War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0140 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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FEBRUARY 27, 1864.

Referred to Colonel Fry, Provost-Marshal-General, with directions to make the ensuing draft in New York in conformity with the instructions of the President, herein contained.


Secretary of War.


Harrisburg, Pa., February 27, 1864.

His Excellency A. LINCOLN,


SIR: I have to assure you that if the draft be postponed and the bounties continued till the 1st of April, Pennsylvania will have filled her quota of volunteers.

I am informed by U. S. officials having charge of enlistments in this State that we had supplied up to the 1st of February about 17,000 men. Since that date enlistments in the Western Division, closing with this day, will be 10,000, and, although I have not date altogether reliable, I do not think those in the Eastern Division for the same period will be much less. This does not include soldiers enlisted in the field during the month of February, which, when ascertained, will no doubt largely increase the number to be credited the State.

I have before me letters received from Major-General Hancock, Colonel Bomford, and Major Gilbert, provost-marshal, in reply to inquiries which I addressed to them, which appear to sustain these statements beyond a doubt.

Meanwhile I will observe that the system which has been adopted of crediting enlisted men not to the localities from which they come, but to such as they may select, has rendered a draft impossible without great injustice.

The military population of some townships in this State has been so reduced by volunteering that unless they be allowed credit on their quota for all their resident citizens who have enlisted nearly the whole remaining population of able-bodied men will be swept away by a draft. The same remark applies measurably to the State at large, it being understood that her citizens are allowed to be credited to other States if they so elect.

The sole reason for allowing credit for volunteers in making a draft is to prevent the undue exhaustion of the military population of the States and localities whose citizens have gone freely into the military service. By the system to which I have referred this reason is entirely lost sight of. Matters are even worse than if no allowance on the quotas were made at all, inasmuch as in that case townships which had sent no men, or very few, as volunteers, would at least be obliged to furnish their quota of the draft, whereas at present they may escape entirely, while the whole burden is thrown upon loyal localities from which men have gone freely.

If I am correct in the views which I have expressed, you will have the quota of the State filled by the 10th of April, whereas if a draft is to be made it will probably be several months later before you get the men, even if you should get them at all.

I beg to solicit your attention to the subject-matter of this letter.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,