History 269 The Civil War and Reconstruction
Army Organization

 
Unit  

Average Size

  Commander
Company 100 men Captain
Regiment 10 companies  = 1,000 men Colonel
Brigade 4-6 regiments  = 5,000 men Brigadier Gen.
Division 2-4 brigades  = 10,000 men Major General
Corps 3 divisions  = 30,000 men Major General
Army 2-3 corps  = 60,000+men Major General
 
Note: The figures above are averages from the early years of the war.  The size of military units generally grew smaller as the war dragged on and replacements became scarce.

Volunteers and Draftees
        The U.S. Army consisted of 16,400 soldiers on eve of the war (most of the enlisted men stayed with the Union; a third of the officers defected to the Confederacy).  After the fall of Fort Sumter, Lincoln called for 75,000 three-month volunteers and Davis called for 100,000 twelve-month enlistments.  North and South, with bands playing and recruiting officers making patriotic speeches, the states had no trouble meeting their quotas.  Young men rushed to serve their country, Yank and Reb, to do their patriotic duty as they saw it.  It did not take long to see that this would not be adequate even for a short war, and on May 3rd Lincoln called for an additional 42,000 three-year volunteers.  He also expanded the regular army to 23,000 and called for 18,000 navy sailors.  Congress granted approval for 1 million volunteers, and 700,000 men answered the call.  Meanwhile the Confederate government authorized an additional 400,000 volunteers.
        Within 6-9 months the romance of war had worn off and the Confederate army began melting away.  After a $50 reenlistment bonus proved insufficient, the Confederate Congress enacted a conscription law in April 1862.  Men age 18-35 were drafted for three years' service.  Exempted were civil servants (government employees and politicians), clergymen, apothecaries, teachers, militia officers, and workers in war-production jobs.  A second conscription law exempted planters with twenty or more slaves and allowed drafted men to hire substitutes (thus the phrase, "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight").  Several increasingly strong conscription laws followed as the South's manpower needs became more desperate, and resistance steadily increased (as did the number of deserters).  Approximately 800,000 men served in the Confederate army, of whom 120,000 were draftees and 70,000 were paid substitutes.
        Likewise in the North, enthusiasm for war soon turned into weariness.  Secretary of War Stanton tried to stimulate volunteering with the threat of conscription if quotas weren't met and this helped for about six months.  Then in March 1863 Congress passed the Enrollment Act, making all able-bodied citizens age 20-45 eligible for the draft.  The federal government also offered a $300 bounty for three-year enlistments.  Unlike the Confederate draft, there were no exemptions for selected occupations, but the law did allow for the hiring of substitutes.  Despite all the controversy (including the famous New York draft riots in July 1863), volunteers continued to comprise over 90 percent of the Union army's manpower.  Of the 2.2 million men who served in the Union Army, only 46,000 men were draftees and an additional 118,000 were substitutes.
        Over the course of the war, 2.2 million men served in the Union Army (93% of whom were volunteers).  The South, with a smaller population base, had 800,000 men pass through the ranks of the Confederate Army (77% of whom were volunteers).  The manpower needs of the Confederacy were exacerbated by two significant disadvantages: more immigrants had settled in the North, and a third of the Southern population was slaves.  The Confederate Army had approximately 100,000 foreign born soldiers (the Union had 500,000) and a negligible number of black soldiers (the Union had 190,000).

HIS 269 Contents
 
DH 01/04