Grand Isle Plantation
September 10, 1862
Francis Thibodeau, Alexis Cyr, and Berni Plourd were Grand Isle Plantation’s assessors in 1862. Collectively, they saw trouble coming with the institution of a military draft, and they decided to present a united front in expressing their concerns to Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon.
The assessors knew what the 1860 federal census contained before they read it. Of the Plantation’s total population of 545 in 1860, Grand Isle had fewer than 150 draft-eligible men. The assessors believed that the men were needed at home more than they were needed in the army, and they presented their arguments to Hodsdon to prove it.
"There is very few among us here who speak a few words of English, even I dare say there is none who can read and understand the English language; and for that reason there is but very few who comprehend why we are fighting for: and are terribly stricken of the thought of going to the war," Thibodeau writes to the Adjutant General.
The assessors’ concerns are also directed at the community.
"Being very far from all communications, we need very much the work of our young men on farms (as there is hardly any commerce) to prevent the rest from starvation," they write.
And, if that consideration is not convincing, the assessors worry about the warm weather change for the Aroostook men.
"The climate being excessively cold here so that our men would not be able to make good soldiers in the burning hot of the slave states," they conclude.
Some of the men the assessors worried about may have volunteered, but the formal reports of 1862 – 1865 have no record of anyone from Grand Isle being drafted and serving in the military.
- What was the Adjutant General’s response, if any, to the Assessors’ letter?
- What should the Adjutant General’s response have been?
- Do you feel the men of Grand Isle should have been excused from the draft?
- What could be done to have the people of Grand Isle more involved in the culture of the Nation?