Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/24

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14
Southern Historical Society Papers.

heart of every true Confederate; but it did not come within his province to be familiar with the statistics of the army, or even of the cavalry with which he served. The cavalry was an arm of the service that was never recruited by conscripts, and in May, 1863, the only recruits that were obtainable from voluntary enlistment were the young men just arriving at the military age. As our cavalrymen had to furnish their own horses, and keep themselves mounted at their own expense, it was the practice to permit a large number to go to their homes during the winter and early spring months, for the purpose of recruiting their horses and obtaining new ones when they were dismounted. These men generally returned at the period for active operations, and in that way the cavalry was strengthened on the opening of a campaign. It is this, fact, it is presumed, that Major Von Borcke refers to, or that led him into error if he has made the remark as broadly as the Comte de Paris states it. The opening of the cavalry operations prior to the Chancellorsville campaign, and that campaign had recalled to the army all the available cavalrymen, and the returns of May 31st, must have shown the whole cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia that was available for the approaching movement. If any raw recruits had been received after that time, they would have been worthless from the want of training and seasoning of the men as well as of their horses.

There is a very great misapprehension existing in the minds of persons outside of the Confederacy, and even among officers of the Confederate army, as to the number of men put into the army under the conscript law. In a report to the Secretary of War, dated the 30th of April, 1864, General John S. Preston, Superintendent of the Bureau of Conscription, says: "The results indicate this grave consideration for the government—that fresh material for the armies can no longer be estimated as an element of future calculation for their increase; and that necessity demands the invention of devices for keeping in the ranks the men now borne on the rolls."

In a report made in February, 1865, General Preston gives a table showing the "number of conscripts enrolled and assigned to the army from camps of instructions since the act of Congress, April 16, 1862," from which it appears that the whole number of men added to the army east of the Mississippi, in that way, up to that time, was 81,993, exclusive of some obtained under the operations of General Pillow in the States of Alabama and Mississippi. He estimates the number of volunteers who joined the army during