Re: “A War between Classes”: The 5th New Hampshire versus the 1st Texas

Dear Will and Matt,

I’ll take the liberty of responding to your comments at the same time since they are closely related. Before I forget, Matt, I want to ask you about primary sources associated with enrollment in the draft (and substitution). Where and what are they?

Re: “A War between Classes”: The 5th New Hampshire versus the 1st Texas

On a slightly related topic, I once did a small study of the age distribution of men enrolled for the draft. The data showed an impressive bulge in men who were about a year too old to be drafted and men who were about a year too young to be drafted. :)

[nb: Marvel did some great work in that book, but his use of the census was pretty horribly flawed and really of no interpretive value.]

Re: “A War between Classes”: The 5th New Hampshire versus the 1st Texas

Hugh, years ago I started a project documenting underage and overage recruits in Jefferson County, New York. Results before I had to give it up indicated that about 10-15% of enlisted men were under 18 when they enlisted and 5% were over 45. While they were recruited throughout the war, a definite uptick in the practice occurred in 1863-65. I didn't have access to William Marvel's methodology at the time, but census data and scattered bits of evidence indicated they were primarily poor and working-class. This county is on the Canadian border, and many were immigrants.

Re: “A War between Classes”: The 5th New Hampshire versus the 1st Texas

My research into the regimental books for two upstate New York units and the provost marshal records for their districts confirms that by 1863, many poor and working-class parents and guardians encouraged and abetted enlistment of their underage sons. Others, of course, reacted with alarm when their sons enlisted and brought attention to forged consents when seeking the boys’ discharges.

Re: “A War between Classes”: The 5th New Hampshire versus the 1st Texas

Dear Daniel,

These are great questions. In some cases, I meant to discuss them in my last post but could not for want of room. In others, I plan to say more about these matters in a later post. I think the short answer to your question is, “Yes and no.”

I have not read Marvel’s Lincoln’s Mercenaries, but it’s on my shelf, I’m familiar with the general outline of the argument, and I have every intention of reading it when I get the chance.

Re: “A War between Classes”: The 5th New Hampshire versus the 1st Texas

Dear Hugh, 

This is an interesting comparison. As I read it, I found myself asking the following questions, most of which could be folded into one about representativeness. Since nothing is representative of everything and everything is representative of something, don't take these to be criticisms so much as questions aimed at thinking through the data.

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