from The Webster Times, 14 March 1863, (Volume V # 1),
The New Conscription Bill

by John Spaulding, Editor

As it now appears that the day of conscription is not very far distant, we copy a few extracts from the new law under which a draft will be made. The extracts which we publish are from the official copy, and therefore correct. Section 2 of this bill specifies the exempts, and is as follows:

“Sect. 2. And be it further enacted, that the following persons be and they are hereby exempted and exempt from the provisions of this act, and shall not be liable to military duty under the same, to whit: such as are rejected as physically or mentally unfit for the service; also, First, the vice president of the United States, the judges of the various courts of the United States, the heads of the various executive departments of the government, and the governors of the several states. Second, the only son liable to military duty widow dependent upon his labors for support. Third, The only son of an aged or infirm parent or parents dependant upon his labor for support. Fourth, where there are two or more sons of aged or infirm parents subject to the draft, the father, or if he be dead, the mother, may elect which son shall be exempt. Fifth, the only brother of children not twelve years old, having neither father or mother dependent upon his labor for support. Seventh, where there are a father and sons in the same family and household, and two of them are in the military service of the United States as non-commissioned officers, musicians, or privates, the residue of such family and household, not exceeding two, shall be exempt. And no persons but such as are herein excepted shall be exempt. Provided; however, that no person who has been convicted of any felony shall be enrolled or permitted to serve in said forces.”

Section 3 classifies the militia subject to draft as follows:

“Sect. 3. “And be it further enacted that the national forces of the United States not now in the military service, enrolled under this act, shall be divided into two classes; the first of which will comprise all persons subject to do military duty above the ages of thirty-five years, and all unmarried persons subject to do military duty above he age of thirty-five and under the age of forty-five; the second class shall comprise all other persons subject to do military duty; and they shall not in any district be called into the service of the United States until those of the first class shall have been called.

The bill provides for the appointment of provost marshals, and a provost marshal general, whose duty it shall be to see that the law is enforced. It also provides for the immediate enrollment of persons subject to military duty, and renders then liable to be “called into the military service of the United States, and to continue in service during he present rebellion, not, however, exceeding the term of three years; and when called into service they shall be placed on the same footing, in all respects, as volunteers for three years, or during the war, including advance pay and bounty as now provided by law.”

“Sect. 12. And be it further enacted, that whenever it may be necessary to call out the national forces for military service, the president is hereby authorized to assign to each district the number of men to be furnished by said district; and thereupon the enrolling board shall, under the direction of the president, make a draft of the required number, and fifty per cent in addition, and shall make an exact and complete roll of the names of the persons so drawn, and of the order in which they were drawn, so that the first drawn may stand first upon the said roll, and the second may stand second and so on.

And the persons so drawn shall be notified of the same within ten days thereafter, by a written or printed notice, to be served personally or by leaving a copy at the last place of residence, requiring them to appear at a designated rendezvous to report for duty. In assigning to the districts the number of men to be furnished there from, the president shall take into consideration the number of volunteers and militia furnished by and from the several states in which said districts are situated, and the period of their service since the commencement of the present rebellion, and shall so make said assignment as to equalize the numbers among the districts of the several states, considering and allowing for the numbers already furnished as aforesaid and the time of their service.

“Sect. 13. And be it further enacted, that any person drafted and notified to appear as aforesaid, may, on or before the day fixed for his appearance, furnish an acceptable substitute to take his place in the draft; or he may pay to such person as the secretary of war may determine, for the procuration of such substitute, which sum shall be fixed at a uniform rate, by a general order made at the time of ordering a draft for any state or territory; and thereupon such person so furnishing the substitute, or paying he money, shall be discharged from further liability under the draft. Any person failing to report after due service of notice as herein prescribed, without furnishing a substitute, or paying the required sum therefore, shall be deemed a deserter, and shall be arrested by the provost marshal and sent to the nearest military post for trial by court marshal, unless, upon proper showing that he is not liable to do military duty, the board of enrollment shall relieve him from the draft.”

“Sect. 14. And be it further enacted, that all drafted persons shall, on arriving at the rendezvous, be carefully inspected by the surgeon of the board, who shall truly report to the board the physical condition of each one, and all persons drafted and claiming exemption from military duty on account of disability, or any other cause, shall present their claims to be exempted to the board, whose decision shall be final.

“Sect. 17. and be it further enacted, that any person enrolled and drafted according to the provisions of this act who shall furnish an acceptable substitute, shall thereupon receive from the board of enrollment a certificate of discharge from such draft, which shall exempt him from military duty during the time for which he was drafted; and such substitute shall be entitled to the same pay and allowances provided by law as if he had been originally drafted into the service of the United States.

“Sect. 25. And be it further enacted, that if any person shall resist any draft of men enrolled under this act into the service of the United States, or shall counsel or aid any person to resist any such draft; or shall assault or obstruct any such officer, or shall counsel any drafted men not to appear at the place of rendezvous, or willfully dissuade them from the performance of military duty as required by law, such person shall be subject to summary arrest by the provost marshal, and he shall be forthwith delivered to the civil authorities, and upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding two years, or by both of said punishments.”

15th Massachusetts VI