Generally speaking the numbers have centered around the number of Union soldiers who occupied Stafford – usually stated as 100,000 to 120,000 in most publications. There was a Confederate occupation as well and the combined number was reckoned at 150,000. As a minimum, we can now say all the previous numbers have been entirely too low:
Confederate Occupation April 1861-April 1862 (Initially the Department of Fredericksburg [through October 1861] and then Aquia District, Department of Northern Virginia [November 1861 to March 1862]): In September 1861, the department numbered: 9,407 (C.S.) 1
(May have increased further by March 1862; for example, J. R. Anderson’s “Army of the Rappahannock” [April-September 1862] with 13,000 troops occupied below the Rappahannock to Gordonsville.)
First Federal Occupation (April-September 1862) “Department of the Rappahannock”: 43,484 (U.S.) 2
Second Federal Occupation (November 1862-June 1863) Army of the Potomac:
135,000 (U.S.) at the Battle of Fredericksburg
Variously reported during the “Valley Forge”-period at:
Jan. 31, 1863:149,523; Mar. 21, 1863: 122,578;
Mar. 31, 1863:136,949; Apr. 1863: 146,000-169,000;
May 1863:c. 122,000; June 1863:c. 100,000
Thus, the largest number known available for field duty at one time was
169,000 (U.S.) prior to Chancellorsville. 3
Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign:
Currently Unknown – certainly in the thousands, if only counting the wounded and prisoners (at least 14,000 are not included in this accounting).
Totals: At least 221,891Civil War Soldiers were in Stafford (212,484 U.S. and 9,407 C.S.) during the war. *
* Not counted are Confederate sorties into Stafford including: 400 in Fitz Lee’s Raid on Hartwood Church in February 1863; and around 100 in Mosby’s Belle Plain Raid in May 1864. Numerous other cavalry raids/patrols are also not included. Also not counted are the large numbers of civilians working for the Union Army on railroad construction and logistical duties, as well as civilian volunteers of the U.S. Christian and Sanitary Commissions and Navy personnel of the Potomac Flotilla.
1. David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler, editors, Encyclopedia of the American Civil War, 2000.
2. William Ross St. George, Jr., Security from Phantoms: The Department of the Rappahannock and the Campaign for Virginia in the Spring of 1862, Master’s Thesis, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 1994. (FSNMP Library)
3. Albert Z. Conner Jr., Union Army’s “Valley Forge” 1863: 93 Days That Saved America, 2012.