A correspondent at Charleston furnished the following description of the scene which ensued on the occasion of a draft for four hundred men in Savannah, to complete a requisition for troops, the requisite number not having volunteered. Fifteen hundred of the business men and merchants of the city were drawn up in a hollow square on the parade-ground, all in a high state of excitement, when the following proceedings took place:
“The Colonel now takes his place in the centre, and from the back of a magnificent horse, in a few well-timed remarks, calls for volunteers. He said it was a shame that a Georgian should submit to be drafted, and dishonorable to a citizen of Savannah to be forced into the service of his country. He appealed to their patriotism, their pluck, and their—pelf. He told them of good clothes, good living, and fifty dollars bounty; and on the strength of these considerations, invited everybody to walk three paces in front. Nobody did it. An ugly pause ensued, worse than a dead silence between the ticking of a conversation. The Colonel thought he might not have been heard or understood, and repeated his catalogue of persuasions. At this point one of the sides of the square opened, and in marched a company of about forty stalwart Irishmen, whom their Captain, in a loud and exultant tone, announced as the Mitchell Guards. We volunteer, Colonel, in a body. The Colonel was delighted. He proposed three cheers for the Mitchell Guards, and the crown indulged not inordinately in the pulmonary exercise. The requisite number did not seem to be forthcoming, however, and the Colonel made another little speech, winding up with an invitation to the black drummer and fifer to perambulate the quadrangle and play Dixie; which they did, but they came as they went–solitary and alone; not the ghost of a volunteer being anywhere visible in the Ethiopian wake. The Colonel looked as blank as if he was getting desperate, and a draft seemed indispensable.
As a dernier resort the Colonel directed all who had excuses to advance to the centre, and submit them for examination. Did you ever see a crowd run away from a falling building at a fire, or towards a dog-fight, or a street-show? If you have, you can form some idea of the tempestuous nature of the wave that swept towards the little table in the centre of the square, around which were gathered the four grave gentlemen who were to examine the documents. It was a scene, which, as an uninterested outsider, one could only hold his sides and laugh at. Hats were crushed, ribs punched, corns smashed, and clothes torn. Every hand held its magical bit of paper, from the begimed digits of the individual just from a stable or a foundery, to be dainty gloved extremity of the dry goods clerk, just from his counter. Young and old, rich and poor, neat and nasty, Americans, Englishmen, Irishmen, Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Israelites, and Gentiles, all went to make up the motley mass. What a pretty lot of sick and disabled individuals there were to be sure! Swelled arms, limping legs, spine disease, bad eyes, corns, toothaches, constitutional debility in the bread-basket, eruptive diseases, deafness, rheumatism, not well generally–these, and a thousand other complaints, were represented as variously and heterogeneously as by any procession of pilgrims that ever visited the Holy Land.
“And so the day progressed, nearly ten hours being consumed in the endeavor to secure a draft. This afternoon the absentees were gathered together, and the efforts renewed, when, strange to say, every man who found the liability imminent of his being forced to enlist, protested that he was just on the point of doing so, and willingly put his name to the roll.”
Originally posted 2008-06-04 16:45:17.