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Leading Confederates on the battle of Gettysburg.

[Our series of papers on Gettysburg has naturally attracted great attention and excited general comment. It is not surprising that there should be honest differences of opinion among the gallant and accomplished soldiers who participated in the Confederate assault on that fortress; and the object of our series is to bring out a comparison of views, and thus elicit the real truth. We publish, therefore, without comment and without endorsation, the opposing views of our friends — only insisting that the discussion shall be confined to those bounds of courtesy which should always characterize gallant knights in search of the truth.]

A Review by General Early.

Several of the papers recently published in relation to the battle of Gettysburg contain statements and views which in some respects are erroneous, especially in regard to the part which Ewell's corps and its commander bore in the first and second day's operations, and I therefore propose to review them, as I am the senior surviving officer of that corps, whose right to vindicate its reputation and that of its commander will hardly be disputed.

I have too much respect and regard for the officers whose statements and comments in relation to the battle I shall notice and correct, to suspect either of them of the slightest desire to misrepresent or pervert the facts, or to mislead others by their own speculations. I shall, therefore, endeavor to be entirely courteous to each one of them, and shall not attempt to controvert any fact stated on the knowledge of the writer who gives it.

Before proceeding to the execution of the main object I have in view, I must notice a slight variance between the estimate of the [242] strength of General Lee's army at Gettysburg made by Colonel Walter H. Taylor and that made by myself; and in doing so, I will go to some length in giving the data on which my estimate is based, as the question of numbers at that battle is one of great interest.

In his memorandum in the August number of the Southern Historical Society Papers, as well as in the paper reprinted in the September number from the Philadelphia Times, and understood to be an extract from the manuscript of a volume on the war now in the hands of a publisher, Colonel Taylor puts General Lee's strength at Gettysburg at 62,000 effectives, and his estimate is repeated by General Heth, whereas I put it at something under 60,000. This variance is caused by the fact that he includes in his estimate the two cavalry brigades of Robertson and Jones, which had been left guarding the passes of the Blue Ridge when the last of our infantry and artillery, under Longstreet and Hill, crossed the Potomac, whilst I exclude them from mine. Those brigades had remained south of the Potomac on the duty assigned them until orders reached them to rejoin the army, which orders were sent after General Lee received information, on the night of the 28th of June, that the Federal army, then under Hooker, had crossed the Potomac. Those brigades crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, on the 2nd of July, (see Schenck's telegram, 1st vol. Congressional Report on the Conduct of the War, 2nd series, p. 489,) and arrived near Gettysburg on the 3rd of July, too late to take any part in the battle, and were posted on our right, near Fairfield, as Stuart says, (2nd vol. Society Papers, 65).

They were, therefore, of no avail to us in the invasion of Pennsylvania or in the battle of Gettysburg, but merely aided in guarding our trains to the rear and observing the enemy when we retired. There is no more reason for counting those brigades as a part of the force with which General Lee fought the battle of Gettysburg, than there is for counting as a part of Meade's force at the same battle the 10,000 or 11,000 men under French, at Frederick and Harper's Ferry, and the very considerable force under Couch, at Harrisburg, all of which were placed under Meade's orders, and were actually employed for the purpose of watching Well's advance to the Susquehanna and harrassing his rear on [243] the march to Gettysburg from Carlisle, as was the case with Couch's force, and protecting Meade's communications to the rear, as was the case with French's command. Robinson's and Jones' brigades certainly numbered over 2,000 men, and very probably over 3,000. Take them from Colonel Taylor's estimate of 62,000, and there would be left less than 60,000 as our real strength at Gettysburg. Imboden's small brigade might also be excluded from the estimate of our force at the battle, as he had been employed in destroying the bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and round by the way of McConnellsburg, west of Charnbersburg, and by the latter place, reaching the vicinity of Gettysburg late on the afternoon of the 3rd; but I have not made any allowance for that brigade.

As stated by Colonel Taylor, our infantry, as shown by the official returns of the 31st of May previous, then numbered 54,356, the artillery 4,460, and the cavalry 9,536, making our whole force then 68,352.

He says Pettigrew's brigade joined the army after that date; but to offset the increase by reason of that accession, one of his regiments and the whole of Corse's brigade of Pickett's division remained in Virginia, at Hanover Junction.

My division was included in the force of infantry shown by the returns of May 31st. It left the vicinity of Fredericksburg on the 4th of June, and at Culpeper Courthouse on the 10th, when its strength was somewhat less than when my return of May 31st was made, by reason of the exhaustion, foot soreness, and stragling common to all armies; another return was made, which is now before me, and shows:

In Hays' brigade, for duty1371,495
Hoke's brigade, for duty1361,684
Gordon's brigade, for duty1882,194
Smith's brigade, for duty1491,243
In all, exclusive of division and brigade staff7,226

My return for June 20th, made at Shepherdstown, two days before I crossed the Potomac, also now before me, shows: [244]

In Hays' brigade, for duty1191,281
Hoke's brigade, for duty961,225
Gordon's brigade, for duty1751,860
Smith's brigade, for duty97758
In all, exclusive of division and brigade staff5,611

This shows a decrease of 1,615; but that in Hoke's and Smith's brigades was caused, mainly, by the absence of three regiments from those brigades left to occupy Winchester and guard the prisoners taken there and at Martinsburg back to Staunton. The decrease in Hays' and Gordon's brigades was 679, of which, 163. resulted from the loss in the fighting at Winchester, leaving the net loss in those two brigades, from exhaustion, foot-soreness, and straggling, 516. Their aggregate strength on the 10th of June, was 4,024; so there was a loss of a little more than 12 per cent. in those two brigades from other causes than casualties in battle, from the 10th to the 20th. They were compose of as good and well-seasoned soldiers as any in that army, and I think [ can certainly assume that there was, at least, the same per centage of loss in the entire infantry of the army from the 31st of May to the time it crossed the Potomac. Twelve per cent. in 54,356, gives 6,552, which being deducted, leaves 47,834 as the strength of our infantry when it crossed the

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