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From our archives: Use draft to enlarge armies, crush rebels

What we thought: 150 years ago

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2013 3:10 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society)
Brig. Gen. Edward Kirk (1828-1863) of Sterling served with the 34th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. He had the Dillon Home built in Sterling. He died of his war wounds on July 21, 1863. The editor of the Gazette, on March 14, 1863, called on President Abraham Lincoln to draft 500,000 new soldiers and use them to bring about a swift victory.

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following editorial appeared in the Gazette on March 14, 1863.

Let us use our power

The Conscription Act gives the president [Abraham Lincoln] ample power to raise men sufficient to crush every vestige of the rebellion the coming season, and in our opinion, he should use that power to the extent of calling out at least 500,000 men immediately, and use all and every means he can command to overwhelm the traitors.

That conscription will have to be resorted to in the end, we have no doubts, and that it will be a saving of innumerable lives and millions of treasure if enforced immediately, before our armies now in the field have dwindled away by disease, and in battle with a foe equal in number, is just as clear to us.

The Census Office estimates that there are yet in the loyal states 1,500,000 men fit for duty, liable to draft; let 500,000 of them be immediately called into the field, and the coming summer must see the end of the war and the re-establishment of the rightful rule of the government over every foot of the Union.

We have no fear of any difficulty in enforcing the Conscription Act. The copperheads will likely squirm and writhe under its operations, but then most of them will fork over to the government the $300 commutation, and the balance will crawl to Canada or some other congenial clime – do anything but fight – for that they have no stomach, being innate poltroons and cowards.

But there are Union men enough, Republicans and Democrats, who will fight for their country, who will honor every draft drawn upon them by their president, and who will not flinch, nor let others flinch, when called upon in the way authorized by the laws of that country.

Regard for our brave soldiers now in the field, who are anxious to finish what they enlisted to accomplish, the future reputation of those controlling the government, and above all, the salvation of the Union demands that the administration should wield all the engines of power in its hands to the successful and speedy termination of the war, and therefore we hope to see an immediate call for men sufficient to ensure that end.

The origin of the term "copperhead"

Soon after the outbreak of the rebellion, the Springfield [Ohio] Republic published a communication, in which the writer noticed the rattlesnake as the emblem of the South Carolina rebels, and stated that the rattlesnake was a more magnanimous reptile than the copperhead snake, as the former gives notice before he strikes, while the other, besides being more insidious, strikes you without giving you any warning; and applied the term copperhead to all the traitors and sympathizers with the rebels in the free states.

Other papers soon adopted the term, and it has become very general. It is a very appropriate name for our free state rebels at heart.

Mounted infantry

Gen. Rousseau has  been authorized to raise ten regiments of mounted infantry, to operate in connection with Rosecrans' army in Tennessee. This corps will be one of the most effective in the service. Its principal object will be to meet the rebel guerilla forces, fight them with the same weapons and in the same manner as adopted by them, to repel guerilla raids, and to make incursions within the lines of the enemy.

With Gen. Rousseau to lead this force, the rebels will find that their own mode of warfare will be made as effective for us in the future as it has been for them in the past.

Trouble in Utah

UTAH – Late news from this territory indicates that trouble is brewing between the government authorities and Brigham Young's family. Gov. Harding and justices Waite and Drake had ordered the arrest of Young and his disciples, Kimball and Wells. The followers of Brigham are in arms and propose to oppose the arrest of their leader. Thus the matter rests, and what the result will be, further intelligence must determine.

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