Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

McClellan’s Command

What measures did the Confederate leaders take to remedy the situation?

There was only one thing they could do, and they knew it would be very unpopular. In February 1862, President Davis proposed a general conscription law, which was soon passed by the Confederate Congress. Under its provisions, all able-bodied white males between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five were liable for military service. Very few exemptions were proposed.

The men already in uniform had a profound distaste for the conscription law; they said it would cheapen their efforts. The men who had previously avoided military service now found themselves in a tight spot. Women of the Confederacy, too, expressed discontent. The conscription law was easily the most unpopular measure undertaken by the Confederate government.


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