Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 40/Books
326 SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.
THE CRISIS OF THE CONFEDERACY A HISTORY OF GETTYSBURG AND THE WILDERNESS.
BY CECIL BATTINE, CAPTAIN ISTH, THE KING'S HUSSARS. 8vo., 424PP., WITH six MAPS LONGMAN, GREEN & Co., LONDON, NEW YORK AND BOMBAY.
It is not surprising that the campaigns and battles of the four years' war between the American States, and the careers of the great leaders on the two sides should attract the attention and be the study of miltary students and critics in other lands. But it is surprising that foreign students and war critics should give such thorough and careful study to these leaders, and their campaigns as to produce books that are most complete in their comprehension of all the elements of history, and most accurate in detail. Col. Henderson's "Stonewall Jackson and the Ameri- can Civil War," as a narrative of Jackson's campaigns, and a study of the strategy of that military genius, is the most com- plete and detailed ever written. No American writer has pro- duced so full and thorough a discussion and history of Jackson and his campaigns as this accomplished English officer.
The same may be said of Captain Battine's book. No book to this time has given so comprehensive and so accurate a narra- tive of the Gettysburg campaign, from the standpoint of the im- partial historian. Of Henderson it may be said that he had be- come convinced of the justice of the cause of the Southern Con- federacy, and was an enthusiastic admirer of Stonewall Jackson and of the Southern Soldiery which followed Jackson. But Captain Battine announces no judgment of the righteousness of the contest on either side. There is a well guarded reserve as to his convictions and his sympathies. With an impartiality that is we believe unbroken, he studies with great fairness the whole campaign, from the standpoint of the military student and critic. With the politics of the great conflict he has nothing to do, and
of neither side is he a partisan. It is one of the great values of this book that it is the work of an author who is neither North- ern nor Southern, who has not committed himself to a judgment on the great question at issue, and who is here engaged in a just and careful study of the critical period of the war, in the interest of military science.
The book is an octavo volume of over four hundred pages, somewhat compactly printed, and is, therefore, quite a full and substantial volume. Its maps are well prepared, and are, on the whole, quite accurate reproductions of the country as it was in the time of war. It is not at all a complete history of the down- fall of the military power of the Southern States, but it aims to be "a concise account of the most critical phase of this great Civil War." There is no attempt to embrace the elements of weakness that existed in finance, in blockade ports, in lack of manufactures, in imperfect transportation, nor is there any out- line of the campaigns in the West, and the seizure of the Mis- sissippi River.
But with Gettysburg in view, the author gives a brief ac- count of the campaigns in Virginia from the beginnng. And this is done to bring the reader to the crisis of the war at Gettysburg, with an intelligent comprehension of the conditions which tjhere existed, the generals who commanded, and th- battalions which were now filled with veteran soldiers, who had passed through long marches and well-fought battles. Chan- cellorsville is especially studied as the field from which the in- vasion of Pennsylvania has seemed to many the logical and necessary conclusion. Then the cavalry engagement at Brandy Station is quite fully narrated, and the capture of Winchester by Gen. Ewell, and the defeat of Millroy. With most admirable care, Captain Battine has studied many sources of information, and knows well the books both North and South. He is familiar with the topography of Northern Virginia, and follows the movement of Stuart in Fauquier and Prince William with in- telligence, and gives as complete an account of his daring but mistaken ride to the east of Hooker into Pennsylvania as exists in print today.
The great and critical contest at Gettysburg is treated not
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as a three days' battle, but correctly as three battles, on three successive days. There was to both sides the unexpected battle on Willoughbys' Run, three miles west of the town, with its Confederate success. There was the second battle, when in the afternoon of the second day, Longstreet at last struck the ex- treme left flank of the Federal army, and defeated Sickles at the Peach Orchard. And there was the third battle, when on the afternoon of the third day, Pickett's column struck the left centre of the enemy's line on the ridge, and, unsupported, fell back, a broken, exhausted wave from the overwhelming num- bers holding a strong position. No important part of the struggle is omitted. The condition of the armies on both sides is carefully narrated, the arrivals on the field, the delays, the con- fusions, the mistakes are told candidly. Many books have been written from many viewpoints, and, no doubt, sincere attempts to do justice to all have been made. But nowhere, we believe, is there so just and impartial a narrative of the struggle around the little Pennsylvania town, on which hung so critically the issues of the whole war, and the turning point of American history.
