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RECORDS OF THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES

By MARCUS J. WRIGHT, Brigadier-General, C.S.A.  Agent of the United States War Department for the Collection of Military Records

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THE war which was carried on in the United States in 1861 - 1865, called "The War of the Rebellion," "The Civil War," " The War of Secession," and " The War Between the States," was one of the greatest conflicts of ancient or modern times. Official reports show that 2,865,028 men were mustered into the service of the United States. The report of Provost-Marshal General Fry shows that of these 61,362 were killed in battle, 34,773 died of wounds, 183,287 died of disease, 306 were accidentally killed, and 267 were executed by sentence. The Adjutant-General made a report February 7, 1869, showing the total number of deaths to be 303,504.

Artillery

Confederate Artillery Defending Charleston

The Confederate forces are estimated from 600,000 to 1,000,000 men, and ever since the conclusion of the war there has been no little controversy as to the total number of troops involved. The losses in the Confederate army have never been officially reported, but the United States War Department, which has been assiduously engaged in the collection of all records of both armies, has many Confederate muster-rolls on which the casualties are recorded. The tabulation of these rolls shows that 52,954 Confederate soldiers were killed in action, 21,570 died of wounds, and 59,297 died of disease. This does not include the missing muster-rolls, so that to these figures a substantial percentage must be added. Differences in methods of reporting the strength of commands, the absence of adequate field-records and the destruction of those actually made are responsible for considerable lack of information as to the strength and losses of the Confederate army. Therefore, the matter is involved in considerable controversy and never will be settled satisfactorily; for there is no probability that further data on this subject will be forthcoming.

The immensity and extent of our great Civil War are shown by the fact that there were fought 2,261 battles and engagements, which took place in the following named States: In New York, 1; Pennsylvania, 9; Maryland, 30; District of Columbia, 1; West Virginia, 80; Virginia, 519; North Carolina, 85; South Carolina, 60; Georgia, 108; Florida, 32; Alabama, 78; Mississippi, 186; Louisiana, 118; Texas, 14; Arkansas, 167; Tennessee, 298; Kentucky, 138; Ohio, 3; Indiana, 4; Illinois, 1; Missouri, 244; Minnesota, 6; California, 6; Kansas, 7; Oregon, 4; Nevada, 2; Washington Territory, 1; Utah, 1; New Mexico, 19; Nebraska, 2; Colorado, 4; Indian Territory, 17; Dakota, 11; Arizona, 4; and Idaho, 1.

It soon became evident that the official record of the War of 1861 1865 must be compiled for the purposes of Government administration, as well as in the interest of history, and this work was projected near the close of the first administration of President Lincoln. It has continued during the tenure of succeeding Presidents, under the direction of the Secretaries of War, from Edwin M. Stanton, under whom it began, to Secretary Elihu Root, under whose direction it was completed. Colonel Robert N. Scott, U.S.A., who was placed in charge of the work in 1874, prepared a methodical arrangement of the matter which was continued throughout. Officers of the United States army were detailed, and former officers of the Confederate army were also employed in the work. The chief civilian expert who continued with the work from its inception was Mr. Joseph W. Kirkley. The total number of volumes is 70; the total number of books, 128, many of the volumes containing several separate parts. The total cost of publication was $82,858,514.67.

In view of the distrust with which the South for a while naturally regarded the efforts made by the Government to procure the records of the Confederacy, the work of the department to obtain this material at first met with slight success.

In 1878, the writer, a Confederate officer, was appointed as agent of the War Department for the collection of Confederate archives. Through his efforts the attitude of the Southern people became more cordial, and increased records were the result. By provision of Congress, certain sets of the volumes were distributed, and others held for sale at cost.

The history of this official record is mentioned in these pages as it indicates a widespread national desire on the part of the people of the United States to have a full and impartial record of the great conflict, which must form, necessarily, the basis of all history concerned with this era. It is the record of the struggle as distinguished from personal recollections and reminiscences, and its fullness and impartial character have never been questioned. The large number of these volumes makes them unavailable for general reading, but in the preparation of "The Photographic History of the Civil War" the editors have not only consulted these official reports, but give the equally permanent testimony of the photographic negative. Therefore, as a successor to and complement of this Government publication, nothing could be more useful or interesting than "The Photographic History of the Civil War." The text does not aim at a statistical record, but is an impartial narrative supplementing the pictures. Nothing gives so clear a conception of a person or an event as a picture. The more intelligent people of the country, North and South, desire the truth put on record, and all bitter feeling eliminated. This work, it is believed, will add greatly to that end.

Flying Artillery

Flying Artillery

Confederate Artillery

Confederate Artillery

The Sultana Disaster

Last Confederates to Surrender

Last Confederates to Surrender

 

 

 

 

 

 

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