Size of Confederate army

Desert Kid

2nd Lieutenant
Dec 3, 2011
Not looking at any rolls or anything, I'm going to say at it's peak it was up to a 1 Million, possibly a little more if you count Partisan Rangers and State troops militias.


Honored Fallen Comrade
Oct 1, 2009
Peak strength? About 500,000 in 1862.

Maybe for field armies but there were garrisons and prison guards,etc.
Remember Johnston surrendered 30,000 men in NC but his command also numbered close to 60,000 more spread out over the southeast. And this was at the CSA's nadir.

M E Wolf

Retired Moderator
Feb 9, 2008
Appendix A.--Strength Of The Confederate Army.

The Confederate official returns above referred to and on file in the War Department, show that on April 30, 1864, the force of General Johnston "present for duty," not including men on "extra or daily duty," but only officers and men available for action, was as follows, viz.:

Officers. Privates. Total.
General Johnston's staff 14 14
Hardee's corps 2,000 18,634 20,634
Hood's corps 1,575 18,614 20,189
Wheeler's cavalry 757 7,679 8,436
Artillery 164 3,113 3,277
Engineer battalion 17 425 442
4,527 48,465 52,992
This force was increased before the opening of the campaign. General Hood ("Advance and Retreat," p. 79) says that General Hardee and himself, in comparing notes about May 7th or 8th, found they had about 42,500 "effectives," infantry and artillery, in their corps besides the reserve artillery. The "effective" enlisted men in those corps on April 30th was shown to be 38,104, infantry and artillery. The increase, therefore, in one week was about 4,500 privates, or 5,000 officers anal men. This is confirmed by Hardee's memorandum of operations during the campaign, in which he states the force of his corps at the beginning of the campaign at "about 20,000 muskets and four battalions of artillery." (Johnston's narrative, p. 578.)

Mercer's brigade joined Johnston May 2d. It consisted of four Georgia regiments (First, Fifty-fourth, Fifty-seventh and Sixty-third), which had been on garrison duty at Savannah. The last of these alone had an "effective" total of 814. It is safe to estimate the four regiments at 2,800, officers and men. About August 1st, after passing through the terrible battles about Atlanta, the division (Walker's) to which Mercer's brigade belonged was broken up because of its heavy losses. A note to the return of that date gives the "present and absent" total of the brigade, 3,583.

Loring's division joined the army at Resaca, May 12th. General S. D. Lee's return of May 10th shows that it numbered "for duty" 429 officers and 4,716 men.

Canty's division also joined Johnston at Resaca about May 7th or 8th. This division was composed of Canty's brigade and Reynolds's, formerly McNair's. Canty's old brigade was made up of the First, Seventeenth, Twenty-sixth and Twenty-ninth Alabama and the Thirty-seventh Mississippi. Reynolds's contained the First, Second, Fourth and Fifth Arkansas and Thirty-ninth North Carolina. The division had also two batteries of field artillery (fourteen guns) and two organizations of cavalry commanded by colonels. The return of General D. H. Maury for the "Army in the District of the Gulf," April 22, 1864, gives the effective strength of this division at 5,564 privates, with 421 officers. It contained a brigade of heavy artillery which had been in the forts about Mobile. The sketch of the Seventeenth Alabama in "Brewer's History of Alabama" says that, while at Mobile, it was drilled as heavy artillery and had charge of eight batteries on the shore of the bay. The Twenty-ninth Alabama had also been on garrison duty at Mobile from July, 1863, till about the date of this return.

French's division joined at Cassville. It was composed of Cockrell's, Ector's and Sears's brigades. By General S. D, Lee's return of May 10th, it numbered for duty 385 officers and 4,028 men.

Quarles's brigade, as Johnston himself tells us, joined him near New Hope Church, with 2,200 "effectives," to which must be added 200 for officers.

Jackson's cavalry division joined at Adairsville, with a strength in line of battle, as given by Lee's return of May 10th, of 405 officers and 4,012 men.

