Lincoln’s Volunteer Army
After the carnage of Sharpsburg in mid-1862, Northern enlistments had all but dried up. Even as Lee marched into Pennsylvania, that State was slow in raising the 50,000 troops Lincoln had demanded and few responded to Governor Curtin’s pleas as Lee reached Gettysburg. Republican Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts asked Lincoln to allow his agents to enlist South Carolina freedmen into his State regiments and thus count toward his quota – and allow his white voters to remain at home.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org
Lincoln’s Volunteer Army
“[On June 29, 1862] Lincoln called on the governors for 300,000 volunteers for three years. The new figure was double the one Seward had used with the governors and three times the President’s original estimate. [Lincoln] privately informed them that “if I had 50,000 additional troops here now, I believe I could substantially close the war in two weeks.”
But from the day of Lincoln’s call the spirit was changed. Although the forms of States’ rights remained intact, the substance was altered. The new regiments still bore the names of the States, and the soldiers still heard orations on muster day from the governors, but the new army was, in reality, a national army. Abraham Lincoln had taken control.
The new order was reflected in the changed attitude of the governors. On July 7, 1862 [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton assigned quotas to the States. Almost with one accord the governors reported that recruiting was slow and demanded a bounty.
The solution to the problem was simple: only a draft would fill the ranks. The governors made the suggestion, but – with full knowledge of the political consequences – they proposed that the national government take the responsibility.
Troubles quickly followed. There were draft riots in Wisconsin, and threats of riots in Pennsylvania. Yielding to pressure, Stanton permitted the governors to postpone the draft – first for a month, and then indefinitely. [But] the threat of the draft and the promise of a bounty proved more effective in raising men than the pleas of the governors and the periodic panics in Washington.
More and more of [the governors] began to listen to another proposal for getting men to meet the military’s endless demands. “Shall we love the Negro so much,” echoed Horace Greeley in the New York Tribune, “that we lay down our lives to save his?”
Yet Lincoln was unmoved by these pleas to use the black men [as soldiers] to save the whites. He discussed it with his cabinet, and he permitted commanders in the field to employ Negro laborers, but he refused to permit Governors Salomon and Sprague to organize Negro regiments.”
(Lincoln and the War Governors, William B. Hesseltine, Alfred A. Knopf, 1955, excerpts pp. 199-203)