When the War of Rebellion started in 1861, plenty of men volunteered to save the Union. However as news came north of the horrors of battle, of the diseases, of the heat and humidity, of the amputations, the thirst for running off to war dissipated. Then the Union needed soldiers, and needed them desperately.
The Enrollment Act of 1863 was to solve that problem by setting up a military draft. This Act did not work for two reasons. First was the provision whereby a drafted man could sent a substitute. Simple enough, if one were drafted, find someone or pay someone to go in one’s place. The price: “not exceeding $300.00.” That was the law
The other provision which caused more trouble was paying “commutation” or pay the Secretary of War “not exceeding $300.00” for the procuration of a substitute. This was much easier than finding a relative or neighbor to go to war for you. With this provision all one had to do was send the money to Washington.
The Enrollment Act enriched the coffers of the national government, but did not supply men to fight the War. In 1863 only about 2500 Maine men entered military service, only a third were drafted. During the other three years of the War, Maine sent nearly 70,000 men. Of course, then as now, a few skedaddled to Aroostook or Canada. [from John Pullen’s The Twentieth Maine]
The [Maine] Adjutant General’s Report for 1863 lists the following:
Total drafted 15,718
Exempted under the Act 11,601
Paid commutation 1937
Supplied substitutes 1373
Drafted & entered service 807
35th Maine Sub-district:
Alexander – Baileyville north to southern Aroostook –
Drafted & paid Commutation:
Robert C. Brown of Alexander
George W. Hill
Benjamin J. Hailey
Freeman R. Dakin
Wesley J. Perkins of Alexander: see his sad story
Eben C. Doyne
Henry A. Fitch
John T. Crabtree
Drafted & furnished Substitute:
Isaac Crowell sub was John S. Bridgham
Henry A. Sprague sub was Thomas A. Baker
Drafted and served:
John Courey of Princeton
William H. Brown
This material was copied from microfilm at
Maine State Archives. It likely is not complete, may be inaccurate. No record of
earlier calls. Regiment is infantry unless otherwise stated. Enrollment Credits
from MAR 1865 – 66 Volume 1 page 13
July 2, 1862 for 3 years
Thistlewood, Robert K. 6th
Tracy, William H. 6th
Robb, Hugh JR 6th
August 4, 1862 for 9 months
Crafts, William H. 22nd
Lyons, Greenwood 22nd
Munson, John 22nd
Spearing, Jefferson 22nd
October 17, 1863 to June 1, 1864 for 3 years
Clark, William D. 6th re-enlisted
Gillespie, Michael 9th re-enlisted
Foley, Michael 9th re-enlisted
Perkins, Jasper H. 6th battery re-enlisted?
Godfrey, Charles H. 6th battery
Huff, John R. 6th battery
Card, Charles 6th battery
Spearin, Leonard Coast Guard Inf
June 1, 1864
Crafts, Hiram A. 3 years October 24, 1864
Frost, Stephen D. do ?
Bohanon, Asa drafted 1 year 20th October 3, 1864
Brown, William H. drafted 1 year 20th October 3, 1864
Bailey, Isaiah drafted 1 year 16th October 3, 1864
Keene, Reuben drafted 1 year 20th October 3, 1864
Spearin, Jeremiah drafted 1 year 16th October 3, 1864
Perkins, Joseph drafted 1 year 20th October 3, 1864
Nine Canadian born men entered the service with Alexander connections. Charles Card, Hiram Crafts, Joseph Ellsworth, Joseph Perkins, Michael Gillespie and Edward Jamison all were living in town when they went off to war. Amos Cole grew up here but had moved before going to fight. John Sears moved here after the war. Henry M. Adams was credited to Alexander, but we find no other connection.
Joseph L. Reed was born in New Brunswick as were all the men above. He was credited to Cooper when he entered the service, but we find no other connection.
Soldiers James P. Jeffery, Daniel A. Smith and
Robert Wallace were all Nova Scotia born residents of Crawford. Their neighbor
Andrew Wheaton was born in New Brunswick. William Francis of Nova Scotia was a
substitute and credited to Crawford, but likely never resided there.
As dead from a disease as from a battle, and Civil War history tells us that many more died of disease than the bullet. But, let’s look at some specific Maine regiments. In the 22nd, a nine-month unit, 160 died of disease and 9 were killed. Of the 15 men from Alexander, Crawford and Cooper in the 22nd, 7 died of disease, none were killed. This regiment spent its time along the lower Mississippi River. For the Maine 25th, another nine-month unit, its had just 20 die of disease, none killed. They were defending Washington, DC.
Of the three-year regiments, the 20th Maine is often best known because it was involved in battles in Virginia and at Gettysburg. The 20th lost 146 from disease and 147 killed. The Maine 17th that also fought in Virginia had 163 die of disease and 207 killed.
The 18th Maine Infantry was
converted into the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery and as such they spent a
couple of years defending Washington. Grant needed men so converted them back to
infantry and with little training they faced veteran Confederates and lost 476
killed and wounded in their first battle. Not long after they charged a heavily
defended Confederate position at Petersburg and suffered 632 more casualties.
Their losses were the highest of any Union regiment in the Civil War. This
information is from Ned Smith’s The 22nd
Maine Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War.