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The subject, gentlemen, is money and mostly how to misuse it in the context of soldiers pay and bounty systems.
Dollars were hard in 1861. Except for growing industrial areas in New England and the eastern seaboard, the country was still essentially rural, and agriculturally oriented. Average incomes ranged from $300.00 to $1,000.00 per year. People got along, but the range was narrow. It is quite amazing in view of the limits to discover how extravagant the state and federal governments were with the people's money, most particularly in the debauche of the bounty and substitute fees.
Service pay and allowances were basically "in line" with the times, or, at least, with the era preceding the conflict. The problem on soldiers pay was not what it was, but rather the infrequency of a muster to get at it. To be sure, there were notable inefficiencies in the pay master department, as we shall see later.
In reading the sources on this subject, one has to conclude that on planning and programming an effective recruitment, the government simply was not ready. Events popped too quickly. I find no references to any draft plans or procedures prior to the onset.
Scarcity of source material did not permit a good solid look at the Confederate side. It is reported that the confederates had a more effective conscription set- up and administered it more effectively. They most certainly did not have the excesses of the bounty system. They could not indulge in that extravagance. Later on in the war--say, mid 1864, was in total collapse. This was especially so in the western departments.
Soldiers pay and bounty systems were separate, but merged in effect. After a final bounty was set, the records of same were entered on soldiers' pay records, administered and disbursed by the paymaster's office. Thus, the two categories joined.
As bounty programs preceded enlistment., discussion of bounty systems becomes the first order of business. When Jim Barnett asked me to take on the topic, I had qualms as to just what there was to it. I had not really known any detail on pay or the bounties. The study for this paper has been an eye-opener.
II. Bounty System
It might not be fair to describe this "alleged" system as a 'bribe', but that is precisely what it was. Essentially a bounty was an inducement to promote voluntary enlistment--emphasis here is on the word 'voluntary'. At the beginning, there existed a terrific stigma on being drafted. Avoid a draft. Fly the flag. Beat the drums, but don't be a draftee. This was a nation-wide attitude. To be identified as a draftee was next to dishonor. There were in fact, no draft laws or regulations at the time, but the threat was there.
The Bounty System had these features.
A. Bounty--a fee granted for enlistment.Historically, bonuses, bounties or similar allurement have been a tradition in our military from the start. There was no universal military training required. That was only set up after World War II. Our armies were strictly voluntary affairs. To raise an army, some promises had to be made. The government had to compete with a thriving, expanding economy. Industrial development was booming. There was money to be made. The push was west. Mainly bounties promised and granted were plots or acreage of land. At least, there was plenty of that.
Monetary inducements, 1861 and after for the duration, were an innovation and really a result of a government with no policy. There was a failure to come to grips with conscription and desirability to have federal control of it. The central authority in Washington never really did get down to business on this matter. There existed a powerful states rightism in the north. The south had no monopoly on this. The government deferred management and planning to the states. Basically, we have to concede that the administration was not in a position to quibble with the states. Political pressures of the severest nature beset Mr. Lincoln. He had to "go along".
After Sumter, the call for volunteers was., as a matter of record, enthusiastically met. After all, the whole thing was going to be a big party, and over shortly. So, even at $11.00/per month (private's pay), in 1861 things were not too bad. The main reason, however, was that the states, at the outset, came up with generous awards and funds for the volunteers. The money was raised to pay to the volunteers to help their families, and to maintain support continuity. This is phase one of the Bounty System. It was essentially well-motivated. It produced men. Rhode Island, for example, contributed $350.00 per volunteer. Philadelphia at this stage raised one million dollars for the purpose.
Then came Bull Run. This shook things up. Volunteering fell off. Reports drifted back of inefficiencies in the army--poor commissary facilities, worse medical service, poor officer material and low morale. This was mid-1861.