The author has not failed to see that from the Southern side, the reason for failure at Gettysburg are to be found in a number of facts. There was the unfortunate absence of Stuart and his cavalry, for which he accounts in the weakness of indefi- nite instructions from the commanding general ; the lack of a prompt and vigorous initiative on the part of Gen. Ewell on the evening of the first day; the unsoldierly recalcitration of Gen. Longstreet, and his lack of sympathy with the wishes of Gen. Lee; and yet more pervading and controlling, the loss of Stonewall Jackson. "With the fatal shot which struck down Stonewall Jackson began the series of disastrous events leading to the conquest of the Confederacy."
The author of this book is an educated professional soldier, acquainted with the principles of military science, as taught in the English schools, and as exemplified in all modern warfare. From this standpoint his criticisms are made, and will be re- garded, we are confident, with much respect. In his view, the Richmond government erred in not concentrating all possible
force in Lee's Army of Northern Vrginia, drawing everything possible from the South and West for the strongest aggressive movement. At the sacrifice of some minor interests, the whole strength should have been thrown into a decisive campaign. Again and again, Captain Battine urges that it was a great mis- take in tactics that the cavalry was not kept in close operation with the infantry on the field, and pushed in massed columns upon every weakened point. He thinks that on both sides in the American war there was need of a much better staff organ- ization of professionally educated officers, with definite assign- ments to duty. After crossing the Potomac, the author thinks, instead of going so far afield into Pennsylvania, Gen. Lee should have promptly turned east toward Frederick, and fought the battle near to his communications, and nearer to the enemy's base at Washington. Of Gettysburg, he speaks as distinctly "the soldier's battle ;" the Southern patriot soldiers fighting with a courage and sacrifice unparalleled. Their leaders of highest rank did not rise to the occasion, and failed in harmony and concert of action.
We have found it a matter of constant regret that the able and accomplished author of this valuable book has not given in foot-notes references to the authorities on which his narrative is based. He has made an extensive research through the litera- ture of the war. It would have added greatly to the permanent historical value of the book, if he had given the references to reports and personal narratives, with which he evidently has most intelligent acquaintance. We have no reason to question his statistical tables, and believe that they conform in the main with the reports and statements of Generals Hooker, Meade and Humphries, and of the Confederate authorities. But it would have been eminently satisfactory if these sources of information had been given.
A few errors we have noted, that may not be of especial importance, but their correction in another edition may protect the reader from some confusion of thought.
Page 15, nth line from bottom, should read, "were march- ing Southeast," not "South-west."
Page 50, "were cantoned South and East," not "West."
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Page 71, "Field Hospital at the Wilderness," not at "Dowdall's Tavern."
Page 122, top line, "Robertson's Confederate Brigade," not "Federal."
Page 155, top line, "Lee's messenger found Ewell with Early;" Early and his division were at York, quite well to the East.
Captain Battine has done faithful and able work in his book, and it must remain a permanent contribution to the history of the crisis of the Confederacy, the breaking of the wave of the Southern soldier's victory, when it had reached the very crest of the ridge, against which it rose. J. P. S.
THE NUMERICAL STRENGTH OF THE CONFED- ERATE ARMY AN EXAMINATION OF THE ARGUMENT OF THE HON. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS AND OTHERS.
BY RANDOLPH H. McKiM, D. D., L.L. O., D. C. L., LATE FIRST LIEUTENANT AND A. D. C., THIRD BRIGADE (JACKSON'S LATER EDWARD JOHNSON'S DIVISION, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, AUTHOR OF "A SOLDIER'S RECOLLECTIONS." NEW YORK, NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1912.
The Rev. Dr. McKim has done well to write this little book. It has become of late years too much the tendency to exaggerate the numbers, and to minimize the valor and ability of the Confederate Army, and it is the right and the duty of every surviving Confederate soldier to refute, by all sound argu- ments, the conclusions reached by General Adams, Colonel Livermore, in his work, "Numbers and Losses in the Civil War in America," and others. General Lee righly said, in his letter to Gen. Early (p. 70 of Dr. McKim's book), "It will be diffi- cult to get the world to understand the odds against which we fought." Even now, fifty years after the close of the war, it remains difficult, and Gen. Adams calls it a mistake/to suppose that the Confederate States were crushed by overwhelming re- sources and numbers." (Dr. McKim, p. 9 ad fin.) Against this statement I merely place the first paragraph of that immortal "General Order No. 9," which is as true now as when it was first written :
HDQRS, A. N. VA.
Appomattox C. H., April 10, 1865, General Orders No. 9.
