Robert E. Lee, The Southerner, by Thomas Nelson Page, Chapter 20

Robert E. Lee, The Southerner




WASHINGTON, September 26, 1907.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *   *    *

THE military population (men between eighteen and forty-five years old, not exempt by law) of the Northern States in 1860, was 3,769,020, omitting California, Colorado, Dakota, District of Columbia, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington Territory and West Virginia, not given in the tables, but which may be stated as aggregating 135,627. This added to 3,769,020, the military population of eighteen Northern States makes a total of 3,904,647 subiect to military duty in the States and Territories of the North.

The military population of the Southern States (exclusive of Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri) in 1860, was 1,064,193. Deducting from this number the 86,009 that entered the Federal service and 80,000, the estimated number of Union men who did not take up arms, there remained to the Confederacy 898,184 men capable of bearing arms from which to draw.

It stands thus:

Military population of the North3,904,647
Military population of the South   898,184
Difference in favor of the North3,006,463

The military population in 1860:

Of Kentucky . . . . . . .  180,589
” Maryland . . . . . . .  102,715
” Missouri . . . . . . .  232,781

These three States gave to the Federal army 231,509 men. Of these 190,744 were whites and 40,765 were negroes.

An official published statement of the Adjutant-General of the United States Army gives the total number of men called for and furnished to the United States Army from April 15, 1861, to the close of the war as 2,865,028 men. Of this number 186,017 were negroes and 494,900 were foreigners.

From all reliable data that could be secured, it has been estimated by the best authorities that the strength of the Confederate armies was about 600,000 men, and of this number not more than two-thirds were available for active duty in the field. The necessity of guarding a long line of exposed seacoast, of maintaining permanent garrisons at different posts on inland waters, and at numerous other points, deprived the Confederate Army in the field of an accession of strength.

The large preponderance of Federal forces was manifest in all the important battles and campaigns of the war. The largest force ever assembled by the Confederates was at the seven daysJ fight around Richmond.

General Lee’s report showed 80,835 men present for duty, when the movement against General McClellan commenced, and the Federal forces numbered 115,249.

At Antietam the Federals had 87,164, and the Confederates 35,255.

At Fredericksburg the Federals had 110,000 and the Confederates 78,110.

At Chancellorsville the Federals had 131,661, of which number only 90,000 were engaged, and the Confederates had 57,212.

At Gettysburg the Federals had 95,000, and the Confederates 44,000.

At the Wilderness the Federals had 141,160 and the Confederates 63,981.

At the breaking of the Confederate lines at Petersburg, April 1, 1865, General Lee commenced his retreat with 32,000 men, and eight days after he surrendered to General Grant, who had a force of 120,000 men.

From the latter part of 1862 until the close of the war in 1865, there was a constant decrease of the numerical strength of the Confederate Army. On the other hand, the records show that during that time the Federal Army was strengthened to the extent of 363,390 men.>

The available strength of the Confederate Army at the close of the war has been the subject of much discussion.

Estimates have been made varying from 150,000 to 250,000 men.

The number of paroles issued to Confederate soldiers may be taken as a basis of calculation. Mr. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, on November 22, 1865, made the following official statement of prisoners, surrendered by different Confederate armies that were paroled:

Army of Northern Virginia   27,805
Army of Tennessee   31,243
Army of Missouri     7,978
Army of Department of Alabama   42,293
Army of Trans-Mississippi Dept.   17,686
Army of Department of Florida     6,428

Miscellaneous Departments of Virginia  9,072
Cumberland, Maryland, &c.  9,377
Department of Washington  3,390
In Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas13,922Nashville and Chattanooga


These two lists aggregate 174,223, the number of paroled Confederates reported by Secretary Stanton.

Those who have estimated the strength of the Confederate Army at the close of the war at 250,000 reached that result by adding to the 174,223 the number of men, 75,777, which they assumed to have returned to their homes without paroles. If this were true, it would appear, taking into account the 40,790 men reported as paroled at various places, that 116,567 Confederate soldiers did not surrender, and were not paroled with the armies to which they belonged.

This is at variance with the estimated strength of these armies just previous to the surrender.

The report of Secretary Stanton is misleading, because it conveys the impression that the 174,223 men reported as paroled were bearing arms at the time of their surrender. An examination of the parole lists shows that such was not the case. These lists embrace men in hospitals, men retired from the army by reason of disability and non-arms bearing men who sought paroles as a safeguard. There were Confederate soldiers who returned to their homes without paroles, but they did not exceed in number those embraced in Secretary Stanton’s list, that were not borne upon the roll.

