The French revolutionary armies were largely made up of recruits. When, however, the number of men volunteering to join the ranks of the army began to dwindle, the government had recourse to the Jourdan Law of 5 September 1798 introducing conscription. All men between the ages of 20 and 25 were eligible to be called up. Those with money could buy their way out by paying for a replacement; the average price was about 2,000 francs. Those who could not afford a replacement or who did not want to leave their villages were, as the following report shows, obliged to find more imaginative means of avoiding conscription.
The registers of the certificates of births, marriages and deaths of most of the communes of the department of the Ariège are in a deplorable state.
These registers, and in particular those of marriage, have been shamefully defaced or falsified in order to procure for an infinite number of young men the means of avoiding military service.
The origins of these forgeries go back to the end of Year VI, that is to the period when the provisions of the laws of 19 and 23 Fructidor were known in the department of the Ariège. These exempted those requisitioned men married before 1 Germinal in Year VI from the draft and exempted conscripts married before 23 Nivôse of the same year from the ballot.
At that time, certain intriguers united in order to sell false acts of marriage to requisitioned men and conscripts of the department, and they have succeeded in their criminal aims, either by abusing the rusticity of public officers of some of the smaller communes situated in the mountains, or by sharing with them their culpable traffic, or by imposing on the good faith of the administrative corps of Viba extracts of false acts inscribed in the registers of the communes.