Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy

By Albert Burton Moore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
THE CONCLUDING YEAR

WHEN Congress convened it addressed itself promptly to the consideration of the Administration's program for recruiting the armies. Substitution was forthwith abolished, and through January and the first half of February the other recommendations were earnestly deliberated upon.

Meanwhile newspaper editors and other public leaders took it upon themselves to guide Congress in the straight and narrow way. The Jacksonville Republican suggested three ways of filling the ranks without making levies upon immature youth and declining age. First, deserters and stragglers should be returned. The necessity of this was generally emphasized by the press and by civil and military leaders.1 Second, the unnecessary garrisons should be withdrawn from the towns and cities, where they were of little use except to dun orderly citizens for passes. "Every provost marshal at a railway station

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1
The Whig said (quoted in the Republican, January 26th) there was a vast deal of complaint about absenteeism and desertion, and it was generally believed that the army had lost a third or more of its strength from these causes. The Rebel observed: "We hear a great deal of deserters and absentees" ( Republican, January 23d). W. N. H. Smith, newly elected Congressman from North Carolina, is reported to have asserted that probably one-half of those on the muster roll were absent from duty. McPherson, Political History of the Rebellion, 121. The Examiner said the way to fill the armies was to collect stragglers ( January 4, 1864).

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