Civil War Draft in Jefferson County, NY


INTRODUCTION: How the draft was conducted.

(Source: Northern NY Journal, Watertown, NY, Tuesday, August 25, 1863, p. 3)


The morning train brought hundreds of visitors from Herkimer County and from the southern part of Jefferson, who came to witness the ceremony of the Draft. The town is quiet. The old County Clerk's Office is the building selected for the transaction of the business. Two tables occupy the center of the office, upon one of which is the wheel, a small, clean, and unstained, rotary churn; with an opening, and lid on one side; it is turned by an iron crank, in the presence of Inspectors chosen by the Provost Marshal.

At five minutes to ten precisely, Provost Marshal Emerson, Commissioner Pond, and Surgeon Walker, made their appearance at the old County Clerk's office on Court St., followed by the Committee of principal citizens who had been designated to examine into the fairness and conduct of the drawing. At this time but a very small crowd had assembled and there was no appearance of any undue excitement. After making some preliminary arrangements the Provost Marshal read the order of the President and Provost Marshal General. To Mr. P. Mundy was given the list of names enrolled in order that they might be properly checked as drawn.

The names of those enrolled were written each on an ordinary card and those of the 21st sub-district, consisting of the village of Watertown were given into the hands of Mr. Wynn to be counted by whom the number was found to be correct.

The oath was then administered by the Marshal to Mr. WILBUR HOUGH of Watertown, the blind man who had been chosen to draw the names, who was also carefully blindfolded.

Only two soldiers were in sight and these sat near the door with fixed bayonets and evidently not expecting any serious work for the day.

Mr. Pond now announced that the draft would commence and the wheel was turned by the Marshal. Amid the deepest silence the first card was drawn, and contained the name of WM. PEARSON. Three cheers were immediately given with a will, and when the name was announced as that of GEO. P. CLARK, much laughter and merriment was manifested and cheers given.

The crowd at this time in the street was very much increased, yet the most perfect order prevailed.

1863 Draft by Town

Adams Alexandria Antwerp Brownville
Cape Vincent Ellisburg Tw. Watertown Vil. Watertown

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Information contributed by volunteer Marilyn Sapienza.


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