• St. John's Chapel, Green Springs

    Green Springs

    Virginia

Robert E. Lee Reports a Shirker, 1864

[Robert E. Lee to Confederate States Secretary of War James A. Seddon, September 10, 1864, in War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington D.C.:Government Printing Office, 1900), 4th ser., 3: 660-661:]

[Themes: Civil War—civilian roles; transportation]

… able-bodied men are taken from the Army or kept out of it as mail contractors. In many instances these contracts are made for the sole purpose of evading service in the Army.

…a young man in Louisa County, whose name I cannot now recall…obtained a contract to carry the mail from the obscure post-office of Mechanicsville, near Gordonsville, and was discharged [from] the service. He is the son of wealthy parents, and I am told remains at home and employs some one else to carry the mail. I suppose it is in the power of the Post-Office Department to prevent these abuses and even to annul such fraudulent contracts where they exist.

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[Confederate States Postmaster-General John H. Reagan to Confederate States Secretary of War James A. Seddon, September 17, 1864, in War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1900), 4th ser., 3:656-659:]

[Themes: Civil War—civilian roles; transportation]

The only class of persons in the service of this Department which should make any noteworthy deduction from the military force is the mail contractors and drivers of post-coaches and hacks, who are exempted under the law of April 14, 1863.

In relation to the other case mentioned by General Lee [in the letter of September 10, 1864, above], I would say that the post-office at Mechanicsville, in Louisa County, Va., is what we call a special office, and this Department makes no contracts with carriers to supply that class of offices with mails. It merely consents to give so much out of the proceeds of the [Mechanicsville] office for [carriers] supplying it with the mails, and the carriers having no contracts are not exempt from military service, so that the carrier who supplies the Mechanicsville office is not exempt from military service on that account.

The Department is not even furnished with the names of such carriers except as they come to the Auditor’s Office from quarter to quarter. From the last return in the Auditor’s Office the name of the carrier who supplies the office at Mechanicsville is James M. Michie.

Did You Know?

Flower

Green Springs National Historic Landmark District is privately owned, includes no public facilities, but is visible from public highways. It sits astride Route 15 in Louisa County, Virginia.