Ninety Thousand Against Ten Thousand


As Granny Clampett accurately surmised, it indeed was a war "betwixt the Yankees and the Americans." Truly, the crowning glory of American soldiers during the War Between the States when fighting against the full power of the new Nationalist government of the North with a full complement of bounty-enriched natives, impressed former slaves and foreign mercenaries, are the victories won against absolutely staggering odds. This is something all patriotic Americans can be proud of, as those soldiers were very worthy heirs of Washington’s starving army. Facing a total of 2.3 million men under arms in the Northern war machine by the end of the war, at no one time did Southern forces in the field exceed 200,000.

Bernhard Thuersam, Executive Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Post Office Box 328
Wilmington, NC 28402

Ninety Thousand Against Ten Thousand at Petersburg:

"Warren’s Corps had now come up raising the (Northern) attacking army to four corps, numbering at least 90,000 men, and no reinforcements for Beauregard. The battle reopened on the 17th (of May, 1864) at noon. Three times the Federals were repulsed, but as often resumed the offensive. About dusk a portion of the Confederate lines was wholly broken, and irreparable disaster impended. Gracie’s Brigade fortunately arriving from Chaffin’s Bluff at this moment, was thrown into the gap and restored the fight. The conflict raged until 11 o’clock at night. In the meantime Beauregard had determined to take a shorter and more compact line of defense than the one now occupied…after midnight (Beauregard) executed the delicate operation of withdrawing from the close proximity of the overwhelming force in his front; and by daylight on the 18th was in his new position.

Shortly after daylight on the 18th the enemy advanced on our old works and finding them abandoned came on with vociferous cheers. As soon as their skirmishers encountered ours in their new position, the line of battle halted and heavy skirmishing commenced. This continued until about 3PM, the skirmishers alternately driving each other. Kershaw’s Division, the first of General Lee’s army that arrived at Petersburg, reached Beauregard early in the morning on the 18th. Field’s Division followed two hours afterward. Beauregard now had 20,000 men against 90,000. About 3PM a general and final assault was given. It was urged with the same pertinacity and resisted with the same determination as those that preceded. Before dark, it ended in complete repulse, and in the language of the Federal historian, "in another mournful loss of life." The same authority places Grant’s losses in these three days of battle at 15,000 men—a number half as large again as Beauregard’s entire force until the arrival of Kershaw at the close."

(General P.G.T. Beauregard, Address by General Johnson Hagood at the Beauregard Memorial Meeting at Charleston, SC, December 1, 1894. Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 28, pp. 334-335)