View Full Version : Troops and Casualty numbers claimed

11-09-2007, 10:34 PM
These figures are tossed around so easily. Can these be verified? and if so were they rounded too far up or down just to make the case? The quote here:

...Southern blacks supplied close to 150,000 Union soldiers and sailors (Northern free blacks provided another 50,000). Border South whites added 200,000 and Confederate State whites 100,000 soldiers to Union troop strength. The resulting total of 450,000 Southerners who wore Union blue, half as many of the 900,000 Southerners who wore Confederate gray, replaced every one of the Federals’ 350,000 slain men and supplied 100,000 more men besides – a number greater than the usual size of Robert E. Lee’s main Confederate army..."

From author William W. Freehling’s preface to his 2001 book “The South vs The South”

Dan Wykes

(p.s. if you comment please don't elaborate on the "Robert E. Lee" part of it, or you risk a spanking and a shut down)

11-09-2007, 11:05 PM
Dan, a total of 189,000 black soldiers served in the Union Army and Navy. The author's assertions elicit a big yawn - who cares? Border States were not southern states, so the men in them are not "southerners" any more than the they are "northerners." It is not like any man who went north was lost to the Confederacy. The south did not enlist black soldiers until the very end, so that point is moot as well (no potential southern black soldiers were lost to the North).

I imagine that the only useful number, 100,000 southern states whites, was largely offset by northerners who went south. Desertion was a far bigger problem...

Remind me to avoid that book.

11-10-2007, 07:16 AM
I'll jump to the defense of Prof. Freehling. He really does make an interesting case if you hear him out.

Border States were not southern states, so the men in them are not "southerners" any more than the they are "northerners."

The point is not that they were "Southern" in culture, politics, or what have you, but that the Deep South states believed that the Border South (Freehling's term) was predominantly Southern and would secede to protect the institution of slavery. In this we must remember that secession did not occur all at once. That is, Freehling argues, Deep South secessionists believed that once they had seceded and left the Middle and Border South without means to adequately defend slavery in Congress then VA, NC, TN, AR, MD, KY, and MO would have to join the Confederacy or face the eventual end of slavery at the hands of the Republican majority in Congress. Every state that joined the Confederacy was a falling domino that virtually ensured the next state would secede, too. Or so the theory went.

Was this idea among Deep South secessionists founded in fact? Probably not. Almost definitely not. But for Freehling the reality of the situation is trumped by Confederate perception of the situation. Secessionists gambled on leaving the Union when they did hoping to force the Border South out of the Union before it was too late. Where it affects the numbers and the war is when the Confederate leaders hoped, no expected, to have the large population and the larger industrial capacity of the Border South on their side. When the final round of secession brings in the Middle but not the Border South, Confederate war strategy is dealt a serious blow even without a battle.

I imagine that the only useful number, 100,000 southern states whites, was largely offset by northerners who went south. Desertion was a far bigger problem...

Ah, but are the two problems not interrelated? Ignoring the part about northerners in the Confederate army as speculation, the problem of Southern Unionism and desertion are branches of the same tree. The Confederacy, an argument goes, failed in 1861 to convince a large percentage of its population -- slaveholding and not though usually nonslaveholding -- that leaving the Union was in their best interests and the interests of their family. (The same way secessionists failed to convince much of the Border South of the that fact) And having convinced a number of Southerners enough to join the CS armies, hardships on the home front and dissatisfaction with the "rich man's war" led many to the same conclusion in 1863-4. Hence desertion.


11-10-2007, 07:37 AM
On the reliability of the statistics issue, from Freehling's notes...

Ch. 1 note 1 (p.208) "All statistics in this book derive from Francis A. Walker, comp., The Statistics of the Population of the United States (Washington DC, 1972); and from U.S. Bureau of the Census, A Century of Population Growth, From the First Census of the United States to the Twelfth (Washington DC, 1909)."

Ch. 4 note 10 (p. 214) "An extremely useful little book is The Civil War Book of Lists...(Conshohocken, PA, 1993). For Maryland, compare p. 19 with p. 27. This book's lists are only as accurate as the surviving records permit, which means that its figures for the Union are never rock hard and for the Confederacy even less so."

Ch. 4 note 21 (pp. 215-16) "I must emphasize that troop numbers on the Confederate side can never be as precise as the cold numbers look. I have here largely taken the most plausible numbers I have found, Roger L. Ransom's, corrected to factor out Ransom's implausible assumption that many 10- to 14-year-olds fought in the Confederate army. Overall, Ransom's book is the most helpful analysis of political economy aspects of the Civil War. Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and the American Civil War (Cambridge, England, and New York, 1989), esp pp. 189-93, 214-15. Also helpful are The [Civil War] Book of Lists and Thomas L. Livermore, Numbers and Losses in the Civil War in America (Boston, 1901)."

Numbers, while obviously somewhat rounded for readability and clarity (and admittedly the Black US troops number particularly so), seem to come from standard reference works, all suffering the same statistical deficiencies as most any book on the Civil War.

Daryl Black
11-12-2007, 12:17 PM
Let's all remember that Freehling is responding directly to Gary Gallagher's "The Confederate War" wherein he argues (if memory serves) that there was plenty of will on the part of SOUTHERNERS for the CONFEDERACY to be successful in it's bid for independence.

What Freehling points out -- and this, I believe, while a rather simple point, is one that needs to be made with force, thus, not a "yawn" moment at all -- is that the South was not the Confederacy. That there were plenty of people who lived in places where "Southern" institutions were in place (namely slavery) that believed the Confederate nationalist movement unworthy of support. Men from TN, GA, AL in the Union army were indeed men who denied the Confederate army of their services. Freehling depends on Richard Current's (I believe) well documented book that analyzes southerners who served in Union military forces. So add the 300,000 (whites and blacks) or so SOUTHERNERS FROM CONFEDERATE STATES who enlisted in UNION regiments to the deserters who quit the CONFEDERATE cause and we have a pretty significant Southern opposition faction appearing in the Confederate States of America.

I'm wondering on what basis the claim that northerners going Confederate is based? And if based on a sustained analysis of men from northern/Union states what the numbers are?

Daryl Black