Tag Archives: Draft

The Draft of 1863


Finally some evidence of John Boal, my great-great-great grandfather, during the Civil War. His name is on a list of Class I men ready to be drafted. It was compiled by a Capt. James Matthews, Provost Marshal, in June and July of 1863.

Name: John Boal
Birth Year: abt 1840
Place of Birth: Pennsylvania
Age on 1 July 1863: 23
Race: White
Marital Status: Unmarried (Single)
Residence: Big Grove, Johnson, Iowa
Congressional District: 4th
Class: 1

His age is off, perhaps “underreported” to the authorities. He was born in 1836, so he was probably actually 27, not 23. Perhaps he thought he might be left behind if he was considered too old.

The major giveaway that it’s him is Big Grove Township and Johnson County. This is where he later married and near where his father William is buried, in the Oakland Cemetery near Solon.

Now I just have to track down his unit (or units). He probably served in a unit from Pennsylvania.


Two Wars, The Draft & Short Leg Syndrome

Oddly, like my father, Uncle Herman had mismatching legs. One leg was three inches shorter than the other. I’ve never heard this about him before. I discovered this little factoid on his World War I draft registration paperwork.

My dad has the same problem. The condition is known as Limb Length Discrepancy or Short Leg Syndrome. Uncle Herman also had a dislocated hip. He was therefore rejected from military service.

My father, however, wasn’t as lucky. Despite the difference in his legs, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. He had intended to be drafted into the regular Army, but his parents, my grandparents, objected, afraid that he’d be killed in Vietnam. So my grandfather somehow arranged a spot for him in the Guard.

Among the places he was stationed were Louisiana and El Paso, both of which he considered god-forsaken. Overall my father’s National Guard experience was a negative one. He hated it.