August 14, 1862
William Doughty served as Orderly Sergeant for Company B of the Harpswell militia.
Dutiful, Doughty raised a number of enlistees for Company B of the Town’s militia.
However, he writes to Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon in August, 1862, that Harpswell’s other company, Company A, has not furnished any soldiers.
Doughty fears that once the draft is instituted, his Company B volunteers will be ordered into the army simply because of Company A’s failure to raise men.
As a longtime resident, Doughty knew how difficult it was to scour Harpswell for volunteers. A peninsula and several islands jutting into Casco Bay, Harpswell was home to a large number of fishermen. And fishermen, as selectmen from coastal Maine towns repeatedly pointed out to the Adjutant General, would spend at least half of the year fishing on Georges Bank— an underwater plateau well offshore.
Doughty, who was also a master mariner, noticed that the fishing industry was gaining recruits. Men who had previously not gone out fishing are now getting into the business. "We have also a large class who follow fishing as a business and many who never have followed the business before that are joining vessells for no other purpose but to escape the draft," he writes.
Rumors of a pending draft worried men all over the state. Along the coast, men might join fishing vessels. Inland, others escaped the draft by crossing the border into Canada.
As Doughty feared, by September, 1863, Harpswell began drafting to meet their quota.
Even then, the town was unable to provide the required number of men. Too many were at sea.
- Because of Maine’s geographic position between the ocean and Canada, it was relatively easy for men to escape the draft by leaving the country. Did men in other states try to avoid the draft?
- If so, how did they do so?