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Confederate Living History Units
On 6 March 1861 the Confederate Provisional Congress established the Army of the Confederate States of America. This army, poorly organized when the war began, was soon overshadowed by the volunteer forces known officially as the Provisional Army.
On the outbreak of the American Civil War, 313 officers left the United States Army to join the Confederate Army. President Jefferson Davis called for 82,000 volunteers but this was clearly not enough and in August, 1861, the Confederate Congress authorized the recruitment of 400,000 men. It was the responsibility of the individual states to recruit these men.
On 28 February and 6 March the Confederate Congress gave the president control over military operations and the power to muster state forces and volunteers. On 8 May it authorized enlistments for the war, and on 8 August, after four more states had joined the Confederacy, it called for 400,000 volunteers to serve for either one or three years. In April 1862, congressmen passed the first conscription act, which drafted men directly into the Provisional Army.
ComplicationsThe decentralized political structure of the Confederacy forced lawmakers to clarify its military chain of command from the start. On 16 May 1861 the Confederate congress established the rank of general to give Confederate commanders control over state troops. Under an act passed on 28 February 1861, the military gained the power to appoint major generals in the Provisional Army. Finally, in September 1862, Confederate legislators created the rank of lieutenant general in the Provisional Army.
Rank and Awards
In the Confederate Army all officers below the rank of brigadier were elected by the troops. There were no medals awarded as it was claimed they were all heroes and it would be wrong to single anyone out. The highest honor was to be mentioned in dispatches.
Some soldiers in the Confederate Army was willing to defend the South from the Union Army but objected to offensive operations. When Robert E. Lee decided to take the war to the north in the summer of 1863, an estimated 50,000 men deserted. This number increased after the defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. By the end of the war there were an estimated 100,000 deserters at large in the South.
The Confederacy faced serious challenges outfitting its troops and planning a vast military campaign throughout the Civil War. The government had little access to modern weaponry and was forced to hire privateers to run the Union blockade and purchase arms abroad. The fledgling government also faced the task of procuring shoes, clothing, and blankets for soldiers at a time when wool and leather were scarce. Furthermore, the region's dearth of railroads and canals made it difficult for the government to ship goods and to feed its troops. The South's weak infrastructure also affected Confederate military strategy. By 1863, horses and mules were scarce, which limited the mobility of the army's cavalry, artillery, and baggage trains. These difficulties were exacerbated by a divided leadership structure that limited prompt coordination between military departments. All of these challenges dictated how Confederate generals would wage war against Union leaders, who could draw recruits from a larger population and enjoyed access to better transportation and resources.
A total of 1,406,180 men enlisted in the Confederate Army during the war. An estimated 52,954 men who were killed in action, 21,570 died of their wounds and 59,297 were the victims of disease. At the end of the war 174,223 men surrendered to the Union Army.
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