Phase two now comes into the picture and dates from May 4, 1861. Congress approved a legalized federal bounty of $100.00 for all volunteers or regulars enlisting for three years and serving at least two years or to the end of the war. This started things off. If only someone in Washington had taken the trouble to dope things out, they could have easily raised soldiers monthly pay by $4.00 to $6.00, plus setting up a strong recruitment organization controlled uniformly, state to state, by the War Department. It was not to be. I hasten to add that this $100.00 bonus was to be paid at discharge only. Thus, the gesture of $100.00 was negated because one had to wait until the term was up. This hurt volunteer surge, which it was intended to promote. Only state funds kept the enlistments moving at all. Yet, until now, the flow into the army was good. Secretary Stanton even decreed an end to recruitment. This little decree was short-lived. We are now up to April 1862. Shiloh came along and the failure of the Peninsular Campaign truly dried up volunteering. Quickly the government amended the discharge proviso to allow a $40.00 advance on enlistment. This helped mildly.
The 'Big Push' was the Militia Draft Act of July 17, 1862. This is the act that accelerated the bounty fee inflation. It still did not put teeth into a truly firm, forthright draft law. Basically, the act of 1862 strived to set up uniform recruitment procedures, and to get the separate states to act in concert as to bounty fees and general practices. It did state that all males, aged 18-45 were 'on call' for a nine month hitch. It should have been a lot tougher, but still Washington could not buck powerful states' insistence on handling their own affairs in this matter.
The significant feature of the act was the substitution clause. Commutation, as previously cited to be a part of this law, was quickly withdrawn.
Negotiating for substitutes was a perfectly honorable deal. Fees for same were governed largely by the availability of men willing to go as a substitute. At this stage, a substitute usually got as much as a commutation fee of $300.00. Thus, a substitute could receive his fee of $300.00 plus volunteer bonus of $100.00, totaling $400.00--a fair sum, about equal to a year's average rural income. Later, there were records of substitutes receiving fees as high as $1,500.00 in the New York, Philadelphia and other big money areas.
The Enrollment Act of March 1863 added fuel to the fire, meaning pressure inflating substitute fees. The act was, to be sure, stronger. It set definite quotas but the government still had to avoid a suspicion of coercion and usurpation of states' rights. The act provided quotas be filled "in a reasonable time". Only if quotas were not filled by volunteers would a draft actually be invoked. Further, the act provided a $100.00 bonus for a two-year enlistment or, for a five-year enlistment, an added $300.00. Thus you could pick up $100.00 with no strings. So for those who would procure a substitute, it was necessary to bid over the $400.00 base. So, up went the substitute fees. A series of scandalous side effects took place. There was one facet of the substitute situation, which backfired, so to speak. The market became so glutted with those who would go as substitutes that competition among them in fact depressed their fees. It is safe to say that substitute fees settled out on an average of around $350.00 to $400.00. It should be noted that one of the motives in granting fees and bounties by the government was the necessity for holding on to veterans whose enlistment was up, but whose value was so important to preserve the basic quality of the fighting force. If you were in the service, you could re-enlist for the same bounties as new men, but for shorter terms.
Let us examine some of the off-shoots of the system.
1.Bounty Jumper. These were the bully boys engaged in the fine art of repeated desertions. All you had to do was sign up in a high bounty district, take whatever portion of the total bounties that were paid out on enlistment, and, at first opportunity "skeedaddle", then show up at a distant, prosperous recruiting area to sign up and repeat the process. Gangs, usually consisting of twenty-five or so, banded together. One half would volunteer and the other half would arrange the escape, usually as the so-called recruits were on the trains to boot camps--train jumping. Of some 268,000 desertions, a fair percentage were these bounty jumpers.On December 23, 1863, the government issued a call for 300,000 volunteers stating at the time that after January 5. 1864, there would be no longer any extra bounty. It was hoped this announcement would cause a rush to enlist, in order to take advantage of the high bounty before it was withdrawn. The state governments and certain powerful governors insisted on postponing the January 5 deadline. In fact, they forced the government to offer a $75.00 advance rather than the $40.00. Finally, in April of 1864, extensions were terminated. We refer to the so-called extra bounties. After 1864, enlistments were sought for one, two and three years at the rate of $100.00 per year, offered on the basis of one-third at muster, one third halfway through the term and one-third at the end.
