War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 1050 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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it impracticable to resume the draft in that city until the 19th of August, when troops were sent there from the armies in the field. It was then effected without further difficulty.


Many writs of habeas corpus have been served upon the officers of this Bureau. The practice in regard to those issued by U. S. courts has been to obey the writs and abide the judgment of the court. In the cases of like writs issued by State courts, the practice has been in accordance with the opinion of the Honorable William Whiting, Solicitor of the War Department, announced in Circular Numbers 36 from this office, requiring the officer on whom the writ was served to make return denying the jurisdiction of the State courts, and declining to produce the person held. The courts in many cases still claiming jurisdiction, regarded the officer making the return as guilty of contempt. This condition of things imposed upon the officers of this Bureau difficult and embarrassing labors, and interfered materially with the successful performance of their legitimate duties.

A further obstacle was met in civil courts assuming jurisdiction in cases of claims for exemption from military duty. Section 14 of the enrollment act says:

* * * All persons drafted and claiming exemption from military duty on account of disability of any other cause shall present their claims to be exempted to the Board, whose decision shall be final.

The status thus made the Board of Enrollment the special and only tribunal before which claims for exemption could be tried, wisely prescribing that the decision of the Board should be final. But notwithstanding this, certain judges assumed jurisdiction in cases of claims for exemption, both before and after the boards had given final decision on them, as required by the ng to the opinions of these judges there was practically no finality in the examination of drafted men, unless they were all exempted by the boards. In one instance, during the daily examinations of drafted men, a judecords of the Board of Enrollment to be delivered to him in court. The order was not obeyed, inasmuch as obedience to it would have been a violation of the law, and might have delayed for an indefinite period the business of the Board in that district.

The action of the civil courts in the foregoing particulars threatened for a time in several districts to defeat, or at least to suspend, the business of raising troops and of arresting deserters, and either to throw the officers of this Bureau into custody or keep them so constantly before the courts as to prevent their attendance upon the duties for which they were appointed, and thus to defeat the raising of an army according to the law. These difficulties were substantially terminated by the proclamation of the President, dated September 17, suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in certain classes of cases.

Another method appeared in Pennsylvania to obstruct the draft by means of a bill in chancery; and an injunction was granted by a majority of the supreme court of that State, which, however, has been ordered to be disobeyed.


The actual effect of the different causes of exemption in the present draft, as far as it has been completed, is shown in exhibit herewith.