“We Are Discharging a Great Many Men…”

The First Conscription Act in April 1862 proved to be as disruptive to Confederate military units as well as to communities back home. Company officers and sergeants struggled to deal with fluid company rosters, where men were being discharged due to the new legislation and new conscripts coming in to fill their places. In the midst of an active campaign season, these fluctuating numbers could affect the combat effectiveness of battalions and regiments in the field. In September 1862, the Twenty-Sixth Regiment, North Carolina Troops, was one of many regiments dealing with the implications of the recently passed Conscription Act. This letter from Colonel Henry King Burgwyn Jr. to Captain Joseph Randolph Lane of Company G, “Chatham Boys,” highlights the concerns of Colonel Burgwyn regarding the arrival of conscripts to his regiment.

Letter from Colonel Burgwyn to Captain Lane, 3 September 1862

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