A division of Georgia militia also joined before the battle of Kenesaw Mountain. It consisted of two brigades and one battalion of artillery, the whole commanded by General C,. W. Smith, who reported them ("Advance and Retreat," p. 352) as "a little over 3,000." It is safe to call this force 3,300, officers and men, and it was increased to over 5,000 subsequently. Avery's "History of Georgia" says there were ten thousand in the trenches of Atlanta.

General Johnston's force at Dalton, May 1, 1864, being officers and men then present for duty 52,990
Increase in Hood's and Hardee's corps 5,000
Mercer's brigade, May 2d 2,000
Loring's division. May 12th 5,145
Canty's division (except First Alabama), May 8th 5,400
Total at Resaca 71,235
Jackson's cavalry, Adairsville, May 17th 4,477
French's division, Cassville, May 24th 4,413
First Alabama (Canty's division), May 24th 650
Quarles's brigade, New Hope, May 24th 2,400
Georgia militia, Kenesaw, June 20th 3,300
Total before crossing the Chattahoochee 86,475

There must still be added the constant and large increase in all the corps of the army from recruits, conscripts, convalescents, and return of men from detached service. As the life of the Confederacy was at stake, it is unreasonable to suppose that any effort was spared to increase Johnston's strength to the utmost. At the end of April, there were troops under General S. Jones in the Department of South Carolina Georgia, and Florida, numbering 25,498 "effectives." In the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana, there were under S. D. Lee, on June 1st, present for duty, 16,562 officers and men, as shown by his official return.

The last return of General Johnston in this campaign, dated July 10, 1864, shows the number of troops to have been as follows, viz., aggregate present and absent, 135,092, present 73,849, effectives 50,932.

The first return of General Hood, dated July 31, 1864, shows aggregate present and absent, 136,684 present 65,601, effectives 44,495.

Here is an apparent diminution of the number present, while there is an increase of the aggregate. This is accounted for as follows. Three battalions of reserves joined, numbering 1,348, and 193 recruits, making an increase of 1,541 in aggregates. But the number of "absent without leave" (prisoners) increased by 5,047, "with leave" 300, sick 3,752, detached 700; total decrease in the "present" 9,799. The sudden increase in sick (wounded), and absent without leave (prisoners), tells part of the story of the battles of Peachtree Creek and Atlanta.

[end of excerpt]

M E Wolf

Retired Moderator
Feb 9, 2008
Southern Historical Society Papers
Vol. V. Richmond, Virginia, May, 1878 No. 5.
Numerical Strength Of The Armies At Gettysburg.

By Colonel Walter H. Taylor, A.A.G., A.N.V.
(The following explanation and correction of his former article was sent by Colonel Taylor simultaneously to the Philadelphia Times and to us. We exceeding regret that its publication in our Papers has been unavoidably delayed until now):

As my account of the battle of Gettysburg was first given to the public in your columns, I respectfully ask space therein sufficient to make the following explanation and correction of the statement of the strength of the Confederate Army then made in that campaign:
I would premise with the mention of the fact that two kinds of returns of the strength of the army were required to be made to the Department during the war -- the one a "field return," made twice a month (on the 10th and 20th), and the other a "monthly return," made on the last day of each month.

In the field returns there was a column for the "officers present for duty," and one for "enlisted men present for duty"; the sum of the two would give the "effective total" as generally understood -- that is, the fighting strength.

In the monthly report the arrangement was different: there was a column for each grade of officers, both of the line and staff, and also a column for sergeants, one for corporals, and one for privates -- enlisted men. There was then a column headed "effective total," which embraced only the enlisted men present for duty -- that is, the non-commissioned staff, sergeants, corporals and privates; there being no column for the aggregate of the commissioned officers present for duty.

