Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/23

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13
Relative Strength of the Armies of Generals Lee and Grant.

very confused. It is very probable that when the battle in the Wilderness opened, on the 5th of May, between one corps of General Lee's army (Ewell's), and the Army of the Potomac, the infantry of the latter army amounted to about 98,000 men, as that would be about the proper proportion of that arm, the rest being cavalry and artillery—the Ninth Corps not coming up until the night of the 5th, and going into action for the first time early on the morning of the 6th, during which day also Longstreet's two divisions came up from near Gordonsville, where they had been for some time. This state of facts may account for General Badeau's mistake, as it can be explained on no other hypothesis.

Neither Stanton nor Grant have given any estimate of the loss of the army of the latter in this memorable campaign, but Mr. Swinton, who was a regular correspondent of a New York paper, in constant attendance with the Army of the Potomac, and who has published a history of the campaigns of that army, says, on pages 491-92 of his book:

"Grant's loss in the series of actions from the Wilderness to the Chickahominy reached the enormous aggregate of sixty thousand men put hors du combat—a number greater than the entire strength of Lee's army at the opening of the campaign."

In a note he gives the particulars of the loss of the Army of the Potomac in the various battles, and shows that his statement of Grant's loss is confined to that army and the Ninth Corps, and does not include any loss sustained by the reinforcements from Butler's army, which were at Cold Harbor.

Now, from this statement, if General Badeau is right in his statement of Grant's force, the conclusion is inevitable that the army of the latter was in effect destroyed; and if, according to Grant's famous remark, Butler had got himself into "a bottle strongly corked," the former, to use one of Mr. Lincoln's elegant expressions, had "butted his brains out against a gate-post." Perhaps it was fortunate for Grant that Butler was "hermetically sealed up at Bermuda Hundred," when he too was compelled to seek refuge at the same point, and wait for further reinforcements.

Having disposed of General Badeau's statement of Grant's force, I will now consider his estimate of the strength of General Lee's army.

A strange hallucination in regard to the strength of all the Confederate armies seems to have haunted the Federal commanders from the beginning of the war to its close. According to their estimates, there were few occasions on which they were not outnum-