from The Webster Times, July 12, 1862 (Volume IV # 18), 
The Call For Troops

by John Spaulding, Editor.

An official document from Adjutant General Schouler has appeared in the Boston Journal, relative to the requirements of the government for more men in the army, and giving the number which each town should furnish in order to make up the State’s quota of 15,000. We notice that the number set against the town of Webster is thirty-four.

There is nothing compulsory in the proposal of the Adjutant General as to the best means of raising these troops; otherwise we might speak of the manifest impropriety of requiring the same proportion of citizens liable to do military duty from towns which have already one or more companies in the field, as from those towns which may have furnished but a few and perhaps no volunteers. This document we understand to apply merely as a suggestion to patriotic citizens, that the easiest way to raise the number will be by systematic action of the towns, each endeavoring to enlist at least its numerical proportion of the aggregate needed.

We refer to this document of the Adjutant General more particularly for the information which it conveys of the approximate number of men nominally in the field, who are not in service. We now have six regiments forming in this State, to fill whose ranks will require, as we learn from the document alluded to, forty-seven hundred men. It is proposed to fill these from the fifteen thousand to be raised; of the remaining ten thousand and three hundred the Adjutant remarks, they “will be needed to fill Massachusetts regiments now in active service.”

Here then, we find an official statement upon which we may base a very correct conclusion of the loss of one state, at least, in killed, sick, wounded and prisoners, since the war commenced. The thirty one regiments now on active service are short of men to fill them up to their original number, by 10,300. In connection with this fact it must be remembered that for a year recruiting for the different regiments has been almost constantly going on. It is safe to say that men enough to make two full regiments have been enlisted in this way. It then may be considered a reliable estimate in the depletion in the ranks of the thirty one Massachusetts regiments in service, from various causes, if we place it at twelve thousand men.

The entire army put in the field to suppress the rebellion is believed to have been originally 650,000 men. Off these Massachusetts has furnished something more than 32,000, of which number we have lost for active service at least three-eights, as appears by the statement of Adjutant Schouler. Taking our state as a fair index of the whole, we find that the loss from active service throughout the army has been nearly 250.000. How many of these are killed, how many sick, wounded or prisoners, we have no means of knowing; we know only that the aggregate is larger in our State at least, than any of us have supposed. It is evident, from the tardy advance which has been made for recruiting for the regiments now forming in this State that an additional fifteen thousand volunteers will hardly be raised. If done at all it will require a long time, and the most patient and persistent effort. Volunteer service in the army is vastly preferable to that obtained by compulsion, consequently a resort to drafting will be delayed just as long as it may be with safety. In view of a possible necessity of this kind, however the subject of drafting has been revived and discussed considerably since the appearance of the President’s last call.

The “enrolled militia” or the class of people who are liable to do military duty, includes, “every able bodied white male citizen within the State between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, excepting persons in volunteer companies, and idiots, lunatics, common drunkards, vagabonds, paupers, and persons convicted of any infamous crimes. The enrolled militia are subject to duty, in case of war, whenever ordered out by the Governor, who is commander-in-chief.

In such case the Governor’s order will be transmitted through the selectmen of towns or the mayors of cities, who order out upon parade all persons liable to do duty in their towns and cities, and the number designated for service are chose by lot. In regard to the penalty for failing to serve when drafted, the sixth section of the General Statutes provides that “every soldier ordered out, or who volunteers or is detached, or drafted,, who does not appear at the time and place designated by the mayor and alderman or selectmen, or who has not some able- bodied and proper substitute, at such time and place, or does not pay to such mayor or alderman or selectmen, for the use of the commonwealth, the sum of seventy-five dollars, within twenty-four hours from such time, shall be taken to be a soldier absent, without leave, and dealt with accordingly.”

Among the exemptions from active military duty, ate Ministers of the Gospel, Shakers or Quakers, and persons in the employ of the government in its various departments, such as Postmasters and their clerks, drivers and agents upon post routes, justices, judges, and registers of courts, persons employed in hospitals alms houses, jails and state prisons engineers and conductors on railroad trains, and sheriffs. Enrolled members of fire companies are also exempt.

Volume IV # 18 Webster Times July 12, 1862

Action of Webster in Response to the Call for Volunteers

The appeal of the Adjutant General to the towns and cities of Massachusetts for their quota of the additional fifteen thousand additional men for the army service of the Government, has been met by appropriate action on the part of our town.

At the call of our selectmen a meeting of our citizens was held at Webster hall last Wednesday evening, which was very fully attended, some five or six hundred being present. at eight o’clock the meeting was called to order by Hiram Allen, Esq., who on motion of J. J. Robinson, was appointed chairman, Mr. Allen addressed a few words to those present, thanking them in behalf of the selectmen for their attendance, and stating in a brief and comprehensive manner the objects of the meeting.

The first order of business was the appointment of a committee to draft resolutions. The following gentlemen were named: rev. J. l. A. Fish, J. J. Robinson, J. B. Hassler, Thomas McQuaid, and Asher Joslin. After an absence of a few moments, the committee returned and through their chairman reported the following:

“The citizens of Webster, assembled to deliberate our national affairs, and to take measures to recruit our quota under the recent call for men, desire to put on record---

First---Their increasing hatred of the principles and teachings that have produced, as their legitimate effects, the present rebellion; also their unceasing abhorrence of those whose hands are red with the blood of the defenders of the Constitution and the Union.

