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"It is not merely for today, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children's children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives."


March, 2015


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In this issue

Lincoln and the Prisoners Oath
Secretary's Report
The Day that Changed Naval History
The G.A.R. in Michigan
The Draft
Michigan Money
Upcoming events
Back Issues
A photo from the Civil War


Lincoln and the Prisoners Oath
Submitted by Joe Davis


Office U.S. Military Telegraph, War Department, Washington, D.C., March 9. 1865

Lieut. Genl. Grant

City-Point, Va.

I see your despatch to the Sec. of War, objecting to rebel prisoners being allowed to take the oath and go free. Supposing that I am responsible for what is done in this way, I think fit to say that there is no general rule, or action, allowing prisoners to be discharged merely on taking the oath. What has been done is that Members of Congress come to me from time to time with lists of names alleging that from personal knowledge, and evidence of reliable persons they are satisfied that it is safe to discharge the particular persons named on the lists, and I have ordered their discharge. These Members are chiefly from the border states; and those they get discharged are their neighbors and neighbors sons. They tell me that they do not bring to me one tenth of the names which are brought to them, bringing only such as their knowledge or the proof satisfies them about. I have, on the same principle, discharged some on the representations of others than Members of Congress, as, for instance, Gov. Johnson of Tennessee. The number I have discharged has been rather larger than I liked---reaching I should think an average of fifty a day, since the recent general exchange commenced. On the same grounds, last year, I discharged quite a number at different times, aggregating perhaps a thousand, Missourians and Kentuckians; and their Members returning here since the prisoner's return to their homes, report to me only two cases of proving false. Doubtless some more have proved false; but, on the whole I believe what I have done in this way has done good rather than harm.

A. LINCOLN

[Grant's response same day: "Your dispatch of this morning shows that prisoners of war are being discharged only in accordance with the rule I proposed. I questioned the officers from Camp Morton & Rock Island who arrived here yesterday in charge of prisoners for exchange and they told me that great numbers were being discharged on taking the oath of allegiance. They thought all who desired to do so are permitted to obtain their liberty in this way. I supposed this was in pursuance of a general policy which you knew nothing about and I wanted it changed so that none would be allowed to take the oath . . . except by special permission"]

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The Draft

The Enrollment Act, enacted March 3, 1863, also known as the Civil War Military Draft Act, was legislation passed to provide fresh manpower for the Union Army. A form of conscription the controversial act required the enrollment of every male citizen and those immigrants who had filed for citizenship between ages twenty and forty-five. Federal agents established a quota of new troops due from each congressional district. In some cities, particularly New York City enforcement of the act sparked civil unrest as the war dragged on, leading to the New York Draft Riots on July 13-16. It replaced the previous Militia Act of 1862.

The policies of substitution and commutation were controversial practices that allowed drafted citizens to opt out of service by either furnishing a suitable substitute to take the place of the drafted, or paying $300. Both of these provisions were created with the intention of softening the effect of the draft on pacifists, the anti-draft movement, and the propertied classes. The result however was general public resentment of both policies. These two practices were major points of contention among the general public and led directly to the slogan "rich man's war, poor man's fight."

Substitution

The policy of substitution was continued throughout the war. The problem with substitution was that it provided substitutes with powerful incentives to desert soon after enlisting. Career "jumpers" made a living off of enlisting as a substitute, collecting their compensation, deserting before their units were dispatched to the front, and repeating the process. This problem was well known to the military commanders who regularly saw the same recruits repeatedly. In addition, troops furnished through substitution were considered to be of an inferior quality in comparison to regulars and volunteers. The Wilson Bill of March 2, 1863 allowed for $300 substitution fee.

Commutation (paying $300 to escape the draft) was created in an effort to keep substitution prices low. If commutation were not instated, the price of a substitute would have quickly soared past $300. In addition to suppressing substitution prices, commutation was intended to raise money for the war effort. While commutation did raise war funds, it was often a criticism of the draft that it was better at raising money than troops. The rationalization for commutation was that unwilling troops were ineffective, so the government may as well extract funds from the unwilling if it couldn't get proficient service. Despite the good intentions behind commutation, it was one of the most hated policies of the war.

