As a fan of American Civil War history (for a while in my early 20′s I was unsure which direction in the field of history I would head), I have always found it interesting that, despite the high literacy of the troops and the amount of letters and correspondence we have from both armies, how incredibly complicated it is to narrow down ‘what happened’. Even something such as figuring out how many Confederate casualties there had been during the Gettysburg Campaign seems to be a troubling challenge. D. Scott Hartwig had this to say:
A further drain on the army’s manpower was the high number of desertions it experienced through July and into September. Using a variety of methods General Lee managed to staunch the flow of desertions that early fall. And in a testament to his administrative and organizational skills, he reorganized and rebuilt his army so that it was ready for the spring campaign of 1864. Yet good as that army was it never again approached the army Lee led to Gettysburg in size or offensive capability.
You’ll want to read the whole post to see why he says what he says.