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?
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.]
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.
I’m not dreaming, then, am I? It’s extremely interesting to hear that this was a widespread phenomenon. Thank you for the confirmation.
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.
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.
In one of my previous posts, I briefly mentioned William Marvel’s most recent book, Lincoln’s Mercenaries, because his work might have some tangential relevance to my project. In your case, however, his work seems directly applicable.
All of these are very good questions, and they show how necessary it is to contextualize wealthholding and class. I’d like to respond to each of your questions in turn.
Both of your questions are very good, and I think they highlight the degree to which class has to be interpreted in light of other factors.