War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0695 UNION AUTHORITIES.

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On the 27th of September, 1862, this conscription act was amended by an act authorizing "the President" to call out "white men who are residents of the Confederate States, between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five," &c., thus making the limit of age eighteen and forty-five years.

Notwithstanding the sweeping rigor of the conscription created by these laws, its results do not seem to have been satisfactory to the rebel leader of the Army of Northern Virginia, as appears from the following letter:


February 11, 1863.

Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,

Secretary of War:

SIR: I think it very important to increase the strength of all our armies to the maximum by the opening of the next campaign. Details of officers and men have been sent from all the brigades of this army to collect deserters and absentees. By the return of last month, forwarded to the Department to-day, you will perceive that our strength is not much increased by the arrival of conscripts. Only 421 are reported to have joined by enlistment, and 287 to have returned from desertion, making an aggregate of 708, whereas our loss by death, discharges, and desertions amounts to 1,878. Now is the time to gather all our strength and to prepare for the struggle which must take place in the next three months. I beg you to use every means in your power to fill up our ranks.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,


On the 28th of December, 1863, an act was approved prohibiting substitution.

On the 5th of January, 1864, an act was approved canceling the exemptions previously granted to persons liable to duty who had furnished substitutes.

On the 17th of February, 1864, an act was approved declaring, "that from and after the passage of this act all white men residents of the Confederate States between the ages of seventeen and fifty shall be in the military service of the Confederate States for the war."


It will be observed that under the mode of conscription adopted by the rebels no drafting was necessary. All were declared by the law to be in the military service and were required to enroll themselves accordingly (excepting those entitled to exemption), and the duties of the Conscript Bureau were therefore greatly simplified. Nevertheless, great difficulties were still encountered, as shown by the following report of the chief of the rebel Bureau of Conscription, which also gives interesting information as to the state of the military resources of the rebels at the time the report was made:



Richmond, April 30, 1864.

Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,

Secretary of War:

SIR: I have the honor to submit my report concerning the operations of the conscription service from the 1st of January to the 1st of April, 1864. This report indicatesger portion of the work which has been performed. The results are the scanty gleanings from an almost unlimited and nearly exhausted field of labor, every inch of which was to be searched, analyzed, and classified in every relation to the great problem of recruiting and maintaining the armies.

No attribute which pertains to society or civil economy but has been subjected to the scrutiny and action of this Bureau and its agencies. With the incompetent