Research "Present for Duty" vs "Aggregate Present"

Frank Watson

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Oct 27, 2014
Official returns give "Present for Duty" and a somewhat larger "Aggregate Present" number. Makes sense -- sick call and the like.

However, Pemberton's returns for his "Cavalry Corps" in North Mississippi, December 1862 gives:

Present for Duty:
Officers: 246
Men: 8,607

Aggregate Present:
4,432

What's up with that? How do you have more present for duty than present? (Volume 17, Part 2, page 814)
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I think you're using an OCR'd version which has turned a 3 into an 8. The table is:

1586175013576.png
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Also, PFD is not consistent in all returns, as the "extra duty" were sometimes carried under PFD and sometimes not. Looking at ratios I'd assume that this is a case of "not", which is typical of Confederate returns. Hence the number under PFD is "combat effectives", and the difference between PFD and AP is 4 groups of men:

Extra duty: paid a small amount of extra money (35 cents/day in the US) for "skilled" labour such as teamster etc.
Special duty: on duty in the rear, but with no extra pay
Sick: self-explanatory
Under arrest: ditto.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
My understanding is that there is no directly comparable number in the ORs which actually properly compares the strengths of two units that is consistent throughout the war, for these reasons:

- PFD is not consistent in all returns
- Effectives is not usually given (and is not consistent)
- AP is consistent in definition, but for some Confederate army units their AP is basically "all men with the army who are not black" which causes problems.

To elaborate on that last one, imagine a Confederate force of 10,000 AP and a Union force of 10,000 AP.

The Union force has (rough numbers) 2,000 men doing logistics work, special and extra duty, and so has a calculated effectives of 8,000.
The Confederate force has (rough numbers) 2,400 men doing logistics work, but 1,400 of them are slaves or free blacks (who are thus not part of the AP), and so has a calculated effectives of 9,000 and a total number of men with the force of 11,400. So the Confederate force is actually larger, but if you looked at the AP it'd look the same size.
 
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Frank Watson

Private
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Oct 27, 2014
My understanding is that there is no directly comparable number in the ORs which actually properly compares the strengths of two units that is consistent throughout the war, for these reasons:
...

Yes, I generally feel all those monthly returns are useful to compare the strength of units within the same return with each other.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Yes, I generally feel all those monthly returns are useful to compare the strength of units within the same return with each other.
There are generally speaking these broad uses for the returns:

- To evaluate the relative strengths of the components within the same return.
- To evaluate how the strength of a unit changes over time (for example if the Army of the Potomac is embraced by the same return in June and July, the change over that period can tell us something useful as long as we track other changes taking place).
- To compare army sizes, once corrected for different accounting methods.


An example of the latter might be to work out a consistent rule for how much of a Union force would be expected to be in the category of Extra Duty, and then subtract them out to get a strength equivalent to Confederate "PFD" (which is Effectives).
An example of the second one, meanwhile, is to watch Hood's army strength drop over the course of the Franklin-Nashville campaign. This yields the interesting result that most of the loss to the army was before Nashville, and that most of the force that was at Nashville got out safely.
 

Ole Miss

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When researching the Official Records for Shiloh, I have found different numbers for the same regiments and other units. Regimental numbers to Brigade to Division are often different by the time they are submitted to the Army Command.

And as @Saphroneth mentioned that often regimental commanders did not submitted returns using the same formulas within their brigades. It creates difficulties in attempting to determine the strength of regiments ante and post battle.
Regards
David
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
You often have to dig down into it, though it's usually the most consistent when you have an army where either they're doing things by the original regulation or when there's been a rules change while the army is in something close to the current form. (As either of these mean everyone's using the same rules.)

A good example of when the same rules were not used is the Army of the Potomac in 1864. Someone (I think Burnside, though it might have been later) moved extra-duty out of PFD for the Army of the Potomac, but 9th Corps had not had this rules change done and so it meant that there was a period when units on the same side in the same campaign used different measures for what "PFD" means.
 

