Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schmidt, James D.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of History


United States--History; Military history; Law


This dissertation investigates the struggles between states and the federal governments over the proper method to satisfy the military service needs of the nation during the American Civil War, while assessing the violence that resulted from these policies. Historians have failed to address the transformation of the militia system and the introduction of conscription as a process. The United States of America and Confederate States of America created a federally controlled military system, which instituted compulsory service through federally controlled systems. Resistance continued despite changes within these systems. Resistance arose from defiance to these systems because of the inequity, for inequality privileged some men at the expense of others. The elimination of deferments sought to equalize this system by making it more expansive; however, resistance continued. Furthermore, these systems represented an abridgement of personal liberty. Both governments were faced with the realities of dwindling troop totals. Both governments needed to decide how to supplement these totals. The Confederacy passed further legislation to entice men to enlist, which increased the monetary amount of the bounties, allowed men to select their companies, and increased the available furlough days. Those already enlisted could obtain the benefits of this law after the completion of their twelve-month terms and re-enlistment for a three-year term under this new law. This law was confusing and misunderstood while it revamped the structure of the military to make the accommodations as per the law. In the North, Lincoln issued another call for militiamen. Delays among states to implement this draft law, resistance by young men, and petitions by governors for more time to fill their required quotas resulted in the stagnation of this process. Disruption and non-compliance occurred in the Union and Confederacy. In the Union, men would flee, falsify medical conditions, or fail to report for duty as per their draft summons. Men often squat on vacant lands in the West to evade service. This transition of the militia system into federally controlled systems of conscription show the repercussions of the growing power of the federal states. This national system of conscription created tensions between the rights of states in contrast to the federal government. Federally controlled conscription, according to government leaders, proved necessary when the armies were unable to muster in adequate numbers of troops. Existing military policies proved ineffective to maintain or procure the proper troop totals. New federally controlled systems removed the limitations from the states by directly conscripting men into federal service. Northern and Southern society responded through means of protest and civil violence against conscription policies and toward government officials in charge of overseeing the draft. Divisions and inequities within enrollment systems fostered and created resistance. Bias of enlistment based on religion, wealth, and social status created tensions among men. Notions of personal liberty also fostered non-compliance.


Advisors: James Schmidt.||Committee members: Aaron Fogleman; Brian Sandberg.||Includes bibliographical references.


306 pages




Northern Illinois University

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