from the Worcester Palladium, July 29, 1863, (Volume XXX # 28), 
What is to be done with the Conscripts? 

The question is an important one, and one which is uppermost in the minds of the people. Present appearances indicate that they are to be sent directly into the field in order to fill up the old regiments, an act of very questionable policy, as it seems to us. The conscripts are from all classes of society; from the farms, the workshops. the schools and colleges, the counters, from pursuits as far removed as possible from the profession of the soldier. A majority of these men never owned a musket, many perhaps never handled one.

Are they the men to fight in the ranks with the tried veterans of a two years of unparalleled warfare? Summoned from their homes and their shops at a few days notice, it will be impossible for the government to find in them the skilled and intrepid soldiers that will be required. We doubt not the patriotism and bravery of the men who are cheerfully answering to the draft; we only look at facts as they are, and entreat the government to give the conscripts the benefit of a little thoughtful consideration. Are these men to undertake the long marches which any candid officer will say, as more than one soldier tells us, “there is more life lost than in actual battle.”

Our own Fifteenth regiment furnishes a case in point. It joined the Army of the Potomac with full ranks. After its severe loss at Ball’s Bluff, over five hundred men were recruited for its ranks, and sent immediately into the field. In those terrible marches to the peninsula and thence to Antietam, these five hundred were the ones that fell out of the ranks. Many an other regiment can tell a similar story. The government should have a better care for the brave men who are giving their lives to sustain it.

What then should be done? The answer is simple, and almost suggests itself. There are many regiments, full or nearly so, which have been hitherto occupied in doing garrison duty. Let these go to the front, and their places be taken by the conscripts, who, while guarding forts, & c, can form camps of instruction and begin immediately with the elements of military tactics. Thus situated, in time they would make as good “three year’s men” as those now in the field, and of whom the country has good reason to be proud, good soldiers ready for any work which the country may require. on the other hand, let the drafted men go at once into action, and, setting all claims of humanity aside, they will be a weight upon the government, a complete loss to the army.

A word in regard to the regiments now doing “ornamental duty,” as it is called, those which have not been subjected to the brunt of the battle. So far as we are informed, the men who comprise them are ready and willing to leave their quiet routine and engage in the severe duties of the soldier. Why then are they in any case kept back? Government should give the country no reason to believe that it has its “pet regiments,” officered by men who are in high favor with some official of influence, whose wish is a command, and who shelters his friends and favorites at the expense of men who have been overworked, of regiments that have been decimated In both branches of government military and civil we want men who dare to take the responsibility of turning a deaf ear to the plans of intriguing politicians who look only to the advancement of power of themselves or their friends. Our army is not made up of abject serfs, but of free, intelligent, thinking men, every one of whom is entitled to consideration and care, and whatever is done for the good of these men will be fully recompensed in the fidelity with which they serve a country which cares for them and recognizes them as men, not machines; cares for them as a father for his children.


15th Massachusetts VI