Discussion An Address by the Rebel Soldiers... How Confederate Conscription aided the Union Cause (Jan-Feb 1864).

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
I have read the speech and I don't recall any such distinction.
Leftyhunter

Ah, good.

At my second look, Davis' comment in that speech about desertion looks like desparate politicized rhetoric. It's not based on anything except emotion.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Wasn't Davis' Macon speech mentioning "two-thirds absent" meant to be specific to Hood's Army of Tennessee?
I have read the speech and I don't recall any such distinction.
Leftyhunter
Ah, good.

At my second look, Davis' comment in that speech about desertion looks like desparate politicized rhetoric. It's not based on anything except emotion.
Or Davis was just telling it like it is. As President of the Confedracy he knew exactly what was going on with the Confedracy and by the summer of 1864 there was no good news.
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
I have read the speech and I don't recall any such distinction.
Leftyhunter
I believe that the Army of Tennessee were the ones most affected by this manifesto being passed around from camp to camp. In addition to Confederate troops in northern Mississippi, northern Alabama and along the Tennessee river from the Mississippi State line to the Georgia State line. In April 1864, Lt. General Leonidas B. Polk, complained of deserters from northern Mississippi and northern Alabama, just before being ordered to Join the Army of Tennessee and placed under General Joseph E. Johnston at Dalton, GA. Lt. General Polk was so concerned that he was losing hundreds in his command to desertion, that he ordered Brig. General Philip D. Roddey on the Tennessee river in northern Alabama to chase these deserters out of their hiding places at what ever the cost, specifically to keep them from crossing Brig. General Grenville M. Dodges Union lines and taking the oath of enlistment into the U.S. Army.

To assist Brig. General Roddey in this effort, Lt. General Polk issued movement orders to Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade from Mississippi into Alabama, around Elyton in the Jones Valley (Presently Birmingham), to work north from there to the Tennessee river, and to hunt down these deserters and Unionists in their hiding places and impress them back into the Confederate army. General Pillow, from Tennessee was also ordered to the area as was General Clanton to assist Roddey and Ferguson in this effort. Below are three communications from the "OR" (War of the Rebellion) vetting this out:

1)- Demopolis, April 20, 1864. Major-General Lee, Commanding, &c.:

General: ...I note what you say of sending Ferguson's brigade in pursuit of stragglers and deserters. I have ordered Major-General French to send an infantry command through all the counties of North Alabama to co-operate with General Ferguson, and I now desire you to give orders to General Roddey to deploy enough of his command along the line of the Tennessee River, as near as he may think proper, to intercept such tories end deserters as may attempt to escape into the enemy's lines that way. The movement of Ferguson and the infantry will drive such of them on to Roddey's troops: as are not caught. I desire these movements should be made with vigor, and that they should cover the infected districts thoroughly...

Respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
L. POLK,
Lieutenant- General.

2)- DEMOPOLIS, April 26, 1864. Major-General French, Tuscaloosa:

General: I find it indispensable to clear my department of deserters and absentees, &c, by detachments from my army in the field. I find also that the best results are following upon the vigorous campaigns I am prosecuting in different parts of it. I have moved out already from their hiding places about 1,000 men, and the ranks of all commands raised in this department are being swelled by companies, both infantry and cavalry. I have a work to do in North Alabama, and I want you to make a detachment to do it. General Roddey has been ordered to picket the whole front from the Mississippi State line across the State (Alabama), and along the Tennessee River, to prevent these tories and deserters from escaping to the enemy. I find infantry much more effective than cavalry for this work, and while General Ferguson's brigade has been ordered to move upon these men in the counties lying north of his position (Jonesboro / Elyton), I desire you to send General Cockrell's brigade forward upon that work also. Let him deploy his force right and left on a line running through Tuscaloosa, and take the country from the Mississippi line across toward the railroad, and sweep it all before him up to where he will meet Roddey's pickets, and order him to make thorough work of it. Let him arrest all tories, conscripts, and deserters, and if he shall find any in arms offering resistance let him punish them with death upon the spot. Order him to concentrate all he captures at Tuscaloosa, and hold them subject to my order.

Put yourself in communication with General Lee on the subject of this movement, so as to be informed of the instructions from General Ferguson; also send for Lieutenant-Colonel Baker, commanding post at Tuscaloosa, and get from him such intelligence as he may give to guide your movement. He is acquainted with the country and is a highly intelligent officer. He will indicate where officers in the service of the Government in North Alabama are to be found who may aid your troops in their work. Let the movement be made promptly. I have ordered the brigade of Brigadier-General Sears, now at Selma, to report to you as soon as practicable. You will find it a fine brigade of about 2,500 strong.

I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. POLK,
Lieutenant- General.

3)- Headquarters Lee's Cavalry, Tuscaloosa, Ala., April 30, 1864. Lieut. Col. T. M. Jack, Assistant Adjutant- General, Demopolis, Ala.:

Colonel: I have nothing special to report as regards the enemy in North Alabama, not having received any reliable reports for several days. I am still of opinion no offensive move is intended against Middle Alabama, and that Decatur is re-enforced, as it is threatened, by Roddey. Roddey and Clanton have arranged to cross a large part of their commands, and before this I should have had the result of their operations and more definite information as to the intentions of the enemy.

