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Confederate States Army

The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America (or "Confederacy") while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the President of the Confederate States of America. On March 1, 1861, Provisional Confederate President Jefferson Davis, on behalf of the Confederate States government, assumed control of the military situation at Charleston, South Carolina where state militia were threatening to seize Fort Sumter from the small United States Army garrison. On March 6 and 9, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress passed additional military legislation and established a more permanent Confederate States Army.

The Confederacy's government was effectively dissolved on May 10, 1865 with the capture of President Jefferson Davis by Union forces. The main Confederate armies, the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee and the remnants of the Army of Tennessee and various other units under General Joseph E. Johnston, had already surrendered on April 9, 1865 (officially April 12) and April 18, 1865 (officially April 26). Confederate forces at Mobile, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia also had already surrendered on April 14, 1865 and April 16, 1865, respectively. Union and Confederate units fought a battle at Columbus, Georgia before the April 16, 1865 surrender and a small final battle at Palmito Ranch, Texas on May 12, 1865. In areas more distant from the main theaters of operations, Confederate forces in Alabama and Mississippi under Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, in Arkansas under Brigadier General M. Jeff Thompson, in Louisiana and Texas under General E. Kirby Smith and in Indian Territory under Brigadier General Stand Watie surrendered on May 4, 1865, May 12, 1865, May 26, 1865 (officially June 2, 1865) and June 28, 1865, respectively.

Incomplete and destroyed records make an accurate count of the number of individuals who served in the Confederate Army impossible. All but extremely improbable estimates of this number range between 600,000 and 1,500,000 men. The better estimates of the actual number of individual Confederates soldiers seem to be between 750,000 and 1,000,000 men. This does not include an unknown number of slaves who were impressed into performing various tasks for the army, such as construction of fortifications and defenses or driving wagons. Records of the number of individuals who served in the Union Army are more extensive, but still are not entirely reliable. Estimates of the number of individual Union soldiers with whom the Confederates had to contend range between 1,550,000 and 2,400,000, with a number between 2,000,000 and 2,200,000 appearing to be most likely accurate. Union Army records show slightly more than 2,677,000 enlistments in that army but this number apparently includes many re-enlistments. Since these figures include estimates of the total number of individual soldiers who served in each army at any time during the war, they do not represent the size of the armies at any given date. The numbers of Union and Confederate soldiers do not include men who served in Union or Confederate naval forces.

Although most Civil War soldiers were volunteers, both sides ultimately resorted to conscription. Exact figures again are unavailable but estimates of the percentage of Confederate soldiers who were draftees have often been about double the 6 percent of Union soldiers who were conscripts. Some historians have suggested that the threat of conscription may have had a greater effect on raising volunteers than it did in providing large numbers of reliable soldiers.

Confederate casualty figures are as incomplete and unreliable as the figures on the number of Confederate soldiers. The best estimates of the number of deaths of Confederate soldiers appear to be about 94,000 killed or mortally wounded in battle, 164,000 deaths from disease and between 26,000 and 31,000 deaths in Union prison camps. One estimate of Confederate wounded, which is considered incomplete, is 194,026. In comparison, the best estimates of the number of deaths of Union soldiers are 110,100 killed or mortally wounded in battle, 224,580 deaths from disease and 30,192 deaths in Confederate prison camps, although these figures also are subject to some dispute. The best conjecture for Union Army wounded is 275,175.



In the United States Presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, with Abraham Lincoln as its Presidential candidate, campaigned against the expansion of slavery in the United States. The Democratic Party divided over this issue and split into Southern and Northern factions with each fielding a candidate, John C. Breckinridge and Stephen A. Douglas, respectively. A fourth candidate, Senator John Bell of Tennessee, was fielded by the Constitutional Union Party, mostly former Whigs and Know Nothings from the Upper South who favored the status quo. Lincoln won the election without winning the electoral votes in a single southern state. Lincoln did not propose federal laws against slavery where it already existed, but his general view of the matter was stated in his 1858 House Divided Speech, in which he had expressed a desire to "arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction." Lincoln proposed no immediate action against slavery during his campaign or upon his election. Nonetheless, the complex issue of slavery, as well as competing understandings of federalism, party politics, expansionism, sectionalism and social structures, tariffs, economics and general values brought to a head by Lincoln's election stirred violent passions and fears of abolition of slavery in the southern states. These factors soon led to the American Civil War.

