Correspondence Concerning Draft Resistance in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, PA., October 22, 1862. (Received 2.30 p. m.)

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

The draft is being resisted in several counties of the State. In Schuylkill County I am just informed that 1,000 armed men are assembled, and will not suffer the train to move with the drafted men to this place. I wish ample authority to use my troops in the State, and particularly the regulars and Anderson Cavalry at Carlisle, to crush this effort instantly. We will thus enforce the law, and effectually, if successful, prevent the like occurring in other parts of the State.

Please answer promptly.

A. G. CURTIN, Governor of Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON, October 22, 1862-8 p.m.

Governor CURTIN:

You are authorized to employ the regular force, the Anderson Cavalry, and any other military force in your State to enforce the militia draft, and also to call upon Major-General Wool, the commanding general of the Middle Department, for aid, if you desire it. He has been instructed to support you with the whole force of the department.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City, October 23, 1862.

Major-General HALLECK, General-in-Chief:

GENERAL: The inclosed telegram from Governor Curtin is referred to you, with instructions to give such directions in relation to the employment of troops, and affording military aid for the enforcement of draft, as you may deem proper.

Your obedient servant,

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.


HARRISBURG, October 23, 1862-12.15 p.m.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

Notwithstanding the usual exaggerations, I think the organization to resist the draft in Schuylkill, Luzerne, and Carbon Counties is very formidable. There are several thousands in arms, and the people who will not join have been driven from the county. They will not permit the drafted men, who are willing, to leave, and yesterday forced them to get out of the cars. I wish to crush the resistance so effectually that the like will not occur again. One thousand regulars would be most efficient, and I suggest that one [regiment?] be ordered from the army. General A. Porter, who is here, and fully informed, agrees with me, and advises the employment of such a force.

I am getting volunteer troops ready.

Let me hear immediately.

A. G. CURTIN, Governor of Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON, October 23, 1862-3 p.m.

Governor CURTIN:

By my telegram of last evening, you were authorized to employ all the military force in your department to enforce the draft, and General Wool was also directed to aid you upon your requisition. I am not aware of any further assistance that can be required or given by the Department. Your request for 1,000 regulars has been referred to the General-in-Chief, with instructions to render any aid that may be in his power.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

HARRISBURG, PA., October 23, 1862-3.20 p. m.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

Can I use General A. Porter, now here, to command troops to suppress the insurgents? I have no officer.

A. G. CURTIN, Governor of Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON, October 23, 1862.

Governor CURTIN:

You are authorized to call upon General Porter, and he is instructed to report to you for orders. If you desire, I will give him the appointment of provost-marshal of the State.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, October 23, 1862.

Major-General WOOL, Baltimore, Md.:

You will immediately repair to Harrisburg and consult with Governor Curtin upon the reported resistance to his draft. You will report if you have not troops enough in your department to enforce the laws.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief.

HEADQUARTERS, Baltimore, Md., October 23, 1862-11 p. m.

Major-General HALLECK:

I leave in the morning for Harrisburg. If troops should be required from Baltimore, I have only to say I have none to spare. This day I sent the One hundred and eighteenth New York Regiment, at the Relay House, to Washington. One of the men killed an engineer of the Washington train, and threats were made that other injuries might be done to passing trains. The man who murdered the engineer is in jail. I therefore deemed it best to send the regiment where it would do no harm.

JOHN E. WOOL, Major-General.

PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, Harrisburg, Pa., October 25, 1862.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: The riots in Schuylkill County have ceased for the present. The object of the rioters seems to have been to prevent the draft, and to this end, I understand that they forcibly obstructed persons who had been drafted and were on their way to the place of rendezvous in conformity with the notice which had been served on them.

I beg the observe that this enrollment and draft have been made under the authority of and directly by the United States. I originally suggested, therefore, that they should be conducted by officers of the United States, but that suggestion not being adopted, I have acted for the United States in superintending the enrollment and the drawing of names for the quota. The next step contemplated by the regulations is the appointment of provost-marshals to enforce the attendance of the drafted men. I have not nominated persons to fill this office, because I do not perceive that officers of that kind are necessary.

By the act of 29th of June, 1861, penalties are provided for drafted men who shall not obey the orders of the President, but there is no act authorizing them to be forcibly impressed.

I would advise that a regulation be made directing that the courts-martial shall be immediately held on all recusants. These courts must be ordered by the President.

In this mode I think you would get the men more easily than by the use of force. Men unwilling to go, and unable to pay the probable fine, will serve in the army on pay [in preference] to being shut up in prison without pay. Those who are able to pay the fine will prefer using the money in procuring substitutes. The same limit of the fine will probably regulate the price of substitutes. I respectfully submit these matters for your consideration.

Very respectfully, yours, &c.,

A. G. CURTIN, [Governor of Pennsylvania.]

HARRISBURG, PA., October 27, 1862.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

I am happy to say that for the present the necessity for use of force in Schuylkill County is over. The decision and promptness, but more the presence of Bishop Wood, who kindly went up when requested, has relieved us all. I will retain the artillery a day or two, and keep our force organized for a day or two.

I am deeply indebted for your prompt and efficient support.


HARRISBURG, October 27, [1862]-1.40 p.m.

(Received 2 p. m.)


I feel it my duty to enter my protest against Orders, Numbers 154, as unjust to the people of the States, and calculated to demoralize and destroy volunteer organizations, not only because it is wrong in principle, but that in the manner in which it is being executed it must break the efficiency of the volunteer army now in the field in support of the Government. I very respectfully ask that it be revoked.


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