Jackson's division is about Carthage, and Ferguson near the rail road opposite Centreville (AL). While in Jones' Valley he had to move daily and exhausted the supplies where he went. He was compelled to move to his present position to get supplies by rail and draw a small supply from the country. The railroad (branch) north-east of Montevallo could not supply him, and owing to deficiency of transportation on the railroad he says now that he will not be able to get long forage for his horses. His horses are in bad condition and should be recruited if the exigencies of the service permit, and nothing can be obtained in the country near where he is at present. Have ordered General Pillow to complete the organization of his brigade as speedily as possible, when I propose increasing his command, probably giving him command of Roddey in addition to his brigade. Colonel Foster, Member of Congress from North Alabama, reports that Roddey will have nearly 3,000 men.

Ferguson did not send out an expedition northeast of Elyton, as he was directed, stating that from all he could learn the deserters, tories, &c., were not in squads, but scattered through the woods in hiding-places almost inaccessible to cavalry and where there was no forage. I send him an order today to send 300 men in small squads over the country northeast of Elyton to move on a line with General French, who is organizing an expedition under your orders. I will furnish General French with several squadrons to aid him. It is almost impossible for cavalry to operate in the country above this, owing to want of forage, there being none in the country...

I am, colonel, yours, respectfully,
S. D. LEE,
Major- General.


Brig. General Samuel W. Ferguson, was not able to send his whole brigade on an expedition from Elyton in the Jones Valley to the Tennessee river, due to lack of sufficient forage for his horses, however he did send several company sized scouts to operate in the area, who reported back to him daily, to keep an eye on Dodge`s incursions into the area and to try and locate the hiding places of the numerous deserters for whom they were searching. This had been a problem since January 1864, around the time that the manifesto was being circulated through the various camps in the region, and most of these deserters and Unionists who were evading conscription, were used by Brig. General G. M. Dodge to organize the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV, and refill vacancies in the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV and the 1st Tennessee & Alabama Independent Vidette Cavalry Regiment USV. Just a few days later, both Polk and Ferguson were ordered to Dalton, GA. to assist General Johnston and the Army of Tennessee, regarding the upcoming Dalton / Atlanta Campaign, which was initiated in mid May 1864.
 
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lelliott19

I just thought you would like to know how this manifesto may have affected BG S.W. Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade in specific, since we both had direct ancestors who were part of that brigade at this time. Ferguson and his field officers had been complaining of numerous desertions, regarding his cavalry brigade since September 1863, as pro Union sentiment was growing stronger among some people up in northern Mississippi, northern Alabama and west Tennessee. But desertions really increased in his brigade around the time that this manifesto was said to have been circulating throughout numerous camps in his area of operation.

The numbers would suggest that his cavalry brigade was severely reduced, over the span of about 8 and one half months, from 27 Aug 1863 to 14 May 1864. Naturally, some of his loss was due to men being killed, wounded or captured while fighting and skirmishing, during that span of time. In early September 1863 he recorded an effective strength of between 3,000 to 4,000 troopers in his brigade, depending on which source we are to accept. By late January 1864, his effective strength had been reduced to about 2,500 and by the time that he reported to General Johnston in Georgia for the Atlanta Campaign, in mid May 1864, his numbers were reduced to about 1,700 troopers. Because of the letter written by John E. Powell, in response to the 2 Feb 1864 Cincinnati Commercial article; "An Address by the Rebel Soldiers", we know that the manifesto was circulating through the camps of the 2nd Tennessee and 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiments, both being part of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade at that time, so I am sure that it was also circulating in the camps of the rest of his command, that being the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers and 12th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment.

Below is a desperate letter written on 12 Jan 1864 by Brig. General S. W. Ferguson to Maj. General Stephen D. Lee, complaining of the eroding condition of his command, then under Maj. General Nathan B. Forrest (January 1864). The complaints were regarding deserters, stragglers and the lack of discipline being conducted from the Confederate army, specifically speaking of the upper brass regarding punishment. in one instance he stated that hundreds were absenting themselves and upwards of 30 men had done so at once from his command. He wrote:

"I have the honor to urge upon you the necessity of prompt and decided action in regard to the punishment of straggling and deserting in order to arrest, if possible, this great evil in my command. Since June last I have made all possible efforts to have such cases punished, but up to this moment, without success in a single instance. Having obtained yours and General Johnston`s consent to send to the Headquarters, at the latter, for transfer to the infantry, such stragglers as I deemed useless to the cavalry service, and on two occasions I did so, and on both the guilty parties were sent back from these Headquarters.

On the last occasion Pvt. Frank E. Chapman, 2nd Alabama Cavalry ("K" Troop), sent for transfer to infantry because he was dismounted having sold his horse in violation of positive orders, was returned with endorsement on the paper sent with him, that they knew of no authority by which a soldier could be transferred from cavalry to infantry. This months after the publication of General Order No. 67 (47) dated Richmond May 28, 1863...

You may recall the circumstance that on our return from North Alabama, I had a deserter from the 2nd Alabama Cavalry, Pvt. J. S. Cushing of Company "A", taken with arms in his hands. I presented to General Johnston, then present at Okolona, the absolute necessity of an example, he himself got from me a list of Officers for a General Court, ordered the Court at once which met amid the said offender, and forwarded the proceedings only in November, these have not yet been returned to me and on my return from (my) trip to Saulsbury, I found the prisoner gone from the guard house. I have since learned that he has been sent sick to the Hospital at Macon (Ms.) and doubt if I will ever be able to get hold of him again...

