Petersburg/Richmond Overstatement of Rebel Casualties at the Second Battle of Petersburg?

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006

Overstatement of Rebel Casualties at the Second Battle of Petersburg?

The attempt to carry the Petersburg works 15th-18th June largely failed. The Federals were badly repulsed, despite capturing some of the works early on.

The Federals lost 16,569 in the second half of June 1864, which includes the Jerusalem Plank Road fighting. Fox's Regimental Losses gives 1,688 KIA, 8,513 WIA and 1,185 MIA/Captured (total 11,386), which is consistent with the losses in other actions in late June.
Rebel casualty figures in this period are difficult to come by. The rebels often didn't keep good records, and many were lost when Richmond fell. The number Wikipedia gives for the battle of 15th-18th June 1864 is 4,000 (200 KIA, 2,900 WIA and 900 Captured). This apparently derives from Bonekemper, and Bonekemper rejected said figures, which he referenced to Currents Encyclopedia of the Confederacy. The rather extreme killed to wounded ratio is suspicious. Thus I looked further.

Livermore, for his part, simply estimated a ratio based on Federal losses. His figure (2,970) thus has no basis in fact, but is a guess, although better than later guesses.

Fortunately, Alfred Young has published his dataset for the units that fought in the Overland Campaign. They are shown in table 1:

Table 1: Casualties in Army of Northern Virginia units, and Hoke's Division, at 2nd Petersburg 15th-18th June 1864. Numbers are extracted from Young's CSR's.
DateKilledMortally WoundedSeverely WoundedWoundedSlightly WoundedMissing (inc. Desertion)Total
15th June
0​
0​
1​
2​
0​
8​
11​
16th June
30​
24​
43​
73​
25​
75​
270​
17th June
43​
18​
70​
67​
37​
42​
277​
18th June
38​
30​
64​
71​
17​
51​
271​
TOTAL
111​
72​
178​
213​
79​
176​
829​

This sums to 111 KIA, 542 WIA and 176 MIA/Deserted/Captured. 829 total.

This does not include Bushrod Johnson's division. Fortunately, A Wilson Greene's "Campaign of Giants" (Vol.1, p 211-2) references a casualty report by Johnson in his papers, and he tabulated 1,512 KIA, WIA and MIA for this period. Greene also quotes an estimate by Beauregard of "about 2,500" and thinks it was probably correct.

Greene did not have access to Young's data, but using that we find the casualties were:
  • ANV and Hoke: 829
  • Johnston's division and 64th Ga: 1,512
  • Total = 2,341
Thus we can see Beauregard's estimate was quite good.

In sum, the butcher's bill was:
  • Federal Casualties: 11,386
  • Confederate Casualties: 2,341
It seems Confederate casualties at 2nd Petersburg are indeed overstated, by quite a bit...
 

bschulte

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
On first reading this all sounds reasonable to me. Second Petersburg still seems to me to be one of the most misunderstood and under covered major battles of the war in the East. It is 12th on the list of battles by casualties in the entire war (and only drops to 13th if you use 2,341 instead of 4,000 for the Confederates). Multiple people working for or in conjunction with Petersburg National Battlefield as well as interested amateurs have told me the published maps are mostly wrong for the battle, with Will Greene coming the closest to complete accuracy.

Two things:
  1. How far does that Kindle book of Young's go? To June 18? Longer? I would have expected that data set to end somewhere around June 12 or so. I just pulled his published book off of the shelf to check and he does end with Cold Harbor and Trevilian Station, with June 12 as the last date. So it's kind of awesome to see some Petersburg stuff in the eBook. I did not expect it.
  2. I'd be interested to see the breakdown of casualties between the ANV and Hoke's Division. My initial hunch would be that Hoke's Division suffered more than half of those 829 casualties.
This also serves as my reminder to go get the eBook now. The histories of many of these post-Gettysburg Campaigns will have a lot of old narratives challenged once the casualty and replacement figures are truly looked over.

Young is working on the casualties for the entire Petersburg Campaign as we speak, a sequel to his first book. I've made my archive of Siege of Petersburg newspaper articles available to him to hopefully fill in any blanks. In my younger single days he would have had my free labor to go along with it!
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I think this is the sequel. It has the rolls for every regiment that fought in the Overland Campaign, and seems to cover at least the year (it has post-Overland recruits and casualties). The trouble is it's literally a list. You can interrogate it with the shorthand notation. By doing a few repeats, with the page open being the start of Hoke's division I can estimate 90+% of the casualties was Hoke. I can perhaps do this in a few days and update it.
 

bschulte

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
I think this is the sequel. It has the rolls for every regiment that fought in the Overland Campaign, and seems to cover at least the year (it has post-Overland recruits and casualties). The trouble is it's literally a list. You can interrogate it with the shorthand notation. By doing a few repeats, with the page open being the start of Hoke's division I can estimate 90+% of the casualties was Hoke. I can perhaps do this in a few days and update it.
The hardback sequel isn't out yet, but it looks to me like Young went through the CSRs for all of 64-65 and published the raw data in the ebook. In other words, he's already done the CSR work in this eBook to use for the Petersburg hardcover, but he is still working on the newspaper casualty lists before publishing the hardcover. I have his email address. I'll go ask him.

