Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy

By Albert Burton Moore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
STATUTORY EXEMPTION (1862-1864)

No more serious problem confronts a nation at war than that of properly allocating its man power. During the World War we were sufficiently enlightened upon the difficulties involved to understand, in a measure at least, the endless vexation it caused the Confederacy where there was a scarcity of men and an industrial system that was extravagant in its demands upon labor. An ideal system of exemption would hold from the armies only the requisite numbers for effective production in each non-combatant field of service. But the accomplishment of this ideal is scarcely to be expected in any nation, least of all in a young nation that is not thoroughly orientated and stabilized.

The Confederate States had a large supply of unskilled labor which could be utilized toward relieving the labor demands in the essential industries. The most productive portions were supplied with slave labor which under skillful direction would, when cotton had proved to be the Pretender and not the real King in the economic world, supply abundantly the agricultural needs of the army and of the public. By the careful development and direction of the reserve powers of its peculiar system of labor the Confederacy had an opportunity to relieve much of its fighting population from the obligations of production and manufacture.

Five days after the passage of the first conscription

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