There are many methods of comparing the strength of opposing armies. The one adopted by me was to take the "effective total," or the sum of the officers and enlisted men present for duty, excluding all consideration of the special or extra duty men, those sick, and those in arrest, as this manner of estimating was applied to both armies, it seemed to me the most equitable and satisfactory.

In taking notes from the returns on file in the Archive Office at Washington, I aimed to arrive at the "effective total." This in the "field returns" was readily determined by adding together the officers and enlisted men present for duty; but in the case of the "monthly reports" it was a very natural error for one to take the addition of the column headed "effective total" as representing the effective strength. Now, it so happened that the basis of my estimate of the strength of General Lee's army at Gettysburg was the monthly report of the 31st May, 1863, and not a field return. I, therefore, took the total amount of the column headed "effective total " -- viz., 68,352 -- as representing what is generally understood by that term, and under the impression that the extensions under that column embraced the officers and men present for duty.

I was the more naturally led into this error, as Mr. Swinton, whose figures I had before me, had done precisely the same thing. Lieutenant General Early having directed my attention, on the 9th instant, to the discrepancy between certain figures given by General Humphreys from the same return to the Comte de Paris and my own, and having expressed his apprehension that I took the figures from the column headed "effective total," inasmuch as, excluding the cavalry, the strength of the army as taken from the field return of the 20th May, 1863, was greater than that taken from the monthly report of the 31st May, 1863, I began to suspect that the officers were not included in the estimate given. I at once made application to the War Department for the information necessary to settle the matter, and having been kindly favored with a prompt reply to my request, I have been enabled to review my figures, and find that the estimate of strength on the 31st May, 1863, does not include the officers present for duty. At that date the effective strength of General Lee's army was as follows: Longstreet's command, 29,171; A.P. Hill's command, 30,286; cavalry, 10,292; artillery, 4,702. Total effective of all arms, 74,451. And carrying out the same reasoning as that originally pursued, I would say that General Lee had at Gettysburg
including all the cavalry, 67,000 men - - that is to say, 53,500 infantry, 9,000 cavalry, and 4,500 artillery. Of course this number was not available to him at any one time, as I have previously explained, but I prefer to adopt the greatest number as shown by the official reports; and in like manner I would persist in estimating the strength of the Federal army by the statement of General Hooker to General Halleck, made on the 27th day of June, to the effect that his "whole force of enlisted men present for duty would not exceed 105,000."

As General Hooker thus gave only his enlisted men present for duty, perhaps the figures originally given by me as the strength of General Lee's army -- that is say, 67,452 on the 31st May, 1873, and 62,000 at Gettysburg -- should be employed in the comparison, as they represent also his enlisted men present for duty.

For if we add to the 105,000 enlisted men of the Federal army the same proportion for officers as that found in the Confederate army, it would raise the effective strength of the former to fully 115,000 on the 27th day of June, four days previous to the battle. View these figures as one will, the disparity in numerical strength is very apparent.

Historical accuracy being my great aim in all that I have to say upon this subject, I hasten to correct the error into which I have inadvertently fallen along with Mr. Swinton.

Strength Of The Army Of Northern Virginia, May 31st, 1863.
Present for Duty
Command. Enlistedmen. Officers. EffectiveTotal
First Army Corps:
General Staff 13
Anderson's Division 6,797 643
McLaws' Division 6,684 627
Hood's Division 7,030 690
Pickett's Division 6,072 615
Total First Corps 26,583 2,588 29,171
Second Army Corps:
General Staff 17
A.P. Hill's Division 8,501 798
Rodes' Division 7,815 648
Early's Division 6,368 575
Johnson's Division 5,089 475
Total Second Corps 7,773 2,513 30,286
Cavalry 9,536 756 10,292
Artillery 4,460 242 4,702
Total effective "Army of Northern Virginia" 74,461