Congress adopted a Conscription Act (also known as the Enrollment Act) based on the Constitutional clause permitting the government "to raise and support armies." All able-bodied male citizens and alien declarants between 20 to 45. It divided enrollees into two classes; Class 1 included all men between 20 to 35 and unmarried men between 35 and 45, and class 2 containing all men not in class 1. No Class 2 enrollees would be drafted until all Class 1 pool was exhausted. Exemptions: physically or mentally unfit, convicted felons, a restricted number of state and national officials, provide a substitute or pay a $300 commutation fee- July 1864 commutation was abolished, only sons of dependent widows, and sole supporters of infirm parents or orphaned children. The North did not allow the occupation exemptions. More than 50% of northern draftees found a way to gain an exemption, with physical disability being a sure avenue of escape. Some men practiced self-mutilation, while other draftees fabricated disabilities, buttressing their claims with testimonials from unscrupulous friends and doctors.

86,724 men paid the exemption cost to avoid service. The inequality of this arrangement led to draft riots in New York, Detroit, as well as other cities in the North.

This surprised me when I saw this, of the 2,213,363 men who served in the Union Army during the Civil War:

A quarter of a million 225,000 men will be discharged for wounds and illness and another 200,000 will be listed as desertions.

A total of 281,881 were wounded but many went on and served until the end of the war and almost all the men were sick at one time while serving in the Union Army. In fact, many of the Union soldiers were sick more than once. There were reported about 6,000,000 cases of men signing up for sick call, meaning on average each and every soldier was sick enough to report to see the doctor almost three times during the war.

The total number of desertions from the Union Army during the four years of the war at nearly 350,000. Using these numbers, 15% of Union soldiers deserted during the war. Official numbers put the number of deserters from the Union Army at 200,000 for the entire war, or about 8% of Union Army soldiers. It is estimated that 1 out of 3 deserters returned to their regiments, either voluntarily or after being arrested and being sent back.

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Naval History Changed Forever

On March 9, 1862, one of the most famous naval battles in American history occurs as two ironclads, the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia fight to a draw off Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ships pounded each other all morning but their armor plates easily deflected the cannon shots, signaling a new era of steam-powered iron ships.

The C.S.S. Virginia was originally the U.S.S. Merrimack, a 40-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Confederates captured it and covered it in heavy armor plating above the waterline. Outfitted with powerful guns, the Virginia was a formidable vessel when the Confederates launched her in February 1862. On March 8, the Virginia sunk two Union ships and ran one aground off Hampton Roads.

The next day, the U.S.S. Monitor steamed into the Chesapeake Bay. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the vessel had an unusually low profile, rising from the water only 18 inches. The flat iron deck had a 20-foot cylindrical turret rising from the middle of the ship; the turret housed two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. The Monitor had a draft of less than 11 feet so it could operate in the shallow harbors and rivers of the South. It was commissioned on February 25, 1862, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay just in time to engage the Virginia.

The battle between the Virginia and the Monitor began on the morning of March 9 and continued for four hours. The ships circled one another, jockeying for position as they fired their guns. The cannon balls simply deflected off the iron ships. In the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the short reign of terror that the Confederate ironclad had brought to the Union navy.

Both ships met ignominious ends. When the Yankees invaded the James Peninsula two months after the battle at Hampton Roads, the retreating Confederates scuttled their ironclad. The Monitor went down in bad weather off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at the end of the year. Though they had short lives, the ships ushered in a new era in naval warfare.

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Michigan Money

At the time of the Civil War many banks printed their own money.
Below is an example of one of those bills..

$5 note from the Jackson Iron Works

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Secretary's Report
Ron Tyrl PPC

The March 9, 2015 meeting of the Austin Blair Camp No.7 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was held at the Post 29 American Legion, Jackson, Michigan.

Members in attendance were Brothers: Chris Cox, Joe Davis, Bob Griggs, Henry Hawker, Kyle Hamann, Kim Horning, Dave Kimble, Howard Lloyd, Mike Maillard, Nathan & Alex Tingley, Ron Tyrl, Dave Van Hoof, Charlie Waters III and Charlie Waters Jr. and guest: Dept. Commander Paul Davis & Mr. Bruce Barton-“Under the Oaks”.
Commander Waters welcomed Department Commander Davis and invited Mr. Bruce Barton from the Jackson “Under the Oaks” Republican Party committee to speak on the up-coming July 6th “Under the Oaks” program and Mr. Barton presented a DVD Disc from last year’s program.
The Secretary’s report was motioned accepted as published in the Courier by Brother Griggs and seconded by Brother Kimble, motion passed.
Brother Maillard began the Treasurer’s report by reviewing our 2015 dues renewals and a letter sent to those outstanding. The annual IRS Tax report was sent this month also. The Treasurer’s Report was motioned accepted as presented by Brother Tingley and seconded by Brother Davis, motion passed.

