Conscription Act

In early 1862 the difference in manpower between the two sides became more noticeable. Whereas the Union consisted of 23 states and 22,000,000 people, the Confederacy had only 9,000,000 people (including 3,500,000 slaves). President Jefferson Davis now announced that the South could not win the war without conscription. In April the Confederate Congress passed the Conscription Act which drafted white men between eighteen and thirty-five for three years' service.

Primary Sources

(1) Braxton Bragg and senior officers in the Army of Tennessee sent a letter to General Samuel Copper about the need for fresh troops (25th July, 1862)

We, the undersigned officers of the Confederate Army, being deeply impressed with the belief that unless the ranks are speedily replenished our cause will be lost, and being thoroughly satisfied that there are enough able-bodied young men out of the service to accomplish that object, would earnestly implore the president of the Confederate States to take prompt measures to recruit our wasted armies by fresh levies from home.

We especially deplore the unfortunate provision of the exemption bill which has allowed more than 150,000 soldiers to employ substitutes, and we express our honest conviction that not 1 in 100 of these substitutes is now in the service. In numerous instances, fraudulent papers were employed; in others, diseased men were presented and accepted but not to be discharged; in still more cases, vicious and unprincipled substitutes were brought up but to desert at the first favorable moment.