"After four years of arduous service, marked by unsur- passed fortitude, "the Army of .Northern Virginia has been com- pelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources."
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Comrades, which will you follow, General Adams or Gen- eral Lee? To ask this question is to answer it.
I cannot follow Dr. McKim in his examination of Gen. Adam's argument. Suffice it to say that I have read this book twice carefully, and I fully endorse Dr. McKim's reasoning, though I must add that I agree with Col. Taylor, Gen. Lee's Adjutant General, who says (McKim, Preface ad fin.), "I re- gret to have to say that I know of no reliable data in support of any precise number, and have always realized that it must ever be largely a matter of conjecture on our side."
Dr. McKim gives in his Preface eight main points of his counter-argument, which each one can read for himself, al- though it will not take more than an hour to read the whole book.
Dr. McKim makes a comparison between the Boers and the Confederates, following and refuting Gen. Adams' asser- tions ; he further comments on "the fundamental error in the- argument of Northern writers, sums up the "affirmative evi- dence in support of our conclusion," drawing evidence from the conscriptions, and supports his views by a quotation from the New York Tribune of June 26, 1867, which says, "we judge in all 600,000 different men were in the Confederate ranks during the war."
This is about as near as we can ever get to it, and Dr. Mc- Kim supports his view by quotations Col. Wm. F. Fox's "Regi- mental Losses in the Civil War," who assures us that "no sta- tistics are given that are not warranted by the official records," and these sum up the strength of the entire Confederate army as 601,980. But for the Navy we should have gained our inde- pendence, and we came very near doing it anyhow on more than one occasion. Let some Northern writer examine the whole record, and give us the results; we can stand them. And let some Southern writer examine those precious muster-rolls, as Dr. McKim calls them, and also give us the results, which no Southern writer has yet been allowed to do.
Dr. McKim further examines "the weak points in General Adams' argument," especially the effect of the conscription, which egregiously failed to bring in the men it was estimated
to bring, especially in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and even in Virginia and North Carolina. (See Livermores' "Xumbers and Losses.")
By the end of 1864, ^ crucial period in the history of the war, General Lee thought that the conscription was diminishing rather than increasing the strength of his army. The truth was that, towards the close of the, war, some were "getting tired of it," and especially of its effect on their families at home, and their ability to support them; while they could barely support themselves on their meagre rations, their meagre wages would not support their* families. General Starvation, rather than Gen- eral Grant, conquered our army. Consult McKim (pp. 34, 35) on the Confederate Conscription and the attitude of certain Governors of States towards it, which made it all the harder to enforce. Confederate patriotism was not equal to resisting Confederate suffering.
Dr. McKim next discusses the exempts and details, and concludes (p. 37), that "even if we admit an enrollment in the Confederate army of 700,000, and reduce our estimates of ex- emptions and details for special work from 125,000 to 100,000, there remain apparently for service in the field, only about 600,000 men ; and that, I suppose, is what Gen. Cooper and other Southern authorities had in mind.". See note at foot of PP- 37> 38, giving, on the authority of Gen. Marcus J. Wright, the numbers engaged on both sides in the six greatest battles of the Army of Northern Virginia, which "are far more con- sistent with the maximum of 600,000 serving with the colors than with the maximum of 1,200,000." I may add, with re- spect to these figures, that the present writer, in controversy with a writer in The Nation (who afterwards proved to be the late Gen. J. D. Cox), once had occasion to investigate carefully the numbers of the "Confederate forces at Sharpsburg" (Antie- tam), and came to the conclusion that "the estimate of 35.000 or 36,000 Confederates engaged in the battle of Sharpsburg is ai'cry fair one." Dr. McKim, on the authority of Gen. Wright, gives it as 35,255. (^ee my letter of February 2, 1895, m tne Richmond Times of a few days later.
Dr. McKim follows with a section on "The Military Popu-
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lation of the Confederacy," which I heartily commend to the reader. If we make the "necessary deductions" on all accounts, we can reduce the figure given as "the fighting army" to 620,000, which is but little more than the mimber given above. Gen. Adams attempts to support his opinion by figures taken from "The South in the Building of the Nation" (iMcKim, p. 48), but, says Dr. McKim (p. 52), "it can be shown, I think, be- yond contradiction, that the numbers given by the representa- tives of the various States, which Mr. Adams quotes from "The South," and from other Southern publications are '.'enormously exaggerated," and he proceeds to show it. The writers are not always accurate, even granting them every disposition to be fair. At this late day, it ought certainly to be possible for Northern and Southern writers to agree as to numbers. Neither side now desires to underrate the fighting ability of the other, but it doesn't stand to reason that any two countries with the respective numbers and resources of the Northern and the Southern States could have expected a different result.