Starting with South Carolina on December 20, 1860, seven Deep South states that permitted slavery purported to secede from the Union by February 1861. In addition to South Carolina, these States included Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. President James Buchanan stated that secession was unconstitutional and wrong but that the United States Constitution did not give the President or the United States Congress the power to stop it. By the time Lincoln took office as President on March 4, 1861, later than the subsequently amended presidential inauguration date of January 20, the seceding states had formed the Confederate States of America. These states soon began to seize federal property, including most federal forts, within their borders. Lincoln was determined to hold the forts remaining under federal control when he took office, including Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, in furtherance of the overall goal of preserving the union of all the states. He considered secession to be illegal, as did Buchanan, but he also thought it constituted rebellion against the duly constituted government of the United States which he had the authority and the duty to oppose and suppress. By the time Lincoln was sworn in as President, the incompatible positions of the parties were fixed and irreconcilable and the Provisional Confederate Congress had authorized the organization of a large Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS). Civil war had become inevitable.

Under orders from Confederate States President Jefferson Davis, troops controlled by the Confederate government under the command of General P. G. T. Beauregard bombarded Fort Sumter on April 12 13, 1861, forcing its capitulation on April 14, 1861 before it could be reinforced and resupplied. Northerners, including Westerners, rallied behind Lincoln's call on April 15, 1861 for all the states to send troops to recapture the forts from the secessionists, to put down the rebellion and to preserve the Union intact. Four states in the upper South (Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina and Virginia) also permitted slavery but previously had rejected overtures to join the Confederacy. These states now refused Lincoln's call to send forces against their neighbor slave states, promptly declared their secession from the United States and joined the Confederate States.[1] After the fall of Fort Sumter and the secession of the Upper South states, both the United States and the Confederate States began in earnest to raise large, mostly volunteer, armies with the objectives of putting down the rebellion and preserving the union, on the one hand, or of establishing independence from the United States, on the other hand.

Establishment, control, conscription

The Confederate Congress provided for a Confederate Army patterned after the United States Army. It was to consist of a large provisional force to exist only in time of war and a small permanent regular army. The provisional, volunteer army was established by an act of the Confederate Congress passed February 28, 1861, one week before the act which established the permanent regular army organization, passed March 6, 1861. Although the two forces were to exist concurrently, little was done to organize the Confederate regular army.

  • The Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS) was authorized by the Provisional Confederate Congress on February 28, 1861, and began organizing on April 27. Virtually all regular, volunteer, and conscripted men preferred to enter this organization since officers could achieve a higher rank in the Provisional Army than they could in the Regular Army. If the war had ended successfully for them, the Confederates intended that the PACS would be disbanded, leaving only the ACSA.[2]
  • The Army of the Confederate States of America (ACSA) was the regular army, provided for by Act of Confederate Congress on March 6, 1861. It was authorized to include 15,015 men, including 744 officers, but this level was never achieved. The men serving in the highest rank as Confederate States Generals, such as Samuel Cooper and Robert E. Lee, were enrolled in the ACSA to ensure that they outranked all militia officers.[2] ACSA ultimately existed only on paper. The organization of the ACSA did not proceed beyond the appointment and confirmation of some officers. Three state regiments were later denominated "Confederate" regiments but this appears to have had no practical effect on the organization of a regular Confederate army and no real effect on the regiments themselves.

Members of all the Confederate States military forces, to include the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps were often referred to as "Confederates", and members of the Confederate States Army were referred to as "Confederate soldiers". Supplementing the Confederate States Army were the various state militias of the Confederate States:

  • Confederate States State Militias were organized and commanded by the state governments, similar to those authorized by the United States Militia Act of 1792.