Patriotic Instructor

Brother Davis brought in Civil War magazines and books for members to have and read and Brother Davis encourages others to bring in materials for the Camp members to share.

Graves Registration

Brother Waters III updated the Michigan and National Graves Registration with a 4th Michigan Cavalry trooper, George Titus, he recently found and Brother Waters continues his research.

Signals

1. Brother Griggs had DVD discs available summarizing 2014 activities with music and other interest items included.
2. Brother Griggs has updated the 2015 pages with the events so far participated in posted on the Camp’s webpage and Facebook.

Communications

The $50 check was sent to the Grass Lake, Michigan “Military Heritage Museum” to assist in framing of the Civil War documents found recently.

Old Business

1. The Jackson Civil War roundtable programs were discussed and it meets tomorrow at 6:30 at the Meijer Library Branch with the “Youngest Nurse in Annapolis” as the topic; next month’s ‘Lincoln’s courting”.
2. Department credential cards were given to those attending and Brother Cox took extras to be available there.
3. Lincoln Tomb Program trip planning summarized and about a half dozen are attending from the camp.
4. Brother Van Hoof informed the Camp that the Illinois National Guard Museum in Springfield has all the Illinois Regimental flags and he plans on viewing his relative’s regiment’s flag while in Springfield.

New Business

1. Brother Van Hoof invited Camp members to attend the Jackson County Republican committee’s annual fundraiser May 7th at the commonwealth building downtown Jackson. More details as received.
2. Commander Waters has been invited to the Jackson JROTC Military Ball in April to present the SUVCW ROTC award to a cadet. The certificate and badge will be ordered and sent to Commander Waters, so that he will have them to present.
3. Brother Dave Kimble received two framed documents: Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and the “National Anthem” and he recommends the Camp give them to the Eaton Rapid’s GAR Museum. Brother Griggs agreed to do this for the Camp this coming week.
4. To assist in keeping Commander Waters informed on the Camp’s activities, Treasurer Maillard has been building him an informational packet prior to the meetings and Secretary Tyrl motioned that Treasurer Maillard be reimburse for cost to build this informational packet, i.e. mailing, printing, supplies, and additional costs, seconded by Brother Cox, motion passed.

For the Good of the Order

Events up-coming:

1. March 27-28, Department Encampment, Lansing Michigan.
2. April 11, Lincoln Tomb Ceremony, Springfield, Illinois.
3. May 2-3, Lincoln Funeral Train Anniversary program, Springfield, Illinois.
4. May 7, Jackson County Republican Committee annual meeting.

Discussion on how authors interpret the Civil War historical records and come to vastly different conclusions was held. Brother Tyrl stated that one author may be critical of the subject matter whether on an individual, unit or army from the records found and another with the same records will praise the subject matter from the same records.

Commander Waters proceeded to close the meeting at 8:30pm and our next camp meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 13, to be held at Post 29 American Legion, Jackson, Michigan.

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Upcoming Events

March: 2015
Austin Blair Camp No. 7Auxiliary
Monday March 9, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.


Friday & Saturday March 27th & 28th, Lansing MI

Department Encampment: Presented by the DUVCW - Great Lakes Christian College
6211 West Willow Highway, Lansing, MI.
Hospitality room Friday night, main floor, commons/dining area Comfort Inn.

Monday March 9, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Ladies Auxiliary Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. ( Visitors welcome).
Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.


Friday & Saturday March 27th & 28th, Lansing MI

Department Encampment: Presented by the DUVCW - Great Lakes Christian College
6211 West Willow Highway, Lansing, MI.
Hospitality room Friday night, main floor, commons/dining area Comfort Inn.

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April: 2015
Austin Blair Camp No. 7Auxiliary
Saturday April 11, Springfield IL

57th Annual Lincoln Tomb Ceremony Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Ceremony at 10 a.m., luncheon at noon, centeral time.


Monday April 13, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Tuesday, April 14, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.


Dates have not been set but sometime during April, May, or June school programs will be persented at Jackson Northwest, Jackson Paragon Academy, Parma Elementary and Williamston. Please check back for dates.
Saturday April 11, Springfield IL

57th Annual Lincoln Tomb Ceremony Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Ceremony at 10 a.m., luncheon at noon, centeral time.


Monday April 13, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Tuesday, April 14, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.


Dates have not been set but sometime during April, May, or June school programs will be persented at Jackson Northwest, Jackson Paragon Academy, Parma Elementary and Williamston. Please check back for dates.

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The Slaughter Pen
Gettysburg PA.

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G.A.R. Encampment Badges- Bay City, MI.


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