M E Wolf

Retired Moderator
Feb 9, 2008
Colonel Taylor's Reply to the Count of Paris.
Norfolk, Va., March 8, 1878.
Rev. J. William Jones, Secretary, &c., Richmond, Va.:
My Dear Mr. Jones: In compliance with your request, I enclose herewith the copy of the memorandum of the Count of Paris concerning the strength of the two armies at Gettysburg, sent to me by Colonel Allan. I have only found time to read the same today. It is, in my judgment, as compulsive evidence as has yet been presented of the great disparity in the strength of the two armies, when one who deducts thirteen per cent from the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac, and makes a further deduction of seven per cent for the straggling from that army, during a period of four days, while he allows but four per cent for the reduction of the Army of Northern Virginia, from the same cause, during a period of nearly one month, should yet admit that the former army exceeded the latter in numerical strength by "somewhat more than one fourth." It reveals to me, however, that the Count unnecessarily surrounds a plain matter of fact
with perplexing questions involving much that is indeterminate, and seeks to reach a result by doubtful inferences and intricate calculations which is readily attained by direct, positive, and contemporaneous evidence.

In the first place, I do not see the necessity for attempting comparisons that shall embrace the men on extra or special duty with both armies. I would not object to this if a satisfactory result could be had; but when the most positive evidence we have relates to the numbers present with each army for duty, why not limit the comparison to these? Why not seek at once to ascertain the number of men in line of battle available for the fight? When we speak of "officers and enlisted men present for duty," a clear understanding is needed of what is meant. It matters not how many men were with the ordinance trains, or sick in ambulances; they took no part in the fight and some of them were, perhaps, so far removed from the scene as not even to hear the guns. But, apart from this, it is not so easy to determine their number as it is to ascertain the number of those who were present for duty. The returns of both armies were alike in this, viz.: in each there was a column for the officers "present for duty," and one for the enlisted men "present for duty." Entirely distinct from this, but under the general heading "present," were separate columns for "extra or special duty," "sick," and "in arrest." The extra or special duty men were, as a rule, on service with the trains, and were never counted by regimental commanders with us in their reports of "men present for duty." Without discussing the point made by the Count, that the "Federal officers gave as what they called their effective strength the figures representing all the men present, and not only those present for duty," I would call attention to the fact that, in his official correspondence with the General in Chief, General Hooker, on the 27th day of June, 1863 -- four days previous to the battle -- stated that his "whole force of enlisted men present for duty would not exceed 105,000." He does not use the term "effective strength," but "enlisted men present for duty." Evidently these figures were taken from the column headed "enlisted men present for duty." Now, why will all the writers on the other side persist in ignoring this evidence of the General of the Army of the Potomac? This dispatch from General Hooker to General Halleck was sent under peculiar circumstances. The former desired to impress upon the latter the necessity for reinforcing him, and that there "might be no misunderstanding," he informs his superior that his whole force of enlisted men present for duty will not exceed 105,000. This evidence, written down at the time by the General of the Army, with the reports of his subordinates before him, is worth ten times that sustained only by the hind sights of the officers whose evidence, given from memory some time afterwards, is made the basis of calculation by the Count. General Meade himself testified that when he took command the returns shown him called for 105,000 men -- evidently the same from which General Hooker derived his figures -- although he erroneously claims that those figures embraced the garrison at Harper's Ferry. General Meade also testified from memory, before the Congressional Committee, that he had "upon that battle field," of all arms of the service, a little under 100,000 men; whereas the Count gives him but 85,000. Surely, General Meade did not include in this statement the men on duty with the trains. The trains of the Army of the Potomac on the 27th day of June were doubtless strung out for a considerable distance, a large portion being still in Virginia. Is it reasonable to suppose that General Hooker, in his endeavor to impress upon the War Department the necessity for giving him additional troops, would embrace in his report of the enlisted men present for duty all those on extra or special duty with the trains? The percentage of officers to men present for duty with the Confederates was as one to ten; allowing the same for the Federals, and General Hooker's effective strength on the 27th of June was 115,500. The Count claims that the 105,000 represented the entire present strength of the Army of the Potomac -- including not only officers and men present for duty, but those on extra or special duty, those sick, and those in arrest. But I do not think he can substantiate this in absolute contradiction, as it is, to the testimony of General Hooker. He then deducts from this 105,000 thirteen per cent for men on special duty, sick, and in arrest, and gives 91,350 as the number (officers and men) present for duty. These figures are further reduced by an allowance of 6,000 for straggling, and he estimates the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg at 85,000 of all arms.

