Dabney on Outnumbered American Soldiers
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, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Wilmington, North Carolina
Dabney on Outnumbered American Soldiers—
“…The (Confederate) government (presented) in May, 1864, about 264,000 combatants to Mr. Lincoln’s 970,000, the number he had under arms at that time. While General Grant…was able to put in the field 620,000 men in May, 1864, Mr. (Jefferson) Davis opposed him with about 125,000 in the several active armies. The disproportion of forces, and the relative character of the rival armies may also be illustrated by the numbers actually arrayed against each other in several battles.
At the critical turn of the first battle of Manassas (July 21, 1861), the official reports of Generals McDowell and Beauregard show that the decisive grapple …was made by 6500 Confederates against 20,000 United States troops, including several regiments of regulars. The Confederates won it.
At Sharpsburg, 33,000 Confederates repulsed 90,000 Federalists. At Chancellorsville, 35,000 Confederates beat General Hooker with the “finest army on the planet.” In the Wilderness, General Lee met General Grant’s 142,000 with 50,000…In the battle on Winchester in the autumn of 1864, Sheridan won a dearly-bought victory from General Early by hurling 50,000 upon 12,000. In the closing struggle, General Lee’s 33,000 were not dislodged from Petersburg and Richmond until their assailants were increased to 180,000.And finally, the remnant of Lee’s heroic army did not surrender to this enormous host until it was reduced to less than 8,000 muskets. The aggregate of men paroled at Appomattox was made up of some twenty or more thousand stragglers and men on detached service who came in, to avail themselves of the supposed pacification after the termination of military operations.
(Discussions by Robert L. Dabney, S.B. Ervin, 1897, pp. 130-131.)