Civil War Principals and Substitutes Index
This database lists the names of Michigan principal draftees and substitutes. It was created from original descriptive rolls of Civil War units.
The Union established a draft with the 1863 Enrolment Act. Section 13 allowed draftees to avoid service by paying a $300 commutation fee or by hiring a substitute. The commutation rule was abandoned the following year, but substitutions continued for the duration of the war.
In his book One Million Men: The Civil War Draft in the North (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1971), Eugene C. Murdock identified the four most common sources for substitutes: Aliens, minors above the age of 18 but below 20, honorably discharged veterans and refugees from Confederate states. Murdock noted that substitutes could not themselves be eligible for the draft, so this limited the supply (pg. 179).
Murdock also addressed the question of African American substitutes, noting that the rules and practices changed over time. He stated that all freed black men were eligible for the draft but few were actually enrolled until early 1864. At that time, both freed black men and slaves became eligible. Officially, black men could only serve as substitutes for other black men. Apparently, however, this restriction was sometimes ignored during the last months of the war (Murdock, pg. 180).
NOTE: Indexes to the principal and substitute records are in PDF format. These indexes have been created by the generous efforts of volunteers at the Archives of Michigan. Each index has been transcribed from the original hand-written records. Early handwriting varies in legibility and is sometimes undecipherable. Archives' volunteers attempted to include all possible spellings of a particular name. However, misspellings and variations of names appear in these indexes. This may confuse the researcher looking for a specific name and/or spelling. Please take these points into consideration when reviewing the index so as to allow for a thorough search.
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