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Lee's Army during the Overland Campaign

A Numerical Study

Alfred C. III Young

Publication Year: 2013

The initial confrontation between Union general Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Virginia during the Overland Campaign has not until recently received the same degree of scrutiny as other Civil War battles. The first round of combat between the two renowned generals spanned about six weeks in May and early June 1864. The major skirmishes—Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor—rivaled any other key engagement in the war. While the strength and casualties in Grant’s army remain uncontested, historians know much less about Lee’s army. Nonetheless, the prevailing narrative depicts Confederates as outstripped nearly two to one, and portrays Grant suffering losses at a rate nearly double that of Lee. As a result, most Civil War scholars contend that the campaign proved a clear numerical victory for Lee but a tactical triumph for Grant. Questions about the power of Lee’s army stem mainly from poor record keeping by the Confederates as well as an inordinate number of missing or lost battle reports. The complexity of the Overland Campaign, which consisted of several smaller engagements in addition to the three main clashes, led to considerable historic uncertainty regarding Lee’s army. Significant doubts persist about the army’s capability at the commencement of the drive, the amount of reinforcements received, and the total of casualties sustained during the entire campaign and at each of the major battles. In Lee’s Army during the Overland Campaign, Alfred C. Young III addresses this deficiency by providing for the first time accurate information regarding the Confederate side throughout the conflict. The results challenge prevailing assumptions, showing clearly that Lee’s army stood far larger in strength and size and suffered considerably higher casualties than previously believed.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The Overland Campaign of 1864 ranks as one of the most crucial—and least studied—campaigns of the American Civil War. In the summer of 1863, the Union Army of the Potomac repulsed Gen. Robert E. Lee’s foray into Pennsylvania and drove his Army of Northern Virginia back to the Old Dominion. ...

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pp. xi-xiv

People have asked about the original interest and impetus for doing this study. The seeds were apparently planted during my childhood. My late mother, Mary Wendell Young, always had an avid interest in history, and perhaps I inherited this avocation from her. ...

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pp. 1-4

On May 4, 1864, the Federal Army of the Potomac began crossing the Rapidan River in north-central Virginia and moving toward its rival, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. This was the inevitable meeting of the two leading commanders of the Civil War, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. Robert E. Lee. ...

Part One: Lee’s Army: An Overview

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Chapter 1. The Initial Strength of the Army of Northern Virginia

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pp. 7-13

The typical historical account of the campaigns of 1864 and 1865 in Virginia has the forces of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia getting the most out of limited, if not meager, manpower, armaments, commissary supplies, and other resources before finally being overcome by Grant’s numerically superior and significantly better equipped and supplied Army of the Potomac. ...

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Chapter 2. Reinforcements to the Army of Northern Virginia during the Overland Campaign

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pp. 14-16

The Army of Northern Virginia was considerably reinforced with many new units during the Overland Campaign. Many of these were drawn from General Beauregard’s forces facing Butler’s Army of the James. Some originally belonged to Lee’s army, others were drawn from the military departments and commands along the Atlantic Seaboard. ...

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Chapter 3. Casualties during the Overland Campaign

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pp. 17-26

Any historian or researcher seriously studying the Civil War will quickly discover that there are few if any reliable records regarding casualties for all of the Confederate armies in the latter part of the war (after 1863). This situation equally applies to the Army of Northern Virginia during the Overland Campaign. ...

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Part Two: Unit Discussions, with Casualty Breakdowns

The figures for the battle casualties in Tables 7–15 were compiled from individual brigade and battalion totals. These unit totals are presented in a similar form in fifty-nine individual tables in Appendix A using the same format as described above, except for one change. ...

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Chapter 4. First Corps

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pp. 29-71

Kershaw’s Division was composed of the brigades of Humphreys, Henagan, Wofford, and Bryan. This organization played a prominent role in most of the earlier campaigns and major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia and, at this stage of the war, was one of its best divisions. ...

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Chapter 5. Second Corps

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pp. 72-120

The core of Johnson’s Division was originally Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s command in 1862. This division performed with distinction in the Shenandoah Valley during the spring of 1862. Since that period of the war, it had, under a number of leaders, performed reliably but with less notoriety. ...

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Chapter 6. Third Corps

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pp. 121-170

This division was formed after the Battle of Chancellorsville by combining Brockenbrough’s and Archer’s Brigades of Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill’s Light Division with the brigades of Pettigrew and Davis. The latter two units were new only to the Army of Northern Virginia, having previously served in southeastern Virginia and North Carolina. ...

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Chapter 7. Cavalry Corps

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pp. 171-198

The cavalry of Maj. Gen. James E. B. “Jeb” Stuart was historically regarded as the elite arm of the Army of Northern Virginia. During the first two years of the war, Stuart’s cavalry literally rode circles around opposing Union armies and bested the Federal cavalry in almost every engagement. ...

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Chapter 8. Separate Commands

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pp. 199-217

This division was formed at Bermuda Hundred in late May 1864 from the brigades of Clingman, Colquitt, Hagood, and Martin. These units were part of Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard’s forces opposing Butler’s Army of the James outside Richmond. During the first part of the war, these brigades mostly served at various points along the Atlantic Seaboard. ...

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Summary and Conclusions

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pp. 218-226

Several conclusions can be drawn from studying the strengths and casualties of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Overland Campaign. First, it is apparent that Lee’s army was stronger than has previously been believed. Its strength at the start of the campaign was about 66,000 men, or 4,000 higher than the traditional figure of 62,000. ...

Appendix A: Tables

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pp. 227-336

Appendix B: Maps

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pp. 337-379

Appendix C: Army of Northern Virginia Order of Battle during the Overland Campaign

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pp. 380-382


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pp. 383-416


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pp. 417-428

E-ISBN-13: 9780807151730
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807151723

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Overland Campaign, Va., 1864.
  • Confederate States of America. Army of Northern Virginia -- Statistics.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Casualties -- Statistics.
  • Virginia -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Casualties -- Statistics.
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