My Guard house is crowded with prisoners, about all of whom have been waiting trial or sentence for a very long time. Punishment has been so long and so often evaded that now when I start on a scout these men who do not wish to go, absent themselves by the hundreds and the evil is progressing. If some examples are not made, and that right quickly, I can not expect to take more than eight hundred in the field at anytime. Upwards of thirty men from one company have absented themselves since I started my last scout, it is fully for me to employ men and horses, to catch them myself. I am sure they will be punished with the hope General that you will be able to present the necessities of my case in such light as to ensure the prompt action of the Department commander."


In a follow up letter written on 21 Jan 1864 to Maj. General Stephen D. Lee by Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson, from his Headquarters, he writes more regarding the need to carry out punishment for stragglers and deserters as well as addressing the numerous men of his command who have long been under arrest and crowded in his guard house awaiting trial and sentencing, in the last paragraph he states that he has suffered many hundreds of deserters from his cavalry brigade. Below he wrote:

"There is a Private of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry (Company "B") named Cato in jail now at Pontotoc, to which place he was ordered for trial (30 Sep 1863) by the Military Court on the charge of having murdered a comrade many months ago. The Court did not try him and have left me no record of the charges, and this statement applies to several other cases. As soon as the said Court was moved to Meridian, I wrote to the President (Col. Jonathan J. Good, President / Judge Military Court, Okolona, Ms.) requesting him to return to me all charges not tried. I have never been honored with an answer, and in fact can`t tell, except from the prisoners themselves, whether or not they have been tried. What in the world am I to do about such cases? My Guard house is fully over flowing and month after month passing by without any action. Can you not designate some jail to which I may send such cases as murdering and deserters from our army taken in the ranks of the enemy, etc... I wish I had some way of enforcing discipline, not one deserter of the many hundreds from my brigade yet punished. I know General that you have done all in your power to remedy this great evil, but its importance and magnitude make us dwell until."

The numbers alone tell that something was definitely compelling many troopers to desert from his brigade, in just an eight month period from September 1863 to May 1864. To give more insight into this I post the following from Pvt. Francis Marion "Frank" Moore, I-Troop, 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers, who was also part of Ferguson`s brigade.

He stated in a 5 Sep 1863 letter written home, from northern Mississippi to his family in Alabama;

"This country is full of deserters and everywhere else I hear from is the same way, and to think that those men who had never been in the service would join a company to catch those men who have fought hard for them while they were at home at their ease, just to keep from going themselves, is the most shameful act that ever man was guilty of. If they want to fight for their country let them come over this way, there are plenty of enemies here."

On September 7, 1863, from camp near Pontotoc, MS, he wrote in a letter home:

"The people are very much disheartened here, about the war. And once again the country is full of deserters."

On March 21, 1864 after a raid against Federal cavalry had been brought to a close he wrote of the mounting despair of southerners, both civilian and military, The last couple of lines in this paragraph is very interesting as it stated that a Captain Johnson in Hewlett`s old command (13th Battalion Alabama Partisan Rangers, now part of the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers) was encouraging his whole command to desert:

"The great majority of the citizens are whipped, others speak very despondingly of the war, most of the soldiers are whipped and many of the officers do not hesitate to tell anybody so. The patriotism of a great many is built on their property, consequently when they lose their property their patriotism goes up with it. So it is with Mississippi and so it is with the Confederacy at large I expect. We have some deserters from our regiment, but none from our company lately, but I think there will be a great many go this spring. Capt. Johnson of Hewlett`s old battalion is under arrest and in close confinement charged with persuading his men to desert. Our Major has resigned and many others would like to if they knew how to commence."

The Civilians up in northern Mississippi were well aware of the desertions and were not pleased with the aggressive push of conscription being seen everywhere in their area by Confederate cavalry. On 19 Sep 1863, the following entry was made in the Diary of Samuel Andrew Agnew (1833 - 1902), a resident and civilian in New Albany, Mississippi:

"The country is alive with our cavalry. Ferguson with his entire command, with the exception of Barteau who is at Tupelo, is about New Albany. There are "sights" of them, as we hear it expressed, like Locust, they are eating out the fat of the land. The Conscripting squads are scouring the country. Hugh Caldwell was taken and assigned to Boyle`s Battalion (56th Alabama Partisan Rangers)".

On 21 Nov 1863, the following entry was made in the Diary of Samuel Andrew Agnew (1833 - 1902), a resident and civilian in New Albany, Mississippi:

“In Buncombe the cavalry are scouring the country gathering up all the men they find of conscript age and they have taken some that are beyond the age, as G. Haynie. They arrested Osborne Roberts, who although 25 years old is a dwarf and also J. M. Caldwell whose eyes are very defective. The doings of the cavalry form the principle theme in that community at this time. Charles Caldwell is home from the Macon, Ga. Hospital on furlough, Capt. Sloan is also home. He has lost his lower jaw and is said to be a melancholy spectacle."
 
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I first came across an article from the 4 Feb 1864 issue of The New York Times, entitled; "An Address by the Rebel Soldiers," several years ago and have done a considerable amount of research into it since then. Basically, when news of what was to be included in the third and final Confederate Conscription Act first reached Confederate soldiers, in January and February 1864, the news began to spread throughout numerous Confederate camps in the South. It was disturbing and infuriating to many three year volunteers, who were coming up on the expiration of their terms of service in the Confederate army. Among other things, this new Conscription Act extended the ages from 17-50, and stated that any volunteer whose three year term of service was about to expire, who did not re-enlist into the Confederate army for the remainder of the war, would be conscripted and forced to serve the remainder of the war against their will. This initiated a knee-jerk reaction from many, which resulted in; "An Address by the Rebel Soldiers," being penned, reportedly by a Colonel of a Tennessee regiment in General Hardee`s corps of the Army of Tennessee, and was quickly copied from man to man, being sent to numerous Confederate camps throughout the region. Soon the copied manifesto was being seen and read by thousands of Confederate soldiers in countless camps throughout the South.

