A major theme of my Antietam research is that the Union army saw significant straggling in Maryland, although not on the same scale as what occurred in Confederate ranks. However, actually quantifying that straggling is next to impossible because very few reports exist listing day to day strengths for regiments, brigades, divisions, or corps, outside of tri-monthly consolidated morning reports (returns for units submitted on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month) and monthly returns (returns for strengths of army commands submitted at the end of each month).
This letter helps to fill in this gap in a very small way. Here, Scammon lists numbers of men who fell out of the ranks for the three regiments in his brigade on the day of September 8. He also includes those who came back to their regiments after the day's march was done, and who were present for roll call the next morning.
I find this fascinating. First, in the three regiments, 149 men straggled from the ranks on September 8, weakening the force considerably, especially because it was just one day, and based on accounts from soldiers and officers alike, straggling occurred consistently throughout the Maryland Campaign. Furthermore, a sizable number of those stragglers came back into their regiments that night. Thus, the number for each regiment was fluctuating from one evening to the next morning. One can only assume that such straggling and fluctuating numbers, such as is seen here, had some effect on the inability of regimental, brigade, division, and corps commanders to understand exactly how many effective fighting men they had under their command on any given day.
The obvious disclaimer for this is that it only applies to one day and to one brigade. However, based on what I have found elsewhere in company books being left behind or leaving blank spaces for recording strength during the month of September, Scammon's September 9th letter seems to fit a larger trend of straggling and uncertainty in understanding Federal strength in September 1862.
Headquarters, 1st Brigade, Kanawha DivisionSeptember 9, 1862Sir,I have the honor to report the number of absentees from “Roll Call” immediately upon entering the camp last night and the number absent from “Roll Call” this morning, in the different regiments and camps of the 1st Brigade, as follows,“Evening Roll Call” “Morning Roll Call”
30th Regiment 36 men 23 Men
12th 53 Men 10 Men
23rd 60 Men 24 Men
1st OH Artillery1st Va Cavalry
Total—149 Total—57Very Respectfully,E.P. ScammonCol. Commanding Brigade
Capt. G.M. BascomA.A.G.
Source: Eliakim P. Scammon dispatch of September 9, 1862, Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, Letters Received, Entry 961, Record Group 393, Part 2, National Archives.