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The Confederate strength in the Atlanta campaign.

by E. C. Dawes, late Major, 53D Ohio regiment.
In the foregoing paper [see p. 260] General

Joseph E. Johnston asserts that on the 30th of April, 1864, the strength of the Confederate army was “37,652 infantry, 2812 artillery with 112 guns, and 2392 cavalry,”--in all, 42,856. But the return of that army for April 30th, 1864, on file in the War Department, signed by General Johnston and attested by his adjutant-general, shows its “present for duty” almost 53,000:

Artillery, 144 pieces3,277

The difference between these figures and those given by General Johnston from the same return is, that in his paper he gives the footings of the column of “effective total.” This, in all Confederate returns, includes only sergeants, corporals, and private soldiers “for duty, equipped.” That the cavalry had an effective total of but 2392 with 8436 officers and men for duty is accounted for by the fact that a large number of horses were grazing in the rear because of the scarcity of forage at Dalton. They were brought to the front and the men. became effective when Sherman's army began to advance. General Johnston's statement that his artillery comprised but 112 pieces is a manifest error, for the return plainly says 35 companies, 144 pieces.

The battle of Resaca was fought on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of May. Prior to that time the Confederate army was reinforced by General Mercer's brigade of four Georgia regiments, which had been on garrison duty on the Atlantic coast. A foot-note to the return of April 30th records that one of these regiments, the 63d Georgia, joined the army “since the report was made out,” and that its effective total was 814. All of these regiments had full ranks; 2800 is a low estimate of their line-of-battle strength. Cantey's division,1 two brigades of infantry and two batteries, 5300 for duty, came from Mobile about the 7th of May and was stationed at Resaca. Loring's division, three infantry brigades and two batteries, from General S. I). Lee's command, with 5145 for duty and a detachment of 550 from French's division, reached Resaca May 10th, 11th, and 12th. Meantime a regiment of the Georgia State line, estimated as six hundred strong, had been added to Hood's corps.

At Resaca General Johnston had at least 67,000 men for battle and 1.68 pieces of artillery. General Sherman had at most 104,000:2 the odds against General Johnston when “the armies were actually in contact” were as 100 to 64, instead of “10 to 4,” as stated in his article.

On the night of May 16th the Confederate army evacuated Resaca. On the following day, at Adairsville, it was reinforced by General W. H. Jackson's cavalry command, 4477 for duty, which was increased to 5120 by June 10th. On the 19th of May, at Cassville, the division of General French joined the army with 4174 effectives, exclusive of the detachment that was at Resaca. Another Georgia State line regiment, estimated as 600, was added to Hood's corps, and Quarles's brigade, 2200 strong, came on the 26th of May at New Hope Church. A comparison of the return of April 30th with that of June 10th shows an increase to the fighting strength of the army of 3399 from the return of men “absent with leave” in the corps of Hood, Hardee, Wheeler, and in the artillery. The return of May 20th is missing, but that of June 10th shows an increase since May 20th of 649 “returned from desertion” and 799 “joined by enlistment.”

General Johnston has to account, between April 30th and June 10th, for at least the following men available for battle:

Present for duty at DaltonApril 30th52,992
Mercer's brigadeMay 2d 2,800
Cantey's divisionMay 7th 5,300
Loring's divisionMay 10th, 11th, and 12th5,145
French's detachmentMay 12th 550
French's divisionMay 19th 4,174
Jackson's cavalryMay 17th 4,477
Jackson's cavalry increase beforeJune 10th643
Quarles's brigadeMay 26th 2,200
Two regiments Georgia State line  1,200
Furloughed men returned 3,399
Recruits 799
Returned deserters 649

All these figures are official except for Mercer's brigade and the two regiments of the Georgia [282] State line.3 The return of General Johnston's Army June 10th is the first on file in the War Department that includes all these reenforcements. It shows “present for duty” :

Artillery, 187 pieces257 4,414
Or in round numbers 71,000

The difference of over 13,000 is accounted for by losses in battle, desertion, and increase in absent sick. The incomplete return of Medical Director Foard shows killed and wounded, May 7th to 20th, inclusive, 3384. The return of June 10th shows 1551 killed and died since May 20th, indicating fully 6000 wounded. The same return shows 569 deserters. The 1542 prisoners captured from Hood and Hardee, shown by increase of absent without leave in their corps, account for the remainder, without examining the returns of Polk's corps and the cavalry.

General Johnston's army reached its maximum strength on the New Hope Church line, where he must have had 75,000 for battle when the armies faced each other May 27th. General Sherman's army4 there numbered, of all arms, for duty, 93,600 men, and several brigades of this force were employed in guarding trains and watching roads in all directions, for Sherman's army had no rear. Odds of less than five to four against him is “the great inequality of force” which General Johnston complains compelled him “to employ dismounted cavalry” in holding this line.

In a foot-note [p. 274] General Johnston says:

I have two reports of the strength of the army besides that of April 30th, already given: 1. Of July 1st, 39,746 infantry, 3855 artillery, and 10,484 cavalry,--total, 54,085. 2. Of July 10th, 36,901 infantry, 3755 artillery, and 10,270 cavalry,--total, 50,926.

The return of July 1st shows “present for duty,” all arms, officers and men, 64,578, instead of 54,085. (As in case of the return of April 30th, General Johnston gives only the “effective total.” ) The loss since June 10th is accounted for by 1114 dead, 711 deserters, 1042 increase in absent without leave (prisoners), and 3693 in increase of absent sick and wounded. None of the returns of this army, either under Johnston or Hood, makes any account of the Georgia militia, a division of which under G. W. Smith joined the army about June 20th near Kenesaw, making its available force on that line nearly 70,000 men. [G. W. Smith, p. 334, says the militia were 2000, which would reduce Major Dawes's total to about 67,000.--editors.]