Control and operation of the Confederate States Army was administered by the Confederate States War Department, which was established by the Confederate Provisional Congress in an act on February 21, 1861. The Confederate Congress gave control over military operations, and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the President of the Confederate States of America on February 28, 1861, and March 6, 1861. By May 8, a provision authorizing enlistments for war was enacted, and by August 8, 1861, the Confederate States, after facing[3] the United States of America reasserting control over rebellious areas, called for 400,000 volunteers to serve for one or three years. By April 1862, the Confederate States of America found it necessary to pass a conscription act, which drafted men into PACS. The Confederate Congress' successive Conscription Acts broadened the ages of those subject to conscription and even swept in people who had already provided substitutes for service. The Confederate State Supreme Courts uniformly upheld the Acts.[4]


CSA M1857 Napoleon Artillery Piece Because of the destruction of any central repository of records in Richmond in 1865 and the comparatively poor record-keeping of the time, there can be no definitive number that represents the strength of the Confederate States Army. Estimates range from 500,000 to 2,000,000 men who were involved at any time during the war. Reports from the War Department began at the end of 1861 (326,768 men), 1862 (449,439), 1863 (464,646), 1864 (400,787), and "last reports" (358,692). Estimates of enlistments throughout the war were 1,227,890 to 1,406,180.[5]

The following calls for men were issued:

  • March 6, 1861: 100,000 volunteers and militia
  • January 23, 1862: 400,000 volunteers and militia
  • April 16, 1862, the First Conscription Act: conscripted white men ages 18 to 35 for the duration of hostilities[6]
  • September 27, 1862, the Second Conscription Act: expanded the age range to 18 to 45,[7] with implementation beginning on July 15, 1863
  • February 17, 1864, the Third Conscription Act: ages 17 to 50[8]
  • March 13, 1865, authorized up to 300,000 African American troops but was never fully implemented.[9]

The CSA was initially a (strategically) defensive army, and many soldiers were resentful when Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia in an invasion of the North in the Antietam Campaign.


General Robert Edward Lee, famous Southern General The army did not have a formal overall military commander, or general-in-chief, until late in the war. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, himself a former U.S. Army officer and U.S. Secretary of War, served as commander-in-chief and provided the strategic direction for Confederate land and naval forces. The following men had varying degrees of control:

  • Robert E. Lee was "charged with the conduct of military operations in the armies of the Confederacy" from March 13 to May 31, 1862. He was referred to as Davis' military adviser but exercised broad control over the strategic and logistical aspects of the Army, a role similar in nature to the current Chief of Staff of the United States Army. On June 1, he assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, which was considered the most important of all the Confederate field armies.
  • Braxton Bragg was similarly "charged with the conduct of military operations in the armies of the Confederacy" from February 24, 1864 (after he was relieved of field command following the Battle of Chattanooga) to January 31, 1865. This role was a military advisory position under Davis.
  • Lee was formally designated general-in-chief by an act of Congress (January 23, 1865) and served in this capacity from January 31 to April 9, 1865.

The lack of centralized control was a strategic weakness for the Confederacy, and there are few instances of multiple armies acting in concert across multiple theaters to achieve a common objective. (An exception to this was in late 1862 when Lee's invasion of Maryland was coincident with two other actions: Bragg's invasion of Kentucky and Earl Van Dorn's advance against Corinth, Mississippi. All three initiatives were unsuccessful, however.) Likewise an extreme example of "States Rights" control of CSA soldiers was Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown, who not only reportedly tried to keep Georgia troops from leaving the State of Georgia in 1861 but also tried to keep them from CS Government control when Georgia was invaded in 1864.

Personnel organization

As in the Union Army, Confederate soldiers were organized by military specialty. The combat arms included infantry, cavalry and artillery.