Ole Miss

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Shiloh was the 1st battle for about 2/3's of Grant's army and many of the commanders were not professional soldiers and the quality of the Official Reports is all over the map. Many Colonels or Lieutenant Colonels had just arrived at Pittsburg Landing just days before the battle and some on the day of the battle itself. They had left men strewn from places like St. Louis and had no accurate numbers of who was PFD or not. Since this battle was so horrific and so many were captured, the numbers are very iffy, especially Confederate returns.
Regards
David
Here is the web site for the Official Records of Shiloh for those who are interested
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924077730160&view=1up&seq=418
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Official returns give "Present for Duty" and a somewhat larger "Aggregate Present" number. Makes sense -- sick call and the like.

However, Pemberton's returns for his "Cavalry Corps" in North Mississippi, December 1862 gives:

Present for Duty:
Officers: 246
Men: 8,607

Aggregate Present:
4,432

What's up with that? How do you have more present for duty than present? (Volume 17, Part 2, page 814)
Welcome to the byzantine world of Confederate record keeping. I am not sure that anybody to this day has ever been able to decipher what CSA returns actually meant. Even the Confederate army couldn't agree on what the numbers meant. Joe Johnston & Richmond went back & forth squabbling about how many men he actually had in the ranks. Confederate cavalry, in particular, produced almost clownish returns. It didn't help that he had the clown king of bizarre record keepers in his army.

Joe Wheeler's returns were always absurdly out of whack. At one point he reported nearly 20,000 of cavalry that an I.G. reduced to about 10 percent actually ready to ride into battle. Connelly, in Army of the Heartland goes into detail about this issue. Here is an example from page 384.

"Due to a shortage of horses, Wheeler, on May 1, could muster only 2,19 effectives though some 8,062 were reported as present for duty... Though Wheeler could list only 2, 419 men as effectives, there were 18,785 cavalry allegedly on his rolls."
Official Records, XXXVIII. Pt.3 p. 676


Take you pick, 2,19; 8,062; or 18,785 are all correct numbers. Wheeler's returns were over 16,000 men & horses different depending on what roll you want to refer to. Is it any wonder that historians tear their hair out trying to make sense of this kind of thing?

The accounting can be broken down this way: Aggregate means how many rations are you drawing. Present means how many individuals including farriers, cooks, clerks, were on hand. Effective means a healthy man fully equipped & astride a healthy, fully equipped horse.
 
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67th Tigers

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thomas aagaard

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Location
Denmark
and many of the commanders were not professional soldiers and the quality of the Official Reports is all over the map
Edit, I mis-remembered the csa numbers with the US numbers.
The CSA had 13 westpoint men.

Grants army only had 7 professional officers in total. (men who served as officers in the regular army)

Everyone else where civilians... turned soldiers.

Iam usually very critical of the marksmanship and tactical skills of civil war soldiers. But Iam impressed of how both sides managed to rais big armies from nothing. And how they managed to get the administration to work pretty well.
 
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Ole Miss

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Actually Grant army only had something like 13-15 professional officers in total... (and a few had been volunteers against mexico)
I don't remember the correct number, but it is there about.

Everyone else where civilians... turned soldiers.
Iam usually very critical of the marksmanship and tactical skills of civil war soldiers. But Iam impressed of how both sides managed to rais big armies from nothing. And how they managed to get the administration to work pretty well.
I agree that Americans have the ability to create order out of chaos. The professional officer corps of the US Army and graduates of military academies were able to provide the organizational skills to create military units. A little remebered fact is that each county had a militia unit created for protection from Indians or just as a social organization. These companies assisted providing the skeletal framework for the armies of both sides. This was demonstrated on a smaller scale during the Mexican-American War in 1848.
Regards
David
 

thomas aagaard

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Denmark
I agree that Americans have the ability to create order out of chaos. The professional officer corps of the US Army and graduates of military academies were able to provide the organizational skills to create military units. A little remebered fact is that each county had a militia unit created for protection from Indians or just as a social organization. These companies assisted providing the skeletal framework for the armies of both sides. This was demonstrated on a smaller scale during the Mexican-American War in 1848.
Regards
David
I edited the post... since I misremembered and found the correct numbers.
7 professionals in the union army.
13 in the csa army.

source: this presentation:
 
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