In April, 1865, the aggregate of present and absent showed the strength of the Confederate Army to be about 275,000 men. Of this number 65,387 were in Federal militay prisons and 52,000 were absent by reason of disability and other causes. Deducting the total of these two numbers, 117,387 from 275,000, we have 157,613 as showing the full effective strength of the Confederate Army at the close of the war:


Strength of Federal Army at close of war:

Present   797,807
Absent   202,700

Strength of Confederate Army at close of war:


*    *    *    *    *    *    *   *    *




On the Rapidan and James, April 30, 1864, 168, 198 (68 War Records—69 W.R., 195–198–427).

On the James, May, 31, 1864, 133,728 (69 W.R., 426–427).

On the James, January 31, 1865, 99,214 (95 W.R., 61).

On the James, February 25, 1865, 98,457 (Ibid.).

On the James, March 31, 1865, 100,907 (Ibid.).


On the Rapidan and James, Army of North Virginia,
April 30, 1864, 54,344 (60 W.R., 1,297–1,298).

2 div. and McLaw’s brigade (est. 1,253) of Longstreet’s
corps, March 31, 1864, 10,428* (59 W.R., 721).

Dept. of Richmond, April 20, 1864, 7,265 (60 W.R., 1,299).

Total, 72,037.

On the James, January 31, 1865, 57,387 (95 W.R., 386–95 W.R., 387, 388, 389, 390).

On the James, February 25, 1865, 63,500.*

On the James, March 31, 1865, 56,840 (97 W.R., 1,331, Warren Court, 482).

(Signed) T. C. LIVERMORE.



RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, June 10, 1908.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *   *    *

BEFORE the battles around Richmond began, my regiment (4th Virginia Cavalry) was encamped on the extreme left of the army in the neighborhood of Goodall’s. The day before the battle of Mechanicsville, my company (Company G) was detached from the regiment and camped that night at Emanuel Church, a few miles north of Richmond. The next morning Jack Stark and myself were ordered to report to General Longstreet, for what purpose we had no idea, but congratulated ourselves upon the fact that we should at least make a good breakfast.  *  *  *  The evening of the battle of Cold Harbor, General Longstreet got each division of his corps and placed them in position. This was just before the battle commenced. I stood in the front until the bullets were flying thick and fast, and feeling very uncomfortable, and having no business there, I thought I would retire to a hill in the rear where I could have the pleasure of looking on at a battle without being in any apparent danger. Upon this hill I found General Jackson, seated entirely alone upon his horse. We had been there some time when a shell burst some few feet to his left, and in a few minutes a second shell burst. Even before this time I had become again very uncomfortable, and would have liked very much to change my position, but I did not like to show the white feather in the presence of General Jackson, who had not winced, but after the second shell had burst near him, he remarked in a quiet way, “When two shells burst near you it is well to change your position if you can do so,” so we both rode some distance to our right and got out of range of the bullets.

That night General Lee and General Longstreet made their head-quarters in Hogan’s dwelling. I was sitting on the steps of this building about ten o’clock, when General Jackson rode up with Lincoln Sydnor, who was his guide on this occasion. General Jackson gave his horse to Sydnor to hold and went into the house, as I afterward learned, for a consultation with all of the higher officials of the army. Sydnor told me that the reason General Jackson reached Cold Harbor as late as he did was due to the fact that. although he was very near his old home, and where he was perfectly familiar with the country, the Yankees had cut down so many trees and made so many new roads that he actually got lost, and that just before reaching the point to which General Jackson had directed him to guide him, he found that he was on the wrong road, and had to turn round the artillery in the woods and had to countermarch for quite a distance, which delayed them very materially. Sydnor told me that General Ewell, who was present, wanted to hang him to a tree, but General Jackson said it was all right; that we would get there in plenty of time. You know General Jackson has been frequently blamed for being late on this occasion, and it has often occurred to me that this simple reason may have been the cause of it, although I never heard it so stated.  *  *  *

With best wishes and kind remembrances, I am  *  *  *  Yours,



To Mr. Charles Francis Adams, I wish, before closing this brief
memoir, to make my acknowledgments for his courage, his breadth
and the classic charm of his recent addresses on Lee. He is the
worthy son and namesake of that true gentleman who, when
taunted in England with the victories won by the Confederate
generals, replied nobly, “They are my countrymen.” It was the
same note which Lee sounded at Chambersburg in his order to
his then conquering army and which he ever sounded to the end.

T. N. P.


* Colonel Taylor of Lee’s staff and Longstreet in their books estimate Longstreet’s command at 10,000.

† Excluding the cavalry of the Valley District, the number of which is not reported, but probably was about 1,000 (Warren Court, 482).

* The number of the infantry estimated at about 7 per cent. and the cavalry at about 15 per cent. more than the “effectives” reported.

† The result of deducting estimated losses and desertions reported and estimated, at 6,760 for March, from number given above for February, 25.

Return to Robert E. Lee, The Southerner