The Confederate States Army consisted of several armies. Although fewer soldiers might comprise a squad or platoon, the smallest unit in the Army was a company of 100 soldiers. Ten companies were organized into a regiment, which theoretically had 1,000 men. In reality, as disease and casualties took their toll, most regiments were greatly reduced in strength. Replacements usually went to form new regiments and not often to existing ones. Regiments, which were the basic units of army organization through which soldiers were supplied and deployed, were raised by individual states. They were generally referred by number and state, for example 1st Texas, 12th Virginia. To the extent the word "battalion" was used to described a military unit, it referred to a regiment or a near regimental size unit. Four regiments usually formed a brigade, although as the number of men in many regiments became greatly reduced, especially later in the war, more than four were often assigned to a brigade. Occasionally, regiments would be transferred between brigades. Two to four brigades usually formed a division. Two to four divisions usually formed a corps. Two to four corps usually formed an army. Occasionally, a single corps might operate independently as if it were a small army.

Companies were commanded by captains and had two or more lieutenants. Regiments were commanded by colonels. Lieutenant colonels were second in command. At least one major was next in command. Brigades were commanded by brigadier generals although casualties or other attrition sometimes meant that brigades would be commanded by senior colonels or even a lower grade officer. Barring the same type of circumstances which might leave a lower grade officer in temporary command, divisions were commanded by major generals and corps were commanded by lieutenant generals. A few corps commanders never were confirmed as lieutenant generals and exercised corps command for varying periods of time as major generals. Armies of more than one corps were commanded by (full) generals.

Ranks and insignia

Officer Rank Structure of the Confederate Army
General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain First Lieutenant Second Lieutenant
100px 100px 75px 50px 100px 100px 100px


General (CSA)
Colonel (Infantry shown)
Image:LT-COL-CSA-Staff Officer.jpg|
Lieutenant-Colonel (Headquarters shown)
Image:MJR-CSA- Medical.jpg|
Major (Medical Corps shown)
Image:CPT-CSA-Marines Corps.jpg|
Captain (Marine Corps shown)
1st Lieutenant (Artillery shown)
2nd Lieutenant (Cavalry shown)

There were four (4) grades of general officer (general, lieutenant general, major general, and brigadier general), but all wore the same insignia regardless of grade. This was a decision made early in the conflict. The Confederate Congress initially made the rank of brigadier general the highest rank. As the war progressed, the other general-officer ranks were quickly added, but no insignia for them was created. (Robert E. Lee was a notable exception to this. He chose to wear the rank insignia of a colonel.) Only seven men achieved the rank of (full) general;[10] the highest ranking (earliest date of rank) was Samuel Cooper, Adjutant General and Inspector General of the Confederate States Army.

Officers' uniforms bore a braid design on the sleeves and kepi, the number of adjacent strips (and therefore the width of the lines of the design) denoting rank. The color of the piping and kepi denoted the military branch. The braid was sometimes left off by officers since it made them conspicuous targets. The kepi was rarely used, the common slouch hat being preferred for its practicality in the Southern climate.

Enlisted Rank Structure
Sergeant Major Quartermaster Sergeant Ordnance Sergeant First Sergeant
80px 80px 80px 80px
Sergeant Corporal Musician Private
80px 80px no insignia no insignia

Branch colors were used for color of chevrons. Blue for infantry, yellow for cavalry, and red for artillery. This could differ with some units, however, depending on available resources or the unit commander's desire. Cavalry regiments from Texas, for example, often used red insignia and at least one Texas infantry regiment used black.

The CSA differed from many contemporaneous armies in that all officers under the rank of brigadier general were elected by the soldiers under their command. The Confederate Congress authorized the awarding of medals for courage and good conduct on October 13, 1862, but war time difficulties prevented the procurement of the needed medals. To avoid postponing recognition for their valor, those nominated for the awards had their names placed on a Roll of Honor, which would be read at the first dress parade after its receipt and be published in at least one newspaper in each state.

