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1864 January 9: Can Polk County Get Proper Credit for its Excess of Volunteers?

January 11, 2014

The following editorial and excerpt from a letter is from the January 9, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.


As considerable comment has been made regarding the different quotas assigned to this county, some claiming them to be unjust, and others a little inclined to find fault with our State authorities, claiming that we had been unjustly treated in regard to receiving credits for men already sent into the field, we took it upon ourself [sic] to address a letter to Adjutant General GAYLORD [Augustus Gaylord], at Madison, on several subjects regarding our quota, credits, &c.  We have received an answer to our letter from Gen. GAYLORD, and although it is now to [sic] late to be of any particular service, we having filled our quota with volunteers, still to show some of our citizens that our excellent Governor and worthy Adjutant General have been untiring in their efforts to have all sections receive their proper credits and just dues we publish a few extracts.

In regard to our inquiry of whether we had received credit for our excess of volunteers, Gen. GAYLORD writes:

“The excess of volunteers from Polk or any other locality, over the calls of 1861 and ’62, has not been credited directly to any locality.  It would give me great pleasure, to be enabled to say that it will be, but I cannot do so.  And in explanation of this let me say: Very shortly after the draft of November 9th was ordered, a published letter from the Provost Marshal General to Governor Andrews [sic: John Albion Andrew] of Mass., contained the proposition to give credit for all volunteers heretofore furnished, to towns and wards, in that State, and soon after Gov. Salomon [Edward Salomon] received a similar letter, which he published and accordingly called upon the people to make up their lists for the purpose in this State.  Some weeks afterward a letter from the Provost Marshal General [James B. Fry] to the Hon. Wm. Clark M. G. from Rochester, New York, was published in which the statement was made that such credits would not be given.

Inquiry was immediately made of the Department both by telegram and letter asking to be informed as to its policy, if decided upon, stating what had been done by the Governor and that the people of this State had, under the information contained in the letter above referred to, already made advance in the work of preparing their lists of volunteers.  The reply, after considerable delay was that it had been found upon trial impossible to carry out the proposed plan of giving credit to localities, and that it had been abandoned of necessity.—We were satisfied from our experience of the last year that such a plan was practicable, and the Governor in frequent letters urged the subject with the Department, but in vain.  He at last visited Washington in person and presented to the several Departments such arguments in favor of local credits as he deemed sufficient, but the reply was unfavorable in every quarter.  They had concluded that the plan was impracticable ;  had adopted a different plan, and declined further argument.  We are aware of the unfairness with which the draft under existing orders visits some localities and have exerted every endeavor to cause the adoption of the fairer and better plan, but in vain, and nothing is left but to submit to the orders of the duly authorized officers of the Government.

To a certain extent all towns do under the present plan get a credit for their volunteers, since those towns which have sent the most soldiers have less first class enrolled men remaining, and their quota to be drafted must be less than in the neighboring town of equal population which has sent away less soldiers, and with a perfect enrolment [sic] including persons of all ages who have gone to the war this would be satisfactory.  It is to be hoped therefore that Polk county does receive at least an approximate credit under the system adopted by the Government.  The whole matter is however beyond the control of the State authorities.  The Governor has done all he could in the matter, and regrets that his persistent efforts have failed to secure the result sought for.”

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