Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 22, 1863 (Thursday): Expiring Enlistments

Enlistment Broadside (

April 22, 1863.
Brigadier General LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General, U. S. Army:
     For the information of the War Department, I have the honor to transmit herewith a statement of the number of men soon to be dispatched from this army by expiration of term of enlistment. They are the nine-month's and two-years' regiments.
      From recent information, I have reason to believe but few, if any will re-enlist at this time. They appear to be of opinion that they will be under less restraint to retire from service before incurring new obligations, and that if they should conclude to return, they will be able to realize a large bounty as substitutes for conscripts than is provided by law. The large bounties heretofore paid by the State and Federal-Governments seem to be uppermost in their minds, and they will be likely to hold back for their recurrence. At all events, they are unwilling to re-enlist now.
     Very respectfully, &c.,


* Detailed statement omitted. It aggregates 16,480 two-years' men and 6,421 nine-months' men. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 243.

Lee had already factored the expiration of enlistments in the Army of the Potomac into his thinking. So had Hooker.  Lee was considering the possibility of a campaign which would move into Pennsylvania.  Hooker knew if he was to strike Lee he had to do it before the enlistments expired.  The imperative toward action would have been there because of the warmer weather and dryer roads, but the potential loss of 20% of his troops made an advance essential. 

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