Second---The generous action, from the first, of the town, in the gift of both men and means; also the noble manner in which our Volunteers have, at Ball’s Bluff and elsewhere, vindicated her honor and exalted her name.

Third---Webster as a town reaffirms the words of Webster the Statesman. “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable”, and in these words and those once sworn by the Eternal, “The Union must and shall be preserved.”, we find the truest exponent of our wishes and aims.

Fourth---As men are wanted, men must be had. we will at once make persistent efforts to secure the full quota; and that all, as far as possible, may equally share in the burdens and not less the pleasures of self sacrifice in this cause, we do propose that a bounty of Twenty Five Dollars be offered to all who may enlist as volunteers. We would therefore recommend that a town meeting be called as early as possible, and we hereby pledge ourselves to advocate and vote for such a bounty.

Fifth--- That while we pledge unchanging fealty to our Government, and would leave it to those who are in authority to administer our national affairs as their united judgment may devise, yet we would urge the enforcing of the most vigorous and severe measures, without regard or favor, against traitors and their sympathizers; also the employment of every Constitutional and military power needful to the speedy, complete and absolute overthrow of this iniquitous rebellion, and the proper punishment of its instigators, defenders and abettors.”

On motion the report of the committee was accepted. Rev. Mr. Fish offered a few explanatory remarks, and was followed by j. J. Robinson, after which the resolutions were adopted. The selectmen were instructed to call a meeting of the town at as early a day as practicable, to act upon the resolutions. [A meeting has since been warned for the purpose indicated, and will be held at the Town Hall on the afternoon of Wednesday, 23d inst. at one o’clock.] quite a protracted and enthusiastic discussion here followed, participated in by the chairman, Rev. J. L. A. Fish, Messrs. J. J. Robinson, Nathan Joslin, H. E. Bugbee, Wm. Davis, and others.

Mr. Allen urged the propriety of immediate and voluntary action, which should result in furnishing the thirty four men required from Webster, before the inauguration of more decisive measures, which the Adjutant’s call evidently contemplated.. He did not wish to say who should go, or who should remain; he would have every man consider for himself, and act understandingly. He would have those who were willing to go make up their minds at once, and those who must remain be equally prompt in supplying funds for the new volunteers.

Mr. Fish hoped to see the ranks fill up at once, and would be most happy, if circumstances would warrant such a proceeding, to head the list with his own name. He should feel it a high privilege as well as a duty, to labor for his country on the battlefield. The rebellion must and will be extinguished: men and means to accomplish this result must and will be had; and he believed that Webster would not now be, as she never has been, behind her sister towns in an early, earnest and thorough response to the call of our country in its time of need.

Dea. J. J. Robinson spoke particularly upon the resolution appropriating from the town treasury a bounty to volunteers. He had conversed with several of the largest tax payers in town, and found that the general wish seemed to be that a liberal bounty be paid in this way, rather than by subscription. It would be more easily raised, and the payment be a sure thing.

Mr. Joslin was ready to be taxed, double taxed id necessary; or would be one of twenty men to pledge a thousand dollars for bounty money, in case the town should fail to appropriate from its treasury.

Mr. Bugbee could not see the propriety of paying a bounty to new volunteers only. He would vote for a bounty to be shared in by every soldier which the town had furnished, but could not see justice in offering so much greater inducements to new recruits than had been extended to those who have already born the brunt of more than a year of active service. Some facts were stated relative to the failure of the State to grant to families of volunteers the aid which had been expected. He wished citizens to act intelligently in this particular, so that there might be no disappointment, as there had been in the case of many now in service.

Mr. Davis believed the State had done and would still do all she had promised. There was no unsupplied want in our army, and no needless suffering, neither would there be in the future. Mr. Davis paid a merited compliment to the foreign element of the Union army, and believed that history could not furnish brighter examples of bravery and loyalty than as which might be cited from among foreigners in the ranks. After brief remarks and suggestions from other gentlemen, the meeting was dissolved.

We are free to say that the results of this gathering were not what we had anticipated.,. Its objects were perhaps all accomplished, yet the most shrewd observer must have failed to form any definite opinions of the general sentiment of the people in the matter of volunteering. From the vociferous cheering when remarks were made tending to dampen the ardor of recruits, it might be supposed that only drafting would give to the State Webster’s quota. But the rowdy element was loudly represented, and that calm reflection that must follow a sober second thought found little expression there.

If men must be had,, as is evidently the case, we hope that, if only for the name of it, a sufficient number will soon be found who are ready to enlist voluntarily. So far as the bounty is concerned there can be little doubt that the town will vote it; but if they fail, it soon can be raised by subscription; if a liberal bounty will secure the recruits, the money will be had in one way or another. We shall await with interest the town meeting on the 23d inst. for appearances indicate upon that occasion a lively debate.


15th Massachusetts VI