In regard to the strength of the Army of Northern Virginia, as given in his paper, viz.: 66,600, I do not think he is much out of the way, although I do not agree with him in his reasoning. But his estimate is based upon the effective strength of that army on the 31st May, 1863, as given in my account of the battle -- that is, 68,852. As has already been publicly stated, those figures did not include the officers present for duty. The total effective at that date was 74,451. The Count would, therefore, carry this difference in his calculations, and thus increase his numbers to about 73,000 -- fully 6,000 in excess of our real strength. Although it is past my comprehension why the Count should deduct 6,000 for straggling from the Army of the Potomac in a period of four or five days, and only allow 2,500 for the reduction by the same cause of the Army of Northern Virginia after it crossed the Potomac -- nearly a month -- yet we can afford to allow his estimate to stand, for all purposes of comparison, provided the testimony of General Hooker, given four days previous to the encounter, is accepted by him as a basis for determining the strength of the Army of the Potomac at the same time.

According to the best information that I have, and after a careful study of the subject, I think that General Lee's strength at Gettysburg, embracing his entire effective force of all arms of the service, from first to last, was, in round numbers, 67,000. So, also, after a careful review of all the evidence, I would say that General Meade had about 105,000. The Count contends that we should include Jones' and Robertson's brigades of cavalry, that reached us after the battle; but he is careful to exclude the troops taken from Harper's Ferry by General Meade and sent to Frederick. There is as much reason for counting the one as the other. Nevertheless, I do count the two brigades of cavalry of General Lee's army, and do not count the Federals at Frederick.


M E Wolf

Retired Moderator
Feb 9, 2008
On the 31st May, General Lee's effective was 74,451. He received after that one brigade, Pettigrew's; but, to offset this addition, we must deduct Corse's brigade and one of Pettigrew's regiments, left in Virginia. The cavalry, under Jenkins and Imboden, was not embraced in the report of the 31st May, and must be added. The two brigades numbered about 3,000 men. This was offset by the loss sustained by the brigades of Hampton, Fitz. Lee, and W.H.F. Lee in their encounters with the enemy before and after crossing the Potomac, and by reason of their hard marching. General Lee says that "the ranks of the cavalry were much reduced by its long and arduous march, repeated conflicts, and insufficient supplies of food." Then the army, in its movement north, in the fighting in the valley, and in guards for captured property, was reduced about ten per cent. According to my estimate, we had 53,500 infantry. There were nine divisions, and this would give an average of about 6,000. I think nearly every living division commander of General Lee's army will endorse these figures. Of cavalry, I think there was, in round numbers, 9,000. There were seven brigades, counting Imboden and Jenkins -- an average of 1,300 to the brigade. The five with the army on the 31st May had an average of but 2,000, and Jenkins and Imboden had originally an average of but 1,500, showing an original average of, say, 1,800. This reduction in the cavalry is but a reasonable one, considering their service between the 31st May and 1st of July. The artillery I put at 4,500. The three arms of service then numbered as follows: Infantry, 53,500; cavalry, 9,000; artillery, 4,500. Total effective of all arms, 67,000. Against this let us put the minimum number, as claimed by General Meade, "a little under 100,000 men." If the Count, however, persists in giving General Lee the maximum effective strength with which he commenced the campaign, say 74,000, in equity and fairness he should put the Army of the Potomac at what its commander stated it to be on the 27th day of June, viz.: 105,000 enlisted men or about 115,000 effective, officers and enlisted men, present for duty. Compare our 67,000 to their 100,000 or 105,000, or compare our 74,000 to their 115,000; but do not compare our maximum 74,000 with their minimum 95,000.
Yours truly,
W. H. Taylor.