Armies and prominent leaders

The CSA was composed of independent armies and military departments that were constituted, renamed, and disbanded as needs arose, particularly in reaction to offensives launched by the Union. These major units were generally named after states or geographic regions (in comparison to the Union's custom of naming armies after rivers). Armies were usually commanded by full generals (there were seven in the CSA) or lieutenant generals. Some of the more important armies and their commanders were:

  • Army of Northern Virginia Joseph E. Johnston, Gustavus W. Smith, Robert E. Lee commanding
    • First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
    • Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
    • Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
    • Fourth Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, often styled "Anderson's Corps"
    • Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
  • Army of Mississippi
    • March 1862 November 1862: P. G. T. Beauregard, Albert Sidney Johnston, Braxton Bragg, William J. Hardee, Leonidas Polk, (also known as the Army of the Mississippi; redesignated Army of Tennessee on November 20, 1862)
    • December 1862 July 1863: John C. Pemberton, Earl Van Dorn, (1863) William W. Loring (also known as Army of Vicksburg)
    • July 1863 June 1864: William J. Hardee, Leonidas Polk, William W. Loring (also known as the Army of the Mississippi; redesignated III Corps, Army of Tennessee in May 1864, but continued to use its old name)
  • Army of the Kanawha Henry A. Wise, John B. Floyd, Robert E. Lee
  • Army of Kentucky Edmund Kirby Smith (Eventually commander of all forces West of the Mississippi)
  • Army of Central Kentucky Simon B. Buckner, Albert Sidney Johnston
  • Army of Missouri Sterling Price
  • Army of Middle Tennessee John C. Breckinridge
  • Army of the West Earl Van Dorn
  • Army of New Mexico Henry H. Sibley
  • Army of the Northwest Robert S. Garnett, Henry R. Jackson, William W. Loring, Edward Johnson
  • Army of the Peninsula John B. Magruder, Daniel H. Hill
  • Army of the Potomac P. G. T. Beauregard, Joseph E. Johnston
  • Army of Tennessee Braxton Bragg, Samuel Gibbs French, William J. Hardee, Daniel H. Hill, John Bell Hood, Joseph E. Johnston, Richard Taylor
    • First Corps, Army of Tennessee
    • Second Corps, Army of Tennessee
    • Forrest's Cavalry Corps Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Army of the Trans-Mississippi Thomas C. Hindman, Edmund Kirby Smith
  • Army of the Valley (also known as Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia) Jubal Early

Some other prominent Confederate generals who led significant units operating sometimes independently in the CSA included Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, James Longstreet, J.E.B. Stuart, Gideon Pillow, and A.P. Hill.


Island No. 10]] and taken at POW Camp Douglas (Chicago); photograph possibly by D.F.Brandon.[11] The supply situation for most Confederate Armies was dismal, even when they were victorious on the battlefield. Much like the Continental Army in the American Revolution, individual state governments were supposed to supply their soldiers, rather than the central government. The lack of central authority and effective railroads, combined with the frequent unwillingness or inability of Southern state governments to provide adequate funding, were key factors in the Confederate Army's demise.

As a result of these supply problems, as well as the lack of textile factories in the Confederacy and the successful Union naval blockade of Southern ports, the typical Confederate soldier was rarely able to wear the standard regulation uniform, particularly as the war progressed. While on the march or in parade formation, Confederate Armies often displayed a wide array of dress, ranging from faded, patched-together regulation uniforms; rough, homespun uniforms colored with homemade dyes such as butternut (a yellow-brown color), and even soldiers in a hodgepodge of civilian clothing. After a successful battle, it was not unusual for victorious Confederate troops to procure Union Army uniform parts from captured supplies and dead Union soldiers; this would occasionally cause confusion in later battles and skirmishes. The fact that individual states were expected to supply their soldiers also increased the types of uniforms worn by Confederate troops, as some states (such as North Carolina) were able to better supply their soldiers, while other states (such as Texas) were unable for various reasons to adequately supply their troops as the war continued. Furthermore, each state often had its own uniform regulations and insignia, which meant that the "standard" Confederate uniform often featured a variety of differences based on the state the soldier came from. For example, uniforms for North Carolina regiments often featured a colored strip of cloth on their shoulders to designate what part of the service the soldier was in. Confederate soldiers also frequently suffered from inadequate supplies of shoes, tents, and other gear, and would be forced to innovate and make do with whatever they could scrounge from the local countryside.

