March 10, 1865: Eliminating the 15-slave exemption

Substitute Wanted

The Richmond Daily Dispatch reports that the Confederate congress has finally repealed the “15-slave exemption” which allowed one white male of draft age to be exempted from service for each 15 slaves owned. It was much resented by poor citizens who increasingly viewed the war as a “Rich Man’s War and a Poor Man’s Fight”, and who were deserting in large numbers o go home and care for their families.

The exemption bill.

The following is the exemption bill finally agreed upon by the two Houses of Congress, and which now only awaits the approval of the President to become the law. It concerns and interests a great many people:

“a bill to Diminish the Number of Exemptions and Dewills.

1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That so much of the ‘act to organize forces to serve during the war,’ approved February 17, 1864, as exempts one person as overseer or agriculturist on each farm or plantation upon which there were, at specified times, fifteen able-bodied field hands between the ages of sixteen and fifty, upon certain conditions, is hereby repealed, and said persons, shall be liable to military service upon the expiration of the time for which they secured exemption by reason of having executed bonds for one year from the date thereof: Provided, That exemptions of persons over forty-five years of age may be granted under the provisions of the act aforesaid.

2. “Section 2. That no exemption or detail shall be granted by the President or Secretary of War, by virtue of said act, except of persons lawfully reported by a board of surgeons as unable to perform active service in the field; persons over the age of forty years, and of artisans, mechanics, laborers employed in the Nitre and Mining Bureau in localities where slave labor cannot, with safety, be employed, and persons of scientific skill, employed by, or working for, the Confederate or State Government, and shown by proper testimony to be such laborers, mechanics, or persons of scientific skill; and with the same exceptions, all exemptions and details heretofore granted by the President or Secretary of War, by virtue of said act, are hereby revoked.

3. “Section 3. That all skilled artisans and mechanics who are engaged in the employment of the Government of the Confederate States are hereby exempt from all military service during the time they are so employed.”

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