Opposition To The American Civil War: The Peace Movement and Draft Opposition - Northern Opposition - Draft Dodgers

Draft Dodgers

Draft dodgers were prominent during the American Civil War. Between July 1863 and April 1865, four national drafts resulting in a call of 776,829 men took place, but of these men only 46,347 were held to service. Although most men who opposed and dodged the draft did so legally, many still refused to report to the draft office and illegally avoided it. Between July 1863 and December 1864, 161,224 men failed to report to service under the draft. The large amount of draft dodgers indicated the amount of opposition to fighting in the war. Some of the soldiers may have been peace Democrats as well as Southern sympathizers. Many did consist of Irish Catholics, who immigrated to the east coast and were mentioned earlier. Another reason immigrants avoided the draft was because they just arrived into America. They did not want to fight and die for a country they had only been in for a short time. The Confederate States of America issued its first draft that called upon all able-bodied white males aged from eighteen to thirty-five to fight. However, it changed the draft age from seventeen to fifty. The extreme broadening of the draft age could have increased the opposition to the war. Although there were some draft dodgers that simply did not desire to fight, but did not oppose the war. Many, however, were against the emancipation proclamation and sided with the northern Democrats. A particular reason men avoided the draft was due to the Confederate Army’s increase in strength brought on by the emancipation proclamation. It “steeled resolve in the Confederate Army by providing soldiers like James E. Harrison with fresh reminders of precisely why they must keep up the fight” Conversely, the emancipation changed what Union soldiers were fighting for dramatically. They thought they were fighting to preserve the Union, but the emancipation changed soldiers’ views on the war. Many Unionists agreed that slavery should not be abolished and left the ranks of the Union Army. However, the emancipation did not change the victor of the war. The opposition as a whole

The above evidence is clear in showing the two most critical opposition movements to the American Civil War. The New York draft riots, along with draft dodging, were an effective method in resisting the war in three ways. First, white men could keep their jobs if they did not go to war. Secondly, avoiding the draft meant less manpower for the Union to keep fighting. The war meant fewer jobs for white men in places such as New York City due to an influx of freed slaves, if the Union won. With less manpower, it would be harder to keep the war going. Finally, immigrants who arrived in America were shortly conscripted to fight in a war for a cause that meant little to them. As for the peace movement in the North and South, Democratic leaders held the offensive in the opposition to the war. Men such as Vallandigham, Cox, Farrar, Fowler, Foote, and Carpenter strongly opposed the war and attempted to make agreements with both the Confederacy and the Union to end the war. On the other hand, movements led by Seymour spread like wildfire in Connecticut. The peace demonstrations held by peace men and women and the creation of the peace flag were clear displays of discontent with the war. The scale of the opposition to the war is witnessed through the Unionists’ attacks on peace demonstrations and peace-promoting newspapers. Furthermore, the Emancipation Proclamation stirred Unionists’ opinions on the war. Not only did it strengthen the Confederate Army, but it reduced the manpower of white men in the Union Army. Although the peace movements, draft riots, and Emancipation Proclamation did not end the American Civil War nor did it lead to the Confederacy winning the war, they displayed the opinions of many Americans who were both ordinary people and Congressmen from north and south.

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