Confederate soldiers were also faced with inadequate food rations, especially as the war progressed. By 1863 Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee often spent as much time and effort searching for food for their men as they did in planning strategy and tactics. While Confederate officers were generally better-supplied and were normally able to wear a regulation officer's uniform, they often chose to share other hardships - such as the lack of adequate food - with their troops. Individual commanders often had to "beg, borrow or steal" food and ammunition from whatever sources were available, including captured Union depots and encampments, and private citizens regardless of their loyalties. Lee's campaign against Gettysburg and southern Pennsylvania (a rich agricultural region) was driven in part by his desperate need of supplies, especially food.

Not surprisingly, in addition to slowing the Confederate advance, such foraging aroused anger in the North and led many Northerners to support General Sherman's total warfare tactics as retaliation. Scorched earth policies by the Union Army, especially in Georgia, South Carolina and the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia in 1864, further reduced the capacity of the closely blockaded Confederacy to feed even its civilian population, let alone its Army. At many points during the war, and especially near the end, Confederate Armies were described as starving and, indeed, many died from lack of food and related illnesses. Towards more desperate stages of the war, the lack of food became a principal driving force for desertion.

Native Americans in the Confederate Army

Native Americans served in both the Union and Confederate military during the American Civil War.[12][13] Native Americans fought knowing they might jeopardize their freedom, unique cultures, and ancestral lands if they ended up on the losing side of the Civil War.[12][14] 28,693 Native Americans served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, participating in battles such as Pea Ridge, Second Manassas, Antietam, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in Federal assaults on Petersburg.[12][13] Many Native American tribes, such as the Creek and the Choctaw, were slaveholders and found a political and economic commonality with the Confederacy.[15]

At the beginning of the war, Albert Pike was appointed as Confederate envoy to Native Americans. In this capacity he negotiated several treaties, one such treaty was the Treaty with Choctaws and Chickasaws conducted in July 1861. The treaty covered sixty-four terms covering many subjects like Choctaw and Chickasaw nation sovereignty, Confederate States of America citizenship possibilities, and a entitled delegate in the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America. The Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Catawba, and Creek tribes were the only tribes to fight on the Confederate side. The Confederacy wanted to recruit Indians east of the Mississippi River in 1862, so they opened up a recruiting camp in Mobile, Alabama "at the foot of Stone Street."[16] The Mobile Advertiser and Register would advertise for a chance at military service.


Cherokee confederates reunion in New Orleans, 1903. Stand Watie, along with a few Cherokee, sided with the Confederate Army, in which he was made colonel and commanded a battalion of Cherokee.[12] Reluctantly, on October 7, 1861, Chief Ross signed a treaty transferring all obligations due to the Cherokee from the U.S. Government to the Confederate States.[12] In the treaty, the Cherokee were guaranteed protection, rations of food, livestock, tools and other goods, as well as a delegate to the Confederate Congress at Richmond.[12] In exchange, the Cherokee would furnish ten companies of mounted men, and allow the construction of military posts and roads within the Cherokee Nation. However, no Indian regiment was to be called on to fight outside Indian Territory.[12] As a result of the Treaty, the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles, led by Col. John Drew, was formed. Following the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 7 8, 1862, Drew's Mounted Rifles defected to the Union forces in Kansas, where they joined the Indian Home Guard. In the summer of 1862, Federal troops captured Chief Ross, who was paroled and spent the remainder of the war in Washington and Philadelphia proclaiming Cherokee loyalty to the Union army.[12]

William Holland Thomas, the only white chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, recruited hundreds of Cherokees, particularly for Thomas' Legion. The Legion, raised in September 1862, fought until the end of the war.



