1861- January 1864: Substitute – Class Prejudiced from the Outset of War

REPEAL OF THE EXEMPTION FOR SOUTHERN MEN WITH MONEY PAYING A SUBSTITUTE and AVOIDING MILITARY SERVICE BY THE CONGRESS OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA.

ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR GENERAL’S OFFICE.
Richmond, Jan. 9, 1864.
GENERAL ORDERS,
No. 3

I. The following Acts of Congress and Regulations are published for the information of all persons concerned therein:

ACTS.

An Act to prevent the Enlistment or Enrollment of Substitutes in the Military Service of the Confederate States.

“The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That no person liable to military service shall hereafter be permitted or allowed to furnish a substitute for such service, nor shall any substitute be received, enlisted, or enrolled in the military service of the Confederate States.” [Approved December 28th, 1863.] An Act to put an end to Exemption from Military Service of those who have heretofore furnished Substitutes.

“Whereas, in the present circumstances of the country, it requires the aid of all who are able to bear arms:

“The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That no person shall be exempted from military service, by reason of having furnished a substitute; but this act shall not be so construed as to affect persons who, though not liable to render military service, have, nevertheless, furnished substitutes.” [Approved January 5th, 1864.] [Note: Reveals the inherent class bias, to the injury of poor men and their families, of allowing substitutes from the beginning of the war. Simply, in spite of the fact that the outlook for Confederate survival, in January 1864, seem bleak and all the men in the South’s fighting forces are declining, men with money who had hired substitutes to fight for them, prior to 5 January 1864, would not have to serve. Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight?]

II. Persons rendered liable to military service by operation of the preceding acts, are placed on the same footing with all others hitherto held liable by Acts of Congress.

III. Persons herein rendered liable to military service are required to report as volunteers or conscripts, without delay to the enrolling officers; and all who delay beyond the 1st day of February 1864, will be considered as having renounced the privilege of volunteering, and held for assignment according to law.

IV. Enrolling officers will proceed, as rapidly as practicable, in the enrollment of persons herein made liable to military service. Previous to enrollment as conscripts, all such persons will be allowed to volunteer in companies in service on the 16th April, 1862; provided, the company [Page 3] chosen does not at the time of volunteering reach the maximum number allowed; and upon such company being selected, the volunteer will receive from the enrolling officer a certificate to the effect that he has so volunteered; and no volunteer will be received into any company except on such certificate. Persons who fail to make their selection at the time of enrollment, will be assigned according to existing regulations.

V. Persons who report to the enrolling officers will be enrolled, and may be allowed a furlough of ten days before reporting to the camp of instruction.

VI. All persons, whether volunteers or conscripts under this order, will pass through the camp of instruction of the state to which they belong, and be forwarded thence to the companies which are selected, or to which they may be assigned.

VII. The Bureau of Conscription is charged with adopting proper regulations for the enforcement of this order.

VIII. All exemptions heretofore granted are subject to revision, under instructions from the Bureau of Conscription; and if found to be improper or unauthorized by law, will be revoked.

By order,

S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.

Source: Documenting the American South Collection

Website at: http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/conscript/conscription.html

NOTE: The paying of a substitute to assume an eligible man’s military service in the armed forces of the Confederacy had been an option primarily for wealthy men. Also, it had been an exemption of considerable abuse including producing a number of “professional” substitutes, who assumed fictitious names and home addresses, then substituted, after being paid, for a man and after a short period of enlistment, deserting, only to do the same for another man. As you look through the published military records of men from Nash and Wilson Counties notice substitutes who claimed to be from “Virginia.” They do not designate a specific place in Virginia but rather just provide their invented state of origin. Even after the substitute deserted, most often the man who had paid him to assume his military duty would not have to serve. The repeal by the Confederate Congress is a classic case of closing the gate after the horse is out.

HOW MANY WEALTHY MEN SERVED IN THE CONFEDERATE ARMED SERVICES AS PAID SUBSTITUTES FOR OTHER MEN?

All correspondence, including additions and corrections, should be emailed to: civilwar.nash.wilson.counties@gmail.com

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