The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES
Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy. By Albert Burton
Moore, Ph. D., Professor of History, University of Alabama.
(New York: The Macmillan Company, 1924. ix, 367 pp.)
With the exception of Professor R. P. Brooks's short article (in
The Military Historian and Economist in 1916) this book is the
first careful published study of the Confederate Government's ex-
perience with conscription. Professor Moore has dealt with the
subject comprehensively and on the whole has given us a satis-
factory account of it.
He shows that although the first act, April 16, 1862, saved the
situation that year for the Confederates, its effectiveness was
greatly marred by the provision for substitutes and by the exemp-
tion act of April 21. Slackers, especially well-to-do ones, were
enabled to avoid service to the discontent of those who went into
the army, especially the poor. When the age limit was raised to
forty-five in October, 1862, the number of exempted classes was
considerably increased. The most unpopular feature of the new
law was the "twenty nigger" provision which gave rise to the
devastating accusation that "it's a rich man's war and a poor
man's fight." Both the President and the Secretary of War speed-
ily came to the conclusion that substitution should be abolished
and that statutory class exemptions should be replaced by one based
upon executive selection. This it was thought would prevent
wholesale abuse of the privilege and would better serve the public
interest. Congress did abolish the system of substitution in
December, 1863; but, jealous of the growing power of the execu-
tive, it clung to the class exemptions, in defiance of Davis, to the
bitter end.
Since the Confederate Supreme Court had never been estab-
lished and it was necessary to rely upon the opinions of the state
courts, there was naturally much anxiety on the part of the gov-
ernment over the attitude which these courts would assume.
Despite the activities of the state rights doctrinaires, both the
Confederate district courts and the state supreme courts uniformly
upheld the constitutionality of the conscript law. Professor
Moore thinks this was because the judges were indoctrinated with

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117141/. Accessed July 9, 2014.