Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 13, 1864

New York Draft Riots

Diary of Orrin Brown, Jackson, Michigan

Thursday–Oct. 13th

We have a heavy frost this morning but we are going to have a nice day there is going to be a mass meeting in the City today we heard the Canon firing before breakfast we were all call up in a corner just after dinner and the roll of those call who were to leave for dixie on the evening train. we were formed in a line in the road and the substitutes received their bounty were marched down into the city cheering for Old Abe at every man we meet, we found the city deckorated with flags from one end to the other and nearly everybody cheering for Old Abe the Copperheads had on long faces what few there were as we marched to the depo and those had a chance to express money that wanted to, while waiting one Sub. tried to desert but was caught and his money and everything else taken away form him we got aboard of the cars about 8PM, we gave the R.R. Co. credit for furnishing us the best Pasinger cars to ride in started about 9PM.

Orrin Brown substituted for his brother, N.E. Brown, in the Civil War draft.  The Enrollment Act of 1863 (the Civil War Military Draft) continued to allow substitution—men drafted could opt out of service by providing a substitute to take their place.  We don’t know why Orrin and Norman hadn’t volunteered earlier, although both did have a young family at home. The policy was intended to provide an option for pacifists and others, but led to general discontent as those with money to pay substitutes were better able to evade the draft.  As wiki says:

The problem with substitution was that it provided substitutes with powerful incentives to desert soon after enlisting. Career “jumpers” made a living off of enlisting as a substitute, collecting their compensation, deserting before their units were dispatched to the front, and repeating the process. This problem was well known to the military commanders who regularly saw the same recruits repeatedly. In addition, troops furnished through substitution were considered to be of an inferior quality in comparison to regulars and volunteers.




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