According to Yale Professor David Blight, "...both sides in this war will engage in conscription, they will create the draft for the first time in American history. The Confederates were first to do it. The first Conscription Act in American history is passed in April of 1862 by the Confederate Government. It said that all able-bodied men eighteen to thirty-five, later raised to forty-five, would be conscripted into three years of service. They allowed the hiring of a substitute, which led to the charge of elitism, which was accurate."
There were brokers and all kinds of dishonest substitutes. One man is alleged to have sold himself twenty times for the bounty that he got paid to get out. There were exemptions in the Confederate conscription--public servants, ministers, teachers, editors, nurses, factory and railroad workers, miners, and telegraph operators. Among the Confederate troops out at the front they called these people "bomb-proof" positions.
And then, worst of all, in the Confederate Conscription Law in 1863, they passed what was known as the Twenty Negro Law: if you owned twenty or more slaves you were exempt from service.
The reason for that was the deep fear setting in, in 1862 across the South, that if all these white men--eighty percent of white males in the South will be in the Army--and if all these white men left the plantations it would be black men left on the plantations running the place. Any man who had twenty or more slaves was exempt, if he chose to be. This will cause tremendous resentment in the Confederate armies and ultimately become one of the causes of desertion.
The Union Conscription Law came later, it didn't come until early '63. It drafted every able-bodied man twenty years of age to forty-five years of age. It had--its exemptions were more limited.
You could escape if you could find a substitute and pay $300; hence the charge, not inaccurate, that in the North, this "people's war," as Lincoln called it, this war to save democracy, became a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.
Generous bounties were paid if you enlisted, and in the end only about six percent of all the Union forces in the Civil War were draftees. The social pressure in some communities, since regiments were formed locally, was tremendous, especially in the first two years. Approximately 20% of all Confederates were draftees and only 6% of Union troops. (The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877: Lecture 13 Transcript, 26 Feb. 2008, Professor David Blight, Yale University)
The Confederate Cabinet