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In Their Own Words

May 17, 1861

Difficulty Getting Volunteers

Not all Georgians were wildly enthusiastic about the outbreak of the Civil War. From Jackson County, where he was trying to raise a volunteer company, A. H. Mitchell wrote to his father:

“I am ashamed for the people of Jackson County, more especially in the upper portion of it. They are dead in ignorance and sloth. They have neither energy or patriotism… . The only way to get men in this part of Jackson is to draft them. It is discouraging to ride day after day and have men to render such frivolous excuses, as having had broke arms, legs and ribs and fingers and toes cut off, &c., &c… . I have my doubts as to getting a company made up, though I keep trying and expect to for some weeks yet. Even [among] those who are inclined to volunteer, there is always someone ready to dissuade them from it… .

… I have, in several cases, solicited for volunteers and the excuse was, ‘If I had someone to take care of my family I would readily do so.’ … What else but a draft would make such men serve their country? Nothing, nothing!”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 10-11.