In reviewing the inception and progress of the whole bounty affair, one finds each effort by the government to beef up a recruitment policy fell short of the minimum. Instead of achieving a forthright, vigorous and controlled program, each enactment served to inflate substitute fees plus promote such scandalous side issues as bounty jumpers, brokers and deserters. No one seemed able to put on the brakes. One side effect was the government, in encouraging first a nine-month enlistment, then later on one year, finally three and five year term, made it possible for a man to go into the service in 1861 or early 1862 and come out with all his bounties. He could then get into the substitute market or become a jumper., ending up with a fat profit. If he re-enlisted, he received the inflated fees of 1863 and 1864. Yet a man who volunteered in 1861 or 1862 for a three to five year hitch sat it out with no chance to latch on to the profiteering involved in the enlistment bounties. The effect was to penalize a man who might have been motivated by a sense of duty, leaving the gravy train to the opportunist who profited by a quirk in the rules and ineptitude.
From the Draft Act of 1863 to the end of the war, there was a total of almost $600,000,000.00 paid out in enlistment bonuses and allowances. This included $286,000,000.00 from state funds and $300,000,000.00 from the federal government. This, let us concede, was a fairly fat bill to pay in lieu of a forthright, effective conscription program, controlled in Washington and administered equally and uniformly throughout the states. The country was simply not ready to accept conscription or the fact of a necessity for federal authority to raise the armies. All in all, it was quite a binge.
Ill. Soldiers Pay
Emerging from the bounty fees were the pay scales and payment methods in the armed forces. Here is a statistic:
From April 15, 1861 to April 14, 1865 there was a total of men in armed forces of 2,656,553. Total pay disbursed July, 1861 to October 1865 was $1,029,239,000.00. Keep in mind that the bounties by the states and extra federal grants and the payroll amounts to quite a sum.
As to paying troops, there was a regulation act of July 5., 1838, which provided that whenever volunteers or regulars were called to service, the president was granted the authority to appoint paymasters at a rate of one paymaster to every two regiments. Said paymasters were to remain in service only so long as needed to pay the troops. Paymasters were under the command of a paymaster general with the rank of Colonel. Under him would be two deputy paymasters with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Under these would be deputies, totaling 25, with the rank of major. This then, was the paymaster department. The so-called deputies or additional paymasters were appointed to temporary duty only.
According to all reports and diaries, the paymaster department was a mass of inefficiencies. There is not too much on the record. We know that a Colonel Benjamin F. Larned was paymaster at the beginning of the war and had served since July, 1854. He died September 6, 1862 and was succeeded by Timothy B. Andrews, who served to November 29, 1864. Colonel Benjamin W. Brice finished the job. We cite these officers because after the death of Colonel Larned, there built up considerable pressure for a complete investigation of the inefficiencies in the pay department and to effect a general house cleaning. It was, however, not until March of 1863 that any semblance of qualification for additional or deputy paymasters was attempted. Until this point there was no examination for selection on any basis. Even after March of 1863, the selection routine was hardly adequate. At least there was some delineation as to mental and moral fitness; also, a physical examination was now required. These are admirable but minimum qualities and hardly seemed to cover the specific knowledge required to keep accounts and to fill out all the necessary forms. It is safe to assume the additional paymasters were indeed a sorry lot, probably mostly political appointees and those looking for a soft spot away from the action. In 1864 the war department regulations were up dated and amended to include examination of candidates for the paymaster department. Those who would apply now had to demonstrate the ability to write an intelligent business letter. At long last it was required to prove the ability to solve a mathematical problem accurately. All of this was necessary plus a knowledge of basic accounting and pay systems. This was in 1864!
