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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > Benjamin Staples Transcript

Benjamin Staples Transcript

August 25” 1862.
To Hon. Israel Washburn,
Governor of Maine,
 The undersigned citizens of Houlton have noticed with surprise and regret that under the recent requisition of the Gov’t, a draft has been made upon the Town of Houlton and upon the Southern & Middle portions of Aroostook County for a considerable number of men.
That these portions of the County have not been deficient in earnest patriotism,-- that they are ready and willing, if necessary, to send the last man and expend the last dollar in the prosecution of a war in which they believe the existence of their country is at stake is sufficiently shown by the number of their soldier already in the field, and by their votes at the polls.
IN the order of the Secty of War for the Draft it is provided,
“That in filling all requisitions for militia, the quotas of the several States will be apportioned by the Governors among the several Counties, and when practicable, among the sub-divisions of Counties, so that allowance shall be made to such Counties and sub-divisions for all Volunteers theretofore furnished by them, and mustered into the service of the United States, and whose stipulated term of service shall not have expired.”
We desire to call the attention of your Excellency to the fact, that the Northern portion of the County, commonly called the French Plantations, constitute more than one fourth part of its entire population, the population of the County according to the last census being 22449 and that of these Plantations 5630.
According to the last Report of the Adjt Genl of this State this Northern section had furnished only 46 volunteers, which the Southern and middle portions of the County with a population of 16819 had furnished about 700.  And yet the Northern section is almost entirely relieved from a draft, while the Southern & middle section are required to furnish 200 more men.  But since the date of that report we have furnished over 300 additional volunteers and also 126 men for the regular army, making in all over 1100 men.  If the whole number of Maine troops furnished and to be furnished is 40 000 then quota of the Southern and Middle sections, taking the population as a basis, would be a little over 1000 men.  These portions of the County have therefore done their whole duty and more than their duty already.
The undersigned would therefore respectfully urge that the draft in this County should be so apportioned that this Division of it may be allowed for the volunteers heretofore furnished, agreeably to the order of the Department. It may perhaps be said, that a draft is not practicable in the Northern section of this County because its inhabitants speak a different language from ours, and have not to any considerable extent been enrolled in the militia.
Our reply is that if they are not eligible as soldiers then they should not be counted as a part of our population from which a draft is to be made.  The rest of the County which has done more than its duty already should not be charged with their deficiencies. 
We would respectfully urge that the plainest principles of justice and equity require that this section of the County should be made to furnish its show of men, or if for any reason that is deemed impracticable, that their quota should not be charged upon the rest of the County, already so severely taxed.
But we would respectfully call the attention of your Excellency to the situation of the Town of Houlton.  By the last census her population was 2035.  In the Adjt Genls report she stands credited with having furnished to that date 175 men.  Since the date of the report she has furnished between 20 and 30 additional volunteers. And in addition 126 men have been enlisted in the town for the regular army nearly two thirds of whom were actual residents.  Making nearly 300 men, which exceeds the largest vote ever cast in the town.  If Maine is to furnish in all 40000 men the quota of this town taking population as a basis would be only 128.  This small town therefore already furnished over 150 more than her quota, of actual residents, and this estimate does not include those who have enlisted at Bangor, Oldtown & Calais and whose resident is stated to be in those places, but was in fact here.  If these are facts, and your Excellency has the record before you by which to test them, surely if there is a town in Maine which might be excused from the draft it is the town of Houlton.  We claim to be the banner town of Maine.  We assure your Excellency that we shrink from no duty but we earnestly ask that we may be credited for what we have already done, and we are unable to see upon what principle of justice and equity a further call can be made upon a town already taxed so severely.
We are assured that your Excellency upon examining this matter will readily see that no further call should be made upon us.
Very Resp Your Obt Sts.
Benj. L Staples (and others)