Choctaw Confederate battalions were formed in Indian Territory and later in Mississippi in support of the southern cause. The Choctaws, who were expecting support from the Confederates, got little. Webb Garrison, a Civil War historian, describes their response: when Confederate Brigadier General Albert Pike authorized the raising of regiments during the fall of 1860, Creeks, Choctaws, and Cherokees responded with considerable enthusiasm. Their zeal for the Confederate cause, however, began to evaporate when they found that neither arms nor pay had been arranged for them. A disgusted officer later acknowledged that "with the exception of a partial supply for the Choctaw regiment, no tents, clothing, or camp and garrison equippage was furnished to any of them."[17]

Mississippi Choctaws were captured in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and several died in a Union prison in New York.[18] Spann describes the incident, "[Maj. J.W. Pearce] established two camps a recruiting camp in Newton County and a drill camp at Tangipahoa just beyond the State boundary line in Louisiana in the fall of 1862. New Orleans at that time was in the hands of the Federal Gen. B.F. Butler. Without notice a reconnoitering party of the enemy raided the camp, and captured over two dozen Indians and several noncommissioned white officers and carried them to New Orleans. All the officers and several of the Indians escaped and returned to the Newton County camp; but all the balance of the captured Indians were carried to New York, and were daily paraded in the public parks as curiosities for the sport of sight-seers.[19]

In Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, Jackson McCurtain, who would later become a district chief, was elected as representative from Sugar Loaf County to the National Council in October 1859. On June 22, 1861, he enlisted in the First Regiment of Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. He was commissioned Captain of Company G under the command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper of the Confederate Army. In 1862 he became a Lieutenant Colonel of the First Choctaw Battalion.[20]

African Americans in the Confederate Army

"Marlboro" African-American bodyservant to white Confederate soldier

With so many white males conscripted and roughly 40% of its population unfree, the work required to maintain a functioning society in the CSA ended up largely on the backs of blacks.[21] Even Georgia's Governor Joseph E. Brown noted that "the country and the army are mainly dependent upon slave labor for support."[22] Slave labor was used in a wide variety of support roles, from infrastructure and mining, to teamster and medical roles such as hospital attendants and nurses.[23]

The idea of arming slaves for use as soldiers was speculated on from the onset of the war, but not seriously considered by Davis or others in his administration.[24] Though an acrimonious and controversial debate was raised by a letter from Patrick Cleburne[25] urging the Confederacy to raise black soldiers by offering emancipation, it would not be until Robert E. Lee wrote the Confederate Congress urging them that the idea would take serious traction. On March 13, 1865, the Confederate Congress passed General Order 14,[26] and President Davis signed the order into law. The order was issued March 23, but only a few African American companies were raised.[27] A company or two of black hospital workers was attached to a unit in Richmond, Virginia, shortly before the besieged southern capital fell.[27] A Confederate major later affirmed that the small number of soldiers mustered in Richmond in 1865 were "the first and only black troops used on our side."[27] However, there were varying accounts of black rebel troops. For instance the July 11, 1863 issue of the New York Herald reported: "...And after the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, ...reported among the rebel prisoners were seven blacks in Confederate uniforms fully armed as soldiers..."

Chinese in the Confederate Army

Two or three men from China and two Americans of partial Chinese descent were Confederate soldiers.[28][29] Author Ruthanne Lum McCunn identifies the two men born in North Carolina as Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Decatur Bunker.[28] They were the sons of the slaveholding "Siamese" (actually Chinese) conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, and their white American wives.[28] These men fought for the Confederacy voluntarily.[28]

One other Chinese soldier was conscripted, and subsequently deserted, and another was underage and appears to have had little choice but to enter the Confederate service.[28] While their stories appear to be genuine, neither of them is found on a Confederate roster or muster roll.[30] John Fouenty, recently freed from a labor contract in Cuba, was on his way home to China when he was conscripted by the CSA in Savannah, Georgia. He deserted when near Union lines and continued his journey home.[28] Marshall Tsao, or Cao Zishi (also identified as having taken the name Charles K. Marshall), an underage student and servant, accompanied his master, Dr. David C. Kelley, into service with the Tennessee cavalry.[28] He survived, became a Methodist minister, returned to China and had later medical training.[28][31] However, rosters of Tennessee cavalry units in the Confederate Army do not contain the name of Charles K. Marshall or any of the Chinese variations of his name so his role with the army, if any, other than as a servant of or assistant to Kelley, is unclear.[30][31]

