Editor’s Note: This article was provided by John Hennessy and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
The Soldiers’ Vote—How it was Conducted.
CAMP OF SIXTH OHIO CAVALRY,
NEAR PETERSBURG, VA., Oct. 9, 1864.
FRIEND DEALER: Yesterday was election day. Everything passed off quietly; not a gun fired within hearing along the line.
I thought I would give you what information I had as regards the manner in which elections were managed here in the army. In my own regiment the polls were organized by about a dozen men. Three men—or rather boys—were selected for the Judges, and two more for Clerks. One of the Clerks, I am informed, was a McClellan man, the balance for Lincoln. At the proper time the voting commenced, and a promiscuous mass of old men and boys cast their votes for whom they pleased through the day, when the polls were by the Judges declared closed and the counting commenced. After counting a while, they opened the polls again to receive other ballots, and then counted again and so on. After counting and voting and counting again, they determined to declare the result to be _ _ 0 (illegible) for Lincoln and 39 for McClellan.
Out of the thirty-nine for McClellan, sixteen were from my company, against seven for Abe. I think that Co. F done big, and it was to a great extent the result of a paper known as the PLAIN DEALER, which found its way into this regiment. It came to my address, and was the only Democratic paper that came to the regiment this summer, to my knowledge.
I have also heard from the 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry. They done better than we did. The result of their voting was 244 for Lincoln and 104 for McClellan. I heard a New York Battery near here say that there were only three votes for Lincoln in it. That is all that I have heard about the election.
I am one of those men who have always been opposed to the soldiers voting, and am now more fully convinced than ever of the wrongs perpetrated on the sanctity of the ballot-box, for to my certain knowledge there were men voted in this regiment who were not naturalized, and also a number of boys who are not of age. Still, I suppose there are some men foolish enough to say that this is all right. And here let me say that I believe that if Lincoln is successful it will be owing to this kind of voting.
If anything of note turns up you will hear from me again:
CO. F, 6th O. V. C.1
- “Army Correspondence.” Cleveland Plain Dealer. November 14, 1864, p. ? col. ? ↩