Breach of Faith: Conscription in Confederate Georgia Open Access

Carlson, Robert David (2009)

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Historians have concluded that the passage of three conscription, or military draft, laws by the Confederate Congress between 1862 and 1864 proved a sublimation of states' rights political ideology to the exigencies of the Civil War. This dissertation concludes that the Confederacy tried to, and for a time did, balance states' rights and conscription. First, states temporarily acquiesced to Confederate power as long as the civilian
application of the law did not disrupt existing political architectures. Second, Confederates renegotiated definitions of states' rights and military power to bring them into closer alignment. Third, Confederates refined definitions of citizenship both to broaden the effectiveness of conscription and to safeguard the primacy of state over national allegiances. Fourth, conscription remained dependant on local social and economic elites who could either help or hinder its enforcement. As a result, the Confederacy was able to reap the benefits of centralized military power while maintaining a solid foundation in states' rights. But as the war turned against the South, the pool of available recruits dwindled, and conscription became corrupted by fraud and evasion. The Confederacy slowly drifted toward a military application of the law, a shift that threatened the compromises that supported conscription's acceptance.

This dissertation primarily investigates the application of conscription in the state of Georgia, although it does discuss events in other states for comparative purposes. Georgia was selected because in most cases the rhetorical support for or opposition to conscription drove the broader national debate. It utilizes previously untapped legal, military, cultural and political records to analyze conscription at the national, state and
local levels and demonstrates that any understanding of conscription must depend on a comprehensive understanding of all three.

Table of Contents

1 Some Means Resembling Conscription

2 In View of the Delicate Relations

3 Where the Confederate Government Stopped

4 Conflict More Seeming Than Real

5 Entirely Under My Supervision and Control

6 A Willingness To Break Faith

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