Strength of General Lee's army in the Seven days battles around Richmond.[For obvious reasons, our Confederate generals did not publish during the war detailed statements of the strength of their armies. The Federal authorities and Federal writers have almost invariably exaggerated our strength, our own people have been in profound ignorance of our real numbers, and there has been among some of our most distinguished leaders honest differences of opinion as to our strength at different periods.  The following discussion, as to General Lee's numbers during the seven days battles, has excited great attention, not only on account of the interest in the questions involved, but also because of the standing of the distinguished soldiers who were parties to it. We have been several times urged, by those whose opinions are entitled to weight, to give the discussion a place in our Papers, in order that it may be preserved. We do so without note or comment, leaving our readers to draw their own conclusions.]
Extract from an Address of Colonel Charles Marshall, Private Secretary and A. D. C. to General R. E. Lee, before the Virginia Division of the Army of Northern Virginia.It is not fourteen years since our war began, and yet, who on either side of those who took part in it is bold enough to say that he knows the exact truth, and the whole truth, with reference to any of the great battles in which the armies of the North and South met each other? Was not Mr. Sumner censured by the Legislature of Massachusetts because, prompted in part at least, let us hope, by the love of truth, he renewed in the Senate of the United States after the war a resolution which in substance he had previously brought forward?
Resolved, That * * * * * it is inexpedient that the names of victories obtained over our own fellow-citizens should be placed on the regimental colors of the United States.This resolution would erase from the colors of the United States army such names as those of Cold Harbor, Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, which you have seen inscribed upon captured flags. Now we believe that we won those fights, and we wonder why a resolution of Congress should be necessary to blot them from the list of Union victories recorded on the standards of its armies. We think that we know something about the second battle at Manassas, and yet is not General Fitz John Porter, who fought us so stubbornly at the first battle of Cold Harbor, now in disgrace; because it was proved to the satisfaction of a Federal court-martial that half the Confederate army was not where we all know it was on the morning of August 29th, 1862? And on our side, have we not read General Joseph E. Johnston's “Contribution of materials for the use of the future historian of the war between the States,” and has any one risen from the perusal of that interesting book, without the conviction that its distinguished author is mistaken as to some of his statements, or that all contemporaneous history is in error? I will venture to present only two of the perplexities in which “the future historian of the war between the States” will find himself involved when he comes to compare the “material” contributed  by General Johnston with the other “material” contributed by official records and documents, which General Johnston seems not to have seen, or not to have consulted: General Johnston says — on p. 145 of his “Narrative” --“The authors of Alfriend's life of Jefferson Davis, and some other biographies, represent, to my disparagement, that the army with which General Lee fought in the ‘Seven Days’ was only that which I had commanded. It is very far from the truth. General Lee did not attack the enemy until the 26th of June, because he was employed from the 1st until then in forming a great army, by bringing to that which I had commanded, fifteen thousand men from North Carolina, under Major-General Holmes; twenty-two thousand men from South Carolina and Georgia, and above sixteen thousand men from the ‘ Valley,’ in the divisions of Jackson and Ewell, which the victories of Cross Keys and Port Republic had rendered disposable.” General Johnston states in a note the sources of his information. He says “General Holmes told me, in General Lee's presence, just before the fight began on the 31st (of May), that he had that force (15,000 men) ready to join me when the President should give the order.” He then refers to other evidence, which he says is in his possession, going to show that the reinforcements brought by General Holmes to General Lee, and which took part in the “Seven days” battles, amounted to 15,000 men. As to the 22,000 from South Carolina and Georgia, General Johnston says:
General Ripley gave in this number. He brought the first brigade, five thousand men. General Lawton told me that his was six thousand; General Drayton that his was seven thousand. There was another brigade, of which I do not know the strength.Now the “future historian” ought not lightly to doubt the accuracy of any statement of General Johnston, and upon that high authority he would record that before the battles of the “Seven days,” General Lee received from three of the sources mentioned by General Johnston, reinforcements to the number of thirty-seven thousand men, who took part in those engagements which resulted in dislodging General McClellan from his position on the Chickahominy. And yet how hard the “future historian” will be put to it to reconcile “Johnston's narrative” with the official reports made at the time. In the first volume of the official reports of the operations of the Army of Northern Virginia, published by authority of the Confederate Congress, at page 151, will be found General Holmes' statement of the number of men brought by him to take part in the battles around Richmond during the “Seven days.” General Holmes there says: That upon crossing the James river he was joined on the 30th June by General Wise with two regiments of seven hundred and fifty-two bayonets and two batteries of artillery, and adds: “The effective force under my orders thus amounted to six thousand infantry and six batteries of artillery,” being  less by nine thousand infantry then General Johnston's “narrative” assigns to General Holmes. General Johnston says that Ripley's brigade was five thousand strong, and that General Ripley so informed him. There may have been that number of men borne upon the rolls of the brigade, but we have General Ripley's official report of the number of troops under his command that actually took part in the battles around Richmond. At page 234, volume 1 of the official report already referred to, General Ripley says:
The aggregate force which entered into the series of engagements on the 26th of June was twenty-three hundred and sixty-six, including pioneers and the ambulance corps.The “Narrative” puts the force under General Lawton at six thousand men, but before the “historian of the war” ventures to make use of this contribution to his materials, he will do well to look at the official reports, at page 270 of the first volume, where he will find that General Lawton gives the force which he carried into the battle of Cold Harbor, on the 27th June, 1862, as thirty-five hundred men. I have not been able to find General Drayton's report of the part taken by his command in the battles around Richmond — if he did take part in them — and therefore cannot compare the number assigned to General Drayton in those engagements by General Johnston's “narrative” with any official documents, but if the reports of Holmes, Lawton and Ripley be correct, they brought less than 11,866 men to participate in those battles, instead of 26,000 as stated by General Johnston. Ripley and Lawton, according to their reports, had 5,866 men in the “Seven days” battles, instead of 11,000 according to Johnston's narrative. It follows, therefore, that Drayton's brigade, and the other, whose strength General Johnston says he does not know, must have made up the rest of the twenty-two thousand men who we are informed came to General Lee from South Carolina and Georgia to aid in driving McClellan from the Chickahominy — that is, those two brigades, Drayton's and the unknown, must have numbered about sixteen thousand men. General Johnston says that General Drayton told him his brigade was seven thousand strong, so that the unknown brigade must have numbered nine thousand to make up the twenty-two thousand from South Carolina and Georgia. It may have been so. There may have been a brigade in General Lee's army nine thousand strong, but in speaking about it before you, I think it safer to refer to it as the “unknown brigade.” And in this connection let me suggest to the future historian of the war, that before he writes Drayton's brigade down as contributing seven thousand men to the army around Richmond in the “Seven days” battles, it will be well for him to inquire whether that brigade  joined the army at all until after McClellan had been driven from the Chickahominy, and the army had marched northwards upon a new campaign. He will find no trace of this brigade in the reports of the Seven Days battle, although they are so much in detail as to include the reports of captains of companies. A Confederate brigade, seven thousand strong, would probably have taken some part worth reporting, and its name ought to appear in the official account. Drayton's command will be found mentioned in the official reports of subsequent operations of the army at Manassas and in Maryland. As to the “unknown brigade,” that I think will turn out to be a small command under General Evans, of South Carolina, who did not join the army until after it moved from Richmond.1