Discussion Research How many soldiers left the US Regular Army to join the Confederates?

Luke Freet

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Hiw many soldiers left the US Regular Army to join the Confederates at the out break of the Civil War? I know several Confederate generals did but I don't know the exact number and I am also curious about how many enlisted men defected. I did a Google Search but I could not find anything.
I am not entirely certain of this, but from what I can gather, most of the men who "defected" from the army were part of the officer, corps, rather than the rank and file. Maybe it was more of a case where officers had a better chance to resign from the army for the Confederacy while poorer and less well connected Privates and Sergeants did not have the same oppurtunity, or more upper class southerners joining the army as officers more than poor southerners, or poorer southerners who joined the army not having the same devotion to their old home states, or some combination.
I'm sure someone who has researched this thoroughly would know better, but this is what I understand.
 

leftyhunter

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Paging @leftyhunter.
Lubliner.
From what I gathered most enlisted men were loyal while some officers were not. The US Army had an authorized strength of 16k men but with desertions and low pay not every position got filled. I seem to recall the US Army only had 14 k men on duty in 1861 but don't quote me.
Leftyhunter
 
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Lubliner

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There is a list of West Point graduates that show their drawing of the lot, and by number, if that would help.
Fact #6: The Civil War was deadly for West Point graduates. West Point grew in fame after the Civil War, partly because of how many commanders attended the academy. Some 977 graduates of West Point were alive at the start of the war. 359 of these men joined the Confederacy, while 638 fought for the Union. The rest did not fight in the war.
Lubliner.
 

Poorville

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According to Wikipedia, citing this as its source:
Hattaway, Herman, and Archer Jones. How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983,
the answer would appear to be 26.

“Though officers were able to resign, enlisted soldiers did not have this right; which meant that they usually had to either desert or wait until their enlistment term was over in order to join the Confederate States Army. While the total number of those is unknown, only 26 enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of the regular army are known to have legally left the army to join the Confederate army when the war began.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Army#cite_note-6
 

Cdoug96

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According to Wikipedia, citing this as its source:
Hattaway, Herman, and Archer Jones. How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983,
the answer would appear to be 26.

“Though officers were able to resign, enlisted soldiers did not have this right; which meant that they usually had to either desert or wait until their enlistment term was over in order to join the Confederate States Army. While the total number of those is unknown, only 26 enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of the regular army are known to have legally left the army to join the Confederate army when the war began.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Army#cite_note-6

Really, only 26? That's actually surprising. I thought that up to a full 3rd would have left, with nearly all the southern men leaving.
 

Ole Miss

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When the Civil War broke out the 189 companies of the U. S. Army contained 1,108 officers and 15,135 enlisted ranks. These professional soldiers were highly valued by both sides to form cadres to train the volunteer soldiers pouring into the numerous regiments.
Of the 1,108 Regular Army officers serving as of 1 January 1861, 270 ultimately resigned to join the South. Only a few hundred of the 15,135 enlisted men, however, left the ranks because the private soldiers did not have the option of resigning.
Regards
David
Source
The Regular Army Before the Civil War, 1845-1860
Pages 50-53
 
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As it had been discussed on a few threads before the number 26 is incorrect, meanwhile I also deleted it from wikipedia as the given source for that number did not say so either but just that at least 26 managed to get out of service in order to join the CSA (so supposedly legally and with known intention to do so). Said book (How the North Won: A Miilitary History of the Civil War by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones) doesn´t have footnotes for that number. In one of the threads it said that 26 maybe comes from the 26 men reported deserting from the 7th U.S. Infantry in New Mexico before it went to the east.

Meanwhile Earl Van Dorn, who was in Texas with a major portion of the Regular Army, had reported hundreds of deserted regulars joining the Confederate forces which obviously makes 26 as a total incorrect. Enlisted men wanting to go south indeed didn´t have many options as they couldn´t resign. Either asking to be, or trying to get, dismissed, becoming a deserter or waiting till the enlistment term ended. Total numbers can only be estimated.

Meanwhile the officer corps could resign; though of course those resignations had to be accepted by the war department and could be denied (often resulting in a dismissal, and occasional incareration, instead) which happened more frequently as the war progressed.
 
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John Hartwell

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We have that only 26 legally left the regular army to go south. Do we know how many desertions there were in 1861? Some proportion of those men likely "went gray." Comparison to immediate prewar numbers might be illuminating. By 1862, with the rapid increase in regular enlistments, it would be more difficult to evaluate the numbers, and by then most of the would-be confederates were already gone.
 
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Poorville

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As it had been discussed on a few threads before the number 26 is incorrect, meanwhile I also deleted it from wikipedia as the given source for that number did not say so either but that at least 26 managed to get out of service (supposedly meaning legally) and went south. Said book (How the North Won: A Miilitary History of the Civil War by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones) doesn´t have footnotes for those numbers but gets several numbers wrong. In one of the threads it said that 26 maybe comes from the 26 men reported deserting from the 7th U.S. Infantry in New Mexico before it went to the east.

Meanwhile Earl Van Dorn, who was in Texas with a major portion of the Regular Army, had reported hundreds of deserted regulars joining the Confederate forces which obviously makes 26 as a total incorrect. Enlisted men wanting to go south indeed didn´t have many options as they couldn´t resign. Either asking to be, or trying to get, dismissed, becoming a deserter or waiting till the enlistment term ended. Total numbers can only be estimated.

Meanwhile the officer corps could resign; though of course those resignations had to be accepted by the war department and could be denied (often resulting in a dismissal, and occasional incareration, instead) which happened more frequently as the war progressed.

Given that Hattaway and Jones were referring solely to “legal” moves and given how precise their figure of 26 was, it would be interesting to learn what actually constituted a “legal” move for those below officer level.
 
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Indeed. I think dismissal is the option, but if they give the caveat of dismissal in order to join the CSA then these would have to be recorded as such, or to some degree stated in the reason like disloyalty (so not including those whose enlistment term ended). A dismissal could be authorized by a variaty of sources, including court-martials, so of course I don´t know if they include dishonorable discharges in that number.
 
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Cdoug96

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How many regulars deserted from the army before the outbreak of the war? Do we have good numbers? That may be an more accurate estimate although of course not all of those who deserted would have went south.
 

Lubliner

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