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Re: Why the Confederacy lost
In Response To: Re: Why the Confederacy lost ()

If you've read Thomas Livermore's "Numbers and Losses in the Civil War", Lost for the Cause is similar but more analytical. As a review of Confederate troop strength in 1864, it also has a narrower focus. Newton covers ground Livermore never explored, such as the accuracy and consistancy of War Department reports in the OR. Unquestioned for 125 years, historians cite these returns but don't read or use related notes in the OR. For instance, notes on Confederate returns for June 30, 1863, demonstrate that reports from the Confederate garrisons of Vicksburg and Port Hudson were not available.

Newton has also uncovered numbers loss in transit. Take for instance, the return for April 30, 1864, for the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 9,200 troops then moving to the Department of Richmond, the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of Tennessee and the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia are not counted anywhere.

Newton acknowledges that most reputable historians, such as Emory Thomas and Merton Coulter, regard conscription as a failure. He presents their case, and offers his rebuttal based on previously unexamined detail available in the OR. I'm away from home and don't have my copy of Lost for the Cause this week, but IMHO it's quite pursuasive.

Newton also reviews the differences between terms such as effective present and aggregate present, effectives being about 85 percent of aggregate. For example, effective PFD for the Army of Tennessee on June 10, 1864, was about 69,500, compared to an aggregate present of 85,000. While they don't usually count for battle strength, Newton suggests that Confederate attrition (mostly desertions and prisoners) could have have come from aggregate present, and not entirely from the effectives. It's also interesting to note that prisoners-of-war are not included in returns of casualties suffered by the Army of Tennessee during the Atlanta Campaign.

David, I would be doing you a disservice by not strongly urging you to explore this book. Even if you disagree with his conclusions, the order of battle for each Confederate army and department is worth having. Newton's analysis goes down to PFD for individual battalions and independent companies, even including engineers and signal corps.

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