Military Procedures & Events--Military transfer. Command Reassignment



At the start of the American Civil War, military authorities in the Union and Confederacy activated old militia companies, or created new volunteer companies, throughout their respective states. Some companies remained as home guard units under state government authority, while many others were activated for national service and combined with other companies into regiments, which were the standard independent military unit on the Civil War battlefield. Comprised of ten companies, each with one hundred men, a full-strength regiment consisted of one thousand soldiers. Because most regiments were raised at the state level, they typically carried the name of their state as well as a number (that generally indicated their sequence of organization), such as the 9th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

While the early-war command structure varied, eventually Union and Confederate armies used a system that placed two or more regiments into a brigade. Two or more brigades made a division. Above that, two or more divisions would be placed into a corps, and two or more corps would make up an army. Because of the size and scope of the Civil War, the Union and Confederacy had multiple armies, spread across different states or military theaters.

When activated for national service, state regiments had little control over where they were sent. Many units, especially from the Deep South—far from the initial war front—found themselves transferred far from their home areas and away from other units from their state. For instance, the 9th Mississippi Infantry Regiment and the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment were both organized in the spring of 1861 from volunteers around Corinth, Mississippi. The 9th Mississippi was first sent to Florida, then transferred to Tennessee, while the 11th Mississippi was ordered to Virginia upon activation for Confederate service. Regiments, and sometimes brigades or divisions, could see multiple transfers to fill gaps in other armies, or to create new commands as Union and Confederate armies enlarged. Subsequent transfers of units to new commands were more common in the western theaters, where fighting took place over a larger geographical area, forcing military authorities to more frequently divide or detach their available forces. (American Battlefield Trust; Encyclopedia of Virginia; National Park Service)

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