The Civil War Period

The Draft

Despite the overwhelming applications for enlistment in the earlier days of the war and the free response of Indiana throughout, as compared with other states, some counties failed to contribute their proportion to the Indiana quota in the course of the seven different calls that were issued before the war was over. Consequently these localities fell subject to the conscription system that the government was obliged to adopt. The draft that operated in Indiana was that of 1862, 1864 and 1865, in which, altogether, nearly 18,000 men were drawn.

The draft included in its plan an enrolment in each county of every able-bodied white male citizen between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. When a new call was made for troops if a state did not fill out its quota the draft was resorted to, the names of the enrolled citizens being written on ballots and placed in a wheel or box. From these a person who was blindfolded drew enough ballots to complete the deficient local quota. The persons whose names were drawn were then served with a notice by the Marshal and required to report at the County Seat within five days. Those who did not report were classed as deserters (Terrell). One effect of a draft was to stimulate volunteering, many regarding conscription as a disgrace. One provision of the drafting system that caused much dissatisfaction was that by the payment of #300 the conscript was relieved from serving. By this, it was complained, the rich man was virtually exempt, whereas for the poor man there was no escape. At one time there was a provision, also, that those who were conscientiously opposed to bearing arms should if drafter, be considered non-combatants and be assigned to hospital or some similar service, unless they preferred to pay the $300 commutation.