men for a regiment. The new colonel would then select- ten individuals he believed able to raise a company. The remaining field officers were often appointed by the governor, although the wishes of the regiment in this matter were generally respected. Finally, all commissions were granted by the governor and later approved by the War Department in Washington. There were Federal officer boards that later examined the fitness of indi-
vidual officers. The criteria for officer selection had less to do with military experience than with the position of the individual in pre-war society. The important thing was to attract men into the service. The duties of an infantry officer were not overly complicated in 1861, and a reasonably intelligent individual could learn them through diligent application to the army regulations and the various drill manuals. The new regiment was eventually inspected and mustered into the Federal service by a regular officer in each state detailed for this purpose. There was very little resembling modern basic training. The 14th Connecticut Volunteers, for example, went into the battle of Antietam without having been instructed in the operation of their rifles.
A regiment was fortunate to have a West Point graduate, an officer of the regular army, or even an officer of the pre-war militia as one of its field officers. The new volunteers did not take well to discipline, but they were splendid material and developed into veteran formations in an astonishingly short time. Field officers with regular experience found that their men resented attempts to employ 'old army' discipline. 'These regular officers,' wrote Horace H. Justis, Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 65th Ohio Volunteers, 'think a private is not as good as they.' Justis complained further about his regular army colonel: 'Thinks he knows everything and don't like to be advised. That style won't do. He will gradually be disliked by the regiment.'
The men discovered quickly, however, the value of such training. They discovered that seemingly odious methods saved lives on the battlefield and through adequate sanitation prevented deaths in camp. Isaac Ingalls Stevens started the war as colonel of the 79th New York Volunteers. He was an 1839 graduate of West Point and an officer of long military experience. Stevens was forced to stare down a mutiny with his revolver, after he had insisted on employing regular discipline with his New Yorkers. The men of the 79th New York, however, after they had served in several battles with Stevens, voluntarily gave up a month's pay to buy him a sword in appreciation of his leadership.
There were similar situations in Southern regiments. There were incompetent officers in both
A Confederates in the Maryland Campaign were never as uniform or even well clad as these in a print of the attack over the Burnside Bridge made by Kurz and Allison years after the war.
armies. North and South were saddled with generals selected for their political positions and with regular officers grown far too old in the service to fight another war. The majority of regular officers had vast experience with company size formations, but few had commanded anything larger; indeed, the Mexican War had been the last time large formations had been employed. Confederate Lieutenant General Richard Ewell remarked on his pre-war military experience by stating that he had 'learned everything there was to know about leading a company of dragoons, but nothing else'. The amazing thing is that so many competent and really very able generals were eventually found.
The soldier's home was his regiment or battery, which functioned much like a mobile community. There were ten companies in an infantry regiment, twelve companies in a regiment of cavalry, and light artillery batteries were grouped in battalions or brigades of three to five batteries from 1862. The basic tactical unit, however, was the brigade. The regiments in Southern brigades were frequently from the same state. This practice was less common in Northern armies. Formations were deployed in shoulder-to-shoulder fashion, despite the addition of rifled weapons to the battlefield; although both sides employed increasingly heavy skirmishing lines as the war progressed.
The armies were armed with a mix of smoothbore and rifled weaponry. The notion that all Civil War soldiers carried rifled muskets is inaccurate; in fact, some brigades deliberately armed some regiments with smooth-bore muskets in order to fire 'buck and ball' as an anti-personnel round at close range. The situation in the artillery was similar, and although a number of different guns were used, the goal was a mix of rifled and smooth-bored artillery. The Federal Army of the Potomac, for example, used the 3in Ordnance Rifle for longer range work against other artillery, fortifications, or troops
▲ An artillery battery a very thick fog oj battle'
gallops forward into according to this contem-
action and prepares to porary illustration, open fire, apparently into deployed at a distance. The smooth-bored twelve-pounder 'Napoleon' was used for breaking up infantry assaults at close range with canister.
The employment of mounted formations in the American Civil War is a most interesting topic. There were mounted sabre charges on the European model, sometimes on a large scale, such as took place at Brandy Station and at Gettysburg. The armies often employed their mounted arm, however, in raiding operations and as a species of mounted infantry. The raid conducted by Colonel Benjamin Grierson in May 1863 with three regiments through the state of Mississippi represents perhaps the most successful mounted raid of the war, certainly the one operation that had the most strategic success. Raiding operations in general, however, proved to be a dissipation of military resources. Such operations were romantic but not very productive of long term results. General William Sherman once remarked that he had never seen cavalry destroy railroad track to such an extent as to make it unserviceable for more than four or five days. Brigadier General John Buford clearly demonstrated the great utility of cavalry as mounted infantry through his extremely successful holding action on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg with his 1st Division/Cavalry Corps/ Potomac. 24
▲ An artillery battery a very thick fog oj battle'
gallops forward into according to this contem-
action and prepares to porary illustration, open fire, apparently into
The Federal government was at first reluctant to raise volunteer cavalry regiments, considering them expensive and thinking that cavalry drill was too complicated to be assimilated by the volunteer in a short time. The War Department eventually raised substantial numbers of cavalry regiments. One of the errors McClellan committed during the Maryland Campaign was in failing to find use for his cavalry division. Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton's men sat out the battle of Antietam, while a logical employment for them would have been to secure a crossing of the Antietam Creek downstream from Burnside's Bridge. The Confederate government raised more cavalry regiments than they could find horses for, and many Southern cavalry formations fought the war dismounted as infantry.
