Just as President Ford had done after the Viet Nam conflict with his amnesty program for Americans who opted to go to Canada to avoid the draft so too did Lincoln on the subject of deserters. Interestingly enough Lincoln would issue this proclamation exactly one week after his second inauguration with the famous words "charity toward all malice toward none" Ironically, the proclamation would end on the very day of the capture of President Davis in Georgia.
"PROCLAMATION OFFERING PARDON TO DESERTERS'
March 11, 1865
By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, the twenty-first section of the act of Congress approved on the third instant, entitled ""An act to amend the several acts heretofore passed to provide for the enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes,"" requires, ""that in addition to the other lawful penalties of the crime of desertion from the military or naval service, all persons who have deserted the military or naval service of the United States who shall not return to said service, or report themselves to a Provost Marshal within sixty days after the proclamation hereinafter mentioned shall be deemed and taken to have voluntarily relinquished and forfeited their rights of citizenship, and their rights to become citizens, and such deserters shall be forever incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under the United States, or of exercising any rights of citizens thereof, and all persons who shall hereafter desert the military or naval service, and all persons who, being duly enrolled, shall depart the jurisdiction of the district in which he is enrolled, or go beyond the limits of the United States with intent to avoid any draft into the military or naval service, duly ordered, shall be liable to the penalties of this Section. and the President is hereby authorized and required, forthwith on the passage of this Act, to issue his proclamation setting forth the provisions of the Section, in which proclamation the President is requested to notify all deserters returning within sixty days, as aforesaid that they shall be pardoned on the condition of returning to their regiments and companies or to such other organizations as they may be assigned to, until they shall have served for a period of time equal to their original term of enlistment""
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do issue this my Proclamation, as required by said act, ordering and requiring all deserters to return to their proper posts, and I do hereby notify them that all deserters, who shall, within sixty days from the date of this proclamation, viz: on or before the tenth day of May 1865, return to service or report themselves to a Provost Marshal, shall be pardoned, on condition that they return to their regiments and companies, or to such other organizations as they may be assigned to, and serve the remainder of their original terms or enlistment, and, in addition thereto, a period equal to the time lost by desertion.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this eleventh day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth. Abraham Lincoln
By the President:
William H. Seward Secretary of State."
(Source: THE COLLECTION WORKS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASSOCIATION SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS VIII ROY P. BASLER, EDITIOR MARION DOLORES PRATT AND LLOYD A. DUNLAP ASSITANT EDITORS. RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PRESS NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY 1953 PAGES 349-350)