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Ozzy

The Draft Riot

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We're all familiar with the story: that the Draft was suggested by the Governor as a "necessary emergency measure" ...how the citizens expressed dismay at the Government's decision... the way the local newspapers expressed outrage and disgust, and inflamed public opinion. On the day the Draft was initiated, there were riots and bloodshed; and the "draft lottery boxes" were destroyed by an angry mob... on Monday, December 2nd 1861 (not in New York City.)

The story is told that the first National draft during the War of the Rebellion was initiated by the Confederate States Government on April 16th 1862. And President Lincoln's Government enacted its own Draft Act on March 3rd 1863. But forgotten are the many State draft laws attempted prior to initiation of the National legislation. So the question:  What city experienced the Draft Riot of December 2nd 1861 and who was Governor of the affected State?

Ozzy

 

 

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Nashville, Isham G. Harris

"A riot occurred at Nashville, Tenn., Occasioned by the authorities resorting to drafting soldiers to supply the rebel army. The boxes used for this purpose [i.e., ‘draft lottery’] were broken up, and during the excitement two persons were killed and several wounded. Governor Harris was forced to keep his room, and was protected by a strong guard." New York Times, December 8, 1861.

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Rbn3

You are correct. (Who would have thought Nashville would suffer a Draft Riot?)

Governor Isham Harris was given authority -- from the Tennessee General Assembly -- in November 1861 to enact an emergency call-up of "Enrolled Militia" at a time when the Governor saw fit. At the end of November, the Colonel Commandant, W. A. Holman, was contacted by Commander-in-Chief of Tennessee Isham Harris and the word went out from Holman for his men of the 89th Regiment, Tennessee Militia to muster at Nashville on December 2nd (where a Draft Lottery would be conducted to select one-quarter of the Home Guard to be sent into active Confederate service) [see http://tennesseestatemilitia.com/december-1-1861-correspondence-and-militia-notices-in-the-nashville-daily-gazette Nashville Daily Gazette of December 1st 1861].

The significance of this topic is not "the Nashville Draft Riot of 1861" or the attempt by Governor Harris to draft members of the Enrolled Militia into active Confederate service. The importance is this:  Governor Isham Harris was perhaps the most hands-on War Governor during the Civil War, and took an active, participant role in facilitating military defense of his State (and the Confederate States.) Governor Harris believed the authority granted him by "the Act of the General Assembly of November 28, 1861" was perpetual ...and so he put it to use, once again, in March 1862. But that's another topic...

Ozzy

 

References:  Nashville Daily Gazette of December 1st 1861

http://www.southernhistory.co/search/label/draft  Southern History post of May 3rd 2010

http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1861-12.pdf   artcirclelibrary of December 1861  pages 3-5, 10-17, 21, 40.

http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1861-11.pdf   artcirclelibrary of November 1861  pages 25, 64-65.

 

N.B.  The Act of the General Assembly of November 28th 1861 may have been passed on November 12th (and signed into law on the 28th.)

 

 

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