Thursday, December 10, 2009

10 December 1862 - "Who Wants a Substitute?"

On this day in 1862, a notice was published in the Athens, Georgia newspaper Southern Watchman under the heading "Who Wants a Substitute?" James Monore, at the time residing in Snow Creek, SC, placed the ad, volunteering to substitute himself as a volunteer for the Confederate Army for any "gentleman in Georgia who will pay him four thousand dollars." In today's dollars, that's more than $88,000.00.

In April of 1862, the Confederate Congress, after much debate, passed a law creating the first military draft in North America. Initially including all white men between the ages of 18 and 35 for a three-year term in the Confederate military, by September, the age range extended to 45. This provision was unpopular in some quarters, so the law also allowed anyone who could "by their own arrangements...hire as substitutes any able-bodied men not subject to the law."

Those exempt from conscription were engaged in professions needed to keep the war machine and home front working, such as rail road employees, educators, miners, clerics, some medical personnel, foundry workers, and of course, state and national office holders. Georgia Governor Joe Brown fought the draft, even taking the law to court, where he lost the case, but continued to grant exceptions and withhold troops to defend his state.

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