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Soldier wages in the American Civil War 1861-1865, by rank

In the American Civil War, Union and Confederate officers were paid very similarly until they reached the rank of Lieutenant, however Union allowances were generally higher than those of the Confederacy, which means that their wages would have been higher. The Union also paid their more highly ranked officers better than the Confederacy, with Generals receiving much more. For example, a Union colonel would receive the cash value of six human and three horse rations per day, amounting to an extra 78 dollars. It is also important to note that the Confederacy did have generous bonuses for their generals, such as time served, and whether they took an active role on the battlefield. For example, General Robert E. Lee would have officially received 301 dollars per month, but with bonuses he would have received 604 dollars.

Payment methods

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, the Confederate Army adopted the wage structure of the US Army before the civil war, whereas the Union created a new wage structure as their financial reserves allowed them to pay their soldiers more than the Confederacy. In both armies, soldiers were supposed to get paid every two months, but in reality, Union soldiers often went up to six or eight months without being paid, and for Confederate troops this could be even longer. The graph also shows only the wage paid to the soldiers and does not include officer allowances.

Black men in the union army

At the outbreak of the war, the question of whether to allow freed black men to serve in the army divided the Union leadership, until mid-1862 where the number of white men enlisting decreased. When the Union opened their ranks to black men, enlistment was initially slow, until prominent black figures such as Frederick Douglas encouraged it as he believed it would help them obtain full citizenship. Over the course of the war roughly two hundred thousand black men served in the Union Army and Navy, and many women (incl. Harriet Tubman) served as nurses and spies/scouts. Although they were allowed to serve, black soldiers were still discriminated against. While white privates were paid thirteen dollars per month, black soldiers were officially paid three dollars less, and black soldiers also had an additional three dollars automatically deducted from each wage to pay for their clothing. This discrepancy was resolved in 1864, and black men were paid the same as their white counterparts form this point onwards.

Monthly wage of soldiers in the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, by rank

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Release date

July 2019


United States

Survey time period

1861 to 1865

Supplementary notes

*These figures show only the official wage and do not include officer allowances.

**Black soldiers were officially paid ten dollars per month, however three dollars was automatically deducted each month for clothing

Release date is date of extraction.

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Statistics on "American Civil War 1861-1865"

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