Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bovina in the Civil War – Recruiting

As did most communities in the country, Bovina made its contribution to the War of the Rebellion.  Bovina ultimately furnished 94 men, out of quota that totaled 109.  Eleven men volunteered between June 1861 and July 1862.  Another 33 were furnished in the summer of 1862, under the President’s call for 600,000 men.  Six more enlisted in 1863, 24 in the summer of 1864 and 20 enlisted in December of that year. 

Forty two of Bovina’s men in blue served in the 144th New York Infantry Regiment – and most of these were in Company E, which was predominately made up of men from Bovina and Andes.  The 144th was created in 1862 after President Lincoln issued a call for an additional 300,000 men. New York Governor Edwin D. Morgan issued a proclamation for volunteers on 2 July 1862. Originally, the counties of Delaware, Schoharie and Schenectady were grouped to form one regiment, but a rally held on August 6, 1862 in Delhi was so successful that Delaware County raised enough men for an entire regiment. Robert S. Hughston was appointed Colonel.

As the war progressed and President Lincoln issued more calls for soldiers, more enticements were needed to get young men to enlist.  In the fall of 1863, the President issued a call for 300,000 men, followed a few months later by a call for 200,000 more.  Communities were given a quota which they had to meet through enlistments or the hiring of substitutes.  The men did not have to be from the community in which they lived - towns could meet their quota with any willing and able volunteer.  To entice soldiers to enlist, communities would offer a bounty.  In Bovina, the bounty for 1864, voted on at the end of 1863, was $300, with 112 supporting the bounty and 63 against.  Apparently, this wasn’t sufficient to attract enough volunteers to meet the quota.  In February of 1864, a vote was held to increase the bounty by $100 to $400.  The increase passed but by a tighter margin – 98 for to 85 against.  The amount was raised again in June, but the vote was even tighter, with 68 for and 67 against.  Subsequent votes in August and September to raise the bounty yet again passed by wider margins.  By the last vote in early 1865, the bounty was up to $800.  Bovina raised a total of $42,204 during the war to meet its bounty requirements and other expenses related to the war.  Of that, $39,650 was paid in actual bounties, $807 for recruiting fees and $1747 was paid for interest on town loans.   

When enlistments still lagged, a draft came into being.  Even before the Civil War, all men between 20 and 45 were required to enroll as being eligible for military service.  Bovina had 188 men who were on this list.  It was from this list that the names of draftees were drawn.  Bovina had a quota of 22 men to be furnished under the 1863 draft, with another 6 in March 1864.  Out of these 28, 26 did not have to go because they paid $300.  One draftee, Reverend John E. Taylor, was the pastor of the Cabin Hill Presbyterian Church in Andes (and later the Presbyterian Church in Delancey).  Taylor, a Bovina resident, furnished a substitute.  

Bovina appears to have had at least one draft evader.  The final report on Bovina's participation in the war noted that one of the 1863 draftees absconded.  The name was not provided, but circumstantial evidence points to Elijah Fuller, the son of Richard Fuller and Ann Nichols.  First, there is no information about Fuller's status in the draft documentation (it is provided for all other draftees).  Second, he does not show up in any future New York or Federal census records.  Third, he does not show up in the 1864 or 1866 military roll (he was on the 1862 one).  Fourth, he does not show up in any New York Civil War service (though, of course, he could have served in another state).  Fifth, and the strongest piece of evidence, is that Fuller moved to Canada sometime in the 1860s and stayed there the rest of his life.  He married Eva Metland in Canada in 1867.  All of his children were born in Canada and he died there in 1918.  Going to Canada to avoid the draft did happen in the Civil War.  It is possible that Fuller took this action to avoid the horrors of the war. 

Young men in Bovina took a variety of paths during the Civil War.  Some went to war eagerly, some reluctantly and some, for various reasons and using various approaches, such as Elijah Fuller, opted not to serve.  In July's blog entry about the war, I'll talk about Bovina's 33 men who claimed exemption from service.

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