Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/February/Letter from General J. E. Johnston

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Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 1 Number 2  (1876)  by Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Letter from General J. E. Johnston
February 1876

Letter from General J. E. Johnston.

Rev. J. William Jones, D. D.,
           Secretary Southern Historical Society:

Dear Sir—In the account of "The Seven Days' Fighting" published by your Society in the June No. of the Southern Magazine, there are some errors as to the strength of the Army of Northern Virginia in the beginning of June, 1862. As they contradict previous statements of mine, I beg leave to point them out. In the statement of the strength of Holmes' division, at least 4,000 brought by him to the army from Petersburg, June 1st, are omitted; only those brought at the end of the month are referred to—they may have been 6,500.

In that of Longstreet's, the strength was near 14,000 June 1st. The six brigades that then joined it had been reduced to 9,000 when they marched, late in August, to Northern Virginia. The cavalry could not have exceeded 3,000, nor the reserve artillery 1,000, June 1st.

G. W. Smith's division of five brigades amounted to near 13,000 June 1st; only two of these brigades, guessed by the author to number 5,300, are mentioned, under Whiting, as belonging to Jackson's command. Jackson's and Ewell's divisions are set down at 9,000. General Ewell, with whom I had repeated conversations on the subject, told me that he had in his 8,000 men. General Jackson had a brigade more, and at the first of the year amounted to 10,200.

General Lawton had about 3,500 men at Cold Harbor, but (he still says) brought 6,000 into the army, many being left behind in Jackson's march—as rapid as usual—and they unaccustomed to marching, having served only in garrison.

General Ripley's troops are also omitted. He reported to the Adjutant-General of the army, the afternoon of May 31st, his arrival in Richmond with 5,000 men to join it.

The author gives our loss at "Seven Pines," on the Williamsburg road, at above 4,800. General Longstreet, in his official report dated June llth, when, if ever, the number of killed and wounded must have been known, gives it roughly at 3,000. General D. H. Hill, whose division did all the fighting on that road from three o'clock (when it began) to six, and four-fifths of it from six to seven, when it ended, set his down at 2,500—leaving 500 for that of R. H. Anderson, who came into the first line at six, on the 31st, and Pickett's, and part (two regiments) of Pryor's June 31st, which is consistent. According to the writer, two brigades and a half in two hours lost about as heavily as four in four hours of harder fighting.

Very truly yours,

J. E. JOHNSTON.