Then a U.S. Scout, who was in secret service to the U.S. Government, disguised as a Confederate soldier, was given a copy of the document at a camp in Calhoun county, AL, and quickly reported it up through his chain of command. By 2 Feb 1864 it was published in the Cincinnati Commercial as; "An Address by the Rebel Soldiers," and was quickly picked up by dozens of northern papers and read in numerous Union camps. The article was a strong arraignment of the new Conscription Act which caused a countless number of Confederate soldiers to go home after their three year terms of service had expired, with some deserting immediately and many of those crossing the Union lines and taking the oath of enlistment into the U.S. Army.

Below is that address:

The New York Times, 4 Feb 1864, An Address to the Rebel Soldiers:

AN IMPENDING REBEL REVOLT.; The Results of Their Wholesale Conscription--Remarkable Address of Rebel Soldiers in Arms--They Denounce Their Leaders and Refuse to Serve. THE ADDRESS.

The Cincinnati Commercial, of Feb. 2, publishes the following address, which it editorially vouches for as genuine. It says: "It comes to us from two distinct and independent sources, each professing to be a literal copy of the document, including italics and capitals. These transcripts of the original, are corroborative, and leave no room to doubt the genuineness of this revolutionary manifesto. How extensively it has been circulated, or to what extent it has influenced the rank and file of JOHNSTON's army, we have no means of knowing."

Eds. COMMERCIAL: The following address was procured by me from some rebel soldiers in Calhoun County, Alabama, a few days past. I was on secret service for the Government, and was, therefore, in disguise, and the rebels gave me the address, supposing me to be a rebel soldier. There is no mistake as to its genuineness; and I know that it has circulated to a considerable extent among the dissatisfied rebel soldiers. The italics and capitals are the author's; the punctuation is mine. I have the original copy in my possession. U.S. SCOUT.

FELLOW SOLDIERS OF THE ARMY OF TENNESSEE! -- Three years ago we were called upon to volunteer in the Confederate army for a term of three years; and we all nobly responded to the call, with the express understanding that we were to be discharged as soon as our term of service expired. Indeed, we were faithfully assured by all of our officials that such a course would be pursued. The Secretary of War proclaimed that those who volunteered for "three years or during the war" would have to be discharged from the army at the end of three years. But, to our utter surprise, we are now told that we must be CONSCRIPTED and FORCED to enter the army for another term of three years! Our feelings are not to be consulted -- WE MUST BE CONSCRIPTED!??

Was such a thing ever heard of before? Do the annals of war furnish a single instance of volunteer soldiers being forced to continue in the service after the expiration of their term of service? Surely not! If we search the history of the world, from the days of Adam down to the present, we will find that in every instance, a volunteer soldier was discharged as soon as his term of service expired, unless he of his own accord, reenlisted as a volunteer; and are we, Americans, once the boast and pride of the world -- ARE WE to be treated worse than the heathen of the dark ages treated their soldiers? Are we to be made the worst slaves ever known to the world? And are we to become the laughing-stock of the world?

FELLOW SOLDIERS! is it not clear to every rational mind that our pompous and merciless rulers are daily stealing away our rights and liberties, and reducing us to the most abject slavery ever known to the world? And shall we cowardly submit to this palpable infringement upon our most sacred rights ? We were told that we must come out to fight for our rights: yet our inhuman leaders are gradually robbing us of every right inherited by nature or transmitted to us by our predecessors! The Federals did not hesitate to discharge all their nine months' troops whose term of service expired last Summer -- they were promptly discharged, and their places filled up by new levies: and shall we suffer ourselves to be treated worse than our enemies are treated? No, brave comrades, let's assert our rights, and unflinchingly maintain them! Let's show our beastly rulers that they can not thus enslave us because we are private soldiers! They have already cunningly led us to the very threshold of destruction; they have practiced one deception after another upon us; they have told us lies -- HORRIBLE LIES -- to induce us to become their ABJECT SLAVES.

Among the innumerable lies promulgated by these unmitigated scamps, we call your attention to the following: They told us that the war would not last three months; that foreign nations would recognize us as an independent people, and help us fight; that the Yankees could not fight; that one of us could whip ten Yankees; that Vicksburg could never be taken; that Chattanooga could never be taken; that the peace party of the North would force LINCOLN to MAKE PEACE with the South; THAT WE SOLDIERS SHOULD BE DISCHARGED AS SOON AS OUR TIME EXPIRED, and that we would not be heavily taxed. These are but a few of the many hypocritical lies proclaimed by those conspirators who have precipitated us into irretrievable revolution. Shall we submit to be beguiled by these UNPARDONABLE USURPERS, and permit our families to STARVE TO DEATH, through want of our labor at home? Are we not aware that if our absence from our families be protracted another term of three years, many of them will suffer wretchedly for the necessaries of life, if they do not starve entirely to death? And are we not bound by the MOST SACRED LAWS known to man to provide for our families? And should we permit a set of usurping profligates to prevent us from complying with this DIVINE LAW? By the late laws of Congress, our families are to be taxed to an almost unlimited extent; and if we submit to become conscripts, the last ray of hope will have to be expelled from our hearts, for we can then hope for nothing but AN UNTIMELY STATE OF ABJECT SLAVERY, NOT ONLY OF OURSELVES, BUT ALSO OF OUR FAMILIES!

