Unlike neighboring New Yorkers, Vermonters were compliant when it came to federal military draft. Draft Week violence in New York City in July 1863 resulted in 150 deaths.
continued But that was not the case by 1862.
As casualties mounted after the bloody Battle of Shiloh in 1862, patriotic fervor seemed to vanish overnight; volunteers vanished.
According to Fleche, the Town of Castleton, like so many others across Vermont and elsewhere in the Union, complied with state and federal law.
“The selectmen kept a militia enrollment roster, which could be used in the event of a draft. They made yearly additions to the list as young men came of age and others moved into town.”
Fleche pointed out that selectman removed the names of all men who were no longer living in Castleton from the draft rolls.
“In late 1864, State Adjutant and Inspector General Peter T. Washburn issued General Order 2, in which he laid out specific instructions for keeping the rolls. He commanded the selectmen to draw a red line through the names of residents who had turned 45 or who had died.”
Washburn also requested lists of men who had been drafted or who were exempt, such as Congressmen and other individuals.
While Vermonters seemed resigned to obey the draft, New Yorkers were divided. In addition to New York City, other Northern cities, with their thousands of working- class families, were hotbeds of anti-draft unrest and violence.
The New York City draft riot, known as “Draft Week”, in July 1863 became the nation’s most violent civil unrest action, aside from the war. As many as 150 civilians were killed during the week of insurrection. And America wouldn’t again see such anti-draft sentiment until the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
Note: Thanks to the Slate Valley Museum and Castleton State College for assistance.