In a message dated 2/20/00 11:03:45 AM Mountain Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
<< Finally, have you turned up anything on how these families reacted to conscription?My g-grandfather, Joseph Newton Chafin, was born in 1848.By the end of the Civil War, he was 17.My dad always said that "Grandpa Chafin" told stories about being forced to drive wagons for the Confederates.Given the family history and their connection to the First Alabama, I don't believe he would have done that willingly >>
Conscription seemed to be a one-way street.During much of the war, the UNION army (particular during Grant's tenure at Corinth) set limits on how many Southerners they were willing to take and quite a few who wanted to join-up were turned away.The big swing in loyalty to the Union gathered momentem after the Union victory at Vicksburg and as a reaction to the "scorched earth" campaign of CSA General Van Dorn to put down loyalists in 1863 (the "learning experience" which inspired Sherman's Army's 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment during the "march to the sea").
It was the CSA who were most manpower short and resorted to the sometimes nasty business of forced conscription.Justification for conscription was easy, as "draft-dodgers" were considered treasonous to the "new CSA nation". A fair number of NW Alabamians (Winston, Marion, Franklin, Fayette, Walker, Blount, Lawrence & Morgan counties) were successful in "hiding out" and avoiding conscription.Thompson cites several who were put to death while trying to avoid conscription; their choice was sure and swift death or sign-up.I'm sure the "survival instinct" took over for a number of conscripts and once captured, they went along to get along.Because of bi-directional family ties and neighbor influences, not all individuals had a clear view of the morality or whatever of either side.Hiding out was a natural neutral course between the two sides.There may have been as many hiding out as were enlisted on both sides for some of the Alabama counties. Of course this was also a survival strategy of those who served for a one-year hitch, say Jan 1863-Jan 1864 and then went back home (where the Home Guards constantly prowled in search of loyalists).
I've just been reading "Galvanized Yankees", about those 6000 CSA men who were in prison in Centralia or Alton ILL and were given the chance to wear blue uniforms on the Frontier of the 1864-1866 period to quell Indian uprisings (largely triggered by massacre of Cheyenne at Sand Creek Colorado by the Colorado Militia).Some of these men were north Alabamians. Dyed-in-the-wool union army men had deep suspicion about whether they would adapt to the change of loyalty.They turned out to be loyal, brave good frontier fighters who reopened the stage lines and stabilized the turbulent west.I bring this up to show how men can be flexible when the need dictates.One of the motivations for volunteering for this duty was that CSA prisoners were reduced to about 1/2 rations as part of their punishment. There wasn't a lot of moral perfection - then or now.