P.S. In an article contributed to the Weekly Times of Philadelphia, March 10th, General Humphreys, U.S.A., rather confirms my estimate of the strength of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. According to his statement, the return of that army on the 30th June, 1863, showed present for duty, officers and enlisted men, 99,475. He further states that "Stannard's brigade, of five regiments, and Lockwood's brigade, of two regiments, coming from the Department of Washington and the Middle Department, joined the Army of the Potomac on the morning of the 2d of July, and consequently they were not on the return of the 30th June. Two regiments of Stannard's brigade went to the main trains, and three joined the First Corps. His regiments are stated on good authority to have been about five hundred each -- much larger than the average of the Army of the Potomac." The same estimate is made by General Humphreys of the strength of Lockwood's two regiments.

If we add to the strength of the Army of the Potomac, as shown by the return of the 30th of June, viz., 99,475, the seven regiments, numbering five hundred each, that joined it subsequently, there results as the strength of that army at Gettysburg 102,975 -- say 105,000 -- differing very little indeed from my estimate. -- W.H.T.

M E Wolf

Retired Moderator
Feb 9, 2008
Southern Historical Society Papers.
Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904.
Relative Numbers Of The United States And Confederate States Armies.

Cazenove G. Lee's Figures Denied by Papers at the North.
[From the Times-Dispatch, January 8, 1905.]
One of the most important historical facts in "the great struggle we made for constitutional freedom" (as General Lee always designated the war) is a correct statement of the "overwhelming numbers and resources" against which the Confederates fought.

The disparity of numbers has been frequently brought out, but never more clearly than by Mr. Cazenove G. Lee, of Washington, in the following table, which was published originally in the Baltimore Sun.

Mr. Lee's figures show that the total enlistments in the Northern army were 2,778,304, as against 600,000 in the Confederate army. The foreigners and negroes in the Northern army aggregated 680,-917 or 80,917 more than the total strength of the Confederate army. There were 316,424 men of Southern birth in the Northern army. Mr. Lee's figures are as follows:

Whites from the North, 2,272,333
Whites from the South, 316,424
Negroes, 186,017
Indians, 3,530
Total 2,778,304
Southern army, 600,000
North's numerical superiority 2,178,304
In the Northern army there were:
Germans, 176,800
Irish, 144,200
British Americans, 53,500
English, 45,500

Other nationalities, 74,900
Negroes, 186,017
Total, 680,917
Total of Southern soldiers, 600,000
Southern men in Northern army, 316,424
Foreigners, 494,900
Negroes, 186,017
Total 997,341


Aggregate Federal army May 1, 1865, 1,000,516
Aggregate Confederate army May, 1865, 133,433

No. in Battle. Confederates. Federals.
Seven days' fight, 80,835 115,249
Antietam, 35,255 87,164
Chancellorsville, 57,212 131,661
Fredericksburg, 78,110 110,000
Gettysburg, 62,000 95,000
Chickamauga, 44,000 65,000
Wilderness, 63,987 141,160

Federal prisoners in Confederate prisons, 270,000
Confederate prisoners in Federal prisons, 220,000
Confederates died in Federal prisons, 26,436
Federals died in Confederate prisons, 22,570

These figures were violently assailed in the Northern press, for our friends in that latitude have tried by every means that ingenuity could devise to disprove the claim of these Confederates that they fought against immense odds, but Mr. Lee has come back in a calm, dignified, and perfectly conclusive reply, in which he shows the accuracy of the figures he gave in his original statement.
This reply, which is given below, should be widely published and preserved as a conclusive statement of relative numbers engaged in the great war between the States.
Richmond, Va., December 27, 1904.