The actual number of men present with the armies during the Maryland Campaign is a matter of much debate. It is made complicated by the different book-keeping arrangements used at the time by the opposing sides. The issue was complicated further by post-war Southern political considerations. The Federal Army of the Potomac and all other Northern military organizations, required to submit monthly returns to the War Department in Washington, reported everyone attached to the various formations on the strength returns regardless of their current individual situation. The result was inflated, as men serving in a variety of extra duties, on leave, legitimately or illegitimately absent, temporarily sick or disabled, were reported as being actually present with their regiments. In addition, officers, musicians, and noncommissioned officers were included in the general total. The result is that Federal strength returns do not reflect accurately the number of men present on the battle line at any particular moment in time. The Southern practice was to list only those men who were actually present and only those men actually bearing a rifle in the battle line.
It became important in the post-war years for the defeated South to insist that Southern generalship was not the reason for Southern defeat, but rather chance and overwhelming Northern numbers. The post-war Southern political leadership had to explain military defeat if they were to resume their positions in the post-war South. Their argument seems to be supported by a comparison of Northern and Southern strength returns for a given battle. The simple truth is that on the battle line for much of the American Civil War at the point of contact numbers were more or less equal, with temporary fluctuating numerical advantage. When the North was on the offensive in a hostile country, it was necessary to detach formations to protect lines of communication the deeper a Federal army moved into Southern territory. The South being overwhelmed by huge numbers of Northern soldiers is a myth made more apparent than real by differing accounting systems and post-war Southern recollections motivated by political considerations.
The Army of Northern Virginia suffered throughout the Maryland Campaign from extreme straggling. The vast majority of Southern participants comment on the excessive number of men leaving the ranks. Common soldiers had varied reasons for failing to keep up with their regiments. Major General Daniel Harvey Hill wrote in his general report of operations in Maryland: 'Doubtless the want of shoes, the want of food, and physical exhaustion had kept many brave men from being with the army; but thousands of thieving poltroons had kept away from sheer cowardice.' There were also political reasons.
The South raised volunteer regiments early in the war in the same manner as their Northern opponents; however, the Confederacy resorted to a draft much earlier than the North. There were many Southern soldiers unhappy with the 1862 Confederate Conscription Act. Men who had enlisted for one year found to their surprise that under the terms of the Conscription Act their one-year regiment had instantly been converted to a regiment enlisted for the duration of the conflict, without their consent and without the opportunity to elect new officers. The Conscription Act seemed to place the Southern manpower burden on the economically disadvantaged, providing exemptions for slave owners and allowing the purchase of substitutes by those with financial means. The Act suggested the validity of the common adage that it was indeed 'a rich man's war, but a poor man's fight'. In addition, the Confederate government insisted that the conflict was necessary to protect the entirety of Southern culture and that a defensive war only would be prosecuted. The invasion of Maryland seemed contrary to the stated objectives of the Davis administration, and substantial elements of Lee's army expressed their political sentiments and their opinion of the Conscription Act through temporary desertion until the termination of the Maryland Campaign.
Honest estimates of the rank and file strength of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia present at Antietam range from 35,000 to 55,000. The approximate figure of 45,000 would seem fairly accurate. The estimates of McClellan's Army of the Potomac range from 79,000 to 90,000, although a figure of 82,000 is more accurate. It should be remembered that McClellan failed to employ all his available forces, fighting the battle of Antietam basically with I, II, IX, and XII Corps, perhaps 50,000 men or more. Lee was forced by circumstances to employ everyone present. The best that can be said with respect to numbers engaged is that Lee's Army was outnumbered at Antietam, although by exactly what margin is a matter of speculation.
ORDER OF BATTLE: UNITED STATES FORCES
Field Forces, Defences of Washington, Army of the Potomac
George Brinton McClellan, Major General USA
Escort: Oneida (New York) Volunteer Cavalry Co., A & El 4th US Regular Cavalry. Headquarters Guard: 93rd New York Volunteers. Provost & Quartermaster's Guard: BCH & 1/ 1st US Regular Cavalry, EFH & K/ 2nd US Regular Cavalry, ADF & G/ 8th US Regular Infantry, G & H/ 19th US Regular Infantry
Unattached formations: US Regular Engineer Battalion
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