First Wednesdays – “I can not see the sight of no gun.”

The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, as well as other armies in the field, had to be rearmed, re-supplied, and reconstituted after the horrific fighting of the summer and fall of 1862. Southern governors were pressed to cull their state resources to replace equipment lost on military campaigns. The severe manpower losses prompted Confederate conscription officers to redouble their efforts to find eligible white males to fill the ranks of the depleted battalions and regiments in field. Many times, these renewed efforts forced these conscripted men to write their elected officials in an effort to avoid military service.

Our First Wednesday post exhibits an example of this correspondence directed to North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance in November 1862. Conscription officers again approached Isaiah K. Craven of Randolph County to fulfill his military service, despite his repeated deferments due to his severe myopia or nearsightedness. Unlike most conscripted men, Craven was able to document his last deferment through describing his exemption issued by Major Peter Mallett.

It is not know whether Isaiah K. Craven had repeat the story of his deferment to other conscription officers during the issuance of second and third conscription acts of 1863 and 1864, or even if he had to serve later in the Confederate army. According to genealogical sources, Craven moved to Missouri in 1869, and later died in Randolph County, Arkansas in 1876.

Letter, Isaiah K. Craven to Governor Zebulon Vance, 2 November 1862

To learn more about the Confederate Conscription Acts, please attend our upcoming lecture titled: Confederate Conscription: A Primer on November 19, 2012 at 10:30am in the auditorium of the Archives & History Building on 109 E. Jones Street, Raleigh, NC.

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