Although McCunn states "only five [Chinese] are known to have fought for the Confederacy," she does not identify (or clearly identify) the fifth.[28][32] A possible fifth Chinese Confederate soldier other than Thomas Sylvanus who is mentioned in the previous footnote, William H. Kwan, Company B, 12th Virginia Battalion of Light Artillery, has been listed in two sources as Chinese but without any information that would show his ethnicity or background or service record.[33] One of the sources even has a question mark after the identification of Chinese (and lists his unit as 15th Virginia Battalion of Light Artillery).[34]

Diaries of a Florida soldier[35] and a Louisiana soldier[36] have been cited as containing assertions that at least one Chinese soldier was in each of these Confederate soldiers' companies, but the diaries give no names or other details about them.[37][38] A researcher identified 18 "Chinese-sounding" names on Confederate Army rosters but she cited no information that confirms the ethnicity or country of origin of any of them or anything about their background or service.[39][40]

Statistics and size

Incomplete and destroyed records make an accurate count of the number of individuals who served in the Confederate Army impossible. All but extremely improbable estimates of this number range between 600,000 and 1,500,000 men.[5] The better estimates of the actual number of individual Confederates soldiers seem to be between 750,000 and 1,000,000 men.[41] The exact number is unknown. Since these figures include estimates of the total number of individual soldiers who served in each army at any time during the war, they do not represent the size of the armies at any given date. Confederate casualty figures are as incomplete and unreliable as the figures on the number of Confederate soldiers. The best estimates of the number of deaths of Confederate soldiers appear to be about 94,000 killed or mortally wounded in battle, 164,000 deaths from disease and between 26,000 and 31,000 deaths in Union prison camps. One estimate of Confederate wounded, which is considered incomplete, is 194,026. At the end of the war 174,223 men of the Confederate forces surrendered to the Union Army.[42][43]

See also

  • List of Confederate Regular Army officers
  • Military of the Confederate States of America
  • Confederate States Navy
  • Confederate States Marine Corps
  • Uniforms of the Confederate Military
  • Confederate Government Civil War units
  • Uniforms of the American Civil War



  • Basler, Roy P., ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Rutgers University Press, 1953, ISBN 978-0-8135-0172-7.
  • Boatner, Mark Mayo, III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: McKay, 1959; revised 1988. ISBN 978-0-8129-1726-0.
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • Evans, Clement A., Confederate Military History; Volume III - Virginia by Maj. Jedediah Hotchkiss. The National Historical Society, 2008, facsimile reprint, originally printed in Atlanta, by Confederate Publishing Company, 1899.
  • Henderson, G. F. R., Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, Smithmark reprint, 1995, ISBN 978-0-8317-3288-2.
  • Johnson, Clint, The Politically Incorrect Guide to The South. Washington, D.C., Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006, ISBN 1-59698-500-1.
  • Johnston, David E., The Story of a Confederate Boy in the Civil War (Serving in the 7th Virginia Infantry Regiment). ISBN 978-1-84685-666-2
  • Johnston II, Angus James, Virginia Railroads in the Civil War, University of North Carolina Press for the Virginia Historical Society, 1961.
  • Levine, Bruce, Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves during the Civil War, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-514762-9.
  • Long, E. B. The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac, 1861 1865. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971. .
  • Robson, John S., How A One-Legged Rebel Lives: Reminiscences of the Civil War; The Story of the Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson, Kessinger Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84685-665-5.
  • U.S. War Department, ''The War of the Rebellion'': a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880 1901.

Further reading

  • Weinert, Richard P., Jr., The Confederate Regular Army, White Mane Publishing, 1991, ISBN 978-0-942597-27-1.
  • Wright, Marcus J., General Officers of the Confederate Army, J. M. Carroll & Co., 1983, ISBN 978-0-8488-0009-3.

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