NOW IS THE TIME TO ASSERT OUR RIGHTS, for if we wait longer our DOOM WILL BE FOREVER SEALED! We who write this address are determined to demand our rights, and, if necessary, we will DEMAND THEM AT THE POINT OF THE BAYONET! We are not enemies to the South; but we are lovers of our rights, liberties and families; and if we must lose all our sacred rights, and permit our families to starve, in order to sustain our wicked leaders in their DECEPTIVE COURSE, we prefer to return to our ALLEGIANCE TO THE OLD GOVERNMENT, ACCEPT OF LINCOLN's PARDON, and let the leaders and their CONFEDERACY go to HELL TOGETHER! This may be hard language for men who have fought in many a hard battle to use; but silent endurance ceases to be a VIRTUE, and confident are we that the Government of the United States can treat us no worse than we are being treated by our heartless officials in the field as well as at Richmond.

But we are told that if we will let the authorities CONSCRIPT us the war will soon close, favorable to our side! Can any rational man credit such a perfidious lie? Does not this conscripting business plainly say to the world we are fast playing out? That our weakness is rapidly manifesting itself to our own deluded minds? Fellow-soldiers, we have been too often deceived by these wily liars to place the slightest confidence in anything they tell us. They are but INVENTED LIES to enable them to tie the cord of DESPOTISM tighter around our wrists! Every intelligent soldier among us knows that we are already whipped; and why not acknowledge it at once? Why not show our leaders that we know we are whipped as well as they do? PRESIDENT DAVIS VIRTUALLY ACKNOWLEDGES THIS FACT; so do the SECRETARY OF WAR and the SECRETARY of the TREASURY! What use is there for us to contend against a DEAD CURRENCY and an EMPTY COMMISSARY in the face of the best army ever marshaled for combat? Think of these things, fellow-soldiers, and decide what shall he your course. WE HAVE MADE UP OUR MINDS TO GO HOME AS SOON AS OUR TIME IS OUT!

MANY SOLDIERS.


During the last several years in which I have researched this, I have found and saved about twelve other period news paper accounts, spanning February-March 1864, which picked up the manifesto from the Cincinnati Commercial (2 Feb 1864) and ran the article, with several papers updating it as new information came in. I know that my 3rd Great Grandfather, who served with the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment in Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, would have most likely read this, as one of the articles stated that about fifteen of the men who had deserted together from the Confederate army and enlisted into the U.S. Army, did so after receiving their copies of the manifesto from men of the 2nd Tennessee and 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiments (CSA), while in their respective camps. This manifesto, which was written as a direct consequence of the third Confederate Conscription Act, reportedly drove so many deserters and Unionists from northern Alabama across Union lines that the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV, was organized by Brig. General Grenville M. Dodge, becoming the sister regiment of the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV, which he also organized about 16 months earlier. If my 3rd Great Grandfather did read the manifesto, it must not have been enough to dissuade him or to change his mind, as he continued in service with the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment (CSA), until the close of the war.

What do you guys think of this address? Have any of you seen it before? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

This is an absolutely fabulous thread, thanks for posting! I have heard about souring Confederate sentiment towards the war effort as early as 1862, and of course by 63-4 such a souring had turned rancid. Having documentation of soldier's sentiments is really awesome, especially in a heated subject where firsthand written accounts can really make or break a discussion. I was chatting with a friend recently and we wondered into Civil War politics, and the various Conscription Acts of both United and Confederate States. While many books and documentaries have focused on the North's dissatisfaction with enforced conscription, underlined with the infamous draft riots, not enough have discussion has focused on the South's mirroring troubles; hence my friend assumed that nearly all Confederates were volunteers, matched against an unwilling conscript foe, who would win the war by brute force of numbers and unfaltering industrial might (oh dear....). To brush away the cobwebs of assumed gray glory and realize through documents as these, the emotional distress of Confederate soldiers forced to fight a war against their will, from the start or because their Government failed to honor the three-year agreement they had signed up for, is good. Both for a better understanding of the war itself, but also on a human level, realizing that these men had their own thoughts and feelings on the issue of their involvement in America's greatest conflict.

Thank you for sharing!!!!
 
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I first came across an article from the 4 Feb 1864 issue of The New York Times, entitled; "An Address by the Rebel Soldiers," several years ago and have done a considerable amount of research into it since then. Basically, when news of what was to be included in the third and final Confederate Conscription Act first reached Confederate soldiers, in January and February 1864, the news began to spread throughout numerous Confederate camps in the South. It was disturbing and infuriating to many three year volunteers, who were coming up on the expiration of their terms of service in the Confederate army. Among other things, this new Conscription Act extended the ages from 17-50, and stated that any volunteer whose three year term of service was about to expire, who did not re-enlist into the Confederate army for the remainder of the war, would be conscripted and forced to serve the remainder of the war against their will. This initiated a knee-jerk reaction from many, which resulted in; "An Address by the Rebel Soldiers," being penned, reportedly by a Colonel of a Tennessee regiment in General Hardee`s corps of the Army of Tennessee, and was quickly copied from man to man, being sent to numerous Confederate camps throughout the region. Soon the copied manifesto was being seen and read by thousands of Confederate soldiers in countless camps throughout the South.

