PoP's Southern Thangs: Bounties for Mercenary “Volunteers”


Bounties for Mercenary “Volunteers”

By mid-1862 General Henry Halleck informed Lincoln that volunteering had all but ceased, and other means of filling the ranks had to be found. Lincoln cared little where States found the recruits to fill their troop quota; many scoured overrun plantations in the South to enlist bewildered black slaves into segregated units in order to keep white Northerners at home. It was often reported that most of the bounty money due the new black recruit remained in the State agent’s pocket.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

“Complaints having come across the ocean that Northern recruiting agents were in Europe plying their trade, the Senate of the United States passed a resolution on the 24th of June 1864, requesting President Lincoln to inform that body “if any authority has been given any one, either in this country or elsewhere, to obtain recruits in Ireland or Canada,” etc.

On July 13, 1864, Gov. [John] Andrew, of Massachusetts, informed Secretary Stanton that citizens of Massachusetts were recruiting a large number of aliens. On July 14, 1864, the US Congress passed an act authorizing the Governor of each State in the Union to send recruiting agents into any Confederate States, except Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana; and declaring any volunteers these agents might enlist should be “credited to the State, and to the respective subdivisions thereof which might procure the enlistment.”

Thereupon agents were sent from all the New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois…into all the accessible parts of the Confederacy. New Hampshire’s agents, for an example, to receive $20 for each one-year man enlisted, $25 for each two-years’ enlistment, and $40 for each three years’ man; and these recruits to receive, respectively, $100, $200, and $300, a proviso being added to her law that the Governor might, if he found it advisable, pay a bounty of $500 for each three-years’ man enlisted in “the insurgent States.”

But, the “commercial spirit” not having yet taken possession of the South, Secretary Stanton said this in a report to President Lincoln, March 1, 1865: “The results of the recruitments under the act of July 4, 1864, for recruiting in the rebel States, were reported as unfavorable.”

On August 28, 1864, Prov. Mar. Gen. Fry telegraphed to his assistant in Boston: “Hon. J.D. Baldwin writes me from Worcester that towns in his district enlist their own citizens, provide bounties for them, and send them to camp or rendezvous to be mustered in and credited. That after reaching rendezvous they are beset by recruiting agents for other places, especially Boston. These agents, offering higher local bounties, succeed in getting the men credited to other towns, etc.”

“[A] Colonel of one of the negro regiments at Natchez “stated that in consequence of the presence of recruiting agents from Northern States offering large bounties for recruits his men were deserting, procuring citizens’ clothing, and secreting themselves until an opportunity offered of escaping from the place for purpose of enlisting. The same state of things,” he continued, “exists in the other colored regiments….”

On January 19, 1865, the Actg. Asst. Prov. Mar.-Gen., Concord, N.H., wrote to Prov. Mar. Gen. Fry, Washington, saying among other things: “I would respectfully call your attention to the fact that burglars, house-burners, and thieves, felons of all classes and kinds, are daily taken from jails and prisons with the consent of the judges, both high and low, and enlisted under false names and false pretenses in the service of the U.S.”

(The South’s Burden, the Curse of Sectionalism, Benjamin Franklin Grady, Nash Brothers, 1906, pp. 116-118)
From Free North Carolina


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The Southern American