Confederate Civil Service

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The Confederate Civil Service was the civil service of the Confederate States of America.


The Civil Service was created by the Provisional Government meeting on February 4, 1861, copying the same basic pattern as the previous United States federal government.[1] The imbalance between the Union and the Confederation led to a "total war" setting for the Confederates, with all resources dedicated towards the war. This included conscription, radical taxation and the seizure of goods, and as such the Treasury and War departments were heavily expanded during the War to cope with the work. Of the 70,000-odd employees of the Confederate Civil Service over the course of the war, 57,124 worked for the Department of War. The Department employed large numbers of African-Americans, children and women, and without these they would have been unable to deal with the war work.[2] The Civil Service ceased to exist in 1865, when the Confederacy was dissolved.[3]


There were six departments:

The Confederate government set up, with strong rights for internal states, did not permit the existence of a Department of the Interior, but other than that the layout is almost standard for a nineteenth-century government.[4] The Department of State was tasked with "King Cotton diplomacy" - earning friends for the Confederation who would provide them with guns, cotton and other important wartime materials. The Department was relatively unsuccessful, and thus employed only a small number of civilians - around thirty.[5]

The Treasury Department was modelled around the previous, federal office, with a Comptroller, Auditor, Register, Treasurer, and Assistant Secretary. Additional sub-departments were created during the war, including the Office of the Second Auditor to audit accounts of the War Department, a War Tax Office, the Treasury Note Bureau and the Produce Loan Office.[6] The Department included customs collection, although with the decline of Southern trade this was a small area.[7]

The Department of War controlled conscription, the production of munitions, the collection of food and the construction of additional mining and munition-production facilities. These were considered an entirely war-related thing, and were delegated to the Department with no civilian involvement.[8] The South had not previously contained many munitions factories, forcing the Department to start from scratch, and by 1863 the Department was running seventeen arsenals and depots.[9]

The Department of Justice was run by the Southern Attorney General, and as well as the duties of a Federal Attorney General also supervised the costs of the courts, the Patent Office and the Printing Bureau. Provisions were made for multiple courts, including a Supreme Court, which never actually met.[10]


  1. van Riper (1959) p.448
  2. van Riper (1959) p.449
  3. van Riper (1959) p.459
  4. van Riper (1959) p.449
  5. van Riper (1959) p.453
  6. van Riper (1959) p.454
  7. van Riper (1959) p.454
  8. van Riper (1959) p.456
  9. van Riper (1959) p.457
  10. van Riper (1959) p.458


  • van Riper, Paul (1959). "The Confederate Civil Service". Journal of Southern History. Southern Historical Association. 25 (4). ISSN 0022-4642.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>