Draft Begins

Until 1863 the President had been able to secure enough soldiers by calling for volunteers; but the time now came when Lincoln had to resort to drafts. That is to say, all the able–bodied men in the country between certain ages were forced to register their names, and from them a certain number in each state were selected by lot. These were obliged to join the army in person, or hire men to take their places.

The fact that the President issued such orders, although Congress had given him the right to do so, made some of the people so angry that there were draft riots in several cities. The worst of all, however, was in New York, where the rioters took possession of the city, attacked and brutally murdered some poor Negroes, destroyed much property, and behaved so lawlessly that troops had to be called out to restore order. During those terrible days the excitement was intense; but the law–abiding citizens behaved so nobly that the mob was quelled after some bloodshed.

Drafts, which created such an uproar in the Union states, were also made in the South, where boys, and even old men, were made to serve, until it was said that “the Confederate army robbed both the cradle and the grave.” There, too, paper money was used; but as the war dragged on, Confederate bills were worth less and less in coin. Owing to this, and also to the strict blockade, it took at one time about fifteen hundred dollars to buy a barrel of flour, and several thousand for a suit of common clothes. After the war was over, Confederate bills were worth nothing at all.

All through the war, Southern and Northern women proved equally ready to work night and day for the soldiers on their side. Some of them raised money by fairs; others made garments or delicacies for the sick; and many served as nurses in the hospitals or on the battle field. Even small children helped, and while the little girls knit stockings, the boys made lint, or picked berries which were made into jellies for the use of convalescent soldiers. The whole country suffered from the effects of the war, but while many families north and south were in deep mourning for their heroic dead, the worst suffering was borne by the Southern states, where most of the fighting took place.


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