Both sides in the American Civil War employed the threat of conscription or “the draft” to pressure eligible men into military service. For the Union, this system of veiled coercion culminated in the Enrollment Act of 1863, one of the final acts of the 37th Congress. Students in History 288 should be able to explain why James McPherson calls this legislation “not conscription at all, but a clumsy carrot and stick device to stimulate volunteering.” Students should be able to identify terms such as commutation or substitution. Those interested in a short but fascinating article about how to research such cases in the National Archives, should consult this piece by Michael T. Meier. In class, we will also compare the Union draft to the Confederate version and ask why internal critics accused each side of fostering conditions that led to a “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.” We will discuss the example of one poor man fighting for the Confederacy named William Elisha Stoker, a young Texas farmer whose story –drawn from letters at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg– is featured here. And in preparation for the lecture on Wednesday afternoon by Adam Mendelsohn on “Jews and the Civil War,” we will discuss Gen. Grant’s controversial order banning Jews from his military department in December 1862.
Office: Denny 218
- Bruce on Election of 1876 and the Retreat from Reconstruction
- Colin Farrell on Election of 1876 and the Retreat from Reconstruction
- Weston Hayes on Was the Civil War a Total War?
- Weston Hayes on Election of 1876 and the Retreat from Reconstruction
- Lindsey Blais on Reconstruction Era Conflicts