Then a U.S. Scout, who was in secret service to the U.S. Government, disguised as a Confederate soldier, was given a copy of the document at a camp in Calhoun county, AL, and quickly reported it up through his chain of command. By 2 Feb 1864 it was published in the Cincinnati Commercial as; "An Address by the Rebel Soldiers," and was quickly picked up by dozens of northern papers and read in numerous Union camps. The article was a strong arraignment of the new Conscription Act which caused a countless number of Confederate soldiers to go home after their three year terms of service had expired, with some deserting immediately and many of those crossing the Union lines and taking the oath of enlistment into the U.S. Army.

Below is that address:

The New York Times, 4 Feb 1864, An Address to the Rebel Soldiers:

AN IMPENDING REBEL REVOLT.; The Results of Their Wholesale Conscription--Remarkable Address of Rebel Soldiers in Arms--They Denounce Their Leaders and Refuse to Serve. THE ADDRESS.

The Cincinnati Commercial, of Feb. 2, publishes the following address, which it editorially vouches for as genuine. It says: "It comes to us from two distinct and independent sources, each professing to be a literal copy of the document, including italics and capitals. These transcripts of the original, are corroborative, and leave no room to doubt the genuineness of this revolutionary manifesto. How extensively it has been circulated, or to what extent it has influenced the rank and file of JOHNSTON's army, we have no means of knowing."

Eds. COMMERCIAL: The following address was procured by me from some rebel soldiers in Calhoun County, Alabama, a few days past. I was on secret service for the Government, and was, therefore, in disguise, and the rebels gave me the address, supposing me to be a rebel soldier. There is no mistake as to its genuineness; and I know that it has circulated to a considerable extent among the dissatisfied rebel soldiers. The italics and capitals are the author's; the punctuation is mine. I have the original copy in my possession. U.S. SCOUT.

FELLOW SOLDIERS OF THE ARMY OF TENNESSEE! -- Three years ago we were called upon to volunteer in the Confederate army for a term of three years; and we all nobly responded to the call, with the express understanding that we were to be discharged as soon as our term of service expired. Indeed, we were faithfully assured by all of our officials that such a course would be pursued. The Secretary of War proclaimed that those who volunteered for "three years or during the war" would have to be discharged from the army at the end of three years. But, to our utter surprise, we are now told that we must be CONSCRIPTED and FORCED to enter the army for another term of three years! Our feelings are not to be consulted -- WE MUST BE CONSCRIPTED!??

Was such a thing ever heard of before? Do the annals of war furnish a single instance of volunteer soldiers being forced to continue in the service after the expiration of their term of service? Surely not! If we search the history of the world, from the days of Adam down to the present, we will find that in every instance, a volunteer soldier was discharged as soon as his term of service expired, unless he of his own accord, reenlisted as a volunteer; and are we, Americans, once the boast and pride of the world -- ARE WE to be treated worse than the heathen of the dark ages treated their soldiers? Are we to be made the worst slaves ever known to the world? And are we to become the laughing-stock of the world?

FELLOW SOLDIERS! is it not clear to every rational mind that our pompous and merciless rulers are daily stealing away our rights and liberties, and reducing us to the most abject slavery ever known to the world? And shall we cowardly submit to this palpable infringement upon our most sacred rights ? We were told that we must come out to fight for our rights: yet our inhuman leaders are gradually robbing us of every right inherited by nature or transmitted to us by our predecessors! The Federals did not hesitate to discharge all their nine months' troops whose term of service expired last Summer -- they were promptly discharged, and their places filled up by new levies: and shall we suffer ourselves to be treated worse than our enemies are treated? No, brave comrades, let's assert our rights, and unflinchingly maintain them! Let's show our beastly rulers that they can not thus enslave us because we are private soldiers! They have already cunningly led us to the very threshold of destruction; they have practiced one deception after another upon us; they have told us lies -- HORRIBLE LIES -- to induce us to become their ABJECT SLAVES.

Among the innumerable lies promulgated by these unmitigated scamps, we call your attention to the following: They told us that the war would not last three months; that foreign nations would recognize us as an independent people, and help us fight; that the Yankees could not fight; that one of us could whip ten Yankees; that Vicksburg could never be taken; that Chattanooga could never be taken; that the peace party of the North would force LINCOLN to MAKE PEACE with the South; THAT WE SOLDIERS SHOULD BE DISCHARGED AS SOON AS OUR TIME EXPIRED, and that we would not be heavily taxed. These are but a few of the many hypocritical lies proclaimed by those conspirators who have precipitated us into irretrievable revolution. Shall we submit to be beguiled by these UNPARDONABLE USURPERS, and permit our families to STARVE TO DEATH, through want of our labor at home? Are we not aware that if our absence from our families be protracted another term of three years, many of them will suffer wretchedly for the necessaries of life, if they do not starve entirely to death? And are we not bound by the MOST SACRED LAWS known to man to provide for our families? And should we permit a set of usurping profligates to prevent us from complying with this DIVINE LAW? By the late laws of Congress, our families are to be taxed to an almost unlimited extent; and if we submit to become conscripts, the last ray of hope will have to be expelled from our hearts, for we can then hope for nothing but AN UNTIMELY STATE OF ABJECT SLAVERY, NOT ONLY OF OURSELVES, BUT ALSO OF OUR FAMILIES!

