How The Draft Worked
In June the militia of the State were enrolled, under the act of Congress of March 3, 1863, entitled "An Act for enrolling and calling out the National Forces, and for other purposes." For the purpose of facilitating this enrolment, copies of the State enrolment of the several towns, made in January, were furnished to the several Boards of Enrolment, in accordance with the request of the Provost Marshal General, of May 8, 1863.
Before the draft was ordered, urgent application was made to the Secretary of War, that the several Provost Marshals might be directed to draft by towns, and, in apportioning to each town its quota, to consider the number of men heretofore furnished by each town, and give credits or charge deficiencies, accordingly. It was represented to him, that in this State each town is a municipality in itself, having rights distinct and well defined by statute law; the counties are made arbitrarily from towns, and Congressional Districts from Counties, neither being a municipality, like a town; that each town has heretofore raised its quota in its own way,--some, by the payment of heavy bounties; that many towns, by the payment of such bounties, had raised more than their quotas, and the town officers had been constantly assured that they should be allowed, upon future calls, the credit thus obtained; that the faith of the State was pledged to them, in this respect, and if any other course were taken, it might produce dissatisfaction and consequently mischief; that the records in this office would show accurately the quota of each town heretofore, and the number of men raised by each town, and that these numbers could be furnished at any time, to the several Provost Marshals, to serve as data for the computation of quotas on a new draft.
On the 17th of June a letter from the Provost Marshal General to the Acting Assistant Provost Marshal General for this State, was communicated to me, in which it was stated, that, if a draft should be ordered, the number of men to be drawn from each district would be calculated and furnished, and that the Board of Enrolment could apportion it among the towns comprising the district.
It was then supposed, that the question was settled, in accordance with the request made, and that the draft would be by town, thereby ensuring a present equality, even though no allowance were made for past credits. But in order to provide means for computing the quotas in the manner requested, tables were prepared and furnished to the Provost Marshal General, showing the exact surplus furnished by each town entitled to a credit, and the deficiency of each town, which had failed to furnish its quota heretofore.
In preparing the statement of three years' men furnished, each town was charged with its quota, as heretofore assessed, and was credited with the number of men actually furnished, as shown by the records in this office, and also with the just proportion belonging to such town, according to its population, of enlistments from abroad, which had been mainly induced by the additional State pay of seven dollars per month, to which all the towns had equally contributed.
In preparing the statement of nine months' men, each town was charged with its exact proportion, according to its number of enrolled militia, of 4898 men, which was the quota assessed upon the entire enrolled militia of the State, and was credited with the number of nine months' men furnished. The excess or deficiency, reduced to three years' men according to the rule adopted by the War Department, allowing one three years man to be equal to four nine months' men, was added to or deducted from the excess or deficiency of three years' men, as the case required.
On the first of July a communication was received from the Provost Marshal General, stating that a draft had been ordered in the First Congressional District of 1505 men of the first class; and on the third of July a farther communications was received, stating that a draft had been ordered in the Second Congressional District of 1763 men, and in the Third Congressional District of 1447 men, of the first class. It was also stated, that the records, from which the calculations had been made, as well as the calculations themselves, in determining the quotas, were impartial, and claimed to be entirely correct, but that, if an error should be discovered or pointed out in them, it would be duly corrected in the next subsequent draft.
The draft thus ordered was by enrollment districts, and not by towns. In the Second Congressional District, the draft was in fact made by counties; in the First and Third Districts the enrollment districts were less than counties, but each comprised two or more towns.
The subject of town credits still occupied much attention; and it was deemed obviously just, that those towns, which had furnished a surplus of men, either by the payment of town bounties, or through the active exertions of Selectmen and patriotic citizens, should have the benefit of their surplus, according to the assurances, which had been given them. Nothing was heard upon the subject until July 24th, when a letter from the Provost Marshal General, addressed to the Governor, dated July 19th, was received, stating, that, if it should be made to appear to the Provost Marshal General by the Governor of any State, that particular towns, to which quotas had been assigned, had heretofore actually furnished a surplus of men over their quotas, an order would be issued, discharging from the service of the United States a number of men, called into service by the present draft from said towns, equal to the surplus proved to have been furnished heretofore, and that towns would thus get credit actually for their excess on former calls. Instead, however, of charging the deficiency, thus created, upon the deficient towns, it was farther stated, that the number of men thus discharged from the service would be added to the next subsequent quota of the Congressional District, to which such towns belonged.
On the third of August, in accordance with this communication, a statement was prepared, which was certified by the Governor and forwarded to the Provost Marshal General, showing the surplus of men furnished by each town, which had obtained a credit; and General Order No. 1 was issued,--which is annexed in Appendix A. The amount of surplus certified by the Governor, in favor of each town, corresponded with the amount of credit given to each town by that order.
As proceedings under the draft were still in active progress, it was apparent, that, if the towns were to have any benefit from their credits, the several Provost Marshals must receive immediate instructions to that effect; and on the 13th of August the GOvernor telegraphed to the Provost Marshal General, urging that such directions should be given without delay. A reply was received, dated August 13th, in which it was said to be necessary, in order to ascertain to what extent towns were entitled to credit for a surplus of men actually furnished, to establish two points,--1. That a proper quota has been assigned to the town, under the general quota assigned to the State, and that this quota, taken with those of all the other towns, would make up the quota of the State;--2. That the surplus claimed, over and above this quota, had been actually furnished, and the men mustered into the United States' service; and that the second point could best be established by furnishing a list of the names of all the men claimed to have been furnished by a town, for comparison with the Muster In Rolls on file in the Adjutant General of the Army.
It was apparent, that compliance with these requirements, in season to be of any avail to the towns interested, was impossible. But a very full certificate was immediately prepared and forwarded to the Provost Marshal General, showing the quota assigned to the several towns in the States, and the number of men furnished by each town claiming a credit, and that the men thus furnished had been mustered into the United States' service. And the preparation of lists of the names of the men furnished by each town was commenced. Before these could be completed, it was announced by the Provost Marshal General, that no credits would be allowed to towns.
Courtesy of Linda M. Welch