Rebel Call to Arms: From Volunteers to Draftees

Throughout the war, the South was at a huge strategic disadvantage in fielding an army because its population was much smaller than that of the northern states. Of the nine million people living in the South, only five million were whites. By contrast there were 22 million people in the North, including blacks, who comprised 10 percent of the Union army.
At the outset of the Civil War, the South had a population of about 9 million (including 4,000,000 slaves) while the North had a population of roughly 22 million. The South's much smaller white population put it at a significant disadvantage in fielding an army. In March 1861, the Confederate States of America issued a call for 100,000 volunteers and militia, but it soon became clear the South needed more manpower. Another 400,000 volunteers and militia were called up in January 1862.
By April of that year, the South was forced to enact to the First Conscription Act. That act drafted white men ages 18 to 35 who owned fewer than 20 slaves. The poor whites in the south deeply resented the draft and referred to it as "A rich man's war, poor man's fight." Nonetheless, a Second Conscription Act followed five months later. It extended the age range to 18 to 45. And, by February 1864, the South was conscripting men ages 17 to 50.
Despite its best efforts to muster the necessary manpower, the Confederate army remained roughly half the size of the opposing Union force. In
The Reckoning, Ed Canfield refers to the disparity in the size of the opposing armies when he tells Maureen Foster that the South is being forced to draft soldiers because "God marches with the largest battalions."