Did Conscription help or hurt the Confederacy?

leftyhunter

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Here's a personal account of the conscription problem in the South:

"At the beginning of 1862 the victories had about equalled,
but the Southern army had been slowly pushed back on almost all sides, and the Southern ports were blockaded. Governor Joe Brown, of Georgia, called on the State for twelve regiments. Catoosa County had to furnish one large company. A draft was ordered to be taken March 4th; if quQta was not made up. On the 4th of March the militia was called together and formed in line, and a call made, and the men informed that if the quota was not made up a draft would be made at once. Rather than be forced to go by draft, enough
volunteered to make out the number wanted. Brother I. L. Magill joined that company. I thought I would stay at home and risk the consequences.
I began making a crop, but soon the news came that the Conscript Act had passed the Confederate Congress, which forced every man between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, (except such as were exempted by the Governor), into the Southern Army or take the consequences. This conscript law was to take effect about May 1, 1862. Brother Thomas and myself were subject to conscription. Here was a dilemma that had to be met; there were three horns tp the dilemma: Volunteer, be conscripted and placed in a company not of your own choosing and bear the odious name of conscript, or attempt to go North, turning our backs on the home of our childhood and a widowed mother, and run a risk of ten to one of being captured and shot as a traitor to the Southern cause. We chose the first, and joined the same company in which Brother I. L. Magill was, so that we might all be together."


Robert M. Magill: PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER BOY.
Volunteered at Chattanooga, Tenn., in Company F, 39th Georgia Regiment of Infantry.

Kevin Dally
Great account. Mr. Magill neglected to list a few other options that other Southern men did take. One was to desert to the enemy which occurred quite a bit at Petersburg and other places. A risky business to be sure. Elisha Hunt "all for the Union go's into detail about that.
The other option is to fight the Confederacy on home ground again a most risky option but many did anyway. For example in a letter written by George Lay a Confederate Conscription officer to his boss in Sept 1863 Lay go's into detail about approx 500 deserters taking their arms and waging war against the Confederacy in Wilkes County Nc. p.170 Junius and Alberts adventures in the Confederacy Peter Carlson puplicaffairsbooks.com.
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Old Bay

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I have a theory that one of my ancestors joined the 20th Virginia Battalion Heavy Artillery, stationed mostly around Richmond during the war, to avoid conscription and to pick the best assignment he could get under the circumstances. He joined up shortly before the Conscription Act and didn't sign up for any of the units that his brothers were in. He was from the southwest portion of the state and recruitment for the 20th didn't take place in southwest Virginia. It sort of made me suspicious.

An excerpt from the intro of the 18th and 20th Battalions of Heavy Artillery by Tracy Chernault and Jeffrey C. Weaver. This is a book in the Virginia Regimental Histories Series. Seemed to reinforce my theory.

“Knowledge of the conscription act was widespread before it was actually enacted. Many thousands of men enlisted in units from their towns and counties in order to be with friends, relatives and neighbors. Thousands more joined newly formed units and the 20th Battalion of Virginia Heavy Artillery was such an organization.

Artillery units were popular among prospective soldiers. Mortality was generally lower than in other arms of service. Artillery duty, while difficult enough, was more acceptable to the intellectual elite than service in the infantry or cavalry. Heavy artillery duty was less hazardous than field or light artillery duty. Due to the nature of the weapons used, the battery or command tended to remain stationary. Comfortable cabins might be constructed and a general feeling of well-being was possible. As the war progressed, however, some heavy artillery battalions were also armed with infantry weapons and trained as infantrymen. Still, their primary mission was to man the large guns.”​
 
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leftyhunter

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Here's a personal account of the conscription problem in the South:

"At the beginning of 1862 the victories had about equalled,
but the Southern army had been slowly pushed back on almost all sides, and the Southern ports were blockaded. Governor Joe Brown, of Georgia, called on the State for twelve regiments. Catoosa County had to furnish one large company. A draft was ordered to be taken March 4th; if quQta was not made up. On the 4th of March the militia was called together and formed in line, and a call made, and the men informed that if the quota was not made up a draft would be made at once. Rather than be forced to go by draft, enough
volunteered to make out the number wanted. Brother I. L. Magill joined that company. I thought I would stay at home and risk the consequences.
I began making a crop, but soon the news came that the Conscript Act had passed the Confederate Congress, which forced every man between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, (except such as were exempted by the Governor), into the Southern Army or take the consequences. This conscript law was to take effect about May 1, 1862. Brother Thomas and myself were subject to conscription. Here was a dilemma that had to be met; there were three horns tp the dilemma: Volunteer, be conscripted and placed in a company not of your own choosing and bear the odious name of conscript, or attempt to go North, turning our backs on the home of our childhood and a widowed mother, and run a risk of ten to one of being captured and shot as a traitor to the Southern cause. We chose the first, and joined the same company in which Brother I. L. Magill was, so that we might all be together."