Continuing on with the pay department and its organization:
1. Who pays: Additional paymasters.
Here are some simple charts we prepared to show the scales on selected representative grades and officer ranks. Our comparison has necessarily to be on base pay only. There are too many variables when one gets into allowances bounties, etc.
Chart One Enlisted Civil War World 1965 base pay 1861-1864 War II Private $13.00 $50.00 $85.00 Corporal 14.00 66.00 210.00 Sergeant 17.00 78.00 261.00 Sgt. Major 21.00 138.00 486.00
Chart Two Rank Civil War World 1965 inf. artill. War II 2nd Lieut. $45.00 $150.00 $241.00 105.00* 1st Lieut. 50.00 166.00 384.00 105.00 Captain 60.00 200.00 533.00 115.00 Major 70.00 250.00 707.00 169.00 Lieut. Colonel 80.00 291.00 804.00 180.00 Colonel 95.00 333.00 948.00 212.00 Brigadier General 114.00 500.00 1266.00 315.00
* second figure indicates average complete with "normal" allowances, longevity, etc.
Some miscellaneous comments:
A. Cavalry, in the early days of the war could draw extra allowances for forage. It was not uncommon for one to furnish one's own mounts. When the war department caught up, the government would furnish all the mounts and discontinue the allowances.Here it is apropos to mention comments in the original diary of James Keen, grandfather of our new member. Keen was one of the rare authenticated medal of honor winners, but that is another story. I quote from the Keen diary "Mustered for pay Saturday, March 7- Received four months pay ..... wrote Tom (a brother) and sent him a $10. bill, number 91763." Entry on the next day, March 8. "Wrote Aaron (a brother) and sent him $15.00. The number of the $5 bill was 42417 and the $10 bill was 91765." Subsequently on March 10, three davs later, he wrote home and sent an additional $20. This adds to a total of $45.00. He was a corporal at the time. It was 1863 and his base pay was $14.00 per month or $56.00. He kept $11.00 of his base. There could well have been some allowances that were not noted but they were probably meager if there were any. It is interesting to note that Keen did not avail himself of the somewhat complicated allotment system, previously described.
The diary logs the paydays, which truly ran about every four months. In 1862, a pay day was logged on September 29, which date matches an interesting incident found in the history of the 10th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, as written by James Birney Shaw:
"The 10th Indiana had gotten to Louisville with Buell's army and they were preparing to move out toward Perryville to engage Bragg, when the following incident occurred:Finally, on the Keen diary: It is now 1863. Entry: Thursday. April 9. "Promoted to sergeant." This meant base pay was now $17-00 per month. By July, they still had not received pay, so he had not yet enjoyed the fruits of his promotion. On July 18, Entry -- "Some talk of us getting our pay." Much can be read into that simple entry. It hints of discouragement and heartbreak, revealing the inevitable rumors and scuttlebutt of service camp life. On July 22, the diary reveals "Got paid off after coming off picket. Received $64.00. Settled up my Sutler's bill. Paid $10.00." The next day he sent home $20.00 of this to his brother. Then as though to celebrate his 20th birthday, he sent home an additional $30.00. This makes $50.00 home plus $10.00 to the Sutler. He kept $4.00 for himself yet had not been paid for four months. He was captured at Chickamauga on September 20, 1863.
