Often concealed in Northern versions of the war is the immense amount of money paid in bounties for recruits, usually called volunteers, who would not have stepped forward if no money was proffered. Villages, towns, cities, counties and State’s paid lavishly into funds in order to buy exemptions and substitutes for residents, with the promise of additional bounties upon mustering. State agents were sent into the Northern-occupied South to capture and enlist black slaves, counted toward the State quota of troops and relieving white citizens from duty.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
“The Union army was meeting with defeat and loss of men. The President made a call for three hundred thousand more. The smothered fire of patriotism that was burning in the hearts of the young men in Perry [New York] burst forth, and fathers’ commands, mothers’ warnings, nor sweethearts’ pleadings and caresses could avail aught in trying to subdue the flame.
On the 22nd of August , Mr. George S. Hastings received authority to raise recruits to join the organization called Captain Lee’s Battery, then stationed at Newport Barracks [North Carolina]. In one week fifty men had volunteered; another week increased the number to sixty.
The citizens of the town where they enlisted, encouraged them with kinds acts and words. Generous bounties were offered and paid. To many volunteers this was useful in the final settlement of their pecuniary matters. To the families of others it left a competence for a short time. To all it was acceptable; but to few, if any, was money a motive power to volunteering.
They arrived at Buffalo at ten o’clock, and forming into line at the depot, marched directly to the examining surgeon’s office . . . the surgeon was quick and skillful . . . He remarked several times it was one of the finest companies he had examined [with] manly bearing.
Town Bounty Fund. – The following is a correct list of the contributors to this fund for the town of Perry. The subscribers are requested to pay immediately to G.C. Chapin or C.W. Hendee, at Smith’s Bank, who will pass it to the credit of G.C. Chapin, treasurer. It is designed to pay this bounty to volunteers to-morrow or Monday [List of 163 individual contributors of $10, $15, $25 and $50 follows].
The men recruited by Geo. S. Hastings for Company B, Rocket Battalion, Captain J.E. Lee, took their final departure for the seat of the war, Wednesday. The citizens turned out early in the morning, to bid a last “good bye” to the boys. Forming into a line at the depot (preceded by Alpin’s Band, who kindly volunteered for the occasion), they marched to the Arcade, where a number of new recruits were mustered in, and then proceeded to Roth’s Hall, on Batavia Street, and took dinner.
Expecting to leave for Albany the same night, at four o’clock they returned to the mustering office to receive the Government bounty . . . The procession attracted much attention, and many flattering remarks were made by citizens along the route, complimentary both to the men and the band. We noticed a number of the boys had bouquets, showing that if they had left home, they were still among friends.
After a few days’ stay at a German hotel in Batavia street, Buffalo, where we were initiated into rations of Dutch bread, Bologna sausage and lager beer, furnished by the United States at thirty cents per diem, we were sent to Albany.
In this city we were quartered at the Asylum Barracks, and underwent another examination. I cannot conceive for what purpose, unless it was to put fees into the pockets of the post-surgeon.”
(Records of the 24th Independent Battery, New York Light Artillery, USV, J.W. Merrill, Ladies Cemetery Association of Perry, NY, 1870, pp. 162-169)