Several months ago there was a discussion about the strength of the Seventeenth Michigan at South Mountain. My calculation was around 750, while a letter from Frederick Swift to General Carmen stated that it was 500. While preparing for a talk on the Seventeenth at South Mountain (Monday 25 August at the Michigan Regimental Round Table), I found a letter in my files that sheds some more light on this.
Gabriel Campbell, a captain (company E) like Swift (also a captain at the time) wrote to Carmen on 23 August 1899 that
The 17th Michigan was no doubt chosen for this emergency because it was strong (numerically) and new. The report that there were about 500 for duty (Colonel Swift then a captain ion Company F in Michigan in the War) must be a mistake [emphasis added]. Company A was absent on Provost Duty at Frederick, and say. 10 to 15 percent sick or detached, this would mean between 700 and 800 for duty. Evidently the new regiments were thought more reliable by the commanding generals than old ones for an attack in front of stone wall, old ones be more inclined to "shy off" and attack the flank in such cases.
My reconstructed monthly return support a figure between 725 and 750.
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