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1864 December 10: Wisconsin Proclamation to Correct the Enrollment Lists for the Draft

December 13, 2014

The following proclamation by Wisconsin Governor James T. Lewis about the enrollment lists related to the draft appeared in The Polk County Press of December 10, 1864.  The Proclamation also appeared in the December 24th and 31st, 1864, issues of The Prescott Journal.  (It was the only item in the December 31st issue, the rest of the two-page issue being advertisements and tax lists.)


By James T. Lewis, Governor.


WHEREAS, Under the recent call for troops, considerable complaint was made of the excessive enrollment of the State ;  and whereas, by special authority obtained from the War Department, the draft was temporarily postponed, in order that the enrollment lists might be properly revised and corrected ;  and whereas, the time allowed for this purpose was necessarily short and it was found impossible in the more distant parts of the State to accomplish the same prior to the day fixed for the draft ;  and whereas, authority is now given by the Provost Marshal General for the further correction and revision of the enrollment lists, by striking therefrom the names of all persons improperly enrolled and by adding thereto the names of all persons liable to draft which have been omitted as hereinafter specified ;  and whereas, this is a matter in which the people of the State are deeply interested, now therefore to the end that the troops hereinafter called for from this State (if any) may not be disproportionate to those called for from other states, and that the quotas assigned to the States may be justly and equally distributed between the several towns and wards thereof, I, James T. Lewis, Governor of the State of Wisconsin do issue this my proclamation, requesting and recommending that all good citizens, and particularly the town, city and village authorities shall make timely and persistent efforts to thoroughly revise and correct the enrollment lists of their respective localities, and as to the manner of doing this and the authority therefor, I would call special attention to the following extracts from Circular No. 39 Provost Marshal General’s Office bearing date the 15 inst.

The attention of the Board of Enrollment is called to Section 6 of the act amendatory of the Enrollment Act which is in the following words. Viz :

Section 6.  And be it further enacted, that Boards of Enrollment shall enroll all persons liable to draft under the provisions of this Act, and the Act to which this is an amendment, whose names have been omitted by the proper enrolling officers; all persons who shall arrive at the age of twenty years before the draft ;  all aliens who shall declare their intention to become citizens ;  all persons discharged from the military or naval service of the United States who have not been in such service two years during the present war ;  all persons who have no been exempted under the provisions of the second section of the act to which this is an amendment, but who are not exempted by the provisions of this act ;  and said Boards of Enrollment shall release and discharge from the draft all persons who, between the time of the enrollment and the draft shall have arrived at the age of forty-five years, and shall strike the names of such persons from the enrollment.

It is to be borne in mind by the Boards, that their duties in regard to the correction of the enrollment do not cease with its revision as recently completed or now in progress.  On the contrary, the revision and correction of these lists is a continuous duty, to which the labors of all Boards must be directed.  The names of all persons liable to do military duty taking up their residence in a sub-district, as well as all in the sub-district who from time to time become liable, shall be added to the Enrollment lists ;  and the names of persons who enlist into the military or naval service, or remove permanently from a district, or whose liability terminates while in it, will be stricken off ;  and in case of removal, whenever it is practicable the Board of Enrollment of the district to which the person removes will be notified, and he will be enrolled by that board.

The Board of Enrollment shall have copies of the enrollment lists open to the examination of the public at all proper times, and shall give the public notice that any person may appear before the Board and have any name stricken off from the lost, if he can show the satisfaction of the Board, that the person named is not properly enrolled on account of—

1st.  Alienage ;  2d.  Non-residence ;  3d. Over age ;  4th.  Permanent disability of such a degree as to render the person not a proper subject for enrollment under the law and regulations ;  5th.  Having served in the military or naval service two years during the present war and been honorably discharged.

Civil officers, clergymen and all other prominent citizens, are invited to appear at all times before the Board to point out errors in the lists and to aid in the correction and revision thereof.

And also to the following extracts from instructions to Col. Lovell [Charles S. Lovell], A. A. Provost Marshal General of this State accompanying said circular.

It is plainly for the interest of each sub-district to have stricken from the lists all names improperly enrolled, because an excess of names increases the quota called for from such sub-district, and that it is equally for the interest of each person enrolled in a given sub-district to place upon the lists of all persons liable to do military duty, because the greater the number to be drawn from the less the chance that any particular individual will be drawn.

It is the personal interest of every enrolled man that the quota in which he is concerned shall not be made too large and that his own chance for draft shall not be unjustly increased.  Both these objects will be attained if all parties will aid in striking out the wrong names, and putting in the right ones.  Especially is this interest of those drafted men who, by putting in substitutes themselves liable to draft, have secured exemption which, by the terms of the law, holds only until the present enrollment is exhausted in their sub-districts.

Men who are over forty-five years of age and in consequence excused by law from the performance of duty in the field, owe it to the cause and to the country to take a zealous and active part in the correction of the enrollment lists—a military service of the first importance.

The law requires that quotas shall be assigned in proportion to the enrollment ;  and the fairness and justice of this mode of determining the amount of military service due from each and every section of the country cannot be doubted, if the enrollment is made as nearly perfect as it is practicable to make it.  The amount of service due to the nation from every town and county is thus laid fairly and plainly before the citizens and I am sure that a higher motive than selfish interest will prompt all to do their share in perfecting the enrollment, and securing a just and efficient execution of the laws for raising troops, whenever it becomes necessary to apply them.

Confer with the state and local authorities, and present the foregoing views to them, and secure if possible, prompt and practical assistance from them in perfecting the enrollment lists.  The subject should receive the attention of the town, precinct, and ward meetings and committees.

Deputy Provost Marshals and special agents will be required to devote all the labor possible to this service in their respective counties.  They must communicate with the local authorities, clergyman, and other prominent citizens, as to the accuracy of the present lists, and the corrections necessary to be made.

As far as practicable they should be required to visit each sub-district, carrying with them a copy of the list for such sub-district, which should be compared with the poll books of the sub-district, and having corrected it, a true copy plainly written, should be posted at the places of voting in the sub-district, with a notice attached thereto, calling upon the citizens to suggest any further corrections that may have been overlooked.

In testimony whereof, I have hereto subscribed my name and caused the great seal of the State of Wisconsin to be affixed.  Done at Madison this twenty-eighth day of November, in the year of our Lord on thousand eight hundred and sixty-four.


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