Robert M. Magill: PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER BOY.

Volunteered at Chattanooga, Tenn., in Company F, 39th Georgia Regiment of Infantry.

Kevin Dally
Some men from Ga made a different decision about the draft then Mr. Magill and they also chose to become Unionist guerrillas or just out and out bandits. I am not saying Magill made the right or wrong choice he was in between a rock and a hard place. From the book"Bitterly divided the Souths inner civil war David Williams thenewpress.com
The Okenokee Swamp held large numbers of armed deserters who fought the CSA p.5. P.150 In Pickens County Ga 125 men joined an anti-CSA partisan militia that also raided their rich neighbors. By Aug 1864 the Federals established 300 men into the 1st Ga State Troop Volunteers. Some of these men where assigned to the 5th Tn mounted Inf USV . They where not good conventional troops but has guerrillas they did well.. Their are other examples in the above book.
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Lost Cause

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I don't know if I would call people who believe in slavery and racial discrimination heroes. Different stroke for different folks. The CSA was outnumbered two to one and they started with a lot of territory. They lost territory and popular support every year they fought . It took years for them to recover . I don't consider that a success. Of course we can all believe what we want.
Leftyhunter
So, all Confederates believed in slavery and racial discrimination? That is about as absolute as saying all Union soldiers believed in ending slavery and racial equality.
 

leftyhunter

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So, all Confederates believed in slavery and racial discrimination? That is about as absolute as saying all Union soldiers believed in ending slavery and racial equality.
That is the cause they where fighting for. The CSA Constitution stated that no state could abolish slavery. Their was no provision in the CSA Constitution that affirmed that all men are created equal. Obviously I can't say what is in everyone's head but they where not fighting for equality.
Yes slavery was legal in the Union but just before the CW ended a constitutional amendment was passed that made it illegal.
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Lost Cause

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That is the cause they where fighting for. The CSA Constitution stated that no state could abolish slavery. Their was no provision in the CSA Constitution that affirmed that all men are created equal. Obviously I can't say what is in everyone's head but they where not fighting for equality.
Yes slavery was legal in the Union but just before the CW ended a constitutional amendment was passed that made it illegal.
Leftyhunter
Again, you cannot degenerate every Confederate soldier or their ancestors for the cause of the government.
 

leftyhunter

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Again, you cannot degenerate every Confederate soldier or their ancestors for the cause of the government.
Again it does not matter what one Johnny Reb thinks or not. Sure some where nice guys but facts are facts they are fighting for a bad cause and thus are not my heroes. Different strokes for different folks. Everybody has the right to choose their own heroes and they do.
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Lost Cause

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Again it does not matter what one Johnny Reb thinks or not. Sure some where nice guys but facts are facts they are fighting for a bad cause and thus are not my heroes. Different strokes for different folks. Everybody has the right to choose their own heroes and they do.
Leftyhunter
One does not have to find or follow heroes to find hypocrisy in the argument, especially when they are lumped into one sum. There were skeletons in the closet on both sides. Some have a tendency to expose one, by ignoring the other.
 

leftyhunter

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One does not have to find or follow heroes to find hypocrisy in the argument, especially when they are lumped into one sum. There were skeletons in the closet on both sides. Some have a tendency to expose one, by ignoring the other.
I have quoted numerous times that men of the 6th Ky USV threw rocks at any black man in range. On the other hand if the constitution of the CSA said what it said and some one is fighting on its behalf then I stand by what I said.
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Elennsar

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What does the purpose of the soi-disant CSA and what soldiers of the same felt about slavery or racism have to do with conscription exactly?

Except, perhaps, in regards to whether or not conscripts count as willingly serving, which probably is more a matter of "define willingly".
 

Dave Wilma

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I'd say that conscription or draft helped the Confederacy. Every soldier on the line was a solder on the line, something the Union Army had to deal with. A conscript might not lead an assault, but he could hunker in a trench and participate in a march.

The evaders and deserters would not have enlisted in any case so conscription was a net gain for the Confederacy. The CSA was defeated militarily and any lack of widespread civilian support did not really contribute to that defeat. Desertion was a problem for the CSA, but I suspect enlistees were at least as likely to desert as conscripts.
 

leftyhunter

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I'd say that conscription or draft helped the Confederacy. Every soldier on the line was a solder on the line, something the Union Army had to deal with. A conscript might not lead an assault, but he could hunker in a trench and participate in a march.