The return of July 10th gives the present for duty 60,032, instead of 50,926, the loss since July 1st being 1377 deserters, 526 dead, two regiments sent to Savannah, and prisoners and wounded. This with the Georgia militia (increased to about 9000 [G. W. Smith says 5000.--editors] when the army reached Atlanta) represents the force turned over to Hood, July 18th, viz.:

Artillery, 187 pieces4,143
Militia (probably)5,000

General Johnston asserts that the only affair worth mentioning on his left at Resaca was near the night of May 14th, when “forty or fifty skirmishers in front of our extreme left were driven from the slight elevation they occupied, but no attempt was made to retake it.” In his official report, made in October, 1864, he says that at 9 o'clock at night of May 14th he “learned that Lieutenant-General Polk's troops had lost a position commanding our bridges.” Comment upon the generalship that would leave a position commanding the line of retreat of an army in charge of forty or fifty skirmishers within gunshot of a powerful enemy is unnecessary, for it was not done. The position was held by a line of men. It was carried on the evening of May 14th by a gallant charge of two brigades of the Fifteenth Corps of the Union army. Reenforced by another brigade, they held it against the repeated and desperate efforts of Polk's men to retake it. The battle lasted far into the night. General John A. Logan, in his official report of it, says that when at 10 o'clock at night “the last body of the enemy retired broken and disheartened from the field, . . . it was evident to the meanest comprehension among the rebels that the men who double-quicked across to their hills that afternoon had come to stay.” General Logan also says that by the capture of this position “the railroad bridge and the town were held entirely at our mercy.”

The Fifteenth Corps lost 628 killed and wounded at Resaca. The troops in its front, Loring's and Cantey's divisions and Vaughan's brigade, according to their incomplete official reports, lost 698. Much the greater part of this loss must have been on the evening of May 14th, for there was no other line-of-battle engagement on this part of the field.

General Johnston characterizes the battle of May 28th at Dallas as “a very small affair,” in which the Confederates lost about three hundred men and the Union troops “must have lost more than ten times as many.” This was an assault made upon troops of the Fifteenth Corps by two brigades of Bate's Confederate division and Armstrong's brigade of Jackson's cavalry dismounted, supported by Smith's brigade of Bate's division and Ferguson's and Ross's brigades of Jackson's cavalry. Lewis's Kentucky brigade attacked the front of Osterhaus's division without success. Bullock's Florida brigade charged along the Marietta road and was driven back, with heavy loss, by the fire of the 53d Ohio regiment. Armstrong [283] assailed the position held by Walcutt's brigade across the Villa Rica road and met a bloody repulse. General Bate officially reported the loss in his division as 450. General Walcutt in his official report says that “244 dead and wounded rebels were found in my front,” and many were doubtless removed. The Confederate loss in this “very small affair” was, therefore, over seven hundred. The loss of the Fifteenth Corps was 379, or about one-half the Confederate loss, instead of “more than ten times, as many.”

General Johnston assumes that General Sherman used his entire army in the assault of Kenesaw Mountain, when, in fact, he employed less than 15,000 men. The remainder of the army was not engaged, except in the continuous battle of the skirmish-lines. The assaulting column of the Army of the Cumberland, directed against Hardee's corps, was composed of five brigades about nine thousand strong. The formation was such that each brigade presented a front of but two companies. The leading regiments lost very heavily; those in the rear suffered few casualties. General Thomas reported the entire loss as 1580. The attack of the Army of the Tennessee was made upon the Confederate intrenchments held by French's division and a part of Walker's, by three brigades of the Fifteenth Corps, numbering 5500 men. Their formation was in two lines; their total loss 603, three-fourths of this falling on the regiments in the first line.

General Johnston expresses the belief that Northern soldiers could not be repulsed with casualties so small as reported at Kenesaw. In this he, unwittingly perhaps, compliments Sherman's army at the expense of his own. On the 22d of June, five days before the battle of Kenesaw, he tells us that the divisions of Stevenson and Hindman were repulsed, in an assault on. the Union line, with a loss of one thousand men. These divisions, June 10th, numbered over eleven thousand for duty. Their loss, therefore, was but nine per cent., while that of the troops of the Army of the Cumberland engaged at Kenesaw was 17 per cent.; of the Army of the Tennessee, ,1. per cent. In both cases the loss sustained was sufficient to demonstrate the futility of further effort. In neither case was it a fair test of the staying qualities of the troops, who on many fields had shown their willingness to shed any amount of blood necessary when there was reasonable hope of success.

Cincinnati, September 8th, 1887.

Confederate defenses at the bridge over the Etowah. From a War-time photograph.

1 For Cantey's strength, see General D. H. Maury's return April 22d, 1864. For Loring's strength, see General S. D. Lee's return May 10th, 1864. For French's detachment, see General French's report of “effective when joined.”--E. C. D.

2 For the strength of Sherman's army at Resaca, add 5200 for cavalry joined between May 1st and 12th to his strength, May 1st, of 98,797.--E. C. D.

3 For the strength of Jackson's cavalry division, see General S. D. Lee's return May 10th, and the return of General Johnston's Army June 10th, 1864. For the strength of General French's division, see his return of “effectives when joined.” For the strength of Quarles's brigade, see “Johnston's narrative,” p. 575.

4 For Sherman's strength on the New Hope line, see his return May 31st, and deduct Blair's Seventeenth Corps, which did not join the army until June 8th.

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