NOW IS THE TIME TO ASSERT OUR RIGHTS, for if we wait longer our DOOM WILL BE FOREVER SEALED! We who write this address are determined to demand our rights, and, if necessary, we will DEMAND THEM AT THE POINT OF THE BAYONET! We are not enemies to the South; but we are lovers of our rights, liberties and families; and if we must lose all our sacred rights, and permit our families to starve, in order to sustain our wicked leaders in their DECEPTIVE COURSE, we prefer to return to our ALLEGIANCE TO THE OLD GOVERNMENT, ACCEPT OF LINCOLN's PARDON, and let the leaders and their CONFEDERACY go to HELL TOGETHER! This may be hard language for men who have fought in many a hard battle to use; but silent endurance ceases to be a VIRTUE, and confident are we that the Government of the United States can treat us no worse than we are being treated by our heartless officials in the field as well as at Richmond.

But we are told that if we will let the authorities CONSCRIPT us the war will soon close, favorable to our side! Can any rational man credit such a perfidious lie? Does not this conscripting business plainly say to the world we are fast playing out? That our weakness is rapidly manifesting itself to our own deluded minds? Fellow-soldiers, we have been too often deceived by these wily liars to place the slightest confidence in anything they tell us. They are but INVENTED LIES to enable them to tie the cord of DESPOTISM tighter around our wrists! Every intelligent soldier among us knows that we are already whipped; and why not acknowledge it at once? Why not show our leaders that we know we are whipped as well as they do? PRESIDENT DAVIS VIRTUALLY ACKNOWLEDGES THIS FACT; so do the SECRETARY OF WAR and the SECRETARY of the TREASURY! What use is there for us to contend against a DEAD CURRENCY and an EMPTY COMMISSARY in the face of the best army ever marshaled for combat? Think of these things, fellow-soldiers, and decide what shall he your course. WE HAVE MADE UP OUR MINDS TO GO HOME AS SOON AS OUR TIME IS OUT!

MANY SOLDIERS.


During the last several years in which I have researched this, I have found and saved about twelve other period news paper accounts, spanning February-March 1864, which picked up the manifesto from the Cincinnati Commercial (2 Feb 1864) and ran the article, with several papers updating it as new information came in. I know that my 3rd Great Grandfather, who served with the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment in Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, would have most likely read this, as one of the articles stated that about fifteen of the men who had deserted together from the Confederate army and enlisted into the U.S. Army, did so after receiving their copies of the manifesto from men of the 2nd Tennessee and 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiments (CSA), while in their respective camps. This manifesto, which was written as a direct consequence of the third Confederate Conscription Act, reportedly drove so many deserters and Unionists from northern Alabama across Union lines that the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV, was organized by Brig. General Grenville M. Dodge, becoming the sister regiment of the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV, which he also organized about 16 months earlier. If my 3rd Great Grandfather did read the manifesto, it must not have been enough to dissuade him or to change his mind, as he continued in service with the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment (CSA), until the close of the war.

What do you guys think of this address? Have any of you seen it before? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.
samuel_saffell.jpg

Samuel Saffell Enlisted on 7/30/1862 and was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant into "B" Co. TN 63rd Infantry. After the passage of the unpopular Conscription Law, Samuel wrote to his brother-in-law, "I understand the conscription law is to be enforced in east Tennessee. If that be the case, you look up a substitute". Samuel was mortally wounded at or near Petersburg, Virginia about June 1864.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Wasn't Davis' Macon speech mentioning "two-thirds absent" meant to be specific to Hood's Army of Tennessee?
I have read the speech and I don't recall any such distinction.
Leftyhunter
Ah, good.

At my second look, Davis' comment in that speech about desertion looks like desparate politicized rhetoric. It's not based on anything except emotion.
Or Davis was just telling it like it is. As President of the Confedracy he knew exactly what was going on with the Confedracy and by the summer
I believe that the Army of Tennessee to be most affected by this manifesto which was being copied and passed around from camp to camp. Primarily to those Confederate troops in northern Mississippi and Alabama and along the Tennessee river from the Mississippi State line to the Georgia State line and just beyond to Dalton. General Polk, when still in command of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana, in April 1864, complained of deserters from northern Mississippi and Alabama, this being just before being ordered to Join the Army of Tennessee under Johnston at Dalton, GA. Polk was so concerned that he was losing hundreds in his command that he ordered Brig. General Philip D. Roddey on the Tennessee river in northern Alabama to chase these deserters out of their hiding places at what ever cost, to keep them specifically from crossing Brig. General Grenville M. Dodges Union lines and taking the oath of enlistment into the U.S. Army.

To assist Brig. General Roddey in this effort, Polk issued movement orders to Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade from Mississippi into Alabama, around Elyton in the Jones Valley (Presently Birmingham), to work north from there to the Tennessee river, and to hunt down these deserters and Unionists in their hiding places and impress them back into the Confederate army. General Pillow, from Tennessee was also ordered to the area as was General Clanton to assist Roddey and Ferguson in this effort. Below are three communications from the "OR" (War of the Rebellion) vetting this out:

1)- Demopolis, April 20, 1864. Major-General Lee, Commanding, &c.:

General: ...I note what you say of sending Ferguson's brigade in pursuit of stragglers and deserters. I have ordered Major-General French to send an infantry command through all the counties of North Alabama to co-operate with General Ferguson, and I now desire you to give orders to General Roddey to deploy enough of his command along the line of the Tennessee River, as near as he may think proper, to intercept such tories end deserters as may attempt to escape into the enemy's lines that way. The movement of Ferguson and the infantry will drive such of them on to Roddey's troops: as are not caught. I desire these movements should be made with vigor, and that they should cover the infected districts thoroughly...

Respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
L. POLK,
Lieutenant- General.

2)- DEMOPOLIS, April 26, 1864. Major-General French, Tuscaloosa:

General: I find it indispensable to clear my department of deserters and absentees, &c, by detachments from my army in the field. I find also that the best results are following upon the vigorous campaigns I am prosecuting in different parts of it. I have moved out already from their hiding places about 1,000 men, and the ranks of all commands raised in this department are being swelled by companies, both infantry and cavalry. I have a work to do in North Alabama, and I want you to make a detachment to do it. General Roddey has been ordered to picket the whole front from the Mississippi State line across the State (Alabama), and along the Tennessee River, to prevent these tories and deserters from escaping to the enemy. I find infantry much more effective than cavalry for this work, and while General Ferguson's brigade has been ordered to move upon these men in the counties lying north of his position (Jonesboro / Elyton), I desire you to send General Cockrell's brigade forward upon that work also. Let him deploy his force right and left on a line running through Tuscaloosa, and take the country from the Mississippi line across toward the railroad, and sweep it all before him up to where he will meet Roddey's pickets, and order him to make thorough work of it. Let him arrest all tories, conscripts, and deserters, and if he shall find any in arms offering resistance let him punish them with death upon the spot. Order him to concentrate all he captures at Tuscaloosa, and hold them subject to my order.

Put yourself in communication with General Lee on the subject of this movement, so as to be informed of the instructions from General Ferguson; also send for Lieutenant-Colonel Baker, commanding post at Tuscaloosa, and get from him such intelligence as he may give to guide your movement. He is acquainted with the country and is a highly intelligent officer. He will indicate where officers in the service of the Government in North Alabama are to be found who may aid your troops in their work. Let the movement be made promptly. I have ordered the brigade of Brigadier-General Sears, now at Selma, to report to you as soon as practicable. You will find it a fine brigade of about 2,500 strong.

I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. POLK,
Lieutenant- General.

3)- Headquarters Lee's Cavalry, Tuscaloosa, Ala., April 30, 1864. Lieut. Col. T. M. Jack, Assistant Adjutant- General, Demopolis, Ala.:

Colonel: I have nothing special to report as regards the enemy in North Alabama, not having received any reliable reports for several days. I am still of opinion no offensive move is intended against Middle Alabama, and that Decatur is re-enforced, as it is threatened, by Roddey. Roddey and Clanton have arranged to cross a large part of their commands, and before this I should have had the result of their operations and more definite information as to the intentions of the enemy.

Jackson's division is about Carthage, and Ferguson near the rail road opposite Centreville (AL). While in Jones' Valley he had to move daily and exhausted the supplies where he went. He was compelled to move to his present position to get supplies by rail and draw a small supply from the country. The railroad (branch) north-east of Montevallo could not supply him, and owing to deficiency of transportation on the railroad he says now that he will not be able to get long forage for his horses. His horses are in bad condition and should be recruited if the exigencies of the service permit, and nothing can be obtained in the country near where he is at present. Have ordered General Pillow to complete the organization of his brigade as speedily as possible, when I propose increasing his command, probably giving him command of Roddey in addition to his brigade. Colonel Foster, Member of Congress from North Alabama, reports that Roddey will have nearly 3,000 men.

Ferguson did not send out an expedition northeast of Elyton, as he was directed, stating that from all he could learn the deserters, tories, &c., were not in squads, but scattered through the woods in hiding-places almost inaccessible to cavalry and where there was no forage. I send him an order today to send 300 men in small squads over the country northeast of Elyton to move on a line with General French, who is organizing an expedition under your orders. I will furnish General French with several squadrons to aid him. It is almost impossible for cavalry to operate in the country above this, owing to want of forage, there being none in the country...

I am, colonel, yours, respectfully,
S. D. LEE,
Major- General.


Brig. General Samuel W. Ferguson, was not able to send his whole brigade on an expedition from Elyton in the Jones Valley to the Tennessee river, due to lack of sufficient forage for his horses, however he did send several company sized scouts to operate in the area, who reported back to him daily, to keep an eye on Dodge`s incursions into the area and to try and locate the hiding places of the numerous deserters for whom they were searching. This had been a problem since January 1864, around the time that the manifesto was being circulated through the various camps in the region, and most of these deserters and Unionists who were evading conscription, were used by Brig. General G. M. Dodge to organize the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV, and refill vacancies in the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment USV and the 1st Tennessee & Alabama Independent Vidette Cavalry Regiment. Just a few days later, both Polk and Ferguson were ordered to Dalton, GA. to assist General Johnston and the Army of Tennessee, regarding the upcoming Dalton / Atlanta Campaign, which was initiated in mid May 1864.
Apparently some of our posters know more about Confedrate desertion then did the various commanding Confedrate Generals by stating it was a minor problem at best.
Leftyhunter
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Or Davis was just telling it like it is. As President of the Confederacy he knew exactly what was going on with the Confedracy and by the summer.

Sorry, Lefty, but Davis' analysis (and his judgement) was extremely clouded. Do you really believe that two-thirds of Confederate armies was AWOL at that time? Is there any convincing evidence of this anywhere to support the Davis statement?

And since when is a mere assertion by Jefferson Davis good enough for you?
 
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