It is interesting to note that coming out of a soldier's hide was the fact that he had to pay for any clothing lost in battle or on the march. If the clothing wore out then he could claim reissue without charge. This seems incredible. Following are typical costs to the soldier for replacements:
$7.20 overcoat 6.71 dress coat 2.95 blanket 2.63 blouse 3.03 trousers 1.14 pair of shoes 1.35 hat 0.50 drawers 0.26 socks 0.88 undershirt
Benefits and Pensions
The matter of benefits comes up. In 1861, a government act authorized that a volunteer who was wounded or otherwise disabled in service should be entitled to the same benefits which accrue under the same circumstances to regulars. To the widow, if there was one, or, if not, the legal heir of such that die in battle should receive $100.00 in addition to all arrears in pay and allowances as might exist at the time of death. In July of 1862, it was ordered that all officers and enlisted men who were totally disabled by wound or disease dating from March 1862 should receive the following pensions:
Lt. Colo. and up $30.00 Majors 25.00 Captain 20.00 First Lieuts. 17.00 Second Lieuts. 15-00 Enlisted men 8.0O
Confederate pay scales ran close to, but until 1864, slightly under union rates. Aside from a desperate lack of resources and drying up of credit, it was true that Confederate paydays, from the start, ran usually six months in arrears.
Thanks to Dale Turner, we had the opportunity of reading an account of Confederate soldier's pay in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly for the winter of 1959.
It offered a detailed account of the pay problems besetting the Confederacy in the trans-Mississippi area. About the last so-called payday was in September of 1863. General Edmund Kirby Smith had come out west to see if he could salvage anything from the wreckage. He did stabilize the military situation up to a point, and then turned to such items as pay. He managed to catch up on one year's arrears and bring troops up to only four months behind in schedule. The Confederate government's notes and letters of credit were worthless. It was just paper. The area commands could not purchase stores or food on the government notes. Actually, the troops simply melted away. This was in 1864.
So we come to the reckoning and the bill for pay. From June through October of 1865, final payments were made efficiently. More then 800,000 were paid off and disbursements ran for this period $270,000,000.00. All accounts were squared, bounty commitments allowances, arrears not to mention fines and debits.
We have already noted that the total pay for the war ran $1,029,239,000.00. If the Confederacy total ran somewhat less one could safely estimate the pay for the Civil War ran about $2,000,000,000.00. Add to this, bounties for the states and you come close to a total of $2,500,000,000.00 for soldiers pay.
To: Major Gordon Brigham for submitting base pay scales for World War II and present day service.
To: Dale Turner for Arkansas Historical Quarterly for winter of 1959.
To: James Keen for the use of the original diaries of James Keen 1862-1863.
To: Jim Barnett for continuous encouragement and miscellaneous items and guidance. To: Mr. John Mullane for detailed bibliography at the request of Ernst Miller.
Shannon,, Frederick A., The Organization and Administration of the Union Army, (especially volume 2., pages 49-99: a chapter on bounties
Lord., Francis A. They Fought for the Union
Wiley, Bell I. The Common Soldier In The Civil War
U. S. War Department. General Orders:
1861: nos. 15, 25, 49, 52, 54, 81, 91
Official Army Register
1861: pp. 68-71
U. S. War Department, Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States (1861)
Article XLV (pages 341-385)
War of the Rebellion (A compilation of the Oflficial Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.)
Series 1, vol. 42, pages 111, 728
U. S. Statutes at Large and Treaties
Vol. 9, p. 439
37th Congress, 1st session, pages 50-4
DeForest., John W. A Volunteer's Adventures (97-8)
Joinville., Francois The Army of the Potomac (13)
Billings., John Hard Tack and Coffee (97-8)
Sperry, A. F. History of the 33d Iowa Infantry
Trobriand, Regis Four Years With the Army of the Potomac (72; 112-4)
Scott, William F. The Story of a Cavalry Regiment (385-6)
Thompson, S. Millett Thirteenth Regiment of the New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. a history of. (274)
Crowinshield., B. W. A History of the 1st Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers (109)
Paris, Louis Philippe comte de History of the Civil War in America Vol 1 (177, 180-3)
Briggs., John E. The Enlistment of Iowa Troops during the Civil War, Iowa Journal of History and Politics, (323-92)
"Camp of the New York 103rd" Harper's Weekly, Feb. 6, 1864, page 85.
"Regular and Volunteer Officers.", Atlantic Monthly, Sept, 1864, pages 348-57
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