Friday, July 29, 2016

Sodier Ages - Mythical Company

Let's use the Adjutant General's data and recruit a mythical 100-soldier infantry company.

At the first drill, the company lines up by age.

As we inspect the ranks, the first 4 'men' are 15 or younger!

Walking the line of soldiers, we see:
age        number
16            4
17           22
18           11
19-21      37
22-24      20
25-43        1

finally, last in line is an old greybeard over 43!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Soldier Ages - the full text

Here is the transcribed text from the booklet, with words replacing the actual ditto, double-quote, marks :

Grand Army of the Republic

The veterans’ organization was founded by Dr. Stephenson, in Decatur, Illinois, in 1866.  The final encampment was in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949.

Number of men, by age who served in the Union (from the Adjutant General’s report)
Age 10 and under: 25
Age 11 and under: 38
Age 12 and under: 225
Age 13 and under: 300
Age 14 and under: 1,525
Age 15 and under: 104,987
Age 16 and under: 231,051
Age 17 and under: 844,891
Age 18 and under: 1,151,438
Age 21 and under: 2,159,798
Age 22 and over: 618,511
Age 25 and over: 46,626
Age 44 and over: 16,071

TOTAL . . . . . . 2,778,304 [actually 2,778,309 ]

Friday, July 22, 2016

Soldier Ages - rebuttal

Before continuing an analysis of the 'soldiers ages', let's acknowledge some issues with them.

1) the 'Adjutant General's Report' is an elusive one. I've not seen an original form.  The same text I posted can be found in only 3 or 4 places on the web, but strictly as cut'n'paste. Is it in the official records? Is it the GAR AG or the War Department AG, or someone else?

2) The figures *are* somewhat mind-bending. Most sources use 2.1 million as the number of Union servicemen. The 2.7 million may be double-counting multiple enlistees? Many men would have enlisted for 3 months and then for 3 years.

3) Some numbers are problematic. Only 46,626 servicemen were 25 or over. This number seems way low.

4) many reputable historians use 26 as the average soldiers age. That number is impossible given this data. From where did these writers obtain *their* figure?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Soldier Ages

Earlier this year I commented on another blog that 40% of Civil War soldiers were 18 or younger and 75% were 21 and under. These are numbers that stuck with me from a lecture sometime last century. Politely challenged, I was unable to find *any* backup for my figures.

This surprised me given the massive Official Records and census data readily available and the web on all topics Civil War.

Browsing randomly (as I tend to) through the booklet "Civil War Union Monuments" published in 1978 by the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, I found this page:

Some quick math reveals that 41% of Union soldiers were 18 or under and 78% were 21 and younger. Only 2 in 9 were 22 and older..

Naturally, one source does not a solid conclusion make.

However, my primary thesis is that movies, battle reenactments and living history has instilled in us the idea that Civil War soldiers were old, well-fed and graying.

These numbers tell us that 3 in 4 weren't even eligible to vote.