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The Draft - Its Operations and Exemptions

Transcribed from the New York Times, Saturday, July 11, 1863 (Vol. XII, No. 3681, p. 4, col. 4)

   The conscription now about to take place for 800,000 men, to serve for three years or during the war, naturally absorbs all other interests for the time being. It is a measure that, in a peculiar manner, comes home to "the business and bosoms" of every family wherein there is an arms-bearing member. The volunteer system long since exhausted the spontaneously patriotic and warlike spirit of the community. When volunteering for the love of the cause came to an end, the bounty system was brought into requisition, and money considerations induced tens of thousands to enlist who otherwise would not have done so. But the charge on national and municipal credit, of keeping up a vast army by bounties, was too great to be long borne. The Government has at last resorted to the means that all great military nations employ to raise and sustain armies ; and it is the only means that in the long run can be relied on. The plan is that of general, impartial Conscription.

    It is equally the duty of all who are capable of military duty to serve their country at a time like this. But as the services of all are not required, nothing is fairer than to determine by lot, who among those that are able to take the field shall be called out. It is this that the Conscription proposes to do. Instead of the Conscription being a hardship, ungenerously imposed by the Government upon the people, it is really an arrangement of reverse character, by which the Government remits to a majority of its citizens a duty which it might rightfully call on all to discharge -- and remits, according to a plan that the minority who have to serve cannot complain of as unfair, for all run an equal risk in the Conscription.


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  The lot in the impending draft will fall noiselessly as the snowflake, but it will reach the predetermined number of citizens as unerringly as fate ; and impose all the duties and responsibilities of the Conscription law upon the drafted. The subsequent steps will be as follows : Each drafted person will be notified, within ten days after being drawn, of the fact, requiring him to appear at the designated rendezvous to report for duty. On arrival at the rendezvous, the drafted persons are to be carefully inspected by the Surgeon of the Enrolling Board, and if found to be physically disqualified they will be there exempted. Any person drafted may, on or before the day fixed for his appearance, furnish an acceptable substitute to take his place, or he may pay the Collector of Internal Revenue for his district the sum of $800, and thereby be exempt from any further liability under that draft. Any person failing to report himself within the time prescribed, furnish a substitute, or pay the $800, shall be deemed a deserter, and be arrested and tried as such, unless, upon proper showing that he is not liable to do military duty, the Board of Enrollment shall relieve him from the draft.

    The persons enrolled under the act are divided into two classes. The first class consists of all persons subject to military duty between the ages of twenty and thirty-five, and all unmarried persons subject to military duty between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five. The second class consists of all other persons subject to military duty. The second class shall not in any district be called into service until those of the first class shall have been called.

    The difference between married men and single men, under the law, is simply this -- that all unmarried men between the ages of 20 and 45, and all married men between the ages of 20 and 35, belong to the first class. All married men between the ages of 35 and 45, belong to the second class.

    The prospect is that the draft will be manfully met and responded to. And in this gratifying circumstance we do not fail to see the happy effect of the late important victories of the Union cause. These triumphs have acted as a decided tonic to the national courage, and at the same time imported a much needed confidence in the trustworthiness of the Government and the capacity of our military leaders.
15th MVI