Since this article was written, Gen. Adams has passed away. The writer had the pleasure of meeting him once, at the meeting in Richmond a few years ago of the American Historical Association, of which at that time we were both members, and it was the last time that this writer has attended a meeting- of that Association. I should have taken pleasure hi discussing this subject at a future meeting, but that meet- ing must now be adjourned to a future world, in which, I trust, we can discuss the subject amicably at least.
JAMES M. GARNETT.
GEN. ROBERT E. LEE.
GENERAL WADE HAMPTON'S TALK WITH THE GREAT SOLDIER.
The Charleston News and Courier of Wednesday published the following letter from Gen Wade Hampton and addressed to the editor of that paper:
"My Dear Sir: In the News and Courier of November 10 is an appreciative tribute to General Lee by Mr. Hanckel, which I have read with interest and pleasure, but the writer hs fallen into an error which I am able to correct on the authority of General Lee himself. Mr. Hanckel intimates that General Lee felt embarrassed in determining the course he would take when the war between the States took place, but in this he is mistaken.
He did not hesitate for a moment, and while, like many of us who followed him, he doubtless regretted the war and doubted the wisdom of it he felt that his duty demanded that he should give his services to his native State, and he never for a moment regretted that he had followed the dictates of duty. He once said that duty was the sublimest word in our language, and if there was ever man whose every action was prompted by a sense of duty he surely was that man.
"Some time after the close of the war I had the pleasure of spending several days with the General at his home in Lexington, and once while discussing the war he said: 'I did only what my duty demanded. I could have taken no other course without dishonor, and if it was all to do over I should act precisely as I did.'
"It was his intention to write a history of the war, but, unfortunately for the South and for the truth of history, death cut short his work. But he had commenced the work, in which he began by speaking of the difference of opinion as to the true construction of the Constitution and how those opposing views 836 SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.
were shown in the Convention of 1787, and he then went on to say 'that those differences in 1861 culminated in blood, but not in treason.'
"If there was any 'treason' pertaining to the war it surely was not on the part of General Lee or of the South.
"WADE HAMPTON. "Columbia, S. C, Nov. 12, 1900."
The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Vol. XXIII, No. 2. April, 1915. Published Quarterly by the Virginia Historical Society. $5.00 per Annum. Single number, $1.50.
In addition to a number of valuable papers touching Vir- ginia History, this number contains the Proceedings of the An- nual Meeting of the Virginia Historical Society, February 25, 1915, with the address of the President, Captain W. Gordon McCabe. Of especial interest in this address are the tributes paid to a number of deceased members, A. Caperton Braxton, Esq., Dr. Wm. Meade Clark, Gen. T. M. Logan and Capt. Robert E. Lee, the youngest son of General Robert E. Lee.
Annual Magazine Subject-Index 1914. A subject-index to a selected list of American and English Periodicals and So- ciety Publications, edited by Frederick Winthrop Paxon, A. B. The Boston Book Company, Boston, 1915.
This is a well made volume of 264 pp., of great value to students and authors. It embraces references to all the matter published in our last issue. Vol. XXXIX, Southern Historical Society Papers.
The Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio January-March. Vol. X, 1915, No. i. Cincinnati, Ohio.
Antikvarisk Tidekrift for Sverige Publication of the Swedish Academy of Early History and Antiquities. Stockholm.
Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina No. 20. Incorporated June 21, 19x39. Charleston, S. C.
The Bearing of Archaelogical and Historical Research upon The New Testament By the Rev. Parke P. Flournoy, D. D., Gunning Prize. May, 1912. Published by the Victoria Institure, Strand, W. C., London.
The Johns Hopkins University Circulars, For 1914, Numbers 9 and 10. For 1915, Numbers i, 2 and 3.
Report of the Neivberry Lbrary. Chicago 1914.
The Durrett Collection, now in the Library of the Univer- sity of Chicago. Early newspapers of Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky. There is in the collection, a complete file of The Winchester Gazette, Winchester, Virginia, 1799 to September, 1802. Of the period, 1800 and 1820, there are representations of the Inquirer, Richmond, Va.
The James Stuart Historical Publications The Harrington Let- ters. The North Carolina Historical Society. Vol. 13, No. 2.
Ohio Archaelogical and Historical Quarterly. October, 1914. Vol. XXIII, No. 4.