The Confederate States imposed the first military draft in American history on April 16, 1862. Barely one year later, the Union passed its own conscription laws. Both sides raised more animosity for their respective causes than troops.
The draft had exceptions. If you paid $300, you were excused from duty. Or you could hire a substitute to serve in your place. Many people bribed medical doctors to diagnose them as unfit for duty due to physical impairments. These exceptions, which were used in both the Federal and Confederate Armies, favored the rich. Accusations of class discrimination were abundant and obviously correct. In 1863, there were even riots in New York protecting the draft. Since substitution was completely legal, although not necessarily just, some famous people in American history survived the war by paying substitutes. Grover Cleveland, John D. Rockefeller, and George Templeton Strong all avoided combat.
The Federal Army considered men between the ages of twenty and forty-five eligible for service. The Confederate Army expected men ages seventeen through fifty to report for duty. In the end, the draft caused much discontent among civilians and military men. In the Federal Army, of the 249,259 men drafted, less than 6% (under 15,000) served.
How does war change a society?
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