Portrait of Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson

On July 8, 1862, Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson introduced legislation to rectify the Union’s mounting military problems. President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill, commonly known as the “Militia Act of 1862,” into law on July 17, 1862. Among its provisions, the Militia Act of 1862 authorized Union forces to recruit men of African descent, and it opened the door for implementing compulsory military service. [Wikimedia Commons]

Militia Act of 1862 Facts

July 17, 1862

Key facts about the Militia Act of 1862.

Advertisements
  • President Abraham Lincoln signed the Militia Act of 1862 into law on July 17, 1862.
  • The official title of the Militia Act of 1862 is “An Act to Amend the Act Calling Forth the Militia to Execute the Laws of the Union, Suppress Insurrections, and Repel Invasions, Approved February 28, 1795, and the Acts Amendatory Thereof.”
  • The Militia Act of 1862 was a quasi-omnibus bill that addressed numerous military issues.
  • The Militia Act of 1862 established rules about the payment of bounties as incentives to boost volunteerism.
  • The Militia Act of 1862 established rules about courts martial.
  • The Militia Act of 1862 established rules about the organization of infantry, artillery and cavalry corps.
  • The Militia Act of 1862 authorized president to organize army corps as he preferred.
  • The Militia Act of 1862 established that state militias consisted of all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five.
  • The Militia Act of 1862 authorized the president to specify length of militia service if activated by the national government (up to nine months).
  • The Militia Act of 1862 proscribed how state militias would be organized upon activation.
  • Section 12 of the Militia Act of 1862 authorized African-Americans to serve in the Union’s armed forces.
  • Section 13 of the Militia Act of 1862 stipulated that former slaves who enlisted in the Union’s armed forces would be granted freedom, along with their mothers, wives, and children.
  • Section 15 of the Militia Act of 1862 went on to establish lower pay and benefits for African-Americans in the Union’s armed forces than for their white counterparts.
  • African-Americans volunteers responded enthusiastically to the Militia Act of 1862
  • Section 1 of the Militia Act of 1862 opened the door for the implementation of compulsory service in the Union’s armed forces.
  • On July 26, 1862 Secretary of War Edwin Stanton instructed Iowa Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood that “By order of the President of the United States you are authorized and directed to make a draft of militia of the state of Iowa to fill up the quota of volunteers called for by the President, . . .”
  • On August 4, 1862, the war department issued General Order Number 94, which ordered that 300,000 militia be immediately called into the service of the United States, and which also authorized state governors to draft men into the service to meet their quotas.
  • On August 8, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton issued an order prohibiting citizens liable to be drafted into the militia from traveling to foreign countries under penalty of law. The order also suspended the writ of habeas corpus to citizens arrested for trying to evade the draft.
  • On August 9, 1862, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton issued General Order Number 99, ordering state drafts to be held by August 15.
  • The first drafts authorized by the Militia Act of 1862 did not occur until mid-September. In Ohio, the draft took place on October 5.
  • The Militia Act of 1862 and aroused the ire of Peace Democrats and others who were alarmed by the administrations usurpation of constitutionally guaranteed rights.
  • The threat of conscription authorized by the Militia Act of 1862 proved more effective than the drafts themselves. Of the total of 600,000 men President Lincoln requested in July and August 1862, only about 90,000 had to be drafted.
  • By 1863, administration abandoned the unwieldy and largely ineffective state-administered drafts. In March, Congress enacted the Enrollment Act establishing a federal draft.
Advertisements

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Militia Act of 1862 Facts
  • Coverage July 17, 1862
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 17, 2021
GET THE BEST OF AMERICAN HISTORY CENTRAL DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX!
SIGN UP
By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to receive news, offers, updates, and additional information from R.Squared Communications, LLC and American History Central. Easy unsubscribe links are included in every email.
CLOSE [X]