If you want to do the work, I'd love to see it. If not, 90% of them being Hoke is good enough for my purposes. I don't think people realize how little fighting the ANV did at Second Petersburg.
 

bschulte

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
UPDATE: I spoke with Alfred Young and the eBook in the original post covers all of 1864, but no 1865. So it definitely extends far into the Petersburg Campaign, which is exciting news. And Mr. Young is not necessarily 100% proceeding with a hardcover sequel to his Overland Campaign book. He is thinking about a book on Bermuda Hundred and the early stages of the Siege of Petersburg, but no guarantees, which is unfortunate for me and other students of the Petersburg Campaign.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
So, not 90% of casualties, but 77%. Hoke's casualties were:


Hoke
Junekmwswwslwm
15​
1​
1​
2​
6​
10​
16​
28​
23​
41​
68​
24​
73​
257​
17​
31​
12​
52​
37​
15​
13​
160​
18​
34​
18​
40​
52​
13​
50​
207​
sum
94​
53​
134​
159​
52​
142​
634​

Leaving 194 casualties for the rest of the ANV, and one Ellis G. Baucom of the 37th NC who was wounded at either White Oak Swamp or Petersburg.

Thus, by division:
Johnston and 64th Ga: 1,512
Hoke: 634
Rest of the ANV: 194

Some of the ANV casualties were not with their units, but recovered sick and wounded sent to Petersburg as individuals.

Methodology

The list was searched for phrases such as "sw, pete jun 15" (seriously wounded at Petersburg, 15th June), and the responses in chapter 16 (Hoke's Division) separated. When multiple possibilities existed (for example, k or mw) the latter was used. When there was a range of dates, the first date was used.
 

bschulte

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
So, not 90% of casualties, but 77%. Hoke's casualties were:


Hoke
Junekmwswwslwm
15​
1​
1​
2​
6​
10​
16​
28​
23​
41​
68​
24​
73​
257​
17​
31​
12​
52​
37​
15​
13​
160​
18​
34​
18​
40​
52​
13​
50​
207​
sum
94​
53​
134​
159​
52​
142​
634​

Leaving 194 casualties for the rest of the ANV, and one Ellis G. Baucom of the 37th NC who was wounded at either White Oak Swamp or Petersburg.

Thus, by division:
Johnston and 64th Ga: 1,512
Hoke: 634
Rest of the ANV: 194

Some of the ANV casualties were not with their units, but recovered sick and wounded sent to Petersburg as individuals.

Methodology

The list was searched for phrases such as "sw, pete jun 15" (seriously wounded at Petersburg, 15th June), and the responses in chapter 16 (Hoke's Division) separated. When multiple possibilities existed (for example, k or mw) the latter was used. When there was a range of dates, the first date was used.
Thanks for that. It shows that the ANV proper (I'm using the term to mean the three divisions each of First, Second, and Third Corps, as opposed to Hoke who was eventually in Beauregard's Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia) did very little fighting at Second Petersburg. It also cements that time period as Beauregard's best work of the entire war.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
By division, for the 15th-18th:

KIAWIAMIATotal
HQ
0​
2​
0​
2​
1st Corps HQ and Aty
0​
5​
0​
5​
Kershaw
9​
75​
0​
84​
Field
2​
22​
0​
24​
Pickett
0​
1​
1​
2​
2nd Corps HQ and Arty
0​
0​
0​
0​
Johnson
0​
0​
0​
0​
Early
0​
0​
0​
0​
Rodes
0​
0​
0​
0​
3rd Corps HQ and Arty
0​
4​
0​
4​
Heth
1​
4​
0​
5​
Wilcox
4​
4​
1​
9​
Anderson/Mahone
2​
26​
29​
57​
Cavalry HQ and Hampton
0​
0​
0​
0​
F Lee and WHF Lee
0​
2​
0​
2​
Hoke
84​
408​
142​
634​
Other
0​
0​
1​
1​
829​
 

Bryce

Private
Joined
Jun 2, 2011
Location
Washington, D.C.
Bushrod Johnson wrote an Unpublished official report which I found in his personal papers at the national archives. i Believe that i included This report in volume seven of the supplement to the official records. He also provided casualties for each of his brigades and for his artillery

we also published and volume seven Bushrod Johnson’s journal which was also in his personal papers in the NARA
 
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