Federal government drew from a population about four times as numerous, and through the employment of foreign immigrants as substitutes, availed itself largely of a source of supply entirely out of reach of the South. Hence it was, that Confederate regiments, which had seen any length of service, were not, as a usual thing, equal in strength to Federal ones; and hence it is that the above calculation of Lee's strength at Gettysburg is from 5,000 to 7,000 in excess of the [37] truth. But to return to return to Dr. Bates: iHe quotes the “return” of the Federal army on June 10th, as given by Gen. Butterfield in his testimony. On that day the infantry corps numbered 78,255, and Dr. Bates shows that the cavalry and the reinforcements received before July 1st, increased this number to 99,000. It is unnecessary to quote Butterfield's testimony at length; but it is evident from it, as given on pp. 427-8, vol. I, Rep. on Conduct of the War, 1865, that the above “return” only included effectives. HIe is comparing the strength of the Federal army before the battle with its strength after, and having given the estimates of the corps commanders of their force on July 4th (51,514 infantry), and cautioned the committee that this was only a rough estimate the day after the fight, he then gives the strength on the 10th of June, which was seemingly the date of the last exact “return” in his possession.

It is impossible to believe that he meant any thing but those “present for duty” in both instances. Again, Gen. Meade in his testimony about Gettysburg before the committee on the conduct of the war, replies to the question: “What was' your strength upon. That battle-field?” “Including all arms of the service, my strength was a little over 100,000 men-about 95,000.” In the face of both Butterfield and Meade, Dr. Bates assumes that these figures “represent the numbers borne upon the rolls, but by no means show the true numbers standing in the ranks. In this record (Butterfield's ‘return’ ), the First corps is credited with 11,350; but we know that on the morning of the 1st of July it could muster but 8,200. If the difference in all the corps, between the number borne upon the rolls and number present to go into battle, was as great as in this, the sum total was reduced to 72,000.” Now is it credible that Gen. Meade testified, under oath, that his strength upon that battle-field was 95,000 men, when it was only 72,000? When, too, there was no conceivable reason for an exaggeration of his numbers, but the contrary? Gen. Meade was not capable of being influenced by [38] any “reason” in such a matter but a desire to tell the truth; but the circumstances attending his testimony show how unfounded is Dr. Bates' statement.

Let us examine for a moment the process by which Dr. Bates arrives at his 72,000. In the “return” given by Butterfield, the First corps (Reynold's) numbered, June 10th, 11,350. On July 1st it went into battle, Dr. Bates says, with 8,200-decrease 3,150. This ratio of decrease is then applied without hesitation to all the other corps, and no explanation is attempted of the fact. The Federal army is thus shorn of onefourth its strength, though it had not suffered meantime from any battles, hard marches, or peculiar sickness, but had received on the contrary all the accession the Federal government, under the spur of invasion, could hasten to its assistance. Had Dr. Bates been a soldier he could not have made such a statement.

The source from which Dr. Bates derives the number of the First corps on July 1st, is no doubt Doubleday's testimony. This officer commanded that corps on that day, after the fall of Reynolds, and in a statement before the committee on the conduct of war, strongly marked by bad temper and a vivid imagination, he says, among other things: “According to reports rendered to me, we entered the fight with 8;200 men in the First corps, and came out with 2,450 men.” He says further: “I do not believe that our forces actually engaged belonging to the two corps (the First and Eleventh) amounted to over 14,000 men. There was a reserve of 3,000 or 4,000 of the Eleventh corps which did not join actually in the fight. It fired some shots from Cemetery hill, but the most of them fell short into our own front line. Now 14,000 men were wholly inadequate to contend against two immense corps of the enemy, amounting to 60,000 men,” &c. This statement makes it appear that about 6,000 men of Howard's corps (Eleventh) were engaged July 1st. Add the 4,000 kept in reserve on Cemetery hill and we have Howard's strength July 1st, as near 10,000 men. On June 10th it numbered in the [39]

Lee's Strength and Losses at Gettysburg. 39 “return” given by Gen. Butterfield, 10,177. Why did not Dr. Bates take the ratio of decrease from this corps? This would have given him a result much nearer the truth.

