Desertion document from the Provost Marshal

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Desertion document from the Provost Marshal


Image of the Desertion document from the Captain & Provost Marshal for Dennis Callahan, 1863.

System of United States Provost Marshals authorized by War Department General Order No. 140, dated September 24, 1862. System created to assist loyal states in the arrest, confinement & return of deserters or stragglers to their respective regiments, apprehending individuals enticing soldiers to desert & holding them for trial in civil courts, investigating frauds upon the government or involving enlistments, searching for government property embezzled or stolen, quelling disturbances occurring in army barracks, issuing certificates of identity & loyalty to enable citizens when at Washington to obtain passes to family or friends located within the lines of the army & maintain list of deserters, arrests made & record of all disbursement of rewards and expenses of the office. William E. Hamlin appointed special Provost Marshal for Rhode Island by the President of the United States, September 25, 1862. On December 19, 1862 he was also commissioned by Governor William Sprague as Major with the Sixth Rhode Island Volunteers (organization not completed) but immediately relieved of duty to continue in capacity as United States Provost Marshal. System of special state Provost Marshals remained until Conscription Act passed by Congress March 3, 1863. Act created a Provost Marshal General & established provost marshals to represent each congressional district with the rank of Captains of Cavalry. William E. Hamlin continued in his capacity as Provost Marshall and was chosen to administer the first congressional district. Alfred Blair Chadsey of Wickford was appointed Provost Marshall for the second district April 30, 1863. Conscription Act of Congress also established Boards of Enrollment for each district for the purpose of administering the draft and examining recruits with provost marshals serving as president. William Y. Knight was appointed Commissioner for the first district & Dr. Charles G. McKnight Surgeon. In the second district, James H. Coggeshall served as Commission & Dr. F. H. Peckham Surgeon. All appointees received their commissions from the President of the United States.

See also:

Rhode Island State Archives Resources

A Battle Hard Fought - Rhode Island and the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Observance

Civil War – Commission to Preserve the Military Records of the State

Military Records - Civil War

Civil War Recruitment Book (1861)

Board of Military Enrollment

Adjutant General - Orders Received, Executive Department (1857 - 1858;1861; 1863)

Civil War - Record Book, Orders received, First Detached Militia / Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers (1861 - 1862)

Rhode Island Militia - Enrolled Men, Town Returns (1843 - 1898)

Additional Resources

National Archives Civil War Photographs

National Archives Civil War Records

National Archives The Civil War as Photographed by Mathew Brady

Library of Congress US Civil War: Selected Resources


1863 August 26


Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.





Document Item Type Metadata


Head Quarters, First District
State of Rhode Island
Provost Marshal's Office

Providence, August 26 1863.
Daniel Callahan
2 Smith Street

Having failed to report in compliance
with your notice that you have been drafted under the Act
of March 3d, 1863, your name now stands upon the books
of this department as a DESERTER.
You will report IMMEDIATELY to this office, or be
arrested as a deserter under the law.

WM. E. Hamlin.
Capt. and Provost Marshal.



United States Provost Marshal (Rhode Island), "Desertion document from the Provost Marshal," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #682, (accessed January 21, 2019).