A Short Chronology of the War
Sumter has fallen! Nothing, since our existence as a nation, has so thrilled the hearts of the people as this short message, flashed over the wires on that memorable 13th of April, 1861. (Lane, 5)
"At the outbreak of the Rebellion, no Northern State was less prepared for war than Vermont. Except in the feeble existence of four skeleton regiments, her militia was unorganized, the men subject to military service not being even enrolled. Some of the uniformed companies were without guns, others drilled with ancient flint-locks; and the State possessed but five hundred serviceable percussion muskets, and no tents nor camp equipage." (Robinson, 340-41)
On 15 April 1861, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand men to serve for three months, to aid in enforcing the laws and suppressing the rebellion--which then gave but faint indications of its subsequent extent and proportions--and made requisition upon the Governor of our State, for its quota of the same. Governor Holbrook immediately ordered all the uniformed militia organized under the laws of the State, to fill up their companies to their full quota, which order was promptly obeyed, and they were organized into the 1st Regiment Vt. Volunteers, and mustered into the service of the United States May 2d, 1861. (Lane, 6)
In July 1861, Congress, assembled in Extra Session, passed an Act authorizing the President to call out 500,000 men, to serve for three years unless sooner discharged. The work of raising troops, thus authorized, was soon commenced. Under the calls of the President, made by virtue of that Act, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Regiments were rapidly organized and sent forward. (Lane, 6)
In September 1861, Col. Lemuel B. Platt received orders from the War Department to recruit and organize a Regiment of Cavalry, to serve for three years. The novelty of Cavalry service was attractive to many, and the Regiment was speedily raised, and was mustered into the service of the United States Nov. 19th, 1861. If the idea that this mode of service was easy, induced any to enlist, that idea was soon dispelled. A position in its ranks proved to be one of constant activity, hardship and danger. (Lane, 9)
The work of raising troops, authorized by Act of Congress in July, still went on. Under it, the Seventh and Eighth Regiments of Infantry, the First and Second Batteries of Light Artillery, and the First, Second and Third Companies of Sharp Shooters were raised. (Lane, 10)
On 1 January 1862, men were detailed from the Regiments in the field to act as recruiting officers, and to enlist men to fill up those Regiments. (Lane, 12)
On 3 April 1862, the War Department directed that all further recruiting should cease.
So universal had been the unanimity and enthusiasm of the people in sustaining the Government in this efforts to suppress the Rebellion, and so promptly had they responded to the calls for men, that there were thousands in the ranks, more than had been asked for. But this proved to be only a temporary lull in the storm of war, which was soon to break forth with redoubled energy and fierceness, and the cessation in the work of raising men, was of brief duration. (Lane, 13)
On 21 May the Governor was directed to raise one Regiment of Infantry, to be ready in thirty days. An order was immediately issued to raise the Ninth Regiment, and notwithstanding the entire machinery of recruiting had been laid aside, within forty days from the time the first man enlisted, the Regiment was in Camp at Brattleboro. (Lane, 13-14)
On 1 July 1862, the President of the United States issued a call for 300,000 volunteers to serve for three years. The Governor immediately issued an order for raising the Tenth and Eleventh Regiments. They were raised with great rapidity. Both were full beyond the maximum number required and were in camp at Brattleboro on 15 August. (Lane, 14)
Thus far the Regiments had been raised by the State at large, by recruiting officers appointed specially for that purpose, and stationed at the most convenient and accessible points. No particular number of men had been assigned to, or required of each town, as their proportion of the troops to be raised. So general had been the enthusiasm and loyalty of the people of the State, that the requisitions for troops were immediately filled, and towns vied with each other in swelling the ranks of the Union Army. Men, from all the avocations and professions of life, promptly responded to their country's call, and thus far, the enlistments had been made without any other bounty than such as Government offered them, and the monthly State pay of seven dollars per month, granted to volunteers early in the war. (Lane, 14)
But the ranks of the Regiments in the field were becoming rapidly decimated by the casualties incident to the service, and must be filled up. It was decided, that the several towns in the State, should be allowed to raise the necessary number of men in their own way. For this purpose, it became necessary for the first time that each town should have assigned to ti, specifically, the number of men it was expected to raise. The quotas of the towns under the call of the President of July 1st, for 300,000 volunteers, were assessed, and the Selectmen were authorized to act as recruiting officers, for the purpose of raising the number of men required, to fill the Regiments in the field. (Lane, 15)
On 4 August (1862), the President made another requisition for 300,000 men, to serve for nine months; and ordered that, if not furnished by volunteer enlistment by 3 September, a draft would be made on that day for the deficiency. It was at the same time declared by the Secretary of War, that if any State, before 15 August, should not furnish its quota of the call of July 1st, the deficiency would be made up by draft. The time for draft in this State for the three years' men was afterwards extended to Sept. 10th. (Lane, 15)
Under the call of August 4th, the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Regiments of nine months men were organized. These men must be furnished in less than thirty days, by voluntary enlistment or by draft. How, and by whom, this imperative call shall be filled, very naturally became the absorbing question. The novelty of the war, which had attracted many at its commencement, was being dispelled, and the magnitude of the Rebellion becoming more clearly understood. The war had become a stern reality, and the ardor and promptness which had manifested itself in filling previous calls, had somewhat abated; but not the patriotism and determination of the people to sustain the Government, and prosecute the war, until a final and complete victory of the Union Army was achieved, and an honorable peace obtained. (Lane, 14)
On 3 March 1863, Congress passed an Act for enrolling and calling out the National Forces. This law created the office of Provost Marshal General, with a Deputy Provost Marshal in each Congressional District. Under the Deputy Provost Marshals, an enrollment of those liable to do military duty, between the ages of twenty and forty-five, was made, in two classes. The first class was composed of those between the ages of twenty and thirty-five, including those unmarried up to forty-five. The second class was composed of married men between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five. The second class was not to be drafted until the first class was exhausted. The law further provided, that any person drafted under it, would be discharged by furnishing an acceptable substitute, or by paying a commutation of three hundred dollars. These two classes were subsequently merged into one, and the provision for the three hundred dollar commutation was stricken out, as it was found, by trial, that the draft yielded more money than men, and although money is one of the sinews of war, it was not the sinew most needed to put down the Rebellion.
