Letters from Readers- CWT February 2013 | HistoryNet MENU

Letters from Readers- CWT February 2013

5/2/2017 • Civil War Times Magazine

A Different Heroine?

The female likeness shown next to the wartime picture of Loreta Janeta Velazquez on P. 63 of your December 2012 issue is not Velazquez, as the caption indicates, but another Confederate heroine, Lola Sanchez, taken when she was 50 years old. Sanchez was the daughter of a Cuban family living near St. Augustine, Fla. After she overheard Union officers planning an attack on the nearby Confederate Camp Davis, she rode more than 2½ miles through forests and took a skiff over the St. John’s River to warn the troops at the camp. The Union attack was routed. Sanchez is one of the individuals I’m featuring in a book I am writing.

Jim Smithfield

Fredericksburg, Va.

Editor Dana B. Shoaf Replies: The images we used were from Loreta Velazquez’s autobiography, The Woman in Battle, published in 1876. Reprinted above is the “older” image of her that appears on that volume’s frontispage. It is captioned “Madame Velazquez in Female Attire.”

Challenging the Numbers

Regarding the “Q&A” interview with Ric Burns in the December issue, I would like to comment on J. David Hacker’s assertions that there were 700,000-750,000 dead during the war. There is no historical and/or contemporary authenticated and supportable basis for his particular “estimates.” Hacker’s estimates are largely based on notoriously inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable Confederate personnel muster records.

With reference to the enormous casualties that he cites, I want to identify a primary source that you might already be well aware of. In Battles and Leaders of the Civil War on pages 767-768 there is the statement: “Northern writers have assumed that the Confederate losses equaled the Union losses (360,222 circa 1885); no data exist for a reasonably accurate estimate.”

Also note that in This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, author Drew Gilpin Faust states on P. 320 that “Hacker seems to me far too sanguine in his acceptance of figures for both Union and Confederate battle deaths as ‘reasonably accurate.’ ”

John Roark

Burke, Va.

Dorsey Pender on the High Seas Thank you for reprinting the 1962 story about General Dorsey Pender in your October 2012 issue. The article does not mention the Liberty Ship honoring him and named after him, aboard which I returned from the European Theater in August 1945.

Carle G. Gray

Sullivan, Maine

Editor’s note: Thank you for your service.

The Ship’s Wheel

In the December 2012 “Image&Insight” photograph, workers of the Woodruff & Beach Company are standing on a steam engine built for USS Kearsarge. The caption for detail No. 1 states, “Company president Samuel Woodruff strikes a pose at the ship’s wheel.” I do not believe that this is the ship’s wheel.

The ship’s wheel would be on deck, not in the engine room. The wheel in this photograph appears to be made from metal. The ship’s wheel would be made from wood, and it would also be much larger than this one. The wheel in this picture appears to be connected by a long shaft to the machinery at right. For that reason I believe Woodruff is resting his hand on the throttle. Turning this wheel would regulate the flow of steam from the boiler to the engine, controlling the speed of the ship.

Thank you for an excellent magazine. I look forward to each and every new issue.

 John J. Morrissey

 Mechanicville, N.Y.

Editor’s note: What an appropriate town for this letter to come from!

Honor for Farragut

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut’s Woodlawn Cemetery grave site in Bronx, N.Y., has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Famous for his “Damn the torpedoes” remark, Farragut is recognized as one of America’s most accomplished naval officers (turn to P. 16 to see his sword). The monument depicts a ship’s broken mast draped with the U.S. flag and decorated with emblems representing Farragut’s career.

Susan Olsen

Director of Historical Services, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York

Size of the Armies?

I was hoping that you could help me grasp the size and scope of both the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. What were the average strengths of the various companies, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps?

For example, when I read that Maj. Gen. George Meade had 51 brigades of infantry, I had a hard time equating that to an actual number of soldiers. How many men make up a brigade, etc.?

 Dean A. Treadway

Knoxville, Tenn.

Editor Dana Shoaf Replies: On paper, a regiment numbered 1,000 men, and if an average brigade was made up five regiments, it would consist of 5,000 troops. But disease and battle constantly wore down regiments, and they were never at full strength. At Gettysburg, for example, Brig. Gen. Evander Law’s brigade of five Alabama regiments numbered 2,050 men total, and the regiments numbered from 367 to 530 soldiers in strength. The entire Army of Northern Virginia fielded about 80,000 men.

The Union Army of the Potomac had 113,000 men at Gettysburg, but it had the same problems at the regimental level. Take the “Iron Brigade,” whose actions at Antietam are chronicled on P. 32. Only 1,898 men in five regiments answered the brigade’s roll call on June 30, 1863, and the regiments had from 339 to 511 men each.

For comprehensive accounts of the respective armies’ numbers at Gettysburg, see Brigades of Gettysburg (2002), by Bradley Gottfried, or Regimental Strengths at Gettysburg (1982), by David Martin and John Busey.


Originally published in the February 2013 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.

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