Size of the Union and Confederate Armies

        There is no accurate means of determining just how many individuals served in the armed forces of either the Federal or Confederate armies. Many educated estimates utilizing official and unofficial figures are available. The figures herein accepted are the result of an extensive study of these estimates.
        Total enlistments in the Federal forces are officially put at 2,778,304, including, in the Army, 2,489,836 whites, 178,975 Negroes, 3530 Indians, and 105,963 in the Navy and Marines. Some scholars do not even accept these figures as authoritative and it must be borne in mind that many thousands who are included enlisted more than once. Also included are troops whose period of service varied from a few days to the duration. The important question is how many individuals served in the armed forces. Estimates run from 1,550,OO0 to 2,200,000 Federals. Probably something over 2,000,000 would be as accurate a figure as possible on total individuals in the Federal armed forces.
        For the Confederates, figures are even more in dispute. Estimates of total Confederate enlistments run from 600,000 to 1,400,000. Many Confederate scholars count 6oo,oco total individuals. After considering the numerous surveys made, perhaps 750,000 individuals would be reasonably close. Thus it can be said that Federals, counting Negro troops, outnumbered the Confederates about three to one in number of individuals.
        As to the navies, the Federals totaled 132,554 enlistments (105,963 credited to states, plus other sailors not so credited). For the Confederate Navy, in 1864 enlisted men totaled 3674, plus officers and marines, but no reliable totals are available.

Comparative Strength
Date Union Total Union Present Union Absent Confederates
for Duty
& Absent
Jan. 1, '61 16,367
July 1, '61 186,751 183,588 3163        
Dec. 31, '61       209,852 258,680 326,768 68,088
Jan. 1, '62 575,917 527,204 48,713        
Mar. 31, '62 637,126 533,984 103,142        
June 30, '62       169,943 224,146 328,049 103,903
Dec. 31, '62       253,208 304,015 449,439 145,424
Jan. 1, '63 918,191 698,802 219,389        
Dec. 31, '63       233,586 277,970 464,646 186,676
Jan. 1, '64 860,737 611,250 249,487        
June 30, '64       161,528 194,764 315,847 121,083
Dec. 31, '65       154,910 196,016 400,787 204,771
Jan 1, '65 959,460 620,924 338,536        
1865       125,994 160,198 358,692 198,494
Mar. 31, '65 980,086 657,747    322,339        
May 1, '65 1,000,516            

        The figures show more completely than any text the disparity between the armies.  The Federals at the start of 1862 had a two-to-one advantage which steadily mounted until the end of 1864 when the Union advantage in numbers present was over three to one. Also of great importance are the absentee figures.  While continually high in the Federal forces, rising on January 1, 1865, to over a third of the total, the Confederate figures are much higher.  At the end of 1864, the Southern absent totaled more than 50 per cent, and was of course much more important as the total available forces were so low.   In addition, for much of the war a large Confederate force was in the Trans-Mississippi region, where it could not contribute to eastern operations.
Source: "The Civil War Day By Day" by E.B. Long

This Page last updated 10/22/04