Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/25

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15
Relative Numbers at Gettysburg.

the same period, without passing through camps of instruction, at 72,292. Of course the greater number of these conscripts, as well as the volunteers, went into the army during the first year succeeding the passage of the conscript act; and hence there were very few to be obtained after the battle of Chancellorsville, and they consisted exclusively of men who had managed to evade the conscript officers, and the few arriving at the conscript age.

In a letter addressed by General Lee to the Secretary of War on the 11th of February, 1863, he says:

"Sir—I think it very important to increase the strength of all our armies to the maximum by the opening of the next campaign. Details of officers and men have been sent from all the brigades of this army to collect deserters and absentees. By the return of last month, forwarded to the Department to-day, you will perceive that our strength is not much increased by the arrival of conscripts; only four hundred and twenty-one are reputed to have joined by enlistment, and two hundred and eighty-seven to have returned from desertion, making an aggregate of seven hundred and sixty-eight, whereas our loss by death, discharges and desertion amounts to eighteen hundred and seventy-eight. Now is the time to gather all our strength, and to prepare for the struggle which must take place in the next three months. I beg you to use every means in your power to fill up our ranks."

These documents are to be found in the final report of the Provost-Marshal General of the United States ("messages and documents, War Department, part 3, 1865—'66"), pages 122, 128 and 131, and were printed from the originals in the "Archive office." I have my own official returns for the entire year 1863, being the office copies which were retained, and the return for January 31st, 1863, shows that 52 joined my division by enlistment during that month, being within less than one of one-eighth of the number received in the whole army for the same time. My return for February shows 45 received by enlistment for that month, while the loss by death, discharges and desertion was 305. My return for March shows 96 received by enlistment, while the loss by death, discharges and desertion was 231. There was no monthly return for April by reason of active hostilities progressing at the end of that month; and my next return for May 31st shows 60 received by enlistment for the two preceding months, while the loss by death during that period was 327, a considerable portion being in battle, and by discharges and desertions, 327 for the same period, making a total loss of 754[1]. The next monthly return was for July 31st, and that shows 77 received by enlistment during the months of

  1. 327 (loss by death} + 327 (other loss) = 654, not 754. (Wikisource contributor note)