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PA Civil War Soldiers' Diaries

Schuylkill County Draft Riots

Harrisburg, Pa., October 25, 1862.
Secretary of War , Washington, D.C.:


The riots in Schuylkill County have ceased for the present. The object of the rioters seems to have been to prevent the draft , and to this end, I understand that they forcibly obstructed persons who had been drafted and were on their way to the place of rendezvous in conformity with the notice which had been served on them.

I beg to observe that this enrollment and draft have been made under the authority of and directly by the United States. I originally suggested, therefore, that they should be conducted by officers of the United States, but that suggestion not being adopted, I have acted for the United States in superintending the enrollment and the drawing of names for the quota.

The next step contemplated by the regulations is the appointment of provost-marshals to enforce the attendance of the drafted men. I have not nominated persons to fill this office, because I do not perceive that officers of that kind are necessary.

By the act of 29th of June, 1861, penalties are provided for drafted men who shall not obey the orders of the President, but there is no act authorizing them to be forcibly impressed.

I would advise that a regulation be made directing that the courtsmartial shall be immediately held on all recusants. These courts must be ordered by the President.

In this mode I think you would get the men more easily than by the use of force. Men unwilling to go, and unable to pay the probable fine, will serve in the army on pay [in preference] to being shut up in prison without pay. Those who are able to pay the fine will prefer using the money in procuring substitutes. The same limit of the fine will probably regulate the price of substitutes.

I respectfully submit these matters for your consideration.

Very respectfully, yours,
&c., A. G. CURTIN,
[Governor of Pennsylvania.] Civil War Databases

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