War of the Rebellion: Serial 074 Page 0629 Chapter L. REPORTS, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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not strike in detail, was issued and obeyed. These retreats were always at night; the day was consumed in hard labor. Daily temporary works were thrown up, behind which it was never intended to fight. The men became travelers by night and laborers by day. They were ceasing to be soldiers by the disuse of military duty. Thus for seventy-four days and nights that noble army-if ordered to resist, no force that the enemy could assemble could dislodge from a battle-field-continued to abandon their country, to see their strength departing, and their flag waving only in retreat or in partial engagements. At the end of that time, after descending from the mountains when the last advantage of position was abandoned, and campaign without fornications on the open plains of Georgia, the army had lost 22,750 of its best soldiers. Nearly one-third was gone, no general battle fought, much of our State abandoned, two others uncovered, and the organization and efficiency of every command, by loss of officers, men, and tone, seriously diminished. These things were the inevitable result of the strategy adopted. It is impossible for a large army to retreat in the face of a pursuing enemy without such a fate. In a retreat the losses are constant and permanent. Stragglers are overtaken, the fatigued fall by the wayside, and are gathered by the advancing enemy. Every position by the rear guard, if taken, yields its wounded to the victors. The soldiers, always awaked from rest at night to continue the retreat, leave many of their comrades asleep in trenches. The losses of a single day are not large. Those of seventy-four days will embrace the strength of an army. If a battle be fought and the field held at the close, however great the slaughter, the loss will be less than to retreat in the face of an enemy. There will be no stragglers. Desertions are in retreat; rarely, if ever, on the field of battle. The wounded are gathered to the rear and soon recover, and in a few weeks the entire loss consists only of the killed and permanently disabled, which is not one-fifth of the apparent loss on the night of the battle. The enemy is checked, his plans deranged, territory saved, the campaign suspended or won. If a retreat still be necessary it can then be done with no enemy pressing and no loss following. The advancing party loses nothing but its killed and permanently disabled. Neither straggler nor deserter thins its ranks. It reaches the end of its march stronger for battle than when it started. The army commanded by General Sherman and that commanded by General Johnston, not greatly unequal at the commencement of the campaign, illustrate what I have written. General Sherman in his official report states that his forces, when they entered Atlanta, were nearly the same in number as when they left Dalton. The Army of Tennessee lost 22,750 men, nearly one-third of its strength. I have nothing to say of the statement of losses made by General Johnston in his official report, except to state that by his own figures he understates his loss some thousands; that he excludes the idea of any prisoners, although his previous official returns show more than 7,000 under the head "absent without leave," and that the returns of the army while he was in command, corrected and increased by the records of the army, which has not been fully reported to the Government, and the return signed by me, but made up under him as soon as I assumed command, show the losses of the Army of Tennessee to be what I have stated, and a careful examination of the returns with the army will show the losses to be more than stated.