Impact of the Conscription Act of 1862 Confederate Facts
The Conscription Act of 1862 was enacted by the Confederate Government because at that time men were needed to fight in the war. Many men had volunteered when the American Civil War began. They thought the war would be over quickly at least in time for spring planting. Re-enlistments were coming up and most everyone in the army was wanting to go home. These men needed to go home to plant crops and protect their families. The war took its toll too. The improvement of weapons combined with the same old military tactics of old (marching into direct fire) caused massive death rates during battles. Because of the huge death rates, many men deserted or at the very least didn't reenlist. The death rates also caused a need for more men to replace the dead. The confederate army was disappearing quickly.
The Conscription Act passed requiring every white man between the ages of 18 and 35 to be drafted into the army. The ages later increased. There were two exceptions to the rule. There was a 20 slave law which stated that those who owned 20 or more slaves could purchase a substitute because someone would be needed to keep the slaves from rebelling. The other exception stated that if a man could afford it, he could purchase a substitute. The price was about $300.00. North Carolina History was a poor state and not very many could purchase substitutes nor did they have many slaves if any.
In North Carolina, the Conscription Act was bitterly resented. The act turned many NC residents against the war which resulted in increased deserters, outliers and bushwhackers. Outliers were those men who evaded the draft and lived outside of the law and society to keep from being caught. As the war raged on, desertion increased and therefore increased the number of outliers. Governor Vance issued orders to deal with the outliers. He vowed to hunt down and prosecute all deserters, draft dodgers and disloyalty from Wilmington to Franklin in September 1862. It made the outliers more resistant and ruthless cause they were going to be executed anyway if apprehended. To survive they robbed from others, hid in caves, swamps and woods. In the mountains they were known as Bushwhackers. On the coast, they were known as Buffaloes. They carried out armed raids on towns, houses and shot at the Confederate Army (CSA). In Randolph county it became a guerrilla war. A secret society that called themselves the heroes of America organized support for the outliers by finding safe hiding places, food, supplies and early warnings if Confederate troops were nearby. Larges uprisings caused regular use of Confederate troops, home guard and the militia. In effect, this helped undermined the Confederate army as it took soldiers away from the front.
The Conscription Act of 1862 had a profound effect upon the Confederacy.