The Confederate Draft

 Richmond, May 1863.

Important Act of the Confederate Congress ordering that

United States citizens in lands within the limits of the Confederacy are liable for draft and service in the Confederate Army.

Signed by Confederate Vice President ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS and Speaker of the House of Representatives THOMAS S. BOCOCK, this war-date document states in small part: "Enrolled, An Act to provide for placing in the military service of the Confederate States, citizens of the United States, residing or sojourning within the limits of the Confederate States...The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact as follows: All white male persons, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, claiming to be citizens of any of the States, or territories of the United States, residing or sojourning within the limits of the Confederate States, and who would, if citizens of the Confederate States, be subject to military duty under the laws now in force, or which may be hereafter enacted, shall, if within the Confederate States, upon or after the first day of July, A.D., one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, be held subject to military duty in the same manner as if such persons were citizens of any of the States composing the Confederate States...It shall be the duty of the President, within ten days after the passage and approval of this act to issue his proclamation, giving notice of the provision herein contained...[and] it shall be the duty of the proper officers to enforce said provision..." Signed by Bocock and Stephens at conclusion. Another signature was present but has been almost obliterated, most probably that of Jefferson Davis as required by the Act. Bocock's signature is faint but legible; Stephens', as president of the Senate, uneven. Docketed on verso with summary of the Act and signed as having been twice read before the House of Representatives by Congressional Clerk A. R. LAMAR; and Senate Clerk JAMES H. NASH; and lastly Lamar signs a second time, May 1, 1863, certifying the bill had originated in the House of Representatives. The document evidences large dampstains to left margin and right portion, though text remains legible; a partial fold tear with negligible paper loss extending from right edge; and at left margin of same fold with small paper loss affecting only two or three words of text. According to historian John M. Coski of the Museum of the Confederacy, this Act is likely H.R. 64 stating in the Journal of the Confederate Congress, it was signed, enrolled and presented to President Davis for approval. Because the third signature has been intentionally erased for the most part with a few letters partially visible, Coski speculates that this document may have been misplaced or diverted, or more likely Davis ultimately changed his mind and refused to approve it. However, although Davis' papers note that he vetoed a bill on May 1, 1863, this is apparently not that bill - and making it all the more intriguing. It is possible to speculate that since two months later, Lee and his armies were well into Pennsylvania and this law would have allowed him, and for that matter any Confederate general taking Union territory, to forcefully seize American citizens for service in the Confederate Army.