In the absence of the Federal official reports, it may not be proper to offer any explanation of the discrepancy between the numbers given by Butterfield and Doubleday for the strength of the First corps; but it seems evident, if Gen. Doubleday is correct, that some transfer of troops must have taken place between June 10th and July 1st; or that some part of the corps must have been elsewhere on detached duty. --falls into the error of Dr. Bates .in assuming that the Federal reports of “strength” always included the sick and the teamsters, &c., while the Confederate did not. If Gen. Meade did not mean that his army present for duty numbered 95,000 he would have said so. I do not think there is an officer in either of the American armies who would understand his statement in the connection in which it was given in any other sense, and Dr. Bates must show some evidence to the contrary if he wishes his conclusions accepted. The specifications on the “returns” usually show what is included in the strength of armies, and generally the connection, if not direct statement, shows whether the numbers refer to the “present for duty,” or to the “whole number borne upon the rolls,” as Dr. Bates has it. In the civil war the officers on both sides had been trained in the same school, and their reports made in the same way. Frequently the Confederate reports included more than the effective fighting men. Thus Rodes' “return” at Carlisle, a few days before Gettysburg, makes his total, strength of officers and enlisted men, “8,052.” Now, Rodes had about 6,000 muskets, or less than 7,000 effectives. The remainder were the detailed men-many'of them disabled soldiers, but all “enlisted” men — who filled the places of teamsters, clerks, &c. There were no employees in the Confederate army-all such places being filled by details fiom the ranks. [40]

It may be well to mention, in regard to the number of Federal troops engaged the first day, that Dr. Bates gives a widely different strength to Buford's cavalry division from that assigned to it by Gen, Pleasanton, who, as Commander-in-Chief of the Federal cavalry, should, next to Buford himself, have known the truth. Dr. Bates says that the cavalry engaged the first day (Buford's) amounted to 2,200 men. Pleasanton puts Buford's strength at 4,000. (See Pleasanton's report to Hon. Ben. Wade, Oct. 15, 1865.)

In regard to the Confederate strength, Dr. Bates' conclusions are scarcely worthy of criticism. Were we at this late day seriously to attempt to determine Meade's force by giving the estimates made of it at the time of the battle, by Lee, or Longstreet, or Ewell, or by citizens, we would expose ourselves to the ridicule of., and of every other intelligent man. Yet this is what Dr. Bates has done in regard to Lee's force. The only scrap of respectable evidence he offers in support of his estimate as to the Confederate strength is a statement, reported as coming from Gen. Longstreet, that Lee had at Gettysburg “67,000 bayonets, or above 70,000 of all arms.”

These numbers, Mr. Swinton says (see his Army of the Potomac), were given him by Longstreet, in an interview soon after the war. Now, Mr. Swinton may have misunderstood Gen. Longstreet, and probably did, for this officer, in a letter on the batte of Gettysburg to the New Orleans Republican, dated February 16th, 1876, says that the strength of the two divisions, of Hood's and McLaws, was but 13,000 “in all.” These divisions each contained four brigades. The remaining division of Longstreet's corps (Pickett's) contained only three brigades, and these were less in strength than the average. The highest Confederate estimate of Pickett's division I have found puts it at 4,000. This would make Longstreet's corps 17,000. And averaging the other corps at the same, would give 51,000 for the entire infantry strength of Gen. Lee, or under 61,000 for every thing. Note in connection with this: [41]

1. Gen. Lee's own statement to Gen. Early, myself and others, in which he placed his strength, when about to move northward, in June, 1863, at 60,000 effective men. (See Gen. Early's reply to Gen. Badeau, in the London Standard, 1870; and article on Gettysburg, Southern Review, April, 1868.)

2. Gen. Lee's papers were burned at the close of the war, and he requested, in 1865, from his officers, such information as they possessed, with the intention of preparing a narrative of his campaigns. I have a copy, received from him, of the statements furnished to him in regard to his strength at Gettysburg, by two members of his staff; Col. W. H. Taylor, his Assistant Adjutant-General, and Col. C. S. Venable, his Military Secretary. The former places the Confederate strength of all arms on that battle-field at 61,000; the latter at 55,000.

3. Out of the 68,352 men, which constituted the entire force for duty in the “Department of Northern Virginia,” at the end of May, according to the Confederate return, published by Swinton, Gen. Lee could hardly have taken over 60,000 with him.

4. Gen. Early's careful estimate. (See his report, Southern Magazine, September and October, 1872.)

5: The number of regiments on each side as given by Dr. Bates himself.

All these go to show that Gen. Lee moved northward with about 60,000 men, and that instead of being weakened by train guards or by straggling to the extent of 25 per cent., between the Potomac and Gettysburg, as Dr. Bates imagines, he brought almost his entire force to the latter point.

Hoping will carefully examine the original sources of information in regard to the matters treated by Dr. Bates, whose book may be “conscientiously,” but is certainly not carefully compiled, I am, most truly yours,

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