Bounty Money to Fill New York Regiments
Americans in the South fought primarily for family, hearth and State – a contrast to those in the North who for the most part fought to maintain a territorial union and against Southern independence. Without generous
bounty money for enlisting, it is clear that the latter would have avoided the blue uniform and allowed the South its liberty. From the time of the Northern draft of 1863, to the conclusion of the war, the Northern States, counties, cities and towns paid over $286 million; the Northern government itself paid out more than $300 million – and with substitute fees paid the total of all would be at least $750 million. This would have paid for the emancipation of every slave several times over, and saved the lives of a million Americans.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Bounty Money to Fill New York Regiments:
“At the outbreak of the war, New York had four million people, and during the course of the war it furnished the equivalent of 400,000 three-year enlistments to the armed forces. This represented about seventeen per cent of the total northern enlistment and was in proportion to the state population. Before the war ended, 40,000 New
Yorker’s gave their lives to the enterprise. It is interesting to keep in mind that thirty per cent of New York enlistees were foreign-born: 40,000 came from Ireland, 41,000 from Germany, over 12,000 from England,
12,000 were Canadian, 3600 from France, 2000 from Wales, and 2000 from Switzerland. On top of this, 5000 Negroes were in New York regiments.”
In the conscription activity of 1863, the Republican-organ Oswego (New York) Times emphasized the material benefits which would accrue to those possessing the "lucky draft numbers." A US Bounty of $102, State Bounty
of $100, City Bounty of $300 (if offered as the Mayor suggested); Total of $502.00. Then one year at $13. per month, one year’s service totaling $156. “$658 or almost $2. per day! Soldiering will be the best business for the future.”
On August 4  the draft came to Oswego. While most draftees accepted the [conscription] law…the Times reported that some were applying to the British Vice Consul for papers giving them protection as aliens. A few were said to be “skedaddling” across the Canadian border. The Times noted also, that the draft had developed an extraordinary number of sharks in the area. “Several half-starved lawyers, who don’t often get any business, have been taking advantage of the anxiety of drafted men to become exempt, to charge the most exorbitant rates for their services in making out the necessary papers.”
A year later a second draft stared Oswegonians in the face. It might be avoided, of course, if the quota could be raised by enlistment; but for a time the latter lagged. Groping for a solution an imaginative group of
twenty-five men sent the local recruiting agents, E.B. Burt and A.B. Getty to Newport News, Virginia, in a military district occupied by Federal troops under General Benjamin Butler, for the purpose of procuring substitutes among the freedmen; expecting, it is assumed, that they could be hired cheaply. The agents wrote that they found a few substitutes, though the place was filled with bounty-jumpers, but that General Butler had issued an order prohibiting the removal of freedmen from the district; that they would therefore try to enlist them
[freedmen] as part of the Oswego quota, provided the city would pay the bounties required. The City Council quickly voted bounties up to $300, including the agents’ fees, but the project fizzled and the agents returned home empty handed. The Times writer considered this scheme quite ingenious until he discovered that Jefferson County [New York] was trying the same experiment.
As has been seen, when enlistments lagged, bounties served as a stimulant. As early as July 1862, the State was offering $50 and the County [Oswego] an additional $50, By January 1864, the County was paying $300 bounties, and by December, 1864, the sum was increased to $300 for one year, $500 for two years, and $700 for three years. Meanwhile, the Federal government had increased its offer to $300. Thus a volunteer might pick up $1000 if he had patience to wait for the installments; this, when laborers wages were about one dollar per day! To those who remained hesitant, the Mexico [New York] Independent offered the happy thought that the war would not last long, and they might never fire a gun or draw a sword.”
(New York State in the Civil War, Robert J. Rayback, New York State Historical Association, 1961, pp. 69-70; Oswego Counties Response to the Civil War, Charles M. Snyder, New York State Historical Association,
1961, pp. 81-84)