Click these links to go to the reports sorted by corps, or scroll down for sections on various subjects covered in the reports.
How well was Lee’s army clothed and equipped in the last year of the war? What did they eat? Was discipline lax or strict? Was the army by this point a uniform mass, or were there still striking differences between one regiment and another?
In August of 1864, the Confederate Government instituted a new system of monthly inspections. While periodic unit inspections had been carried out before, now they would utilize a standard from, allowing the War Department to better assess the relative condition of various commands.
The inspecting officer attached to each brigade would personally observe each regiment, record its strength in numbers, deficiencies in equipage, discipline, drill, health, etc., and forward a completed report to the division inspector general. The division inspector would then create an aggregate report on the same model, often with much more in the way of commentary and opinion, presumably since the division level reports were more likely to be read by those higher up. The inspector general for the corps would then create an aggregate report from the division reports.
All these reports would be viewed and endorsed by various officers of the Adjutant & Inspector General’s office, the Quartermaster’s Department, and the Ordnance Department, who could use the reports to gauge which commands were most in need of improvement or supplies. These officers would often write brief, sometimes enlightening, endorsement notes on the report folder.
It should be borne in mind that the surviving records (from August, 1864 to February, 1865) are missing at least one division for each month. There are no reports for March, 1865. Most reports were filled out at the close of the month, so the March reports likely never made it to Richmond before the evacuation. Perhaps they were lost or burned at some point in the retreat to Appomattox.
Also, many reports suffer from badly faded ink, rendering some of them partly or entirely illegible. This was found particularly true of the cavalry (for some reason), and a decision was made early in this research not to include the cavalry or artillery in this study. Another attempt may be made in the future to partially remedy this omission.
There is a great variance in the quality of the reports. Some inspectors were more competent and thorough than others, so the amount of information in them can vary widely, with comments ranging from multi-page essays to nothing at all.
There are only a few reports on file from the Army of Tennessee. A feature on these will eventually be included on this site.
The inspection information presented here is the result of many hours of research at the National Archives, mostly between 1995 and 2001. All information was drawn from Record Group 109.7.1, Records of the Adjutant & Inspector General’s Department: , microfilm record M935.Inspection Reports 1864-1865
Click on the links below to explore different topics discussed in the reports. Additional divisions and brigades will be added over time.