The evaders and deserters would not have enlisted in any case so conscription was a net gain for the Confederacy. The CSA was defeated militarily and any lack of widespread civilian support did not really contribute to that defeat. Desertion was a problem for the CSA, but I suspect enlistees were at least as likely to desert as conscripts.
I respect your view point. My counter argument is that by forcing men into the army that did not want to go they often fought on the other side either by enlisting in the Union Army (I did provide some examples) or by becoming Unionist guerrillas. If a Southern man who was neutral becomes a Union soldier then now subtracts one man from the CSA and adds one to the Union Army. If that man becomes a guerrilla then it can take ten conventional troops to counter one guerrilla.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

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I'd say that conscription or draft helped the Confederacy. Every soldier on the line was a solder on the line, something the Union Army had to deal with. A conscript might not lead an assault, but he could hunker in a trench and participate in a march.

The evaders and deserters would not have enlisted in any case so conscription was a net gain for the Confederacy. The CSA was defeated militarily and any lack of widespread civilian support did not really contribute to that defeat. Desertion was a problem for the CSA, but I suspect enlistees were at least as likely to desert as conscripts.
General Kirby Smith thought that conscription did hurt the CSA at least in east Tn where he suspended the draft in the spring of 1862. Smith was concerned with mossbacks and driving Unionists out of the state where they could and did join the Union Army. P.108-109 "War at every door Partisan Politics &Guerrilla Violence in East Tennessee 1861-1869 Noel Fisher Univ of North Carolina Press.
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John Hartwell

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Conscription certainly helped the war effort.

It can also be said that by enabling the Confederacy to prolong the war, it led to greater destruction across the South and greater human suffering for both sides, but it was no help in winning the war. Does that work out to be 'help' or 'hurt'?
 

leftyhunter

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I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet the 20 slave rule did the real damage.
Based on my readings I would argue that many Southern men where against secession from the begining and being forced to fight for an illegitimate govt was so to speak the last straw. Another major factor is why should the the non slave owning white who is often poor fight and die for the slave owners who always held them in contempt? The 20 slave owner rule did not help matters it was a case of throwing gasoline on a fire.
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leftyhunter

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Conscription certainly helped the war effort.

It can also be said that by enabling the Confederacy to prolong the war, it led to greater destruction across the South and greater human suffering for both sides, but it was no help in winning the war. Does that work out to be 'help' or 'hurt'?
Thats about right and conscription helped the Union war effort by having many Southern men enlist in the Union Army, become guerrillas, Unionist Home Guards or mossbacks or simply flee to the North to find safe jobs.
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James N.

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Here's a personal account of the conscription problem in the South:

...Here was a dilemma that had to be met; there were three horns tp the dilemma: Volunteer, be conscripted and placed in a company not of your own choosing and bear the odious name of conscript, or attempt to go North, turning our backs on the home of our childhood and a widowed mother, and run a risk of ten to one of being captured and shot as a traitor to the Southern cause. We chose the first, and joined the same company in which Brother I. L. Magill was, so that we might all be together."

Robert M. Magill: PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER BOY.
Volunteered at Chattanooga, Tenn., in Company F, 39th Georgia Regiment of Infantry.

Kevin Dally
I suspect that much the same emotions probably motivated my own ancestor, since it wasn't until after the Act passed that he volunteered. His regiment, the 33d Alabama was organized and mustered in in the summer of '62 and its first action was Perryville, Ky. in Oct.
 
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GS

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My great grandfather was taken at gunpoint, forced to fight in the Confederacy. Another of my ancestors fled to Tennessee to enlist in the Union service, was caught by Confederates and forced into its service. I'm told of others in North Alabama whose ancestors were hung when refusing to take up arms against the United States of America, which their grandfathers had fought and died to free from Great Britain's rule. Other dissenters were dragged behind a horse until dead. Inflammatory deleted by moderator JerseyBart
 
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Hunter

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My great grandfather was taken at gunpoint, forced to fight in the Confederacy. Another of my ancestors fled to Tennessee to enlist in the Union service, was caught by Confederates and forced into its service. I'm told of others in North Alabama whose ancestors were hung when refusing to take up arms against the United States of America, which their grandfathers had fought and died to free from Great Britain's rule. Other dissenters were dragged behind a horse until dead. ?

This was very common in Alabama.
 
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