Under this law, a draft was made in July 1863, to fill [the] quota of a call of the President just made for 300,000 men. The draft was ordered by enrollment districts, composed of two or more towns, and not by towns separately, so that no quota was assigned to each town, or any opportunity given them to fill the call by voluntary enlistment.
This was the only draft ordered during the war, without an opportunity being first given to towns to furnish their quotas by enlistment, and the only one made in the State, except in a few towns which failed to furnish their quotas under subsequent calls for men.
But the Rebellion did not stop. The Seceded States, organized as a nation, with all the machinery of Government, under the name of the Southern Confederacy, with a liberal proportion of the military men of ability educated in the schools of the Government they were attempting to destroy, enlisted under their banner, and with almost every man within their borders, able to bear a part, conscripted into their army; and, added to this, the border Slave States which had not openly seceded, lending largely their aid and sympathy to the unholy cause; the Rebellion had assumed a magnitude, that far exceeded the most extravagant calculations of the Government, or of the loyal people at its commencement. The time of service of the nine months men enlisted the previous year, had expired, and the Regiments in the field had again become reduced, and their ranks must be filled up, and it became evident that more calls for men must be made.
On 2 August 1863, the Governor directed the raising of the Seventeenth Regiment of Infantry, and the Third Battery of Light Artillery. But as no new call for men had yet been made, the raising of these organizations progressed very slowly. (Lane, 23)
On 17 October 1863, the President of the United States issued his Proclamation calling for 300,000 volunteers for three years service, and announced that if any State should fail to raise its quota, a draft would be made for the deficiency, on the 5th day of January, 1864. This call to fill the ranks of the Regiments in the field, and the Selectmen were again appointed recruiting officers, and charged with the duty of raising the quotas of their respective towns. (Lane, 23-24)
On 1 February 1864, the President of the United States ordered that a draft for 500,000 men to serve for three years, or during the war, should be made on the 10th day of March, following, unless previously furnished by enlistment. As explained, this was equivalent to a new call for 200,000 men, as the enlistments made under the call of Oct. 17, 1863, were to be deducted from it.
On 14 March 1864, the President made another call for 200,000 men, and ordered that a draft be made on the 15th day of April, following, to fill the quotas of such towns as might be deficient. This call was made for the purpose of equalizing the result of the draft, made in July 1863, by districts, and of raising any deficiency that might exist, in the number of men furnished by any town, under it. For the first time, under this call, each town was credited with the number of men actually drafted from it.
On 9 March 1864, General U. S. Grant was appointed to the command of the entire Union forces, and the whole power of the Government pledged to his support in crushing the Rebellion. It became evident that the patriotism and loyalty of the North was to be further largely taxed in furnishing men to fill up the ranks of the Union army.
On 23 May 1864, a circular was issued by the Adj. and Ins. General of the State, in accordance with advices received from the War Department, earnestly urging the towns in the State to commence the enlisting of men at once, in anticipation of another call.
On 18 July, as anticipated, the President of the United States issued a call for 500,000 men, and ordered that a draft be made on the 5th day of September, unless the men should be previously furnished by voluntary enlistment. Under this call men were accepted for one, two or three years, and men enrolled, and liable to draft, were also allowed to furnish substitutes in advance of a draft, thus exempting themselves for the time for which their substitutes were enlisted. (Lane, 30)
On 19 December 1864, the President of the United States made another call for 300,000 men, to be furnished by the 15th day of February, 1865, and ordered a draft on that day, for any deficiency which might then exist. Men were accepted for one, two or three years, but the towns were assured, that it was for their ultimate interest to enlist as many men for three years as possible; as, in assessing future quotas, the years of service furnished, instead of the number of men, was to be the basis of assessment. Under this call, two companies, the First and Second, were raised in this State for the First Regiment of Frontier Cavalry. These companies were mustered into the service January 10, 1865, and were mustered out 27 June 1865. (Lane, 33)
This was the last call made, and closes the record of enlistments. (Lane, 35)
In addition to the Vermont units, Green Mountain Boys served in a variety of other units, including, units from other States, the 1st U. S. Army Corps, the U. S. Navy, the regular U. S. Army, and as U. S. Army recruits, as members of the U. S. Colored Troops, and in the Veterans' Reserve Corps, and as officers in Vermont organizations within the state.
Lane, E. H. The Soldiers' Record of Jericho, Vermont, R. S. Styles, Burlington, VT, 1868.
Robinson, Rowland Evans. Vermont: A Study of Independence. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1892.