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PoP's Southern American: TERRIBLE ODDS THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIER FOUGHT AGAINST

9/24/2011

TERRIBLE ODDS THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIER FOUGHT AGAINST

The following, although written by a Union officer, ought to be in every school history of the South, so that the children of the men who fought the South's battles should know the odds they contended against. In an article which appeared first in the Century Magazine and afterwards in the third volume of "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," Union General Buell said: "It required a naval fleet and 15,000 troops to advance against a weak fort, manned by less than 100 men, at Fort Henry; 35,000, with naval cooperation, to overcome 12,000 at Donelson; 60,000 to secure a victory over 40,000 at Pittsburg Landing (Shiloh); 120,000 to enforce the retreat of 65,000 intrenched, after a month's fighting and maneuvering at Corinth; 100,000 repelled by 80,000 in the first Peninsular campaign against Richmond; 70,000, with a powerful naval force, to inspire the campaign which lasted nine months, against 40,000 at Vicksburg; 90,000 to barely withstand the assault of 70,000 at Gettysburg; 115,000 sustaining a frightful repulse from 60,000 at Fredericksburg: 100,000 attacked and defeated by 50,000 at Chancellorsville; 85,000 held in check two days by 40,000 at Antietam; 43,000 retaining the field uncertainly against 38,000 at Stone River (Murfreesboro); 70,000 defeated at Chickamauga, and beleaguered by 70,000 at Chattanooga; 80,000 merely to break the investing line of 45,000 at Chattanooga, and 100,000 to press back 50,000 increased at last to 70,000 from Chattanooga to Atlanta, a distance of 120 miles, and then let go an operation which is commemorated at festive reunions by the standing toast of "One hundred days under fire;" 50,000 to defeat the investing line of 30,000 at Nashville; and, finally, 120,000 to overcome 60,000 with exhaustion after a struggle of a year in Virginia.

In some of the battles thus enumerated by General Buell, the odds were even greater than he states them. To illustrate the implicit confidence with which the Southern soldiers followed their leaders, he draws the following comparison: "At Cold Harbor the Northern troops, who had proven their indomitable qualities by losses nearly equal to the whole of their opponent, when ordered to another sacrifice, even under such a soldier as Hancock, answered the demand as one man---a silent and solid inertia. At Gettysburg Pickett, when waiting for the signal which Longstreet dreaded to repeat, for the hopeless but immortal charge against Cemetery Hill, saluted and said, as he turned to his ready column: "shall move forward, sir."

General Buell then speaks of another influence which nerved the hearts of the Confederate soldiers to valorous deeds: "Nor must we give slight importance to the influence of the Southern women, who in agony of heart girded the sword upon their loved ones and bade them go. It was to be expected that these various influences would give a confidence to leadership that would lead to bold adventure and leave its mark upon the contest."

The writer of the above words, which do so much honest justice to the soldiers of the South, was Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, the man whose timely arrival at Shiloh saved General Grant's army from utter annihilation and capture of what remained. Grant's army was crouched under the banks of the Tennessee River, and would have been captured or killed had not Buell arrived as soon as he did. He is about the only Northern general who has had the honesty to tell the real truth in regard to the numbers engaged on each side during the war.

Confederate Veteran, Vol. IX, No. 12 Nashville, Tenn., December, 1902.

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